December 11, 1992              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS        Vol. XLI  No. 83

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The minister provided information in the House yesterday that in light of the mini-Budget and the cuts demanded on November 12, the Health Department and institutions around the Province are being asked to cut some $11 million from the budget for the remaining three months of the fiscal year, some $4.8 million of that due to expenditures beyond what was budgeted back in March.

Now $11 million is an enormous amount of money to cut from the budget for a three month period. Will the minister explain how the government is going to be able - and I use the minister's words: to get from MCP something like $3.4 million over a three month period? That's an enormous amount of money, so could the minister explain what's going on there and how are these savings going to come about? Has something been done to the cap of MCP that we're not aware of?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how to answer the hon. member. All he seems to be doing is raising fears in people that we can't do this and can't do that. Let me assure the hon. member that there'll be nobody suffering in any way, shape or form for anything that we do with MCP.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate what the minister is saying, that nobody is going to suffer. I'm simply asking him to explain where these cuts are coming from. He never answered the question. I want to ask him again. He said that $3.4 million is going to be cut from MCP over a three month period and they're going to realise savings over that three month period of $3.4 million. Will he explain where that $3.4 million is going to come from? It's an enormous amount of money, as I said. Has something been done to the cap of MCP that we're not aware of? Will he explain it to us, please?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what I can do. I got into this business yesterday of explaining about the weights of chicken. I suppose I can try to get into some analogy about it like that. Basically, there's been savings in the MCP budget of approximately $3.4 million during the year. That's basically all we're saying.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I might as well leave it. I'm not going to get an answer from the minister on that. Let me move along to nursing staff reductions by the government since 1989. It's resulted in unbearable workload and severe injury to nurses who have to do the work of two now as the result of these cutbacks. The Hospital and Nursing Home Association made it clear in January that the quality of nursing care is stated to have been negatively affected by reduced staffing, increased workloads and increased demand for access to fewer beds, I believe is what they said. Now, can the minister promise Newfoundlanders that no nursing positions will be lost or left unfilled as a result of the mini-Budget or the measures announced on November 12th.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The sky is not going to fall, Mr. Speaker. No matter what they do opposite, we are not going to let the sky fall. I am not going to let the sky fall, none of us are going to let the sky fall and I know you want the sky to fall but it is not going to fall. Let me tell you this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: I appreciate the dangers of things high but there will be no - any reductions in staff that are contemplated will be non-filling positions and as the member quite rightly inferred, you cannot just leave nurses off a ward, if a nurse quits you have to replace that nurse. So there will be no problems with replacing nurses and things of that nature. Any staff that may not be replaced will be non-essential staff and that will not be nursing staff. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DOYLE: So, the minister has said and he stated clearly that no nursing positions are going to be lost and the positions that have been unfilled will now be filled. The minister said yesterday that part of the $3.8 million cut to hospitals and nursing homes would be achieved by reduced vacation relief and overtime, decreased replacement for sick leave relief, compassionate leave and statutory holidays unless absolutely necessary, now is that not just another way of saying that from time to time the number of medical personnel on duty will now be allowed to fall below standard. Does it not mean that while some staff members are absent for one reason or another, perhaps because they were injured trying to do the work of two, that there will be fewer staff left on the job to carry out the remaining duties?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

In 1991, school boards received $82.3 million in operating grants, equalization payments and from their own school tax source. In the 1992 Budget, these same three areas were slated to receive $84.5 million. With the minister admitting both inside and outside the House that $11 million on equalization will not be given this year, which reduces the amount down to $73.5 million resulting in a net loss of $8.8 million to school boards this year, will the minister be straightforward and admit that boards will actually receive less money this year than last year?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, even as I speak, at this very moment, thanks to modern technology, every superintendent in this Province is engaged in a conference call with the Department of Education. Even as I speak, Mr. Speaker, at this very instant. You know, when you think about modern technology it is really amazing what you can do. All school boards are being told - and you know what the good news is being told, Mr. Speaker? There is not a single school board in this Province receiving less money than it received last year. Is not that something?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: As a matter of fact, not a single board is receiving less than 8 per cent more than they received last year. Now the Opposition can try to twist figures and do what they like, they can be as disappointed as they like, they can regret the fact that they made a mess of government and education and health and everything else, all these things that happened, but the fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that even as we speak, boards are being told they have an increase.

MR. ROBERTS: 8 per cent? That is more than Len Simms has got for him.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is too bad this modern technology was not available for the past several years or for the last two weeks when the minister was indicating and when the Budget was produced showing $84.5 million, the minister stating as late as Monday, $11 million less, and the deputy minister, on December 1, stated that 1 per cent and 3 per cent cutbacks in salary and operating budgets would be deducted from school board grants, is there more to come on top of this, and I ask the minister, is this $1.5 million in addition to the $11 million in equalization that is already gouged from the impoverished boards?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as I explained, all the boards are receiving more than they received last year. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the lowest amount that any board is receiving is 8 per cent more than it received last year. Now that is exactly the number that the hon. Leader of the Opposition is in the polls - 8 per cent of the polls. So if he is having a difficult time remembering all those figures, and all those millions of dollars that we are putting into education, let him relate the figure eight to the same place that his leader is in the polls today and he will remember that school boards are getting an 8 per cent increase.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier.

Last August, six months after the present Minister of Justice entered the Cabinet, the board of directors of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador decided to terminate the patronage contract the Premier had previously authorized to Halley, Hunt for legal work. At the time, the ENL board was concerned about a conflict of interest involving the Justice Minister, former senior partner of the firm. I ask the Premier: Was the conflict situation which concerned the board the financial interest which the Minister of Justice last Thursday admitted that he still holds in the law firm? Was that the concern the board had? Was that the conflict, and that was what they were concerned about?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, the concern was that the wife of the Minister of Justice is a member of the law firm and under Section 3, I believe it is, of the conflict of interest regulations, a government cannot award a contract to a firm in which either a minister or a minister's spouse has an interest.

Mr. Speaker, the concern was that even though the contract had been awarded before the minister became a minister, the concern was that in terms of doing legal work somebody had expressed the opinion that each new piece of work could be interpreted to be a separate contract, so there was a potential there for a conflict of interest. So the decision was that it would have to be ended by the end of September, it was thought to be a reasonable time.

When the government developed and put in place its new policy of inviting proposals for the supply of all legal services to government, then it did not seem at all logical or sensible to terminate it as at the end of September - put in place a totally new and different one for a three month period and then perhaps have somebody different again after the end of December. So what was done, it will all come to an end as at the end of December.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It seems like the Premier is saying that a conflict of interest for three months is acceptable, but it is far more than three months, I say to the Premier, and yesterday in his dealings with the press he was not totally open and honest with them.

He announced the minister was joining the Cabinet last November and he actually joined in February. Let us put aside the issue of the Minister of Justice's spouse. Let us forget about that issue. The Minister told the Premier about his financial interest in Halley Hunt before he joined the Cabinet in February, sometime between November and February. That is a long time ago. With that knowledge, the question is, Why did the Premier intervene to overturn the decision of the ENL board and allow the contract to remain with Halley Hunt, a very lucrative patronage contract that was not awarded, it was not tendered, it was given by this Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if that were the only problem, the fact that the remaining partners of Halley Hunt are paying a debt that is owing as a result of the termination of the relationship, then it could continue beyond December. If the spousal reason were not there it could continue beyond December because that is not a conflict. Now, if people want to portray it as such, I don't mind going to the people of this Province and saying, that is not a conflict, it is an acceptable way to operate. I have no quarrel with that. Now, I don't want to pretend it is any kind of a conflict because there is not a conflict. It is a perfectly normal responsible way to react. Now, if there were not this spousal problem and the possibility that each new piece of legal work could be interpreted to be a new contract, and that as the potential problem, the problem would not have been there.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The contract was not awarded fair and square, I say to the Premier. It was given to someone, it was not tendered. It did not go through public tender, I say to the Member for Carbonear. He can laugh all he likes. It was taken from one company and given to another. Is that fair?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the facts of the matter are that the Premier's fingerprints are all over this very messy affair. He intervened in April 1991 over the objections of the ENL. He intervened again in August 1992 over the objections of the ENL board with the full knowledge that his now Minister of Justice was in a direct conflict of interest position, So I want to ask the Premier, why does he tolerate a conflict of interest situation in this case, when he already dealt with the former Minister of Justice, with the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, and with the Member for Port de Grave, the former, former Minister of Social Services, because he sat in on a meeting with the Fisheries Loan Board about his brother's boat. I ask the Premier, directly, to come clean and tell the people of this Province why you have tolerated this direct conflict of interest, which you were very much aware of before you put Mr. Roberts in your Cabinet.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me tell the hon. member, lest he has any concern, not only my fingerprints are there, my name is there. I stamped my name on it. So you don't have to trace fingerprints. My name is there. I have no shame about it, it is there.

When the gentleman became a minister, I wrote a letter to the Minister of Public Works, or the deputy minister, and said, `Here are the circumstances. You are directed to ensure that there will be no conflict of interest. Here are the circumstances. You do it.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to table those letters in the House so the people can see. You won't have to look for my fingerprints, you will see my name on it. I will stand with pride and justify everything I have done in any place in this Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I will even go to the polls if you want to make this an issue. Let's call an election now and see what the result will be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Let's see what the result will be. Eighty per cent?

AN HON. MEMBER: Eighty per cent.

PREMIER WELLS: Eighty per cent, and the hon. members have ten or eleven per cent, I believe.

Now, I have no problem with submitting our actions to the people of this Province, but I won't stand by, Mr. Speaker, and see hon. members opposite desperately struggling to try to look credible. They can't, because they are not credible. They can't put forward a credible position that is acceptable to the public. So, what do they do? `Let's see if we can find some mud to sling at the other side. And if we can't find any, let's try to fabricate some. Let's throw out the big lie and hope it will stick.' Even though you can't justify it, the big lie will stick.

Mr. Speaker, they didn't even have the competence to invent the approach. Machiavelli described it 500 years ago in The Prince, and Goebbels developed it to a fine art when he was promoting it for Germany. Try something new for a change.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if the Premier went to Government House today, tomorrow he would blame it on someone else. He would blame it on someone else and say that he didn't go to Government House. `No, I didn't call the election.' That is what he would say.

Mr. Speaker, there is only one person who could do that, and that is the Premier, and anytime he feels like it, I say, `Go! Go down and see the Lieutenant-Governor. Do it. Go down and do it.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier can table all the letters he wants, but what is the Premier really telling the people of this Province today? - that because someone confesses to a conflict of interest, he is acceptable? Is that what the Premier is saying? Is the Premier saying that if someone applies for a job with the Bank of Nova Scotia and advises the bank manager that he robbed the bank two years ago, it is okay to come and take the job? Is that what the Premier of this Province is telling the people?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. If hon. members will listen just for a minute, just stop the shouting that normally goes forward to prevent the truth from coming out, I will tell hon. members what I am saying to the people of the Province.

I am saying to the people of this Province that there are talented and able people in all walks of life in this Province. One of the responsibilities of a premier is to attract -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Again, they don't want the truth to come out. One of the responsibilities of a premier is to attract the most competent, experienced and able people who can do the job. Now, in the private sector people can earn -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Listen now. In the private sector people can earn a great deal more money than the taxpayers are prepared or willing to pay. Yet, it is important that we attract special competence, skills and abilities.

I went to the Minister of Justice knowing that if he accepted my offer he would reduce his salary by perhaps two-thirds, at least one-half. He would have to give that up.

MR. WINDSOR: Is he getting a salary from the Liberal Party now like you did?

PREMIER WELLS: He would have to give that up. I knew that. I was asking him to do that. He would have to get rid of his partnership. I told him that. He couldn't retain it. I told him what would have to be done. He would have to give up all of those things.

Mr. Speaker, he surrendered his partnership, he gave up the additional income, they are paying him for his interest in the partnership. Under the agreement they have twenty-four months to pay it out. It is made public, it is disclosed to the public. The minister made substantial financial sacrifice to accept the offer. Now, that is what I am telling the people of this Province, and I will stand on any platform with any member opposite and justify that position. Because the people of this Province will benefit by the contribution that he has made already and that he will continue to make for the period that he is there.

Mr. Speaker, I think the people of this Province understand that. If the members opposite want to try to fabricate something - because they can't deal with the policy position of the government, they cannot criticize us for our policy and our fiscal management. They have to try desperately, hanging on by their fingernails, to the last eleven points of support in the popularity polls. Hanging on by their fingernails they have to try and find some basis, so they said: We cannot do it on a policy basis. We cannot do it on our own merit. Let's see if we can find some mud to fling at the other side.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: That is the track you have been on for three years. Surely you can see the fruits of it. For the sake of maintaining good and competent opposition, and maintaining a reasonable balance in the Legislature, do not let yourselves go any further by continuing on the same track.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary to the Premier.

