November 23, 1992             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLI  No. 69

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to inform this hon. House that the Federal Government, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Labrador Inuit Association have agreed on joint participation in a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a national park in the Torngat Mountains area of Labrador.

The spectacular area of the Torngat Mountains, Mr. Speaker, provides excellent representation of the Northern Labrador mountain region. The Torngat Mountains are the highest mountains east of the Rockies, and the area is considered to have one of the world's most beautiful wild coastlines. Breathtaking fiords cut inland, and towering cliffs rise abruptly from the sea. Wildlife habitat includes a portion of the range of the George River caribou herd, estimated to number over 600,000 animals. Numerous bird species native to the eastern Arctic are found as well; marine mammals, including whales and seals, are common in the adjoining waters, and arctic fox, polar bear and black bear can be seen. The area is also rich in cultural resources with numerous archaeological and historic sites along the coast.

In the mid-1970s, the Government of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador studied this natural region, and identified the area that provided ideal representation of it - the Torngat Mountains. However, in public discussions at the time, the Labrador Inuit Association indicated it did not want to consider a national park until its land claim was being dealt with; consequently, all studies and public discussion concerning the possibility of a national park in this area was suspended in 1979. Recently, renewed discussions between the federal and provincial governments, and the Labrador Inuit Association, have indicated that all parties are now interested in studying the feasibility of establishing a new national park in northern Labrador.

The feasibility study is a public process, designed to solicit the views and concerns of all interested persons and groups.

The start of the study confirms the direction provided by the Province's Speech from the Throne last spring, in which the government highlighted its commitment to participating in the feasibility assessment. It also fulfils a commitment made in Change and Challenge - A Strategic Economic Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. Given the level of co-operation between the parties, I have high expectations that the end result will be a national park in the Torngat Mountains area.

It had been anticipated that another study would be announced today, namely, joint participation by the Federal Government, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Innu Nation in the feasibility of a national park in the Mealy Mountains area. However, certain confrontational tactics employed by the Innu Nation in recent days have caused an unforeseen delay. In spite of this, the Province is still committed to pursuing a national park in the Mealy Mountains area.

Mr. Speaker, my statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: I thank the minister for a copy of his statement received well before the time of the House opening, so I would like to thank the minister for that.

This is a positive statement, Mr. Speaker. I do not see anything negative in this, anything to criticize whatsoever. I think it is something that we need more of in the Province, we have to take care of the plan last year by the federal government, the Green Plan; this would probably be integrated with something like that, more parks, more spaces in our Province set aside for the people of the Province and for our children and grandchildren somewhere down the road to be able to enjoy. We have seen too much already destroyed in this Province, and it is about time we take hold of what is left and make sure that we try to manage it in a proper and constructive way.

However, Mr. Speaker, the minister's reference to the time span, some twenty-odd years ago since discussions started pertaining to this particular park, I sure hope that it is not going to take the same length of time again as it did in the early 1970s, so one positive aspect of this is that you are dealing with two different aboriginal groups and it seems like the settlement of this one is probably something that won't hang it up anyway, they sort of agreed to it, so I suggest to the minister now, along with his federal counterparts and the aboriginal people who are involved in this, to get down to business and try to get this in place as soon as possible and to create jobs in the park itself and not only that but to add to the tourism potential of this Province.

Thank you.

MR. HARRIS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: I ask leave of the House to address the ministerial statement, Mr. Speaker?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has leave.

The hon. member may proceed.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to welcome the statement of the Minister of Tourism and Culture today to announce the feasibility study on the Torngat Mountains proposed national park. I think it is something that we have all looked forward to in this Province, because that area of the Province is quite a spectacular region and has many natural features that need to be protected and acknowledged.

I would say two things, however. I hope, in the discussions leading up to the establishment of this park, that we do not do what happened in Gros Morne, and get involved in a confrontation between the people who live there -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - and live off the land, and have been dispossessed of their homes, and that in fact with the participation of the Labrador Inuit Association I would hope that integrated into the national park is a land base for the Labrador Inuit who happen to live off the land and may well be able to be integrated into that park and have a great deal of say over the kind of park that it will be.

I welcome the announcement. I ask the government to look further into its commitments to developing protected areas. There are some fifty-four or fifty-six natural habitats in this Province, apparently only nineteen of which are being protected or partly protected. So I ask the government to look further into that, and perhaps the Minister of Environment and Lands will have something to say on that later in the session.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, as honourable members are aware, the concept of a uniform municipal business tax rate for utility companies has been under active consideration by various governments going back almost twenty-five years.

Today I am pleased to announce that government has taken the decision to establish a standard rate of municipal business tax applicable to utility companies. We have also taken the decision to include Newfoundland Hydro and cable television companies and to make them liable for this municipal business tax.

Newfoundland Hydro will be required to pay grants-in-lieu, but only where they provide service to the final customer.

The uniform rate of business tax on Newfoundland Telephone, Newfoundland Power and cable television companies will be fixed at 2.5 per cent of gross revenues of the companies earned in a particular municipality in the year immediately preceding the tax year. This rate will be set by regulation and it will be subject to normal review in the future.

Newfoundland Hydro, which to date has been exempt from this municipal business tax, will be required to pay a grant in lieu of business tax also at the fixed rate of 2.5 per cent of gross revenues to municipalities. However, as indicated, Newfoundland Hydro will pay only in circumstances where Newfoundland Power would be required to pay if Newfoundland Power were the supplier.

The decision to make utilities and cable television companies liable for a uniform rate of municipal business tax at a rate of 2.5 per cent of gross revenues addresses the widely varying rates of business taxes that are currently being charged by municipalities throughout the Province.

With respect to Newfoundland Hydro, it was felt that municipalities should not be denied access to this tax simply because they are served by a provincially-owned power utility.

Government has determined that there are enough similarities between the cable television companies and utilities to include them under this municipal business tax.

Cable television companies claim, however, that their regulator, the Canada Radio Television Commission (CRTC) does not allow cable companies to recover municipal tax expenses from customers and they are asking the provincial government for relief.

The Department of Finance, in consultation with the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, will therefore undertake to determine if a uniform taxation rate of 2.5 per cent is an appropriate amount for cable television companies.

Additionally, I would like to point out that: 1) The effective date is January 1, 1993; 2) Revenues generated from unincorporated areas will be remitted to the Province's general revenue fund; 3) Utilities and cable companies now liable for other applicable municipal taxes such as water and sewer taxes and property tax will continue to be liable for these taxes; 4) Property assessment values for utilities and cable companies will be changed to exclude equipment and materials directly related to the generation and/or distribution of services.

What the latter means is that only general property including buildings and warehouses will be subject to property tax and that equipment directly related to the generation, transmission and distribution of service including substations will be exempt from property assessments. Some municipalities happen to have within their boundaries, utility equipment (plant) which is used to provide service throughout the Province. If these particular municipalities were allowed to assess and tax such equipment in addition to the municipal business tax on gross revenue, it would amount to double taxation on the utility and, in our opinion, this would not be fair or equitable.

In simple terms, municipalities will be permitted to tax the building but not the distribution and production equipment which is housed in the facility.

As indicated, revenues generated from unincorporated areas will be remitted to the Province's general revenue fund. This recognizes that the Provincial Government generally provides municipal services in these areas.

We feel that a phase-in of the revised tax structure is not necessary and that there exists sufficient time for both municipalities and the affected companies to incorporate the change into their 1993 budget planning process.

As we know, the Municipalities Act does not limit the amount of taxes to be charged by a municipality and presently the rate of business tax being charged by some municipalities on certain utility companies vary anywhere from less than 1% up to 30% of annual gross revenue. The new tax will have the effect of causing municipalities to spread the burden of municipal taxation more equitably within their jurisdictions.

Amendments to the appropriate legislation will be introduced during the current session of the House of Assembly to facilitate the Province-wide implementation of these changes.

Any loss of revenues to municipalities due to the establishment of this 2.5 per cent fixed rate of business tax on utilities and cable companies will have to be recouped in the normal way through the taxation methods of the respective councils.

Overall, significant additional revenues will be made available to municipalities as a result of this uniform taxation rate of business tax on utilities and cable television companies.

Mr. Speaker, the rate strikes a fair balance between the interests of the companies and the municipalities. Additionally it minimizes governments intrusion into the municipalities management of their own affairs.

At the present time, utility companies pay water and sewer taxes and real property tax based on the assessed value of the property owned by the company in a particular municipality and, as indicated, they will continue to do so.

As indicated, Mr. Speaker, this matter has been under consideration for many years. However, I am pleased today to announce that we have a new standardized rate in place that is fair and equitable both for municipalities and utilities.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First, I would like to thank the minister for giving me an advanced copy of his statement. I have had it for a couple of hours now, Mr. Speaker.

The minister has implemented, I suppose, a proposal that has been in the works for a number of years and might have gone even a little further than most people had anticipated, because, Mr. Speaker, it requires Nfld Hydro for the first time to pay utility rates. Mr. Speaker, in my own particular district I am sure that is good news for the communities of Fogo, Tilting and Joe Batt's Arm that will now get revenues similar to those that receive Newfoundland Light and Power revenues.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the change with Newfoundland Tel, I am not sure that the minister has a handle on the impact that is going to have on municipalities. Several municipalities have received them. Now, with the formula changes, they are no longer allowed to assess the equipment inside, and some small municipalities at a large exchange got a considerable amount of money from them. This formula is now 2.5 per cent of gross revenues and in a given community these revenues could be small, even though the exchange is there it serves a much bigger area, they will be impacted very significantly by this change, because now it is assessed on the community.

Mr. Speaker, I have to caution the minister about what he is doing here, because by taxing Hydro, Hydro is going to turn around and ask rate payers to increase the amount they pay too. As a public utility, they are going to make a certain amount of money. If their expenses go up then they will go back to the board again and ask for a rate increase. So perhaps we are going to get taxed twice on it now, Mr. Speaker.

In addition to that, the minister points out that all unincorporated municipalities will have their funds go to the general revenues of the Province. Mr. Speaker, that excludes local service districts who are not incorporated. Is he saying that these people will not accrue any of the revenues? And how is it fair now that Newfoundland Hydro is going to have to pay a tax to the Province on unincorporated municipalities, and Newfoundland Light and Power does not have to pay a tax? Now Hydro has an unfair tax placed on it, because Newfoundland Light and Power doesn't pay a tax for non-incorporated municipalities and Newfoundland Hydro does.

Mr. Speaker, it is too early yet to have municipalities consider the impact. While some will gain substantially, it might force others into virtual bankruptcy, if they have been taxing the resource, the distribution and the generation of electricity.

I think of Petty Harbour out here, for example, which generates most of its revenues from the sale of electricity to Newfoundland Hydro. What kind of impact will it have? The minister has nothing in place to ease the burden on these people. We will have to wait and see on this one, Mr. Speaker. Initially for Newfoundland Hydro, it looks favourable. I am not sure yet the impact that Newfoundland Tel's 2.5 per cent will have on the municipalities throughout this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister Responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, I am pleased to inform members that this afternoon - I don't know if he is here - the hon. Eric Gullage, MHA for Waterford - Kenmount will be participating on my behalf, along with Mayor Shannie Duff, in a special ceremony in Cowan Heights to mark the completion of parkland and open space development by NLHC, and the commitment to maintain the facilities by the City of St. John's.

Mr. Speaker, NLHC began developing residential building lots in Cowan Heights in the early eighties. Since that time, and particularly in recent years, the corporation has expended approximately $2 million on parkland and open space development in the area. Cowan Heights now contains about 50 acres of green space, representing 15 per cent of the total development. The parkland has been appropriately named Cowan Park, and includes both open areas and a linear park system. Facilities provided in the open areas include four tennis courts, two multi-purpose courts - basketball and street hockey - two softball diamonds, a soccer field, a toboggan slope, and seven playgrounds. The linear parkland, part of which runs along Kitty Gauls Brook, consists of five kilometres of paved pedestrian walkways, including six pedestrian bridges. These walkways connect the various facilities and neighbourhoods within the Cowan Heights area.

I believe Cowan Heights is an excellent example of a comprehensively-planned neighbourhood. In developing the area, provision was made for community services such as schools and churches, and of course as I just outlined, several leisure and recreational facilities. In essence, Mr. Speaker, Cowan Heights is a community within a community.

Now that the development of parkland and open space has been completed, NLHC has conveyed the land to the City of St. John's. I am pleased to advise members that Mayor Duff will join Mr. Gullage this afternoon in symbolically accepting responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the various facilities that have been developed by NLHC in Cowan Heights. Mr. Gullage and the Mayor will then proceed to Cowan Heights Elementary where they will be joined by students in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the school's playground, part of which was provided by NLHC.

Mr. Speaker, the parkland throughout Cowan Heights has been designed to allow for a healthy and safe environment, and for the enjoyment of those who wish to take advantage of the facilities - both young and old. With the City's commitment to maintain the parkland, I am sure that residents in the area will enjoy the benefits of Cowan Park for many years to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to see that the minister finally brought some good news into the House. All we have seen for the past weeks is doom and gloom. Perhaps he should have waited until after the mini-budget before he brought in this statement.

