March 24, 1993               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLI  No. 12

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to inform the House that the necessary legal documents are now being duly executed by all parties for the acquisition of the 25 per cent interest in the Hibernia project relinquished by Gulf Canada Resources.

As all hon. members will recall, Newfoundlanders welcomed the announcement on January 15 of this year that Mobil Oil Canada, Chevron Canada Resources, the Government of Canada and Murphy Oil intended to acquire the Gulf interest. That event was accompanied by a collective sigh of relief and a renewed feeling of optimism, not only by those directly involved with the project, but also by Newfoundlanders throughout the Province.

Since January 15, the necessary due diligence has been done by the new owner, Murphy Oil, and all appropriate legal documents required to effect the acquisition were drafted. Closing is expected momentarily. The ministers concerned and myself signed the documents over the last day-and-a-half. Closing is expected momentarily, representing the last step in an often difficult process which began in February of 1992 with the disturbing news from Gulf Canada Resources that they were intending to withdraw from the Hibernia project.

With the current full commitment by all parties to the Hibernia project and the Province's rights under the various agreements fully protected, the energies of those involved must now be focused on the successful completion of that project.

Government will continue to effectively monitor all aspects of this project with particular emphasis on ensuring that employment and industrial benefits are maintained at the highest level. At the same time, government recognizes the importance of doing whatever it can, as outlined in the Province's Strategic Economic Plan, to create an attractive and competitive environment for further investment in the development of petroleum resources in the Newfoundland offshore area.

Mr. Speaker, we will not allow our emerging oil industry to suffer the fate of the Province's fishery. Our new industry is now on a firm footing and this government will ensure that it stays that way. It will be managed in a manner that maximizes both benefits to the Province and the recovery of this valuable non-renewable resource.

We must now move forward. Now that Hibernia is secure, we have to further encourage exploration and the development of other oil fields. Hibernia's legacy will be state-of-the-art fabrication and construction facilities and a highly skilled workforce. We cannot afford to let either lie idle.

This government has made it abundantly clear that it is prepared to entertain proposals for the development of other existing oil discoveries. However, such proposals must be technically and economically sound and provide benefits to the Province commensurate with the value of the resources to be exploited. We have no reason to believe that these objectives cannot be met.

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that other oil fields offshore Newfoundland will be developed in a timely and orderly manner and thus sustain this industry and contribute to the strengthening of the economy of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I want to first thank the Premier and his office for allowing us the opportunity of looking at the statement and for receiving the statement a few minutes prior to the announcement at the opening of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am a little dismayed with the idea of the Premier standing to announce that they have been doing the legal work on this, it is in a sense that it hardly merits a statement. I mean, one assumes that that is what they were doing anyway, that they were doing the legal work to help facilitate the signing of these documents, now we see that they are going to be signed momentarily somewhere down the road and I am sure that they are, probably within the next -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: - but, Mr. Speaker, in a conversation with his Minister of Energy, the minister suggested to me that they will be signed later on today in other parts of the country. I do not know if the minister talks to the Premier nowadays or not, but, Mr. Speaker, I find it also passing strange that there is absolutely no mention here of any sense of responsibility to the federal government who made this project happen. It was their impetus that drove this project, it was their commitment to the development of this resource in this Province that saved this project for the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker, thanks to John C. Crosbie, because we all know in this Province what the Premier thinks of this project, he referred to it as just two small fish plants.

I am pleased though, today, that it is being signed within the next few hours, and I want to go on record and so does my party to acknowledge the commitment that John C. Crosbie and the Federal Progressive Conservative Government, for their commitment to this project because that is who really made this project go and it is shameful that the Premier did not acknowledge the commitment that these people made to this particular project.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Does the member have leave of the House?


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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to express my pleasure as well in noting that the remaining uncertainty about the future of the Hibernia project has been removed. I wish to also go on record as indicating my support for the development of this project. Also, my appreciation for the fact that in this particular activity the 25 per cent interest in the Hibernia project, part of that is being taken up as equity participation by the Government of Canada, which has always been a solid plank in the NDP platform for mega-project development. That if there's going to be that type of development, and if government is being asked to put up the money, then they should be equity participants. We are pleased to see that that is a significant portion of the financing of that project.

I am delighted, Mr. Speaker, that this uncertainty has been removed, with the signing of and the execution of legal documents today or tomorrow or next week. It doesn't make any difference. If they're going to sign them they're going to sign them. I join in going on record as supporting the continuation of this project and the development of our offshore.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, a brief statement if I may. I rise to notify the House that my officials have received the report of Judge Reid of the Provincial Court who held a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ralph Yetman on March 17, 1991, at the Brittany Inn here in St. John's.

Judge Reid characterized Mr. Yetman's death as one by misadventure. He indicated further that the hotel management and the security guards were entitled by virtue of the Petty Trespass Act, the Innkeepers Act or the Criminal Code to eject Mr. Yetman from the hotel premises in the situation that existed at that time. He found as well that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were acting properly in their line of duty to assist the hotel management and the hotel staff.

Judge Reid says, and this is a quotation: "There is no evidence to indicate, nor is there any reason to believe that either the security guards or the police acted improperly in handling this incident." Mr. Speaker, the contents of the report are available to the public. I understood copies were made available to the Table but if they aren't I shall have them here shortly. Copies have also been provided to counsel for all of the interested parties in this case, which includes Mr. Yetman's family, the police and all others who had standing at the inquiry before Judge Reid.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The same as most people in the Province, my knowledge of the tragic death of Ralph Yetman at Brittany Inns two years ago is limited to what I learned through the news media. I didn't attend the judicial inquiry hearings and I don't know what evidence was before the judge, but, Mr. Speaker, I feel that most people in the Province will have considerable difficulty accepting the judge's conclusion that there is no reason to believe either the security guards or the police acted improperly in handling the incident. The minister says the contents of the report are available to the public and I call upon him to let people know how they can get the report.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ROBERTS: If I may, by leave.

Anybody who wants a copy, please get in touch with my office and we will be happy to provide him or her with one.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East is seeking leave of the House.


MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have to say that a review of the inquiry results will be required for a full statement here. I accept that Judge Reid indicates he didn't have sufficient evidence to find any difficulties here. One would wonder whether or not the same conclusion would have been reached if a police commission had been in place and these complaints had been brought in a timely fashion to such a commissioner. I think a lot of questions were certainly raised and if they have been put to rest by this report, then I think we would all be satisfied with it, but I think, because of the public concern at the time of this death, a full scrutiny of the report, which the minister is going to make available, I think, will be necessary to make a full comment on it.

MR. SPEAKER: Before going to Oral Questions, the Chair would like to welcome a couple of groups to the galleries today. First of all, we would like to extend a warm welcome to thirty Grade V students from Park Avenue School, Mount Pearl, in the district of Waterford - Kenmount, accompanied by their teacher, Lima Derouet, and chaperones, Sandra Newhook, and Janet Shostak.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Also, in the galleries is a group of Day Break parents and directors.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by asking the Premier if government has reversed its decision to cut funding to the Day Break Parent Child Centre?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Can I ask the Premier: Will his government at least defer significantly the April 1 deadline it gave in the Budget to allow itself, as a government, the chance to realize what it has actually done with this particular move in the Budget?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we have received requests from the board of directors to meet with them and I believe the meetings are set for Monday or Tuesday of this week. The minister is doing a full assessment of all of the information provided, a number of people have made representations, all that will be taken into account, and we have agreed to meet with the board as soon as that assessment is completed.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't ask the Premier if they were meeting with the board. I asked him would they defer significantly the April 1 deadline that they set in the Budget. Perhaps he can answer that in his answer to this question: Was a cost analysis prepared for the Cabinet before they made the decision to cut off the funding in that program, and on what basis, what criteria was used to make your decision?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, having himself been, I believe, President of Treasury Board at one point, knows the Cabinet process and the secrecy of the Cabinet process and he knows the impropriety of asking me to reveal to the House the details of what Cabinet considered and how they did it and what advice Cabinet has, so I have no intention of doing that. I can only say to you, I am satisfied that Cabinet was properly informed by the officials on the basis of the best information they had available to them. If there was other - Mr. Speaker, babbling doesn't add to proper information either. It is just babbling. Babbling is babbling and will always be babbling and there has never been other than that from the hon. member.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Cabinet made the decision and the board of directors have asked the Cabinet to consider further information. The minister is doing a complete assessment; we will assess that, we will meet with the board and, in due course, we will advise the board as to exactly what, if any changes we propose. In the meantime, the Cabinet will not order any changes until that is done.

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

MR. SIMMS: A good answer, Mr. Speaker. I find it absolutely unbelievable that the government didn't do any assessment of this particular decision. Is that what the Premier is saying to the House today? I ask the question again: Will the government defer significantly its April 1 deadline? - which he has yet to answer. Twice, I have asked it. And, secondly, I didn't ask him to disclose any secrets of Cabinet or details of Cabinet. I asked him, Was there a cost analysis prepared for the Cabinet? That is all I ask. I don't want the details. Was there a cost analysis? Could he answer those two specific questions?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the question has been fully and completely answered, and I stand by the answer I have given.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, if the question has been answered, I am not sure anybody in this House, or anybody listening to the reports of the House, could ever pick the answer out.

Are you going to extend the deadline of April 1? I didn't hear him answer that. Secondly - you did? Are you going to extend the deadline of April 1? Can you say yes or no?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Ask the member now to listen carefully and stop his other members from babbling and he will hear the answer I just gave, and when he reads Hansard he will see that it has already been given before I am saying it right now. The answer is that the government is doing an assessment of all of the information being given. The minister has arranged for a meeting. We will have a meeting, and after that meeting we will make our decision. In the meantime, we will not - and I said this before - we will not alter the decision that has already been made unless and until that meeting provides a reason to do so.

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

MR. SIMMS: I don't know why the Premier can't answer yes or no. It is a fairly straightforward question. Anyway, I gather from his answer now that he is saying, 'Yes, we will defer this April 1 deadline.' I presume - you are not saying that?


MR. SIMMS: Well, I might as well move on to something else because obviously we are not going to get a clear, straightforward answer from this Premier.

Let me ask him this question: Yesterday, I understand, while responding to other questions in the House, he said that Day Break was started some twenty years ago, under some federal grant, and that the Province is now stuck with paying the bill. I understand that is how he is being reported.

I want to ask him: Is he not aware that the amount paid to Day Break through the Department of Social Services is actually cost-shared 50/50 with the Federal Government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, I am totally aware of that, Mr. Speaker, completely aware of it. I am also aware that a similar, pretty nearly identical, facility in Corner Brook was started - three years ago?

AN HON. MEMBER: Two-and-a-half years ago.

PREMIER WELLS: Two-and-a-half years ago by the Federal Government, 100 per cent federally funded. They are backing out as of the end of March. They have cut the funding completely.

They decide where these units are going to be started in the Province, and walk away and leave the Province with the responsibility to fund it. Mr. Speaker, we can't run the Government of this Province on the basis of the whims of different offices of the Federal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I presume that his government licensed this centre in Corner Brook, to begin with - the one that he talks about - so if he felt so strongly about it then, why did he license it, if that is the case?

In any event, let me ask him this: I understand, what he is saying is that we cannot fund the Day Break program here in St. John's because you would have to fund one elsewhere - in Corner Brook, or wherever else. Now clearly, two Day Breaks in the Province would be much better than one. Would he not agree that one Day Break in the Province would be much better than none? I mean, what does he expect us to do?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Does he expect everything in this Province to be reduced to the lowest common denominator? Is that what his philosophy is?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, but somebody, then, has to decide which one - St. John's or Corner Brook - and on what basis is that somebody going to decide?

MS. VERGE: That's not fair!

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, it is not fair, but it is real. If the taxpayers of this Province had pots of money, we could have a Day Break Centre in every community in the Province. We don't have the pots of money. If we had even a reasonable amount of money, we could have Day Break Centres in strategic areas around the Province. But you have to bear in mind that we are asking all of the taxpayers of this Province to pay 12 per cent on virtually everything they buy in order to fund the activities of government. Now, government can't be selective about where it provides this. Government can't decide that it is going to cut Province-wide programs to which everybody is contributing but maintain programs for a specific area. You have to try and avoid that.

Nobody is quarrelling with the merit of the Day Break program. I am not for one minute challenging the merit of the Day Break program. But there are a lot of good things that we'd like to do for the people of this Province if we had the financial resources to do them.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure the Premier must be aware by now that there was quite a flurry of activity around the Confederation Building, the elevator areas yesterday, when substantial amounts of new furniture were brought into this building. Loaded very quickly aboard elevators and taken to some of the upper floors of the building. I'm wondering if the Premier can inform the House and the people of the Province how much furniture came into the building, how much it cost, and what it's going to be used for?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I tabled in the House last fall, I believe, all of the bids, the proposals and the cost with respect to the renovations and the furniture. I will get that information and table it again. There's certainly no more that I know of. The information has already been tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what you tabled.

PREMIER WELLS: This is what I tabled last fall. It was tabled on November 12, 1992, the information is there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, there's no more.