I think we have finally found out what the ENL contract to Halley, Hunt is all about, I say to the Premier, because I am sure that the Premier has noticed that the amount of money - $120,000 a year for two years - is almost exactly the amount that the Minister of Justice is going to receive.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Now the Premier knew all about the losses in salary. The Premier was well informed about the losses that the Minister of Justice was going to incur - he has admitted that - by coming into his Cabinet. I say to the Premier, I think you have told us the real reason why you intervened on two occasions for that contract to stay with that law firm, because if any person was owed $250,000 it would be in their interest that that firm or company would be profitable, I say to the Premier. I think the Premier is taking care of that.

Is that the real reason, I ask the Premier, why he intervened on two occasions to see that that contract was given in the first place to that law firm; and number two, he intervened to see that it stayed there, above and beyond the objections of the board of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the marvel is that the hon. member will be able to stand on his feet again when the falsity of that proposition is exposed.

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question.

PREMIER WELLS: I do not even know how much they are getting, and I could not care less how much they are getting.


PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I just say again, derisive laughter will never be an acceptable substitute for intelligent comment. It never has been and it will never be.

Now Mr. Speaker, to begin with, there never was an intervention by me at any time. I will table the letters. There never was an intervention at any time by me - never was, at any time, an intervention by me. It does not matter how often the hon. members opposite say it, it has no validity.

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the only intervention that has been done is an intervention to cause the assignment of legal work to be done on a fair and proper basis. This government did it! Who appointed all the Tory law firms in the past?


PREMIER WELLS: Who? And who asked proposals?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, the real change is taking place. For the first time proposals are invited by all law firms. That is a real change. The member sitting down in the corner knows that. His law firm - and you could hardly call them a Liberal law firm -


PREMIER WELLS: Hardly. Mr. Williams - there is not much doubt about his political credentials. Mr. Harris - there is not much doubt about his political credentials. You could hardly call them a Liberal law firm.

Now to the best of my knowledge, right to this moment, the firm still does work for a government agency. We did not do what the Tories did. We did not tear the work away and give it to a Liberal law firm. The member is living proof of that.

Newfoundland and Labrador Housing - the hon. James J. Greene, the former Leader of the Opposition - hardly a Liberal credential; a nice man, good lawyer and so on - hardly Liberal.

Mr. Speaker, the real change is for the first time in the history of this Province -


PREMIER WELLS: - for the first time ever, proposals are invited for legal work. That was this government. It wasn't the Member for Humber East when she was Minister of Justice. It wasn't any of the members opposite who did that. It was this government. Real change. Mr. Speaker, I have some news for the members opposite. There's more real change under way.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the Premier, there's no defence like a good offence and that wasn't a very good offence either.

I'd like to ask the Premier a question on another topic. For the past two or three months Francis Ryan, the provincial fire commissioner, has been on sick leave. Why has the government appointed Municipal and Provincial Affairs ADM Don Peckham as acting fire commissioner?

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

MR. HOGAN: Could you repeat the question please?

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

MR. WINDSOR: Wake him up over there (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: The question, Mr. Speaker, is why has the government appointed Municipal and Provincial Affairs ADM Don Peckham as acting fire commissioner over the past two or three months while the fire commissioner, Francis Ryan, has been on sick leave?

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

MR. HOGAN: The government has done no such thing, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask the minister, who is the acting fire commissioner now? Who's in charge in the provincial fire commissioner's office?

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

MR. HOGAN: The deputy fire commissioner, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill you talk too much.

MR. MATTHEWS: You may laugh at that one now, but you will not laugh at it Monday.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Will the minister confirm that during this pay period we will see some sixty-eight operational supervisors receive a pay increase totalling some $240,000?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: I can't confirm that, Mr. Speaker. I will have to take that question under advisement.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. While the minister is considering that question will he also confirm to this House of Assembly that during the last month another thirteen or fourteen assistant district supervisors, also on the management pay scale, received increases? Probably because of reclassification.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Again, Mr. Speaker, I don't have that information at the tips of my fingers. This is a matter which is an administrative matter within the department and is generally handled by the executive branch of the department through the appropriate government agency, such as Treasury Board. I will check on the matter and report back to the House, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, the minister might recall that two years ago, I believe it is, a former minister changed the policy in the Department, taking away the overtime payments from these district superintendents and assistant district superintendents for the winter months. Will the minister find out when he's getting these answers that now that these people have been reclassified from HI-13 to HI-16, I believe it was, that we will now have to pay these people on an increased salary for a twelve month period rather than having to pay the overtime for a four or five month period as was in the past? Will these new payments cost the taxpayers more money than it would have been if the government had not changed their policy some two years ago?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I'll get the information.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, when the minister is getting this information would he inform this House how many management staff in his department have been reclassified upwards since the wage freeze was put in place, particularly on the union members within his department?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.


MR. TOBIN: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Was there leave given for Question Period?


MR. SPEAKER: One question, The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Approximately a year ago the Premier wrote a letter to the community council of Lewin's Cove advising the residents of Lewin's Cove that if the people there did not want amalgamation with Burin that amalgamation would not take place. I want to ask the minister does that commitment by the Premier still stand?

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

MR. HOGAN: The member seemed to run out of wind or something, Mr. Speaker, on the end of his question. I did not get it, it died out but I did not know that the Premier had written the people in Lewin's Cove about amalgamation.

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has expired.


MR. ROBERTS: Could we revert to Notices of Motion, your honour?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, Your Honour called them and waited a goodly period. Notices of Motion.


MR. ROBERTS: Well, I accept that but the hubbub down here among all of us on both sides -

MR. SPEAKER: We will go back to Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move the following motion:

WHEREAS the Election Act revised statutes 1990, provides that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall appoint a Chief Electoral Officer; and

WHEREAS the Lieutenant-Governor in Council on the 30th. of September appointed Mr. Wayne Mitchell of the district of Pleasantville to be the Chief Electoral Officer with effect from the 19th of October; and

WHEREAS the Elections Act 1991, provides that the office of the Chief Electoral Officer shall be filled by a resolution of the House of Assembly; and

WHEREAS the Elections Act 1991 does not come into force until it has been proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor in council and that has not yet been done; and

WHEREAS the ministry having consulted with other members of the House of Assembly, propose to nominate Mr. Mitchell to be the Chief Electoral Officer; and

WHEREAS it is desirable and in the public interest to provide at this time for the appointment of Mr. Mitchell as if it were being done under the new Act to come into force, and have it approved by the House of Assembly;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that D. Wayne Mitchell of the district of Pleasantville be and he is hereby appointed as Chief Electoral Officer for Newfoundland and Labrador in accordance with the provisions of the Election Act 1991, not withstanding that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council has not yet proclaimed that Act.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a Bill entitled: An Act To Amend The Summary Proceedings Act, The Liquor Control Act and the Motorized Snow Vehicles and All Terrain Vehicles Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, last year in the House, before the House opened I guess while we were sitting here, I raised an issue that has bothered me, I think the Premier at the time agreed with it but nothing has been done. I asked then if somehow we could arrange to have small garbage cans under our desks. It is rather juvenile for everyone to be tearing up paper and throwing it on the floor, we do not do it in our homes, I do not think we should be doing it in our House and I really wish something would be done about it.

MR. SPEAKER: On that point of order - The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could respond, I do not know what your honour was going to say but I suspect it may be this. We share the hon. gentleman's concern, some time ago a request was made to Works, Services to provide us with garbage boxes to go in under - for whatever reason, I gather they are being made instead of simply going out and buying some plastic ones or something. I do not know why they are not here but we will look into it. The other thing we have done with the full support I know of hon. gentlemen opposite is stop the business of distributing seventy-five copies of every statement. I think they now only go to the house leaders on each side, then they are on the table of the House for anybody who wants them and that too will cut down on the paper but the hon. gentleman's point is well taken in my view, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to inform hon. members the matter with respect to the wastepaper baskets is being looked into.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's East Extern asked a question in the House the other day with respect to the budget of the Economic Recovery Commission. In 1989-90 there was a $3 million budget allocated for the corporation, I think the next year it was $2.8 million; the year after that I think it was $2.5 million. This year there was approved $2.213 million and in the last round of cuts - I know the hon. member wants to hear the answer, there were $2.2 million approved in this year's budget for the recovery commission and in the last round of reductions we clawed back $130,000, so it is $2.2 million minus $130,000.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we do motions 4 through 7, first please?

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice, the hon. the Minister of Finance, the hon. the Minister of Social Services, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy to introduce respectively the following bills:

" An Act To Remove Anomalies and Errors in the Statute Law (No. 2)," carried. (Bill No. 66).

"An Act To Amend The House of Assembly Act", carried. (Bill No. 67).

"An Act To Amend The Child Welfare Act", carried. (Bill No. 68).

"An Act To Amend The Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland Act (No. 2), carried. (Bill No. 69).

On motion, Bill Nos. (66, 67, 68, and 69) read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough please to call Order 30, Bill 58?

MR. SPEAKER: Order 30, Bill 58.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act" (Bill No. 58).

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we are making a few minor amendments to the Mineral Act and I would like to go through some of the actions we are taking here.

We are recommending the extension to the term of the exploration licence be extended from a maximum of ten years at present to a maximum of twenty, that is four five-year terms. Replacing the annual ground rental with a five-year renewable fee. Now the real new thing in this act, to specify authority to prescribe regulations for environmental protection during mineral exploration.

We are removing reference to the Labrador Lands Reservation Act.

We are modifying procedures for receiving applications for map-staked licences and, relative to exploration expenditures, we are restricting carry forward of expenditures to a maximum period of ten years.

IF you go through the act clause for clause: in Clause 1, it is relative to the removal of the reference to the Labrador Lands Reservation Act. This is purely housekeeping, since that particular act was repealed in 1991 as Chapter 36 of the Lands Act was implemented, so we are just removing this as a housekeeping matter.

In Clause 2, we are making the amendments relative to environmental impacts, so this provides that any person or company who intends to carry out a search for minerals that may result in any major ground disturbance, shall submit a summary describing the planned activity for the department's approval before the exploration is done. This is to both reduce or avoid environmental impacts from the mineral exploration sector.

Clause 3, is addressing procedural problems relative to map-staking in Labrador. Clause 4, would deal with the effect of the lapse or expiration of a licence in addition to surrender of a licence. It is clarifying the present situation in the act.

Clause 6 of the bill would amend the act by setting out the authority to prescribe the regulations for environmental protection.

Clause 7 is consequential to that and Clause 8 modifies procedures for receiving applications for licences and the applications of conditions including carry forward of exploration expenditures.

These are mostly housekeeping matters, Mr. Speaker, and with those few words I am pleased to recommend second reading.

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

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

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this bill, Mr. Speaker, Bill 58, An Act To Amend The Mineral Act. I had expected some changes in legislation, and attitudes, and regimes that this government have put in place since they have been elected. Having read the 'bible' - this bible that this government is supposed to be adhering to, I had expected something to be submitted to this House in this session, especially, that would indicate what this government proposes to do in the mining industry, Mr. Speaker. In the 'bible' - the bible being a strategic economic plan for Newfoundland and Labrador - they talk about creating a better investment climate to attract exploration and new mineral development. Now, Mr. Speaker, the actions speak a lot louder than the words, of course. We have seen this government create not a better economic climate but a worse one for new mineral development in this Province. They have talked about assistance with the cost of infrastructure, such as hydro lines, access roads and shipping facilities. That, too, is in the bible, Mr. Speaker. They talk about reducing rental and license fees. They talk about a fairer tax regime, and they talk about encouraging more value-added processing. Now, these are positive things they have proposed in the bible. These are very positive things, but the problem is that is not what is really occurring. These are positive statements that recognize some of the things that should be done in order to encourage more development - more exploration, and more development in the mineral industry. Those are the kinds of things we need to attract new investment to create jobs and diversify the economy of this Province, and to help provide the residents, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, with a hope and a sense of confidence for the future for themselves and their families, and more especially their children.

Mr. Speaker, what disappoints me is that they do not seem to have a commitment to this plan. Since this government has come to power they have totally neglected the mining industry. For the first time, I suppose, in a hundred years, we have been - up until a few months ago - into a period when we didn't even have an operating mine on the Island portion of the Province. Mr. Speaker, the mining industry does create a tremendous amount of wealth, and having had the privilege and the honour of representing two of the communities that operate the only two iron mines operating in this Province today, I can say without equivocation, Mr. Speaker, that this government has done absolutely nothing to create a better economic climate for them to operate. If anything, Mr. Speaker, they seem to have singled out this industry in taxation. When they instituted the infamous payroll tax, they were the only resource-based industry that was included in it. Mr. Speaker, they are the only resource-based industry that pays the maximum 2 per cent payroll tax.

