November 24, 1992             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLI  No. 70

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I apologise to the Leader of the Opposition and the members of the Opposition generally. I didn't have time to prepare a statement as I only just arrived back in the city at 1:30. I wanted to report to the House generally on the discussions I held yesterday with the Prime Minister because I think they're matters of importance to this House.

We discussed in the main the economic and employment situation in the Province, discussed it in historical terms, and looked at the current situation in the context of the historical situation in the Province. We also looked at it in the context of the impact of the existing recession on the unemployment figures, and also the impact prior to the cod fishery moratorium and the impact subsequent to the cod fishery moratorium, and the figures are quite striking.

We discussed the need to address the issue from two particular points of view, meeting the short-term needs and problems of both the fishery and non-fishery sector. For the most part the short-term needs of those involved in the fishery are being met by the federal compensation program. I expressed the appreciation of the people of the Province to the Prime Minister for the federal government's contribution in this regard. We also discussed it in terms of the need to address the longer term restructuring problems of the economy generally, and the changes that will need to be made in order to meet the changing circumstances in the fishery.

We also discussed in substantial detail the approach of the two governments to dealing with these problems, in particular in the context of the provincial Strategic Economic Plan, and compared that with the approach taken by the federal government in their Prosperity Initiative. The similarities between the two approaches, Mr. Speaker, are quite striking. We also pointed out to the Prime Minister that of the fifty-four specific proposals in the Prosperity Initiative, thirty-six of them would require action by the provinces in order to implement.

I also discussed with him the benefits to the federal government of an improvement in the economy in this Province. For every dollar of direct revenue the provincial government would get as a result of economic improvement in the Province, the federal government would get at least four to five dollars directly. If you took into account the increased unemployment insurance contributions and the reduced unemployment insurance payments, it's up to about ten to one in terms of the relative benefits to the two governments. So both the Prime Minister and Mr. Crosbie I think saw very clearly the importance of the two governments working together to achieve this kind of economic improvement.

The solution, we agreed, is joint action, but we have to bear in mind that there are limitations both on the federal and provincial governments in terms of the funding that's available to implement any joint action. So we discussed the way to deal with that.

Members will remember that when the Strategic Economic Plan was announced it was indicated that it would require about $384 million over the next five years to fully implement. We discussed the ways in which that might be achieved with the Prime Minister and Mr. Crosbie and we agreed that for the most part that funding is available under the existing cooperation agreements. The funding already committed by the two governments under those existing cooperation agreements can largely carry out the full implementation of the plan. As well you have to take into account the large sums that CEIC spends in the province, and when you put all of that into context its clear that within the existing funding plans a great deal of this economic improvement can be carried out. We put forward, or I put forward, to the Prime Minister a specific proposal as to how to deal with it. He is going to consider that proposal and get back to me after the federal minister of finance makes his statement on the financial state of the country to the House on December 2.

We also discussed joint management in the fishery and for the first time I feel that we got a full hearing on the issue, with both Mr. Crosbie and the Prime Minister present. I am satisfied there is no insurmountable federal objection as far as the Prime Minister is concerned, and it remains now for me to work with Mr. Crosbie and the Prime Minister to achieve an acceptable approach to joint management. We put forward to the Prime Minister at his request a specific suggestion as to how it can be achieved, that also will be discussed further with him in the near future.

We discussed the national transportation policy and initiative that they are proposing to take and again we put forward a specific proposal. Particularly with reference to involvement with the Trans-Labrador Highway and the completion of a complete circle around the gulf of St. Lawrence, and I had the impression the Prime Minister was in fact quite intrigued by that proposal.

We discussed as well other matters, I do not want to deal with them in any detail. We discussed at great length the existing national and provincial financial situation. The financial situation in the nation as a whole is not alone caused by the fact that there is a massive federal deficit owed each year for the last decade or so and that that has accumulated a massive debt. As well as the federal government involvement there, all of the provinces, or most of the provinces have been having significant deficits and this as well has piled up a great deal of debt and more and more of that debt is held outside of Canada. There is great concern, both at the national and provincial level, as to our ability to manage that debt properly in the future. So there has to be a continuation of restraint over the next period of time. We agreed on that and I expect we will hear more fully the federal position on the issue when the statement is made on December 2.

I talked to him about continuation of aboriginal land negotiations in the context of also discussing some level of self-government as we had proposed discussing with the Labrador Inuit prior to the resent constitutional talks. The Prime Minister has assured me that he has no objections to the province continuing along those lines. There would, of course, not be any constitutional change involved, it would be negotiation directly. I talked, as well, about other matters of great importance to the Province, the existing state of affairs as far as Hibernia is concerned - we discussed that at some length. I also discussed the Canadian Airlines situation. I don't know whether a release has been made this morning or not - it was suggested that there would be - but I think one is due shortly that will spell out the federal government's position and we will know more fully when I have heard that.

Mr. Speaker, again, I apologise to members that I have not had a prepared copy of it but there just has not been time, and I thought the House would want to hear this report as quickly as possible.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. We would have preferred to have a written statement, as well, but we realize that with the Premier's late arrival in the Province that was probably not humanly or physically possible.

I just want to react and say that the Leader of the Opposition is on his way to the West Coast; that is why he is not here today. But I guess it was incumbent upon the Premier to go to Ottawa to meet the Prime Minister and talk about the economic and employment problems and the situation we find ourselves in, in the Province, particularly in an historical context.

I want to say to the Premier, with all the talk about strategic economic plans and the prosperity initiative with the Federal Government, I hope that soon we will see some action. Because all this talk, all these studies, and all these brochures and pamphlets are not doing much to help the economy of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The people it is helping are those who compile it and those who print it. And, Mr. Speaker, I think it would be fair to say, with what is going on in the Province over the last number of weeks, that we are on the verge of becoming unglued economically in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is very, very serious, and going up with cap in hand to the Prime Minister is not going to resolve it. I hope the federal government is sympathetic, I hope they do take some initiatives in the next short while, to help stimulate the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and, indeed, the country in general, but we need some action from the Premier and his government, as well, Mr. Speaker. It is just not good enough to make a visit to Ottawa now, and as the situation worsens in this Province, finger pointing will begin once more and blame will be shifted to other people.

There should be joint action, certainly. We call for joint action. We support the government in asking for joint action. But the Premier referred to the statement that will come down soon from the Federal Government, the federal financial statement, and from all indications, Mr. Speaker, that is going to be just as bleak as, or bleaker than the minibudget that we are expecting the Premier's government to deliver in the next few days. So I don't know what help the federal financial statement is going to be to people throughout this country, because if you look at it realistically, the Federal Government is in a worst financial situation than the Province. When one looks at the percentage on the dollar that goes to retiring debt, the federal situation is worse than the financial situation in Newfoundland and Labrador. So really, what help we can expect from the Federal Government, I am not sure, but I do hope that they certainly can take some action that will help this Province and help the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Joint management in the fishery - I really hope we will see developments in that area. Doubtless, if there is one area where we need improvements, it is fisheries management; but I can't let it go unnoticed, Mr. Speaker, I say that I think we have wasted a couple of good years. We could have had some fisheries initiatives if it had been high enough on the priority list of this Premier and this government - I say that very sincerely.

I think we missed a golden opportunity, two years ago, to place fisheries management on the national agenda, and we failed to do that. I think there is one person in this Province, in this country, that has to take responsibility for that, and that is the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. I think it is a little too late.

The national transportation policy, particularly with the Trans-Labrador Highway: Just a couple of weeks ago we saw the Member for Eagle River bring a resolution to the floor on Private Members' Day. We knew what that was all about when it happened. The Premier has verified that. We knew that would be on the discussion agenda for the Premier and the Prime Minister. We are not surprised. We supported the member's resolution then, and we sincerely hope, again, the Federal Government will take action, that we will see some work in that area, that it will materialize and we will see the beginning of construction.

So, without copy of a written statement, Mr. Speaker, I just want to emphasize to the Premier and his government that we really need to see action from this government. The people of the Province are getting in a pretty testy mood, as we have seen over the last forty-eight hours or so; and unless this government takes action to deal with the economy, and to try to settle down the unions and so on, I think we are in for some pretty turbulent times over the next few weeks in this Province. I call upon the Premier to take action to try to address it, and try to get the economy of this Province moving - take some initiative of your own. Don't always go looking for someone else to do the job for you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: I ask leave to address the statement of the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave of the House?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member may proceed.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with great regret that we have to see the Premier return from Ottawa on this trip empty-handed, as it were, and without really any consoling news for the people of this Province.

The Statement of the Premier today, Mr. Speaker -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, do I have the floor?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: The statement contains no consoling news for the people of this Province. What the Premier is talking about in terms of both the short and long term provides no extraordinary measures, which is what is needed right now for the short term, and even the long term.

The proposals seem to include the renegotiating of existing federal/provincial agreements, and no new money from federal sources, from our co-operative partners in Confederation, Mr. Speaker. I find it very disconcerting to hear that, despite the fact that even in the best of times, Mr. Speaker, this Province is way behind national standards in terms of employment, in term of job opportunities and educational opportunities for our people, there is no acknowledgement in the Premier's statement that the system in place in this country is not working, Mr. Speaker. We cannot continue to rely totally on the private sector to resolve our problems. There must be joint federal and provincial massive intervention into the Newfoundland economy to bring about some changes that are necessary. Until we hear that, Mr. Speaker, I regret to say that we will be hearing more doom and gloom from this government.

I take no real consolation, Mr. Speaker, in the talk of joint management of the fisheries. The way the Province has been handling its side of the fisheries issue in the last number of months leads me to believe that what we will have is joint mismanagement, Mr. Speaker, not joint management.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has undertaken a substantial, significant large advertising campaign - I see the Member for Port de Grave holding up - Mr. Speaker, a substantial advertising campaign.

I wonder if the Minister of Fisheries could inform the people whether or not the Provincial Government, particularly his Department of Fisheries, is going to undertake any kind of a campaign to counter the information that is being distributed and the campaign of the International Fund for Animal Welfare? Will the Province be doing anything to counter that?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, at the moment we have no such plans. The ads that appeared in the Globe and Mail today, the two full-page ads, I suppose, is the sort of thing we can expect. I understand that the group in question are now on the threshold of embarking on a fund-raising exercise, and I suppose that is the way they have to go about doing it. Naturally, the information contained therein is, to some extent, inaccurate. I suppose, to most Newfoundlanders it is almost sickening to see that sort of thing happen. Quite frankly, I don't think there is too much we can do about it. If they want to spend their money buying expensive ads in The Globe and Mail, there's nothing we can do to stop them.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I think it's incumbent upon the provincial government - the minister has alluded to misrepresentations that are in the advertising by the IFAW. Who else would you expect to take up the campaign to correct this misinformation if it's not the government representing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, I say to the minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: So having said that, will the minister reconsider, and will government reconsider, at least putting out the facts on what we know? There is scientific information available on seals and diet, upon codfish and diet. So doesn't the minister think that it's incumbent on him, as the Minister of Fisheries for Newfoundland and Labrador, to correct the misinformation that IFAW is providing to not only people of Canada, but people of the world?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, to do that might have the opposite affect, in that it would just create the kind of head-on collision that would benefit the animal rights people and would just give them more publicity. I don't think we should do that.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Does the Minister of Fisheries believe that the seal population is having a negative impact upon our cod stocks? Does he believe that the seal population is having a negative impact upon the cod stocks, whether by eating cod directly or by eating parts of the food chain that cod would normally eat? Either way, does the minister think that the seal herds are impacting negatively on our cod stocks?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the question hardly deserves an answer but I will answer it. Of course I believe it's having an impact, and we've been saying that both through the national news media and through the local news media, as late as last Friday in Ottawa when we met with the Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Speaker, and the other provincial ministers. The matter was raised and I had something to say on it and again repeated what we've been saying all along, that the seal population has had a very detrimental affect on the cod stocks. So I don't know what more we can say or where else we can say it. It's been said many, many times, both in Ottawa, in the national press, in the international press, and of course in the local press.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a very serious situation. It's been proven that seals either eat cod or they eat caplin, or shrimp, or other species that cod consumes. So either way, if it's not eating cod directly and destroying the cod stocks, it's taking care of the food chain so that there's less cod. Let me ask a supplementary to the Premier, let me ask the Premier: Will the Premier give serious consideration to his government undertaking an advertising campaign across Canada and the world to counter the misinformation and misrepresentation that the International Fund for Animal Welfare is promoting?