MR. SPEAKER: I'm recognizing the hon. the Opposition House Leader for a question, a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Let me ask the Premier this: can the Premier explain to the House and to the people why, as we sit here now, there is a substantial amount of new furniture stored on the sixth floor of this building, locked in three rooms, a minimum of fifty-four new chairs in two of the rooms, and other chairs, chesterfields, or love-seats, or whatever, locked in a third room? I'm wondering if the Premier can explain to this House what that furniture is going to be used for and what it cost the taxpayers of this Province, when we just heard this Premier saying that he's not willing to let the Day Break centre continue? We have pensioners who are living on about $12,000 a year, the social services budget cut to the bone. Explain that for the people of the Province, I ask the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will take the question under advisement and determine what furniture if any is stored. The mere fact that the member said it doesn't prove conclusively to me that it exists. I will check and see what the situation is. If anything, so far as I know, the cost of the furniture that was - the information I've tabled - is in fact less. I'll check that too and find out.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Let me assure the Premier that the furniture I referred to is on the sixth floor of this building. I have seen it myself. All except what's locked in one room. There are three rooms. Fifty-four new chairs, plush chairs, in two of the rooms. I don't know what's in the third. I want to ask the Premier: where did this furniture come from? Where was the furniture supplied from? Let me ask him that. Does he know who supplied the furniture?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I've told the hon. member that I will take the matter under advisement and will provide the House with the information. I don't have it. There's no new furniture so far as I know. The only thing that I know is the information that I tabled here on November 12 of last year, and to the best of my knowledge there is no additional furniture whatsoever. I will check and make sure.

It doesn't matter how many times the hon. member asks the question, that's the answer, today.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: That's the answer that the Premier would like for us to accept, Mr. Speaker. All I can tell the Premier is that furniture was brought into this building yesterday. It was stored there as of Question Period starting today. I want to know where it came from, how much it cost, what it's going to be used for, who supplied it, why was it now bought and brought to this Confederation Building at the very time that we're expecting so many people in this Province to suffer pain, I ask the Premier? The other thing I want to finish, the final supplementary to the Premier: will he agree immediately to have those rooms unlocked on the sixth floor so that members of the press and I can see everything that's up there?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I'll do a lot more than that. I'll unlock a lot more for the members of the press to have a look at, that the former government did. We'll disclose the full details of it, so they can see the whole story.


PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I've told -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, we'll get the history too, we'll get the whole story. We're not just going to look at a little narrow bit. We're going to get the whole story, and people will have the whole story, Mr. Speaker. Including all the furniture the government bought and gave to the former premier for a pittance, all of it, all of that will be disclosed.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in answer to the question asked, I can only say to the members of the House that there has been no new furniture ordered for any floor that I am associated with, that I know of, other than the furnishings that were reported here on November 12th. To the best of my knowledge, not another stick of new furniture has been ordered. Now most of those renovations were underway when we took office; we tried to stop this for example, we tried to stop this $24 million venture, we tried to stop this but it was gone too far, because it was gone too far and we could not stop it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the walls were being torn out up through the building and the renovations were underway, and I have no doubt that the government of the day had some advice that this was needed in engineering terms, and so they went ahead with it, and we went ahead and the renovations continued. All of it was done as a result of their design, we did not do the design on it, all of the design was in place and most of the contracts let before ever we took office, Mr. Speaker. Much of the work was underway and it was simply continued and that is how it got to be done.

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

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

The devil made Clyde do it again, Mr. Speaker. He made him get the door knobs and the wall paper - this is not four years ago, Mr. Speaker, let me remind the Premier that this was yesterday, and that new furniture at a cost of thousands of dollars to the taxpayers of this Province could have been cancelled, I do not care what the Premier says, it could have been cancelled. Will he make a commitment now, I say to the Premier, that those doors will be opened, immediately, so that we can see what is in there?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I tell the member again, there were no new furnishings that were not tabled in this House. Now any that was done will not be acquired. If it was done, somebody else has ordered it and the government did not authorize it. I did not do it, so if there was any delivered other than what was committed and tabled in this House, we have a right to send it back I assume, and there will be no problem with it.

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

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

The million dollars you spent on your office over the last year or so would have kept Day Break opened for the next twenty years, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

We had our Budget presented one day last week and we see the complete devastation of the hog industry in our Province, it will be wiped out completely. Completely opposite to the recommendations of the $800,000 report that the minister had commissioned to get a Liberal candidate for the district of St. George's.

Mr. Speaker, I want to know, before the minister made his decision on wiping out the hog industry in this Province, did he have any studies done and did he know what the ripple effect would be when he wiped out the hog industry on the rest of the agriculture industry?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Yes, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, from the time the Hulan report on Agri-Foods was delivered to the government there have been people who have been studying the hog industry in Newfoundland, Farm Products and the chicken industry for the past year-and-a-half, and the action taken by the government did not necessarily fly in the face of the recommendation that Dr. Hulan made. The hon. member needs to read Dr. Hulan's recommendation.

Dr. Hulan recommended that we cancel immediately price support to the hog industry. Mr. Speaker, he also recommended that having done that for one year, if it did not work, he indicated the hog industry itself would understand if we could not continue to support the industry. But, Mr. Speaker, let me tell the hon. member, yes, we did have studies done and of the studies that were done, the results show that it was in the better interest of the Province, there is no scenario that the hog industry can survive in Newfoundland without massive government support forever. There is no model, there is no scenario, there in no set of circumstances under which the hog industry could survive without the kind of subsidies provided by the Government of Newfoundland, and the decision was that it was best to deal with it now.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is certainly not the scenario that anything will survive under this government, nothing that I hear. Daycare is another example of what will not survive.

Mr. Speaker, does the minister know what effect government's decision regarding the hog industry will have on the dairy industry and the chicken industry? Has he heard today that the only feed company in this Province is on the verge of shutting its doors because of the decision the minister made with respect to the hog industry?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: We were aware, obviously, that when the hog industry shut down, there would be less grains needed then to be imported into the Province. We were aware that may well have a negative effect on the grain industry. I understand that the spokesman for the grain industry today, the major distributor of grains and livestock feeds in the Province, is indicating that he will be looking at it and considering a cutback in the number of people employed in that industry. Mr. Speaker, we are hopeful, as we deal with the other livestock industries in this Province, that other sectors will expand to the point where maybe they will use as much livestock foods and grains as is being used now by the hog industry. So, Mr. Speaker, it may be a short-term problem with regard to the grain industry.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, the other sectors - the dairy industry was producing some 90-95 per cent of our fresh fluid milk. Now, I don't see much expansion in that. I don't see much expansion in anything in this Province while this government lasts, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister - if there is expansion, there might be some expansion in the chicken industry, we have some extra quotas. Will the minister say today, in this House of Assembly, that he will assist the whole hog industry, the fourteen hog farmers? Will he assist them in transferring from the hog industry to the chicken industry, so they can take that quota that we have already approved for this Province? Will he commit today to helping the hog farmers get into that industry, get that quota, so that they will not lose their houses, their land, their barns and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt that they have in place on their farms right now. Will the minister give us that commitment today, that he will get the hog farmers into another agricultural business?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, in the hon. member's preamble, he talked about seeing nothing expanding in this Province. The one thing, Mr. Speaker, we were certain would never expand and did not expand, was the cucumber industry in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FLIGHT: There was never any basis for expecting a cucumber production would ever expand in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and that was the minister who was responsible; he was the minister at the time who, by and large, was responsible for Sprung and the $23 million dollars of public money that went down the drain when it had to be shut down - ignoring, Mr. Speaker, the advice of all of his advisors, public servants and everybody else.

With regard to answering his question, Mr. Speaker, it seems like a natural thing that if fifteen or sixteen hog producers go out of business, they are farmers, they have made a commitment to farming. If, indeed, there is quota - and there is quota available to the Province for broilers over the next two or three years, it would seem natural to me that the people responsible for allocating that quota would look to allocating quota. But the hon. member knows, Mr. Speaker, that the broiler industry in this Province is regulated by a board under enabling legislation and I cannot dictate nor could he, Mr. Speaker, to the chicken industry, who gets what quota. I can certainly use my good office, I can certainly talk to the board representing the chicken producers and make sure they are aware of the dilemma and make sure they are aware of our desire to see that the people in the hog industry are taking advantage of any possibility to stay in the farming business.

So, Mr. Speaker, to the extent that I can use my office I will, but I cannot make a commitment and he well knows I cannot make it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, a final supplementary.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, one simple question to the minister. He said he has been studying this hog industry since the report was tabled, this useless report that he paid $800,000 for, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister say flat-out what package he has in place today for the hog farmers who are going out of business, to help them save their land, their barns, their homes and a lifetime of work that they put into that business. What is the package you have in place today, after a year-and-a-half of study?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, the government presented the hog industry and the producers with a proposal designed to help them (inaudible) the industry, that would have seen all the hogs in the barns thrown out, that would have seen transportation to an abattoir on the Mainland funded, that would see their debts to the Newfoundland Farm Loan Board and Newfoundland Farm Products considered for forgiveness, and other considerations.

I might tell the hon. member and tell the House this, that the hog industry have taken the package, or the proposal we have offered, and are looking at it. I know they are intending to come back and make representation to me, as minister, and I have said to the industry, on behalf of government and myself, that we will consider anything that they come back with.

We want to be fair to the industry, Mr. Speaker. We will be fair, and we will consider whatever they want to talk about to me, at any time.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Social Services.

Looking through the Budget, the social assistance budget last year was $160 million. The revised, Mr. Speaker - the actual amount spent for social assistance - was $180 million. This year, the minister has budgeted approximately $175 million for social assistance. That would work out to approximately 2,000 fewer people on social assistance this year than last year.

Let me ask the minister: Where are the 2,000 people going to find jobs when the Budget basically states that there will be 4,000 fewer jobs in the Province next year versus last year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member knows, of course, that the social assistance budget is determined and driven by need and, in fact, if people qualify they are given assistance. It is very difficult to budget in any year, particularly this year, when the caseloads are now approaching some 31,000 cases.

Mr. Speaker, as far as the Budget figure is concerned, I would have to check it out. I assume he is right when he says that we have 2,000 less people -

MR. TOBIN: That is what it works out to.

MR. GULLAGE: - if you do the calculations through, but I will take that figure under advisement and check it out and see whether it is, in fact, correct.

My knowledge of the Budget and the way my figures were put together was that we are budgeting based on our estimate of the way we are going to finish up this fiscal year at the end of March, with an assumption of the caseloads being very similar for next year.

As we already know, the caseloads as predicted, and the Budget as predicted and as presented last year, has been exceeded this year because of our increase in caseloads. We may very well have a similar situation in the next fiscal year, I don't know; but the Budget is determined, really, on the figures as we see them at the end of March for the next fiscal year.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat unbelievable what is taking place. You have the Premier admitting today that they did not do a thorough study on Day Break. They are going to have to have a further investigation to see whether or not anything will change. Now, you have the Minister of Social Services saying they haven't factored in the number of people, whether lesser or greater, on social assistance. Obviously, they just pulled numbers from the air to try to balance a Budget that will never be passed.

Is it not a fact, I ask the minister, that the number of people on social assistance will increase, not decline, and if we lose another 4,000 jobs, more people will end up on social assistance than are on social assistance now? Let me ask the minister: Is that not the real truth?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: There are a lot of factors that have to be taken into consideration when we prepare a Budget figure. As I said, we look at the actual figures as we project them to the revised figures really, to the end of the fiscal year, the end of March. We also, this year, took into consideration the fact that we have investigators who will be cutting down on fraud and abuse of the system. We have been successful already, as I have said before, in two areas of the Province, in uncovering, so far, to date, over $800,000 in the Corner Brook area, with one investigator. These are - I have seen the list of cases - outright fraud really, money that is taken away from people who should legitimately be receiving the money.

We project that we will save millions of dollars this year as a result of uncovering fraud in the system. So that is reflected, as well, in our estimates of the amount of money we might spend on social assistance in this particular category in the next fiscal year.

As it is impossible to determine, of course, the caseloads, we don't know whether those figures, the actual figures that were used in the Budget, will be the figures at the end of the forthcoming fiscal year, any more than we could determine this particular year what the figures would be based on the caseloads that we predicted when the year started.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if the minister feels that fraud is that rampant within the Department of Social Services - I doubt that it is as rampant as he is saying it is, but probably when he brought the investigator in last fall, he should have kept him in here instead of sending him back at the time.

Let me say to the minister, he knows full well that this Budget is a sham. Instead of saving $5 million on social assistance next year, he will spend at least $10 million more. Is the minister now prepared to tell the truth, that the cost of social assistance next year will be at least, at the very least, $200 million, not the $175 million that he pulled out of the air for this Budget?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: First of all, Mr. Speaker, we did not take the investigator away from the Corner Brook region. That investigator is still working, and as I said, last year uncovered in excess of $800,000 in one calendar year. Mr. Speaker, the Budget figures as they are shown are accurate. That is our estimate of the amount of dollars that we will spend in the forthcoming fiscal year. I am only repeating myself for the third time when I say that it is impossible to know what are caseloads are going to be throughout the next fiscal year. We can only establish Budget figures based on our experience. They may be in excess, but to predict that it will be $200 million, $150 million, or $100 million would be just pure guesswork at this time, Mr. Speaker, and I wouldn't want to do that.

I have to put Budget figures that are based on the past, based on our history, based on the caseloads as we see them right now and as we have just experienced throughout this fiscal year. To ask me to guess what the Budget might be at the end of the next fiscal year is just pure nonsense.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: In accordance with Section 13 of the Auditor General Act, whenever the Auditor General makes a report to the House of Assembly, I am obliged to table that report. I hereby table a special report of the Auditor General.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the following members comprise the three Standing Committees on the Estimates. Obviously, I have consulted with my hon. friend, the gentleman from Grand Bank, and my hon. friend, the gentleman from St. John's East, in this.