Given the state of the economy, Mr. Speaker, I honestly expected that what this government was going to propose was something that was going to stimulate the economy by doing some of the things proposed in the bible. These are not things that I have dreamt up, Mr. Speaker, these are things that I have read in the bible. Now, Mr. Speaker, I thought that they would propose some of the things that they have talked about, but again it is all words and no action. I expected amendments to The Mineral Act that would facilitate and encourage mineral exploration and development, Mr. Speaker, but we haven't seen that. All we have seen this government do is deal with environmental controls. That is what it did.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't mean that to sound as if I am against environmental controls in the mining industry. I live in an area, and have had the opportunity of working in the mineral industry, in the mines, and I do understand - and so do the people who live there - that there must be a respect for our environment. There has to be a respect for our environment. Mr. Speaker, there must be a recognition, this government has to be cognizant of the fact, that all this bill really does is serve to increase costs to mining companies which this government, by the way, admits, and the minister himself admits, is a deterrent to investment, a deterrent to exploration opportunities.

MR. DOYLE: Safety Murphy..

MR. A. SNOW: No, E.P.


MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, let me quote from the bible a reference by the hon. member for Placentia, to an individual by the name of Murphy. It was in reference to E.P. Murphy, who used to be employed in Labrador City, not Safety John Murphy who was another well-known Newfoundlander working in the mines in Labrador City.

AN HON. MEMBER: E.S. Murphy, Endangered Species Murphy, right?

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, just to quote from the Liberal bible, the Strategic Economic Plan, and I quote from page 64: `Generally the high cost of infrastructure in new mining projects, the relatively high tax burden on the mining industry, and the inadequate levels of funding from mineral explorations, are major constraints to mineral development.'

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you quoting from? Is that the Book of Douglas?

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Speaker, this is the Book of Mining in the bible. They will change and challenge, Mr. Speaker, where the people are now being challenged because they were shortchanged.

Mr. Speaker, the mineral industry was looking for an incentive so that they could go ahead with further expansion and more exploration. Mr. Speaker, they do provide a tremendous amount of wealth to this Province. They don't need to have more burdens placed on them, more tax burden or cost burden, Mr. Speaker, because they are competing in a very, very competitive market. They are into the global economy, Mr. Speaker, and they have to compete with places such as Brazil and Sweden, and they don't need any increased tax burden or increased cost of mining. What they need is incentives, because we have to be concerned that we don't place too much of a burden, whether it is operating burden with regulations, or whether it is the tax burden that drives up the cost of mining, or burdens that are going to drive up the cost of exploration and thus, if you cannot go out and explore for new minerals we will undoubtedly find ourselves without any more operating mines because, by the very nature of a mine, how it operates, there will come a day when that particular mine will close down.

Mr. Speaker, having said that - having expressed our opinion on this side that we were looking for incentives in the industry rather than things that were going to be regressive in the industry - I will support this bill.


MR. A. SNOW: Yes, but I would urge the minister and his government to move, in the next Cabinet meeting they have, to include things that will stimulate the mining industry - not restrict it.

It is important that we do things to allow the mining industry to expand so it can create more opportunities for employment and create more wealth in this Province. If anything, what this bill does is, it makes it even more urgent that this government has to move to implement the things that are in their so-called bible. Don't leave this on the shelf. Implement the suggestions that are here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Oh yes, I believe in the bible, as I am sure the Minister responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs believes in the bible - and I believe in it with faith. That is why I encourage them to implement what you have suggested in the bible - in your strategic and economic plan. If anything, this Bill 58 makes it even more urgent that you implement the things that you suggest are your road map for development for the future of the mining operations in this Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the minister speaks now he closes the debate on second reading.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my hon. critic from Labrador, but I would like to tell him that this bill does not increase cost to the mining industry. This bill is a move forward in the direction of the Strategic Economic Plan.

This particular bill and another one also on the Order Paper, No. 51, both between them cancel close to half-a-million dollars in fees and costs to the mining industry in this Province, and we are moving in the right direction.

In particular, we are moving in the right direction in Labrador. For example, this bill acknowledges that we have cancelled reserved area licences and are going to map-staking exclusively in Labrador.

As an amendment to regulations that did not have to come forward in the bill, I have recently asked Cabinet colleagues for their approval and they have approved a reduction in the work requirements on claims in Labrador by 40 per cent to encourage exploration in Labrador. That has been done. We want to encourage the exploration sector.

The annual ground rental that was there previously has been cancelled, to be replaced by a single, smaller fee that occurs only every five years.

We have recently completed a study of taxation in the mining industry in Newfoundland and Labrador and we are going forward, as much as we are able to relative to the recommendations of the Strategic Economic Plan. Mr. Speaker, I am looking forward to the implementation of the recommendations in the economic plan. I have no further comments at this time. I just want to say we are moving in the right direction to encourage industry. I move second reading.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 58)

MR. ROBERTS: Order 28, Bill No. 53.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Occupational Health And Safety Act." (Bill No. 53)

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to introduce for second reading this particular bill, Bill 53. It provides for the necessary change in the fact that over the last few years it has been brought to the attention of ourselves in the department and many hon. members as a result of some prosecutions in some cases that had occurred where companies had been found negligent under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In some instances, particularly when there was a fatality, which unfortunately happened in a couple of cases, there was some negligence attached to the accident which was verified in the court and the court saw fit to impose the maximum fine which was available under the law, which was $5000, that the company itself would be fined $5000.

Just very briefly by way of introduction, Mr. Speaker, it is fair again to point out that that fine and this change has nothing to do with compensation to the individuals. The individual's compensation, of course, would be determined by entitlement under the Workers' Compensation Act and so on which would be sums of money much greater than this plus any insurances that were covered personally and otherwise. The fact of the matter is that it is generally perceived and it is generally held in the Province that if the company itself, if the employer, is found to be negligent and if charges are laid and are verified through the courts and through the proceedings a fine of $5000 maximum is imposed, it would not be a suitable deterrent and would not be a suitable penalty for the company. We did some research and had some consultation, again with the representatives of the labour movement, representatives of employers, and researched across the country, and found that the range across the country did range in other provinces from a maximum of $5000, which currently applies in Newfoundland, and also applied in a couple of other jurisdictions, particularly Atlantic Canada, to a maximum of $500,000 in other jurisdictions, in more wealthy provinces like British Columbia and Ontario.

We were looking at a range that would be most appropriate for the size and nature of the business enterprises that operate in our Province, particularly in an industrial setting. Upon reflection and consultation it was deemed most appropriate, as is now spelled out in this Bill, that the legislation be amended so that the courts would be given leeway to impose a fine of up to $50,000 rather than up to $5000. When a company, or a person representing a company contravenes the act in the regulations, or fails to comply, and so on, then in that event the fine would be up to $50,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

As in the previous legislation there was also a maximum $5000 fine and the possibility, particularly when there was an action that should be corrected, a continuing fine of $500 a day for each day the offence continued. We are now suggesting that the maximum should go to $50,000 and that the daily penalty would go from $500 to $5000. What the actual fine would be, Mr. Speaker, would still be determined by the courts, but this is enabling legislation that enables us through the law and gives the court a wider range and higher limits in which to impose penalties upon persons or companies that are found to be in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We believe, quite firmly, that this will help along with a number of other measure that are there to see that employers, in this instance, take their responsibilities for a safe workplace a little more seriously, and that this deterrent type of measure, which is the last straw, will in fact be useful with the higher levels of penalty because it is generally accepted that the existing levels were too low.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the minister indicated this is just enabling legislation which simply increases the amount of fines that are levied on employers who go outside the realm of what's deemed to be acceptable health and safety standards. All this does is impose a greater deterrent on an employer because of unsafe workplace events.

What we should be doing is focusing on an education program much more than we have in this Province to make sure that accidents don't happen, so we don't have to fine someone $5,000, $50,000 or five dollars. What we need is a sound education program aimed at both the employer and employee so this thing does not occur. That's where we're falling behind in this Province. That's why we have so many accidents that, as the minister alluded to, have to go to Workers' Compensation. Because both the employer and the employee need to be further educated in safety at the workplace.

This only deals with court procedures, what fines the courts are going to levy. The question is, how many enforcement people are out there to see that this is not going to happen? The minister referred to the fact that there's been a couple of tragedies because of unsafe workplaces and they perhaps shouldn't have happened. They should never have happened. What we need in this Province are more enforcement officers, more safety inspectors, to see that this kind of thing does not occur. That's where the Province needs to beef up its legislation. To see that we have more enforcement people so that we don't have to reach the stage where this gets to court.

This piece of legislation is good news. It's good news in the sense that employers - especially smaller ones, and when I'm talking about smaller ones I'm talking about your little average construction company. Fifty thousand dollars would be a significant fine for that employer. I'm not sure $50,000 would mean a whole lot to a company as big as IOC, Abitibi-Price or Kruger, or some of the contractors at Bull Arm. A $50,000 deterrent, they can probably save hundreds of thousands by trying to get away with unsafe procedures for a day or two. That'll make up for any $50,000 fine.

What the minister has to do is educate both the company and the employees along with having more enforcement officers to see that we don't have an unsafe workplace. This deterrent for negligence that the minister has here, while it's an improvement over what we had, what we need to do is to solve the problem before anyone gets to court. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of this legislation at second reading in principle. It is something that those who've been involved in the workplace and the trade unions in this Province had been calling for for a very good reason. Because the maximum fines available for violations of occupational health and safety were inordinately low when compared to two things. When compared to the dangers and the flagrancy with which occupational health and safety regulations can be ignored, the extreme danger that can be created.

I suppose in part because in some cases the extreme costs of alleviating those safety hazards that exist, when it becomes a situation that an employer, or a person organizing an enterprise, or an industry, has to make a choice between workplace safety and spending a considerable amount of money to alleviate the hazard, the deterrent has to be higher. It has to be high enough so as to not make the industry able to save money by violating workplace safety. That is the principle behind increasing fines of a nature such as this and I'm not sure they're even high enough. The maximums need to be very high.

I am not suggesting that every violation of occupational health and safety would attract the maximum, but if you have a situation where an industrial owner knows that enterprise is going to have to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars to resolve a workplace violation, then they may be tempted to withstand a few infractions, withstand going to court a few times, and be seen to be able to save money in the long run by doing that. So the maximum fines have to be high to permit the court to exercise some control over these industries if they are indeed intent to flagrantly violate occupational health and safety rules.

The principle is a good one, that fines should be high so as to deter industries which might consider taking a few hits - if you want to call it that - taking a few violations and paying the fines because it is cheaper for them to do that than clean up their act, so I agree with the principle of the Bill.

There was also a case prior to this, and I know that this comparison has been made by others in the past. It was such that a person who was violating the hunting laws could receive a higher fine and a more severe detriment to their personal incomes than an industry violating workplace safety rules. That was seen by many to show a greater concern for the wildlife and the fish than they were showing for the workers of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I think that analogy was a fair analogy - not one that was concocted or made up or blasted out of proportion by the people making it, but a fair analogy because the laws with respect to wildlife and protection of the fish and the forests seem to have been given a fairly high priority by the courts, by the enforcement agencies, by the government. We hear every day about people losing their vehicles, losing their skidoos and losing trucks, losing equipment, and being fined incredible amounts of money - four, five and six thousand dollars - for wildlife violations, and yet we had a circumstance where occupational health and safety violations, where the lives and safety of workers at the workplace were treated far less severely.

When you have a situation where there can be an economic advantage to an employer or to the operator of an industrial plant where there is an economic incentive to violate legislation, then that must be stopped.

I am not convinced that the fines are high enough. Fifty thousand dollars may not be sufficient to deter a large industry from taking advantage of the fact that the fines are not as high as they should be to violate legislation, to violate the regulations, to fail to comply with an order made under the act, or to fail to follow the code of practice adopted.

There ought to be a way to enforce these orders in a more severe manner. The fine and imprisonment of an individual or a company - you cannot imprison a company, Mr. Speaker, and there is no provision here to go after the directors of a company or the operating officers or the people responsible. It merely says, a person who contravenes the act and regulations.

