May 28, 1993              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                  Vol. XLII  No. 6

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of all hon. members I would like to welcome to the Speaker's Gallery the former member of the Manitoba Legislature, Chief Elijah Harper.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I know it's not usual after Your Honour has welcomed somebody for any member of the House to make any comment, but I'm sure the House would readily consent to my saying a few special words of welcome to a very distinguished Canadian in the person whom you've welcomed, Chief Elijah Harper.

Three years or so ago during some very serious constitutional discussions in this country I had some discussions with Chief Harper. He and I both had substantial personal involvement in the affairs of the day. I don't want this occasion to go without recognizing his visit to our Legislature today, and without telling you that the purpose of his visit to Newfoundland and Labrador at this particular time is to help support the Native Friendship Centre. There are representatives of the Native Friendship Centre in the gallery with Chief Harper. They are involved in a fund-raising campaign to help make up for some shortfall of funds. I understand they had a very successful event last night.

I want to publicly express not only the respect of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for Chief Harper and his principles, but I want to express gratitude to him for caring enough to come and help the Native Friendship Centre in this Province, and to help speak for aboriginal people in the Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House would like to welcome Chief Harper to Newfoundland and Labrador. It goes without saying, and history will record, that in the past we had differences of opinion, I guess, different philosophies on a particular issue at one time just as we had with the Premier, but nevertheless we also recognize Chief Harper's efforts to further the objectives of native people and we wish him well in that regard. I do not think I would go so far as to wish him well in his political future. I think that would be unwise of a party on this side of the House, nevertheless we do welcome him here to Newfoundland and hope that his stay is successful and productive.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce an initiative of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Economic Recovery Commission which will provide meaningful employment for many youth in our Province. Today will mark the official launch of the Newfoundland and Labrador Conservation Corps, a non-profit initiative designed -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: - to provide training and employment opportunities for young people in the areas of environmental enhancement and conservation.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Conservation Corps was started by the Economic Recovery Commission more than a year ago in response to action Item 21 in the Province's Strategic Economic Plan. That action item committed the Province to establish a Newfoundland and Labrador Conservation Corps which would channel funds into socially useful activities that would both contribute to environmental enhancement and provide valuable work experience and training for its members.

Mr. Speaker, today government is announcing its full funding support for this initiative through the Strategic Economic Plan and the Student Employment Program of the Department of Employment and Labour Relations. Government's total funding commitment to this project for 1993 is $330,000.

I am pleased at this time to announce as well that the Conservation Corps has approximately twenty projects that will proceed almost immediately. This is a reflection of the extensive planning that has gone into the Conservation Corps over the last year. In 1993, there will be between eighteen and twenty Green Teams, or groups of four young people, working on projects throughout the Province. Five project supervisors will be hired and in total eighty-five young people ranging from high school students to university and technical school graduates will be hired this Summer.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Conservation Corps is targeted at young people and is seen as much as a training opportunity as an employment opportunity. All Green Team members will receive a one week orientation course, delivered through the Westviking College on the West Coast with further project training ongoing throughout the summer. As well, there will be follow-up guidance and counselling at the end of project work. These features sharply differentiate the Conservation Corps from any and all kinds of job creation projects.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the members of the House of Assembly and the people of this Province join with me today in congratulating the Newfoundland and Labrador Conservation Corps on their employment and training efforts thus far, and to wish them well throughout the coming summer and in the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is indeed a pleasure this morning to rise and respond to the minister's statement. We certainly support any initiative that creates employment for the many unemployed youth in our Province, especially in an area such as this, an area that is noted as a growth industry and that will provide many jobs in the future. We hope that this initiative by the government certainly is not the end but only a beginning to create more employment certainly for the young people of the Province. I trust that the monies that have been allocated towards this project are new monies and are not monies that are coming off another part of the Budget elsewhere. I also trust that the minister will table a criteria by which these individuals will be hired. Once again on behalf of the caucus here we certainly support such an initiative and hope that it will continue in the future.

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform this hon. House that today marks the start of Canada's Fit Week. It is the worlds largest celebration of active living. This unique celebration runs from May 28 - June 6. Fit Week is a major promotional campaign designed to stimulate greater participation in physical activity and fitness. It aims to heighten the awareness of the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle. More than 8 million Canadians will participate.

In our Province, Mr. Speaker, approximately 1,000 residents will involve themselves in this activity. There will be in excess of 500 events taking place in upwards of 200 separate communities throughout the Province. Because of the concern for the environment, Fit Week is making a special effort in the 1993 campaign to promote activities that will give the environment a helping hand. Communities throughout the Country, including many in Newfoundland, will be organizing clean-ups, promoting a bicycle ride instead of using the car and planning educational activities for children to help them appreciate their environment. Fit Week provides a positive fun-filled environment which encourages citizens to become more physically active and enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle.

The campaign will be kicked off today with Sneaker Day, and I am wearing mine, Mr. Speaker, and all residents are encouraged to wear their sneakers at work or play or anywhere they can.

To help us warm up for Fitweek in Newfoundland and Labrador, I am pleased, as minister responsible for community recreation, sports and fitness, to present a Fitweek T-Shirt to our Premier and to our hon. Leader of the Opposition. I hope that throughout the week they will wear them to encourage and promote physical activity and a more healthy lifestyle for residents of our Province. They are beautiful T-shirts, Mr. Speaker, and I would like, possibly, for one of the assistants to come forward.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to, first of all, thank the minister for giving me a copy of his statement just before coming into the House, although, I suppose, in view of the contents of the statement, one wouldn't need to read it in order to respond, that's for sure. The question I always ask about this every time I hear it is, Why do we have to be reminded? Why do people have to be reminded once a year, on May 28 or June 6, for a week, in order to participate in some physical activity - some sort of fitness?

One of the biggest problems we have in the world today is people overweight, people smoking too much, people drinking too much, not taking part in anything, and all of a sudden, for one week, everybody sort of gets into the so-called fitness mode.

I see here there are upwards of 200 separate communities throughout the Province participating. Why not every community in the Province? is the question I always ask. I am into fitness myself, Mr. Speaker. I run. In fact, I ran this morning.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: I found it very hard this week out around the town. I almost wanted a seeing-eye dog with me in order to get around; but, in any case, I run every day around 6:00 a.m., and if someone wanted to challenge me to a ten-or-eleven-kilometre run any morning during the week, including the minister, I could run.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: I challenge the minister to join me any morning except Saturday or Sunday, in here, and he can join me any morning around the City of St. John's.

The thing I always find, in here when I am running, when I come up along by the university - there by, I think, Brinton Memorial, the high school over here - it is despicable; it is terrible; it almost makes you ashamed to be a Newfoundlander, to come along that road -not only there, but that is the place where all the garbage is caught up in the fence. It is terrible. But it is good to see that it is tied in with the environment - that is an excellent idea.

I go down the Viking Trail when I am on the West Coast; I run towards the Northern Peninsula Highway down the Viking Trail and it is the same thing. The sides of the roads are not fit to look at. I recall stopping there one evening to watch two or three moose. And I stopped a car from the States. They slowed down and I pointed out the moose. The people looked back at me, with the window down, and I said: `Look, two or three moose right there.' `That's not what we are looking at, Sir'. `Well,' I asked, `what are you looking at? I thought you were looking at the scenery, the animals. `We are looking at the garbage, Sir. We are appalled by the amount of garbage on the side of the road, especially a beautiful highway like this going towards two heritage sites and one of the most beautiful places in the Province.' This brings it to mind. I tell the minister to take out his sneakers once a day, put them on every day, and I challenge him, next week, to a run anywhere around the city.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform hon. members that an article that appeared on foreign overfishing in The Evening Telegram on May 25 past, entitled, "Foreign Fishing Dropping Off" does not convey the total picture of overfishing activity to date in 1993.

The article in question focuses on the reduction in the number of foreign vessels from 114 in May of 1992 to 103 in May of this year. It further notes, seventy-six European Community vessels were fishing in the NAFO regulatory area in May 1992, compared to forty-five this year.

I do not wish to dispute the reduction in the number of vessels reported in the Telegram article, Mr. Speaker. However, I would remind members of this House that the article in question made no reference to the actual catch of the vessels to date in 1993, compared to that caught in the same period in 1992. For example, we know, that a number of Spanish vessels directed a substantial fishery for Northern cod earlier this year, notwithstanding the Canadian moratorium on Northern cod. We also know that the European Community vessels are taking massive amounts of turbot outside of the 200-mile limit, a stock which is not regulated by NAFO but which is an important straddling stock, as well.