The Government Services Committee will be chaired by the hon. the Member for Pleasantville; the Vice-Chair will be the hon. the Member for Harbour Main. The members will be the hon. the Members for Carbonear; Fogo; Harbour Grace; LaPoile; and Kilbride. The heads of expenditure to be referred to the Government Services Committee are from the heads in the Estimates as tabled in the House by my friend, the Minister of Finance, last week. The heads for: Finance; Works, Services and Transportation; Employment and Labour Relations; Municipal and Provincial Affairs; the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation; and the Public Service Commission. These are the same heads that were referred to that Committee last year.

The Social Service Committee will be chaired by my friend, the Member for St. John's North, with the Member for Humber East as Vice-Chair. The members will be the Members for Baie Verte - White Bay; Eagle River; Ferryland; Humber West; and St. John's East. The heads of expenditure to be referred to that Committee will be: Social Services; Education; Health; Environment and Lands; and Justice.

The Resource Committee will be chaired by the gentleman from Trinity North, with the Member for Humber Valley as the Vice-Chair. The Members for Fortune - Hermitage; Green Bay; Port de Grave; St. John's South; and Menihek will be the members of the Committee. The heads to be referred are: Fisheries; Forestry and Agriculture; Mines and Energy; Tourism and Culture; Industry, Trade and Technology - again, in each case, the heads referred last year.

I should say, Mr. Speaker, if I may, to Your Honour and to the members, there are nineteen heads in the Estimates as tabled. As has been the practice in the past, three will be debated in the full House. They will be the Consolidated Fund, the Executive Council, and the Legislature votes. The other sixteen will be referred through to the committees as has been our practice, I understand, for the past two years. I give notice I will move that motion tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, on Monday, I asked the Premier to table -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On what basis -

MS. VERGE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East, on a point of order.

The hon. the Member for Humber East on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: On Monday, in Question Period, I asked the Premier to table the list of so-called third-party organizations the government is cutting by $3.6 million. He said he would have the Minister of Finance or the President of Treasury Board do that. Yesterday, when I asked the Minister of Finance, he said he doesn't have a list. I am under Answers to Questions For which Notice has been Given. Since the Premier did take notice of that question on Monday, I call upon him to make good on his word and table the list.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To that point of order, which is not really a point of order - but I would like to point out that her explanation is correct, in the sense that she asked me a question. I indicated I did not have a list. In the interim, I have asked that such a list be prepared, and it will be prepared.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: As soon as it can be.

MS. VERGE: After the election.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.


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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I apologize to my colleagues. I forgot to mention to them that I had a petition to present.

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege today to present a petition on behalf of some parishioners of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Church in the town of Grand Falls - Windsor who are getting involved in the fight to preserve denominational education from their particular perspective.

I have had occasion, also, to have communication with representatives of a group which has been formed to head up that particular fight from that area. In fact I will be in the area next week to talk and meet with them.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by reading the prayer of the petition. If the hon. Member for Windsor - Buchans would like to relax and sit back I will tell him about the fight in just a moment. The prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker; to members of the House of Assembly. We the undersigned are committed to the highest quality education for the children of our Province. We support Roman Catholic schools and want to keep them, in the same way we support the rights of others to have the schools they desire. We also support co-operation between the churches in education, especially shared service schools where they are needed. We do not want our rights and the rights of other people in our Province taken away and we ask you not to tamper with the rights we now have under the Constitution of Canada.

It is pretty similar to petitions that have been presented in the House over the last few days and I suspect there are many more to come from certain areas of the Province, many areas of the Province. This particular one, as I say, contains about 600 names that were gathered out there at the church in one particular week.

Mr. Speaker, I guess there is not much I can add to what has been said in recent days in the presentation of similar petitions. Basically these petitioners, as they told me through their representatives, I say to the Member for Windsor - Buchans, are quite concerned about the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Education which in their view, and in their interpretation, would affect the denominational rights that their particular denomination enjoys now under the Constitution. It is not unlike the concerns that both the Member for Windsor - Buchans, I, and the Member for Exploits heard while addressing another public function in our own area a few weeks ago. There were certainly lots of concerns there and there were reasons for those people to have concerns. It is also fair to say that these people have told me they still have the same concerns, notwithstanding the flowery statement by the Premier, I guess it was, in the last couple of weeks or so with respect to this issue of denominational education. Somehow or other he tried to give the impression –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: I am telling hon. members what these parishioners have said to me, their concern and their perception, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: I understand the Premier presented a similar petition himself yesterday so I would like to have the right to present the petition on behalf of the people in this House which I am elected to do, Mr. Speaker, and not be interrupted by the nattering nabob from Windsor - Buchans.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has asked for order and when the Chair asks for order it expects to get it.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a typical ploy of the Member for Windsor - Buchans -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get on with his petition.

MR. SIMMS: - because he knows we only have five minutes to present a petition. He figures, I suppose, he can talk me out of it and that is probably what he is up to.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I was trying to say these people, because I have spoken to their representatives, are still unsure and uncertain of government's intention with regard to denominational education rights. Now all I can tell him is what these people are telling me, and what they say. What they are saying is that the statements made in the past by the Premier and by others on that side of the House in particular are not clear enough for these particular people. They still have their suspicions, because if you read the statements and if you hear the statements, it talks about where we have no intentions, the government says, we do not intend, or we have no plans. The Member for Exploits said we have no plans, so for all of these reasons, because of the ambiguity of the statements made by the government, these people are still concerned. That is why they are presenting these petitions and they have every right to do so, Mr. Speaker, as you would be aware, and as I am sure we would encourage them to do, and as the Member for Bay of Islands - I think the Premier is representing now - as the Member for Bay of Islands would know because he presented a similar petition in the House just a couple of days ago. Why would they be presenting these petitions, or asking that these petitions be presented, if they did not believe or did not have concerns about what the government intends to do?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SIMMS: I was afraid of that, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in support of my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, in support of the petition from people from his constituency.

The churches have played a very important role in education in this Province. They have financed it, to a great extent, out of monies from the church and not out of public money. The role and input has been recognized since 1949 in Terms of Union, and since that the progression that has followed.

This government has not, and I have repeated it and said it on many occasions before, given any definitive statement as to what they will do with regard to denominational education. They have played around with it publicly. The minister went on record in November and stated, and it is a very definitive statement, he would like for my grandchildren to know that when their grandfather was minister, there was a denominational system of education and eventually there was no system, and no segregation based on religion. That was in November.

The Premier, just in the House this week with his petition, said that he is not going to debate whether you will or whether you will not, he said, seek to amend the constitution at this particular time. That is what he indicated - at this particular time.

It is not his plan or his objective or his intention - no, it is not, I suppose, for the interim; but we do not know what the plans are for the future. I think people have a right to know the government's intention. There should be no secret agendas playing with the lives and education of youth in the Province. I think they have to come clean with that. We have seen enough cutbacks and attacks on our education system.

No doubt efficiencies can be achieved, and I am sure in the future hopefully will be achieved through changes within the existing system. There is room for improvement within the system, and it is time that some focus should be made to improve these and not to take away from parents the prior right to have a say in the type of education they should have for their children. They have that right, and it is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 26.

I support my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, in his petition, and once again call upon the government to make a definitive statement and come clean with the people as to what their real intention is.

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, at some time in the future I would like a few moments to elaborate on how the system in this Province has evolved over the years. We had a non-denominational system in education in the colony from about 1836 to about 1843 - that era. Beginning in the 1870's the various denominations acquired rights in education, and in 1949 some of these rights were entrenched in the Constitution of Canada, Term 17.

Since then, major changes have occurred in interdenominational co-operation and I am pleased to support what the government, and the Minister of Education and the Premier, announced last week - that we are now on the verge of some major changes in interdenominational sharing and co-operation.

Some twenty years ago the Anglicans, the United Church, the Salvation Army and the Presbyterians came together and formed a unified, integrated system.

On Fogo Island we have one of the best examples of co-operation in the Province - Plum Point, Bay de Verde - all over the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have to tell the hon. member that his time is up. It would not normally be up, but it is Wednesday and his time is up.

DR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: It being Private Members' Day and Wednesday, we go to the appropriate resolution, but before calling on the member to introduce and debate his resolution, I would like to welcome to the House today a council representation from the Council of Centreville, Wareham, Trinity, in the historic district of Bonavista North. The council is represented by the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Ackerman and Councillors Brown, Noble, Yetman, Hunt and Waterman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure which resolution it is -

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution states:

WHEREAS the attainment of higher education is fundamental to the future prosperity of our Province:

BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador take the necessary steps to provide adequate funding to Memorial University to ensure that tuition fees are not increased during the 1993-'94 fiscal year.

I think this brings us back to the entire problem of providing adequate education funding, to ensure that our children and the children of the future will be adequately prepared to seek work in a very demanding marketplace. While this government has put in print where they expect education to be and set forth their objectives, they have done nothing to follow along that course that they have established as it pertains to post-secondary education at Memorial University.

They have very nobly published in their Strategic Economic Plan that education is the key to economic development. They have acknowledged that studies have shown conclusively, that the skills and the qualifications and innovation and adaptability of individuals are critical determinants of economic performance and the success of enterprises; and, it is acknowledged that the public in their strategic plan, perceives education to be the single most important element in facilitating a change in attitude, and we know that a change in attitude in this Province would certainly be a welcome thing.

People want to see, and the Strategic Economic Plan recognizes efficiencies in the system and nobody doubts that we want to see efficiencies, but they also want to see that education, a system, addresses most urgent needs, improved facilities and equipment, laboratories, libraries, computers, books and other learning materials, and it is very important that the finances be in place so the University can provide these to students at the most effective cost, and part of their plan is to develop a dynamic post-secondary education system, which is capable of meeting the education and training needs of all citizens, and I emphasize 'all citizens', which can identify and address areas of weakness in our human resource requirements and which can respond quickly to change in requirements to the workplace and to the economy.

Mr. Speaker, this government is in the process of making university a university for the elite. They are quickly changing the cost requirements and so on and the financing and operating grants, so that university will only be able to be reached by children of very wealthy parents. And quickly, certainly I guess we could probably call it the turtle syndrome, with what is happening now with education, the responding in a very slow manner and in cases not responding at all. In fact we have regressed in certain areas of post-secondary education in this Province.

While they espouse to move forward and spend more funding on education in this Province, they had used that in their propaganda material in 1989, they indicated in their campaign manual to get elected, that our future economic success depends more on the improvements we make in our education program than on any other single factor, and they went on to give some specific examples: My government, in the Throne Speech of '89, will expand post-secondary facilities to allow more students in rural areas to participate in the development of their careers without being penalized by the higher costs of accommodations and transportation. That was not as finances permit, that was a commitment in 1989 after being elected, to expand the opportunities for post-secondary education in Corner Brook in Grenfell College, and in central Newfoundland and other specific areas.

Now, the students have to travel all over this Province incurring great costs to get to Memorial University and to live in St. John's where the cost of living is higher than in certain areas of the Province. Not only the transportation of getting back and forth but living away from home and the extra accommodation costs are very negative factors in the pursuit of a higher education by these students.

In a specific promise in 1989: that the curriculum of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook will be expanded to include third and fourth year courses as quickly as they can reasonably be added and an orderly expansion of facilities will permit. Grenfell can, in due course, become a degree granting university. This was a specific promise four years ago. We have not even touched the surface, they have just ignored the plight of students in western Newfoundland and the opportunity for them to be able to attain an education without incurring greater cost than people here on the east coast of the Province. They indicated as soon as finances permit - this one did make references to finances - is expand and have a similar facility to Grenfell in central Newfoundland. And another commitment as it affects students, a revised student loan program that will accommodate the needs of students in the advance years of their education. This government has accomplished very little in terms of financing and enabling Memorial University to operate and provide education at a reasonable cost.

I would just like to touch on, just briefly, the importance really of education to the future job market. Statistics Canada reports that 50 per cent of the jobs will require a post-secondary education and that number will increase immensely into the 21st Century. When we should be putting more emphasis on education and enabling people to prepare for the job market of the future, we are sowing the seeds for an expanded Social Service Department. The seeds are being sown today and will reap very detrimental and negative results in the future, if something is not done now. Education is something that starts, grows and develops, is a part of a total development and it must start now. We cannot hope to solve our problems down the road, if the steps are not taken today.

Just to look briefly at the operation grants to Memorial University; in 1992-93 there was $121 million budgeted in operating grants to Memorial, and with cutbacks brought in by this administration it was reduced in the last fiscal year, in the revised figures, to $118 million. Now they are advocating only $118 million this year with cuts being indicated in the Budget - they will have to bear their fair share. It is expected that almost $6 million will be sliced from that $118 million down to $112 million, having to operate with $6 million less. With increasing operating costs in the University of another $4 million, they are faced with between a $10-$11 million deficit that they are going to have to meet.

On capital expenditure, in the university, it has been reduced from $6.5 million last year to $1 million this year. That is a drastic drop of $5.5 million alone being included in capital expenditure. To top that off, equipment and furnishings is reduced by another $1 million. Still the government says they have no control over the University, they decide their budgets and indicate what tuition costs will be. Well that is equivalent to having an automobile and having a tire missing. In other words the whole cannot function without its part. The whole is equal to the sum of its parts, each one must be working to be able to achieve a desired result. This government has handicapped, it has immobilized the machine, Memorial University, to be able to deliver in an efficient manner to our students the opportunity to get a proper education at a reasonable cost.

The former Minister of Education - I would just like to touch on this for one minute - in the House on November 8, 1989, said; I think we can reduce the financial barrier or remove to some degree, by decentralizing post secondary education opportunities throughout the Province. He said: and we are going to do that. We are going to provide quality post-secondary education programs throughout the Province, we are going to do it right. He said; we will provide better programs and expand the programs in several parts of this Province.