I don't think there's too many people will question that the seal population has to be controlled. I believe the Premier is on record as saying that a number of times, that the seal population has to be controlled. Will the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador undertake a campaign of that nature to try and help if nothing else Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who depend so greatly upon our cod resources?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I saw the photograph and the advertisement in The Globe and Mail yesterday. I saw it again this morning. That's part of the fraudulent campaign that the International Fund for Animal Welfare has been carrying on now for fifteen years, that I'm aware of. It's the means of their raising money. Money must be getting a bit tight so out comes the advertising and in will come the dollars again. They've been doing that year after year for the last fifteen years.

Now anybody who looks at that photograph and that advertisement in The Globe and Mail today will know that that in itself is a fraud. It's a concocted photograph. The fishermen who fished seals didn't kill them with baseball bats. They killed them with hakapiks, is it, they're called? The clubs.


PREMIER WELLS: Yes. Gaffs. They didn't go out swinging baseball bats. Somebody posed for that picture and now it's presented as the normal way of doing things. It's part of the fraud they've been perpetrating on the public of North America and Europe for years to raise the funds that they've raised to keep them going.

I remember Brian Davies, the president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, another part of his fraud, when he was convicted in court in Bonne Bay and sentenced to two weeks in jail; he appealed to the district court. They arrived at the district court on the morning the appeal was to be heard, only to find that the IFAW had already released publicly, all over North America, a statement saying that Mr. Davies' conviction had been confirmed and he was led away to jail between two scarlet coated Mounted Policemen - an absolute fraud. It never occurred, and it was printed even before the matter went to court. That is part of their fraudulent ways. Everybody knows and understands that.

Mr. Speaker, we will have to give some consideration as to whether or not it is necessary for this Province to spend a significant sum of money. Those kinds of advertisements in the Globe and Mail are not inexpensive. They cost large sums of money, and we do not have the kind of sums of money we can just throw at the publishers of the Globe and Mail or any other major newspaper. We will have to give some consideration to what is necessary to cope with this kind of continued fraudulent campaign to try and stir up action against reasonable and rational and sensible natural management of the seal herds, which everybody in their right mind would agree is sensible if we are to protect the full resources of the sea.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: My questions are for the Premier.

Does the Premier realize that the gypsum plant in Corner Brook - the only manufacturer of gypsum wallboard and polybead in the Province - has been closed since last Spring, and has operated for only two weeks this year? Why has the Premier been so passive and quiet during the prolonged shutdown of the plant? Can the Premier today give any hope to people that the gypsum plant will reopen?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have been aware of every single day that the plant has been closed. I have met with the union representatives. I have met with representatives of Lundrigan's. I have met with representatives of the group that has put forward a proposal to provide for the reopening of it. Government has agreed to provide guarantees for loans to enable the purchase of the assets from the receiver to enable it to be reopened. Most of the details have been worked out.

Now I have been away for the last few days so I know, right up until the time that I left, there were further meetings and discussions in progress, even until the day that I left. I do not know that it is finalized or that it has been finalized. I will attempt to find out today where the matter stands, and if the hon. member wants to, I will bring the information back to the House tomorrow.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like the Premier to tell the House when he expects the gypsum plant to operate again; and does the Premier realize that the longer the plant is shut, the harder it will be to regain markets?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am well aware of that, and that is one of the matters that have been discussed. I cannot say when I expect it to operate again, because the government is not going to operate it. It is only going to operate if somebody in the private sector purchases the assets and continues its operation.

Mr. Speaker, the government has worked diligently over the last number of months to try and work together with the people who are interested in putting forward this proposal, to cause it to be done. I am hopeful that it will come into fruition very soon, but again I will undertake to get the specifics as to where matters stand right at this moment, and report back to the House tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East, a supplementary.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Can it ever be true, I ask the Premier, that during the past months while the gypsum plant has been closed, and the total economy of the Province has been in free-fall, that for his extravagant office renovations he imported designer wallpaper from Spain?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it cannot be true, and no matter how many times the members of the opposition ask and suggest it, without a modicum of intellectual honesty amongst all of them who are putting it forward, it does not make it true.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East, a supplementary.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is it ever possible, I ask the Premier, that the wall covering recently brought to the Premier's office, and then stored on the fourth floor, awaiting the ongoing stripping out of 1985 pine ceilings and other expensive fixtures, was imported from the very nation that has been most guilty of raping the cod stocks outside our 200-mile limit?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is possible that Mr. Armstrong brought it back from the moon, it is theoretically possible. You could ask any question and say is it possible? Theoretically, anything in this world is possible, yes. Is it probable? I certainly do not think so. Do I have any knowledge of it - I certainly would not have anything to do with it, whether or not somebody else did, I don't know, but again, I will undertake to find out, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Health.

The minister was recently at an Aids conference or at an Aids forum and he told participants there that between 30 to 50 per cent of all medical procedures performed by doctors were unnecessary. Now, is the minister convinced that these stats are true for this Province, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and where is he getting that information?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As usual the member is misrepresenting something that occurred at a conference he did not attend. What I did say was that the Minister of Health in Ontario was throwing around these figures. At the same time I quoted with some approval, not necessarily the exact figures but the notion that there were medical procedures which doctors realize are unnecessary and that medical practise is changing and some surgical procedures which were performed years ago are no longer performed or very rarely performed. Like everyone used to get their tonsils out years ago, they do not do them anymore, or very rarely, and things of that nature. It is estimated by many people, including the medical association, that sometimes things are done that are not necessary and fairly frequently.

There is a committee set up, a peer review committee, to look at medical practise to see that unnecessary procedures are not carried out, so it is a serious question. It is not done deliberately, it is just done through - I do not know what the cause of it is but it is a serious concern to people, to health people generally in Canada and elsewhere that there are procedures carried out that are not appropriate. Not only that, but they are very costly, they are extremely costly and that is the point that was being made.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DOYLE: Well, I take what the minister said was that in procedures in Newfoundland between 30 and 50 per cent of these are being performed unnecessarily, with the exception, as the minister mentioned of tonsils. I guess tonsillectomies would be the right term, with the exception of that, can the minister tell us what kinds of procedures being performed by the doctors are being considered by the minister to be unnecessary?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is not going to practise medicine, I do not have a license so I am not going to practise medicine, but I am responsible for health care in this Province as far as the government is concerned, and one of the matters that is seriously considered across Canada are these medical procedures which may not be necessary. In fact I have held a number of discussions with people in the medical profession and bodies representing people who are concerned about that. I do not want to go into details now, I prefer not to, but one of the ways of improving the health care system, getting better value for the dollars we spend is to look carefully at the procedures that are in place and to concentrate on those that are productive and to put less emphasis on those that are unproductive.

One of the serious things, Mr. Speaker, as everybody knows, is often the misuse of medicines; the oversupply of medicines that many people take. Many seniors, for instance, take four and five different kinds of pills. I visit my constituents and sometimes I hear: I get me pills mixed-up, I got a bottle of this and a bottle of that and a bottle of something else, and that is true. The medical profession and pharmaceutical profession are very seriously concerned about the over use of medications and that is another procedure that we can discuss.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, as the minister is aware, the health care system of Newfoundland and labrador is about to be cut to the bone, he has asked the people who deliver the health care system to come back with cuts in the not too distant future, and in view of that, can the minister tell us why, in his view, doctors here in this Province, where there is not a great deal of money for health care, why would doctors be performing these unnecessary procedures on their patients? Can the minister shed some light on it?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I can't speculate as to why. Perhaps it is through habit or perhaps it is through not knowing the latest, but I shouldn't be speculating. What I should be saying is that I am reflecting the concerns of professionals in the medical profession and I am reflecting them to the members of the House in answer to this question.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DOYLE: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the hon. Member for Fogo yield to the hon. Member for Harbour Main?


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

MR. DOYLE: A supplementary to the minister: The minister's statement leaves the inference of either malpractice or incompetence on the part of the medical profession. Is that what he intended to do, to lay a basis for justifying further cuts to the health care system?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker. I have great confidence in the medical profession and the health care professionals.

As I mentioned recently in the House, I visited just about every hospital in the Province. I haven't been to the hospital in Churchill Falls yet but, apart from that, I have been in every hospital, I have been in virtually every nursing home except three, and many personal care homes. I have seen the type of care that people are giving, the health care professionals, physicians, nurses, nurses aids, the people who work in the kitchens and the people who sweep the floors. I can assure members opposite and, in fact, all the people of Newfoundland, that we have extremely good, dedicated people in the health care system.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Since yesterday, when the minister made his statements with respect to uniform tax rates for utility companies, a number of municipalities in this Province have raised serious concerns about how they will be affected. Surely before the minister implemented such a program, he had consultations with numerous municipalities. Can the minister tell us how much revenue is presently collected under the system in place now, how much will be collected by a flat rate, and will he generally tell us what communities are going to benefit and which ones will be harmed as a result?

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

MR. HOGAN: No, Mr. Speaker, there is no way, time nor paper that would permit me this evening to enumerate all the municipalities that would lose or benefit. But there are great variances in the losses and gains, mainly because there was a terrifically high rate applied to the assessments that were rendered onto some of the equipment and materials of the utility companies. After twenty-five or thirty years of pondering between the Federation of Municipalities and the Province, something had to be done to make the playing field a little more level than it was, and that is what this legislation attempts to do.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Surely the minister is not suggesting that this change took place without input from municipalities as to the effect it would have.

Let me ask the minister this then: There is also a 2.5 per cent tax now on unincorporated municipalities in the Province. Can the minister tell us how many communities will be taxed - he should know that - and how much revenue will accrue to the Province as a result of this one, because this is a massive tax grab for the Province as well.

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

MR. HOGAN: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any tax grab by the Province. We have asked for the figures for 1992, of what the exact payout by the utility companies will be. In 1991, for example, I could tell the House that Newfoundland Tel, for example, was paying $4.5 million in taxes. It is estimated with the 2.5 that the taxes would amount to $4.8 million. Newfoundland Power's taxes would increase drastically from $4.6 million in 1991 dollars to $7.1 million in 1991 dollars. That is to the incorporated municipalities.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Since the municipalities are getting less and there is more revenue, then the bulk of it must go to the Province. Mr. Speaker, since local service districts perform a similar role as councils, yet they have no powers to impose taxes, why doesn't the minister allow the unincorporated municipalities or towns to be recipients of the taxes collected instead of having the revenues go to the Province? Why doesn't he give it to the local service districts as well?

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

MR. HOGAN: The minister is not giving anything to anybody, Mr. Speaker. The minister is just introducing legislation that has been discussed for, as I say, over twenty-five years now, thirty years, probably. Between all municipalities, the federation, and the Province. From year to year, almost month to month, positions have been changed on that. As all hon. members know across the way, they struggled with it for years, and it was something that had to be done sooner or later and it happened to fall on this particular watch.

The non-incorporated communities in the Province don't have the mechanism in place. I've taken under advertisement his facetious and sarcastic remark with reference to the local service districts. If there's a means of these local service districts accruing any benefits from this type of taxation I'm sure the Province will do everything in its power to endeavour to see that it's done.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Final supplementary. Since the minister's statement yesterday didn't allow for a phase-in of the revised tax structure with MOGs steadily declining and debt charges increasing, some municipalities have been informed this morning that they're going to lose as much as $60,000 to $70,000 off the present revenues for their 1993 budget. Let me ask the minister: how does he expect municipalities to be able to balance their budgets in light of declining revenues from government and now declining revenues from utility companies?

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

MR. HOGAN: Municipalities for years, Mr. Speaker, have always managed to survive. I don't say that in any facetious context. If they cannot meet the obligation of balancing their budget they will come and discuss it with us and negotiate it with us as they've usually done, working together to overcome this temporary set-back for some, and a gift for others, that I'm sure that working together we can overcome any difficulties that might be encountered.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question was going to be to the Minister responsible for wildlife. However, in his absence I would like to ask the question to the former minister responsible for wildlife, the Minister of Environment. Would the minister advise this House if any changes have taken place with respect to regulations concerning Sunday hunting while she was the minister responsible for wildlife?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I apologise. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, who's responsible for wildlife, had to leave to catch a flight for a ministerial conference. I'll certainly take the question under advisement and report back to the House.

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

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I asked the question to the Minister of Environment. When she was minister responsible for wildlife were there any changes in her department pertaining to Sunday hunting?