So, Mr. Speaker, approximately 100 foreign vessels are now along the Continental Shelf, as we sit in this House this morning and see our own fishing industry literally go down the drain. There are approximately 100 foreign vessels presently fishing on the Canadian Continental Shelf, yet, not one Newfoundland trawler is fishing at the present time because of quota and resource constraints. In this context, the impact of foreign overfishing is real. We can take little consolation in minor shifts in foreign vessel activity at this time.

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

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

Yes, the minister is quite correct. I guess it is very disturbing to stand in this House as one member representing an area of the Province - and, I guess, all of the people on occasions - to know that our own big fishing company, Fishery Products International, has all of its processing operations in this Province shut down as of this morning - very, very disturbing, particularly when I look at my own area of the Province where the plants of Marystown and Fortune are now down.

I want to say to the minister, you know, what really alarms me is that some people seem to take consolation in that there has been a reduction of, say, some ten or twelve foreign vessels fishing outside or on the Continental Shelf. We cannot stop this battle until we have every foreign vessel eliminated from those waters and sent home. That is what we have to keep pursuing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Because, while the issue of joint management is an admirable one, and one that we support and push for, and we hope it will soon materialize, it is no good to have joint management over just the water. We need something in the water to have joint management over, and if we don't stop this foreign overfishing, then it is only going to be joint management on paper. I think that is what we have to realize.

I want to say to the minister and to the Premier - because I think it was last week I read an article in The Evening Telegram about some comments that were attributed to the Premier, when really what he said, I think, was in reaction to former Premier Peckford's tour, that he really said that the message on foreign overfishing has been delivered. He seemed to indicate that it is almost like it is good enough now if we leave this foreign overfishing issue alone. He thought there was significant progress being made. I want to say, it seems like again there are mixed signals coming from the minister and the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has expired. If he could draw his remarks to a close.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We must always, Mr. Speaker, continue this battle against foreign overfishing or else we, as the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, will cease to exist.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, I directed some questions to the Minister of Mines and Energy on the issue of privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. His answers to me, and later, to the press were evasive, I think, to say the least. He was far more direct last August when he was quoted as saying in The Evening Telegram, at least, that: government had studied privatization three years earlier and it was decided it would be of no benefit. The proposal has been shelved since then.

During the course of my asking those questions on Wednesday, the Premier shouted across the House and said: Ask the Finance Minister - about some of the questions I was asking. The Finance Minister isn't here today, nor is the Minister of Mines and Energy. So I would like to ask the Premier: Can the Premier give the House a direct answer, a straight answer? Has he or his government seen a more recent proposal or study dealing with this issue? Specifically, I guess, is the Premier aware of any study or proposal being done or that has been done on behalf of Newfoundland Power? Has he or his government minister seen such a study or proposal?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I have seen no study or proposal done on behalf of Newfoundland Power, other than the one to which the hon. minister referred the other day, which was a proposal made a year or so ago -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Whatever it was. So I have seen no study by Newfoundland Power. Mr. Speaker, I don't want to be vague, I don't want to avoid dealing with the issues. Let me state clearly what the position of the government is on the matter.

The government, as indicated in the Budget Speech, are looking at all aspects of privatization, of every activity that is managed by government and could probably or possibly be better managed and be more effectively done if it were in the private sector. So the government is looking at every agency to determine whether or not it might more profitably be done by the private sector.

The basic philosophy of the government with respect to the matter is that if the private sector could do it equally well, and there is no overriding policy reason for that matter to be managed directly by the government, it is the government's objective to see that it is privatized, if it is financially appropriate in the circumstances to do so. That includes everything.

Now, Mr. Speaker, business circumstances are such that if government is in fact negotiating privatization, or preparing for or assessing privatization, even the fact of that could affect the way business is conducted by that agency, or business is carried on by another entity that might want to get involved in that kind of business, so it would be most inappropriate for government to be discussing, at an interim stage, any of the details of any reports, or any aspects of it. So the government does not propose to discuss publicly any details of privatization discussions unless and until we are ready to take a position on the matter, in which case the position will be stated publicly very clearly, in adequate time to allow for public discussion of the pros or cons of the approach; but we do not propose to be answering questions in the House, or making comments publicly in any way, that might adversely affect the operations of such a government agency in the meantime, or adversely affect any other business in the meantime.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Premier for the lecture and for outlining his party's policy. I did not ask him any questions about their policy or anything like it. He went on at length about the policy. Let me ask him specifically: Is the government looking; has it seen; is there a proposal; is there a study dealing with the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro? Now that is a pretty straightforward question, and it is not asking for details on negotiations or anything else. So I am asking the Premier: Will he be direct and tell the people of the Province? There are a lot of people who are affected by this and who have an interest, not only financially, but there are employees of Hydro who are concerned about it. I ask him directly: Is the government looking at studying; has it seen; does it have a proposal; has Standard and Poor's, the Province's credit rating agency, done any kind of a study or proposal, or made any recommendations to the government on the issue of privatization of Newfoundland Hydro? That is all we are asking. We do not want the details.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, of course there will be studies, and if studies do not now exist there will be studies, on the privatization of all - everything that is being considered. If studies do not now exist, I can assure hon. members that there will be studies before anything is considered, but I am not going to get involved in discussing any details.

How Standard and Poor's gets into it, I do not know. Standard and Poor's is not the Province's credit rating agency. It is a general credit rating agency that rates all provinces and governments and business corporations and so on. Now Standard and Poor's have not, to the best of my knowledge, done anything specific with respect to this - not to the best of my knowledge. No such study exists by Standard and Poor's.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.

The Premier has now said there is no such study done by Light and Power, except the one that was done over a year ago, although the minister himself said it was three years ago. The Premier just said that. There is no study done by Standard and Poor's that he is aware of. Standard and Poor's is a financial investment company as well, and they do work along those lines. I did not say it was the Province's credit rating agency. It is one of the ones that rates the credit rating of the Province. Okay, so there is no study or proposal there from those agencies. Has the government itself undertaken any study, or is it undertaking a study at the moment to look at the question of privatization of Hydro? If it is not, tell the people.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have stated the government's policy and I am going to stick with it. The position is still the same. We have no intention whatsoever of discussing in an intermediate basis any action that the government has taken to give consideration to this, or who is doing studies, or what the studies contain, or whether it is the government or somebody else, but I say to people, to the members generally, that the government will not move without doing a full and thorough assessment of the pros and cons of any such move. So of course, if studies are not now done, studies will be done before any such action is taken but, Mr. Speaker, I state again, nobody will be making any statements on behalf of government as to who is doing what study for what purpose. The government will do a full and thorough assessment of every single possible privatization before any action is proposed by government.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will try one more I guess. To use the Premiers own words, if studies are not now being done or done, can the Premier tell the House are studies being done now?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have answered the question thoroughly, I am not going to play these silly games with the Leader of the Opposition.

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

MR. SIMMS: On a supplementary. The Premier has been coy and evasive, in case he does not understand it himself, tell the people of the Province, is the government looking at the privatization of Hydro now or has it been looking at it for some time? Is there a proposal underway, is there a study underway that you are looking at? Yes or no? Tell the people, don't be evasive.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, just bear in mind now the specific question that he is asking to have answered. Is the government considering privatization of Newfoundland Hydro? The minister stated the government is considering possible privatization of every single crown agency that can be run by the private sector. Is Hydro such an agency? Yes. Does he need it included specifically? Does he not accept the answer? The government is considering the possibility of privatization of every single agency of government that can possibly be run by the private sector and we will seek to achieve privatization unless there is an overwhelming public policy reason for maintaining public involvement in the enterprise. So let there be no doubt about that.

Now, the second point I want to make, the government will not make any move whatsoever with respect to privatization of any agency at all without first doing a complete and thorough assessment of the pros and cons of it. That may or may not mean very extensive studies in the case of some of the agencies but we will do whatever is appropriate and necessary in the circumstances.