I'm sure his intentions were well-intentioned there. However, we haven't been able to realize their expectations, or maybe it was only a hollow commitment back in 1989, an election campaign to get elected and going to promise things that they had no intention of delivering. I certainly hope that's not the case. Our post-secondary institutions now are being forced to exclude people at a time when it is crucial that people get a post-secondary education. It's paramount to the future of this Province and to any prosperity that we can hope to accomplish.

The current Minister of Education, back in 1987, was very concerned with students at the time. The Member for the Straits of Belle Isle is unhappy that the income of some students' parents is considered when they're applying for student aid. He feels it is generally the middle class that gets hit hardest. He said: the wealthy can afford to do without aid and those with less money will qualify for loans anyway. It's unfair, since it's the middle class which contributes most in the form of taxes.

The current minister went on to say that he spoke with numerous people in his district - twenty-four people he mentions here have approached him on the issue - and out of that six were unable to attend post-secondary education because of a lack of funds. He feels sure there are more people with the problem and it's a very serious one. He said he'd like to issue a challenge to the students at post-secondary institutions. They should try and improve the situation through such methods as petitions and should be a nation-wide concern. People should really get up and revolt and demand the opportunities for a better education.

I'd like to just point out a few figures here pertaining to what this government has done to the budgets at Memorial University. Under capital expenditure, for example, in 1988 there was $5.8 million provided for capital expenditure at Memorial. That amount has shrank. That was at the peak amount. It's been downhill since then. We've had only, this year, $1 million in the capital program. To look at tuition fees at Memorial University: during the last four years tuition fees at Memorial University have increased over 46 per cent. So it's hovering near almost a 50 per cent increase in the last four years. During the four previous years the highest increase of any one year was 7.4 per cent, and from as low as 4.9 per cent. In the past two years alone we have seen a 10.1 per cent increase the previous year, and the year before that a 15 per cent increase.

We've had an astronomical movement upward in the cost of students entering University, at a time when students can least afford it. At a time when student unemployment is in the mid-thirties. When job opportunities and so on to raise funds for their education is at the most crucial time probably almost in the history of this Province. When parents' incomes have not increased and the unemployment rate in this Province overall has reached astronomical levels, they are faced with the burden of having to try to fend for themselves, resulting in a movement toward making Memorial University a smaller institution and an institution for the elite, people who can afford to pay.

I think that's grossly unfair. If we look at Memorial University overall and we take a look at what this government has done in tuition and allowances they've given to people attending MUN over the past number of years, in 1991-1992 there was $20,750,000 provided to students in the form of tuition and allowances. This government last year budgeted $21,850,000 for tuition and allowances but students only received $18.9 million. Three million slashed from the budget in tuition and allowance for the students. What this government has done, it has made university a budgetary concern, not a concern for quality, improved education and improved opportunities. It has made it a budgetary matter.

This year they are proposing a $20 million expenditure. They were out by $3 million last year. In fact, they're budgeting $2 million less than they budgeted last year after slashing $3 million from last year's amount that they provided the students. What are the reasons why students got less last year? Because this government invented ways to take money out of the pockets of students. They did not apply inflation to the provincial portion under the Canada Student Loan Program. They applied it to the federal portion that was coming out of federal funds. They changed last year for the first time in this Province the Canada Pension Plan disability that students were receiving whose parents were unable to work or were deceased, people who are least likely to be able to pay the burden for education. They brought that in last year for the first time and put that into student income which meant student income is deducted almost directly from their assessed needs at the university, whereas if it were in parental income and below the minimum levels it would not have effected the amount of money they could obtain. This affected the amount of loan the students could obtain.

These students want the opportunity to be able to assess a loan system, any type of money to be able to continue their education, but that avenue has been taken away by this government. They have looked at ways to try to save money on the backs of students and I think it is grossly unfair when you look at where we must go as a Province, and if we are going to rise our educational levels. Students do not have the financial resources to be able to fund their own education. With a student unemployment rate of about 35 per cent it is inconceivable that students can generate their own income to put themselves through post-secondary institutions and through Memorial University, in particular, as we are discussing today.

The job market itself, today, with our high unemployment rate, with people unemployed and with the moratorium in the fishery, the opportunity to get summer jobs has been diminished somewhat and that will not improve over the next year or during the course of the moratorium. We have to look at this Province which has one of the lowest levels of post-secondary institutional education attendance in Canada and we should be putting more emphasis upon trying to get people inside the doors of post-secondary institutions and not looking at financial obstacles to achieve that.

Even the former minister acknowledges that it is important that students in this Province - and he stated that back in 1989, the former minister said that students in this Province should have to pay less in tuition fees than in the rest of this country. That is one of the defences that was used by the current minister in questions I asked last fall. I feel students in this Province should have to pay less than the rest of the country. We are farther behind the rest of the country. We have to have more incentives to get into these institutions and not dis-incentives and so on that are going to limit the enrollment. Raising the requirements is a budgetary measure completely. It is not a matter of trying to establish improved standards and quality of education.

It was mentioned in this House that with an under seventy average only one in ten students go on and get degrees, so it is not going to affect the number of graduates coming from Memorial. That is not very factual at all. One of the reasons why people go to Memorial today with less than a seventy average is because the other institutions have long waiting lists, two or three years. A lot of people use that as a step and rather than stay out of school they increase their educational levels and go to university for a year. A year at university is better than a year at home and then they move on to other specific careers and so on. They get accepted into Cabot and the various other post-secondary institutions they prefer and where admission is possible.

Mr. Speaker, I think this government has to realize the difficult plight that students have today and while finances are limited an investment in education is an investment in the future of the Province. It gives us a chance to move out of the level we are in and try to increase the standards of people right across this Province. We have some severe problems in rural Newfoundland today and opportunities for people to attend these higher educational institutions and be competitive in the job market today are severely hampered by the policies of this government. This government preached some very positive things back in 1989, things they would have done, wonders and so on here in this Province, but the problem is they just have not followed through and put any into effect.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say a few words about the resolution introduced by the Member for Ferryland. Perhaps, however, we should put the resolution in context.

Mr. Speaker, these are very challenging times for not just this Province but for the country, and indeed for all countries throughout the world. We are in, as the hon. member said, an increasingly global, competitive marketplace, where the value of resource-based industries is decreasing.

I read an article the other day that talked about the decrease in the value of fishing, lumbering - all of these industries vital to the future of this Province and this Country. They are still going to be important in the future, but the value of these industries has decreased dramatically.

We are moving into an era, Mr. Speaker, with emphasis on secondary manufacturing, on improved services, on what people call information-based industries. A whole new world we are moving into, not only in this Province but in the country.

Now in this Province we have attempted to address that problem partially by putting before the people a Strategic Economic Plan, and I wish the hon. Member for Ferryland had read from that plan, because that plan is not just a study, as the Premier keeps saying, it is a plan of action.

Perhaps other provinces in this country - and I have talked to former Ministers of Education who said that they need in their province the kind of plan that we put forth for this Province. In fact, perhaps for the country as a whole we need some kind of strategic plan for the future that carves out for Canadians and for people in various parts of that country, a niche where they can contribute and they can achieve prosperity in this international, global, competitive marketplace.

We have put forth such a plan and, as the hon. Member for Ferryland suggested, education is identified as a key. It is vital to the future of that plan and the future of this Province.

Education is as essential today as physical infrastructure was fifty years ago - roads, the railway, buildings - the physical things. Education is as vital to our prosperity today as these were fifty years ago.

The empires of the future - and this is not a cliché - the empires of the future will be empires of the mind. There is no doubt about that. You read materials from China, from Japan, from Germany, and you realize that those countries that are going to prosper in the future are the countries that focus on knowledge and information and research and development, and all the new kinds of industries - not denying, of course, that all of the traditional industries still have to be maintained and reformed and improved - fishing, lumbering, mining - but we must move into the new era. As the Member for Ferryland said, education is the best investment that society can make.

Now I do not want to argue about education only in terms of that it is only an economic good. Education is a social good. Education helps people develop as persons, as human beings, morally as well as in terms of their economic prospects; but here in this debate we are focusing on education as an economic good - not as a social good. It is vital that we provide quality education.

I think the Member for Harbour Main - last year I was speaking and I said: If you think that education is expensive, try ignorance. I do not like the word 'ignorance'. I would prefer 'undereducation'. If you think education is expensive, try undereducation. This is what this government believes. This is what this government has believed from day one, and our Budgets have illustrated that.

This government has spent increasing amounts of money on education. Now I do not have all the data here, but I did take a quick look at the Budgets. The member can say all he wishes about cuts, but we put more and more money into education and we put it into education, into helping those whose needs are greatest. That's what this government believes in, equality.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: Providing help for those who need it most. Fairness and balance. Justice. We've put more money into education and we've tried to do it in a way that's fair to everybody. One hundred and seventeen million dollars. The Member for Ferryland quoted $112 million, but I see a figure here, operations, $117 million. That's a lot of money that we're giving to the University this year for operations.

We've reduced a bit from last year. The University has fewer dollars than last year for certain types of operation. We've reduced the capital. The Member for Ferryland should have been here to realize that we've put a lot of new money into the extension to the administration building, to the Animal Care Centre, to new projects on the campus. We haven't as yet fulfilled our commitment to building campuses elsewhere and extending additional first-year programs elsewhere in the Province. But, Mr. Speaker, we will. Give us time, we will.

The people of the Province understand that these are difficult times. We can't do everything in one four-year term. But I would put what this government has done for education in the past four years up against what the former government did in ten or fifteen years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: We've only begun. Mr. Speaker, the present Minister of Education has a vision of the future and this government will implement that vision to provide even better education in the future than we have in the past.

I wish the Member for Ferryland would read Maclean's magazine of a couple of years ago when he talks about how the grants from this Province compare with other provinces. You know, in 1990-1991 - and I couldn't get the figures for 1991-1992 but I think they're similar - the operation grants to the Memorial University of Newfoundland for a full-time equivalent student was $500 more than it was in Quebec, $2,300 per student more than in Nova Scotia.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) not true!

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, Maclean's magazine said that this government was putting more per full-time student into Memorial than any province in Canada. I would say that is the same today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

DR. WARREN: I'm not saying it's too much. It's not enough. I'd be the first to admit it's not enough. We need more. Because in Newfoundland we don't have all the money from foundations that they have in other provinces. We don't have the high fees, thank God, that they have in other provinces. But as for grants to university this government, this Province, puts more into grants to university than any province in Canada. We've got to continue to do that, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. WARREN: Fees. I don't know what fees comprise in this Province at the present time. Maybe the Minister of Education when he speaks will say that perhaps 15 per cent of the cost of post-secondary education comes from fees in this Province. In some other provinces it's 20 per cent. In the Province of Alberta they're aiming at 25 per cent. Now I wouldn't disagree with that. I don't think we should increase dramatically the proportion of funding that Memorial has, the proportion that comes from fees. We've got to continue to provide high-level grants, Mr. Speaker. But in this Province the government has provided to Memorial University higher amounts per full-time student than any other province in Canada and we should aim to keep that figure at the highest level.

I don't think Dr. May in this period of fiscal restraint is going to double fees as someone suggested in the Opposition recently. By the way, I have a list of increases in fees that go back to 1968-1969. I won't go back. I won't give all the figures, but in one year, when the hon. member's Party was in power, the increase was 20 per cent. In 1980-1981 it was 10 per cent. In 1981-1982, fees went up 10 per cent. In 1982-1983 - and I don't want to say too much because maybe the hon. member - well, I guess he wasn't the minster at that point in time. I won't blame it on him, the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. It went up 12 per cent in 1982-1983. It went up 5 to 7 per cent, and in the last two or three years it's gone up 10 to 15 per cent.

I don't expect that the Board of Regents and the president will double the fees this year. They will increase them slightly, I would expect. Mr. Speaker, we are not going to tell the University what to do, we do have this principle of academic freedom, but I believe - and I am surprised to hear the hon. the Member for Ferryland criticize the University. We have one of the best universities in this country. We have some of the best students. I have taught at other universities and I say, some of our students are among the best in this country. We have programs, a broad array of programs at Memorial, quality programs. Mr. Speaker, with limited resources, with not enough resources, this University has done well, in my view.

We have small classes. Last year, in the Maclean's study, it was demonstrated we have among the smallest classes in the country for a university of this size in the early years. Mr. Speaker, I don't expect the University, The Board of Regents and the President will nail the students, will knock the students. I expect that they will deal with this period of fiscal restraint by restricting growth in areas which do not impact directly on the student. They will keep the level of increase of student fees at the lowest possible, they will cut out things which don't impact negatively on the classroom.

Dr. May is an outstanding public servant. He has worked in public positions with the Federal Government, where he has had to exercise fiscal restraint, and I have every confidence that he and the Board and their staff and their colleagues will exercise their judgements so they don't impact negatively on the students. Last year, for example, they brought in a supplementary program for students to give students who need help, more help. They are cognizant of the needs of Newfoundland students.

By the way, I think the member might be wrong when he says that we have the lowest percentage at university in Canada. In the University, I would say, our percentage of people, as a percentage of the age group in university is as high as many other provinces in Canada. In post-secondary it might be lower, but in in respect of our University, we have a large number of people going on to university. I am proud to say that is right. And I am proud to say that the first year programs in Grand Falls, Marystown, Corner Brook and Labrador and more in the future, these are helping more and more people go on to university.