Mr. Speaker, this is some good news, finally the government is going to be committed to the people and do some things that are important. It is good to see that we have a well planned town, or as the minister said, a community within a community. Obviously it came about as the result of the development taking place in the early eighties when there was another government of a different stripe in power, who did proper planning and did not allow the budgetary problems that we have today be a part of their trademark.

Mr. Speaker, we welcome this announcement. It is particularly pleasing to see that there has been a large area set aside for recreation, and a number of recreation facilities have been provided. We welcome this statement and hope that the minister will have many more along these lines in days to come.

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the acting Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, I guess.

Last week he will recall I asked him some questions and he did not have the answers at that time. I would like to remind him that when the Minister of Finance made his statement in the House about ten days ago concerning the deficit, he said he was going to bring down a mini-budget later this month. Well we are now into the final week of the month. I am wondering if the minister can tell the House if a date has been set for the mini-budget?

Secondly, to repeat a question I asked last week: Can he now tell us what kind of a process we are going to use? Will it be a full-fledged budget debate, or will it simply be a statement by the minister with room for response, or what? Does he know yet?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, if there is a date for a mini-budget, I cannot announce that because I do not know. As far as the procedure to be used, that has yet to be decided.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition on a supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the acting minister.

Can he tell us if the measures undertaken in the mini-budget will deal only with the fiscal year this year, 1991-92, or -

AN HON. MEMBER: 1992-93.

MR. SIMMS: What is it?

AN HON. MEMBER: 1992-93.

MR. SIMMS: - 1992-93.

- will you also be taking measures in the mini-budget to deal with the projected deficit of $250 million, I think the minister said, for 1993 - 1994? Will that be contained in the mini-budget, as well?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As everyone knows, it is inappropriate for anyone to reveal what is in a budget, mini or otherwise, before the budget is delivered.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary for the acting minister. Can he tell us, what is the government's target of deficit reduction for this fiscal year? - earlier, they told us it was $29 million. What is their deficit target now for this fiscal year, and what is their deficit target for the fiscal year coming up, 1993 - 1994? In other words, how big a deficit are you prepared to live with this year and next year? You could tell us that without revealing anything.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is being very cute, indeed, in the way he asks his questions. I might correct him on one point. The deficit that we projected this year was not $29 million, that was just a current account deficit. There were also expenditures on capital account. I can't remember the exact figures - $220 million or $230 million.

So, the overall projected deficit for this year was somewhere in the realm of $250 million at the time the budget was brought in. But as far as my telling him how much further than that we are prepared to go will have to be revealed, too, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, let me try another one to the Acting Minister of Finance. It is pretty obvious from public statements that have been made by the Premier and by the Minister of Finance, that the government intend to take public sector employees to the cleaners once again. I think that is fairly obvious. Could I ask the acting minister this: Does he expect to have to bring in legislation to cut benefits that have already been negotiated and agreed upon with the public sector unions through their collective agreements? Is it a possibility that they may have to bring in legislation to allow for changes or cuts to already negotiated agreements, similar to what has happened in the past? Is he expecting that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, we put great store by the public service of this Province - the people in the health care system, the people who work in Confederation Building and all government offices, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Education. We set very great store by all these, and any action that government would take would be done with very great hesitancy. I can't say what the measures will be. I will say that the deficit position the Province is in is a serious one. I think the figures that were revealed by the Minister of Finance the other day was something like $153 million on current account this year, when we had thought it might only be $29 million.

And it is not only this Province, but virtually every Province of Canada is in the same situation; so is the Federal Government and so are other countries. So it a general problem that everyone is confronted with, and it certainly will have impact on many people in the Province. But just what measures are to be taken will be revealed shortly, at the appropriate time.

It is not my place to reveal these things now. I shall not reveal them. But be assured that any measures we take will be very carefully thought out, keeping in mind the welfare of all, and in particular, the public service of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: That would be a welcome change, Mr. Speaker, if the minister uses that approach - or the acting minister, I say to him.

May I ask him another question? I understand fully why he would not want to give details of what might be contained in the statement. That is why I am asking the questions the way I am, because I don't expect to get an answer if I ask directly what is in the statement. However, the general thrust is what I am trying to get at. Can he tell us - he can tell us this, I am sure, because it is widely known, I guess, by now - is there any truth to the information that is now coming out of the meetings that have been held with the union leaders, that the government is looking to cut existing public servants' wages by 3 per cent to 5 per cent? Can he confirm that the government has requested that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, all I can confirm is that meetings have been held with various groups of government employees. I believe meetings were held with the nurses, physicians, teachers and teachers' organizations and, I believe, with the two main organizations NAPE and CUPE. I wasn't at those meetings but I understand that appropriate discussions were held. Just what was said, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to reveal.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Oh my, Mr. Speaker! May I ask the acting Minister of Finance, does he know whether the approach in this minibudget will be the same as the government's approach in the last four years, which is to tax and cut, or does he expect that, in fact, there might be a change in the government's approach this time around? Will there be any measures to stimulate economic activity, employment, create employment and economic recovery? Does he expect anything like that in this mini-budget?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, all I can suggest to the Leader of the Opposition, is that he be patient and all things will be revealed to him, to me and to everybody else. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader and the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. Have the minister and his department done a study or evaluation on the impact of the northern cod moratorium on the fish processing sector? What kind of financial difficulties are they experiencing and how many processors does the minister expect to survive the moratorium period?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the Province contributed $75,000, as did the federal government, towards the cost of a study commissioned by FANL, I think it is, the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, done by Peat Marwick. That report, I am told, is now completed. I have not received a final copy; an interim copy was delivered to my to my deputy's office last week, but apparently it had to go back for some revision and I expect that report, if it is not already there, will be, probably within hours.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure the minister expects another round of bad news from the study, that the processors are in a precarious financial situation. Does the minister have any plans to assist fish processors to get through the moratorium period? Is that the reason why they commissioned the study, and will the Province be assisting processors who need assistance to get through this period?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared now to say precisely what the Province will do. I can only say, at the present time we have no plans to provide financial assistance to the processing sector, but until we get a chance to read the report and study it, then I probably should withhold any definitive statement in that regard.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: A final supplementary to the minister.

Over the last couple of weeks there have been discussions between the Province and the Federal Government pertaining to an early retirement package for fishermen and fish plant workers. Can the minister inform the House whether or not negotiations have been completed, and can we soon expect an announcement on an early retirement package for fishermen and fish plant workers? Perhaps the minister could inform the House: Has the Province been successful in getting the clawback provision implemented in those negotiations? Have they been successful with the clawback provision they were insisting upon?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have had considerable discussion with the federal government with respect to the early retirement package and I can tell the hon. member that I expect, by Thursday of this week, there will be an announcement.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Education.

In light of the Ministerial Statement in this House on Thursday, November 12, by the Minister of Finance, regarding salary and operating budget cutbacks, will the minister now confirm that his department has already begun this process by issuing layoff notices last Friday?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. Minister of Finance pointed out when he gave a statement last week, government would be looking at all possibilities where we can make some savings. As for the layoffs the hon. member is talking about, I am going to wait until he gets on a supplementary to see exactly what he is saying, because I suspect, Mr. Speaker, the layoffs he is talking about were actions that would have taken place with or without this particular statement. The hon. member goes on fishing expeditions and tries to wangle things out of us which do not really have a lot of basis, so I will just try to see where he is trying to go, Mr. Speaker. I am aware that there were some layoffs, but they were not layoffs in the Department of Education in the direct sense. I will just see where he is going with it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If my profession had been that of a dentist, I think I would have been a lot better off.

I ask the minister: The Student Aid Division issued layoff notices on Friday to employees, if he wants to be specific. I assume the minister would have knowledge of any layoffs in his department. Would he confirm that for the House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. gentleman is referring to some people in the Student Aid Division who would have been laid off regardless of what the Ministerial Statement said.

Mr. Speaker, as hon. members are aware, there are different kinds of jobs in the Student Aid Division, as there are different kinds of jobs everywhere, and you don't send a bricklayer to do electrical work, or a fisherman to necessarily do some architectural work -

AN HON. MEMBER: Or a teacher to do dentistry.

MR. DECKER: You don't send a teacher to do nursing -

AN HON. MEMBER: Or a dentist -

MR. DECKER: You don't send a dentist to do doctoring. Stop passing them along. I think I have made my point, Mr. Speaker.

So there were four or five layoffs. The hon. member is trying to tie those layoffs to the Minister of Finance's statement. There is no connection whatsoever, Mr. Speaker. They would have been laid off regardless, and next year, the same thing will happen again. They are taken on for a specific length of time to do a specific job.

Now, it has been suggested that in view of the fact there are so many appeals, maybe we should take those people on to handle the appeals, and I did consider that, Mr. Speaker. However, before employees can get into appeals, there is quite an amount of training required. You just can't walk in and do appeals unless you know the whole system inside out. So, if we need extra people for the appeals, it would be just as sensible, from a knowledge point of view, to bring new people in as it would be to keep them on. So, Mr. Speaker, there is no connection at all. It is as different as chalk is from cheese.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland, on a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess, the minister, since he stated that the Student Aid Division is so efficient in dealing with so many appeals, wants to lay off some people now to be of the status of other provinces. My question is: Is this department now considering cutting substitute teachers' salaries by an average of $50 per day?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as both the Premier and the Minister of Finance pointed out, any and all options are being considered. If I knew the answer to that question the hon. member is asking and if I gave the answer to that question, Mr. Speaker, I would be accused of breach of Cabinet solidarity and everything that goes with it - if I knew or if I did not know.

So, the reality is that even if I did know the answer, Mr. Speaker, if there were one grain of substance or truth to it, I would not be in a position to make an answer, as the hon. member knows. If the hon. member doesn't know that, he should speak at a future time to his colleagues who were in Cabinet, who know precisely that when a process is under discussion, you can't run out and call in the Education critic and say, 'Last night we discussed this, tomorrow we are going to discuss that. Now, you wait until tomorrow and I will tell you something else we discussed.' That is not the way the system works, Mr. Speaker.

Maybe the hon. member is on to something. Maybe it is the way the system should work, but the reality is, that is not the way it works, and I am not at liberty to answer.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Finance made a statement in this House about 1 per cent and 3 per cent cutbacks in salary and operating budgets. The Minister of Education has not, in any way, indicated how his department is dealing with this, regardless of a mini budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I have another question. Has the department asked the Newfoundland Teachers' Association to consent to an $8 million salary cutback for the balance of this year, which would equate to an average of a 5 per cent cutback?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education has not asked the teachers' for a wage freeze or anything else. As the hon. member knows, that is not the duty of the hon. -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Tell the hon. Member for Corner Brook -

AN HON. MEMBER: Humber East.

MR. DECKER: - that if she wants to ask me a question, get up and do it. I would be glad to answer her question, Mr. Speaker.

I will say this much, though, Mr. Speaker. This administration is discussing the situation that we are in, with all employees of government. We are the most listening government that has been in power in the history of this Province. We talk to everybody. We ask everybody for advice. We ask everybody for suggestions, and at the end of the day, we will make a decision - after we have listened to all of the stakeholders. That is the way we operate, and that is the way we are going to continue to operate. We are not going to do as the Opposition did when they were in power, and ride roughshod over the people of this Province. We are a listening administration, and we are going to continue to be.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: One final question, Mr. Speaker. I guess, after three-and-a-half years of this government, Newfoundlanders should be asked, are they really better off than they were three-and-a-half years ago?

I have asked the minister several questions over the past week, and I ask him again if discussions are ongoing with the Newfoundland Teachers' Association? Have there been suggested cutbacks in salary, and other areas of cuts with the Newfoundland Teachers' Association?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, that is a totally different question. This reminds me of Twenty Questions. Are discussions going on with the teachers? I just said, we are an administration which talks to all people, especially employees of government. Of course, the Minister of Finance - as we promised our people, as we promised the people of this Province, we are discussing with all the stakeholders. Yes, discussions have been going on with the teachers. Discussions are going on with various other groups.

Mr. Speaker, as to the other question the hon. member asked: Are we better off than we were three years ago? It is a good question, Mr. Speaker, and that is up to the people of the Province to determine; but let me say this much: We are a thousand times better off than we would have been had that administration stayed in power for three more years, because at the rate they were going, by now we would be bankrupt and there would not be a province called Newfoundland and Labrador. We would be a territory, like the Northwest Territories or the Yukon, Mr. Speaker. That is the real question: Are we better off than we would have been if they had stayed in power? And I can assure you that we are better off than we would have been.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Environment and Lands.

In May of 1991, the former Minister of Environment and Lands told a Social Services Estimates Committee that his department had already started instituting a recycling program for provincial government buildings so as to provide some leadership by example. He felt the program could be possibly fully in place by September of 1991, but he could not make an announcement at that time until some of the fine points had been worked out. Can the current Minister of Environment and Lands tell us what these fine points were, and whether they have been worked out yet or not?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands.