Most of this is done not by persons but by corporations who obviously cannot be imprisoned, but certain individuals directing those corporations ought to be exposed to severe punishments for violating laws, particularly if there is a flagrant violation of occupational health and safety laws. So, I support the Bill but I do not think it goes far enough, I think the fines could be higher, we see again a $50,000 fine is the maximum now. Last week or the week before the Minister of Environment and Lands brought in a piece of legislation increasing to $500,000 maximum fines for violation of the Waste Disposal Act. Mr. Speaker, what is more important the destruction to the environment that we cause by improper disposal of waste or the destruction of human lives caused by violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act? I ask you, Mr. Speaker, is this where we are placing our hierarchy of priorities, that the environment is more important than human lives?

I am not suggesting, Mr. Speaker, that the environment is not important, obviously it is. I supported that legislation but Mr. Speaker, we are now looking at human lives, as the downside here, if you violate occupational health and safety regulations if you are prepared to allow your factory, or your plant, or your industry to continue to contravene the regulations, to fail to comply with orders made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or fail to follow your code of practice, your fine is one-tenth, the maximum fine is one-tenth that which you can be fined for violating the Waste Disposal Act.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want the minister when he gets up to tell us why it is his government sees that there is a priority for waste disposal and we can have a maximum fine of $500,000 but when it comes to workplace safety the maximum fine is only $50,000. There is just as much incentive, Mr. Speaker, for owners of industries to ignore occupational health and safety rules and regulations which might cost them money as it is to avoid complying with the Waste Disposal Act because it might save them money. So, Mr. Speaker, I think this government has its priorities all wrong. We have to look at this legislation in the context of the other legislation that this House, in this session, is being asked to support. I know the minister is a clever man and he can get up and he can make some nice words and explanations but I ask him to really deal with the meat of that objection.

Why is it that the Occupational Health and Safety Act is regarded as having necessary the enforcement with only a maximum fine of $50,000, when the Waste Disposal Act that we have been asked to support requires a maximum of $500,000 to provide an adequate deterrent. Now, we are not talking about somebody, a shopkeeper who fails to comply with a particular act, sure $50,000 is enough to provide an incentive, but this Act also covers the Iron Ore Company of Canada, Abitibi-Price, FPI, big, huge industries, Mr. Speaker, that have complex industrial operations, that carry out dangerous activities, the construction activities at Hibernia, Mr. Speaker, are subject to Occupational Health and Safety Act. Mr. Speaker, these are not small companies that may incidentally violate a piece of legislation and once the occupational health and safety officer goes there, rushing off to comply and doing their very best. We are not just dealing with small companies, we are dealing with big major companies, major construction sites, very dangerous operations, safety compliance can be very expensive, Mr. Speaker.

We have open season now on contractors in Newfoundland, so we will have Nova Scotia contractors coming in, we will have New Brunswick contractors coming in, Prince Edward Island contractors coming in because the government has opened the doors. They are going to have to comply with our legislation, Mr. Speaker, in a very dangerous activity. Construction operations, Mr. Speaker, are notoriously dangerous in terms of workplace safety and loss of life and accidents can be very serious, very quickly. We've seen it happen, Mr. Speaker, many times.

It's important that all people operating who are subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be aware that this is a very serious matter and the Government of Newfoundland takes it at least as seriously as waste disposal, where the maximum fine is $500,000. Why we have a maximum fine of $50,000 here. Everybody is not going to be fined $50,000, everybody's not going to be fined $500,000. But we were told that the reason for the Waste Disposal Act maximum being increased to $500,000 was because it was necessary for a major deterrent for major environmental damage.

There are a lot of major corporations operating in this Province and will continue to operate in this Province that may need to know that this government is serious about occupational health and safety and won't tolerate objections to it. Won't tolerate the violation of it, won't tolerate the failure to comply.

I have to agree with the minister that, yes, some changes have been made in occupational health and safety. They put some people in place who were supposed to be in place two or three years ago. They finally got around to adding some safety officers. The legislation has been praised. I know the minister is very proud of it. The legislation is praised across the country. Wonderful occupational health and safety legislation. Those who praise it say in the next breath: but it'd be wonderful if they enforced it.

So now at least the minister is starting. I don't know why the minister won't give the legislation time to work and actually start cutting down occupational or workplace accidents, and thereby reducing the costs of workers' compensation, instead of gutting the benefits to injured workers, which this government has decided to do as part of their new elements of change. They're following the Michael Wilson approach to economics. Attack the weak, the elderly, the sick, those requiring family allowances, injured workers. That's the Michael Wilson approach to managing the economy and managing the government finances. That's the approach this government has taken.

Why doesn't the minister increase the fines higher in occupational health and safety? Make sure, make it clear, that a deterrent to workplace injuries is going to be taken seriously by this government, and then see the benefits in the cost to workers' compensation. You don't have to compensate injured workers if they don't get injured. They don't get time off work and have to be paid if they're not injured. That's what occupational health and safety is all about.

So I want the minister to tell us why his government doesn't take as seriously occupational health and safety as it does the cost to the environment of waste disposal. When the Minister of Environment and Lands brought in a bill a couple of weeks ago to increase the fines from $2,000 to $500,000 for - I won't call it littering, although that's one of the offenses - for disposal of waste in the environment, the maximum fine was increased from $2,000 to $500,000. We were told that was necessary because there are industries, there are operations in this Province, that can cause severe damage and they need a severe deterrent

I say that the danger to workers because of violations of occupational health and safety can cost them their lives. Because if an employer, an industrial plant, or a factory - whether it be Abitibi-Price which carries on dangerous woods operations, which carries on dangerous operations in the manufacture of newsprint in its plant at Grand Falls and at Stephenville, Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador, the Hibernia partners out at Bull Arm - are carrying on very dangerous activities, Mr. Speaker, and workers are exposed, sometimes without their knowledge, mostly without their knowledge, to very grave dangers and some have already lost their lives even at the Hibernia project as a result of workplace accidents.

Well, I say, Mr. Speaker, the potential loss of life due to occupational health and safety violations is a far more serious matter than the damage to the environment that will be caused by illegal disposal of waste. At least, in many cases or in most cases, the environment can be cleaned up at great expense but the loss of the human life cannot be replaced. So I say while I support the principle of this Bill, that we should increase the fines, I do not support the amount, Mr. Speaker, I think the amount should be the same -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now the Minister of Education says that I am an extremist. Well perhaps he should talk to the Minister of Environment and Lands who brought in a waste disposal bill two weeks ago and said that we should increase the fines for littering from $2,000 to $500,000 -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are both extremists (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now, Mr. Speaker, that is the extremist position. If I wanted to be an extremist I would come in and say that the Minister of Environment and Lands should increase the fines for littering to half-a-million dollars. Well, that is not what she was talking about, she was talking about serious waste disposal problems but the fines are the same. The same signs that you now see out in the area near the town dump, they always put them near the town dump - next to the town dump, next to the gate you will see a sign that says: 'Maximum fine $2,000 for dumping'. Well that is now going to be changed to $500,000. That is going to frighten off the fellow without a cent to his name, Mr. Speaker, he is going to be really frightened, I am not going to dump my garbage bag here now because I am going to be fined half-a-million dollars. That is really going to change a lot of things around the dumps in Newfoundland, to change that from $2,000 to $500,000.

But, Mr. Speaker, the government brought in a bill to do that and it is going to be saved for somebody who is a major polluter and who is flagrantly violating the regulations, I know that and so it should be, but, Mr. Speaker, why does the Occupational Health and Safety Act only have fines to $50,000 because we could have equally well, a violation of an Occupational Health and Safety Act that results in a severe disaster and is deserving of a fine of half-a-million dollars to provide a deterrent, and to make sure these people know, these people who are running these industries, know that the Newfoundland Government is as serious about workplace health and safety, as serious about the life and safety of workers as it is about the environment.

I want to see that changed, Mr. Speaker, I do not see how we can make one rule -

MS. VERGE: Would that protect a professor from damage to the head due to falling books?

MR. HARRIS: I do not know. The minister is not here - oh yes, he is. I think under occupational health and safety, if a professor were walking around the library at the university and books were falling on his head, I think that that would be certainly an occupational hazard deserving of protection and I think that even former Ministers of Finance could benefit from proper occupational health and safety legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the intent of the legislation is good so I have to support it at second reading, but I want to give notice to the minister that at third reading I will be bringing in an amendment. At third reading I will be bringing in an amendment to change the $50,000 to $500,000 so that it is the same as the Waste Disposal Act and the same priority is given to workers safety as is given to environmental protection.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the hon. Member for Kilbride, I want to welcome to the gallery today on behalf of all members, a group of fifty-one Grade VII students from St. Kevin's Elementary School in the Goulds, district of Kilbride, with their vice-principal, Mrs. Jean Tobin, teachers: Mr. Rick Gagnon, Mr. Paul Edwards, Miss Coleen Field and student assistant, Miss Susan Furlong.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am only going to speak for a few minutes on this act. I mostly want to get up to recognize the students who are in the gallery and to say to the members of the House of Assembly, that I did have the opportunity to go and visit St. Kevin's school some time ago, I guess some time last month and speak with these students, all the Grades VI and VII students. I spoke with most of them on the operations of the House of Assembly. I'm very glad to see them here today.

Today we're doing an amendment to a Bill to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which is a very important Bill to workers in this Province. As was pointed out by the former speaker one of the aspects of the Bill is to increase fines for people who contravene the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The fines for people who contravene it will be up to a maximum of $50,000.

Mr. Speaker, as the former speaker said, that does not seem to be a tremendously large amount of money for people who are putting at risk people who work for a living. I would say the fines should be higher. The first group of employers who should be investigated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act right now should be the Government of Newfoundland, since they started cutting back particularly in the health care system, and putting at risk all of the people who are left in the health care system and particularly the nurses.

There is a big jump in back injuries in particular, but injuries to health workers in this Province over the last year or so since the government laid off I think some 2,500 over the last couple of years, was their plan. I think 700 or 800 of them were in the health care system. The nurses took a big blow in the number of people who were laid off. So now we have one nurse left in the system doing the work of two nurses, so that they find it extremely difficult to carry out their duties. A lot of them work on a twelve-hour shift which is very tiring, I would imagine. Any member in this House of Assembly working physical work as the nurses do, and very hard work, on a twelve-hour shift, I'm sure any of us would find it extremely difficult.

I would say probably one of the reasons why the fines are not set higher is because the government sees that it's putting its workers in jeopardy itself and it's protecting the hospital associations or the hospital boards or whoever would be sued under the aspect of putting people at risk for occupational health and safety.

Just to get back to the students in the gallery again, when I visited the students, I found them to be very informed about what's going on in our Province. Very informed about the democratic system in our Province. I remember going through one of their text books which was based mainly on the federal system. It showed some examples of the House of Commons in there, and they'll see that our House is similar to that. To show the interest that the students do have in the day to day affairs - particularly the students in St. Kevin's - today when they came to the House of Assembly they brought along with them some letters which were addressed to the Minister of Environment and Lands. Unfortunately the minister is away on business today and I can't present them personally while the students are here, but I can assure them that I will present them.

The issue here, which could be related to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, very directly, the issue is, as far as I understand it, the dump that this government is trying to bring to this Province and put in Long Harbour. The students, the young people in this Province, just so that the Minister of Environment cannot get up in this House again and say that she is not aware that people are objecting to the bringing of garbage from the United States into this Province, just so she will never be able to say that again, the students of the Grade VI or VII class in St. Kevin's - Grade VII class today - have asked me to deliver these letters to her. So we'll know from now on that she has more than one letter concerning importing garbage into our Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Excellent school.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, it's an excellent school and some very good teachers. Though I think the vice-principal was introduced as Mr. Tobin, but it's Mrs. Tobin.

I'm sure the Minister of Environment when she gets her letters from the students will finally get the message that people - young people, middle-aged people, old fellows like ourselves, and young women like our colleague - are concerned about importing garbage into this Province.

Now that we are doing an Occupational Health and Safety Act -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is relevant.

MR. R. AYLWARD: It is very relevant certainly for the people who have to work in this garbage dump, or incinerator, and anyone who has to work around the dump or incinerator that is planned for Long Harbour. They will certainly be left open to probable health and safety violations just from the emissions that are coming out of the smokestack.

Now that we have been touted around the world, especially in the United States, as a garbage disposal area, we have found - and I would like to inform the students that their letter is very timely - we have found now that we have another company asking to come into Newfoundland to dump more American garbage into Newfoundland. A company wants to dump some garbage in Labrador in the pits that are left up them from the Schefferville mining.

Now that the government did not take a stand in the beginning and say: No, we will not accept garbage from other areas of the Province, we have put out the word now, particularly down in the United States where they have a massive problem in waste disposal, we are now being touted in the eastern United States as the garbage dump of North America. We already have two proposals which could bring garbage from the United States into our Province.