Mr. Speaker, I know why we have fewer dollars now for education. We are going through a difficult financial period, but also, Mr. Speaker, the Federal Government - and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Premier, who does say at times that we should not attack the Federal Government. But I would ask the Federal Government - I would say to the member opposite, call 'Kim', call her now and ask her to put education and student aid high on her list of priorities.

I talked to the Federal Leader of the Liberal Party three weeks ago: I talked to Mr. Chretien and I asked him, What does that party believe about education and student aid and the future? And he made his position clear. And the party are going to lay out a vision for post-secondary education - cancel the helicopter program, cancel the billions of dollars that are going to be spent on helicopters and put it into the most important thing in this country: if we are going to have prosperity we have to have quality education for all Canadians. You can't quarantine ignorance. Don't privatize the student aid program, don't add an administrative fee.

So, call 'Kim'- call 'Kim' on behalf of the students of this Province, and make sure that she does not do what the Federal Government is planning to do, cut student aid. They haven't increased student aid since 1984.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of things I am proud of, and one of these days, I am going to write in a chapter of the book I am writing, some of the things that we have done in the last four years. But I am very proud of what we did in student aid, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

DR. WARREN: The hon. the Member for Ferryland wasn't here, he doesn't know what happened. Go back and find out what we did our first and our second year here. And we have other plans, we couldn't do it all this past year. Scholarships - what did we do? What did we do in scholarships, student aid? - a tremendous amount, Mr. Speaker, and I am proud to have been associated with this government when it did that.

Now, getting back to what I was saying about the Federal Government, I would call on all members of this House to support students when they approach the Federal Government to improve student aid. The Federal Government have cut equalization payments and they have cut established program financing, and when they cut, you know who really gets hurt, provinces like this one. Even in Ontario, they are hurt. I don't know if someone in the House can confirm it, but I have heard that even in the Province of Ontario -perhaps the Member for St. John's East can confirm this - they have cut student aid tremendously in the past year.

AN HON. MEMBER: They have abolished grants.

DR. WARREN: Abolished grants to students - I just can't believe this. Of course, Mr. Rae keeps talking about the federal cuts. Can you imagine the impact of federal cuts on this Province - equalization cuts, established program funding cuts, student loan cuts, and we are going to have more cuts in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I urge members opposite to call their cousins in Ottawa and ensure that they improve the student aid program. The real problem - I suppose we want to keep student fees low. I read an article recently, actually, some time ago, which argued against that. I read an article that said those who can pay fees, should pay high fees, because the medical doctor who graduates from university, often coming from a fairly well-to-do family, should pay higher amounts, should pay higher fees, because the return to them is tremendous. In fact, this article said - and I am not arguing this - this article said that the post-secondary system benefits the wealthy, because the children of the wealthy go on to university, and they are the ones who take most of the benefits, most of them - not in Newfoundland. Thank God for Memorial, thank God for the Faculty of Education, because the Faculty of Education is the outport university in this Province. I would never have gotten into university - I wanted to do law and still may do it; we have a law school over here - but I couldn't go to do law. So I got a grant and I went into Memorial. I would never have gotten into Memorial without the grant to student teachers. Thank God for all of these grants that let rural Newfoundlanders get into university.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps there is something to that argument, that we should have higher fees for those who can pay, but the second part of that is, more student aid, more student loans for those who can't pay, for those who have every right to go to university and those who will perhaps benefit more from university than many of the other students. Perhaps we should have a whole new student aid program so that people will pay back over their lifetime, give them their lifetime, give them their time when they start earning to pay back - a whole new program. Do not privatize the student aid program. Please, call 'Kim' - call 'Kim' today, I encourage the hon. the Member for Ferryland, and ask her not to do what the Federal Government are promising to do. Please, improve the student aid program so that we can keep our fees down. But, more important, I think, we can provide additional funds for those Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who want to go on to post-secondary education and can't afford it. This government is committed, Mr. Speaker, to that group of people. We want to ensure fairness and balance, we want to ensure a quality of opportunity for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, irrespective of where they live, irrespective of how much money their parents have or the wealth of their community. That is what we want to ensure, Mr. Speaker, and I tell you, this government has begun to do that and we will continue to do that.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I am hopeful that any increase in the fees at Memorial will be at a minimum, that the University will find other ways to live in these very difficult times. Mr. Speaker, I thought I heard Dr. May say recently that he expected larger cuts this year, because he knows what is going on all across Canada. He knows how universities' budgets are being downsized all across Canada. I though I heard him say something about having expected larger increases. Now, I think he is sympathetic to students and I think he and the Board of Regents will find other ways to deal with this and not increase student fees dramatically. To increase, I expect they will, they said they are going to increase in a modest way, and I tell you that this government will continue to fight for education and will continue to fight for post-secondary education, so that we can provide fairness and justice for all of our people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

DR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, over the last four years, especially, since 1989, after five, now, provincial Budgets, and after the establishment of an Economic Recovery Commission in the Province, the establishment of ENL, the Strategic Economic - the tabling of the change and challenge of Strategic Economic Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador and so on over the past number of months, listening to the hon. member who just spoke, when he talked about "call 'Kim'", there will probably be a lot of members who might have to call 'Kim' after another few months.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I didn't call 'Kim' yet, but in the past number of years, the latest of which was in April of 1992, I did write the former minister, Mr. de Cotret, complaining about the Canada Student Loan Program. And I will, regardless of who the new leader is on the federal scene - whether it is Progressive Conservative, whether it is a Liberal, he or she, either one, or NDP or whatever - I will continue to lobby for changes to this particular program. It is archaic, it is outdated. Whatever you care to mention with regard to history, it is it. It is absolutely no good, period.

My question to hon. members opposite is: It is alright to say, call this one and call that one, and we are going to do this and we are going to do that. The hon. member mentioned the Strategic Economic Plan. There is no mention whatsoever, in the Strategic Economic Plan, about student loans - not a word. There is reference to post-secondary education in a general term, reference to post-secondary education with regard to different studies and different classes, but absolutely nothing pertaining to the student loan program; but, in this so-called policy manual of 1989, four years ago, on the very last two pages, there is lots of reference to youth in the Province, lots of reference to student loans, and lots of reference to post-secondary institutions.

I will quote one: 'A revised student loan program that will accommodate the needs of students in the advanced years of their education.' It is just one. This is going to be a very valuable tool over the next few months, I know, in my district, when I start campaigning.

I don't have much to answer for in the last four years. I had a lot in the previous four, in the 1989 election, because I was speaking on behalf of government. This time, I can speak on what this administration has done and, to me, the administration opposite, where it pertains to student loans, has done absolutely nothing.

Now, the guilt trip is not only on members opposite. What I say to members opposite I say to the people in Ottawa. Mr. Mulroney and his cohorts did absolutely nothing for the student loan program in this Province, as well. So you are in the same boat and the same league, albeit a month ago, I suppose - you probably wouldn't mind being associated now - but a month ago, before Mr. Mulroney went, you probably wouldn't. But they have done absolutely nothing for the student loan program. Notwithstanding my letter to de Cotret, in April of 1992, and my response from him, to this date there has been absolutely nothing done.

Mr. Speaker, if we are not going to help our students in the Province, we don't have much left. If we are not going to help education in the sense of our post-secondary - where do they go? They can't all leave. Because as the Premier said the other day, a lot of them are coming back now - to what? Parents can't keep them like they used to because they are out of work. Most parents in the Province are either out of work, on UI or on social services. They can't help the students going to university today as they used to. They have absolutely nothing to fall back on.

A student today, and a lot of families today, have double income, have the father working and the mother working, and a lot of the students when they apply for a student loan are right on the periphery, right on the borderline, borderline cases, and they can't get that particular student loan. What happens? They just can't go. I have had students right up until last fall semester, right up to exam day, with absolutely nothing back from Student Loan because of the appeal process. When they did come back, they couldn't get it. What do they do?

If I am not mistaken now, a lot of students have been told that if their student loans are not approved over the next number of days before classes end two weeks from today, if it is not paid, they will lose the credits for that semester. Now, that, to me, is diabolically wrong. No way should a student in this Province or in this country have to go to university - it is bad enough as it is, hard enough as it is, to try to get an education and to just step inside doors of an university, let alone try to study, under the stress and strangulation of not knowing whether you are going to have the money to pay the bills.

All any member has to do in this Legislature is to come with me some evening over to Dominion - when you go over to pick up something for supper and you look at the students going around Dominion with their baskets. What is in them? - a couple of cans of Pepsi and a couple of packs of biscuits, that's all. They can't afford anything else. They can't afford to cook. They can't afford steaks and they can't afford fish or whatever they should be eating, as students here in this Province. They have left their homes in Labrador, they have left their homes in other parts of the Province, and have come to this city to try to get an education, under very trying and difficult circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, today, the talk of raising tuition fees could never come at a worse time - the highest unemployment rate in the Province, the worst time for social assistance in the Province, people out of jobs, out of work, the parents can't help, the students just can't get the student loans. What do they do? Where do they go?

Yes, there are some people in the Province and some members in the House who have no problem affording to send their children to university or anywhere else - to medical school, to practice to be a lawyer, or anything else. The majority of the people in the Province, no question, can't afford education today. I am not blaming any particular individual, or any particular government, but my question to members opposite is this: How come, in the last four years, the Provincial Government and the Federal Government did absolutely nothing about the student loan program? Now, if there is something done, let me know and I will take that for what it is worth, and so on.

As far as I am concerned, it is like the fishery now. The fish is gone. We are at a point now where it is almost too late - unless something is done overnight - to do something now for our students who are going into post-secondary institutions in September. I am telling you, we have three problems: the problem with overcrowding, the problem with not enough courses being offered - the proper courses - and the problem with obtaining a student loan.

Mr. Speaker, in the Corner Brook area on the west coast of the Province I would be remiss if I did not speak and talk a little bit about the Grenfell College. Another platform in the so-called policy of 1989 pertaining to universities in the Province was the expansion of the Grenfell College in Corner Brook to be a degree granting institution with third and fourth courses at least. This has not been done. There has not been an effort made to have this expansion done in Corner Brook and that is costly, very costly in a few ways, a couple of which I will mention. The fact that St. John's Memorial University is overcrowded anyway, and the fact that people from the west coast of Labrador, the northern peninsula, and so on have to come to St. John's anyway after their second year in Corner Brook if they are going to further their courses, or else leave the Province and go to a mainland university and so on, it is becoming harder and harder every day to send them.

They cannot accommodate them in here for courses, they cannot accommodate them for residences. There were suppose to be 650-odd students in the Grenfell College in Corner Brook but today I think there is 1179 in the Corner Brook campus. It is a watered-down system. I do not care what Dr. May says, I do not care what the professors say in Corner Brook, it is a watered-down system, and for this reason when a student goes to university they do not all have their minds made up as to what they are going to do so they will probably take general courses. My advice to students all the time, including my own, is to take courses so that when they do make up their mind they will be able to do whatever they want to do. Take mainly the science and math courses, at least in the first year or two, and then if you want to switch to something you at least have the basis for making that start on a particular career.

In Corner Brook last fall it was terrible. Last fall when the second year students registered in Corner Brook they registered in alphabetical order. What do they do when it comes three or four o'clock in the evening on the last day of registration and you are down in the Ws, for instance? What do you get? There is absolutely, nothing left. The second hour of the first day of registration for first year students, gone, seventy-five left over out of one class and there is absolutely no way to accommodate them. This leads to a watered-down system. The students are taking courses they do not want to take, but the other side of it is this, and it is sad, because parents are struggling to try to get enough money to help the student go to university and they are taking courses that are of no benefit to them and in seventy-five per cent of the cases parents do not know the difference.

Because the student is in university, because he is taking psychology, history, geography, or whatever it is, they figure it is a wonderful thing. My daughter or my son is going to university, they are taking their five courses, big deal. If you let the students alone, especially when they get out of high school for the first year or two, no matter what they are offered in that university they are going to take and that is what is happening. I saw it last year in Corner Brook and the year before in Corner Brook. The parent is getting shortchanged and the student is getting shortchanged through no fault of their own, ending up, as far as I am concerned, with a watered-down system.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of talk lately about the federal government and what they are going to do to the Student Loan Program. In fact one of the headlines was: Student loans up for grabs. Ottawa solicits bids from financial institutions to take it over. Ottawa, Mr. Speaker, had better be careful. When you start handing student loans over to financial institutions in this country, especially under some of the proposals they have asked for, to me the red flag is up, because, I think 5.2 per cent of the student loans in Canada today are delinquent - 5.2 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: It is higher?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Well it could be, but they say they have averaged a 5.2 per cent in outstanding loans - slightly more than twice the average consumer loan write-off. So it says here 5.2 per cent. I do not know, but that is the average. It could be 30 per cent now, that is right.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I say to the feds, and I will be saying more about this over the next few months because of a leadership convention and so on, I think the time is right for members opposite to get something, and to get requests in to leadership candidates and get them put on the record.

The hon. member said that he was talking to his federal leader last week. More power to him. Get him to put on the record what they are going to do for students and student loans. I will be doing it as a member of this caucus, with the people responsible federally and also with regard to our own caucus.

Mr. Speaker, the federal government, as far as I am concerned, should be very cautious on what they are doing with the student loan program. The major banks in this country are going to grab it. They are going to make proposals. They are going to grab it, no problem, because once they get the student in their grasp, it is like the finance companies in this Province, once they get them in the 23, 24, and 25 per cent, now get me out. You are on the hook, and they will get you.

I was reading an article in The Globe and Mail last week about a woman from Toronto, one of the reporters, on her student loan program, once she got into it how easy it was to go on and get the student loans, but when the day of reckoning came on the paybacks it was a different tune. The collection agencies hounded her day and night, and the financial institutions in this country are going to have no sympathy - absolutely none - for anybody who comes out of university today.