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have absolutely no idea to what the minister was referring. I am sure that he had something in mind at that time. Just as I don't have a crystal ball to look forward into the future, I have no way of looking back into my predecessor's mind. However, we are, at this moment - and it is taking longer than I would like, I must say - but we are taking the approach that each department make this a function of management. We feel that in that way there will be more of a commitment within each department. For example, some departments are setting up committees within that department, something like the occupational healthy and safety committees, and operating them in that way. Other departments will utilize some different method, perhaps, that suits the management's style of the minister and the deputy minister there.

There are a number of departments that have started a recycling program now, and a number that are working on it. My department is providing the guidelines for this. We are beginning, first of all, with paper. Any of the departments wanting to go further, of course, are certainly welcome to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a supplementary.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last May, in the Social Services Estimate Committee, the minister said that she was embarrassed at the lack of speed on this, and said that there might be a further one or two years before a program was in place. Those are her words, Mr. Speaker, not mine. When pressed for a better commitment than that she said that she would have concrete changes in place within six months. Now, Mr. Speaker, this is now fully six months, from May 12, 1992, and we don't see any changes in place.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary, I ask him to get to the question.

MR. HARRIS: Will the minister advise the House whether this is the kind of leadership her department is providing, or is she trying to hid behind the smoke screen of government deficit rather than deal with things that she can deal with?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands.

MS. COWAN: My goodness, what a vicious attack!

As to that comment about taking two years, actually, I think I said six months, because I had hoped that every department would be doing it in six months. As in every other walk of life, some departments are more committed to getting it going than others. That doesn't have an ill-effect on me. I think it will work out well if each department has a personal commitment to it, and that will come as times passes.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The member said she was embarrassed then, but she will be more embarrassed in six-months time when there is nothing being done. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that is what we are hearing now. Can the government, Mr. Speaker, show some leadership in the things that don't cost money, that require some leadership but not the expenditure of vast sums of money? There are lots of things that can be done, despite the economic difficulties of the Province. Can the minister say that there is something she can do and tell us now when a program will be announced for all government buildings, even this Confederation Building itself, to provide for some leadership in recycling? Why can't we have leadership, Mr. Speaker, from this minister?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands.

MS. COWAN: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I would be only too happy to do would be to take the hon. gentleman, Mr. Speaker, on a tour of some of the departments where this is taking place.

AN HON. MEMBER: By the hand.

MS. COWAN: I could take him by the hand, yes, and lead him around and show him.

The government, I just told him, is not going to order departments. Government has asked each department to make it a function of management which is the more up-to-date method of dealing with the environment within office buildings. That is taking place, department by department, with any leadership that is needed coming from my department.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

As a former union leader, past-president of the Newfoundland Teachers' Association, and now the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker, he is aware that one of the duties of the minister should be to protect the integrity of contracts negotiated through free, collective bargaining.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!-

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister has, on one occasion, supported legislation that stripped contracts. Is it your intention to support this government in their legislation which will roll back public sector wages and strip away further contract benefits already negotiated? Does the minister intend to support that legislation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, usually I thank the hon. member for his question, but I don't understand what he is talking about today. Because of the fact that while they may purport to try to give some validity to some rumours that are circulating - I have heard them myself in my own district in Central Newfoundland over the weekend and so on - I can't answer a question as to supporting something that he says has certain content in it, when no such decisions have been made. When the Cabinet meets and makes a decision, as I do and colleagues here do every time, we will decide individually and collectively then, whether we will support the action. Because if we don't, each of us has a choice, which is to leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo, on a supplementary.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, for the third time in two years government - and the minibudget has already given indications that it will - will introduce legislation to break collective agreements. Mr. Speaker, this goes back in time to the Smallwood era. Let me ask the minister: Does he think that this is the proper way to carry on negotiations, to sign agreements and then have them torn up because you have done it three times already. Are you proud of that kind of record and I am asking the minister, is he going to stand by the side of labour in this one and support labour and if he has to resign, resign over it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, unfortunate as I see it that the hon. member would try to make an issue of such a matter, what we are trying to do and put it in the same context as legislation that we have before the House which is introduced by myself as minister with trying to make sure that the workers' compensation system is preserved for the long-term. If I am convinced in our deliberations over the next week or so that the actions that we are taking are the appropriate actions to make sure that the financial integrity of the Province is maintained so that we can deliver essential public services to, for and on behalf of the people of the Province, then I will support the decision. If I find something wrong with it, as I have said with all of our colleagues here, if we cannot support the decision, if I stand in this House and support it, the answer will be clear; if I do not support it that will also be clear because something else would have happened as every member here has a choice to make on every decision that goes before the Cabinet.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo, on a supplementary.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister this question then. In the private sector, if an employer was in breach of a contract, would the minister's department intervene because there was a breach of contract, and, why don't the same conditions apply as the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations who should support both private and public sector, why does he not intervene and protect the public servants, employees of this Province who are being attacked by his government and why does not the minister protect them?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now that is a question I do appreciate because it does provide the opportunity to explain the one very clear difference between the options available to the government and people in the private sector.

When private sector companies and corporations and businesses are faced with the same set of circumstances and decisions that this government has dealt with over the last two years, they do not have to worry about the agreement because the business closes. The government cannot shut down essential public service in the Province, they have to maintain the ability to continue the service and if that means the unfortunate circumstance that we have said before, we would rather not have interfered with collective agreements, but when the choices are clear, interfere with the agreement and maintain the service or destroy the service, that is not an option for the government, that is a clear option which unfortunately has happened in too many private circumstances in the Province, where companies have faced the same set of circumstances that the government has and they are now not operating. That is not a choice for the government and we will make the decisions that make sure that we maintain the financial integrity so we can provide continuing service.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Justice.

How does the minister expect to establish a police commission early in the new year, as he announced a little while ago, when he has not yet produced even a draft of the necessary legislation; he has not even printed the Bill?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have indeed produced a draft of the legislation. The last count I saw we were up to thirty-eight drafts. The act is on the Order Paper in the House -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - it is at the printers even as the hon. member speaks. The Bill has been given first reading, it is down for second reading. The Bill is at the printers even as we speak now, it will be distributed as quickly as it is available, which I hope will be today, if not it will be in the morning and then we shall debate it at the proper time. I hope that answers the hon. member's question but if not, here we go again.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, " An Act To Amend The Mineral Act". (Bill No. 58).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the economy of North America is becoming increasing based on knowledge; and

WHEREAS Newfoundlanders and Labradorians must become better educated if our Province is to advance economically; and

WHEREAS Grenfell College in Corner Brook is the only university campus in the Province outside St. John's; and

WHEREAS Grenfell College, with few exceptions, is only offering first and second year arts and science courses, and is not even able to meet the needs of first and second year students because of a shortage of science laboratories, library facilities, classrooms and other space, and personnel;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the government immediately provide Grenfell College with capital and operating fund increases to equip it as quickly as possible to offer the full range of first, second, third, and fourth year arts and science courses to meet the needs of the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, in plain English this is the motion we, in the opposition, intend to proceed with on Wednesday, Private Members' Day.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds in St. John's Act".

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

That the name of the Province be changed from Newfoundland to read Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speak, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS representation in our Legislature has increased dramatically; and

WHEREAS the population of Newfoundland and Labrador has shown little increase during the past ten years; and

WHEREAS the cost of governing has escalated;

BE IT RESOLVED that representation in the House of Assembly be reduced to a maximum of 42 seats.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we carry on with the debate on -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has called Orders of the Day, and has recognized the hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we carry on with the adjourned debate on the Municipal Operating Grants Bill? I am not sure who adjourned the debate. The Member for Kilbride was enlightening us, as only he can.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, a continuation of the adjourned debate.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I was having a few comments on this Bill, only two minutes of them on Friday because time ran out; but I did listen to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs when he read out his explanation of the Bill. It was fairly lengthy, and I understand the reason why he had to read it out, because even listening to it being read, it is extremely complicated. There are many formulas in it, and I believe it was designed that way purposely, when it was done, so that it would be hard for the councils to understand what was going to happen to them. It was hard for the Federation of Municipalities to understand what was going to happen. There was not a big kerfuffle kicked up immediately, because nobody knew what was coming. It took the Federation of Municipalities six or eight months working, looking at this, to come back to the government. I think it was almost a year before they came back to the government, to tell the government that this is all wrong; this is not working in the smaller communities.

The purpose of these changes, the whole basis for these changes, as the former minister said, was to take from the big and give to the small. That was the bottom line of what the changes were supposed to be. In actual fact, the reality is that the government took from the small, which are the municipalities generally, saved themselves some $20 million in the long run, and transferred the tax burden to all municipalities, I guess, but in particular the smaller ones.

Mr. Speaker, we have a statement here today by the minister concerning the utilities taxes, the 2.5 mil change in utilities taxes. I will give you one example of what this tax is going to do, if it is as I understand it, the way it was presented to our Cabinet at one time, and the reason that I refused this at one time in the past, why I would not bring it in - one example of what this is going to do.

I will give you an example between St. John's and Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove, two very close municipalities. Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove has a commercial tax base of two small stores, mom-and-pop corner stores, a little craft store that is seasonally operated. It has two fairly significant fish plants and one part-time fish plant and it has a generating plant for Newfoundland Power. Mr. Speaker, the three plants are gone, they are closed up. They will not produce one nickel of revenue in the next two years anyway, probably going to be four years. So that takes the major part of their commercial tax base away from them. The corner stores that exist down in Petty Harbour will pay their property tax, whatever it is. They are not making any big pile of money. There are only 900 people in the whole community. So you are not going to make a fortune from them. They make some reasonable amounts of money in the summer time when a tour bus comes and happens to get broke down in front of them. I don't know how they manage it, but they always seem to get broke down in front of one of these two stores. But they will sell some produce then when the thirty or forty people get off the bus, and they will make a little extra.

Their main cash cow, if you want to call it that, was Newfoundland Power, the generating station. Now, that generating station is using a resource of Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove. The water rights go right back up into the Goulds. It is even a resource of the Goulds. Now, that resource in any other community, or any other type of resource in communities, that is where you get your tax base by taxing those resources. Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove, I believe, was getting something like $40,000 a year from Newfoundland Power. I am not sure of the figures right now, because it has been some years since I saw them. They were getting about $40,000. Now, they have a small budget. They have some snow clearing. Their biggest cost down there, I imagine, is snow clearing and garbage collection.

Forty per cent of their community now are fishermen or fish plant workers and they are all having a hard time meeting their own property tax requirements. So, Newfoundland Power could keep the council alive if they were allowed to tax them at a fair rate. It wasn't exorbitant. It was exorbitant if you compared the small budget of the town council and how much they were taking from one industry. But it wasn't an exorbitant amount if you look at the bottom line of the shareholders of Newfoundland Power, what they are making from light and power, because they are using the resource of Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove, and what Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove can afford to pay themselves.

Mr. Speaker, the $40,000 that Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove would get from Newfoundland Power, now will be reduced to around $17,000 to $20,000, something like that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, this is ten times reduction. They were getting around 22 mils or 22 per cent or whatever you want to call it. As far as the council knows, or they did know when all this started to be discussed earlier on, they will lose $20,000, 50 per cent of the whole budget that Newfoundland Power is paying them. They will lose it in Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove. So now they have lost half of the Newfoundland Power tax revenues, they have lost their main fish plant -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, it was reduced two years ago, then, when they starting distributing it around the community. That was the second phase of it. This is only the second phase now, I am talking about, before Newfoundland Power started taking the money away from the people in the communities themselves, before they went to court on this.

Mr. Speaker, right now Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove are after losing in the last three or four years $20,000 plus from Newfoundland Light and Power. The Petty Harbour Fishermens' Co-op is in major trouble because there are no fish, for one thing, and our government and the banks are getting kind of edgy with their loan guarantees. There is going to be a big problem there. A very good community effort when the Petty Harbour fishermen got together and changed what was happening in the fishery in their area, and did a good job at it. They needed lots of capital and they got government guarantees, the same as every other fish plant, but there was a difference. It was community operated, there was local money put into it, the fishermen themselves have their own monies invested in it and if that company goes bankrupt, and it has been shut down for two years now because of no fish, but if it goes bankrupt that will devastate Petty Harbour/ Maddox Cove. That would be the end of Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove, I would say, because the savings that the fishermen have put into this business, and they have put in quite a lot of their own money into trying to get this fishery - I remember only ten to fifteen years ago the Petty Harbour fishermen came down in front of Atlantic Place dumping the fish or giving away fish on Water Street. What changes in ten or fifteen years, but, Mr. Speaker, the main change in Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove was to set up their fish plant.

Now the Town Council cannot get any revenue from that fish plant if it is closed down; they certainly will never get it if it goes bankrupt, if this government allows the banks to call their guarantees or if they do not support the fish plant. There is another large fish plant there, the owner is Mr. Hearn, this has been owned by many people in the last ten years, a private operation which probably is not going to survive this moratorium because there is no great amount of money backing it. The people who operate it run from year to year like a lot of small fish plant operators, so that fish plant is not going to be in existence and I am sure if it goes out of business, the government is only waiting for fish plants to go out of business so that they can pull their licences so they will not have so many fish plants operating in this Province, so whatever fish plant goes out of business, Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove is going to lose both of their fish plants and half of their revenue because of the changes that this government has made, particularly in this utilities announcement that the minister made today.