Mr. Speaker, I say for the sake of occupational health and safety, and for the sake of the environment of our Province, and for the sake of our tourist industry, and for the sake of every individual Newfoundlander, this government should today take a stand and say: No, we will not accept other people's garbage. We have a big enough problem with our own garbage.

We have St. John's harbour which is polluted beyond reason right now, and we have a group set up to try to clean that up. We have Robin Hood Bay, which is taking most of the garbage from the northeastern Avalon, which is filling up faster than we can find places to put our garbage, and the people working around Robin Hood Bay, or down around St. John's harbour, obviously would come under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

This garbage and this pollution that is around there is endangering them as they work daily. Certainly a lot of longshoremen work every day down around St. John's harbour, and a lot of people work on the ships. I have a son who works on one of the offshore vessels myself, and every time he comes into the harbour I am hoping that he never falls off the boat because he will not come out of the water, I would say. It certainly would be a danger for the occupational health and safety of his workplace to have the garbage...

Now we have enough problems in our Province with our own garbage. We do not need garbage from other places - and this is what the students from St. Kevin's Elementary are trying to tell this government. They want the government to just take a stand. You set the policies.

The Premier is on, arguing that we can't not accept the proposals if someone puts them in. We set the policies in this Province. If we have a policy in this Province that we will not accept garbage from other areas of other provinces or states in the Eastern Seaboard, well that is our policy. It does not matter about the environmental act then, or it does not matter if the people who are going to try to dump their garbage in our Province - the two companies now that we have - we will probably have ten or fifteen in the next three or four years unless this government is put out and the policy is cleared up. We should have a policy statement from the government that we will not accept garbage into this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Change the legislation.

MR. R. AYLWARD: All they have to do, if they want to - if they worry about being sued for not abiding by the environmental laws that are set down in our Province - well change them. You have no problem at all changing legislation when it comes to their own workers, to take away their benefits, and take away negotiated benefits and wage settlements.

MS. VERGE: We will do it next week. By leave we will put it through on Monday.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, next week, if necessary I am sure all members on this side of the House would, by leave, allow the government to bring in an amendment to its environmental act, if that is what they need, or whatever acts need to be changed. If they wish to bring in that amendment we will, by leave on this side of the House, with very little discussion if they like, allow them to change the acts that our Premier thinks need to be changed so that we can make a clear policy statement in this Province that we will not be accepting garbage - environmentally accepted garbage, if there is any such thing - or contaminated garbage or whatever they are trying to bring into our Province.

We should make a policy statement in this Province that we will not accept garbage from outside of our Province.

MS. VERGE: We'll have a law banning the importation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Minister of Health now said something about second-hand garbage or something (Inaudible)?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Second-hand cars. I don't know what he means by second-hand cars. If that's what his government is planning to do, fill up second-hand cars with garbage and bring them into the Province so that we don't only get the garbage but we'll have the old car wreck at the end of the line, maybe that's probably as far as our new Minister of Health has thought on this issue. That's probably as much thought as our Minister of health - and if any minister in the government, if any minister on that side of the House besides our Environment minister should have given this issue very deep thought and a lot of consideration, it certainly should be our Minister of Health.

By bringing in garbage from other places we're going to be bringing in rats with the garbage, we're going to be bringing in disease and germs and whatever else, Mr. Speaker. Certainly anyone working in the area will certainly be - the Occupational Health and Safety Act will certainly relate to that. Now I don't know why our Minister of Health is treating this issue as a joke. It is not a joke. It certainly is not a joke to the majority of people in the Province that we are considering in this Province to bring in other people's garbage to our Province.

Now I don't care if some company will come in and tell me that we can burn it off and create electricity and give cheaper electricity to the consumers of this Province. I know that's not going to happen. I'm positive that's not going to happen. Because if it was going to happen, the fellows who owned the garbage, the ones who have millions of tons of garbage piled up on... Staten Island. Now is that out in New York Harbour somewhere?


MR. R. AYLWARD: I was never down there so I don't know, it's probably one of the places I missed when I was travelling.

MS. VERGE: Up from Manhattan.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Just off from Manhattan there's an island called Staten Island and there is a mountain of garbage on that island now, waiting for some place to dump it. Mr. Speaker, it has a big sign on it. I haven't been there but I can see it now. There's a big sign on that island now, with big red letters: Clyde Wells will accept this in Newfoundland. That's what I would say would be an appropriate sign to have on it. I haven't been there to look at it. That huge mountain, an island full of garbage, that's waiting down in New York Harbour now for the go-ahead, for the okay, from our Premier and the government of this Province to bulldoze it on some type of a barge and bring it up to Long Harbour.

If we can't get enough of it in Long Harbour, if Long Harbour can't burn it off fast enough, what we'll do with it, we'll pile it on a barge and bring it to Seven Islands, pile it on the train, and whip it up to Schefferville and bury it in the pits that were left from the mining operations that were near Schefferville and some in Labrador.

That is not acceptable. It is not acceptable from a health point of view, it is not acceptable from a health and safety point of view, as we're discussing here today, it is not acceptable from a tourism industry point of view. I'm sure the minister of our new department, the Department of ITT, would agree with me. IT and T.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Industry, Trade and Technology, that's what it is. ITT. With a double t. Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the new Minister of Tourism, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, would agree with me that it will do no good for the tourism industry of Newfoundland for us in this Province to be labelled as the garbage dump of North America. I'm sure there are not too many tourists going to come down to see garbage dumps in North America, the garbage that's shipped around North America. To come to Newfoundland to see that garbage. They don't need to because they can see it from where they are. They try to get away from that. They have so much garbage down around there now that they're trying to get away from it and come to a place like Newfoundland that has clean fresh air.

I remember meeting last summer some friends of my wife's family who came down here from some part of the Eastern Seaboard. The Boston area is where they're ordinarily from. They couldn't believe how clean the air felt, how fresh the air was. They could take a deep breath of good fresh air, especially on an evening just after sunset. They couldn't believe that there were no smells and no pollution and no smog and no dust. They could see - when it was clear enough this summer - they could see pretty well from Cowan Heights where they lived, all across St. John's, right out towards St. John's Harbour and see Cabot Tower.

Now, Mr. Speaker, they said if they could only get that down in their state. There must be people in the Boston area who would like to have that good clean fresh air and I say they are the ones who are promoting sending their garbage to Long Harbour and to Labrador because they know once they get rid of all that garbage that is blocked up on the islands and blocking up all their landfill areas, that once that garbage is brought to Long Harbour, with the permission of this government, eventually they will get some fresh air because they have pretty good rules down there in California, on the western side of the United States about pollution control in automobiles, and that is spreading across the United States.

The big problem they have is what to do with their garbage, how to get rid of the smell and the stench of the garbage they have lying around on Staten Island, which is one place, and different areas inside and outside of Boston. They then came up with this big idea, we have an area called Newfoundland on the Eastern Seaboard that is accessible by water, so it would not be hard to fill up one of these barges. There was a barge floating around down in the United States a couple of years ago that went into a dozen or so different places trying to unload but it wound up back in New York again. They said, we have a government in a place called Newfoundland that is willing to accept this garbage. They have big unemployment problems up there so they are susceptible to a gimmick or a con to say that we can create jobs by dumping our garbage in that area. We will create jobs, I am sure we will. I am sure we will create jobs in the health care system for the people who will have to be looked after, after this garbage is being dumped and piled, and after the toxic fumes that are going to come out of that smokestack finally get dispersed around our Province.

They will create jobs in the health care system eventually, unless this government wises up and listens to people like the students from St. Kevin's Elementary and refuses to accept the garbage from anywhere else in North America to be dumped in our Province. The front benchers in particular, the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs are making a joke out of a serious issue. I am not standing here saying this to waste time, Mr. Speaker. I am very serious about this.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: I am glad the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs said that because I do not know a big lot about occupational health and safety. He is the expert on occupational health and safety in this House. He taught the Member for St. John's South all he knows. That is what he told us anyway, but he is the one who is promoting to bring garbage into this Province. He is going into his district and he will not take a stand against it. If you know so much about occupational health and safety why would you want to being in garbage and set up an incinerator that has to send toxic emissions out of the smokestack? Every one of them do. They all do.

We had a problem this year in Come By Chance when the Mayor of Sunnyside or Come By Chance met with our Minister of Environment and Lands to have some tests done on the Come By Chance oil refinery to see what was coming out of the smokestack, to see if it was dangerous. There were people getting sick in his community, it seemed, more so than ever. Our Minister of Environment and Lands said: we do not need to send anybody out to do these checks because the company is doing it. Now, that is the most stupid thing I ever heard. What is the company going to come back and tell you? That they are polluting the country, that they are going to get a $500,000 fine when they come back and tell you they are poisoning people and they are killing vegetation? They are never going to come back and say that. Our Minister of Environment and Lands would not take the time or would not send her technical people out to check the emissions.

Maybe they were not harmful but there was a request from a community in Newfoundland for our Environment Department to go out and check the emissions, a simple request. That would not be unusual if you were sitting in the shadow of a smokestack that was pumping out smoke day in and day out. It would not be unusual for you to want it checked, but you do not want the people who are pumping out the smoke to check it and give you a report. You would want some independent people, some people who are responsible to the electorate of this Province, someone from the Department of Environment, whose salary is being paid by the taxpayers of this Province, to go out and check it. and if it is fine, give us a report. You would certainly feel much better about it than if the company which could be, might or might not be causing the pollution - they are not going to come out and say: yes, I am sorry, we have been polluting the country for the last six or eight months, and very dangerous chemicals have gone over Come By Chance and Sunnyside, and the people are getting sick from these chemicals that we are putting out, since we are not maintaining our equipment properly - which was a definite problem out in Come By Chance last year, because they ran out of money.

Now, that company is not going to say that. But our Minister of Environment won't send anyone out to check it. Now we are going to get some garbage coming up to Long Harbour. We are going to have our Minister of Environment requested again to go down and check the emissions that will come from that smokestack. The type of garbage that will be coming in is a bigger concern to me. Mr. Speaker, the type of garbage that will be shipped to this Province is the major concern - what will happen, what the dangers will be.

Now, when you put the garbage into the incinerator, no matter if it is only paper, there are emissions going to come out of that incinerator -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: - harmful or not harmful, but emissions. Something comes up through that smokestack.

MR. DOYLE: Matter cannot be created or destroyed.

MR. R. AYLWARD: The minister can say no all he likes. A company wouldn't build a smokestack if you didn't have something coming up through it - you wouldn't need it. And you're going to have one.

Mr. Speaker, that's why I don't understand why the Premier of this Province would even consider bringing in garbage from other areas when we have a Minister of Environment who hasn't given enough thought to check what we have in place now, to check the Come By Chance oil refinery when requested. We have a Minister of Health who treats this as a joke. We have our so-called expert in occupational health and safety, who is promoting that to bring it into his own district, to create five or six jobs, or twenty jobs, or whatever he thinks he might create in Long Harbour.

We have a pollution problem in Long Harbour today, right now, and that should be cleaned up immediately. That is definitely an occupational health and safety problem today. It is an environmental problem and an occupational health and safety problem for anyone down there working on the site now. There are some people working down there now, and there are going to be people who have to clean it up.

What a company wanting to bring garbage in here is looking at is bringing the garbage in, setting up and selling us the electricity so that we, the consumers of this Province, will pay for the cleanup of the mess they caused with the garbage in the first place. When they sell us their electricity we will be paying for the cleanup. My suggestion is clean it up now and get it in good shape, then, if there are other activities to be considered for that site, we can consider them. But, Mr. Speaker, don't ask me to clean up your mess, the mess you made, and don't ask the future taxpayers of our Province to do it. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I want, also to welcome the students from St. Kevin's and congratulate them on their initiative in bringing forward their concerns in relation to the environment, to my colleague from Kilbride.

I want to take this opportunity to bring a serious matter to the attention of the minister. I realize I could do it perhaps elsewhere but I would like to do it here because I think it needs to be brought forward and it is appropriate under the occupational health and safety legislation that we are dealing with here today.

I am talking about an issue that I am personally involved with. Members opposite are aware of any conflict I might have, that I receive a small retainer for marketing from a company that is involved in repair of trucks and other vehicles. The issue I want to relate to is a generic issue. It doesn't deal specifically with the company that I am associated with. But I will use them as an example.

The problem I am talking about relates to the regulations that are in place, dealing with particularly spray-painting of vehicles. They are quite specific, as the paints that are used on vehicles create toxic fumes. These are toxic chemicals. They have to be handled quite carefully. The company I am involved with, when they put their building in place, put in place a spray-painting facility, a paint booth, that is state-of-the-art. It was designed and built, by the way, by a local Newfoundland company, Heating Products Limited. It is a new piece of technology called Ener-Round. It was designed to meet all of the requirements of the minister's department, all of the regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act dealing with spray-painting and use of those types of chemicals, and the emissions into the air.