MR. ROBERTS: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I don't have the Beauchesne citation but I can look it up if need be. A minister may not be asked, it's quite clear, for matters which occurred during the time when he or she may have been a minister of the Crown. One may be asked only in respect to the matters for which one is currently responsible. It would be out of order, for example, for me to ask the hon. gentleman from Torngat Mountains why he authorised the expenditure of $125,000 on a washroom for himself when he was Minister of Labrador Affairs.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, the normal procedure is, if the minister is not here, to ask the minister who is acting in that position. The most appropriate authority I can quote now is Beauchesne, 406: "A question may not be asked of a Member who is no longer a Minister, seeking information with regard to transactions during that person's term of office." I also concur with the Government House Leader - and I'll look for the quote - that it is not appropriate to ask questions of a minister regarding their previous portfolio.

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the question to the Premier. Can the Premier advise if there have been any changes in the regulations pertaining to Sunday hunting in the last two years? Have there been any changes made by his government pertaining to Sunday hunting in the last two years?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: My recollection, Mr. Speaker, is that that matter did come up a short time ago but I don't have adequate recollection to state confidently what it might or might not be. So I'd rather take the question under advisement. I'll bring the information back to the House, or the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology will.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Premier: in the hunting guide of 1990-1991 it says it is unlawful to hunt any game on Sunday. In the hunting guide of 1992-93, it says: it is unlawful to hunt any game on Sunday with a fire arm. Well, I ask the Primer, does that mean now, that those hunters who are successful in obtaining a licence to hunt game with bow and arrow are allowed to hunt on Sunday.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I feel the answer is still the same. I do not have sufficient recollection of all the detail that Cabinet has done over the last year or two to be able to spit that answer back at the member with confidence that I am giving him accurate information. I still say, either I or the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology will take the matter under advisement and we will report back to the House tomorrow.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier and relates to the recent ruling by the International Labour Organization, one of the most prestigious international bodies in the world, composed of the Government of Canada, governments all over the world, employers representatives and union representatives. The International Labour Organization has said, Mr. Speaker, in the ruling on the Newfoundland Government's actions, that the 1991 Public Sector Compensation Restraint Act went beyond normally acceptable limits that might be placed temporarily on collective bargaining and further stated that such restrictions can only in the long term prejudice and destabilize the labour relations climate. Is the Premier, Mr. Speaker, man enough to acknowledge the criticism and will he tell the House and admit that in fact his government went to far with that restraint legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The honourable member conveniently overlooked a significant number of factors that one has to take into account. That international labour organization, making that comment about the performance of the Government of Canada and several provinces of Canada in terms of dealing with a severe financial situation - it is sort of like my saying, I disagree with the way the Russian government is handling a certain matter. Well I may disagree with it, I might do it differently if I were there, but it is easy for me to disagree with it because I do not have responsibility to deal with the factual circumstances that they do. So it is great for this heady well paid group in Vienna somewhere or Geneva wherever they are, to sit and make great pronouncements about what is right and fair and proper and so on, to be done in Canada or in Newfoundland or Ontario or Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, when they have absolutely no responsibility for anything except the preservation of their own positions. It is easy for them to make those kinds of condemnations. They do not have to find the tax money to pay it, they do not have to decide what hospital or education services to cut out in order to pay it.

Now Mr. Speaker, the government took the proper approach, the government took the proper approach, we went to the unions and said look let us sit down and negotiate an alternative way of dealing with these difficult circumstances - they turned their backs on us. The great leadership of the unions in this Province, turned their backs on their members and walked out and refused to deal with it on a proper basis. We would have sat and negotiated and discussed it with them. They turned their backs on it and walked away. Mr. Speaker, the government of this Province is responsible, not alone to the members of NAPE or CUPE or other organizations representing employees or people paid from the public purse. The government of this Province is responsible to the entire population to see that everybody is fairly treated and that is exactly what we intend to do. In particular, Mr. Speaker, we are not responsible to the International Labour Organization in Geneva.

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has expired.

The Chair would now like to read the appropriate quotation from Beauchesne re the point of order raised by the Government House Leader, and it is page 120, clause 409, section (6) which says: "A question must be within the administrative competence of the Government. The Minister to whom the question is directed is responsible to the House for his or her present Ministry and not for any decisions taken in a previous portfolio."

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

WHEREAS the huge seal population is having a devastating effect on the fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS the seal harvest has been a legitimate and profitable part of our heritage as a people of this Province; and

WHEREAS the concerns of animal rights extremists should not be put before the concerns of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this House of Assembly go on record and condemn the falsehoods being spread by these animal right extremists and that the House of Assembly support the resumption of an environmentally sustainable seal harvest off the coast of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Motions 1 and 2, please, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Motions 1 and 2.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act," carried. (Bill No. 58).

Motion, the hon, the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act," carried. (Bill No. 57).

On motion, the following bills read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act," (Bill No. 58)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act," (Bill No. 57)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as we indicated at the adjournment last evening, we shall ask Your Honour to call Bill No. 38, which I think is Order No. 12, that is, the adjourned debate on the Medical Act, and then we will carry on, assuming we finish with Orders 17 and 18 which stand, in fact, in the name of the former Minister of Health, but I assume the correction will be made and they will stand in the name of my colleague, the Minister of Health. After that, I have a long menu which I will share with my friend for Grand Bank, assuming we get on with it.

Thank you, Sir.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday afternoon, I adjourned the debate on the bill to amend the Department of Health Act, not the Medical Act, I say to the Minister of Justice.

Mr. Speaker, potentially, this is an extremely important Legislative measure - potentially. However, the bill does not adequately speak its philosophy, its objectives, its purpose, or lay out the constitution of the regional community health corporations which it authorizes the Cabinet to create.

This simple bill, so terse, simply empowers the Cabinet meeting in private any time at all to establish regional community health corporations, to describe the boundaries, appoint all the members, lay out a mandate to do everything other than provide hospital services, but, Mr. Speaker, what does that mean? Does that mean the Cabinet could establish community regional health boards to have lotteries?

Mr. Speaker, last spring, the minister's predecessor, the current Minister of Education, announced the government's intention to establish five regional community health boards and to have each of the boards carry out five basic functions. These functions, he described in a circular diagram. I have a copy of the diagram. In five overlapping circles, there were mapped out five headings of responsibilities, all extremely important functions: Health promotion; health protection; continuing care; alcohol and drug dependency; - I hasten to add, prevention was underneath that - and mental health. Are these the purposes for which the corporations, that the Cabinet is being empowered to create by this legislation, would be established? If that is so, Mr. Speaker, why aren't those purposes set out in the bill? Why doesn't this bill set out a philosophy for the creation of regional community health boards? Why doesn't the bill enumerate some of the objectives the government is hoping to achieve through the establishment of the regional community health boards?

Now, I realize objectives change over time, but surely it is possible, in legislative language, to describe in general terms what the government has in mind. There could be a catchall phrase which would give the Cabinet in the future the flexibility to add to the responsibilities of regional community health boards. Why don't we have some sense of direction in the legislation? Why are we, in the House of Assembly, being expected to give a blank cheque to the Cabinet? Legislation passed by this House of Assembly over the years has created corporations with a variety of public functions. Hospital corporations are established under legislation, community colleges are established under legislation, and in those cases there is a statement of purpose.

I would ask the minister, when he rises to conclude this debate on the principles of the bill, to address this question of the omission from the legislation of the basic philosophy of the fundamental objectives for which the regional community health boards are to be created. Are the five functions in the minister's predecessor's circular diagram the main objectives the government has in mind, or are there other objectives? Why aren't objectives laid out in the legislation? Why are we, the legislators, not giving the Cabinet some basic parameters within which they must act in creating regional community health boards? Next, Mr. Speaker, why doesn't the legislation specify the number of regional community health boards the Cabinet may create, and why doesn't the bill map out the boundaries of each of the regional boards?

Last spring, the Social Services Estimates Committee of this House, in examining the proposed budget of the Department of Health, had the opportunity of questioning the minister's predecessor and the executive of the department, about government's plans to set up these regional community health boards. At that time the departmental officials indicated five regional boards would be set up; that the western regional board would be in place by this fall - by the fall of 1992.

I will quote from the proceedings of the estimates committee, for the benefit of the current minister. Mr. Speaker, I am now quoting: We started this process in January. With the consultation that is required, it will take over the next year before we have the boards established. At this stage it appears that our plans are still on schedule to have the first board in place in Western Newfoundland in the fall, before the end of 1992, and as quickly as possible thereafter, the boards in Central Newfoundland, then St. John's and then Eastern. So, if we would, for the moment, consider that Northern is under the Grenfell Association, although there has to be some reorganization there as well, on the Island part of the Province there will be four community health boards with regional representation on these boards.

Mr. Speaker, is that still the government's intention? If it is, why is it not specified in the bill? Why does the bill not say that the Cabinet is being authorized to appoint five regional community health boards - one for Labrador; one for Western Newfoundland; one for Central Newfoundland; one for Eastern Newfoundland, and one for the St. John's area? If that is the government's plan, why is it not specified in the legislation? If the government have a different intention now, why is that not stated in the bill?

Mr. Speaker, how many boards? What are the boundaries? Where is the headquarters to be for each of these regional boards? St. John's will be the headquarters for the St. John's regional board. What about the headquarters for the Labrador board; for the Western board; for the Central; for Eastern Newfoundland?

Mr. Speaker, the composition of the boards is completely open-ended.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, on a point of order.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member for interrupting, but I have to leave for some meetings and I undertook to get an answer to a question that the Member for Torngat Mountains raised. Do you mind if I give that answer?

MR. SPEAKER: It is entirely up to the minister if the member wants to yield on that.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to yield to the minister as long as I can have the time he takes away from me at the end of my speaking time.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sure that is okay.

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: I can understand, Mr. Speaker, your calling the member a minister. She is looking very ministerial there today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: The first question was: Are there any changes to Sunday hunting in the last two years? The answer is, no. In fact, there are no changes in the last three years.

The second question was: Are there any changes to the bow and arrow regulations with respect to Sunday hunting? The bow and arrow hunting is regarded the same as a firearm, and therefore there is no use on Sundays.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was saying, this bill - this simple, short, terse bill which gives a blank cheque to the Cabinet - is open-ended on the question of the composition of the boards. It is all left up to the Cabinet. The Cabinet can decide what the boards are supposed to do; how many; what boundaries; what headquarters. The Cabinet may appoint the members; decide how many members. Presumably the Cabinet may appoint the Chairperson.

Mr. Speaker, legislation should give parameters to the Cabinet. Why does this bill not specify the number of members, or the maximum number of members the Cabinet may appoint? And why does the bill not allow for the election of members of regional community health boards? If these boards are to be community agencies, as the title suggests, surely the community being served should choose the members.

Mr. Speaker, as this administration has cut funding for health care, for education, for other vital services, it has very selectively replaced members of Crown corporations and agencies, who were doing a good job and who were accountable to the people, with political cronies, with Liberal supporters who don't make a peep when ongoing funding reductions are taking place.

Mr. Speaker, as I said at the beginning, this bill has the potential to be a very important and good legislative measure. It has that potential. But this is the mere skeleton and we need to put some flesh on the bones. It is not good enough to leave it up to the Cabinet - especially not this Cabinet - meeting in secret to decide whether or not boards are set up, what jobs they will be expected to do, what areas they will be required to serve, where their bases will be located, how many members will be appointed, which people will be appointed and who will chair the boards.

All we have here is a measure empowering the Cabinet to set up corporations to do everything other than provide hospital services. Well, the possibilities are endless. We have the government now heavily into the lottery business through the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. That has been one of the Province's few growth industries, lotteries and undertaking, I say to the Minister of Health - lotteries and the funeral business.

AN HON. MEMBER: Smuggling.

MS. VERGE: Smuggling, one of my colleagues says. We don't have very many growth industries these days. In recent years, hospitals, to pay for basic hospital services, have had to get into the lottery business, have had to get into the community fund-raising business. Is that one of the purposes the minister has in mind for these regional community health boards?

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I would call on the minister to go back to the drawing board and return to the House with a proper legislative measure setting out a coherent philosophy for creating community health boards, specifying objectives, enumerating aims for improving people's health, for promoting healthy lifestyles, for preventing illness, for providing non-institutional care where that is more effective than hospital or nursing home care, embracing democratic principles by providing for public election of community health care boards. And then we will talk about it, Mr. Speaker.