The third point that I want to make is, the government will not deal with intermediate stage discussions on this because of the nature of this. We could adversely affect the position of any one of the agencies involved, we could adversely affect the position of other business interests in a similar area in which the agency operates. So we are not prepared to make any public statements on the issue at all unless and until the government is ready to make known its position. In which case I undertake to make sure that we make the governments position public in adequate time to allow for full public debate of the pros and cons of any proposed discussions. Now, that is the final definitive answer on all aspects raised and I am not going to play these silly, twenty questions games of the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is to the hon. Minister of Social Services. The Budget presented in March and re-introduced unchanged last week, cut funding to assist physically and developmentally disabled persons to attend post-secondary institutions. During the election the Premier promised to review these cuts. Is the minister now able to tell those students that they will continue to get financial support in the same manner and on the same basis as they did last year and in previous years?

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

MR. LUSH: All programs, Mr. Speaker, all programs within the Department of Social Services are being looked at. In as much as they affect the mentally delayed or the disadvantaged, I can tell the hon. member that they are being looked at with a view to offering our people in all areas the best services possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Can the minister indicate when his review will be completed and when the students will know what support they can expect or whether they can afford to continue with those studies?

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I am not certain as to when the department will be in a position to announce the program but hopefully it will be done in time so that people will be able to direct and do the things they have to do with respect to course preparation accordingly.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South on a final supplementary.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move to another subject. In February, three months ago, there were 64,000 individuals on social assistance which represented a caseload of 31,000. What is the caseload and number of people on social assistance this month and how many of them are able-bodied young adults who are unable to find employment?

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

MR. LUSH: I do not have the figures off the top of my head on both questions but I will undertake to get these statistics and provide them to the hon. member as quickly as possible.

AN HON. MEMBER: Will you get them this morning?

MR. LUSH: No, not this morning.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. For some time now, as I am sure the minister is aware, the paper companies in the Province, especially Abitibi-Price, Abitibi for some time now and more specifically Kruger over the past couple of years, have introduced the use of harvesters in the Province in the logging industry. Could the minister inform the House of his department's stand, or more specifically, I guess, his government's stand with regard to the use of harvesters by the two paper companies in the Province?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, this government's position and my position in particular is, we would love to see a situation where logging would continue to be carried out with the bucksaw, because as the hon. member knows when the forest was being harvested with axe and bucksaw thousands of people worked in the woods, and that is the way we would like to have it. When the chainsaw came along the workforce required to cut the same amount of trees was reduced a great deal, and when the skinners came along the same thing happened. It is progress, Mr. Speaker. We would prefer that the trees in Newfoundland were being cut providing the maximum employment but in order for the paper companies to be competitive, to operate and compete with their competitors worldwide, and to provide a quality sheet of paper, and to keep their costs competitive they have to go to new technology, and the new technology in this case is harvesters. Mr. Speaker, we wish there was a better way but in order to permit the paper companies to operate competitively and to keep the cost of wood down we accept the fact that some of the harvesting in the Province must be done with harvesters as he is referring to.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I am sure the minister realizes that when you introduce one of these harvesters to any specific area each harvester puts at least twenty loggers out of work. Could the minister inform the House whether he has had any discussion with Abitibi-Price and Kruger concerning the loss of hundreds, and I suppose in another year or two probably thousands of jobs in the logging industry? It cannot be increasing technology at any cost. The other main concern is the very severe economic environmental concerns expressed by people in the Province.

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I have met with the companies on many occasions during the past four years. I have also met with the unions who represent the workers this past four years and I caution the hon. member about over dramatizing. The fact of the matter is that in 1989 there was just short of 800 loggers supplying wood to Abitibi-Price and today there are still in excess of 400, so I do not know where he is getting the thousands and thousands of job reductions. There has been a great reduction in the workforce in the woodlands of the two paper companies but both the union and the environmental people have discussed the harvesters method of logging with me and both groups accept the inevitability of the companies using that kind of technology. I might point out to the hon. member that all the wood being cut in Newfoundland is not being cut by harvesters. As a matter of fact the companies are assessing whether or not they should continue to bring more harvesters in or retain the level of harvesters they use now and combine it with their normal way of logging.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley on a final supplementary.

MR. WOODFORD: I want to let the minister know that I did not say thousands. I said in another couple of years there will be thousands but right now it is in the hundreds.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Four hundred. That's just with Abitibi-Price. Did you check Kruger lately? Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I'll get into that later on this morning, in debate probably. Could the minister inform the House if he has had any discussions with the two paper companies with regards to probably reinvesting some of the money they're saving with the use of harvesters into other silviculture and reforestation projects in the Province, so that they could hire the very loggers that are being laid off because of it?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we're discussing with the paper companies their silviculture programs all the time. We're also trying to convince the paper companies to use any money they may be saving in any part of their operations to reinvest in capital investment in the mills, to modernize and continue to keep the mills competitive.

I would also point out to the hon. member a very important role that he may be able to play in the very near future with regards to silviculture. Is that he would convince his cousins in the Government of Canada that they would continue to keep the forestry agreements that are providing the funding for at least 70 per cent of the silviculture work going on in this Province. That includes silviculture on Abitibi and Kruger lands as well as on Crown. As I'm sure he's aware, his friends in Ottawa have indicated that they don't intent to negotiate and fund those kinds of agreements. I can tell the hon. member, if he thinks he has trouble in the woods now with silviculture, wait until the federal government follows through and dead ends those cooperative agreements, the forestry agreements, that are providing the funds now for 70 per cent of silviculture work going on in this Province.

So he might do well, Mr. Speaker, to talk to his friends in Ottawa and make sure and support us in convincing them that we should keep those agreements in place.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to direct a question to the Minister of Environment and Lands. The Goulds by-pass road has been discussed for about two years, and the project was registered under the environmental assessment process by your department over one year ago. This road will run adjacent and parallel to the water line from Bay Bulls - Big Pond. Since this line was constructed several years ago there has not been one registered complaint with your department of an environmental concern regarding that. So I ask the minister, why is this process taking so long, and will the minister update this House on the current status of that project?

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

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would have to check now to see where we are exactly in that process, but I'll certainly do so and gladly bring the information back to the hon. member. It is not unusual for the environmental assessment process to take from one to two years when we're doing an in-depth look at something that has potential impact on the environment. We do try to move as expeditiously as possible, but often there are hold-ups in which we have to - information comes in to us, say from the Department of Transportation, which would be the proponent in this case. Then we have to send back for clarification, more information, that type of thing.

Often in our own department if there is an overwhelming load of environmental assessments going on at that time, it can be slowed down a little bit because of that too. Let me assure you that we have added new staff last year to that division in the hopes of speeding up assessments and there has been an improvement. I'll certainly check on the status of the Goulds highway for you.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Actually the minister should admit the reason it's been delayed is that it has been sitting on a desk until November. They didn't move on it from May 14 when it was registered until November of 1992. I'd like to ask the next question to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

In light of the fact that the federal government is funding this project to the tune of 100 per cent, and there is a dire need to reduce traffic congestion through the Goulds area, if this environmental assessment proves positive and gives a go-ahead, will the minister recommend the funding for this specific road?

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's very clear in everybody's mind from every part of Newfoundland that their particular area comes before everywhere else. What I will do as minister is take a look at the needs of all areas in the Province and before I will say publicly I will be working with the government and working with the Minister of Environment and Lands. Then when the decision is made the hon. member and all people in the area will be notified.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, the government has placed a great deal of importance in word if not in deed, on the potential of tourism to the economy of our Province. We have all seen letters to the paper from out of the Province tourists who praise the natural beauty of this Province, but are surprised and disappointed by the litter strewn on our roads, shoreline and wilderness areas.

I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Lands, if she has any plans, first, to clean up the litter on our beaches and wilderness areas and secondly, to encourage people to be more sensitive to the environment and natural beauty of the Province?

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

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thought that the announcement this morning made by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations was a very positive step in that direction. I was familiar with what was going on there and applaud that type of initiative. As a government, we are currently developing regulations to deal with beverage containers which make up a very large part of the waste stream and once that is in hand, we will be looking at other types of litter. It is largely an education process and our schools are moving in that direction; the Department of Education does have a course now in high schools on Environmental Science. As well, teachers are being encouraged on a number of programs backed up by my department when it used to have the Wildlife Division. For example, there is a very good environmental program that comes out of the Canadian Wildlife Federation, but it is largely an education process.

The worst litterers are young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four and I think we have - it has been studied and we actually know who does the most littering, so I think it would be appropriate for us, when we certainly have the money to do so, to perhaps aim some programs at some of these groups who are known as prime litterers, but it is an education process and will take some time.