There are two concerns: One is the health and safety of the employees, the people in that building and the second is the emissions from that building because everything has to be blown out of the building.

The Ener-Round system cost the company that I am involved with somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000; it is a state-of-the-art facility, sixty-four feet long. You can put a forty-eight foot tractor trailer in there and have lots of room to work on it. It is by far the best facility in the Province but there are others that are similar.

The problem we have is that many corporations, and this government, in fact, in having spray-painting work done, are not particular whether the company that is doing the painting meets the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act or not. In fact, there are many facilities operating in this Province, in fact, let me correct myself, the majority of those doing business in this Province do not meet the regulations, and those regulations are not being enforced - not being enforced.

Now, I have two concerns: Obviously, I am concerned, because if one company invests $150,000 or $200,000 to meet the regulations, it is very difficult to compete with a company that is painting a truck or a bus or a snowplough out in an old barn or in an old shed or outdoors! Now, the other concern there is the quality. There is a quality problem and there is a safety problem. The quality problem is that if you are painting outdoors or in a facility that does not have proper equipment, then you don't have a dust-free environment.

The facility that is at East Coast Fleet Repair draws air in through filters; the air is heated to 18 to 21 degrees - I say this for the benefit of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, if he is interested - 18 to 21 degrees, a temperature at which paint should be applied to a vehicle. There are very few facilities in this Province that have the proper equipment to meet that. We happen to have a 10,000 BTU propane furnace dedicated only to that paint booth to ensure the quality, so it is state-of-the-art work that is being done in that facility, but that is not the question here.

What I am saying is that others can go into an old barn or an old shed, really, in many cases without a permit, out in your backyard, many people are painting cars quite cheaply, many are painting buses and trucks and snowploughs, competing with legitimate businesses, competing with the Hickman Motors and the Avalon Fords and all the rest of the good commercial operations that have good facilities -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: - and some smaller ones, yes. There are some smaller ones that do have some good facilities. And they are out in a barn and they are spray-painting. They don't have the temperature control, they don't have the dust control - well, that is a quality problem, the minister probably isn't concerned about that - the client beware. But are the employees protected? Do they have proper breathing apparatus? The Ener-Round system that we have in place has a complete built-in system that constantly changes the air so that the guys can go around with suits on; they also go around with self-contained breathing apparatus.

Generally, what you will find is that they go around with a filter over the mouth, one of these little cloth filters that you might use if you are doing a bit of woodwork out in your backyard, but that is what most of the people have to protect themselves. Now, there are many people in this Province who are constantly breathing in toxic fumes and whose life span will be decreased substantially, I say to the minister, so that is why the regulations are in place.

The second aspect is, those fumes that are in that spray booth have to be taken out. You are drawing in air, you filter it and you heat it for quality purposes, you protect your employees inside with proper breathing apparatus, but then you must exhaust those fumes, and in our system the fumes are exhausted through a complete filter system, so that there are no toxic chemicals escaping into the atmosphere. Now, the guy who is out in his shed or a barn or outdoors in the summertime spraying, is letting all of that go to the atmosphere. I am quite serious in what I am saying and I am pleased to see that the minister is paying attention. I am sure he will look into this.

Now, we, and others, are trying to compete with people who have not put any investment in there; do not bear the additional cost of having proper breathing apparatus, changing filters and filter packs for the breathing apparatus and so forth, they do not have the compressed air being fed there, others are out without any of those expenses, being aided and abetted by this government and by other large corporations in this Province who profess to be environmentally sensitive and there are several of them; and I could name them but I won't - I don't think it is appropriate to attack a company here. But there are many companies, and some of the larger companies profess to be great corporate citizens. They have environmental policies, health and safety policies, and go around and when they park their truck they have their little pink markers around their truck for safety reasons and all the rest of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who (inaudible) to you?

MR. WINDSOR: I won't name them. There are several who do that but I am not being specific. And you see that every day. But when they go to get their equipment painted, they will call a tender or they will invite proposals, not quite as carefully done as our Public Tender Act and it is not open to the public, by the way, with no specifications. They do not specify quality, first of all, in most cases; there are a couple that have, and most of the ones that are, because we are giving them standard specifications that are used and that should be applied. Companies are starting to adopt them and bring them into their own specifications. But there are still most large companies and almost all small companies, who simply ask: Who will paint my vehicle for me, and what will you charge? They do not specify the kind of paints and all the rest of it or the conditions, the temperatures that it has to be done under, the standard of sandpapers that have to be used, the primers that have to be put on it, they don't really understand what they are getting into, in most cases. But they don't specify that the work must be done in a facility that meets occupational health and safety standards. They are quite prepared to have their vehicle done in a shed. So, there is the problem. And the government is doing the same thing.

We have done some work for government, the Department of Transportation, but we have done it generally at a loss. We cannot compete with the prices of - the ministers don't have cars anymore, but one of the government vehicles was to be painted. It will probably go to one of these little small shops that can do it for two-thirds of what we could bid, because they don't have the overhead. They have not made the investment into these facilities and they are not doing the quality. I wish the Minister of Transportation were over there - he is, but he is not listening. They are not getting the quality work. I have talked to the boys at the White Hills and they say that the work we have sent back to them is state-of-the-art. There was one vehicle that we did for the Lieutenant-Governor. I think it was painted three times. Finally, it was sent into us, we scuffed it right down, painted it and it looks like new. We do top quality work. But I am not here to argue the quality of work -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: I am here to talk about the health and safety aspects of it. Now, here is a government that has regulations and are violating them themselves, by government departments going out and putting work into facilities that do not meet government standards. That is all I wanted to say, that is really the point that I want to make to the minister. I had to take some time to explain some of the things that are involved. The average person says, I will go and paint my car. He thinks he can take a brush and paint it. It is not that simple, there are serious matters of quality that impact but that is not the minister's concern. The Minister of Transportation may be concerned but the Minister of Labour would not be. But there is a concern for the health and safety of the workers and there is a concern for what is being exhausted into the environment.

The minister's officials will come in - I can show you half-a-dozen places in Donovans Industrial Park, people in the trucking business who, if they want a little bit of paint, will spray it themselves as long as they can get away with it. And the minister's inspector will come in and say: You can't do that, you are not licensed, you don't have a proper facility, you don't have proper safety measures, and, I mean, there are a number of things. We have explosion-proof light fixtures, for example, in the facility that we have.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are supposed to.

MR. WINDSOR: You are supposed to and we were made to put them in. Not we, I say 'we' - I wasn't associated with it - I don't own any part of the company and I wasn't associated with it when it was built. It was funded partly by Newfoundland and Labrador Development Corporation and ACOA. So, it is a very good facility but, you know, the company was forced to make that expenditure of $150,000 -$200,000 to put in those kinds of filtering facilities, to put in explosion proof fixtures, to have metal containers for storing paints, to have a separate paint room with proper ventilation for the mixing of the paints. All of these matters are very serious matters, and those regulations are in place for good and valid reason. I support them fully and they should be enforced. What I am saying is that they are not being enforced.

The minister's inspector will go in to one of the companies in Donovans that is spraying a couple of their own trucks, and he will say: You cannot do that. Then he will shut them down. He will go away, and two weeks later they are spraying again. There is no great fine imposed on them. There is nothing to ensure that it does not continue again.

All I am saying to the minister is that I think the regulations are good and valid. They are here for the right reasons, but if they are not enforced they are meaningless. If they are not enforced, they are meaningless; and it really bothers me that government is breaking their own regulations.

They will not paint themselves, because they do not have proper facilities. Well they do now. They have a small facility at the White Hills. It is not quite up to their own - it does not quite meet the regulations. They have one in Clarenville which is very good. There was one built in the new highways depot in Clarenville - a paint booth - which is a very good booth, I am told. I have not seen it but I am led to believe that it is. There is probably one in the new depot in Deer Lake which probably meets the regulations, and you are probably doing your own work there, but most of the work is being farmed out, and is going out to small operators who will paint your car or your pickup at a very, very, low rate, and he is breaking every regulation in the book while he is doing it - in most cases. As my friend from Placentia pointed out, there are some small operators who also meet the regulations, but they are few and far between.

I ask the minister to have a look at that - to talk to his officials and review it. I suspect the minister, in order to fully enforce it, may need to bring in an amendment to the act. I urge him to do it quickly.

I think the act is a little weak. It does not provide enough power to the minister to take action. There are standards that are there, but there are no penalties. There is not a lot that the minister can do, but government can certainly cease giving business to companies who do not meet government regulations. That is the very minimum, and that is the first step. So I ask the minister seriously to take that under advisement.

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

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will just probably take the points in reverse order from the members who did express an interest and take the time to speak to the Bill.

The hon. Member for Mount Pearl, I take the point. I think probably the best thing - because there were two concerns there that are serious - what I normally do in an instance like that is to get a copy of the Hansard, so that they will know exactly the comments that you made, provided to the officials, and ask them to meet with me and go through that in some detail.

Also, the hon. member pointed out very clearly that there are two concerns in that instance that he raised under this particular Bill. The toxic fumes and the impact on the individual working there, which is the occupational health and safety concern, and also a concern that the Minister of Environment would have when you talk about the ejection of those fumes then into the environment generally and the possibility of having a negative impact on the local environment and the surroundings, and people in the area generally.

Both concerns will be passed on and I will give an undertaking to the hon. member to have the extracts from Hansard provided to the officials in both departments for further discussion and deliberation because any time anyone brings it to our attention about our regulations either not being enforced or being questionable as to whether or not they do the job they are designed to do, and get the work done that everybody agrees needs to be done, from a protective point of view, then we certainly take that very seriously.

The hon. Member for Kilbride, I must commend him on doing a great job of staying in order in speaking to the Bill. How you can speak for twenty-nine-and-a-half minutes on garbage, and thirty seconds on occupational health and safety and stay in order - he managed to do a good job of it.

I noted six or seven times when he referenced something about safety and so on every now and then, just to make sure that Mr. Speaker did not rule him out of order, about falling in the harbour and it not being safe to get out, and those kind of things; but it is clear to me - and it is unfortunate that the teachers and the students have left - because it was clear to me that the man is not an educator, of course he has never professed to be, because of the prejudice and the bias with which he presented one side of an argument. I would know that the teachers in the gallery and the students certainly would expect that any time they were going to make a decision, I expect fully this is what happened before they presented their petition - that they had heard both sides of the story and, based on information, with an open mind, had decided to present the petition saying they were against it, because certainly, the hon. Member for Kilbride did not present anything like two sides of a story, he was very closed minded, a mind completely made up on one side of the story and stressed certain prejudiced views by stating mistruths, Mr. Speaker, as if they were true and apologizing to nobody for it. I find that unfortunate but I guess nobody here is overly offended by it in terms of the Legislature, because we understand that the gentleman said he is leaving politics. Thank God for that, because that kind of representation of one side of the issue only with mistruths being presented as if they were facts, does not add to the reputation of ourselves as political leaders in the Province.

A couple of points, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the comments from the hon. Member for St. John's East. We did indeed think in terms of the range of fines, which was the largest part of his particular offering to the debate and the fact of comparing these fines to environmental fines in others. It is very easy to point out that we have some major, large employers like FPI, IOC, the paper companies and so on, but once you get past the list of five or six or ten, most of the companies operating in Newfoundland are much smaller than that and while $50,000, some people may argue is not a great impediment or a great detriment to the Iron Ore Company of Canada or to Abitibi-Price or to FPI and so on, it is still significant, but for the vast majority of the over 7,000 employers and companies in the Province, a $50,000 fine would probably put them out of business, Mr. Speaker, and it was that balance that we were trying to achieve in finding a level of fine that would be a very strong deterrent but would not serve to close the company and put people out of employment and I will deal with the statistics.

It seems that the concern for that comes from the point of view that there is a view being proposed that maybe we are not doing enough about trying to prevent the accidents in the first place, and I would like to read a couple of statistics into the record, just for the sake of those people who, at some point in the future, might be for some historical reasons searching through Hansard to find out what was said in this debate, because I am not sure it will get a lot of public air play immediately today, but to leave a view that the fine should be bigger because we are not doing enough to encourage companies to prevent accidents.