The minister, I think, has some good ideas about redirecting our health care system and putting more emphasis on disease prevention, but I am afraid this is not an acceptable instrument to translate those ideas into action. So, Mr. Speaker, the minister should go back to the drawing board.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As my colleague said, this Bill on the surface does not seem to be having much implications for delivery of health care in the Province, but once we get into a thorough examination of what goes on in this Bill, as she just said, it is just a skeleton for a much larger bill. It is all-encompassing for the Province. It is going to result, according to the estimates committee, which the previous minister, and I am well aware that the minister, or present minister, was Minister of Finance then, it was a previous minister who started this process, when he was going to combine health promotion, health protection, continuing care, and a couple of others - alcohol and drug dependency, and mental health - into the one board, Mr. Speaker.

It is a bit bothersome to know that Cabinet is going to have the ultimate power in who appoints these boards. I recall quite well just recently a local hospital committee had made recommendations to the district hospital board for the appointment of a particular individual, and everyone in the area had approved it. The particular member was very well thought of. Once it reached the Cabinet level it was turned down. It was turned down because - the only reason that we could find locally was because of the person's past political allegiance. He was turned down because of the political stripe -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Windsor - Buchans can sit down and hold on. He can get up later.

It was turned down because -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: No, no, this was on a hospital board, where Cabinet had the authority to appoint him to a regional hospital board. He was turned down.

Mr. Speaker, can you restrain the Member for Windsor - Buchans? He cannot contain himself today.

Mr. Speaker, the area that is being addressed in this one, particularly as it relates to nursing homes and those types of homes in the Province, because as this Province continues to have an aging population it is becoming increasingly more important that we have a sound system of delivery of health care, particularly to seniors.

Mr. Speaker, the minister is obviously aware, and we have seen some shifts taking place in the hospital system, in the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair does not try to hear conversations, or try and hear every comment that is made, but when the Chair hears comments - particularly comments that are unparliamentary - the Chair must make it a point to bring it to the attention of the House.

The Chair cannot say for certain, but the Chair thought he heard the word 'lies'. Hon. members know that is unparliamentary, and all members, on either side of the House, are supposed to be engaged in the truth.

I would ask hon. members, please, to refrain from repeating unparliamentary remarks because they are provocative, and not only provocative, they are not expressions that should be used in the House.

So I would ask hon. members, please, to observe the rules of the House. The Chair's job is to enforce them. The job of members is to follow the rules.

Thank you.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, that was a good ruling, Mr. Speaker, it was the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. If he wants to get up and address remarks, he can, but otherwise he should refrain from the utterances he is making.

As I was saying, one of the areas that this Bill is going to cover is that of nursing homes, as they are called in the Province. If you will bear with me for one minute minister, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that I read the minister's remarks yesterday. Here they are: "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 we can have single point of entry into nursing homes...." Now that's what the minister said. That's what I just said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: No he didn't, Mr. Speaker, it's under this board that they're going, Mr. Speaker. In fact that's already been in place in certain areas of the Province. I know that the Gander district hospital board which in the past has administered nursing homes around the loop and in a number of areas - the Bonnews Lodge, for example, and I think the one in Lewisporte and the one in Gander. They already have this in place. A single point entry.

It seems to be working relatively well. Seems to be. The question of if you can make that much bigger and have it to be an effective one, there's some question about that. What this Bill should have done is go into great detail as to exactly how it intends to implement. There are going to be concerns about appointments given to Cabinet. The way that this Cabinet has already interfered with a due process out in central Newfoundland with the hiring of a principal for the community college leaves one to wonder how appointments will come.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, certainly a major concern. What I would like to see the minister do - and it doesn't address it in this Bill, we don't know where they're fitting into it - the issue of personal care homes in the Province. How are they affected? Are they now going to fall under the control - I'll ask the minister this and perhaps he'll address it in debate later. Personal care homes, will they fall under this board as well, where you now assign individuals to personal care homes, privately owned and operated, but in some cases subsidized and paid for by the taxpayer? Will these people also have there a single point entry to be a criterion? Or will they remain as they are presently run? Are they to be included? Does the minister know?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: If personal care homes are going to be included in this, or is it just for ones that are paid for and run by the department itself? How about personal care homes? Because if they're being addressed then there's no mention of it made in this particular piece of legislation, of whether personal care homes are going to be included.

Mr. Speaker, I particularly like the single point entry. I think it's been wrong the way people have been able to get into nursing homes in this Province as a result of knowing someone in a home and to get in on the basis of that. That's been wrong and should change. We should also have a look at who goes into these homes. All too often they have in the past, and still continue to have, relatively healthy individuals going into nursing homes, where it should be reserved for more chronic care patients. The single point entry should resolve some of these problems. I object to the Cabinet having the power. I think these boards could be elected as school boards or other boards are, and give more input into the communities that are mostly affected.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'd just like to have a few general comments on this Bill, Bill 38, which gives the government power I guess to appoint regional health boards, I guess they're called.

AN HON. MEMBER: "Establish," is the word.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Establish, yes. Establish regional health boards. Now they were given power four or five years ago to establish regional councils - or what was that bill we did years ago that Eric Gullage had?

MR. WOODFORD: Regional services boards.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - to establish regional services boards. Mr. Speaker, I never heard tell of them after. I don't know. There was all kinds of reasoning why we should do it at the time. The whole purpose of it was a way that we could abolish the Metro Board without - the government imposed a regional services councils legislation on the Province just to get rid of the Metro Board, which was using a shotgun to kill a sparrow, Mr. Speaker. There was no need of it.

Now we're going to in this House of Assembly give this same government power to establish regional health boards. Now to tell you the truth, from reading what the minister said here I really don't know if this is good or bad. Because the minister didn't give us any explanation, any valid reasoning that I could find out, as to why we want to do this. If there was some kind of an explanation from the minister, which there usually is when a bill is being introduced, to give me the rationale of why the department or why the government would like to do this, well maybe I could agree with it. Maybe I could support this legislation.

I hope when the minister is closing the debate maybe he can convince me on this side that this will be a good thing for the health care system of our Province. Certainly it's what we're all trying to do here. We are all trying to get over the devastation that the former Minister of Health gave to the health system when he downgraded and deteriorated the health system in this Province so much that he had to call the administrator of St. Clare's Hospital so he could jump the line of the many people who are waiting in the lines. He improved the health care system, there's no doubt about that. He improved it for one person in this Province, he improved it for himself, because he didn't have to deal with the problems. He just phoned up the administrator and jumped the line and went in and got whatever blood tests or whatever x-rays he was supposed to get. He saved $30 million by doing that.

If everyone in the Province could do that, had the same power that the minister had, they wouldn't mind what cuts you made to the health care system either. If all the people in this Province could phone up an administrator of a hospital or an administrator of a senior citizens home to get their parent in, or phone up some cancer specialist when they need some treatment. Even though in this House of Assembly a letter was read out by some doctors in this Province that the cancer clinics around the Province are in trouble or in jeopardy of closing. Well, Mr. Speaker, if you were the former Minister of Health - I know for a fact this minister wouldn't do it - I just know from him being himself that he would not do that. If he has to go for a visit for medical reasons he'll line up the same as I did and the same as anyone else did.

I was there a little while ago. I was in for - supposed to get that whatever you call that light put down your stomach, to see if it was.... They were going to put it up first to see if there was anything up there. They found it was empty up there. It was empty when it went up by mistake. They were going to put it down inside me. Anyway, I went and made an appointment - unlike the former Minister of Health. It was at St. Clare's Hospital too. I do know the administrator there from a long way back, and I could have phoned, I suppose, if I'd wanted to. I went and my doctor's secretary made the appointment to have this procedure done.

So I requested an early appointment for 8:45 a.m., I guess, was the earliest one I could get. So I went to St. Clare's Hospital. This is about four months ago, now. I went into St. Clare's Hospital to have this procedure done and signed up for whatever time - 8:45 a.m. when I got there - and I waited and waited. Now I expect if you make an appointment to do something, if there is an appointment - I didn't care. I wanted an early appointment. But if the appointment had been made for 12:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. that was the time I was going to show up. That was the time you would expect - within reason - that you'd get whatever treatment. Unless there was an emergency.

Now when I got there - I was there till 10:45 a.m. The procedure was done for an upset stomach obviously, to see what was wrong with it. An ulcer most likely.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Listen to the devastation that this government is doing to our Province, Mr. Speaker, it's giving me ulcers just looking across the floor and seeing the arrogance, and watching ministers setting up appointment and skipping the line when nobody else can. It's giving me an ulcer because I'm worried about it.

Anyway, I made the appointment for 8:45 a.m. and I went and I waited and waited. I spoke to some of the other, probably twenty-five people who were there, by - the appointment was for 8:45 a.m. By 9:30 a.m. there were about twenty people, and by 10:00 a.m., Mr. Speaker, another four or five there, because there were fifteen minute appointments; by 10:30 there were another three or four, from as far away as Grand Falls, a couple of them. There were people there at 11:30 a.m. - when I couldn't stay any longer, and left because I had other things to do - who had appointments at 7:30, 7:45, 8:00, 8:15, 8:30, and 8:45 a.m., when I was supposed to get mine.

Now, there were people going in and out there. Obviously, they were sicker than the rest of us. I don't know why they were being taken ahead of those who had been waiting there. They must have been emergencies, I suppose; that was all I could assume. There were half-a-dozen people who went through while I was waiting there for about two hours. The problem that I went in there to have checked out, the procedure, which the minister says might have been of the 60 per cent of procedures that were not necessary, I don't know - the doctor told me I should do this. If he had given me medication to stop the pain, that was all I wanted. I didn't care if it was cured. As long as I can put up with it and do my work, that's all I want to do. But, Mr. Speaker, there were people still in that waiting room when I left at 11:30 a.m., who had appointments for 7:30 or 8:00 a.m.

Now, there is a problem with organization when something like that happens. I suppose I could have gone through if I had wanted to, but that was the problem that the former minister missed when he skipped the line. That is the problem he ignored completely when he cut $30 million from our health care system. It affects the people who have to wait in lineups, it doesn't affect the people who can phone up administrators and jump the line whenever they want to.

Now, I don't know if he wants to get into Grade X or XI to finish off his education - I don't know how much education he has. He's going to skip the line again and go back to high school when he gets kicked out of here next time, maybe, when he is no longer Minister of Education. There isn't much damage he can do by skipping lines in the Department of Education. The damage he is going to do now in the Department of Education is to create every possible obstacle he can to prevent our young people from getting an education.

From obstructing health care and completely devastating the health care system of this Province, now he has gone to the education system. Two of the most important services a government can provide - I suppose, providing reasonable transportation for everyone is an important service, too - but two of the services that people really need: you need good care when you're sick, and not everyone gets sick all the time, thankfully, but you always need a good education. And every day that passes, you need a better education, not only young people, but middle-aged people and people who have to change careers, people who are going to get flung out of their jobs next week when the government brings down its minibudget. They need training, they need education, they need help to change careers. This is happening not only in Newfoundland, people are changing careers all over the world. I realise that.

But how can we do it without a basic education in this Province? - when students go for student loans and find that everyone there who could help them were laid off or got their layoff notices last week? - when they go for student loans and find that the Province is gypping them - every time they go for their loan portion, which is the federal responsibility, federal guarantee, they are being gypped on the grant portion by the Province, by the provincial Minister of Education?

How do you get an education in this Province when both your parents can't find a job and you can't find a summer job to save up some money, if you can't get in there somehow on student loans? It was by way of student loans, Mr. Speaker, that a lot of Newfoundlanders got through. I got through the College of Trades and Technology, on student loans. I went for three years. It was only supposed to be a two-year course, it took me three years. I'm slower than most.

But I did go through there on student loans. It took effort, and it took effort to pay it back when I got out. But I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to go there, and to be able to access this money. It wasn't a large amount of money but I was grateful to be able to access it fairly easily at the time compared to now, and finance my own way. The reason it took me three years - I was in technical college one year, which was all paid for by my parents. They said I was going to this place, but I hadn't made up my mind where I was going. I went in there for four or five months and I did very poorly.


MR. R. AYLWARD: Because I didn't try, I didn't work hard. It was my fault - I had it handed to me on a silver platter. When I went back the second time and had to finance my own way, knowing who was going to be paying the bills - it was very selfish of me the first time not to realize this, I know, but it happens to people. But Mr. Speaker, when you realize you are paying your own way, well, then you work. I worked at least a bit harder and I successfully got through it.

Mr. Speaker, what is happening here - maybe these regional health care boards will benefit the health care system, hopefully they will. We need something to improve it. The last minister having finished with our system, we need improvements. We need more money, too. Money is hard to come by in every department, but we need more money.