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

MR. MANNING: I welcome the announcement by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations this morning, Mr. Speaker, but I would also like to ask the minister: has she considered a deposit system such as exist in other provinces to encourage people to return used containers to some central point, either for reuse or recycling?

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

MS. COWAN: Yes. We are looking at regulations now to control the use of beverage containers and the deposit system is one of the methods that we are looking at.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. MANNING: We have one or two businesses in the Province now who collect materials for recycling, but the kinds of materials they collect is limited. For example, while they take aluminum soft drink cans, they do not take other metal containers. Has the minister discussed this with those companies, and is there some way government could assist in making it possible for them to collect the broader range materials that can be used and recycled?

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

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had a little difficulty hearing the first part of the gentleman's question, but I believe he said that some of the companies in town or the two that are involved with recycling cannot take all types of materials for recycling, was that it?

MR. MANNING: Mostly the materials that they collect are soft drink cans and they do not take other metal containers and I was just wondering if you have -

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

MS. COWAN: Yes. One of the problems, Mr. Speaker, with the whole recycling market is that the bottom is falling out of it. For example, Nova Recycling can no longer take plastics because the company to which they were selling them in the United States has gone out of business. They were making some sort of a synthetic wood-type product with the plastics and they can be undersold by natural wood and the business just went under, so the whole recycling area is fraught with all types of problems. First of all, having a market for recycled items and actually, the current thinking in that area is that we have to focus more on reuse; recycling yes, but realizing that there is a market for some things, particularly paper, is something that can be recycled very easily but, other items do create problems because there is no market for the materials for somebody like Nova Recycling to sell them to for reuse or recycling.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Premier, it is about the new section of the Trans-Canada Highway the provincial government is now constructing through Corner Brook. The question for the Premier:

Will the government respond to requests from the Corner Brook Chamber of Commerce and others in the area, to build lookouts so eastbound and westbound motorists will be able to pull over and enjoy the fabulous view of the Bay of Islands and the Blomidon Mountains?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Will the government respond? I think the government has already responded, and my recollection is that the proposal was considered some months ago. The recommendation, I believe, to government, was that it not be done at this particular time because of the very substantial cost involved. I am prepared to reconsider the matter because I agree with the hon. member - it is a spectacular view - perhaps the most spectacular view from any part of the Trans-Canada Highway in the Province right at that particular location. However, as the hon. member knows, right at that location it may also be extremely costly to build that lookout, but I am certainly prepared to ask the minister to review the proposal and determine whether or not it can be done, or how it can be done most cost-effectively. It is a terrific location and would be a very substantial tourism asset to the Province to have a lookout in that position, but my recollection is that it came up for consideration some months ago and because of the very substantial cost involved I believe it was decided at that time not to proceed with it, but I will check that and let the hon. member know.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Premier for his response and would remind him that the federal government is paying 100 per cent of the cost, and over $100 million is being provided over the next several years for the four-laning of the highway from Massey Drive to Deer Lake.

A supplementary to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. The new highway is being built much closer to houses on the old highway between the Corner Brook golf course and Massey Drive and in Maple Valley than the property owners were led to expect. Will the minister immediately respond to the home owners' requests for departmental staff to visit them, see the problems that are developing, and discuss with them the possibilities of the government purchasing their properties or appropriately compensating them for their loss?

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

Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can assure the hon. member that I will be visiting that particular area within the next two weeks, actually, and I want to familiarize myself with not only the concerns of the people in that area but the staff of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. When I go there I will make note of it and it will be a top priority on my list, and when I come back then I will inform the hon. member that this minister will do whatever is necessary to deal with the responsibility of his department. I cannot make a commitment at this point in time, but I will look into the matter and get back to the member in two to three weeks.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary to the Premier.

The Premier may want to have the minister respond, but since the Premier has a personal interest I will start by asking him. The new highway in Maple Valley includes an ugly, steep, rock slope. What provision will the Province make to beautify the hill?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I really wish the hon. member would make up her mind as to... The Premier's office does not take responsibility for beautifying solid rock faces. Solid rock faces have an innate beauty of their own. There are many people who think that is absolutely spectacular and are impressed by it. What the hon. member is talking about is the old quarry area, I assume, which is a solid rock face.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) Maple Valley.

PREMIER WELLS: Which is a solid -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) down from the new four lane -

PREMIER WELLS: You are talking about the slope over the side? I do not know what the contract calls for. Most of these highway contracts call for hydroseeding and surfacing, and I assume this is probably no different. I can ask the minister to check it, but I am not going to go out and rake the ground and seed it myself.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act." (Bill No. 8)

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Could we begin, please, with Motion No. 2, that is, the request of the Minister of Health for a bill.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Health to introduce a bill, "An Act Respecting The Control Of The Sale Of Tobacco To Minors," carried. (Bill No. 7)

On motion, Bill No. 7 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Budget Debate, Motion No. 1, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion No. 1, the Budget Debate.

MR. ROBERTS: My hon. friend from Ferryland continues the debate.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The great Budget Debate - the debate about a Budget in which we don't even know the specific line items there and about a Minister of Finance who proclaims that the Federal Government is responsible for the reduction in our credit rating. When you just look at the Budget and the areas of provincial revenues, it is not very difficult to see that the reason for a reduction in our credit rating, by one of the credit rating agencies, is because of this government's lack of initiative. When you look back a few years ago and see $70 million in corporate income tax received by this Province and $39 million anticipated to be received this year, it shows that the business sector in this Province is in great difficulty and there has been no effort to entice and bring new business into the Province.

We have seen a whole series of mini-Budgets that has been responsible for the decline in our credit rating. We have seen a Minister of Finance who indicates that the budgets of Ontario and Quebec, that are projecting a real decline in growth by 1 per cent, are not going to have any negative impact on his projections. In fact, he indicated his projections are going to improve. They are going to be better than he has projected. That would be a sharp contrast or turn-around from what it has been over the past two years in which we have to come into the House in the Fall and bring in mini-Budgets to be able to provide the financing and the direction for the balance of the fiscal year.

There is talk in the Budget about harmonizing our taxes, our GST and RST. I have great fear that the harmonization of these taxes is going to be another huge tax grab for this Province. We have seen tax grabs occurring with the elimination of the school tax, when the Province took over the balance sheets of school boards. Taxes that were owing the school boards and collected under the guise of education in the Province were gobbled up by this Province, $11 million in past accounts, and just put into the general treasury of this Province and not used for educational purposes.

We have seen a Budget that hit many areas of this Province. In rural Newfoundland, it has hit electrical subsidies to arenas in this Province and most arenas in this Province with probably one or two exceptions are operating at deficits and have to be subsidised by municipalities. Once again, it is an extra $10,000 that is being downloaded on each municipality. We have seen a whole series of downloading on municipalities in this Province. We seen government pass the burden and all claiming they have less in federal transfer payments. Well, actually, in this Budget, we are going to be seeing an increase from $877 million to $903 million in equalization payments across the Province. We may have a decline in the government's projection in transfer payments but there hasn't been a real net decline in transfer payments to the Province. That is something that government is throwing out there as a red herring to divert people's attention away from the real problem in this Province, and that is being able to generate a source of revenue that is going to be able to bring more dollars into the government coffers.

It is very sad when government has to look for their revenues to the small number of employed people who are currently working in this Province. We have seen that government are going to take another $34 million, in personal income tax alone, out of the pockets of the few who are working in this Province, over last year. They are going to be taking, in gasoline tax, another $13 million from the working people of this Province again, and when we look at each revenue item in this Budget, whether it be tobacco tax or whatever tax it may be, they are gouging money from the working people of this Province and there are no new monies coming in by expanding and having an increased workforce here in this Province. If we are going to move out of this economic malaise that we are in now we have to do something to broaden the tax base in our Province and stop increasing taxes on individuals. We have seen in just four years, since 1989, an increase of 15 per cent in personal income tax paid by the working people in this Province. We have seen an increase in gasoline tax and increases in all aspects of taxes. We have seen a piggybacking of GST and retail sales tax. That is another 1 per cent increase. The retail sales tax is now 12.84 per cent, almost 13 per cent in the Province. It is at an intolerable level.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: It is piggybacked, and 12 per cent of 7 is .84 per cent. It is 12 per cent. It is piggybacked. It is 13 per cent with the piggybacking factor in this Province and if the tax were not piggybacked it would be 12 per cent. We are collecting 12.84 per cent taxes in this Province. We can see that retail sales tax in this Province is proposing to take another $10 million again next year in an economy where there are less people working, where they are already paying and giving more, more, and more. On top of that we look at wage rollbacks in this Province taking another $70 million out of the pockets of working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians again. It is time to get a little bit of planning into the direction in which this government is going and planning must come in a broadening of tax base. The cutting of services and taxing people to death is not the answer. We have an economy that is getting smaller and smaller.