A couple of things in the reality: decrease in lost time accidents, Mr. Speaker, 1992 over 1991. In half-a-year, these are the figures to the end of July, 1992 versus 1991, there has been a decrease in lost time accidents of 18.27 per cent, and again, in trying to be truthful with the people and making sure we are not putting mistruths into the debate, we have recognized that 2.93 per cent of that decrease could be attributed to a decrease in employment; 7.45 per cent of it can be attributed to a decrease in the fishery due to the moratorium, but in fact, 7.89 per cent of it or almost 8 per cent of the decrease is attributable to actions of the companies and the employees in making sure that they have safer workplaces and that the number of accidents are decreasing, and that is in the first half of this year compared to last year.

The numbers for the previous year were again down by a range of 7 per cent or so, so for two years in a row companies and employees have made every effort to make sure that the number of lost time accidents have decreased at the work sites in Newfoundland. Just to point out again, Mr. Speaker, for the record, for someone who might read Hansard in fifty years time and wonder what was going on here: in 1990 for the first half of the year, there were 5,945 lost time accidents in the work sites of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the first half of 1991, a year later, that was down to 5,368. So that there had been efforts made to decrease it, and in the first half of this year, 1992 it is down again to 4,386, almost a 1,000 decrease in half-a-year which equates to the numbers that show there is an 18 per cent decrease in the number of accidents, 8 per cent of which can be attributed to the efforts of the employers and the employees and 2.93 per cent of which can be attributed to a decrease in employment.

So, Mr. Speaker, somebody has been making great efforts and we certainly commend all those employers and employees who have made the effort over the last couple of years. Just a couple of comments before I move second reading, Mr.Speaker, with respect to the Opposition critic, the hon. Member for Fogo. I agree fully, his point was clear that we should again be stressing our education program, that we should be doing a better job of inspecting and enforcing and I agree, and nobody on this side of the House will disagree with those comments.

We fully appreciate and understand that the real answer here is through that continued effort, education and compliance, voluntary compliance is the key. We have started to make some inroads in that area and we will continue to see where we can add more inspectors and more education officers as soon as possible. It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that all members who participated in the debate did agree that the move to go from a $5,000 maximum fine to $50,000 is a move in the right direction and it will help in some way in concert with a lot of other moves to make sure that we have safer workplaces for the people employed in our Province and with that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of the Bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Occupational Health And Safety Act" read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 53).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, Order 34, Bill No. 63.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 34, Bill No. 63.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Buildings Accessibility Act". (Bill No. 63).

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will be brief in my introductory remarks in preparing to move second reading of Bill No. 63, "An Act To Amend The Buildings Accessibility Act" and certainly will make notes of any comments made in the debate so I can answer those further when I make some closing comments or at the committee stage if necessary. The explanatory notes, Mr. Speaker, point out quite clearly what is intended to be accomplished by these amendments. In Clause 1, we are clarifying that when you have an apartment type building, the previous regulation and description in the Act was not clear as to exactly which parts were to be accessible in the definition of accessibility under the Act. This makes it clear that what is intended to be accessible are the common and public areas of those apartment type buildings. If you look in paragraph 3(b) of the Building Accessibility Act, on page 3 of this Bill, it points out that in the case of apartment type buildings it is the entrances, including the entrance to each individual residential unit.

The confusion before was that people were not sure whether or not that meant every entrance inside of every apartment. It is spelled out clearly now that the Act states that you must be able to get into the apartment building, plus you must be able to get into every apartment in the apartment building. Now, if there is a person leasing one of the apartments and they do not need accessibility to their washroom inside or their kitchen or their bedroom and so on then that is entirely within the Act. The Act also, I might point out, Mr. Speaker, although it is not addressed here because it did not need to be changed here in this Bill, provides that a certain number of the apartments in every apartment building must be fully accessible to people with disabilities and that inside those apartments everything would have to abide by the code and the Accessibility Act.

So, it says for the building itself, a public apartment building, the entrance, the walkways, the parking lot and so on, everything leading to the apartment building must be accessible, plus the entrance to every single apartment and room within the building must be accessible. Once you get inside those individual apartments, other than the ones that are designated under the Act to be the one in ten, or the one in twelve that must be available to people with disabilities, then the interiors of those apartments do not have to be fully accessible under the Act. So, that is the distinction that is made in the first Clause, in the first change, Mr. Speaker, because there was some confusion as to that in the previous Act and that is clarified with this amendment.

Clause 2, Mr. Speaker, provides that issuance of an occupancy permit for a new building shall not be granted until two things have happened; that the design of the building has been registered with the department, and there have been some convictions on that basis just recently when some people go ahead and do their design changes, do not register with the department and than they have to check and see whether they comply with the Act. Secondly, to make sure that we do not find themselves playing catch up again that the permit to occupy will not be issued until the final inspection of the building has been completed. The previous practice had been to go in and to issue a directive saying: well, okay, if you do this, this, and this and you make an undertaking to do so, we will give you the permit to occupy. Inspectors going back at a later date found out that even though their were undertakings given, the changes were not made, the building was not accessible. New buildings, built since 1981 were being opened in which then adjustments and changes had to be made. To correct that now it is stated that the issuance of the occupancy permit will not be given until the final inspection has been completed to ensure that the building meets the requirements of the Act.

Clauses 3,4 and 5(1) and (2) provide jurisdiction for a court to impose specified time periods within which an action must be taken. It says that - certainly it clarifies the fact that there would be some doubt hanging for a period of time beyond that stated here now in the Act, and if there is going to be an action taken it would act within a specified time.

Clause 5(4) gives the enabling legislation for the fine to apply for each day beyond the specified time that an offence continued. Many of the judgements that are given in the courts, Mr. Speaker, and the directives that are given by the inspectors, are that this should be fixed by such-and-such a date, and if it's not there would be a fine for every day after that date. This specifies that that fine now should be not less than $100 and not greater than $1,000 a day for each day that the offence continues.

Clause 6 says that if there's an alleged offence, that if (Inaudible) statute of limitations saying that if someone alleges that there's an offence under this Act, that the action must be brought to the director's attention within two years or there would be no action followed up on.

So these amendments, Mr. Speaker, were felt necessary to clarify some confusion in the one instance, and also to give some teeth to the enforcement capabilities of both the directors who issue the directives, the inspectors and the courts in dealing with people who still continue to violate certain sections of the Act in not meeting the requirements to have their buildings accessible to the disabled members of the public.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I note with some interest the minister's comments on the Bill. Perhaps when he gets up again he's going to clarify Clause 1. Because it says Clause 1 of the Bill amends the Buildings Accessibility Act so that only a common or public area of a building is required to be accessible.

Is the minister in that saying - for example, let's take a hotel. That the people only have to have access to the common or public area and it doesn't allow them access to rooms, dining rooms, or any other facility that could be elsewhere? Meeting rooms? Or an office building or whatever? I've spoken to some disabled people in this Province and in fact one gentleman who's confined to a wheelchair told me that getting into the Radisson, to have access to that building, you have to go on a roller coaster of a ride, is the way he described it. Because in the stairway there they have some kind of a mechanism that swings out over the steps. He wouldn't dare to get on it. He's terrified for his life to get on this apparatus.

This Act doesn't do much to clarify what's going on in hotels, buildings - common or public area. Does it mean access to rooms as well? I'm told that out in Gander, which is probably one of the convention centres of Newfoundland, I think they have about five rooms that are accessible to people who have wheelchairs. There's no more in that town, in the major hotels that are out there.

I note with some interest, because the minister talked about convictions on accessibility, it was shown quite well on t.v. a few night ago of a gentleman, a Mr. Genge, in Flower's Cove, who had been injured in an automobile accident and lost both of his legs, confined to a wheelchair. The gentleman runs a little general store in town. The film footage showed him stocking the shelves and so on from his wheelchair. He was fined $100 for not having his store accessible to the handicapped. He had a little incline, maybe an inch, inch and a half high, and they fined him $100 in court for having done that.

It also went a little bit further and it took to the courtroom in Flower's Cove where the gentleman had to go and pay his fine. He had to come in, get out of his wheelchair, sit down on the steps, using his rear end as his mechanism to get up over the steps. We fined him $100 for not having his store accessible. The very courtroom where he had to go to pay his fine wasn't wheelchair accessible.

Mr. Speaker, if that's not a travesty of justice.... The minister should today - immediately - sit down with his friend the Minister of Justice, refund that $100 that gentlemen was fined, give him interest, and give him a Christmas present for being able to cope with such a handicap.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, what an affront to the disabled. The individual who could go and work at his own building was found to be not accessible and to see what he had to do to get into the courtroom, a provincial building of this Province. It was despicable that the gentleman would have been fined for having such a little incline and then to see what he had to do in the courtroom of this Province. The minister should be ashamed of himself to allow such a thing to occur. He should resign over it, sentencing the disabled and at the same time allowing his own government to allow this thing to occur.


MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, one of the areas where we have made some great strides in providing access to the handicapped is in our school system. For the last twenty years there has been an ongoing attempt - and the former Minister of Education nods in agreement, we have made great advances in education. We have taken the disabled and we built schools designed to accommodate them. There is a program now that has been ongoing for three or four years to even provide elevators in places where we had ramps because of inclines, a tremendous idea, great for students and good for education in the Province, but unfortunately that is where it has stopped.

We can design buildings however we want to but we have to provide people to care for them. What we did in a certain number of schools was made the schools accessible to them but we took out the support staff that enabled these people to cope. You can make the rooms in the buildings as accessible as you want but when you took the student assistants out who allowed these people to have access to all the things normal students in the school have, then it is just as bad. It is just as well to have the school inaccessible as to take out the support staff that these students need to help them function. The elevator is no good, the ramps are no good, the lifts are no good if you do not have the people, the support staff, the student assistants that this government removed from the schools of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, the minister mentions fines again. This seem to have become the new buzzword, to increase fines and do all these thing. I suggest to the minister that the first thing he should do is undertake a major capital works expansion in his own department of all the public buildings in this Province, owned by government, to see that these are accessible to people. We have public libraries in this Province, we have all kinds of Crown corporations, branches of government, and, Mr. Speaker, very few of them are accessible. The building is more than fifteen years old and it is virtually impossible to get into it. The only people who do any work in recent years, that I see, and who are making a conscious effort are the clients of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing.

We have hundreds of people in this Province who cannot get into their own homes, and the budget for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is getting slashed each year, so access cannot be provided. A little pittance of money goes in but it is not even close to what is needed. We welcome this because the disabled have a role to play in this Province, an important role. I note with some alarm, Mr. Speaker, that last week the Minister of Social Services in talking about the Association for the Disabled could only find $6000. I think the next province had $55,000 in support and this Province found a measly $6000 to assist that organization. Mr. Speaker, legislation, if we do not take action means nothing. We have to not only mouth that we are going to do things to help the disabled but we have to actually do it. You have a chance to do it now, Mr. Speaker, and I want to suggest to the minister that the first thing he has to do is clean up his own act, to have the courtroom I alluded to in Flowers Cove, for that particular individual, Mr. Speaker, it was an affront to the disabled and the minister should be ashamed of himself for letting it occur. He should apologize and redress that person for the harm and injury this Province has caused him.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for a few moments on this Bill. I have to say that there are a couple of specific items which I would like the minister to address.

The explanatory note on Clause 1 says that it is supposed to clarify that it is only a common or public area of a building that is required to be accessible, but when you look at the paragraph that is referred to here, what it appears to be doing is ensuring - which the previous act did not - that individual residences in apartment buildings in the previous act did not have to be accessible, but now they do. So it is a direct contradiction of what the explanatory note says.

In the previous legislation it says that in the case of apartment type buildings the entrances, parking, walkways and other facilities, not including those in relation to individual residence units, needed to be accessible. So the old act said that you did not have to have individual apartments. If you were building an apartment building, not each and every apartment unit had to be accessible - the entrance way - but the common areas did.

The new act says that in the case of apartment type buildings the entrances, including the entrance to each individual residence unit, parking, walkways and other common facilities, must be accessible.

So, Mr. Speaker, whoever wrote the explanatory note got it upside down, and perhaps the minister can explain why he is doing this. Before, each and every individual residence did not have to be accessible and now it does, but nothing inside of it. What is the point of saying that if you are going to build an apartment building, you have to make the entrance to every apartment unit accessible, but inside you do not have to do anything at all. Inside each residence unit you do not have to do anything at all, but you have to make the entrance accessible.

Perhaps he can explain that. I can understand why that would be, but the explanatory note, in fact, does not explain it at all. It says the exact opposite of what the legislation is doing.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of our colleague, the Member for Fogo, in describing the incidents that occurred in Flower's Cove. Well I have to say that I am also appalled that that kind of action could take place where an individual in a wheelchair is dragged into court - literally probably in this case - in a non-accessible courtroom, to pay a fine for having his own store fail to comply minutely with a regulation. That is an appalling thing, Mr. Speaker.