I hope that these new health care boards - if the minister will tell us of what benefit they are going to be. Will they create just another level of administration, another level of bureaucracy? Now, if that is what they are going to create, well, Mr. Speaker, you won't get my support for that.

That would be only another expense, doing nothing for the person who needs health care. If that is another bunch of board members put in by Cabinet, a bunch of - as it should be, fairly competent, really competent people on them, no doubt. We don't know, when Cabinet makes its recommendations, who is going to be on the board, but there is a way to solve that. If the boards are to be good - and hopefully, they will be good - there is a way to get people on them who will represent the regions they are supposed to represent, local people who will know the needs of the region and can work on behalf of that regional health board to improve the health care system.

Now, there is a way to do that, and I thought it was a very, very good suggestion that came from the Member for Menihek. I think it was yesterday, in debate, that he suggested we should elect the members of this regional service board. Now, we elect the municipal councils in our Province, we elect our school boards, we elect the Members of the House of Assembly, the good and the bad.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, that is probably not a great recommendation but we do, that is the system we are in. But, when the minister is speaking, would he suggest why these regional health boards could not be elected? That would be an improvement, a step forward, allowing people on these regional boards to come from the region, people with an interest in the health care of that region. Certainly, if you are going to have regional health boards, you need on them people from each region.

The health needs in Labrador, as I found in northern Labrador when I was travelling that area, are much different from the health needs in St. John's. There is a vast difference. They have reasonable health care up there, but certainly not as good as it is here. But they have different needs in Rigolet and Nain, Postville and all of those communities, from those we have here in St. John's or Mount Pearl or Outer Cove or Torbay.

So that is why we should have people from the region, if we have a regional board for Labrador or parts of Labrador, however it is going to work. And we should have them elected, so that we can ensure that, not only this Cabinet, but Cabinets in the future, won't be putting their buddies on this board, just for a place to put them, and they will keep their mouths shut so that when you cut another $30 million out of the health system, they won't kick up too much fuss about it. That is what happens sometimes in our political system. It is unfortunate, but it has happened before and would probably happen again. However, one way to avoid that is to have these regional health board members elected from the regions.

When I was on the other side of the House, and brought this up, there was the rationale - the bureaucracy would say, well, the government is paying the biggest cost and therefore should have some say and should make some appointments. Well, if a completely elected board were a bit too radical a move for the government now, let us start off with half-and-half, and make an amendment to this bill to provide that over the next five to seven years, we replace half of the appointed people with elected people and, in that way, phase out the appointed people. That would be a way to start the process and you would have elected at least half of the people on these boards.

Now, the bill that we have before us, Mr. Speaker, doesn't say when this is going to happen, it doesn't say how many boards are going to be put in place, it doesn't say anything about how they are going to operate, yet, we are asked to approve this bill when we have very little information to go on. If we had some commitment from the minister, when closing the debate, that there would be elected at least half of the people who are going to serve on these boards, I think that would be a good idea. It certainly deserves consideration. It is not mine, it is the suggestion of the Member for Menihek, and I think it is a very good one.

The election process works for the school boards. If government thinks it would be expensive to do this, well, we could tie it in with the municipal elections, like the school board elections are now. It gets a bit complicated, but I think that is mostly how it is done in the county system in other provinces when they are electing different regional boards. They elect their school boards, health boards, and municipal-regional boards all in the one election.

We, in this Province, could arrange these elections at no great extra cost. There would be no extra voters lists or poll captains, returning officers and so on, by including them in the municipal elections.

I would like to support the Member for Menihek in his suggestion that we could have elected regional boards - if the boards are necessary. Still the question hasn't been answered whether it is necessary to establish these boards in the first place. The only reason the minister gave, one-point entry or something like that, he mentioned - I can't find the quote now - one-point entry into the whole health care system. If you go into St. Clare's Hospital and eventually it is found that you need to be in Escasoni, for example, well, you just go right on through the same system. I assume that is what it means, but I don't know. I don't understand what the one-point entry system means because the minister didn't explain it very much.

Mr. Speaker, if this is all it is going to do, I don't know that we need to set up a bureaucracy to do that. We could pass regulations now, with whatever boards we have in place, to do that. That would not be a massive change in policy. It is not a problem that couldn't be solved with the people we have in place now to manage our hospital systems. So, if this is going to be just another level of bureaucracy, I will not support it. I can't support another level of bureaucracy because this Province is probably - and as has been said over there several times, this Province is over-governed, as it is, now. We spend a lot of money on administration, and for every cent we spend on administering any of our programs, it is obviously that much less money we have to get down to the people in the system who need the money.

So I hope this minister can, through this change, if he can explain it to me, try to start getting our health care system back in place and overcome some of the damage done to our system by the former minister, now the Minister of Education, who pats himself on the back quite often, suggesting that he has saved $30 million every year by the cuts he made. The 650 jobs that he took out of the system, the 450-odd hospital beds that he closed permanently in this Province, that was where he saved his $30 million. But still, because of the way he operated in his department, because he could phone up the administrator of a hospital and have his and his family's health needs looked after by a phone call, he has missed the damage that he has done to the health care system in this Province.

I have experienced it. I had to take my wife to hospital for mammograms and experienced first-hand, what happens - another organizational problem with that, too, by the way. When we went there, there were lineups for the mammograms. The previous two or three months waiting time is a problem. Because people are under such stress while waiting, that, in itself, will make them sick, whether they get a good report after it is over or not but when I went with my wife for her test, after we waited the two-and-a-half months, I expected to walk into St. Clare's Hospital again and find line ups coming out the door. We went in there at quarter-to-nine in the morning, not a soul there, walked right in, had the procedure done in fifteen minutes walked out and still nobody there when we left. Now there is a problem with that, but what happened after that was even a bigger problem because up to the point of getting the procedure done, you had two-and-a-half months of waiting and a lot of stress and a lot of worry while you were waiting, but after the procedure was done, the next day or the day after, that doctor left the province. So you could not get a report out of the hospital.

No wonder there was nobody lined up there because the person should not have been doing them anyway. When the family doctor went looking for the report he could not find it. Then I expected you would have to have another three month wait to get it done. Well, Mr. Speaker, someone in the system, or in the computer's or whatever they do, as luck happened came up with the report. Even though that doctor had left the province the report was available.

Now, Mr. Speaker, these are the types of problems that are existing, that are the day to day problems that people find when they are sick, when they visit our health care system, are not going to be helped by this regional health care board. I do not know how this regional health care board can get down to the root of the problem, it could be an organizational problem, I am not sure what it is. It is probably a lack of staff, it is probably a lack of resources, it is probably that the people who are there now have too much to do and they just can't handle it. The technicians who operate the machines, the X-ray machines, and technical machines in our hospitals are overworked and they cannot keep up with the demand. The machinery cannot keep up with the demand right now. In St. Clare's, I know there are a couple of machines there to do - I do not know what you would call it now. When you swallow that stuff and they take pictures of the coloured stuff going down in your stomach. Anyway, two of the machines there were broken for a full week.


MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes the barium, the barium yes, the chalk I call it. The two machines that were there the day I went there, were broken down. Finally someone worked on one for an hour or so, this was before, this was another eight months before that but the machines were not working, Mr. Speaker, and these are problems - line ups coming out of your ears. The last Minister of Health did not notice it because he had his own system. He could walk past all of those people. I could see him now going in there with his long raglan on and a pair of sunglasses and his hat down over his ears so nobody would see him. Walking past a hundred or so people, and going in and getting his exam done and then scooting out the back door as fast as he could. It was like when he landed with the helicopters down in St. Lawrence, he was like, I forget what the Member for Grand Bank called him at the time, he dropped in the helicopter and kicked up that much dust, ran into the hospital, closed it down and then took off again. Nobody knew, Mr. Speaker, he was there or he was not there, Mr. Speaker, that was all he did.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue this but I have to leave now for a meeting with some members of the NTA which I believe all St. John's members have been invited to. I hope we will all be getting at the School for the Deaf which is in - I invite all of you to come to the District of Kilbride, the School for the Deaf is in the District of Kilbride, and listen to some of the concerns that the teachers of this Waterford Valley Branch of the NTA will have to express at that time. I am sure that the Member for St. John's South will be there. He never turned away, he never backed away from a fight in his life. I am not sure about the cabinet ministers and if the member was not invited I will make sure that that is brought up at the time when I get to the meeting and it is to bad because I am sure you would be there. I hope the Member for Waterford Kenmount is gone already. I hope other members from that side of the House will be attending the meeting, Mr. Speaker, because I am sure it will be a lively one. I know that the next Liberal, nominated Liberal candidate from Kilbride will be at the meeting, Mr. Speaker, and he will earn his pay today, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, Hear!

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a few words on the amendment to the Department of Health Act. Mr. Speaker, there is only one very very short amendment but there are so many implications and so much involved in our health care system, especially today, Mr. Speaker, that I hope when the minister rises in his place he can explain some of the ramifications of that amendment. I see here a whole bunch of zeros, all tied in with each other. The only explanation I can see, even in the general areas - there are five areas, five boards to be established, one overlapping the other. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, it is a good idea. I know that the idea of a board system has been ongoing for a number of years. The idea had been presented to governments - I suppose, even before the time of this government - that regional boards should be established to perhaps give the people of the Province a better perspective as it pertains to health care, what they are eligible for and so on. However, in the amendment it is not spelled out and I, for one, just wonder what is going to happen within the framework of those regional boards.

On the surface the amendment seems simple enough but, when we speak about five boards in all different areas of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, then we wonder whether it be done on a population basis or geography. Certainly what it says on that paper, that one overlaps the other, the Great Northern Peninsula perhaps will overlap into Labrador or whatever, what is the reasoning for it?

If it is a better system, if it will deliver health care services to the people in a better manner, then I don't think anyone is going to object to that. Because I think health care is very, very important, and those boards would certainly be representative of local people, hopefully, and they perhaps would have a better knowledge of what is happening in that particular region, compared to now with responsibility lying with the Department of Health.

I know for years, Mr. Speaker, my wife was involved with the Department of Health, and they were responsible always to the regional director who, in turn, was responsible to the Department of Health. In fact, they sort of had their own department within a department. I know that for years the suggestion was certainly out there, that this change be made and they be answerable to some sort of a health board.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, that I look at, and I am always fearful of - not only with the government of the day or a government ten years down the road, but I don't think that Cabinet should be allowed to control the powers of the board.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible)?

MR. PARSONS: I will explain later to the hon. Member for Placentia what I am talking about.

I think, then, you are looking for trouble. I think the minister will, perhaps, readily agree as well, that our past performances and our past experiences show that appointed boards are not the order of the day and were never, Mr. Speaker. They were always abused -

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you know that?

MR. PARSONS: Let me tell the hon. the Member for St. John's South, I was a member of the Roman Catholic School Board for several years by appointment of the Lieutenant-Governor. Then it changed and they were elected in our area. I ran at the time and had no problem being elected. In fact, I ran twice for the St. John's School Board and was elected on both occasions. I found that you had a different perspective yourself when you were elected rather than appointed. I also found that you weren't subjected to the hierarchy. They were the people who appointed you, sort of, and now you were elected by the people out there; and the people out there are the same as we are in the House of Assembly. Those are the people we have a responsibility to, and those are the people who sometimes dictate as to how we should act, and what we should do on their behalf.

Mr. Speaker, they will dictate to the boards even in terms of their budgets and in terms of their staff. Again, I am not pointing any fingers. What I am saying is that it could happen in any government, and we all know, as politicians, that it sometimes happens that you have political persuasion, political implications, and I do not think that is good for any health board or within any health system.

You know, one place in the gospel it says: The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. In the same instance, in this amendment, the Cabinet can give it and the Cabinet can take it away - at its own whim. I think that is a dangerous precedent, and I think it is certainly precedent setting.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I wonder at the fairness of it. I wonder can we expect the same rationale as it pertains to services down on the northern peninsula, Labrador, and other rural areas? I am not sure of where the five areas are. I know St. John's is one; centre is another, and perhaps west is another; eastern and Labrador. Can we look the people in the eye and say: Yes, the same services are going to be available to each one of the boards? What about the monetary side of it? Will the boards be funded on a per capita basis, or will they get block funding because of the geographics of it? These are things that I would like to know.