Now what will happen with this announcement today in St. John's? The City of St. John's does not tax up to this level now, the utilities, the City of St. John's will gain $2.5 million - that was in four-year ago figures, the last ones I saw - so the $2.5 million are coming from the Petty Harbours, the Tors Cove, the Mobiles and the Cape Broyles of this Province. Now if the City of St. John's is looking for a place to increase their taxes this year, I am not even sure if they are aware of this, and if they are aware that they are not taxing up to that potential that the utility companies, Light and Power in particular, agrees with this, they fought to get this put in place, so there is $2.5 million in the kitty for St. John's next year if they want to go - well from figures four years ago that I saw, if they want to go after this, so there is no need of a tax increase in St. John's this year to cover a regular property tax if the City of St. John's-

AN HON. MEMBER: We are taxed to death.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, we are taxed to death in St. John's, I agree wholeheartedly - there are not many times I agree with the Minister of Health, there are not too many times we agree, but I do agree that St. John's is taxed to death, but a lot of the tax burden you have put on this council. Decisions that you have made and your colleagues have made since you took office; the amalgamation of the Goulds to the City of St. John's has cost the city's taxpayers quite a bit of money and it will cost the city taxpayers quite a bit more money before this is over yet. The Goulds was surviving on its own as a small town operation with a limited amount of services. The day that you put them in - well -

AN HON. MEMBER: They should have taken in Mount Pearl.

DR. KITCHEN: The Member for St. John's Centre said they should have taken in Mount Pearl. Well that is your decision, that was your decision, you chickened out on it. You backed away from it, I do not know why. Yes, point to the Premier's office because that is where it came from. That is the same instruction as every other instruction over there, but we will leave that one and we will hope we win the next election. But I would not want to be waiting for pension credits from the Mount Pearl Town Council, I would not want to be trying to build up pension credits from the Mount Pearl Town Council if this Premier wins the next election, because within a week, Mount Pearl will disappear in smoke. Mount Pearl is going into the city the next time because what happened has to be an irritant to the Premier

MR. MATTHEWS: He said that sure. He told Mount Pearl that.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, it has to be an irritant to the Premier, how Mount Pearl stood up for itself, and it had enough organization to be able to withstand the bullying that this government, and the former minister, was doing in the St. John's region.

Mr. Speaker, St. John's will gain $2.5 million in this tax regime, and they are going to take it from the smaller communities. Light and Power will break even overall. It is about the same amount of taxes that Light and Power will pay, generally, not much difference. It will not change by 5 per cent for Light and Power. They will get generally about the same overall dollars when you look at the whole Province.

The ones who are going to get hurt are the small communities again. Again, the same as with the changes in the MOG, the operating grants, when this new complicated formula was brought in to confuse everyone, the purpose was to help the smaller communities and let the larger ones who could afford it, pay their own way.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it did not work on either count, because the larger communities, particularly in St. John's, and it is quite common for people in this House of Assembly to get up and say: Big St. John's should be doing it all on their own. Well, Mr. Speaker, St. John's does more than its share in this Province, of surviving on its own - much more than its share. It has the highest property tax rate in the whole Province - 11.5 mils - the highest in the Province. Windsor used to have it, before it amalgamated with Grand Falls and it levelled off under St. John's. It is about 10.5 mils.

Corner Brook is somewhere around 11 mils - pretty close; but if you want to buy a building lot in Corner Brook, you will not pay $800 an inch for it. That is where the price comes in St. John's - $800 an inch for a piece of serviced land in this Province. Now that is where you start paying the big taxes. I could be paying 11 mils property tax up in Cape Broyle, in the new council up there, but if a building lot is only worth $500 up there, so what? It does not matter. I come in here and get 50 feet of land for $45,000. That is when you pay the price.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: For land only.

Mr. Speaker, that is the difference. That is where the residents of the City of St. John's are paying the difference.

Now everyone says that St. John's has everything. Well whatever St. John's has, the taxpayers in St. John's are paying for it, and paying for it through the teeth - and have been for years.

If you go into a subdivision in St. John's - I will never forget - in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, the Minister of Justice's district now. I was up there at a meeting one time, and there was a land assembly being developed there - provincial dollars. Roads were being built - some municipal dollars - but mostly provincial dollars. Roads were bulled in and services, subsidized by the Province at the time, were put into this subdivision. They were wondering whether they should sell the lots for $7,000 each or $10,000 each. Now it already cost about $15,000 just to put them there. The roads were not paved then. The sidewalks were not in, and none of the street work was done at all, and they were going to sell those lots for $7,000.

There is no difference in having a serviced building lot in Goose Bay. The cost of putting it there should be about the same as it is in St. John's. I know the land value is different. They have Crown land, so you could say the input costs were probably somewhere around $40,000 an acre cheaper right off the bat; but it was not a difference between $45,000 a building lot and $7,000 a building lot.

The town council in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, at the time, had an opportunity to charge fair prices for that land, and cost nobody anything, the same as someone from St. John's who moves into a subdivision. When you buy your house and you buy your lot, you have paid for everything that is in front of that lot - half the street, half the pavement, all of the sidewalk in front of your home, the water and sewer that is in it, plus you pay an assessment to the arterial roads; you pay an assessment to the trunk sewers that are going back and forth through the Waterford Valley and Kenmount Road. You are paying assessments to that. That is why the City of St. John's seems to be able to advance; but it is done on the backs of the people who are paying. Then you pay 11 mils on top of that, of a property tax. Then, if you are in a business, you pay again, double taxation that the minister, in his statement, said should not be done. A business will pay his property tax.

If I have a business in the City of St. John's, and I own the building operating that business, I pay a business occupancy tax on the building, plus I pay property tax on the building, so that business is being charged twice. Now what is wrong with smaller municipalities charging for the generating plants and the equipment that are in the buildings, it is no different from what is done in St. John's now?

AN HON. MEMBER: Well the equipment (inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: The equipment is not being paid for, where?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, it is not but in smaller communities, why shouldn't it be? It should be, because they are not getting a big lot of money out of it, Light and Power can afford it, we are paying the bill anyway, whoever is paying your light bill is paying the bill, they are only going to ask for a rate increase.

AN HON. MEMBER: Light and Power (inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, we all do, that is right, I agree with that. We all pay for it but it provides the smaller councils like Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove or Cape Broyle to be able to provide bare, essential services to the people in that community; they are providing services to the facility; they are clearing roads so that Light and Power can get to the facility; they are providing water to it if they have water in the community and they are providing a community environment around it. Whatever advantages there are to having that community these councils are paying it, so why should they not get paid a fair return on their taxes. The City of St. John's will get a fair return on theirs because the property values are so high that the 11 mils plus the business occupancy tax that the city gets will be enough anyway without even going to the 2.5 mils or whatever it says in this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: - in lieu of grants, well that was Newfoundland Hydro there but it was 2.5 mils when it was being talked about back some time ago and I remembered it when I had more information on it in the Cabinet sheets so, Mr. Speaker, this change in the municipal operating grants that the minister is looking to get approved now, has hurt smaller municipalities in this Province and I would say by next year, Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove will probably be bankrupt. That will be my assessment of it. If there is much snow in the next month, I do not know if they can get it cleared; they probably can because they will get an operating loan from the bank and spend next year's money to do it. Hopefully we won't have much snow for the rest of this fiscal year. I do not know how they are going to make up their budget; I think, already they are $20-odd thousand dollars short on last year's budget because of the changes.

They lost $6,000 or $7,000 in some of these grants but it is not what they lost in the operating grant, it is what they lost in the roads component which was always the most important part of providing the services. The operating grants and that were very good for maybe getting a bit extra, maybe doing a bit of upgrading on the road and you might get in a bit of water and sewer if you had some money, but the road component kept the community safe. It allowed you to plow the roads, it allowed you to spread sand if it got slippery. The road component was the one which had the practical use, that was the one that kept the insurance rates in the communities at a reasonable level.

There are communities on the Southern Shore and it will be mentioned here in a few minutes by one of our members who is having problems; the department went to these councils and looked at their books as explained by the minister. Well, if I were the minister I would go back to them and tell them do not only look at what is on the books and what is in the bank account, look at what is owed and look at what is not able to be collected. They did half a job and because someone had a positive bank balance the day they went to look at it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: We will hear, I won't say much more about that except that you will find out for sure. I know you are not intentionally avoiding this, this is what you have been told, this is the information that you staff gave you, you were not up looking at the books, I am not blaming you for this but I would go back if I were you. I would go back to that department, after you hear the Member for Ferryland give his explanation of what is happening up there, you go back to your department and find out what they are doing, find out if the whole story is being told or part of the story is being told -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well it has not been according to the councils up there. I do not know if the councils have a different view of it than the person who gave you the story. Mr. Speaker, I said $800 an inch before for land in St. John's, it should have been $800 a foot. It would be extremely expensive and I would have tried to sell my house today at that price, but it is $67 an inch, which is a lot of money. No where else in Newfoundland are you going to pay that much for it. You can go from -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: It is about $45,000 for a fifty foot lot, yes and that is generally what they are now -

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that cost (inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: That is the full cost of a lot. Now, that provides the contractor with a profit, it provides the servicing and it provides assessments -

MR. ROBERTS: Sidewalk and pavement?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. And it provides so much for assessments for the trunk sewers and the arterial roads, whatever the City has tacked on to it.

MR. ROBERTS: The actual economic cost of putting that lot on stream, okay.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. That is why it is becoming more important for surveyors to get their work right. Because you put in a three-quarter inch iron bar, and that is probably $60 worth of land gone right there; and you must have one of those on both sides, so it is $120.

MR. ROBERTS: That doesn't count the surveyor's fee for putting it in.

MR. R. AYLWARD: The surveyor's fee for putting that in - well, in St. John's -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) thousand.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, that $67 per lot would include the initial staking. That would be $67 per inch.

MR. ROBERTS: Somebody has to bear the costs.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, but the comparison I am trying to make is that people are saying St. John's has everything - don't give St. John's any more, they have too much now. But you can't say that, you have to say: How much do I pay for that cost when I am buying it? Conception Bay South moved closer to a user-pay system last year and the place nearly went crazy up there. I mean, they were going to charge something like $6,000 or $7,000. That is not half - I know the cost of putting in fifty feet of services, that is, pavement, sidewalk, water and sewer under it, comes close to $25,000. Well, it did years ago.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) general public has paid that cost through grants from the Province.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, it has for a long time, except for St. John's. But we still are saying in governments - and it was said in mine, in the Cabinet I sat in. We are still saying: take from St. John's and give to someone else. But that is a wrong philosophy based on wrong information. It should never be. And this municipal grant structure we are on here today is doing just that - it is taking from St. John's because St. John's has everything. But, looking a step further, where did they get it? They got it by people buying lots in the subdivisions, and building businesses. Those are the people who pay the shot. And that is part of the reason why we have Kilbride today. Before amalgamation with St. John's, people tried to get away from St. John's to Kilbride. So we swallowed that up, that went in, too, and that was our administration. So they moved from St. John's - Kilbride to the Goulds and we swallowed that up. Bay Bulls - Witless Bay will be the next place, to create the same problems -

MR. ROBERTS: Portugal Cove.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, they jumped both ways - I am just talking about the area I am familiar with. And now we are going to create the same problems we have in the Goulds today - and we see there are problems, where the City went in and looked at the sewer lines. Because you have a council that doesn't have the expertise to look after the installation of services, doesn't have the money to do a proper job and doesn't do the proper assessments on the lots so that a person will pay the full cost.

I know, one council in the Goulds used to bulldoze roads in, get the lots built, and then apply to our government to have it paved. Now, they didn't get too far with it while I was there.

MR. ROBERTS: Bob Wells was trying to get pavement.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, they paved the existing roads in those times, but not the new subdivisions.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) snow.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I know. The back line is one of them. It is still a problem in there.

But that is what councils were doing, and not only the Goulds council. This was traditional in a lot of small towns. Now, that wasn't the purpose of it - the money we were giving out for road improvements was supposed to be for upgrading existing roads. If a road in your community had deteriorated, we would give you a partial grant. Sixty-Forty was the name we always gave the program. I don't know what the actual name was. But it was abused, and that is where we are losing out. What we were supposed to be doing was go in and build a road completely and have it paid for; in fifteen years, that road needs repairs. The council can't afford to do it, the taxpayers can't afford to do it, so you pay some of the cost, 60-40, to do the repairs, not to build the initial road. That's what is happening throughout the Province. It happened in our time and it is still happening. I know of instances where it is happening.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I will bet you. I would say that there is a good chance that the Dunville Town Council might have considered that at some time or other.