The problem with our credit rating here in this Province is not the sole responsibility at all of a poor Canadian economy where there are less dollars for transfer payments. The economies of other provinces are not projected to increase substantially at all, very marginally, and that is going to have a negative impact on transfer payments in this Province. One of the biggest concerns that credit rating agencies have with this Province is that our debt ratio was too high in relation to our GDP and we are doing nothing to increase that GDP here in this Province. And giving incentives to bring in outside investment and new dollars into the economy is the only way we are going to spread the tax base over more individuals. We have seen corporate income tax go down from $70 million to $39 million over the past few years and, at the same time, we have seen personal income tax go up by 15 per cent. We have seen tax grabs with school tax and we have seen it with payroll tax and the payroll tax is again a tax on jobs. This government's line of thinking is that you tax, and tax, and tax to death the people who are working. You cut, you lay off and you have less people working, then you have to respond with increased taxes again. That has been the philosophy, that has been the direction this government has been taking over the past number of years.

We then look at education. Education is very important in establishing opportunities for people to be able to obtain jobs in the future. We have seen how this government gouged $11 million out of school taxes that were destined for education and didn't get there. We have seen this Budget now cutting back on Memorial University of Newfoundland, so that they need $11 million to $12 million to balance their budget. We are going to see a greater burden than ever before placed upon students in this Province in obtaining an education. We are going to see a decline in the number of people attending Memorial University. We are going to see a reduction in the education attainments of people in this Province at a time when we can least afford it.

The Minister of Education indicated yesterday that only one in six people who go into university with an average in the 60s really go on and graduate. One of the reasons why there are only a few people graduating in that category is because the colleges across this Province have huge waiting lists. A lot of people go into Memorial University and try to spend a year there at least rather than stay home unemployed, to have an opportunity to at least advance themselves personally and obtain a little higher education or give them a little start when they do finally get accepted after a year or two and three and four years in these colleges. That is why a lot of people leave in the 60 averages and go on to other post-secondary institutions here in the Province. The real figure is not one in six, it is a step to go on. A year at university is not a wasted year because you don't obtain a degree. I think it is a very valuable learning experience and it prepares people for the careers they want to choose.

This Province has placed its education at a very, very low priority. We have proclaimed that education is the step to success, the step to filling the job market in the future. At the same time, it seems to be hitting harder and harder on students in this Province when the student unemployment rate is at sky-high levels, unprecedented levels, impossible to obtain work -

MR. GRIMES: That's not true.

MR. SULLIVAN: - and an opportunity to access funds to get to university is becoming increasingly more difficult.

MR. GRIMES: Ten years ago the student unemployment rates were higher than they are today. Never mind saying it is unprecedented.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: We have had more students to be unemployed. Right now, we don't have many students. Our enrollments are down, our percentages are down. We have to look at it in terms of the total picture.

MR. GRIMES: Get the figures straight, now.

MR. SULLIVAN: We have school boards this year again. In order to rationalize and to make the high schools across this Province, primary and elementary schools, more efficient, it is important that there be some rationalization. There is not a great difficulty in certain areas in closing schools and trying to consolidate because of declining enrollments. But this Province, this year, has put a cap, it has prevented consolidating schools in this Province this year, because they have frozen any capital funding for new schools. There are schools in this Province now that really need to close, move to new communities, and to consolidate. With a freeze on the capital expenditure, these schools are not going to be able to consolidate and provide a better service.

If we don't want to have to spread our resources too thin, in certain areas we have to amalgamate and consolidate schools to make them more efficient, and this government is not looking beyond its nose. Capital funding has to be provided to be able to consolidate and make something more efficient down the road. We are looking at short-term goals here in education and in consolidation and improvement of services. We need to be able to provide the same opportunity for people all over this Province here to get an education.

The minister indicated, when he eliminated the school tax, that we would provide equalization payments to boards in rural Newfoundland and other areas that don't have the same opportunity to be able to access the supplies and equipment they need to be able to enhance their education levels. For the first time since 1986 this government, last fall, after promising they were going to eliminate school tax and increase equalization, removed from the education budget - and it was brought back in 1986 - $11 million in equalization. By a stroke of the pen, $11 million was removed from the budget that was given to school boards this year. On top of that $11 million, they gouged $11 million more on school taxes, for $22 million siphoned from the education system last year, that was committed and raised and budgeted and planned under the guise of education. The whole Province and the school system in this Province is suffering as a result.

For the schools that are currently existing, that need to be repaired and upgraded, the funding is not there. Memorial University's funding is cut - $1 million I think for the entire maintenance at Memorial University, a multi-million dollar facility - tens of millions of dollars. Funding to be able to just do the normal maintenance operations there, is becoming increasingly difficult. The direction we are moving in today, we are going to reduce the University down to a very small manageable institution for the elite who want to go on and get a degree.

We are seeing now, a crisis in our educational system in this Province. The crisis is not just here in the primary, elementary and secondary system. There is a crisis in post-secondary education in this Province. There are students who cannot get into courses. I have a student in my district who will have to wait possibly four or five years. In fact, I think the person is 140 or 150 on a list for a university course that is taking twenty-five people, who is in her fourth year. People are going to have to wait three and four years past completing their courses to get the few courses that they need now to be able to graduate. So we have a great problem here. We have people in the Province who cannot afford to spend seven and eight years from the time they enter until they graduate. We have to look at keeping our educational institutions with a fair chunk of the funding.

This Province needs educational dollars as a higher percentage of the total budget than any other province in this country. We have a longer ways to go. We need a plan that is going to put into place over the next - we will say twelve or thirteen years, from Kindergarten to Grade XII - that is going to raise the levels of people to a standard that is equal to those of Canada. To do that we have to start today and have it built into our system and progress it right through the system over the next twelve or thirteen years.

We are failing to set expectations and goals and monitoring process. There is a lot of rhetoric, but there is no substance, and with rhetoric - I know we need dollars; I know these are tough times, but certain times we have to direct funds in tough times into areas where they are going to get the greatest result - and there is no greater result than in education.

Over this Province we are seeing also, with health care, it is at its lowest level ever. We have cutbacks in hours of clinics. I think a clinic is closing, I believe, in Main Brook. In Northwest River there is a reduction in hours, and Grand Bank and Whitbourne and other areas are all having reduced access to medical services. In areas that are a little far removed from the city it makes it a little more difficult and costly to have to commute to the city to get some basic medical services.

This Province is on a narrow road and it is facing very difficult economic times, and we are not making decisions that are in tune with the tough economic times. It is important that monies have to be directed toward a result. There has to be a planned approach - not just a Band-Aid approach to what is happening here.

We had a Budget presented to this House back, I think, on March 18th. We had it presented again just a couple of weeks ago, and we still, over the two months since its initial presentation - almost three months - two months into our fiscal year, at a cost, I think, of over $200,000 per day, and we still have not decided where the salary and wage cuts are going to be. We are debating every day, in sessions the estimates, and where funding for each department is, and the various divisions, and what funding is available, and there is no clear indication up to now where these wage restraints are going to occur specifically. The total Budget shows compensation measures reduction of $70 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: You know where yours came from. It came right off your salary.

MR. SULLIVAN: It does not say where.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yours came right off your salary.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is correct, but a big concern - to debate budgets and divisions, it is possible that certain divisions are going to be eliminated.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No division is going to be eliminated at all? Is that what the minister is saying, that there will be no divisions eliminated at all to achieve this Budget of projected compensation measures of $70 million?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) compensation reductions.

MR. SULLIVAN: Strictly compensation reductions?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) division has absolutely no expenditure other than compensation (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, so the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is saying that there will be no divisions eliminated; that it will strictly be a wage compensation of approximately 4.5 per cent across the board in every division - proportionately? Is that what the minister is saying?