Today where do they go when they come out of university? They sit back and wait and hope and pray that they will get something to do. That is all. They can put in all the resumes they like today in this country and there is absolutely no chance for something to do.

In this article it says that $7.6 billion has been loaned out to students over the history of the program. Four to five billion will be loaned out over the next five years. It is going to be a five year contract. That is what they are proposing. Now a five year contract at a 5 per cent risk premium, and the financial institutions have already said that this 5 per cent risk premium is too low and in several cases the proposals may be designed less to win a contract than to avoid getting labelled as anti-student. So they are going to take it; they are going to grab it, but God help the students after, as far as I am concerned, because they can dictate, regardless. You are talking about charging levels of one or two above prime - 1.2 above prime.

Now one of the people who have been against this so far has been a member of the Canadian Federation of Students, and some of their concerns - and I will just quote one - if a single bank has control over the program, will it start making judgement calls on who is eligible for loans, and on what it considers marketable types of degrees, and on who are good risks?

It will be just the same as you or I going to the bank and looking for a loan. If we want $50,000 show me and give me $100,000 worth of collateral and you can have your fifty.

AN HON. MEMBER: And the poor will suffer more.

MR. WOODFORD: And the poor will suffer more.

So I say to members opposite, and I say to the federal government, now is the time to contact the federal government and make sure of whatever they are planning - because it may be too late in a month or two months; we may have to change complete legislation - and express your concerns pertaining to the Student Loan Program, because to me it is wrong, and any further increase in tuition fees in this Province, especially today, the way the economy is in the Province and in the country as a whole, as far as I am concerned, is going to be detrimental to post-secondary students in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak in this debate on the resolution presented by the Member for Ferryland. I was looking at the 'whereas.' "WHEREAS the attainment of higher education is fundamental to the future prosperity of our Province." I read it very carefully because for the first time in a long time the hon. member got something right. The hon. member brings all kinds of information to this House of Assembly and when you check into it you see that he's not always right on the nail. I say that with some proof.

In his speech today he referred to an argument he had with me last fall about changes to student aid, where this government started to ask the Student Loans division to consider income from Canada Pension, disability income, as income. The hon. member got up and said: this is the only province in all of Canada to make that change this year. He was right. We were the only province in Canada to make that change this year. What the hon. member did not say was that every other province in this great nation of ours has been doing it for the past ten years. So that hon. member is great at bringing half-truths into this House.

He got up, I believe it was yesterday, and he said: the student aid portion, the grant portion provided by the Province, has not been raised in this Province for ten years. No increase in the grant for ten years. He's absolutely right. There was a period between 1980 and 1990 when there was no increase. What he did not say though was that in the year 1990, when my colleague for St. John's North was minister, student aid, the grant portion provided by the poor Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, rose from $1,000 per semester for a single person to $1,120 per person per semester. For married couples or for single parents it was raised from $1,250 to $1,600 per semester. So the hon. member was right when he said it hadn't been raised in ten years but he failed to tell the second part of the statement where it was raised in 1990.

Now the hon. member is at it again. He says we have the lowest rate of students in Canada involved in post-secondary. Thirty-five per cent of the students who did Grade XII last year, the year before, and the year before that again, are attending universities. Thirty per cent in Newfoundland, 5 per cent in other universities across the country. The second-highest rate of participation in the whole nation. The second-highest rate and a close second to PEI. PEI has a slightly higher number than we do.

So I am totally surprised when I read this 'whereas' and see that the hon. member got something right. "WHEREAS the attainment of higher education is fundamental to the future prosperity of our Province." He's right. He's totally in agreement with the very issues that this administration fought the last election on. We picked three areas: education, health and development. We said: these are the areas that we are going to emphasize. If anyone were to look at our Budgets down through the years and to see where we have placed our emphasis it can be seen that we have placed our emphasis on education, on health and on development.

We are putting this year almost 25 per cent of our Budget into education. Very few of the provinces across the nation - I believe some - spend more of their overall budget on education than we do. So education, there is no doubt whatsoever when the hon. member says it is important, it is "fundamental to the future prosperity of our Province," I have to agree with him. He is saying that, Mr. Speaker, when you recognize that we have somewhere in the vicinity of 40 per cent of our people who are functionally illiterate, we are probably going to miss one of the best opportunities we have had in the last 400 years to tackle the problem of illiteracy in this Province. Part of this cod moratorium was to provide an educational program for our people, in excess of $300 million has been set aside to deal with the illiteracy problem. Mr. Speaker, up until now, there has been less money spent on illiteracy by federal government programs this year, than there has been in either of the last three years. So, we are missing a golden opportunity and there are various reasons but I could tell hon. members of this House, that the fault does not lie with this Province. The fault lies somewhere else and someday someone is going to get up and say where it is.

Even so, when we talk about the chance we have now to provide some education, we discover that 70 per cent of the people who are involved in the fishery are illiterate. Seventy per cent, Mr. Speaker, need some level of adult basic education. You hear all kinds of arguments as to why they should not do it and the most common argument that you hear people say is: why should I go and take a year or two and get some education, there is no job, what is the point? What is the point? I hear my constituents say that and I hear people say it. For anyone to say that, shows a lack of understanding of what education is because I can tell people, Mr. Speaker, that if any company is about to start a branch somewhere in Newfoundland, they will be encouraged to do that a lot more if they know we have an educated citizenry who can go and take part in the work of that company. Any small businessman in this Province who wants to expand his business and take part in the restructured economy of the year 2000 will be able to do it much better if he has a potential workforce which is educated. So, when people say what is the use, I say to them they should stop and think because any chances we have to survive in the restructured economy of the 21st Century, any chance that we have will be tied to education.

Now, the Opposition's approach, the Opposition, recognizing that the attainment of a higher education is fundamental to the future prosperity of the Province, their approach, Mr. Speaker, is tunnel vision. Here is the big statement, education is so important, 70 per cent of the people involved in the fishery need some sort of adult basic education, 40 odd per cent of our people are illiterate, functionally illiterate, you can go on and on. We have the worst of almost everything as far as educational attainment in this country. What is the Opposition's approach? Give the university more money so they will not have to increase tuition fees. Now, Mr. Speaker, did you ever see a more narrow-minded answer to an exceptionally difficult problem? What a narrow-minded approach. Take more money, give it to Memorial University and that is going to solve this problem.

The attainment of higher education is fundamental to the future of our Province, Mr. Speaker. I will tell hon. members to look at the big picture, education at Memorial University, yes, is a fundamental part of education for our people but it is not the only part of education for our people, Mr. Speaker. What about our secondary system, from K to 12, in which we are just embarking on reforms, the like of which have never been seen before in the history of this Province? No, the hon. members opposite are not concerned about that. Their approach is: give Memorial University more money, ignore the secondary system in this Province. What about distance education? In the Budget this year, despite the hardship, we recognized what is happening to declining enrollment in this Province. In the year 1983, Mr. Speaker, there were 148,000 students enrolled in our day school system from K to 12, in 1983 there were 148,000, today there are 121,000, by the year 2000 there will be less than 100,000 students. Now how are we going to cope with that? One of the ways, but not the only one, is to develop technology, distance education, so that we can make education available to people who live in Croque and who live in St. Julien's and who live in Red Bay.

Last fall, Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of visiting a community called St. Lunaire in my district, and I sat in a class with four students who were doing advanced math. The teacher was in Carmanville, she was using the most advanced technology available today. The signal from her computer was patched into the Health Science Centre here in St. John's, from there it went to Croque, Cook's Harbour, Conche and St. Lunaire. I sat for one hour in that class and I witnessed teaching, Mr. Speaker, which was better than those four students could have had in any big school in our Province today. It was tops, Mr. Speaker.

The Opposition says the attainment of higher education is fundamental. What is their solution? Give Memorial University more money. What about distance education, what about all the other parts of education, Mr. Speaker, what about the apprenticeship program? We are engaged right now in an apprenticeship program where we are training our people for other than just purely an academic education? What about continuing education? The hon. member opposite talks as if all we have to do is give Memorial University a few more dollars and whamo, everybody becomes educated just like that, but, Mr. Speaker, that is a narrow-minded, too-focused approach for us to even talk about, we have to look at the whole picture within the education gambit, we cannot confine ourselves to just one little part of that.

Now, I am sure members opposite and members on this side of the House, myself included, could put forward a good argument for free tuition for all of our people involved in Memorial University, involved or engaged in the college system, we could put forward a reasonable argument for free tuition for everybody. As a matter of fact, under a previous administration you did have free tuition in this Province, and when you consider - what is the cost to go to university, about $10,000.?

AN HON. MEMBER: At least, yes.

MR. DECKER: About $10,000. Well, the people of the Province are paying 82 per cent of that cost right now. You could logically say if a person who lives up in St. Anthony is paying $8,200 towards someone's education, then his or her son or daughter should be entitled to the whole thing for nothing else. That argument could be put forward, but I believe the proper way to do it, Mr. Speaker, is not to make it totally free - free education available. There is no doubt that society as a whole benefits from an educated population, there is no doubt about that but there is also no doubt that the person who receives the education also benefits from it, more so than society as a whole. He or she benefits from it to tie in with this motion today, for future prosperity.

An educated person is more likely to get a job than a person who is illiterate, that can pretty well be substantiated, but in addition to his ability to get a job, we also have to recognize the place of education for its own sake, Mr. Speaker, education for its own sake. All too often we become so pragmatic with getting out and getting jobs, these things are important, but we cannot sweep the concept of an education for its own sake under the bed either, we have to look at that, so maybe, free tuition should be available to every person in the Province. I do not think that would be the proper way because we have to recognize that education belongs, it is a benefit to society as a whole but it is also a benefit to the individual. The Opposition says, the way we can solve this problem is to give more money to Memorial University.

Now, Mr. Speaker, supposing we were to accept this motion today, supposing we were to give Memorial more money so that they could freeze tuition. We do not have the authority to say to Memorial: freeze your tuition or lower your tuition. We do not have the authority to say to Memorial: cap your enrollment or not to cap your enrollment. Sure we can encourage them but we do not have the right. Surely goodness, hon. members are aware of the concept of academic freedom, they are aware of the rights of universities to be masters of their own houses. Supposing we were to listen to what the hon. Opposition is talking about today, and interfered with our university to the extent that we would say: Dr. May, here are fifty people here, they are good young Liberals, worked on Dr. Warren's campaign, worked on Dr. Gibbons' campaign, on Dr. Kitchen's campaign. Now, Dr. May, we would like for you to give those guys a Master of Science Degree. That's a good degree, a good degree. The hon. members opposite rightly so would be criticizing us for interfering in the working of the University and we would not deserve to be governing today. We don't have that kind of leeway nor are we going to go along with it.

The Opposition says: "WHEREAS the attainment of higher education is fundamental to the future prosperity of our Province," give Memorial more money. I suppose we could. What's the Budget this year? The total Budget this year is almost $3.5 billion. You include current account, capital account. I suppose if we were to follow the logic put forward by the Opposition we could take all that $3.5 billion and we could march down Elizabeth Avenue and pass it all in to Dr. May. Say: now, sir, we're totally committed to education. We know how important it is going to be in the 21st century. Here's $3.5 billion. Every cent we have, you can have it all.

Now we're going to need a road to get down to MUN with that money. We're going to need some roads in the Province to bring people from St. Anthony so they can attend the University. We're going to need a road so people come from Burgeo to attend the University. So we immediately have to deduct a little bit from that $3.5 billion so that we can clear the snow off the roads and build a few roads.

I suppose I could take the advice of the hon. members and carry the $3.5 billion down to the University and say: take it all. But what about the environment? Are we going to let the environment get totally out of our hand, not going to do anything about PCBs? Not going to do anything to clean up the environment? Maybe we should have the odd hospital. Or would hon. members take all the money, give it all to Memorial University, and close a lot of hospitals?

What about social services? Can we say to people: you're no longer allowed to go on social services? Is that what the hon. member wants us to do?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Come on now. The police force. All those people going around in those silly uniforms. Maybe we don't need them either. You see, Mr. Speaker, here's the problem we have today. Here's the problem we have with the Opposition. That's why they're sitting over there instead of over here. See, they are incapable of seeing the big picture. It's so easy when you sit in opposition to pick one little point and zero in on that point at the cost of all others. It's so easy to pick one thing, say: nothing else matters. Take $3.5 billion and spend it here. So easy to do that when you're in opposition.

When you sit in government you don't have that luxury. Because there are people who are sick, there are people who have to go on social services, there is a problem with the environment, we do need some roads. It is the responsibility of the government to make judgement calls. The judgement that we have to call is this: we have to provide some education for our people, yes, but we also have to look after them when they're sick. We also have to look after them when they've lost their job and their unemployment insurance has run out and they have no other income. We also have the responsibility of keeping our roads open. We have to make a judgement call. Which will we do?