Now when we talk about the road components - I hope the Minister of Fisheries is having a good look. This is what is happening. This is what is going to happen to this Province more and more, if the government continues on this same line, this same approach that he is taking. If this government continues to hide it's head in the sand and ignore the problems of the people of this Province, this is what is going to happen, more and more. Mr. Speaker, there will definitely be more of this in this Province in the next little while.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I may, if hon. gentleman would permit, I realize that we are not supposed to take cognizance of what happens outside the bounds of the House, by which I mean the floor of the Chamber, and I realize that there are people in this Province who very strongly hold the belief -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the Chair just might speak to members on this rather important matter, it is incumbent upon all hon. members to ensure that the decorum of the House is maintained, and the Chair looks forward to the co-operation of members on both sides of the House when we run into a situation like this.

As hon. members know, this kind of behaviour is not tolerated in the precincts of the House, and the Chair can call for the clearance of the House - for strangers to be escorted from the House. Since the people did it rather willingly, then the Chair did not intercede - it was about to intercede. But in these matters, the obligation is on both sides of the House - all members - to co-operate with the House and to ensure that decorum is maintained at all times.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I think I speak for members on both sides when I say that: (a) We hear Your Honour's words; and (b) We shall heed them.

Obviously the point of order that I was about to raise would regress the situation, but these ladies and gentlemen have left the Chamber. They are welcome to come back, I suggest, but in so doing they must abide by the rules that govern any person who wishes to come into this Chamber.

I thank the hon. gentleman for yielding. I suspect he could not see what was going on because these gentlemen were behind him in the gallery.

We will simply carry on. Where the hon. gentleman was making quite a good speech. Let's carry on with it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride may continue.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. There are only a few minutes left.

In conclusion, I suppose the general thrust of what I am trying to say to that, we hear a lot from our Minister of Finance, and our Treasury Board Minister, and our Premier in this Province, about transferring the tax burden from the federal government to the provincial government. They are not giving us enough or the federal government is finding ways to transfer the tax burden to the province. Well, Mr. Speaker, this is only the same thing, exactly, as what is happening where our provincial government is transferring the tax burden to the municipalities.

The municipalities cannot afford it, and we will find out in the next year or so what big problems that the municipalities are having. It will only come after this year's budget, I would say, from January until March, when the minister starts getting his budget - I think they are supposed to be all in by January - balanced budgets. I doubt very much that they are going to have too many balanced budgets, or they might be balanced on paper.

Mr. Speaker, the problems are only starting with this new tax system - this extra complicated tax system that was intentionally made complicated by the former Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs so people would not understand it, and would not kick up too much trouble with it until they did understand it. I say most of the people involved in municipalities, and most of the people in this House of Assembly, still do not understand it, Mr. Speaker, and I am one of them.

Thank you very much.

MR. PARSONS: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern, on a point of order.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I gave notice today of a resolution, and I didn't realize that I already had a resolution on the Order Paper. I would ask the permission of the House to have that first resolution cancelled and the resolution that I introduced to the House today be placed in its stead.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair understands that the hon. member has unanimous consent to have his previous resolution rescinded and replaced by the resolution that the member introduced today.


MR. SPEAKER: Fine! Agreed!

Is the House ready for the question on Second Reading?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: I would just like to make a few comments, Mr. Speaker, pertaining to this particular piece of legislation. I don't suppose, if I went back through Hansard over the past year or so, that I could probably add anything to what I have already said, except, Mr. Speaker, to make a few comments on some things that have happened, even in the last couple of months.

Now, from the outset, when the former Minister Responsible for Municipal Affairs came out with this new program back in December 19, 1990, I at that time, Mr. Speaker, said that as far as I was concerned it was an injustice to municipalities in the Province, and I am of the same belief today. Municipalities in the Province could not sustain and could not stand some of the changes - if hon. members can remember, December 19, 1990 this particular announcement was made, approximately eleven days before their budgets were supposed to go in. Now, Mr. Speaker, no municipality in the Province - I don't care whether it is the city or whether it is a community council with a population of 200 or 300 - could make adjustments in such a short time and try to carry on as if nothing had happened.

We are, Mr. Speaker, in a situation in the Province today, with regard to municipalities, where a lot of the municipalities are not going to be able to balance their budgets this coming year. They couldn't last year, they won't this year and, I venture to bet that if there are no changes to the municipal operating grant itself in this particular year, they will not balance their budgets come December 31. There is just no way. It is worse now than when the program was announced. Because what is after happening since that, Mr. Speaker, is that the unemployment rate has gotten higher and the business community in this Province has dwindled, the businesses in small municipalities today, the little bit of infrastructure that they did have, is gone. Nobody can pay, even if they wanted to. Based on the municipal operating grant - and I will get into the other ones after - especially on the road component, there is not a small municipality - not only small, but one that comes to mind in a larger municipality is Conception Bay South. They are short $130,000 based on the road component loan last year.

So smaller municipalities, Mr. Speaker, are not the only ones that are affected by this particular MOG system. What are they going to do about it? What is the present minister going to do about it? I would say that the present minister - I would have to give him full marks for trying to change it - but I would say he is running into a lot of difficulty with some of his colleagues in Cabinet. I would say, one of the gentlemen on the other side of the House, who comes to mind, is now putting on his glasses, he is now the minister responsible for Health. I would say, based on his performance in the House for the past three-and-a-half years, based on what I would consider some of his beliefs with respect to running a government or running a business - I could be wrong, but as a matter of perception, I suppose, rather than actuality, I would say he is one of the stumbling blocks to changing this particular system. Some of the backbenchers - I won't say all, but some of them, and I would say, some of the ministers, especially ministers responsible for rural areas of the Province - would want to see that system changed.

There is something radically wrong with a system where you get calls - I get them; I have been around, speaking to different municipalities, I have been at different forums in the past where municipalities have brought their concerns to me, and I suppose they will continue to do so.

This coming Saturday, I will be speaking at the Humber Joint Council meeting at Benoit's Cove, and I am not going to say anything that isn't factual - there is no point. Municipalities today are more sophisticated, whether small or large. They know what is in the municipal operating grants; they know what repayment means, and the formula means for repayment on capital debt and they can pretty well speak for themselves.

But some of the things the minister will need to have help with, especially pertaining to this road component, Mr. Speaker, roads, no matter where they may be in this Province, are vital to the infrastructure, vital to the business community. Anywhere, whether in Labrador or on the Island of Newfoundland, in communities large or small, you must have a good transportation network, otherwise, you have absolutely nothing.

A small community of 700 people in my district lost $32,000 in one year on the road component and, to add insult to injury, December 19, 1990, it was cut from $2,000 in 1969 -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: That's right, that is one.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Exactly, thirty kilometers of road, and most of that is by-roads. From 1969 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Well - my fault; I was Mayor of the community for ten years, I admit, but I didn't stymie business in the community.

AN HON. MEMBER: You should have taken over the roads.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I didn't take them over. They were always the responsibility of the council in that community, ever since 1945.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes. They were never with Transportation.

The problem is, that in that particular community alone - and I can go on to others - you have approximately thirty kilometers of so-called by-roads - and we refer to them as anything off the main thoroughfares. And practically all the business in that community is taking place on those particular roads, namely, forestry and agriculture. Now, what do you do? How do you keep that up? With no infrastructure, whom do you tax? You can only tax the people in the area so much. We don't have the luxury of St. John's - and I am not saying that in the sense of trying to bash St. John's, I am saying, just look what happened this year under the new assessment. It went up 25 per cent or 30 per cent, didn't it? Just imagine, I mean, a $100,000 home in St. John's, put that out in the little community of Cormack and you will get $40,000 for it - the same home, no difference in it - pavement by the door, a gutter there; the only thing you wouldn't have is sidewalk. That is the difference.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) mil rate.

MR. WOODFORD: You wouldn't have to put a mil rate in. You see, this is where hon. members - and I can see now where the hon. the minister can't get any help. I mean, you can put the mil rate up to 100 mils, if your house isn't worth anything, you still don't pay anything, that's the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, you just said it was worth $40,000.

MR. WOODFORD: That is right, okay. I will give you an example. I won't say the community, I will give you another example if hon. members want, a prime example. The first component under the MOG system is the equalization component, that is the first component. Why is the equalization component there? It is there because of the provincial average; they have a provincial average for setting the equalization component. How they got that, they still have not answered me yet, but I suspect they took all the properties in the Province except Corner Brook, St. John's, Mount Pearl and probably Grand Falls, took the average, divided it by the households in the Province and came up with a percentage. Now, if anybody can tell me the difference, they can come ahead, I challenged that before but nobody did it, so - Anyway, regardless of that, I think they came up with a figure of somewhere around $48,000, $47, $48 something.

Go out into a community in this Province today and do an assessment. I know of one community that has say 700 livyers, they did the property assessments, five homes, five pieces of property in that particular community, five, were over $75,000 in value. The equalization component works like this, the minister knows -

AN HON. MEMBER: I know how it works because (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: How they arrived at the $48,000 provincial average to determine the differential - because the only thing you are getting paid for is your differential, that is what you are getting paid for and the higher that average can be brought up in a municipality the less you get but the only thing about it, you can put your assessments - the hon. member says: what mil rate? Mil rate is not always the answer and this is why I think the minister should have flexibility. The minister should have the power in his department to use flexibility when it comes to each municipality in the Province because you may be able to do it with say 5 mils, no problem. I know municipalities can operate on 5 mils and not take bloody all from the government. I know municipalities who cannot operate on 20 mils simply because the assessments are so low, the property values are so low that even with the differential under the equalization component and the local revenue component, that they cannot meet their needs, no way.

And all those components, the equalization one, the local revenue component especially those two, when it comes under the MOG system, the only other two are the household component and the roads component, those are the four new ones under the MOG system, so the household component has not changed, that is $85 per household, you are not going to gain much by that because if you gain on households, under the division factor and the equalization component, you are going to lose under the deficiency one so that is not going to bring you in any extra dollars there.

The only way municipalities can be hit directly, especially with the way the business community is and the economy is, not only in the Province today but in Canada, they are hit directly under this roads component and block funding under this particular component should not include them. The total MOG should not be in place. The minister should be given latitude in his department. There is no trouble to pick up a piece of paper and tell how many kilometres of roads are in the municipalities in the Province that have to be looked after. You go down in the Minister of Education's district, go down in the winter time, leave here and go down there, leave Deer Lake and go down there in the winter time and see what it is going to cost for snow clearing. When we are finished and wearing slippers around here, down there, they just cannot drive, the expense, yes that is right, that is true, I mean, there is no comparison with regards to what you spend.

Look at the budget in Roddickton today and look at the budget, we will say here, for snow clearing or out in the hon. member for Carbonear's district, and the comparisons on a per capita basis is night and day. There is no comparisons whatsoever. This is where I am saying about flexibility; you should have the flexibility to say to a community - the minister brought up last week about one particular community up here had a surplus in the bank.

You know something, I spent ten years in municipal politics and I am a firm believer that any community in this Province today, whether they are charging 1, 2, 15, or 20 mils - regardless of what they are charging - if they can show a profit at the end of the year, then I tell you, you should call them in right away, design a medal and give it to them, because they deserve it. Believe you me, they deserve it. Those particular communities deserve a medal. They deserve some kind of recognition, because I am telling you, they are not operating in a very good environment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) their operating statement (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: In their operating statement, yes, but I know of some municipalities that have it in the bank, and it is great. You have to have it up here, I tell you, to run a community and still have it in the bank, I can assure you of that, because it takes a will. They are all volunteers, all down, out around, unless you are in a big municipality today where you can afford to chuck out a few dollars for running a council. I tell you, it is no easy matter. But somehow the minister is going to have to have support from his Cabinet colleagues to put money back into that road component, and not next year. It has to be put in before the end of December. If not, I can tell you right now that there are communities on this Island that are not going to survive next year. They may survive in Nain. They will not survive for two reasons. Economically they will be finished, and they are not going to get people to run for municipal council, for municipal office.

People are getting frustrated. They are coming to me. They are coming to members opposite. I know they are, and they are saying: Look, I am just throwing my hands up in the air. I am not going to take the headaches of this, to go in and sit down at a council meeting week after week, day after day. I am getting absolutely nothing for it, only a sore head, dealing with people's problems and making enemies. The biggest thing is making enemies.

In a larger municipality, or a larger city like St. John's or Corner Brook, you can make decisions. You can put the mil rate up 5 mils, 6 mils, 7 mils, and the only thing you have to worry about is answering to the public at the end of four years. But in a small municipality, I guarantee you, every bingo game you go to, every card game, every senior citizen's thing, wherever you go, mostly the same people, because usually in those small communities they say: if you want something done, ask a busy person. That is exactly what happens. You run into it, and it creates friction. Families get divided over it, and so on.

Mr. Speaker, I only have a few minutes left. Time does not warrant me to go on and talk about other problems with regard to the - I would like to make a few comments pertaining to the repayment on capital debt - the new formula for the repayment on capital debt.

I will not go into the specific formula itself, but once you go over that 60 per cent, the government will pay up to $700; $750 the government pays the full shot after. That is happening. Two municipalities in my district, where the formula really - really there is no bearing on whether they get approval or not, with regard to the difference of what they pay, because they pay the full amount - but I have communities that cannot take it. Some are up to $237 per household, $247 per household. I have one municipality that was awarded $350,000 last year, but could not take one nickel because they would have had to put the mil rate up overnight about 5 mils just to cover the balance under the repayment of capital debt because, as you know, it was spread over three years. All of a sudden this had to be taken into account; adjustments had to be taken into account, in order to just make your payments on capital debt.