MR. GRIMES: We are in discussions, as the minister has said, with the unions. The compensation of individuals is what is being discussed. It is not whether or not a division is going to exist or not.

MR. SULLIVAN: Certain divisions carry certain responsibilities, and there are certain inherent costs built into administering divisions. There are currently about, I think, eighty-some divisions in government. There are probably far more divisions than government could really function under. It becomes cumbersome when you get divisions with small numbers. Sometimes it is more efficient to look at a total picture.

The minister is indicating there is going to be a straight wage and salary cutback applied strictly to each salary level. Well the time will tell exactly. We hope that it will be before November that we find this out, with the next mini-Budget or Ministerial Statement. Up to now we have not had any clear direction whatsoever since March 18th, exactly where it is going to come, except here, when the bill was introduced here in the House on members salaries which was a straight cutback. Other than that, we do not have any other indication where it is occurring, so I think it is about time that the government started to address real direction and show some economic foresight and some action. We will be in a sad state of affairs if we keep going on the current direction we are heading.

We indicated back in March we could not wait, the fiscal year was coming up and there was an urgency, there was a great urgency back in March with the fiscal year and to get a Budget in back in early March, there were deadlines in which they wanted to reach this. To date, here we are, almost three months later, and we still do not have the areas of the Budget where the cuts are occurring, so, Mr. Speaker, the Budget as it was initially called a Budget of truth and hope; there is not much truth in the Budget, I can see a lot of deceit and false figures in the Budget and I do not see much hope in the Budget. In fact, I think it is more a Budget of despair, a Budget of depression and so on, and in tough times, tough decisions but fair decisions have to be made directed where it is going to have a result, but this government has not taken those steps, we still have a Budget lingering since March 18th, the same Budget rehashed and presented again, and we still have no clear direction what is going to happen specifically within that Budget and here we are debating estimates that we do not even know what the specific numbers are, so, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am going to take advantage of this debate to say a few words on this Budget, but before I get into the meat of my speech, I want to pay tribute to the new members on both sides of the House who made some great speeches, it is obvious that there is a great deal of talent as a result of this last election which we just had. I must say I am pleased to see the level of talent on the Opposition benches, I am convinced that the talent which they displayed will ensure that they are going to be over there for a good many years and I certainly wish them well in that, but, Mr. Speaker, I am overwhelmed with the amount of talent in our own back benches and I say to my colleagues in Cabinet, that we had better watch our Ps and Qs because there is just as much talent in the back benches on this side of the House as there is in Cabinet, I can assure hon. members that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, before getting into this Budget, I should give hon. members some background as to where this Budget came from, what this Budget grew out of. To start my background, I have to go back to May 5th, of 1989, hon. members will all know what happened on May 5th, that is when the first Liberal government in seventeen years was sworn in to take over the responsibility of governing this Province.

The first thing we did, Mr. Speaker, was, open up the books, open up the ledger. We had to see just what kind of government we were inheriting, what was the state of the Province, and, Mr. Speaker, when we opened the books, Sir, what a shock, what a shock we got! The first thing glaring at us and staring us in the face was a bill for $24 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was that for?

MR. DECKER: Sprung, $24 million and, Mr. Speaker, when I looked at that $24 million I thought about the fishermen on the Great Northern Peninsula, I thought about Johnny Edison up in the Straits, he was on the radio this morning talking about Mr. Cashin. I thought about the struggle he had to go through to earn $10,000 a year in order to feed his family; I thought about the fishermen off St. Mary's, I thought about the loggers, the hon. Member for Humber Valley this morning talked about the loggers who were being displaced because of the mechanization in the logging industry.

I grew up in a logging family; $15,000, $20,000 was a good income. My grandfather was a contractor in the logging industry, if he could clear $20,000 a year, he was doing good, and $24 million of his hard earned money, his taxes, that is what was staring us in the face, we had to pay it off.

We looked at the teachers pension fund, Mr. Speaker. About to go busted in the year 1996. All those teachers who over the years had contributed to this fund, secure in the knowledge that when they retired they would not have to go on some welfare list, but they could collect pensions from the fund that they had paid into. Mismanaged by the previous administration. About to go bankrupt in the year 1996. That's what we saw staring us in the face in 1989. The public service pension fund. About to go bankrupt in the year 1998. That's what we saw. About to go bust.

The Workers' Compensation Board. I thought of a constituent up in my own district who got injured in the lumber woods. A tree fell on him. Had his back broken. He's relying on payments from the Workers' Compensation Board for the rest of his life. That fund was about to go bust before the year 2000. That's the mess we saw staring us in the face. The Baie Verte mines, which had been bailed out year after year by the previous administration came up with a debt - I believe it was in the $40 million range. Forty-odd million dollars had to be paid off by the Province.

Fainter souls than ours would have shrunk from that task. As a matter of fact, fainter souls than us did shrink from this task. We all know those famous last words of Brian Peckford, who said that he did not have the guts -

AN HON. MEMBER: Didn't have the ruthlessness.

MR. DECKER: Didn't have the ruthlessness to do what had to be done, Mr. Speaker. What a cop-out. Mr. Rideout, that flurry of a few days, thought that he would sneak in an election without calling the House into session. He thought he would sneak into, with all the hype of the leadership campaign, when they were fifty-something per cent in the polls. They thought that this was a good way to sneak an election in, get back into power once more, and then not have to take the responsibility for it.

Hibernia. Look at all the hype, all the shouting and screaming that the previous administration had about Hibernia. They had every Newfoundlander and Labradorian going out and taking their last red cent and investing it by mortgaging their houses. But you know, there was nothing done with Hibernia. It was nothing only just a puff of hot air. Nothing had been done. They talk about the Atlantic Accord. We've been trying to straighten that mess out ever since we've been in power. No agreements had been signed. No deals had been made. The only one who benefitted from all the Hibernia hype that the previous administration won two elections on was one Mr. Peter Lougheed. Does anyone know who Mr. Peter Lougheed was? Former premier of Alberta. The former Tory premier of Alberta, who was paid millions of dollars for legal work for Hibernia. Why? As one of the former ministers explained: our lawyers in this Province don't have the expertise.

Because we have the common garden variety of lawyers. My colleague, the Member for Naskaupi, who is now the House Leader, is really a common garden type of lawyer, therefore we couldn't trust his firm to have anything to do with Hibernia. The hon. the Premier, who at that time was in practice in this Province, he didn't have the capability, according to the former administration. He was the common garden type of lawyer. The hon. Member for Humber East, who was an outstanding lawyer in this Province, I would think, probably one of the lawyers who we will boast about - she certainly did a great job when she was minister of justice - she was the common garden type. So the Hibernia thing was nothing only hot air, it was all used for political purposes.

The departments of government were running themselves. I heard former ministers on that side of the House admit that. I remember when I was a boy growing up and some Sundays we'd have chicken for dinner. Of course, we didn't go to a supermarket and buy a chicken that was all cleaned. My grandmother would go out to the barn, take a rooster, and cut its head off. When she did that, Mr. Speaker, the rooster would probably run around for three or four minutes going all over the place with no head. Now, that is what the departments of government were like for seventeen years, prior to May 1989, they were running around like roosters with their heads gone, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: We accepted the challenge to try to clean up this mess which had been perpetrated by seventeen years of non-rule, of non-governing. Mr. Speaker himself, the Member for Humber West, accepted the challenge of cleaning up Justice. My colleague in Mines and Energy had to take the Hibernia thing in hand, and what a job he did, Mr. Speaker. My colleague for St. John's Centre, who at that time was the Minister of Finance, had to clean up the mess that the Department of Finance was in, and I want to publicly pay tribute to the tremendous job that hon. member did, Mr. Speaker. It was impossible to get into this building any hour in the morning but his car was parked in the space for the Department of Finance. No matter how late at night anyone came up near this building his car was parked in his lot. At one time I thought the thing was broken down it was there so long, but no, the light was on in his window because he worked day and night to try to straighten up the mess that we inherited, and at that time, Mr. Speaker, we were being watched. The credit rating agencies around the world were watching Newfoundland and Labrador like hawks. Remember now, we had the lowest credit rating in all of Canada. We were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. That is what we were doing, Mr. Speaker, when my friend who is now the Minister of Health and was then the Minister of Finance took over.