We can't do everything. We cannot be all things to all people, even if want to. We have a finite Budget of $3.5 billion. Believe you me, Sir, we've gone as close to the edge as we can possibly go. We have $3.5 billion and we have to call a judgement as to where we're going to spend it. Hon. members opposite can be assured that when we take 25 per cent of that money and put it into some aspect of education, I'm not ashamed. I can hold my head high with any administration we've ever had in this Province, certainly in my lifetime. I can hold my head up and say that we are making contributions to education more than have ever been made, certainly, in the past seventeen years - I can guarantee hon. members opposite that. But we have to see the big picture.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. DECKER: We have to see the big picture, Mr. Speaker, and as much as I agree with the 'Whereas', I totally disagree with the silly, narrow-minded approach that the Opposition puts forward to deal with what essentially is a serious, major problem.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

It is no wonder that there is such a great concern in the Province today about where we are going in education, when you listen to the person who is supposed to be directing the educational process in the Province. The idiotic address that we just listened to - anybody at all listening to a minister get on with a pile of garbage like that shows how much interest he really has. He is making a sham of the whole educational institution in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to draw your attention to the resolution as it is written, because it is a very basic, sensible, sound resolution: "WHEREAS the attainment of higher education is fundamental to the future prosperity of the Province - no argument from anybody - BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador take the necessary steps to provide adequate funding to Memorial University to ensure that tuition fees are not increased during the 1993-'94 fiscal year."

Now, 'adequate' funding: We are not talking about all the funding. We are not talking about the $3.5 billion that the member talked about. We are talking about adequate funding to maintain the level of education at the University that it has achieved in the past, without having to put an extra burden on the students.

Why do we ask this, Mr. Speaker? - just to make some political points or embarrass the government? No. First of all, I don't think it should embarrass the government, because, with their $3.5 billion Budget they should be able to provide adequate funding to the University.

As you travel around the Province these days, there is a concern expressed by people, a concern they have grown accustomed to because of the deception by the government. When you talk about the lack of work that has been done by this present government, the response is generally: 'Well, what do you expect? They don't have any money.' And if you interviewed most of the people today in this Province, they will tell you that their understanding is that the Province has absolutely no money. They can't do what they did last year, they can't do what they did the year before, they can't do what we did in 1988, 1987, 1986 and so on, when real progress took place. They don't expect it of this government, not because they are incapable of delivering, which is the truth, but because they have no money.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I challenge anybody to pick up the Budget of 1992-'93, 1991-'92, 1990-'91 and go on backwards, and what you will find is that the government of this day, the present government, have just as much money as they had last year, just as much money as they had the year before, and just as much money as the year before that, in fact, more money. The Budget each year grows and grows and grows. So, when you look at the fact that you have at least as much money in your Budget, how can you turn around and say: 'We have to cut, cut, cut, because we have no money'? We have to cut, cut, cut, because we are spending our money in the wrong directions.

Mr. Speaker, when you realize that we don't have less money than we had before, and when we talk about the federal money coming into the Province, that is where the real sham takes place. The members stand up and say: "Talk to your cousins in Ottawa." "Call 'Kim'," as the former Minister of Education was saying. Call 'Kim' and tell her about the desperate state of our education system. I ask them truthfully to examine the Budget, to examine the accounts of the Province, and ask how many dollars are there that are of a federal nature. Where would the Province be today without the money that is coming in through the fisheries programs? What about the spin-off of that, that is coming directly into provincial coffers? What about the transfer payments? They say they are cutting, cutting, cutting transfer payments. Tell the truth. Transfer payments aren't being cut significantly. The rate of growth is being cut but it doesn't mean that you are getting fewer dollars. Compare your Budget and you will see, one year with another, one glitch with another, that the dollars are relatively constant, and if you build in the other federal dollars that are coming in through the roads program, through the fisheries program, and so on, there are many, many more federal dollars coming into this Province today than came back when we were in power prior to 1989.

So, Mr. Speaker, the financial facts they are trying to perpetrate upon the people of this Province are completely false, as are most of the other stories that come from the other side. Maybe it is time they told the truth about the financial situation, that we are no worse off today than we were last year. We are better off today than we were in 1989. How come, then, we have to take so many cuts? The simple answer is complete and utter mismanagement, and complete and utter disregard of the real priorities in this Province, including the educational system.

When the former Minister of Education was speaking, he made a couple of remarks that are extremely interesting. He talked about children of parents who are wealthy having a better chance to go to university. That is so true and so unfortunate to a large degree - not unfortunate that they can go to university, it is great for them to have a chance, but it is unfortunate for us to have to say that unless you are a child of a well-to-do parent, then you have a lesser chance of getting the opportunity to go to university. Mr. Speaker, if that is the case, then perhaps we should analyze why it is? I am sure it would be true if we did a survey that more students of wealthier parents attend university than students of poor parents. Where does it start? Is it simply because when they finish school, when the time comes to go to university and pay the tuition fees, is it the tuition fee that is preventing the child from going to university? To some degree, that might be the case, $2,000, $3,000 or $4,000, whatever the case might be. We are not just talking about tuition. We have to talk about board, talk about transportation, living away from home and all of that. These are factors. If the parents are wealthy where they can just write the cheque and give it to Johnny, then there is no problem, but the point is, if the parents are not wealthy, just the fact that the tuition fees are high, I am sure is a detriment, and consequently that is why, when we look at a resolution such as this, we have to think of children like that.

I also think there is another reason, and I think it goes back further than the day Johnny goes to university. It goes back to the expectation, and that can go way back to the education of the parents, the area in which they grow up and all of that, but it also goes back to the fact that many of our children coming up through the primary, elementary and high school process do not have the necessary preparation, either psychologically or educationally in other regards to zero in on a future and to head off for university. Many of them, because of a lack of, perhaps home support or proper schooling - we can't say all our schools are equal throughout the Province, all our teachers are equal, and every child has an equal opportunity, that is completely and utterly false.

As each home environment is different, each school environment is also different. We have good school environments and we have bad school environments. We have good teachers and we have bad teachers, and I would suggest that every one of us here have gone through schools - as good as the schools might be - but we have had teachers in the past who have done very little to encourage us to pursue our educational concerns. We have also run across, sometimes in unique and far away places, some excellent teachers who have taken children who ordinarily would have very little opportunities and brought them right to the fore simply because of the dedication and abilities of the teacher concerned. These are extremely important things. This draws attention to an issue we have been dealing with the last few days. That is why, if we lose the children at an early age, their opportunity to go to university, whether or not the parent is rich, is inhibited considerably if they don't get that proper foundation in the early school days or even in the preschool days.

We hear concerns the last few days about the Day Break Centre, where we have examples given of a number of children who, for once in their lives, are getting a break. The children are getting a break simply because of proper guidance and assistance through such centres as the Day Break Centre. These children who are receiving that opportunity are perhaps being put on a path in life which will enable them to be extremely successful as they progress through the educational process. Without that assistance, these children, like many more who don't get the proper direction at the specific times in life when they need such direction, may end up being a drag on society rather than a strong, contributing force to the economy of the Province.

So, when we look at little things like the Day Break Centre, we just cannot slough it aside. It might be one. It might be unfair to say: 'Oh, we have one in St. John's; we don't have one anywhere else.' A start is a start, a pilot project is a pilot project, and an example is an example. If it can work in St. John's it can work in other areas; and if it is extremely costly and we cannot afford a lot of them, maybe there are ways to operate such assistance programs without having to put a lot of money in there - if we know that such programs work.

I am sort of getting away from the topic, but I think it leads up to the whole topic we are dealing with here, and that is the success of our children in relation to university education. So, Mr. Speaker, tuition and tuition fees certainly play an extremely important part.

The former minister also, when he was speaking, talked about the rate growth, and he talked about times in the past when tuition fees increased by large amounts. He talked about 10 per cent back in 1978 and whatever, but let me say to the hon. gentleman that 10 per cent of $300 is a lot less than 10 per cent of $3,000, and we have to keep that in mind, too, that large percentage increases on small amounts don't place the same burden as similar increases on large amounts.

We have to look at the fact that our children today, many of them -those of rich parents don't have a thing to worry about when it comes to the money side of it. But, for those of mediocre income families or low-income families, every extra dollar of cost is a deterrent for those children to go on to higher education.

If children today cannot get into the post-secondary, the chances of employment are very slight. Records will show that if we look at the employment statistics, if you have a university degree, you have a much better chance of employment than anyone else. If you have some university education, you have a better chance of employment than others. If you have post-secondary education in some other field - trade schools or whatever - you have a better chance than those with just high school; high school, of course, a better chance than those with no high school education and so on; but in this competitive day and age, without some post-secondary education, your chances at real employment are slim - I won't say non-existent, but slim - and the more education you have, the better your chances are at good employment.

So, Mr. Speaker, government, and we, as people who make laws and rules, we, as a Legislature, we, as leaders in the Province, should try to make sure that every single opportunity is given to every child in this Province to obtain a good education.

The present minister, when he spoke, said we cannot neglect the primary, elementary and secondary. I wish somebody had reminded him before he brought down his Budget because they are starting to neglect the primary, elementary and secondary education side of it - school construction cut from $27 million down to $12 million. Here we are trying to encourage consolidation among the different religious factions out there. We are trying to encourage a better educational system, more aids in the classroom, more assistance.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Let me say to the Minister of Finance, the author of the misfortunes of the people in the educational field, that they only wish we were back. He doesn't even have to ask me. All the minister has to do is turn to his right, look past the Minister of Health and talk to the former President of the NTA, who never had it as good when I was the Minister of Education. I took him all around the world, I gave him everything they wanted, we signed the first contract that was ever signed before the old one ran out, but we certainly did not give away the shop, we did not give them half of what they looked for but we gave them what satisfied them and we had within the Province at that time the best educational system that this Province has ever seen. Since then, Mr. Speaker - I am digressing again - but it has gone rapidly downhill. We cannot continue to cut.

This government, when they came into power, leading up to the election of 1989, almost every time you picked up a paper, especially the papers out around the Province, the Robinson-Blackmore papers, you had pictures of the Premier who jumped on the educational bandwagon, who was out espousing policies written for him by people over in the NTA office, who were not satisfied with what they were getting, even though they were doing better than they had ever done, even though small school programs had been brought in, even though equalization had been started, even though their pension, thirty and out had been developed for them, and on and on and on, school construction money had been increased, the debt of school boards had been addressed and everybody was starting to see that progress was being made in education.

But still, the NTA, the great NTA led by the former President, now Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and his successor in that role, the Minister of Environment and Lands in particular - the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, to give him his due certainly was not very critical, I must say the gentleman, when he was in the position worked fairly well and did not complain all that much, he was satisfied with the relationship and with the progress that was being made, but the President who came after him, who really I suppose availed of the good work done by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, who really received the goodies from government, was never ever satisfied and every time you turned on the radio, she would be nailing government because they were doing very little for education.

And the pin that everybody was wearing, you know a 'fair share,' a 'fair share.' The Premier jumped on the bandwagon and the Liberals jumped on the bandwagon and everybody was talking about educational funding, promising universities. Where is the university in central Newfoundland? Where are all the other universities? Where is the expansion of the Fisher Institute and so on and so on and so on? Where are all the educational promises made by the Liberals? They are non-existent. They have dissipated, they can say no money but as we said earlier, they have just as much money as they had in the past.

Mr. Speaker, they have let the educational field in this Province down, they have let teachers down as well as the leadership of the NTA has let teachers down, they have demonstrated that they have no concern for education, they have taken the progress that was made in the past and they have whittled away at that to the point where we are in a crisis state in the Province, a state of uncertainty. Teachers do not know what is going to happen to them, the DECs do not know where they are going, they are being told one thing by the Premier, the Minister of Education is espousing something else and everybody is extremely concerned. Now we have a university, a credit to the Province, a credit to the country, but one also that is extremely concerned about direction. We have amalgamated it with the Marine Institute, a world-class organization that should have stood on its own. Now the people there do not know where they are, where they are going, to whom they are responsible, a complete lack of direction in educational circles, and worse still, we are starting to tighten the squeeze on people who are entering our post-secondary system and fewer and fewer will be able to take advantage of the university education.

The Minister of Social Services today, talked about the increase in his workload. More people on social assistance in this Province than ever before, wait until the package runs out, I say to him. Wait until people cannot find work, wait until we cannot get people into post-secondary institutions, then, when they all start falling back on social services rolls, what kind of a province are we going to have? We have a chance to come out of that somewhere down the line if we educate our people. We must start in the pre-school, we must go through a solid primary elementary and secondary sector and then we must assure that every child who is capable, should have the opportunity to obtain a good, solid post-secondary education. The former Minister of Education believed that and tried to do his best, consequently he is where he is today, because he had no support at all from the Premier and government. That is unfortunate because the day will come -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEARN: - and the minister's memoirs will realize what this government is doing for education in the Province.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to acknowledge some of the comments made by the former Minister of Education. I must say he made a lot more sense than the current Minister of Education, even though I did not agree with all the points. He did mention, and I alluded to it in the House before, that we are living in an age where there is a movement from resource based industries. Of course we cannot fail to recognize the importance they have played and to continue to try to expand and to diversify those resource based industries in this Province. There is some room for potential in those resource based industries. We do not write them off, when especially in the fishery, there is a great potential to expand and to be able to maintain a significant percent of the employment levels within that specific industry.

Other industries have resource bases and may have a little more limited room for growth or potential but there is still room there to be able to expand that. Today with the world economy we are moving into a focus upon human capabilities and education is a main focus. Nations in the world that are able to compete and are successful in this, are going to be the most successful economies in the world today. If Canada is going to maintain its standing within the world economy it has to increase its focus and its emphasis here in competing on human capabilities. On a provincial basis that is very important. The provincial economies who have done that and succeeded, like British Columbia, are prospering much more so than those who have failed to recognize this area for potential development.

Now, it has been mentioned by the current minister that this Province puts more into education than any other province. Well it is good to look at a percent and say we put a specific percent into education. This Province does not put as much money into education per capita as other provinces across this Country. We are at the low end of the continuum per capita funding. If this Province lags behind the rest of the country in levels of educational attainment it needs to put more money per capita into education. It is only proper that the percent should be higher, it should be disproportionate. In other words we have to have inequality of funding if we are going to get equality of educational opportunity and equality of level. The former minister did allude to some specific areas. I agree that distance education is important but the nature today of our resolution is to focus upon Memorial University as an institution to provide opportunities at a reasonable cost.