Municipalities had to turn it down, and I would submit today to the minister that out of that $60 million that was approved last year for capital funding under municipal affairs, I would say that not $40 million is spent, or committed to be spent, and that, Mr. Speaker, is wrong. If there is $60 million to be spent under Capital, $60 million should be tendered to be spent under Capital. If we don't have a deficit today, or if we don't put monies into Capital Account today, especially in municipalities where municipalities are paying pretty well the whole shot, until they are over their $300 - the only thing that comes into play every year is their CPI. That is the only thing that is added to that $300. This year I think it is $337 per household. I think that is the only difference that can be made pertaining to the repayment on capital debt.

A lot of municipalities budgeted for $1 million. They got $400,000, but they could have used $1 million. Why is it so hard for someone to rationalize with giving this particular municipality the $1 million, and let the work be done? I mean, they are paying the same. They are going to make their payments, they are not indebted to government anymore. The department is going to carry the same amount. Once the $60 million is allocated, they do that on a certain ratio on a certain repayment schedule, and then that can be accommodated.

So, if I were minister in a department, such as Municipal Affairs and I allocated $60 million for Capital and there is $40 million or $45 million spent, I would want to know, within a month, which municipalities got it and the ones that said no. Give it to the other ones, put it out, create jobs, put some work out into the smaller municipalities around the Province and try to accommodate people, especially people who are paying their bills, paying their way. People who are paying their way can certainly accommodate the extra funding.

Mr. Speaker, to comment on today's announcement by the minister, pertaining to Newfoundland Hydro, one thing I would say to the minister is that it is about time those cable companies were hit. They never hit them hard enough, as far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, with regard to taxes. For cable companies to make reference to the minister that they are regulated by CRTC - so what! They come into a municipality and if it is spread out over ten kilometers, what do they do? They pick out the nucleus of the homes, 100 or 150, like down around your way and up my way -

AN HON. MEMBER: Clustered.

MR. WOODFORD: That is right, clustered. That is the word. That is the word he gave me the other day when I called Montreal and talked to one of the head fellows with one of the cable companies: Oh, we are in a cluster. I said: You are in a cluster all right! They come into a community, leave out one end or both ends and go into the middle, take their big haul and go.

AN HON. MEMBER: That same one.

MR. WOODFORD: That same one. That is one of the ones.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: I would like to have just another couple of minutes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave! By leave!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, we didn't hit them hard enough. If the minister brought in an amendment tomorrow to charge those people more I would be the first to go along with him, because they have been skinning their way and acting like vultures in municipalities around the Province for too long. They were assessed a small amount of money by municipalities in my area years ago. They just gave them a token, a bill for probably $200 a year. Do you know that I have one municipality where that company fought that for six years in the courts. Now, that is doing nothing for corporations in the Province. That is not a community-minded business. That is not someone who is supporting individuals in a community.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the average around the Province (inaudible)? What is the average?

MR. WOODFORD: The average, I think, is around 2 per cent for anyone like Newfoundland Tel. Now, based on this, under The Municipalities Act, municipalities always had the option that they could charge, I think it was 2 per cent - wasn't it? - 2 per cent on gross revenues? Or they could go the other route and, on the strictly business sense of it, charge for the property assessment.

AN HON. MEMBER: What would that be?

MR. WOODFORD: That is a little difference with business.

AN HON. MEMBER: Just say Harbour Grace was charging overall (inaudible). That would be over 100 mils, would it not?


Mr. Speaker, what the minister brought in today pertaining to cable companies, as far as I am concerned, is none too late. They are not, as far as I am concerned, doing what they are supposed to be doing. At least Newfoundland Telephone and Newfoundland Light and Power will come into a community, and if it is within a mile, if a pole was, say, within a mile to the end of that road, at least they will extend it without any extra expense. Then it is just put in with the rest of the income for the municipality and they go on with their business.

I could say a little bit more, too, about that particular situation with regard to Newfoundland Light and Newfoundland Hydro. What other companies in this Province - what other private individual in this Province today, who has a business in this Province, has the luxury of going to the PUB? Not one. We have Newfoundland Telephone, Newfoundland Light and Power, and Newfoundland Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: Newfoundland Telephone does not go to the PUB (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: That is right. They go -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: No, they go through the CRTC, but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) competition.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, but they have a monopoly. It is just as well to admit that they have a monopoly, pretty well, on this.

You take Newfoundland Light and Power today. Fortis Corporation today is one of the biggest and strongest companies in the Province. They come to municipalities, and they even try to shirk their responsibility; but through the Municipalities Act and through some other steps that were taken by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, they paid up.

Newfoundland Telephone was a bit reluctant for awhile, but eventually they paid up. They came into municipalities -

AN HON. MEMBER: This is going to benefit Newfoundland Telephone (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Oh, it will.

AN HON. MEMBER: Newfoundland Telephone will reap the benefits. It is the municipalities who will get hurt.

MR. WOODFORD: Some municipalities yes, no question, will get hurt; and some municipalities where the cable companies are in, they will pick up a few extra dollars, but that is based on the per capita basis and based on the amount of hookups.

Mr. Speaker, I would like for members opposite, through the minister, to especially, if nothing else, take a look at the roads component of the MOG system. That is very vital to municipalities in the Province, and I would say that it could mean the survival or the demise of a lot of municipalities in this Province. They cannot afford it, and they just cannot pick up the tab for that particular part of the MOG system. So I would submit to the minister that if there is anything done this year, that is one that should be taken care of.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Overall, the squeeze is gradually getting put on municipalities. I can understand the minister's concern, and three of the components actually there, I think, are beneficial, and they are fair and even right across all municipalities in the Province. The equalization component; certainly a local revenue incentive is important to entice communities to share a greater percentage of the burden; and the household component is also fairly standard.

What has happened in some municipalities, especially in my district, the municipalities that have large numbers of roads, that used to get $2,000 per kilometre for roads, are now getting $484 per kilometre. Some of these communities have entered into contracts with Works, Services and Transportation to pay $1,000 per kilometre for snow clearing, when actually they are now receiving $484.

We find that the municipalities that will be in the best shape are ones that have the fewest roads - the ones that are not dependent upon this particular component. The ones with the largest number of roads are the ones to experience the greatest difficulty.

Also, overall, communities that were benefitting by facilities for transmission of electricity in their communities were doing fairly well prior to this 2.5 per cent. Granted, the rationale behind it is reasonable. It is going to equally share the total revenues over all municipalities by usage rather than where the facility is located. There are certain merits in that, but the key thing overall is that by having a cap on the grant structure it is placing undue burdens on many communities.

I would also like to just briefly touch on the 1991-92 year, in which in June there were some undue hardships placed on municipalities by not knowing in advance. I know the minister has addressed this, and he has indicated so, but when his inspectors went out, and I met with councils and talked with mayors and clerks and managers, they indicated that they did not ask for any payables. I will use examples. For example, Renews/Cappahayden community, $114,000 budget, cut back $10,000. They looked at their bank balance of September and they had $16,000 in the bank, not realizing a lot of their payables are in the latter part of the year. They are now sitting on less than half that and it is anticipated, by year end, there will either be a slight deficit or a slight surplus, not a $16,000 balance.

AN HON. MEMBER: What community?

MR. SULLIVAN: Renews/Cappahayden.

Actually I think they indicated that there was $478.22 in the bank and they had a surplus of $29,000 last year. I just had a meeting with them last Tuesday and I asked them, in fact, if they were as well off as indicated, and they indicated that, by year end, they may balance. They could have a slight deficit or they could have $1,000 or $2,000 left. They just don't have any money. I think one of the reasons, also, that they are going to be hard hit is that Renews/Cappahayden traditionally had a large number of local roads, and they always received $2,000 per kilometer in road component. That is one of the communities that has such a small budget and no tax revenue base, that with the road component now being pretty well eliminated or down to one-quarter what it used to be, they are going to have even more hardships in the future.

Another area I would just like to mention, for the minister's information, is Witless Bay. He indicated that they have,in term deposits and cash in the bank, a total of $67,000. Now, this is a community, for instance, that has a budget between $400,000 and $500,000. They had not paid for their stockpiling salt and sand, and they have their winter crews. Their big expenditure is occurring. They are down to half that amount now and they indicate that, by year end, they may have a slight surplus. Now, they are not in bad shape, certainly, and they are not in desperate shape, but there is a far cry from a $67,000 surplus. The minister led us to believe they are a very wealthy community. In fact, by year end they will be, approximately, in a break-even position.

In the community of Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove -

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible) in term deposit in the bank.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, of which, shortly after, they transferred $33,000 to meet payables, and they have more payables now. I think, in an assessment it is very important to do projections to year end on receivables and payables. I have been informed by one municipality that I met with in a meeting this past week that they didn't ask for any payables and records up to year end when the inspector went out. Now, I understand that they had to visit as many communities as possible. I am not sure of the in-depth amount of inspection that was done, but I can assure you the communities mentioned here are not in very good shape.

My colleague from Kilbride mentioned Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove. In fact, in the last three years they have had $75,000 extra in expenditures, I think, with the cost of fire fighting and so on. Now, with cut backs in the generation of equipment and so on and for transmission, they are going to have an extra burden. They are facing a fairly severe deficit upcoming in this year.

Also, I would like to elaborate on Ferryland, for example. In the community of Ferryland, I think you indicated they weren't ready for an inspector to see their books, but an inspector did go out and visit them, which I am sure I can -

MR. HOGAN: I said they didn't have the reports there.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, you said, when they were contacted they weren't available to meet the inspector.

The only two communities, Mr. Speaker, that have not been visited on the Southern Shore, as far as I know to date, are Ferryland and probably Aquaforte. It was because officials in those particular towns were not ready to meet with the inspectors on the particular day they were available. They did meet one in Ferryland. I won't make a big issue of that. But basically, with the situation in Ferryland, for example, they get $46,153 and they still have a shortfall of $34,000 that they still owe to meet debt charges. That community now has an accumulated deficit, I think, of $69,000 and they have entered into a contract with transportation for snow clearing of $1,000 per kilometer when actually they are only receiving $484. In fact, I have up to dates on all communities in my district.

Bay Bulls is another community that in June - and the meeting was requested, by the way, by the Mayor of Bay Bulls, not the Mayor of Ferryland and it was held in Ferryland because it was central and all other municipalities could attend. They had a budget and had plans to do some road work for residents that had built new houses there. They had cut backs and they got a lot of angry residents - I shouldn't say a lot, there were three specific letters, I know, I got copies of, that I think you department has received, from people who were given commitments that the road was going to be done. Because of the $14,000 cut back they can't carry out work in that area.

It is frustrating for people who are sitting on municipal governments because with so much cost being down loaded, there is a lot of frustration. The mayor of one community told me last week that he spends thirty-three hours per week on municipal business and he said it is very difficult to get the people to take an interest and to be concerned because the extra responsibilities and the pressure that is coming, they do not want to be a part of it and it is rather frustrating. I know some of the communities are doing fine but some communities are in fairly difficult shape.

Just to illustrate the point: the communities that have no roads, the minister was right, the Fermeuse community yes, is fairly well off and one of the reasons why is because they have no roads in the community, hardly any roads at all, a very low kilometres of roads and under this new formula they are not going to be hurt severely, but in Cape Broyle for example, a newly incorporated community, there is a request to take over the roads and they have refused it. And why would they want to take over a road when there is no road component, they are going to incur tens of thousands of dollars worth of expenditures and they will receive no money in response?

I guess they would be crazy from a local point of view, so basically they are refusing to do it because it is going to save them $30,000. They are reasonably well off because of this, but that is only one of the two communities in the whole district that is in reasonably good financial shape. So I would ask the minister again, to look at this capping of grants because the roads component is having a very serious affect upon the operation of communities. When a small community like Renews that had, I think it is probably $20,000 or $30,000 out of $114,000 used to be in road components, that has now dwindled down to less than one-quarter of that, they are going to be in more serious trouble next year that they were this year.

The only communities that seem to be surviving are ones that do not have high debt loads. Aquaforte for example, had a water system put in under a federal grants incentives and fortunately they are not in great difficulty. Port Kirwan, the one the minister referred to only has an accumulated deficit of $5,000, they only have sixty voters in the entire community of Port Kirwan so it is only a very small community. In fact, this past week the community of Ferryland just removed street lighting to the value of $10,000 in their community because they are in serious financial difficulty and there are going to be increased pressures being put up on this community -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I said they removed $10,000 worth of street lighting in the community -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. - and it probably was not a very bright idea but they did it. Overall, I would just ask the minister, that out of his four components there, that once again, the roads component, I think it is very serious and I am sure he must realize it, and the other three components in the program can be equally impacted upon all municipalities in the Province. In the terms of a local incentive, there is nothing wrong with it; the household components and so on, there is no major problem. There is a problem from communities with varying numbers of roads, and communities took on those roads because there were $2,000 per kilometre for them. Now they are into a situation where they have these and they cannot off load them which they would very much like to do and they have built a budget around the road structures and they used actually, not all that monies on roads, the $2,000 per kilometre, but they built a budget around that road structure, that now they are stuck with the burden and they cannot off load these, so in fact, what is basically going to happen, in communities too, is that with any new development and any new housing, the community is not going to give permits for building in parts of the community because there is no road component built in to service that particular area and that is going to be a problem toward growth and expansion of a community.