There is something wrong up here in the head of the people who are operating a system that says you should drag a person in a wheelchair into a non-accessible courtroom, a public building which people are forced to go into to respond to allegations of charges, and to attend in court and answer to charges - are required to go there by the public, and they cannot get in. It is not accessible, and yet the individual who is running a store which people do not have to go into, which they go into at their whim and their choice to buy goods, that that has to be accessible. Something is wrong. Something is absolutely wrong with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: The judge should be fined.

MR. HARRIS: Well I do not know if the judge should be fined. It is the Minister of Justice who should be fined, not the judge, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. It is the Minister of Justice who is responsible for the administration of justice in this Province, not the judges. They only administer the laws. He makes them. So it is the Minister of Justice who is responsible for that.

I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, if you or me or anybody elected to this House had to get around in a wheelchair, you could not take your seat. You could not take your seat in this House if you were in a wheelchair. It is not enough to say: Oh, well, we would put a ramp in there. If the Member for St. John's East had to get around in a wheelchair we would put a ramp by his seat. That is not good enough, Mr. Speaker. This is a mental attitude that the designers of this Legislature should have been told. Just as the Act says here, it is at the design phase that new buildings and that renovations such as this have to be considered, not to make a special show of people who happen to be in a wheelchair. So you say: Oh, yes, we will put in a ramp. The poor Member for St. John's East, or the poor Member for Pleasantville, we will put in a ramp for him so he can get down to his seat.

That is not good enough. The design of this House should be such that if a person is disabled or has to be transported by means of a wheelchair that that person can get here without being embarrassed, without being sent around to the back entrance, or being sent to some special place and singled out for attention.

MR. R. AYLWARD: One would have a hard job getting through that gate.

MR. HARRIS: Well, you would certainly have a hard job getting through that gate there.

AN HON. MEMBER: A wheelchair would never get through there.

MR. HARRIS: The wheelchair would never get through there.

So you only have to look around, Mr. Speaker, at this very House to see - and this is not built in 1981, which is the date of the existing bill. This was built in 1990. It wasn't even finished when I was elected in December of 1990. So we only have to look around us to see that there is something lacking in the appropriate enforcement and mental attitude and actions of government, itself, which should be providing the leadership here. It is no wonder that there is difficulty in enforcing and inculcating a proper public attitude towards the needs of people who are disabled and need accessibility, if we, ourselves, are surrounded by this now. I don't think anybody has even pointed this out to date.

So there needs to be a great deal of education. Somebody has to sit down with the architects and say: Look, this is our legislation. We expect that when you are designing buildings, not that you put ramps in for people who are disabled, but that you use your head - use your head and design these things into the building.

AN HON. MEMBER: Design them with that in mind.

MR. HARRIS: Design them with that in mind. New buildings must be designed with that in mind, Mr. Speaker.

The requirement to comply with legislation is one thing. The requirements of legislation must be met. But in areas where the government, itself, is involved in forcing citizens to participate in activities by going into courts - public services is one thing. But when the government requires, as in the case of a courthouse, individuals to come into court and answer to charges and be there for whatever reason, there should be - regardless of the age of the building. If the building was built 150 years ago it should be a building that is accessible to members of the public.

So I support the amendments to the legislation, (inaudible) in principle. Anything we can do to improve the accessibility and the requirements in that regard should be done. I do say that there is an inadequate explanation for clause 1 of the bill.

There is no real explanation for clause 6. Clause 6 gives the director two years to lay a charge after the director is notified of an alleged offence. I don't know why that is. The Minister of Justice told us yesterday that three months was enough, for an individual, to complain to the police complaints commission - that if a person had a complaint against the police, they could bring it in three months. Every other piece of legislation - the Summary Convictions Act under the federal Criminal Code is six months. If you don't lay a charge within six months you can't lay one, for summary conviction offenses. Under the provincial Summary Convictions Act, you have twelve months. So if somebody violates the liquor licensing law you have twelve months to lay a charge.

Now, the minister wants two years to lay a charge. Why is that? What does the director of enforcement intend to be doing for those two years - lollygagging about? What is the purpose of that? Why should the director spend two years deciding whether to lay a charge? I would be surprised if the director even remembered two years down the road that an alleged offence was brought to the attention of the director. I do not know of any other piece of legislation -

AN HON. MEMBER: To allow for (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Member for LaPoile says, to allow for changes to be made. Okay, here we are. That is very good. So there are going to be various categories of people here now; there are going to be people that they lay charges to; there are going to be people that they allow to make changes; and they have been given two years to make the changes and if they don't make the changes, they will charge them under the act.

Well, Mr. Speaker, either they are violating the act or they are not. We already have a section and we are being asked to approve a section here which allows the courts to tell a person that he must comply with the act and provide a time period, so an order can be issued to give a specified time to require people to comply. So it should not be, Mr. Speaker, necessary to have two years there. And I believe that the court is also being permitted here, to itself, order - am I right, Mr. Minister? So the courts are being given the power here, to provide - in addition to a fine, they are allowed to order - well, not just allowed to - they 'shall be ordered to have the billing which is the subject matter of the action, comply with the requirements within a specified time', so it is mandatory.

So not only can the court give a fine, but the court must order that the regulations be complied with in a specific period of time. So I think there may be a need for a certain amount of flexibility, you know, when the expense and the cost of complying with the act is very great. I think when you have the protection there to require or to allow the courts, in fact, require the courts to order that the act be complied with, that it is not necessarily necessary to have to wait two years to lay a charge.

Now, perhaps the minister has an explanation and I look forward to listening to it. It is obviously a matter of detail and not a matter of principle. In principle, of course, we support the legislation that will improve the rights of those who need access to buildings, to get it and to bring about a greater public compliance with the act in legislation and regulations, but I think, Mr. Speaker, we have to go further and look around, ourselves, here, and look around in this very House, and see that there is a lot more that needs to be done in terms of the mental attitude of people - of designers, of architects, of contractors, of all of us - to ensure that when we are making new buildings, we keep in mind the needs of all of our citizens, not just those of us who are able to get around without the need of special transportation means, or special aids or have special needs or special disabilities that need to be looked after.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. If he speaks now, he will close the debate.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will try to deal with the issues that were raised by the hon. the Member for St. John's East and the Opposition critic, the hon. the Member for Fogo, before I move second reading of the bill.

With respect to the questions in clause 6, on page five of the bill we are looking at, section (35) and talking about notwithstanding section 8, that the alleged offence - once it is brought to the attention of the director that a charge would have to be laid or complaint information or a complaint would be laid under section 33 within two years.

It is exactly clear that we are trying to accomplish a couple of things and I might point out by preface to that, that these are the actions that are being taken, just about all of this, upon the advice and the consultation that we had with our advisory council representing the disabled community, who felt that these changes should occur. All of it is in the line of two different things,

the first being that we would give the director, once something has been brought to their attention, a mandate to go out and make sure that every possible opportunity is taken to have voluntary compliance. So, once a complaint is brought to the attention of the director, then the director would contact the owner of the building, to go out and ask for voluntary compliance that these changes or these deficiencies would be corrected. That is our preferred course of action, Mr. Speaker, always has been, and will continue to be. The advisory committee feels again that this is the best approach to this. If you go back to the owner of one of these public facilities and say there are some deficiencies with respect to the accessibility here for people with disabilities, and, Can you make the corrections and give a commitment? then we are willing to take that approach - but, in any event, that this puts a limit to it, because that type of approach had been taken and members of the disabled community had been frustrated by the fact that once it was brought to the attention of the department director sometimes, because an owner would give a commitment which they then might not live up to or might ask for an extension and it would go on and on and on, now we are saying that that type of procedure cannot proceed beyond two years, that if the changes have not been made on some voluntary basis within two years from the date that the alleged offence was brought to the attention of the director, then an information or a complaint under Section 33 must be put before the courts. Then, of course, the changes in sections 4 and 5 - 5 in particular - spell out what it is that the courts can do to give authority to these types of complaints laid by the director. This is in line, Mr. Speaker, with the changes that the representatives and the advisors from the disabled community wanted us to put in place.

The other question that was raised specifically with respect to clause 1, and the explanatory note versus the effect: the effect in Paragraph 3(b) is that we are making improvements, again, those that are recommended by the advisors and the representatives that are on the advisory committee representing the disabled community, that in an apartment complex or in an hotel, for example, any of these things that are built since 1981, a certain number of the apartments or rooms have to be designated to be fully available, and available for rent, in the case of an apartment, and for lease on a nightly, or whatever, basis in the case of an hotel, to people with disabilities. Now, remember again that all these rules are tied to 1981, pre-'81 and post-'81. Anything built since 1981 is supposed to be in compliance, anything prior to that, if there are changes or different alterations, redecorations, or renovations made, they also have to comply with the act depending on the nature of the renovations or remodelings.

In any event, the improvement here is that previously it was true that while the entrance to the apartment building did have to be accessible, and the common areas being the lounges, the hallways, any type of laundromat rooms and those types of things. And while a couple, or three or four, depending on the size of the apartment building, of the apartments, had to be fully accessible and had to be available to rent for people with disabilities, then here the notion was that if there are some disabled people living in these apartment buildings, even though the other apartments are rented by non-disabled people - people who do not have any visible disabilities - are not accessible, then these people want to be able to visit, so at least the entrance into their apartment should be clearly stated to be accessible so they can get into any one of the rooms in the building.

I point out as well, there was an issue raised which we are addressing with respect to the matter on the Northern Peninsula where the owner of a facility, who himself is in a wheelchair and is disabled, can get in and out of his facility to his satisfaction, but those provisions were not in compliance with the regulations under the act. The man was taken to court and was fined. He had difficulty getting into the court house. Everybody understood that it was brought to my attention and we dealt with it.

The fact of the matter is that there is a program within the provincial government where all of the buildings that are owned by the Province are on a schedule to make sure that even those pre-1981, which are not covered by the act, will be brought up to scale over a period of years and make sure they comply. All facilities that are leased, we are asking the owners of those buildings, as part of the lease, to make sure that their facility is accessible, but we are still into some lease agreements that run for a number of years, such as the court house on the Northern Peninsula where that is a leased property.

The property was built prior to 1981. The property is not in violation of the act because of the age of the building, and when the lease runs out, one of the things the Department of Justice has already indicated, is that they would like to be able to lease a facility on the Northern Peninsula for court work, that is accessible to people with disabilities. That kind of thing, that undertaking, has been given.

I recognize that the issues have been raised, and the members of the advisory committee and the public generally are pleased that the actions put forward and the amendments spelled out in Bill 63 will help. It will not solve all the problems again, but they are definitely steps in the right direction.

On that basis, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of the bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Buildings Accessibility Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 63).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is about ten minutes before the normally scheduled adjournment, and I gather from consultations that there is a willingness to adjourn now rather than go on a little later, so that is what we shall do in a moment.

We will be meeting at the regular time on Monday and I propose to call Order 23 on todays order paper which is Bill No. 44 and then Order 24, which is Bill No. 43 and than some other finance bills. I think my colleague the Minister of Finance will be back in the House on Monday. I will let hon. members know as quickly as I can on Monday whether we will be going into the Tax Bills we have to do committee stage on - there are three Tax Bills that will require debate in committee according to our procedure.

I should tell members, Mr. Speaker, that I anticipate the House will be asked to meet Monday, Tuesday and possibly Thursday evenings, my suggestion will be and I gather has some support among members, is that we do on those evenings, what we did last evening, simply not rise at 5:00 p.m. but work through until 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. or thereabouts, in each case what I think we will try to do is to set a reasonable target and when we achieve the target we will adjourn.

I have no desire to restrict anybody who wants to speak, any member can speak for whatever length he or she is allowed to, and I for one and all of my colleagues will gladly hear it, but we do not need to say things over and over simply for the sake of saying them, in my view. But anyway that is the proposal which I shall put forward. I would say as well, because I know members are trying to arrange their own personal schedules, I would anticipate we will finish next week. I offer no guarantees because I do not control the time of the House, I simply control the order in which government business is called. There is an old rule, and my many years on the other side confirm it, that governments open Houses but Oppositions close them but anyway, Mr. Speaker, with those few words I -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well I take what the gentleman for Kilbride says in the spirit in which he said it but I might say there appears to be more than one opposition over there, and I am not referring to the Holy Trinity in the corner, I am referring to the official opposition which speaks in many tongues on occasion, wearing a coat of many colours, but be that as it may, Mr. Speaker, I have no desire to restrict debate in any way, we will carry on with it.

I move that the House as its rising do adjourn until Monday, at 2:00 p.m. and that this House do now adjourned.

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