Enrollment levels at Memorial also have changed somewhat, back in 1988-89 there were 16,307 students at Memorial University. Prior to this year 1992, based upon the end of the 1992 year, there were 17,635 students for an increase of an 8 per cent enrollment at Memorial over that four year period. Now during the same time that we had an 8 per cent increase in student population at MUN, we also had a 46 per cent increase in tuition fees at MUN. This government has tightened the strings and the flexibility of the current administration at MUN to be able to achieve what they want to in lines of their objectives. As mentioned too, I did not criticize, as the Minister of Education said, Memorial University and their president and their ability and so on to be able to balance a budget strictly on the backs of students on tuition fees. I criticize the government for taking away the mechanisms to be able to achieve these things.

The current government has not put the resources there. I have the greatest confidence in the administration of Memorial University to live within expectations of a budget. They have done it quite well in the past and I am quite confident that they will continue to do it in the future. The biggest problem we have is the resources that are made available by this government to Memorial University.

Mr. Speaker, I also did not say that there are lower numbers of students and less percentage wise attending Memorial University than elsewhere in this country. I indicated less in post-secondary institutions across this country - not at Memorial University - and one of the reasons why Memorial University does have a high percentage - a very high percentage -

AN HON. MEMBER: You made a mistake.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, read Hansard and you will see that I did not make a mistake.

One of the reasons why they have a higher percentage attending Memorial University is because they cannot get into other post-secondary institutions and they go to Memorial University rather than stay at home. I know many students figured that a year at Memorial University is not a year wasted.

With the long waiting lists getting into Cabot and various other institutions, it is almost practically impossible. There are two and three and four year waiting lists for courses. People want an opportunity to go there so the number at Memorial University who are attending percentage wise is inflated and is not really a realistic number of the people who intend to seek degree programs.

That is one of the reasons why it was mentioned in the House previously that only one in ten people who have an average in high school of less than 70 per cent actually end up getting a degree. That is because all people in that category do not aspire to get a degree from Memorial University. It is a stepping stone. They are buying time, or waiting to get into a specific course that they would like to attend. I guess after attending, and finding the frustrations of being able to finance a university education, a lot of people become discouraged and they lose hope. I think that is one of the reasons why we have a higher number of students attending and we do not have as high a graduating rate in terms of the percent that register there at Memorial University.

Also, in reference to privatizing our student aid, and chartered banks bidding for that right. I guess people became concerned with the Globe and Mail article that indicated that banks are going to take over the lending of student loans. Ottawa would still set the interest rates, that article indicated, for the program, at prime or prime plus two percentage points, depending on the type of loan.

I did write federal ministers, and I did it last summer, and I continue it, and again in January of this year.


MR. SULLIVAN: I didn't call Kim. After June everybody'll be calling Kim, and so on. Kim is doing quite well on her own without getting any other support. Jean Chretien is giving her all the support she can possibly need in that.

AN HON. MEMBER: The same as your leader is doing for us!

MR. SULLIVAN: The time is yet to come. The time is almost now. With reference to privatizing student loans, in a letter from the minister, I'd just like to mention a few points. They're carrying on negotiations with the banks. If they're successful, and I have every reason to believe that they may be, it's expected a new arrangement will provide scope to eliminate the 3 per cent guarantee that's now used in the administration of a loan.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much did the banks give the Tory Party last year?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. SULLIVAN: They're doing a lot better job of balancing their books than this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It goes on to (Inaudible) that this will be able to increase the flexibility to increase limits on loans for needy students. We all know that the loans should be increased. Not at the standards of 1984-1985, it's time to have it changed.

They also state a commitment to a student loan program which allows borrowers access to funds with reasonable cost and repayment terms. In spite of what people think with banks taking over student loans, the government will continue to bear the risks and costs of loans while students are in school. However, they believe that once a student graduates and who is six months out, it is not a factor then of providing funding for their education, it's a matter of a recovery on loans that have been negotiated and given to students.

I am more concerned with the provision of the opportunities for people to avail of student loans to get an education than with the specifics and so on of paying back student loans later. A loan is exactly what it is intended to say. It's a loan. The students have an expectation to pay it back. What students need is access to higher borrowing levels to be able to finance increasing costs of an education today in a Province where education should be a number one priority. It should be a higher percent of our provincial Budget because we need dollars in education more than we need it in certain other basic services in this Province.

In provinces that have higher education levels they may wish to allocate a lower percentage of their budget but still all other provinces are allocating higher per capita amounts than this Province. It may not be percentage amounts but they are allocating higher per capita amounts to education. It is the dollars that you spend that get results in education. It is directly related to the opportunities and to the education levels that people can attain.

This goes on from the federal minister to indicate that individuals who are unemployed by reason of inability or cannot find employment, up to six months after they will continue to apply for assistance under interest relief, so they are not striking away that opportunity for people who are not in the position immediately after graduating where they cannot obtain work and repay it. They will continue to look at funding over ten academic years. The Canada Student Loan Program is intended to carry for ten academic years and not to cut short a program in a matter of a few years. Also, they are examining the possibility of providing funding to students who have certain disabilities and need extra funds in order to be able to pursue and attain higher educational levels.

One specific area, I think, of great concern is in the processing of student loans. Numerous references have been made in the past by the former Minister of Education. He said we must improve the Student Aid Program and goes on to tell how they are going to improve speeding up the processing of applications. In 1989 they implemented from the previous administration automatic computer processing. It went on and said, this will do wonders in speeding up the processing of appeals and so on and the processing of applications.

Mr. Speaker, the Student Aid Program in the processing of applications has to be one of the most atrocious in this country. This government in December of this year had people appearing before appeals over on the floor of the Education Department alone trying to process claims before Christmas. It was in December when they finished claims. Students were going to the Department of Education in addition to the normal appeals process trying to put through claims to see how much money they were going to get for the three or four months just past.

One specific student I spoke with, and I spoke with dozens and dozens of students - in fact one student was in tears and would not be able to continue because they indicated her parents made more money the previous year than they should have, and they overpaid that particular person and she could not get any more funding through the Canada Student Loan Program until all the arrears were paid on the overpayment. If that was carried as a loan to be repaid in the future it would be one matter, but this person was denied an opportunity to be able to continue university because they understated parental income in one year, which was substantiated by Revenue Canada forms in the following year.

Mr. Speaker, I have been twenty years dealing with students and discussing with students their specific needs, and assisting them in completing forms and applications and applying for student loans before it became as computerized as it is today, and there is a very real need out there among students. Students are now going through university, having great difficulty in coping with a workload at university, and at the same time fully - almost possessed with trying to find out whether the dollars are going to be there to finance their education. It is unfortunate when a semester at university is finished, when the student finds out the level of funding they are to receive.

It is difficult enough concentrating on trying to achieve a degree at university without having to worry about the financing, so it is imperative, I think, upon this government to not cut back on funding to Memorial University, as they have indicated. They are going to provide in operating grants to Memorial University this year, they have indicated, $6 million less in operating grants this year than they did last year - to Memorial University - with an increased student population. They are going to cut back $5.5 million in capital funding to Memorial University, and Grenfell College with almost a double capacity, bursting open at the seams, and students having to come to university here to seek degree programs when a promise was made five budgets ago to be able to provide that on the west coast of the Province.

They have not delivered in five budgets, and how many really think they are going to live up to it and do it in budget number six or budget number seven? It was just like the Strategic Economic Plan. It is a plan. A plan, without a plan to execute and put in place, without the resources, is a waste of funds in preparing a plan. A plan should have a planning stage, the drawing up of a plan. It should have resources for implementation of the plan, and it should have a follow-up to be able to determine if you have achieved that specific plan. This government has not got by the planning stage. They have not even got to the stage of implementing many important things that they have identified.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has talked around, rambled around almost every topic under the education system, avoiding and steering a very wide course away from the real resolution on the floor today. The resolution is very simple. Everybody agrees that it is important to increase our education levels. I think it is very important, too, not to reduce funding when costs are increasing. There are real dollars less in post-secondary funding for Memorial this year than there were last year. There is an extra $11.5 million less in operating and capital funding for Memorial, with more students, and the need is greater today than ever before in trying to improve the education levels of our students.

This government talks about percentage of a budget. It is only in very relative terms. We have to start talking in more concrete terms if we are going to hope to achieve any results. We have to educate people even if the job market is not there today. Successful economies, provincially, nationally, and on the world scene, are ones that can plan ahead and have the people ready to take the jobs when they become available. You don't create the jobs and then look for people to fill jobs. You have to have people moving in unison to be able to fill the job market that is there. This Province hasn't done a very good job in developing a proper job market there. They have done an equally poor job, I guess, they certainly parallelled that, by not providing the funding that is needed to be able to have people focus upon the real job opportunities in the future.

So I think it is very unfortunate that this government preaches about education - they bring up a nice plan and goal for education, but they don't deliver it. It is a Strategic Economic Plan, that's what it is. It is strictly a plan with no execution methods in place at all.

We have seen this year at the lowest level that figures I have obtained for capital funding at Memorial - the figures go back; the former minister referred to all the funding available back to 1982, well, I have back to 1984 - it is less than 25 per cent in capital funding of what it was in the lowest year in the past ten years. There is a decrease in operating grants this year, that, coupled with all of these other pressures put on the University, and I must compliment the University, itself, in being able to do a good job, in being able to deal with the limited resources provided to them.

I think this government should certainly reassess its position on education, treat it as a priority and not just talk about it as a priority. Then, all of us here in this House and across the entire Province would be a lot better off tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

All those in favour, please say 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'.


MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion defeated.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before Your Honour calls it five o'clock, perhaps I could take a minute or two and tell you what we propose to ask the House to do in the next few days, so hon. members can make their arrangements accordingly.

Your Honour, members will recall that the Standing Orders, it is 119, sub-(5) for those who might wish to look it up in their midnight reading, provides that the consideration of the Estimates is to consume no more than seventy-five hours, and that is the rule that has been in force for about twenty years in this House. Three hours are deducted from that seventy-five hours for each head of expenditure referred to one of the Standing Committees, and we shall ask the House to refer sixteen heads, that is a total of forty-eight hours; that would leave twenty-seven hours.

The rule provides specifically for three -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry, my friend from Kilbride.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) forty-eight hours (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, there is a forty-eight hours, first, second and third. Eddie Murphy is in it - he is much funnier than my friend from Kilbride and better looking, too.

Your Honour, the rule also provides for nine hours in concurrence debates, which leaves eighteen hours. The Clerk at the Table informed me yesterday that we have used three hours and twenty minutes of jovial, spirited, incisive debate from both sides of the House, which brings it down to fourteen hours and forty minutes. Now, within that, one must also accommodate whatever one wants to say by way of debate of the estimates of the Consolidated Fund Services, the Legislature and the Executive.

MR. SPEAKER: Stop the clock at five.

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

MR. SPEAKER: Stop the clock , you have -

MR. ROBERTS: Just give me a second. So we have six sitting days left available for government business before we take an Easter adjournment - Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday of next week, next Wednesday being Private Members' Day, and a motion from somebody on this side will be debated at that stage.

I understand it is possible, the Interim Supply may - we must have Interim Supply by the end of the year or early in April. I am not going to play around with a precise date, but certainly by the time we get into the next fiscal year, we must have authority to carry on paying the bills of the Province. I understand there is a reasonable possibility that Interim Supply may be granted before next Friday, I don't mean the day after tomorrow, I mean Friday week.

When it is concluded, when Interim Supply is approved by the House, assuming it is approved - if not, the Premier will be on his way to Government House very quickly, we will take care of that - but assuming it is approved, we shall then call the Budget Debate, and my friend for Mount Pearl, speaking for the Opposition, will have the unlimited time to which the rules entitle him. We will then carry on from there. He may or may not have the last word in the Budget Debate before we adjourn but he will certainly have all the time he wishes to have. That is not a matter of my grace, he is entitled to that under the rules and we shall certainly - we will call the Budget Debate when the Interim Supply Debate concludes. If we don't get the Interim Supply Debate finished in good time, I shall have no choice except reluctantly to ask people to meet - I will ask that the House meet in the evening. Whether we sit through supper or come back after supper break, remains to be seen.

The government proposed to ask the House to rise on the 2nd for a fortnight, Mr. Speaker, subject to the call of the Chair. Should the Chair be minded that he wants to see our shining faces bright and (inaudible) eyed, then we will be back.

MR. R. AYLWARD: We won't be coming back very quickly, I don't say.

MR. ROBERTS: I don't know what all the - I have never seen a group of men and a woman as worried, because they know what is coming to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are going to abolish severance pay next week, boys.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: With those remarks, Your Honour, rather than get into a debate, which would be out of order, may I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Thursday at 2:00 p.m., at which time we shall go back on the Interim Supply Debate and we will follow the agenda that I have outlined, subject as always to the rules of the House, Your Honour. Thank you. I move that the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Opposition House Leader want to say a word?

MR. MATTHEWS: No, not too much, Mr. Speaker, only to say to the Government House Leader that indeed, yes, we are very worried, because we know what an onerous task we are going to have once we take over the Government of the Province, once the Premier has the courage to call the election. We are very worried about that. We know the mess that the Province is in.

MR. SPEAKER: As this is Wednesday, we do not need a motion to adjourn.

This House stands adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.