I can tell people in this Province without any fear of contradiction, that had we not won in the nick of time, had the Rideout team been re-elected, I can guarantee people in this Province that today we would not be here as a government. There would be six or seven members of a commission and that is who would be running this Province today. A lot of people do not realize just how close we came to losing our provincial status just as we lost our status as a nation back in the 30s. In the nick of time we came in and the good policies which were developed by my colleague, the Member for St. John's Centre, saved this Province. That is what happened.

What about the Department of Development? I only wish today that my friend the Member for St. Barbe was here to hear me and support what I am saying because he knows the kind of mess he found when he took over the Department of Development. It was known throughout the Province and throughout the world as the excursion department. Every first class seat on every airline in this Province was booked by delegations who were going to Japan, and delegations to Norway. We would have saved money had we bought a hotel in Norway rather than all the rent we had to pay out for people who were making their annual trips to Norway. Norway almost became to us what Mecca is to the Moslems. Everybody had to go to Norway. The previous Minister of Health was preparing a trip to Australia. I do not know why.

MR. ROBERTS: Even worse, he was preparing to come back.

MR. DECKER: As my colleague points out, he was even going to buy a return fare. I spent four years in the Department of Health and I could not see any rhyme or reason why the Minister of Health would have to go to Australia. My colleague for St. John's Centre is now the Minister of Health. Have you been to Australia yet? The hon. member has not been to Australia so why in the name of goodness were they preparing these trips. My colleague for St. Barbe took over that and he meshed all several departments into one and came up with the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology, bright and shiny, ready for the 21st Century. That is the kind of thing we did.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in my own case and being a man of very humble upbringing, not given to going out and bragging, I have to say with some humility that the department I took over was in one terrible mess as well. They used to build hospitals not based on need. They would build hospitals to satisfy poor, old Bill - down on the Burin Peninsula. Poor old Bill. We cannot close this hospital in Grand Bank because he might not get reelected - or poor old Brian, we should not close his hospital. They did not use any professional method to decide whether or not they were going to change the role of an institution. They built hospitals based on whether or not they were in Tory districts; based on whether or not they could get one of their own people reelected, and all of this sort of thing.

Well I went in and took that mess, and with all the humility that I can render, straightened it up so that today I am given credit - and I hate to brag over this - I am given credit across this nation as the one single minister in all of Canada who saved Medicare. The Globe and Mail - I can bring articles if anyone doubts what I am saying, and pass them around - and every other province in the great nation of ours is trying now to follow in the footsteps that we in this Province have led.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as a result of these four years, in all the departments which were running around like headless roosters, we took all these departments and whipped them into shape. What we did in the past four years was lay a solid foundation. The foundation is now there. The credit rating agencies today are saying to Saskatchewan: You should be like Newfoundland. You should take your cue from Newfoundland. They are saying to Ontario: You should take your cue from Newfoundland. They are saying to the Dominion of Canada: You should take your cue from Newfoundland.

Now just as I have been given the credit for saving Medicare, the Minister of Finance, the former Minister of Finance and the present Minister of Finance, well may be given credit in the not too distant future for saving the Dominion of Canada, because we are the first government in this nation of ours to have the backbone to do what had to be done - to have the integrity to tell the people the truth, and not trying to hoodwink them into supporting us at the polls. We are the first Province to do it, but now you notice that all across the land other provinces are following in our footsteps.

We just saw a tremendous majority for our Liberal colleagues in Nova Scotia, who went out and said to the Nova Scotians: The gravy train is gone. We have to face the truth. Here it is; and the people of Nova Scotia, seeing what happened to this good, upright, solid, fair Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, they said: That is what we want. They went to the polls and turfed out the previous administration and put in a good, clean, Liberal government because they want exactly like Newfoundland has.

Now, Mr. Speaker, maybe we are going to see that happen again on the federal level when the people of the country go to the polls, and they must go before November. Their time will be run out; they must go to the polls. They are going to say: What do we want? What kind of government do we want for the next five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years? We want a government like is in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what we want. Where are they going to look? I know where they are going to look. Hon. members opposite know where they are going to look - and the future is not too bright for anyone who goes around with any connection to the present government in Ottawa.

So, Mr. Speaker, we had four years in which we laid the foundation. We put in place the Economic Recovery Commission. Now before the election hon. members over there thought they were going to make this a big election issue. The hon. members on the other side talking about the Economic Recovery Commission, I heard them say: Oh, that is their Sprung. Huh - some Sprung, Mr. Speaker. I was going to say Mr. Chicken. Do you remember Churchill's statement: Some chicken, some neck?

AN HON. MEMBER: Some neck.

MR. DECKER: Some chicken, some neck. Some Sprung, Mr. Speaker. The Economic Recovery Commission laid the foundation for the long-term viability of this Province. They helped to come up with our economic strategy, which for the first time in the history of this Province, lays out a blueprint of where we are going to go. In that blueprint stress is placed on anything which is associated with the sea. We are an island, a great part of our Province is an island, the other part of our Province is bordering on the sea. How can we think about industries of the future unless we think about the sea from which we came? The economic strategy says that we, in our education, we must develop skills that are related to the ocean. We are now not far away from the day when in the Marine College, which is now a part of the University, we will be offering degrees in marine sciences, we will be offering degrees with major's in different marine technology, Mr. Speaker. We will become a forerunner in educational skills that are related to the ocean.

I would suggest to any person in this Province who is looking for some career of the future, pick something that is related to the sea because that is where the future of Newfoundland lies. That includes the fishery, that includes secondary processing, that includes designing of ships and offshore oil rigs and it goes on and on, Mr. Speaker. So one of the main parts of our economic strategy is to continue to build around the sea, and do not forget the fishery, Mr. Speaker. Times have changed but with the right management, once we get joint management of the fishery and get that industry where we want it to be, there is going to be a long-term fishery. Albeit it will be different from that which we had in the past but there is a long-term fishery. As a result of these four years of putting the foundation in place we now have the most efficient health care system that we have ever had in the history of this Province. We have a very efficient health care system.

In education, Mr. Speaker, I am following in the footsteps of my predecessor, the hon. Dr. Phil Warren. The previous speaker spoke about the school taxes, yes, let him continue to speak about the school taxes and let him clamour and scream all he likes but they are not going to get the school taxes back. They are not getting the school taxes back, they may as well get used to it, Mr. Speaker. I will tell you what the school taxes did. My district is in a less affluent part of this Province. Mr. Speaker, the average income for all school taxes collected in the district that I represented, was $103 per student. My colleague who represents Bay d'Espoir, the average income per student was sixty-three dollars. That was the school taxes which they are clamouring for and they want back, but the average in Labrador West and the average in St. John's was $405 per student, now, where is the equity in that? Where is the fairness in that, where is the balance in that, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. member for Humber Valley wants it back?

They fought us tooth and nail when my predecessor, I know what he went through, I know how desperately he fought to have it abolished and abolish it he did, Mr. speaker, and I want to pay public tribute to him today for the great work which he did and I want to assure the people of this Province that as long as we are here that hon. members can fight all they like, they are not going to get the school taxes back.

MR. FLIGHT: But the Tories will bring it back.

MR. DECKER: Now, Mr. Speaker, we put in place an economic strategy and we straightened out the mess in all the departments. Now, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to sit back on our laurels and say great, everything has been done, because we know it is not. We have simply laid the foundation and on that foundation now we are going to build and I say to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as our Budget Speech was, it was realism and hope. The foundation is there, now we can start building. One of the first things we started building was announced in the Speech from the Throne. Hon. members will remember when His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, read the Speech from the Throne he talked about a social strategy. A social strategy must go hand in hand with the economic strategy which we have in place, one is dependent on the other. The economic strategy will pay for the social strategy and that is the Liberalism coming through this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, when we are showing our concern for the less fortunate in our society, and one of the things we are looking at that hon. members will be pleased to hear, one of the things we are looking at again, the Economic Recovery Commission is doing a tremendous amount of work in this, we are looking at the possibility of a guaranteed annual income.