Again, I have no complaint with the boards if they are going to be a plus for the people of the Province, and there is nothing wrong, really, with the fundamental idea of boards and representation from the regions. I find nothing wrong with that, but this Bill is to make community health a better way to go to help the citizens of the Province, and I hope that when the minister rises, he can explain to us what the conditions are, and set it out for us, because again the amendment was very, very short, and really we do not know what we speak of, because all we are saying is that we are going to have an amendment to create those boards.

I wonder if it is possible for the minister to entertain the idea that perhaps the directives, or the appointments, perhaps could come from the Legislature? I know it is still coming from the government who would have the greatest number, but at least it could be seen, or implied, that it was on a fairer basis rather than by the Cabinet itself.

I have grave concern about the homes for the elderly. I know that there are people telling me that there are people in the homes who perhaps could be better situated in a homelike environment, and that might be true; but there are a great number of people out there who cannot be facilitated in the home, with service from the home. They need the services of these homes which have almost the same services in respect to health care that hospitals have. I think that we have to be very, very careful on how we choose.

Again, it might be the best idea that ever came about - to have a lot of home care within a home situation - but again we have to be very, very careful. These are elderly people. There are a great number of our population now in those numbers. We have an aging population and I know that is going to be the concern of government no matter which government is in, to address the situation as it pertains to the needs of the elderly, especially the needs of the elderly who have no one to look after them.

I was speaking to a doctor the other day and he brought to my mind at least, some of the shocking things that are happening that a lot of us don't ever see and hardly can realize is happening. He told me of an instance where, an elderly lady was brought in to hospital and just left there. I said: that is an isolated incident, and he said: no, it isn't. He said: on two occasions, the previous week, two elderly ladies were brought in to the hospital, one he said, really there was no reason for her to stay at the hospital but he said she was left there with no one to take her and you know, being human beings, Canadians and Newfoundlanders and whatever, there is no way that you could take that lady and just throw her out of the hospital, it is impossible, but those are situations.

But I think abandonment, I think that some way we have to try to build up some sort of an establishment whereby those people can be facilitated. I see down in Torbay, Mr. Speaker, and I know that everyone cannot do this type of thing, but the Kinsmen in Torbay sponsored a home, the home is made up - what do you call those homes with the apartments? It is a senior citizens home and there are individual apartments in the homes. Now, granted you can have accessibility of health care in the home but most of the people who are in those units can look after themselves although elderly.

I was always an advocate of it, I always thought that this must be the way. They pay their own way pretty well and the Kinsmen are the responsible party but they live in dignity. Perhaps a day will come when they will have to be hospitalized but I think in their frame of mind because they are so happy in those units, that could prolong their stay, I really do. I think it is in their subconscious: look, here we are with the best of living and they do not want to be institutionalized, so in that sense, I say to the minister too, that among us all here as legislators, perhaps we could come up with some way to forward that idea, that perhaps we could have those service clubs, people who volunteer like the Kinsmen or the Kiwanas or whomever and be responsible for those homes. Again, we are all growing older, there are many of us here with fathers and mothers who are elderly, not me, mine have since passed on, but there are men and women here who have parents now who are looking at them and wondering what is going to happen to them in the years to come, and I think that is a thought that everyone has in his mind one day or the other, and I say not only to this government but to my colleagues, there must be something out there, we spend money in different ways but there must be something out there to address the problem of the elderly.

It is not going to go away, it is increasing daily and being in a small community, I can perhaps see it more readily than people in larger centres, and again, we were involved in public health - I was not but my wife was, and we say it readily because many were the times when I had to drive her during the winter days and whatever because she had a big district and we could see the needs then of the people.

There are lineups and as the minister knows there are great numbers on the list for entrance into those homes which is done usually on a 'need' basis, sometimes taking into consideration that they have no one to look after them, or their health needs are such that they cannot be addressed by home care or whatever and I think that is the way it should go. But, why I brought it up, Mr. Speaker, is that, I am afraid that perhaps if you look at it in the political sense or if those boards were appointed by politicians, by me or members on the other side or my own colleagues, I think perhaps there could be some pressure exerted even to the admitting aspect of those homes, could be interfered with politically and I think that would be bad. I do not think it would be a fair system.

There is a lot to be said about elected representatives. We deal here every day in the House with responsible people - responsible to the people who elect them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Too many of us.

MR. PARSONS: Too many, Mr. Speaker, but at any rate those people are elected. They are elected. They can stand on their own two feet and say: I was not put in there because I was so-and-so, or something like this. They were elected by the people to represent them - to act on their behalf.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I say to the hon. Member for Port de Grave that I am sure he agrees with me in saying that the members of those boards - those regional hospital boards - perhaps would be better served if they were elected.

I heard a good suggestion from a member here today, saying that part of them - perhaps half of them - could be elected.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) on the MHA's.

MR. PARSONS: Absolutely. That is absolute. There is no doubt at all about it. There is no doubt at all about that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you willing to give up three of your pensions?

MR. PARSONS: I am not even going to address the hon. Member for Port de Grave. He thinks that pensions come like licences. He has a driver's licence. He has a seal licence. He has a fisherman's licence. That is not the way pensions are. Pensions are different altogether. Now get away from that altogether.

I know that the hon. Member for Port de Grave supports me in my saying, and suggesting to the House, that at least part of those boards be elected. I do not think that is asking too much, and I think that government would be then responding to the needs and to the wills of the people.

I was also going to say to the minister, and I said to his predecessor in private at one time, I know that the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission - the commission itself was disbanded and then went within or beneath the umbrella of the Department of Health. I did speak to the minister in private about it, because I had a couple of people who received help from that dependency board, or dependency commission, and the minister assured me that all that was being taken away was some of the administrative staff.

I want to ask the minister, when he rises in his place, would he address the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission? How has it transpired? Is it as good as what it was when it was on its own? I am sure now that this will be under the umbrella of this board - the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission will be one such establishment.

The only thing that I have to again question the minister about, when we talk about governors, governments, even in homes, even on boards - can we overgovern? We have governments - from the time we get up in the morning we are governed by someone. If the children go to the university they are governed by the laws of the university. If they go along the roads and drive their cars they are governed by the laws of the roads. If they have to build a house they are governed by the community council or the town council of which they are a part. No matter what it is, they are governed by something, and here are we, legislators, and we legislate, again in a governing way, over the everyday citizens who look up to us to make the rules and regulations.

I say to the minister that we want to be careful too that we do not overgovern; that we do not place too many people on those boards, because from my perspective, and the experience that I have over the years, every time that I saw a board being instituted, or a department being made up, it escalated. It snowballed. It ended up by three people starting it off, and the next thing that person, if he had any great initiative at all, had an empire growing. He was then on the higher echelon, overseeing a great domain, which was never meant to be in the first place. But those things happen in everyday life and it is a sin.

Then we talk about health care in general. Well, there is a lot needed in health care in general. I know, Mr. Speaker, that it is costly and it has to be paid for, and I know there are only so many dollars. But again, Mr. Speaker, we are going to have to be careful where we cut, especially with the young and the elderly. The rest of us can look after ourselves, but for the elderly and the young we have to be careful.

Mr. Speaker, I had to go in for an X ray myself about a month ago. I went in to the Health Sciences and there was such a lineup there that I went over to the girl and said: How long will I have to wait now for my time to come up? She said: Three hours. So, Mr. Speaker, I went back to the office where I had a bit of work to do, and after the three hours I went back to the Health Sciences again. You know, it was very simple, I went on in and had the X ray taken. What I looked at then, Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the minister, was that there were a great number of people in the Health Sciences that day who were from out of town, people who were dropped off by a taxi, and they had no way of getting out of the hospital - elderly people again. Mr. Speaker, they had to wait perhaps longer than I, four hours -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I just explained to the Member for St. John's South that I didn't mind. I came back to the office and did a bit of work while I was waiting my three hours. But the people who come in from out of town, from outlying area, there is no way they could leave. They had no transportation, dropped off by bus. All I am saying to the minister is, you know, there are cuts coming, but I hope to goodness that they won't impoverish or make it any worse for that type of person.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to touch on the MRI machine that came in. We know we heard so much about this piece of equipment and the technology that it had and the people that it would serve, that for months and months and months on end everywhere you looked you would see someone looking for a donation, and rightly so. All Newfoundlanders - and they are known for it - gave from their hearts. This MRI machine was brought in here and there was no room for it in the building and, if there was room in the building, the foundation of the building couldn't accept the weight. Now, I think there was some sort of an explanation for it, but I am not sure what the explanation was. The previous Minister of Health perhaps had an explanation for it, but I am not sure if the new minister does or not. The MRI machine is still here and they are now pouring the footings for an extension to the building.

I look at it and say: My goodness, you mean to tell me that this machine came in here and we didn't have advanced notice, or the government didn't have advanced notice, that the machine was coming, didn't have any measurements or weight indications as to how heavy the machine was, the size of the machine or whatever? Here is a machine that people rushed to donate to, to help the citizens of the Province, still lying in there not doing an iota for the people.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is a scandalous state of affairs. If that machine, in operation, would only serve three people, if it only saved the lives of a couple of people, then that machine is worthy of the cost and worthy of all the problems that the people had in getting that MRI machine where it is today. I say to the minister that he has to address it. The minister will have to say to the people, he will have to tell this hon. House, what time he believes this MRI machine can be put into operation.

Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: I remind the hon. Member for St. John's South that the people from this area, in particular, and Newfoundland in general, when you go around asking for money they are the best there is. Yours truly had the opportunity on two occasions, under very, very drastic conditions, very, very sad situations, to head two drives to help some poor people who were left homeless with a great number of deaths involved. At one place in time I was on an open line show, asking for help for the people, and the next Monday I had to go back to the open line show and tell the people to stop it, that we had money enough. So that will tell you how good the people are in the area, and how well they serve their fellow man, and they should be congratulated on it. Again, with this MRI machine, they certainly contributed and that machine, as far as I am concerned, should not be left over there now, not doing what it was supposed to do. I think it is disgraceful, and I believe that it was poor management on someone's part.

I heard it said that the machine itself was not what originally had been ordered - I do not know - and that when the machine did come in, it was much larger and of a much greater weight. Mr. Speaker, I find that hard to believe. I find it hard that the government, who is responsible for health services, and the Health Sciences Complex, would not have some sort of a spec as to what they were expected to receive when the MRI machine arrived. It is still over there, in the area, and they are only now putting down the footings. How much more time is going to elapse before that building is actually in place, and this machine will then be ready to service the people? I believe the people are awfully quiet because, after donating from the bottoms of their hearts, now we find that the machine is not in use.

Those are some points that I want to make to the minister. I repeat myself, and I know it. I also want to say to the minister, for the second time, that I hope that his government, the government of which he is part, and the Minister responsible for Health, that they give some thought to those senior citizens homes. The ones I am talking about are the individuals units, apartments, and again I say to the minister that perhaps it might be the way to go.

Our fathers and our mothers and ourselves, in fact, I am getting up there now and I suppose I have to look forward to the day perhaps when - you are not going to live forever - but I see those units as ideal situations for the elderly. I hope that government will decide to place great emphasis on, and bring to fruition some of those units in different parts of the country.

There is one in Torbay. They are asking for an extension now, by the way, asking for the funding from CMHC and knowing that they will get it, because they are a responsible group. If you have a group like the Kiwanis, or the Kinsmen, or the Knights of Columbus, or the Masonic, or those people who will be responsible for the administration of those homes, then you do not really have a problem. All the government has to do is bring it about. All the government has to do is to initiate the plans, bring about the plans, for those apartments.

I say to the minister, if you want to see one that is really working, go down on Brown's Lane in Torbay. There is a beautiful complex down there. I was up there only a couple of weeks ago to a birthday for a ninety year old gentleman, and I must say, it was really nice to look at. There was so much respect for each other there. There was a lot of camaraderie there, and again I say to the minister, it might be a psychological adventure, as far as government is concerned, to thing about it and say to themselves: Look, if we put those people in these homes, the willingness to go to an institution will certainly be deferred for a great number of months.

I ask the minister to address some of those suggestions when he goes to close the debate.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to make a few short comments pertaining to Bill 38. The bill is very brief, but then again I think it is - I do not know if it is intentional or not, but to me it is sort of vague and there is not much - one of the statements in Section 1, Subsection (2): 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.

That particular section, Mr. Speaker, I would have to ask some questions and get some answers pertaining to why the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, if we are going to have boards around the Province - and that is another thing, how many boards, there are no numbers here and I know it is supposed to replace, I think there are four health care units if I am not mistaken around the Province now, primarily four Department of Health units around the Province so I suppose it would replace those and then they would become community health boards. What the numbers would be, where they would be established and I suppose another question I would have to ask the minister is, what will they be responsible for, what powers will they have?