Now in most rural areas, we already experience a problem by a reduction in the number of people living in these communities. The population is moving into urban areas, it is happening here and it is happening right across the country, where close to 60 per cent of the people in this country now live in urban areas, so the per capita cost of operating in these rural areas is increasing, and we can see, down the road, where the burden upon each of these municipalities is going to be considerably increased. We have to put some mechanisms in place, some type of formula that will give those rural communities a chance to survive and meet basic requirements.

It is easier to establish economies in urban areas, not so easy in rural areas. And one of the key components - and I will say it again - that has enabled rural communities to meet some of this burden, has been the roads component. And now, with more roads in urban areas, many times more per capita, we are now getting to the point where there is an increasing burden there, and there must be some kind of balance, some mechanism put in place to compensate communities that have a large number of roads now, that are being treated like all other communities, with the shortfall between the capping amount and what the other three components hold.

So, basically, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister to keep this in mind. I think it is very important to the life of rural communities, important in the matter of getting volunteers to serve on municipal councils and important in maintaining a certain integrity in the operation of these rural communities.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ROBERTS: Question.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act," read a second time, referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the understanding I gave to the House and to my hon. friends opposite, we will carry on now with Orders 11 and 12, and if we are really rolling along here, we will go on to 17 and 18. They are all bills involving my friend, the Minister of Health.

We will start, if we may, Sir -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No. It is Bill 33, but what happened was the Workers' Compensation Bill has gone to Committee of the Whole stage, so all the orders are down one. It is the same list I gave my hon. friend on Friday.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 11.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Welfare Institutions Act." (Bill No. 33)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 33 is "An Act To Amend The Welfare Institutions Act" and, as members will see, what we are basically doing here is substituting Minister of Health for Minister of Social Services, and making it retroactive to April 1, 1985.

Now, let me indicate why we are doing this, or why we are attempting to do this, I should say, because I didn't want to take the House for granted.

I might add, at the beginning, that when we come down to Bill No. 46, Order 17, we will be replacing The Welfare Institutions Act with a whole new act, but we have to go back and amend the act that we are going to replace, to make appropriate what we have been doing since 1985. Because, since 1985, the Minister of Health has, in effect, been responsible for The Welfare Institutions Act.

The way that was accomplished was done by Order in Council in 1985, April 1; but we have since had advice that since this involves the administration of a whole act, rather than part of an act, we should bring it before the House to have that technical procedure carried out.

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is anything else to be said about this, unless somebody wants to raise some points.

I move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main and Opposition Party Whip.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not have any great comment to make on this bill. It is a very straightforward act, as the minister said, and it is probably time that the act, in any event, reflected who is responsible for the various welfare institutions. Responsibility, I believe, has been transferred quite routinely over the years. Senior citizens homes and other institutions have long been under the administration of the Department of Health, so this act just simply reflects that, Mr. Speaker, and I have no other comment on it.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. minister speaks now, he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move that this bill receive second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Welfare Institutions Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 33).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thought I laid out an order, but let's carry on, Your Honour. Order 12, Bill No. 38.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 12. Second Reading of a Bill "An Act To Amend The Department Of Health Act," (Bill No. 38).

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this also is a simple amendment. What we are trying to do here is change the Department of Health Act to give the Lieutenant Governor in Council the power to create regional health care boards in the Province.

As you look at the wording of the bill there, let me just read it: Section 22 of the Department of Health Act is amended. Right now Section 22, for the benefit of members who are following the debate, reads as follows: The Lieutenant Governor in Council may establish boards, committees, and councils to assist and advise the minister in carrying out the provisions of this act, or regulations made under this act.

Now that is what Section 22 now reads. We are proposing that that part of Section 22 now be called Section 22(1), and that we add to it two more subsections. The first one: The Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by order, establish regional community health boards, which shall be considered to be corporations, to direct the delivery of health care services other than hospital services in the Province.

Then, a third item: An order made under Subsection (2) shall be considered to be subordinate legislation for the purpose of the statutes and subordinate legislation act.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that when we get into committee we will be probably making a slight amendment to that, to add the words: To direct the delivery of health and continuing care services. We will probably put the words 'and continuing' when we get to the committee stage.

In the meantime, that is what this amendment to the Department of Health Act is about to do. We are going to establish regional community health boards. The purpose of that is so that we can have single point of entry into nursing homes and other institutions, rather than have each do its own, and to have continuing care being administered within a region by a community care board. We also think that this will be combined with the activities carried out at present by medical officers of health and their groups out there then.

Anyway, that is what we are proposing to do, Mr. Speaker, and I will be glad to answer any questions that hon. members have.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main and Opposition Party Whip.

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, this might be a short bill, comparable to the other bill, but there is a lot more to this bill than meets the eye. It is really another example of where the decisions of elected representatives are now going to be given to Cabinet. When you get right down to it, that is what is really happening under this bill: The decision will be given to Cabinet to direct the various regional health care boards in the Province who will now be responsible for the delivery of the health care system - other than hospitals, I understand. So it will give the Cabinet, really, complete authority to organize and reorganize the health care system, without really having to present its legislative agenda to the House of Assembly. It will all be done now, Mr. Speaker, behind closed doors. When we get right down to it, this is really what is going to happen. I mean, Cabinet will now have the authority to direct the regional health care boards to direct the delivery of health care in the Province.

Now, the act, of course, doesn't say how many health care boards we are going to have all around the Province or how many we are going to have in St. John's. The legislation does not say that, and I guess I wouldn't expect the legislation to say that; how many we are going to have. That will probably be decided by Cabinet as well. But I would be interested in finding out from the minister how many regional health care boards we are going to have.

Mr. Speaker, that is the concern, I guess, that we have as an Opposition, that the delivery of health care will now be done by these regional boards. The House of Assembly won't really have the opportunity anymore, because the minister won't be presenting those things in legislative form to the House, to debate or discuss the merits or demerits at all.

So, Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is that the government, instead of directing the board, should bring its legislative proposals to the House. If you are going to reorganize the delivery of health care in the Province, you should at least have the intestinal fortitude to bring it into the House of Assembly so that it can be given a chance to debate what is going on. Now, probably boards wouldn't have made half the bad decisions that have been made and half the blunders that have been made in the health care system over the last three or three-and-a-half years in particular.

I would also be interested in finding out from the minister, when he stands to close debate, what the powers of the boards will be. We understand from the bill - and the bill doesn't say all that much, it is only a one or two clause bill. All it really says is that the regional health care boards will have responsibility for the delivery of health care, other than hospitals. But it does not really say what kinds of powers the boards will have.

If I remember correctly, back some time ago I heard the ADDC mention that they were going to be scrapped. The responsibility for the delivery of services that the ADDC was involved in would be now delivered by these regional health care boards.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was done last year.

MR. DOYLE: Yes, I realize that it was done last year. But, I mean, in addition to some of the things we already know about, what additional powers will these boards have? It is not really spelled out. Who will be eligible, for instance, for appointments to these boards? Will they be paid boards? Will they be full-time boards? Will they be part-time boards? What criteria will be used to appoint these people? Who will be making the appointments? Will it be done directly by Cabinet, or will it be done by the Public Service Commission, maybe? Who is going to be responsible for making these appointments to the board? And will they be full-time boards, will they be paid boards, will there be any professional people on those boards? When I say professional people, I mean, doctors and nurses and what have you. I would imagine, if it is a regional health care board, that the people who would be appointed to that board would have some medical background in addition to those who are non-professional people. And how many - I guess that is the key we don't see here - how many boards are we going to have in the Province?

Quite possibly, there might be a job for these boards, as well, in - instead of having MCP, maybe we could have the regional health care board, for instance, administer what is being done now by MCP. Because, God knows, MCP hasn't been doing very much of a job over the last two or three years, when you realize some of the problems they are experiencing down there.

I notice, the former Minister of Health is still here, even though, if there were any irregularities going on at MCP, we would have his resignation, he said, Mr. Speaker. He is still here, even though he made that comment publicly on the television screen: If there are any irregularities going on at MCP when I call for an investigation down there, they will have my resignation.

I remember that well.

MR. R. AYLWARD: They found two patients in the garbage.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DOYLE: There were quite a few irregularities at MCP. There is a report that was done by the government security officer, Mr. Clarke. I think, twenty-five recommendations were made to tighten up what was going on down at MCP. Yes, there were quite a number of irregularities at MCP, when you consider that you had the ordinary citizen in the street finding their medical files in a dumpster out back. So that indicates to me that there is something awry, or something amiss as to what is happening at MCP.

MR. ROBERTS: Somebody didn't do the job he was supposed to do.

MR. DOYLE: Exactly. Somebody wasn't doing the job.

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Minister of Health wasn't doing his job.

MR. DOYLE: Well, when you are dealing with patient files, patient documents and patient records, if an individual is not doing his job, that, to me, is an irregularity, something very irregular.

So maybe we should have these regional health care boards administer MCP. Maybe it's time we got rid of MCP once and for all. I don't mean the service, I mean the people who are running MCP. Maybe it's time we got rid of these people and had something like a regional health care board take on the responsibility for that. Somebody should definitely be looking after MCP, if for no other reason than to show the difference between a garbage bag and a filing cabinet.

Speaking of MCP, Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to take note that it might be interesting if we had a report from the minister on whether or not the recommendations that were made by the security officer - I think there were about twenty or twenty-five recommendations made at that time - I think it might be interesting to have some kind of up-date or statement from the minister on that, as to whether or not these recommendations have been implemented, that we were told would be.

So, will the board have any authority in that regard, Mr. Speaker? I don't know. Maybe the minister can tell us.

Mr. Speaker, there isn't a great deal I can say on this bill. It is lucky that we do have a new Minister of Health. The former minister had lost the complete confidence of the health care workers so it is lucky that we do have a new Minister of Health who can probably restore some of that confidence in the system, given the fact that we have hospital beds closing all over the place. I believe under the former minister we had 650 hospital beds closed in Newfoundland and Labrador under the very short tenure of the former Minister of Health. Now, under the new minister -

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes and killed 3,000 (inaudible).

MR. DOYLE: Yes, the minister saved $30 million a year but as my colleague, the Member for Grand Bank said, he probably killed an awful lot of people in the process of saving that $30 million, and isn't that some statement for -

AN HON. MEMBER: The funeral homes (inaudible).

MR. DOYLE: Yes, the funeral homes in the Province are cleaning up as a result of the former Minister of Health. Now it is about time that we did get a new Minister of Health before the former minister had everything screwed up and closed down completely. The former minister closed 650 hospital beds in the short while that this administration has been in office. I do not believe there is a Minister of Health across Canada who can claim that kind of success rate in closing down hospital beds, 650 closed in the Province, all from a former Minister of Health who belongs to an administration with a Premier who said that hospital beds would never close in Newfoundland and Labrador as long as the demand existed, so obviously the former Minister of Health felt that the demand did not exist.

He did not believe it, Mr. Speaker, when I told him that people were lining up for a year waiting for heart surgery, he did not believe that, as a matter of fact he went in front of the cameras and he told everyone: well, if people are lining up for a year waiting for heart surgery, I would question whether or not they needed heart surgery to begin with. Well, that was the enlightenment that we received from the former Minister of Health on whether or not people needed heart surgery in the Province. So over 650 beds closed under the former Minister of Health, and I am hoping that the new Minister of Health will not be able to boast of that type of a record, and I do not think he will because I will tell you I was very impressed with one move that the new Minister of Health made.

The new Minister of Health on taking office, as soon as he came into the Department of Health, he said to himself: the former Minister of Health had to be wrong about heart surgery in this Province, even though the former Minister of Health had said: well, I question whether or not that is happening, Mr. Speaker, I question whether or not people who are waiting for a full year should ever have heart surgery; what did the new Minister of Health do? He came in and he said: Why, I believe the Opposition was probably right on this one, and even though he did not make millions of dollars available to clear up that backlog, the new Minister of Health came in and he made $600,000 available to clear the backlog of people who were waiting for heart surgery and that was an indication that the new Minister of Health was going to make his mark fairly quickly.

But it is fortunate, it is fortunate that we got rid of the old Minister of Health when we did because even though he gets up in the House of Assembly and he says: It is lucky the administration came along, we were just in the nick of time -


AN HON. MEMBER: You can say that again.

MR. DOYLE: We were. I think, Mr. Speaker, that we were just in the nick of time in getting rid of the former Minister of Health, because the health care system was very nearing the point of being in shambles. So, Mr. Speaker, I am hoping now that pretty soon the new Minister of Health is going to be able to tell us what happened with the meetings on Friday, he had the nursing home care people bringing back the report on Friday and I am certainly hoping that the minister is going to be able to tell us a little bit about that over the next couple of days, because these people have been asked to make cuts that they don't feel they can live with.