They will be appointed I suppose by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council but as far as I am concerned, one of the reasons and one of the concerns I have in this particular section of the Bill, is that I have seen it happen with two or three or three or four other bills that came to the floor in the past couple of years, and the one that comes to mind primarily, is the Crown Lands Act. In that particular act, it took out section 7 subsection (2) in that act and gave all the power to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. This is another bill, Mr. Speaker, that gives powers primarily to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. Now, I suppose the minister when he does get up can explain; maybe there are all kinds of good reasons, maybe there are all kinds of good intentions and I suppose I should reserve my judgement until the minister answers some of the questions pertaining to the concerns that I have and other members on this side of the House.

One of the concerns that I have is the areas that would encompass those boards; what areas and how large an area they will be responsible for and how will they be able to manage it, how will they be able to do justification to it, because the one that comes to my mind, overall, is the so-called assessment and placement under a so-called continuing care for seniors and so on. That worries me because I know in my particular area, we have I think, four different types of homes: one, Humber Valley Home is run by the - really it comes under the jurisdiction or it came under the jurisdiction of CMHC, whereby people in that particular home pay huge amounts of rent and in fact, only for the intervention the last number of years, a lot of those people would have had to leave and I suppose social services would have had to look after them because any senior citizens homes in the province that are subsidized by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation or by the Department of Health, they only pay up to a maximum of 25 per cent of their income in that particular home. In this particular home, the Humber Valley Homes financed and looked after by CMHC, they had to pay the regular going rate, whatever that rate was and they could not put groceries on the table. That is, I suppose a stark contrast to NLHC which would be a maximum of 25 per cent, putting seniors in a very, very uncomfortable situation.

Then we move along to a personal care home. Personal care homes: we have that in the Deer Lake area too under the Deer Lake Manor whereby they are subsidized, especially the one that comes under the twenty units, twenty or less, they are subsidized by I suppose the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services and so on to take in those particular seniors. They have it half-decent, there is no question about that. They pass back $90 or $110 out of their cheque when they get it at the end of the month and they have something for a bit of pocket money. Then we move on to the Interfaith in Corner Brook which is a subsidized unit and that is controlled by a local board and a local board of directors I would say, that comes under the Interfaith Home in Corner Brook.

But they make the decisions on who goes into that home from all over the west coast, northern peninsula, or anywhere else. I've questioned that in the past and I question it today. On the validity of some of the applications that come before the board for the Inter Faith Home in Corner Brook.

I've known we have a very serious problem in this Province today, and it's going to get worse - our problems pertaining to seniors. People are living longer, times are getting tougher, income is being eroded.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, I think they can get tougher. I really do think they can get tougher. Especially for seniors and people who are disabled. Primarily because they're on fixed incomes. If the money is not there for a provincial government to control its deficit and to do the very basic things; if the money is not there for the federal government to do the basic necessities required of them to sustain seniors and other people who are less fortunate than some others in society; than I suppose it's going to get worse. Especially for those particular classes of people. They've got no one to turn to. They've got no other income. I would say to the minister that under this particular section of the Act the reason - I asked the minister a very important question. Why aren't there other clauses in the Act that state specifically what those particular boards would be responsible for?

Usually in an act it states what everything's responsible for. (Inaudible) different parts of the act, whether it's one, two, three, four, five or what. Then it's got subsections. In this particular Act it's very vague and it looks to me like it's intentional. If it's intentional, my big question would be: what is it for? There shouldn't be anything to hide. There should be absolutely nothing to hide when you're looking after health care in the Province. If it does come under the so-called circle design that the previous minister put last year in the estimate committees there's nothing there to hide, absolutely nothing. There's no argument with it - the health promotion, health protection, mental health, continuing care, alcohol and drug dependency.

So the circle - unless now there could be another reason. I think at that time that minister was going clockwise. Now I don't know if this minister has it in his mind to go counterclockwise. That could be the reason why there's nothing else in this particular Act. I don't know. I'm a little bit leery about that particular -you can't change the circles unless you make squares out of them, and then he's in real trouble.

Another thing I'd like to ask the minister. Under the alcohol and drug dependency act - which I suppose would be incorporated all under this Act, I would say - now if the minister when he does get up tell me that those five particular headings are all going to come under that Act, the question is: why isn't it in the Act? Why aren't there headings there for health promotion, health protection, alcohol and drug dependency, mental health and continuing care? Because there's a variety of sicknesses there and means -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: You might have to put some more circles in there. I say to the minister that this may be only a draft but I would say now that this is exactly what is going to be incorporated under this Act. But is it all going to be there? Will it all be listed? Will it all be looked after? Are there going to be any cuts to any particular heading?

There may be. I understand that in the alcohol and drug dependency boards, there was some tampering with them in last year's Budget. They were put under the Department of Health, I believe, or the hospitals in the particular regions. I understand now that there's some hiring taking place pertaining to the alcohol and drug dependency. Which is good, if it's true, I say: perfect. Because that's one particular area that is going to cause, has caused, will cause, all kinds of trouble for the health care system in the Province.

The strain on our health care system today, due to people with alcohol and drug problems, must be just unreal, especially with regard to drugs and teenagers. Prescription drugs, even: There are all kinds of problems with regard to prescription drugs around this Province today. So if that is the case, then I say that is an area that needs some improvement. If we are going to hire some people, or have hired some people in the last little while, to look after that particular area, I say it is a deed well done.

Crisis intervention with regard to mental health: Mr. Speaker, never, ever was there a time in this Province when a minister or a department was needed more, to look at and keep taps on mental health, because just about everybody in the Province today are just about gone off their heads.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: This is an area today where there is such stress and strain. No work! People have bills piling up, can't pay them. People are losing their homes and their cars. Everything else is gone. One time they could go to Social Services, we will say, and no problem, they would get their social services and they could live on it. Today they can't live on it, they can't get the bare necessities with it. I mean, it may be put in one of the circles, they may look all the same size here but, I tell the minister and members opposite this, that if there was ever a time in this Province - if I can recall, a couple of years ago the former minister stood and said we needed, at that time, on a per capita basis, thirty-six psychiatrists in the Province - was it not - or fifty.


MR. WOODFORD: And we had, I don't know, probably fifteen or twenty.

MR. DOYLE: I think it was only (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: But if there are any doctors in this Province today that are overworked it must be psychiatrists. I don't know who is paying them for their services. I don't know. But I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, that this is an area that we should not take lightly. This is an area under crisis intervention. Counselling and therapy: Never was there a need so important as it is today.

(Inaudible) hospitalization: What do we do with people when we bring them in? And it is going to get worse. That particular part of it is going to get worse, because over this winter, with the minibudget coming in next week, a federal announcement on December 2 and another budget coming in next Spring, people are worried like they never were before. This is one particular area where this particular minister and this particular department are going to have problems, I can assure you, because of the stress and strain brought on by the happenings in our society today. People are hurting in more ways than one.

The health protection pertaining to disease prevention, disease surveillance, disease control, health assessment, environmental health services - very important - and disaster preparedness, all those things come under that. Mr. Speaker, one of the things that this bill was supposed to do, and is supposed to do - I think the minister has already stated this - is to make it a single entry system for people, especially seniors, going into homes. Now, that particular part of the bill is supposed to make it fair. I checked this out. I called the deputy minister, Dr. Williams, today before I came into the House, and I checked out those few particular things, and it is supposed to make it fair.

Now, I asked Dr. Williams: How is it going to make it fairer? When it comes right down to a personal care home, especially a Level I and in Level 11 and Level III as well, because you have them out there subsidized by the Department of Health and it is the same thing, whether it is a church involved or whether it is an individual involvement, they make the final decision.

MR. HODDER: Who makes it?

MR. WOODFORD: The individual. If an individual owns a personal care home in this Province - he has so many applications. Although he may be referred by the Department of Health or Social Services it rests with the individual. Although people in the Province may be referred to, well, any of the homes - the home in Clarke's Beach comes to mind, the one run by the Pentecostal Assembly - they make the final decision.

So, regardless of what is done by the Department of Health, this is an area, I think, where the minister and his officials should take a hands-on approach. We have senior citizens in this Province today, and not only seniors, but other people who are developmentally delayed, so to speak, disabled, far from being seniors, in their fifties, their forties - I have examples of it pretty well every week - who should be in one of those homes.

But what happens when they come in and do an assessment, is they usually take the individual or the senior who has an income, who is getting old age security, because, by doing that, there is less of a subsidy paid by the department. They only have to pay the one hundred and some-odd dollars per month top-up and they give the senior back the $90 or the $110, and so on. If someone who doesn't have much of an income comes in, then they have to pay the total subsidy, which is a bigger strain on the Department of Health and the minister responsible for it.

So I hope the minister is sincere about this particular area involving a single-entry system. It would make it more fair, and I would go along with it. If ever there were a time when something should be done about that, it is now, because seniors in this Province are hurting.

Home care support - it is supposed to make it better for home care support. I think there are areas in all our municipalities around the Province, whereby this can be - people like to stay in their own homes. If they want to do that, for the sake of a few dollars, and a visit probably once a day or once every few days, then it takes the pressure off the Provincial Government and off the health care system in the Province. So then, why not? VON are out there. They do it for a small charge, a token charge, if the individual can pay for it. Rightly so - so they should. But in areas where they can't pay for it and they're just borderline, then I think the seniors should be looked after and allowed to stay in their own homes, where they would want to be.

So, just a few short comments, Mr. Speaker. As I said from the outset, I hope, when the minister gets up, he will give us a list of what is going to be included under this particular bill, because that is what concerns me. This is very vague - it only tells us who is responsible, that's all. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council - which is Cabinet - Cabinet can direct, and Cabinet can tell, and Cabinet can do. But it doesn't say anything else. That, to me, Mr. Speaker, is wrong, because it should be incorporated in the bill. And if that is done, and the minister can answer that - and maybe there are some legitimate reasons for it. Maybe there are, but I can't see them.

I would like to say also that I think the time has come - we have all pointed fingers in the past, and as recently as today, with regard to political patronage - I think the time has come for us to have all those boards elected. They should be elected. If we can go out and elect school boards in the Province today to look after educational needs and -

MS. VERGE: Campaign for a Triple E Senate.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that's right, and those particular things, Triple E Senates,and so on - I don't know what that was going to do for us, but anyway -

MR. MATTHEWS: We have seen what that is going to do for us (inaudible). That is the price of Meech.

MR. WOODFORD: In any case, if there was ever a time we should have elected boards to take the heat - those elected boards would take the heat off the minister.

MR. EFFORD: How are you going to get the Liberals (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) would never believe (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I do believe it.

MR. EFFORD: How are we going to get your Liberal buddies on boards?

MR. MATTHEWS: Clyde Wells and Elijah Harper should (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: What was that the Member for Port de Grave said? How are you going to get your Liberal buddies on boards?



MS. VERGE: That is what you have in mind with this bill, is it? - getting your Liberal buddies on the boards!


MR. HARRIS: Tell us about the Social Services Appeal Board!

MR. WOODFORD: One thing I will say -


MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have lost every bit of the train of thought I had. There is one thing I will say to the Member for Port de Grave, that if they have elected boards and you want to get your Liberal buddies around the Province on them, if you don't do any better job with putting in a system to elect them to the boards than you have with your nomination meetings, well, then, you're not going to do much with it, I can assure you. Because that's going to - right? Right.

You are one of those over there who agree with it. I read that in the paper at a convention in Gander so that is -

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, putting all jokes aside and fun in the middle, I think we should have elected boards.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about your nominations.

MR. WOODFORD: Tell us about your nominations?


MR. WOODFORD: I don't think I have to tell hon. members opposite. I probably would be ruled out because of relevancy, but I could probably tie it in with elected boards every now and again. I could do that.

But I just hope hon. members don't go a little step further and do what the federal Liberals are doing, just go in and say: You are running for me, and you are running for me. Mr. Speaker, if there was ever a time, as I said, to have elected boards - I think the minister should certainly consider that and have elected boards in the Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The principle of the bill that is before us, Bill 38, is one with which we can agree to make community health boards responsible for the delivery of community health services in the Province. However, the Minister of Justice, one of those who was pointed at - and they said, You are running for us - and was dragged halfheartedly back into the House of Assembly -

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: I apologize for interrupting the hon. gentleman, but I was provoked unmercifully by his colleague, the House Leader, who is nodding acquiescence, and by his sometime friend from Fogo. I apologize to the hon. gentleman. It is so seldom that he makes a speech, we quite forget that he is a member of the House, so we will listen to him in silence now.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The hon. the member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is not hard to know that the hon. gentleman was so engrossed in his law business he was not paying much attention to what went on in the House, because certainly, my words of wisdom on the record books, I am sure, outnumber his. Maybe the verbosity doesn't outweight his, but the words of wisdom certainly outweigh the hon. member's.

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that we have no problem in supporting the bill in relation to the principle of the bill,but it goes a lot further than that. The bill,itself, if one would look at it, seems a very simple bill. And when the Government House Leader complains about how long it is taking to get it through, he is probably saying, it is a very simple piece of legislation, why are we delaying it. This is typical of the Government House Leader and the government, of course, to try to disguise the real intent by putting up what seems to be a very simple bill to solve what appears to be a very minor problem.

What we are looking at here, however, is the decision-making of delivering health care throughout most of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, so it isn't a very simple matter at all. It is a very, very complicated matter, and what has been suggested by the government here in this bill, is that full decision-making in relation to the establishment of such boards and agencies who will be responsible for the delivery of this health care, be placed in the hands of Cabinet.

MS. VERGE: Back to the Smallwood style.

MR. HEARN: This is exactly what happened back when the Government House Leader was a minister in the former government. He learned his lessons well, and now they are trying to bring into the 1990s what they did in the 1950s and the 1960s, the same methods - the same methods of selecting candidates, the same methods of appointing boards.

Mr. Speaker, what perplexes me even more is the fact that the hon. the Minister of Health, who is on record as saying that all school boards should be elected - should be fully elected. The same minister is now saying that health care boards should not be elected; we have to appoint them.

If government appoints the health care boards in secret, within the walls of the Cabinet room, we all know what is going to happen.

MS. VERGE: But what walls!

MR. HEARN: The Member for Humber East, who is disturbing me here, actually makes a very good point. When I said that the decisions would be made in secret within the walls of the Cabinet room in the Premier's office, she said: But what walls! There is no doubt about it. Decisions were never made within such luxurious walls before, but they are still being made in secrecy.

The boards that we are talking about selecting here, choosing, there is absolutely no way anyone knows whether the boards will be established fairly, squarely; whether authorities will be the same throughout the Province; whether expenditures will be equal throughout the Province, and we can go on and on and on, because everything will be dictated. The boards themselves will have absolutely no say at all. They will be dictated to, of course, by the people who appoint them - the Cabinet of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the delivery of health care, especially in rural areas of the Province, we realize that it is no mean task for any government or any minister. To delivery proper health care services in a province such as Newfoundland and Labrador, it is going to challenge anybody's imagination.

One of the things we have going for us now is throughout this great Province we have a tremendous number of volunteers helping out. We have a number of boards, from the hospital boards to the various other health care boards scattered throughout the Province. Many of those volunteers travel long distances to make sure that their own little remote areas of the Province have some say in the delivery of their health care needs.

The number of boards, though not spelled out here, I understand to be five, and if you look at probably four on the Island section of the Province, and one in Labrador, if that is the case, you are looking at extremely large boards, or boards covering a large geographic area. What one wonders is, how much attention, despite representation, are the small, more remote areas going to receive from boards placed in large centres - western, central, eastern, St. John's?

This is a similar concern to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Education, where the same government who believes in consolidation and amalgamation is taking away from the smaller, rural areas of the Province - rural areas which should concern members like the Member for Port de Grave, who understands very, very little. It is going right over his head, but he should be very concerned about this because if you only have nine boards of education, with all of the Avalon Peninsula, for instance, handled from St. John's, what say are the smaller areas going to have?

Right now we see twenty-five or thirty, whatever, school boards throughout the Province, covering geographic sections which enable the people to commute. They cover geographic sections within which the people are familiar with each other's problems. They understand the concerns from one end of the school board district to the other. But if these same small areas find themselves with meagre representation on larger boards, how much input is Port de Grave or Bay de Verde, or Red Head Cove, going to have on a large regional, centralized board? Very, very little. The only input they might have then is if the member who is no longer a minister in Cabinet has a friend in Cabinet who might appoint somebody from his area on the board, that is about the only input he would have and the same thing applies to our boards of education.

If we make them too big then the large centralized areas of the Province will dominate the decision making and that can be extremely dangerous because most of our health care needs today are not in the larger centres, even though I know that in places like St. John's, Corner Brook, Gander, Grand Falls, Clarenville they all have major health problems, but at least they are within easy access, time-wise at least, of whatever expertise is available in the medical field in this Province.

When you look at parts of my own district which are further away, and I understand perhaps only one other area in the Province is further away from any hospital, the people who live in Trepassey, St. Shotts - 115 miles from the nearest hospital - and I understand there may be only one other area in the Province where people are that far from a hospital. So when you talk about planning for the delivery of health care, for people in the St. Shotts, the Point Lance's and the Southern Harbours, the small outlying areas of rural Newfoundland, then we must be very conscious of having some localised say in the decision making. Not only people from the local area they are representing but people selected by the people themselves, so they will know they have qualified, fair-minded people on the board.

I was talking to somebody just recently and I asked him: why would you think that government would want to appoint five regional health care boards throughout the Province. They came up with two ideas: number one, they said, first of all they were surprised because they said, the Minister of Health was always a strong proponent of elected boards. He was very, very strong in favour of elected school boards, but now he is Minister of Health and of course that means very little because the poor minister, like all other ministers, has very little say in what he does anyway, he is dictated to from above, but because they are going to appoint health care boards throughout the Province, there is only one reason that the person could come up with, a person very involved in the health care field, who has represented his area on boards for several years, the person said: the only reason I can see, government wants to control it so that in times like this, when hard decisions have to be made, when budgets have to be cut, then it would be great for government to have boards which they control, boards which they have appointed, boards which will kowtow to the minister, to his department and to government generally. If they were told to trim the budget they would say: yes, Mr. Minister, how much? If they were told to close hospital beds they would say: yes, Mr. Minister, how many? If they were told to lay off staff they would say: yes, Mr. Minister, already done.

You wouldn't see the outcry that you're seeing from certain areas now as they plan for the cutbacks that government is telling everybody they're going to have to face in the next few days and weeks.

MS. VERGE: Just like the 'sixties.

MR. HEARN: So, we're going back again to the 'sixties when all boards were made up of government appointees. People who were dependent entirely upon the good wishes of government. People who really feared government. That's one thing about this government today. I notice the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the Member for Placentia, looking at me and nodding his head in agreement. He understands what's happening.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. HEARN: This government today is so much like the government of the 'fifties and 'sixties. When people were in fear - fear and in trepidation, I think were the words used - of government, when they saw a member coming, or they saw a minister coming, certainly when they saw the Premier coming. Down on one knee, cap in hand, head bowed. Afraid to open their mouths.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: That is not, and the member is old enough to know that is true. The member is old enough to know that he was one of the ones who fought against such tyranny and dictatorship. We are seeing the same thing happening right now. There is a real fear of this government. Not necessarily of the members individually or collectively. I mean, who would fear the affable member, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations? Who's afraid of him? Who's afraid of the Minister of Environment? Who's afraid of the Minister of Forestry? Nobody. They're fine people, likeable people. Everybody likes them except teachers. But they're likeable.

MS. VERGE: Who would take them seriously?

MR. HEARN: Who would take them seriously, number one? Nobody even fears the Minister of Finance. Despite the fact that he might like to be feared, nobody even fears the Minister of Justice.

MS. VERGE: Good point.

MR. HEARN: But everyone including all the hon. members I mentioned fears - with one exception, perhaps - fears the Premier. What the Premier says, within his Cabinet, goes.

I noticed Richard Cashin last night telling the Minister of Fisheries how he didn't blame him for all the mistakes being made in fisheries because he didn't have any say and that he was being dictated to by the Premier. The minister basically agreed. He tried to shrug it off. He basically nodded, in a sense, that: I can't do very much about the situation, the Premier won't let me. All other ministers will tell you the same thing in private.

However, throughout the Province, this does cause a lot of concern because there is a fear of dictatorship. There is a fear that people have, absolutely nothing is sacrosanct anymore. This Premier will do whatever he has to do to get his own way.

I just got off a lengthy telephone call that time with a person who is heavily involved in health care and in education, and one of the main concerns he has is what is happening in the Province. He said to me: Really, what has this Premier done? He held the country up to ransom for over two years because of his -

AN HON. MEMBER: Was that the President of your Tory Association?

MR. HEARN: The president of whom?

AN HON. MEMBER: Your Tory Association.

MR. HEARN: No, but I will tell you one thing, if you want to talk about my Tory Association, you should have come up to see how they run a nomination meeting. Let's digress a minute, because it is relevant, because we are talking about election and selection, the importance of it. The Liberals went up to St. Mary's - The Capes to select a candidate.

AN HON. MEMBER: They appointed one.

MR. HEARN: Well, they appointed one. But the local group up there, I suppose, to give them the benefit of the doubt, wanted to pick a good local candidate. But they were approached from (outside) and they were told: We have somebody that we have resurrected, as we did the Minister of Justice, and we want to run him in a district near St. John's. There is neither district available in St. John's.

They went out to the Avondale area where the Member for Harbour Main lives and we thought he was going to retire. So we sent him out and there and he felt around and he suddenly realized that the member who is presently representing the area is not going to retire. So he moved on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Right from the horse's mouth.

Then he said: Well, what is the next district close to St. John's? Somebody said: Placentia, and he realized he would have to face a nomination there and he might not win it. He might but he might not. So that was taking too big a chance. But the district nearest St. John's was St. Mary's - The Capes and the individual said: Well, here is a seat for me. So he went to his higher-ups and he said: Will you please intercede for me so I can run in St. Mary's - The Capes? - and they did. They went to the executive and said: We have found you a member, but to make it look good, here is what we want you to do. Now listen to this, because this is exactly what happened. We want you, in your individual areas, if you can, to find a few Liberals. So they went searching and searching and searching, and like anywhere, there is always a few - very few - but they found a few Liberals who have always been there; and they went around with a petition. They went around with a petition, asking people if they would draft an individual they had never heard about. Most people signed it because they thought they were getting the guy on open line. They got a handful of names and they said: We want him as a member.

In the meantime, a local resident wanted to run, of all things, I do not know why, but a local resident wanted to run for the Liberal nomination. What did they do? They told him that they would give him time to put his affairs in order to see what changes had to be made in order to make him free to run, and before he even got a chance to do it, before he even got a chance to figure out how he could set himself up to run which, because of his job - he told me himself, by the way - the Liberal association up there called a nomination so he would not be able to place his name in there to run and, of course, an individual won it by acclamation, simply because they knew if any local candidate ran, and there should be a local candidate because the day is gone when somebody has to come from outside to represent our rural districts in this Province. Consequently, they knew that if they had any local candidate running, their selected chosen candidate would not be picked to run up there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Oh, it is starting to hurt now, but the truth always hurts.

So what did the Tories do?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: We are talking about selection and election of boards, and we are making comparisons, Mr. Speaker, I submit.

What did the Tories do? They advertised. They called nominating meetings. They held four - one in every geographic part of the district. How many people showed up?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I see hon. members looking at the Chair, which the Chair does not appreciate, and singing out 'relevancy'.

The tradition has been, if an hon. member interjects, then obviously that hon. member should expect an answer to his interjection. I thought, even though the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes was probably dealing with the subject at length, that he was responding to an interjection, and I would ask him please to get back to the topic.

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I know it is approaching five o'clock, so I will just end by telling them that when we called the four meetings, 1,612 people voted in the nominating process. That is the difference and this is the relevance here because we should openly elect our boards but we should also make sure that each area of the Province is represented.

Mr. Speaker, seeing it is almost five, I will adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The debate is adjourned.

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: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader was attempting to suggest that the Minister of Health is adjourning the debate. There were other speakers -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes adjourned the debate.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you.

MR. ROBERTS: I do not know where my friend for St. John's East is coming from, Mr. Speaker, I know where he is going which is nowhere, but the gentleman for St. Mary's - The Capes adjourned the debate in his own inimitable style.

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

We will be dealing I believe with the resolution put down by the hon. Member for Humber East, and we will deal with that and whatever will be, will be, and on Thursday we shall resume this stimulating debate and I gather the Member for St. John's East will participate. We welcome his participation in this debate, it is always pleasant to have him enlighten us as he does.

I move the adjournment, Sir.

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