I think we are all aware of what the nurses have been saying over the last few days and all of the full-page ads that have been in the paper regarding requests that have gone out from government to cut 1 and 3 per cent, 1 per cent off salaries and 3 per cent off operating budgets, Mr. Speaker, that they can ill afford to do right now. So, we would like to hear the bottom line on that, Mr. Speaker, because people are worried.

How far is the government prepared to go in letting the health care of the Province deteriorate? Because over the last three years or so - and we can all appreciate the fact that the government has little money to pump into health and education and all the other departments of government that are screaming for money, but the health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador is in very serious shape now. The minister says he has visited the various hospitals around the Province and he is not hearing of any great emergencies. There is nobody telling him of any great emergencies. Well, I don't know about that, Mr. Speaker, because we are hearing reports almost on a daily basis, people telling horror stories of having to wait and wait and wait.

Heart surgery, I believe, was a prime example of that. People were lining up and waiting for close to a year to get in for heart surgery.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DOYLE: I can appreciate it if the minister says: No, it is not happening. I sincerely hope it is not happening. Because if there is one thing I would hate to do, that is play politics with the health care system or with the lives of people who hope to be able to take advantage of it. I would hate to stand up here and play politics with that. I would hope that the minister thinks I am sincere in that regard.

MR. ROBERTS: Why did you (inaudible)?

MR. DOYLE: None of us wheeled him in here. He came in on his own. He wasn't solicited. If he is referring to Mr. Bailey, nobody asked Mr. Bailey to come in here. I never met Mr. Bailey in my life until fifteen minutes before he went into the House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DOYLE: Yes, fifteen minutes before he came here to the House of Assembly I met with him.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who met with Him?

MR. DOYLE: I did. I met with him earlier, fifteen or twenty minutes before coming into the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you talk to the minister?

MR. DOYLE: I have absolutely no knowledge of who met with the minister or who didn't meet with the fellow.

AN HON. MEMBER: You called the minister.

MR. DOYLE: No. I only met the man fifteen minutes before coming into the House of Assembly. He wanted his problems raised in the House and I agreed to raise the problems for him. Mr. Speaker, I understand that the minister did something to help him out. That is a poor commentary on the health care system in the Province as well, when an individual has to go to those lengths in order to have his case heard, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as I said to the former minister, 650 workers have been laid off in the Province in the health care system over the last three or four years. That has to have a very substantial impact upon the delivery of health care in the Province. We are hearing reports, as well - and I have brought this to the minister's attention on a number of occasions - of women who are waiting months and months and months, six or seven months at a time, for a mammogram, and no apparent policy from the government on those waiting periods. Doctors and nurses are being worked to the point of exhaustion because of the layoffs that have taken place in the Province over the last number of years, three, three-and-a-half years since this administration came to office.

It is very, very disappointing, indeed, to see hospitals like the Janeway being told to cut $450,000 from their budget. I hope they don't have to do that. I hope the minister is going to be able to come up with some alternative plan for the Janeway.

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible) suggestions.

MR. DOYLE: Yes, alternative suggestions, that they don't have to cut $450,000 from their budget, and half a million for the next fiscal year.

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible) suggestions. What would you do?

MR. DOYLE: Well, Mr. Speaker, let me say to the Minister of Health, we will do the same thing he used to do. When he was asked those questions, the minister would always say: Well, I am not in the Cabinet. I am not the minister. I am not part of the administration. That was his favourite line. Now we find that he is part of the administration. He is the minister, and he still doesn't have any suggestions to make to solve the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DOYLE: Yes, he has done exactly what he said he would do, and that is exactly zero - except close down hospital beds, lay off 650 people, and boast here in the House of Assembly that he has saved the government $30 million by laying off 650 workers and closing up - how many hospital beds was it exactly that the minister closed?

AN HON. MEMBER: Four hundred and seven.

MR. DOYLE: Four hundred and seven. Yes, I got it confused there. I said it was 650 hospital beds, but it was 650 workers and 407 hospital beds that have closed down.

He says - and I would love the press to get onto that one - he has improved the health care system by closing out 407 hospital beds and laying off 650 workers, says the former Minister of Health.

Mr. Speaker, as I said to the minister a few minutes ago, it is disappointing when you have a hospital like the Janeway having to come up with $450,000. I believe the hospital just recently even told us that they are going to cancel their Christmas party.

MR. MURPHY: We are cancelling ours for a cup of tea.

MR. DOYLE: The Member for St. John's South says they are cancelling their Christmas party, as well. Are all the Christmas parties in the various departments of government going to be cancelled, also?

Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing when a hospital like the Janeway has to do that.

There are a few more people, I believe, interested in having a word or two to say on this particular bill. My colleague, the Member for Kilbride, I believe, wants to have a few words, so I will just yield.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few very brief comments on this particular bill, Mr. Speaker. The people in my district are very concerned about the so-called improvements, or rationalization, in the health care system that has occurred in the last couple of years. They are concerned because there seems to be a pronounced feeling that the method of delivering services by this administration is to merely save money rather than to consider the quality of service as the priority.

The former Minister of Health was quite proud and adamant about the fact that he saved $30 million in health care. Now, any government should be commended for spending taxpayers' money wisely, but paramount in making the decision how they are going to save money, they must consider the delivery of the service, and health care is the most important service that any government should be and could be delivering to its people.

Among the questions I would like the minister to answer when he gets up to speak on this particular bill, I wonder if he could tell me, and the people in my district: What is the purpose of these appointed health care boards? Why are they being appointed? Is it supposed to be more efficient - you have fewer boards, you save money? And what is going to occur to the actual delivery of health care services in a particular district being serviced by a hospital?

Mr. Speaker, I would assume - now, it is dangerous for me to stand up here and assume something that this administration is doing for particular reasons - but I would assume that the reason you would want local input on boards is because you would feel that it would be better for local people to be administering the affairs of the local hospital, because they would be more in touch with what is occurring within the hospital and with respect to its services.

Now, Mr. Speaker, one of the things this government talked about that was going to settle a lot of the problems in the economy and the services being delivered throughout this Province in all sorts of different areas was if we were to have a senate, a Triple E Senate. And they said, one of the most important 'E's in a Triple E Senate was Election, to have a senator elected, because that would make a senator more responsive and more responsible to people.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if that principle applies to a senate, why would that principle not apply to health care boards? Why shouldn't a health care board be elected? Now, the minister - I don't know why he wants to appoint them. I don't know why the Cabinet want to appoint the health care board, rather than have them elected. Is it because, by appointing political hacks to the boards, they will just be rubber stamps? Is this all a charade that we are going through? The boards - would that be a charade, because you appoint political hacks to it and they would rubber stamp anything you would want? - not just this government, any government. But, if you were to have an election, such as municipal elections or provincial elections or, in the case that was suggested most recently, an elected senate - now, if this government felt so hung up on what the 'E' in Triple E was going to be in reference to a senate, why would they think it would be such an improvement in delivery of health care services to appoint rather than to elect?

The Minister of Finance, who was such a strong mover, strong lobbyist, strong outspoken individual, campaigning during the referendum on a Triple E Senate because he believed in a democracy and he felt that that was going to answer, if not all, then most of the needs of this Province because the people would be elected to the senate, why wouldn't he also be a proponent of having an elected health care board? I believe in representation; I think it is very important in having local representation on boards. I also believe they should be elected.

Having served as a councillor who was elected and a mayor who was elected, I understand the importance of having to go through the elective process and, Mr. Speaker, I also had the opportunity of serving on the same administrative body as I did on the elected body, a Town Council versus the Local Improvement District of Labrador City, and yes, I do agree with elections.

There is a different responsibility after you have been elected by the citizens to represent them in a body. I think it is a positive aspect of a democracy, I do not think it is something that should be thwarted, I think it is something that should be encouraged. This government, who said they felt that any election was important, one of the most important aspects of the senate, was to have an election.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if it was important for a senate to have an election, I am sure it is just as important for a health board to be elected, and I want the minister to tell this House and the people of this Province why he wants to appoint his friends to boards, why he doesn't want people to be elected in a democratic process? What is wrong with having elections? Also, Mr. Speaker, I want to know if these health boards are going to be defined, would they go in geographic boundaries or would it be a community boundary? How does the minister propose to have these boards that would be appointed? In other words, could you have a hospital that would be administered by a board that would administer a hospital in two different regions in the Province, as in the Island portion of the Province and the mainland portion of the Province, or would you just have appointed boards in a defined geographic area such as three boards here on the Island and one or two in Labrador? How would they be defined? Or could you have communities being represented?

But, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to have local representation in this House. I don't think it would be fair to have people come into this House who were just from the Avalon Peninsula. I think it is fair that we have people from all over this Province. The same, I believe, should work for hospital boards. You should have local input. That is the closest to the people, as close as you can get to the grass roots of this Province - people who understand the necessity of having a good quality health care service.

I would urge the minister to have an election of health care boards - and a general election too, if he wishes; if he can convince his colleagues in Cabinet to go with it.

Mr. Speaker, I want him to explain the rationale. Now the Minister of Social Services says that he does not have any rationale to make any decisions; but I want the Minister responsible for Health to explain the rationale of having the appointed boards versus an elected board. I also want him to explain how the boards are going to be defined, as in community of hospitals or geographic boundaries. I would appreciate if the minister would answer those questions.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now, he closes the debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad to have a chance to say a few words on this Bill, An Act To Amend The Department Of Health Act.

Mr. Speaker, I think it was last Spring that the government announced its intention to establish regional community health boards - a board for each of five regions of the Province, as I recall.

The idea of regional community health boards is one that appeals to me, and I certainly support that part of this Bill. However, the same as my colleague, the Member for Menihek, I would question whether all the members of these boards should be appointed by the Cabinet.

In the part of the Province that I represent, the Western Memorial Regional Hospital Board, for as far back as I can remember, has had some members elected by the public. The board also comprises members appointed by the Cabinet, and for many years had a representative of the city council and a representative of the pulp and paper company which operates the paper mill in Corner Brook.

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the government was going to have in place the Western Regional Community Health Board long before now. I heard the past minister, if not the current minister, say last Spring that the government would likely establish the Western Community Health Board fairly soon after that. The indication was that it would be in place by the Fall.

I recall quite a lengthy exchange about community health boards at the House Estimates Committee meeting dealing with Health estimates. At that time, I expressed my support for the concept, and I recall one of the executive of the Department of Health saying that the idea was being met with considerable enthusiasm from people in the Corner Brook area, and, for that reason, among others, the department was intending to proceed first with setting up a western regional board.

Actually, I expected to see that board in place before now. The minister may say that he hasn't had the benefit of the authorizing legislation, but I would say to the minister that that hasn't stopped this administration. The administration has made changes in departments, for example, shifting the Human Rights Commission from Justice to Employment and Labour Relations; the administration has made changes in post-secondary education without the benefit of the authorizing legislation. The changes were made on a temporary basis, but changes were made, nevertheless.

I would like for the minister, when he speaks to conclude this debate, to tell us his timetable. When does he expect to have these boards in place? What are the responsibilities he intends to assign to the boards? The Bill is very vague on that subject. Why doesn't the Bill spell out more clearly the mandate of these boards? All the Bill says is that the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by order, establish regional community health boards which shall be considered to be corporations, and then, to direct the delivery of health care services other than hospital services. Of course, that begs the question of: what are hospital services? There are probably lots of things that hospitals are doing now that hospitals don't need to be doing, that other agencies, or the community, could be doing more effectively and at less cost to the public purse.

Next, how many of these boards does the minister intend to establish? Is it five, as I was led to believe last Spring? What will be the boundaries for each of the boards? Specifically in the case of the western board, what territory will it be mandated to serve?

Mr. Speaker, this Bill is quite skimpy, and it is another instance of legislation authorizing the Cabinet, meeting in secret, to make the decisions that count. What we have been given here is basically a short clause with just a phrase describing the proposed regional community health boards.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has spoken with some enthusiasm about the need for governments to put more effort into promoting positive lifestyles, to fostering preventive measures, to promoting wellness instead of treating illness, instead of medical intervention. I would commend him for that thinking, and I hope the thinking is quickly translated into action, because as I pointed out in debate one day last week, considering what the department is now doing, and where the money is being spent, it should be named the Department of Illness. Out of a total budget this year estimated at $750 million, there is something like $3.5 million going into health promotion and illness prevention, and that is down from last year.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House, at its rising, do adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m.

In making that motion may I say, for the benefit for anybody who is interested, we shall carry on with the order we have suggested. We will do Bill No. 33. We have done Bill No. 38. We are on Bill Nos. 46 and 40. These are bill numbers, not order numbers. Then we will go on, depending on how speedily we move along, with Bill Nos. 45, 47, 49, 50, 52 and 54.

I will see my hon. friend from Grand Bank afterwards, if he wants to make a note of it, but that is our plan, Mr. Speaker.

I move the adjournment of the House.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m.