If some way, we could come up with a guaranteed annual income, we could change the face of our Province, but we will need co-operation from the federal government. Remember this, there is $1.3 billion being spent today by various forms of the safety net; $1.3 billion being spent on about 225,000 people, which averages out to somewhere around $4,000 per person, per year. The money is being spent. If we had some way to re-assign some of this money and put it into the form of a guaranteed annual income, we could have a base so that the bare fact that a person breathes, the bare fact that a person lives, would mean that his base is not zero but his base is $4,000 or six or three or whatever it would work out to, and I believe if it is possible for us to come up with some kind of a guaranteed annual income, it would make it much easier for us to assure our people that there basic needs are taken care of, food, shelter, clothing and then on top of that, the person can seek work or make work himself, take some job or whatever the case might be to supplement his or her income, but the basic income, Mr. Speaker, I believe -

This morning the Member for Humber Valley, talked about the mechanization of the logging industry and I relate to some of the things he talked about. My grandfather could cut 20,000 cords of wood a year. For that he needed 500 men, who went in, stockpiled and drove it out in the spring of the year, they towed it in boats but it took 500 people to do it. My father could go in with 100 men and do exactly the same thing. Some years later, I went in, Mr. Speaker, with twenty-five men, five skidders, a tractor and a couple of trucks and we produced exactly the same amount. Five skidders, twenty-five men, we produced 20,000 cords of wood per year.

Now when you look at all that technology and you could take every single sector of the economy and you will see that mechanization is creeping in, and one of the rules of government is to ensure that the work which is lost by the lack of manpower, the work which is lost because of mechanization, the work which is lost by computerization, we have to make sure that the profits which are generated from that are redirected so that every person in society benefits from it otherwise we must stop the industrial revolution; otherwise we must stop mechanization. We must turn the thing around and become the masters of mechanization. We must become owners of the slave, who now is the machine. The Roman Empire, the people had their slaves; in this day and age we have mechanization but we have to make it work to our advantage and this is where the concept of a guaranteed income is going to fit in, and where we have the Economic Recovery Commission working on it, we have officials within government in all departments, especially the social sector, Mr. Speaker. The Deputy Minister of Education, the Deputy Minister of Social Services, the Deputy Minister of Health, the Deputy of Environment and Lands. These deputies are working together with the Economic Recovery Commission to build on that foundation which we put in place for the past four years.

Mr. Speaker, I see my time is coming to a close, so in closing, I want to summarize it by saying this: that over the last four years, we put in place a foundation on which Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can now build proudly, and that is why when the hon. Minister of Finance got up and said that this was a Budget which blended realism and hope, I could relate to what he was saying because that is exactly what it is. We faced the facts of life, we dealt with them and now we can say to our people you have a foundation, here is hope, get out and build on it, and that is where we are.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to take a few minutes and congratulate the new members who are sitting in the House of Assembly today just after the recent election, and congratulate the new Speaker, the Member for Humber West, on his appointment as Speaker and look forward to working with him over the next three or four years, as long as he will be there. I am sure he will be there that long, unless he gets elevated to a Cabinet post like the former Speaker.

I would like to take a couple of minutes, or a few seconds, to publicly thank the people of the Humber Valley district for reelecting me again and asking me to represent them again for the next three or four years in the House of Assembly. It is my third election and it shows, I suppose, that I have the confidence of the people, although during the election campaign I did not know who was running against me. I did not know whether it was Gary Gale, the teacher from Hampden, or whether it was the Premier. He spent so much time in my district, I got all fooled up.

When I get at meetings I get questions on the candidate, Mr. Speaker. He spent so much time there - six times in the district. We had the federal member, Mr. Tobin, going from door to door for three weeks, thousands of dollars spent, had the Premier on television talking about the district of Humber Valley going red. The only thing red after election day was the Premier's face and the bank account of the Liberal campaign headquarters in Deer Lake. Those are the only two red things I saw. Thousands of dollars were spent on signs. Someone got sucked in during the full month campaign in the district of Humber Valley, I can assure you.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few comments I would like to make. I suppose when you get up to speak you always have this hesitancy, and if you know you are going to speak for a couple of hours you are jotting down notes and probably getting something to refer to, but whenever the speaker before you, if you listen very closely, especially in the Budget Debate, you do not have to jot down everything. You have your speech all in your head because the member who spoke before really feeds you all the bait.

Now the first comment I would like to make, especially after the Member for the Strait of Belle Isle just spoke, is pertaining to the health care sector. Mr. Speaker, if anybody in this Province, and more specifically anybody in this House - there are fifty-two members in this House of Assembly, and if there is one member in the House of Assembly who is not getting an average of eight to ten calls a week concerning emergency service at the hospitals of this Province, then I say there is something radically wrong. I will go on record today, speaking for the west coast of this Province, that now has twelve intensive care units in the Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook to serve all western Newfoundland and the south coast - parts of the northern peninsula, because further down Grenfell looks after St. Anthony.


MR. WOODFORD: Twelve intensive care units in the hospital in Corner Brook.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many people?

MR. WOODFORD: Now, Mr. Speaker, the number of people does not matter here because we have to talk about geography as well. The member knows full well what the geography is like on the northern peninsula. We are not as fortunate as the minister responsible for health now, where he can run over to the Janeway; he can run over to St. Clare's; he can run over to the Grace; and if he is not satisfied there he can run over to the Health Sciences building. What do we do?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I know what I am talking about, and it is alright for the member... You are in another world, Sir. You live in another world, like a lot of your colleagues sitting in Cabinet; but the time you get out -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I will give you names. You are not in the office long enough to get your names. Someone else is doing it for you. I do my own work in the constituency.

AN HON. MEMBER: It shows.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that is right. Sure it showed - for three elections.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Get on with it.

MR. WOODFORD: I am getting on with it, and what I am saying is factual. I know the member does not like it, but if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen because you are going to get more of it.

Mr. Speaker, people on the west coast of the Province have been shortchanged because of what's happening. Especially, one, in the health care system. I get calls every other day concerning emergencies. People out in the corridors. For someone to stand in this House - especially a Cabinet minister today to stand in this House and tell me that's not true, and to hear the Minister of Health get up yesterday and say that the hospitals are over-built. I challenge him to come out there to a public meeting with me anywhere and tell me they're over-built.

Come out where you have to go down where the sick and the helpless and the dying are. That's not being dramatic. That's not trying to create fearmongering. I know what I'm talking about, and I can present names and I can present letters, Mr. Speaker, because it is factual.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table them! Table them!

MR. WOODFORD: Table them. Yes. The member should table some of the calls he's after having over the last few weeks since he's been elected. I have to go back again to what I said first. There's no need of him. He won't get any calls. I'm sorry about that, I apologize. Because you're out of touch with what's happening in rural Newfoundland. I'm very sorry about that and I apologize. I really mean it. Because you're out of touch with what's happening out in the boondocks, in the rural areas of this Province. What's happening with people out there who - told by a doctor in Corner Brook to go on to St. John's for an appointment. Drive in either in a car or in a CN bus. They haven't got the money to fly, unless it's a total emergency altogether, and then hesitantly they'll out him on Medi-Vac. Hesitantly and reluctantly.

I'll just recount the one last week. Drove in to St. John's for her appointment, her and her daughter, sixty-eight years old. Walks into the Health Sciences Complex. Went in to see a doctor. Waited two hours, went in, ten minutes: sorry, we can't do anything for you, you have to come back in two weeks' time for another appointment. Five hundred or 600, 700, 600 kilometres? Turn around. They didn't have the money to go to a hotel. Stayed in a hostel that night and then returned to Deer Lake the next day. Come on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Come on. Only one? Mr. Speaker, I can go on and on but it seems like it's just falling on deaf ears. I say to members opposite, especially members in rural areas of the Province, the Member for St. George's, he is going to find it. The Member for Terra Nova is going to find it. Members outside the metropolitan area are definitely going to find it. It's just as well to be fair and honest about it, and it's just as well to admit to it.

They have to be getting the calls. They're not isolated to just my area. No way. It's happening all over this Province, and members opposite, especially in the back benches, are going to have to start speaking up for their constituents and do the same as other members in this House are doing. Because it is happening, and it is happening all over this Province. It's just as well for them to admit it.

I asked the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture some questions this morning pertaining to forestry and harvesters. This is a very serious problem. I know that the minister, and the administration, can't tell Kruger or Abitibi-Price to stop using harvesters. I'm well aware of the fact that mechanization has to come. That with change and progress and all as it is that has to come. I'm well aware of that. What's happening is that there are hundreds of loggers losing their jobs because of the harvesting, of new machines moving into the - especially Kruger on the west coast of the Province. Not only the loss of jobs, but the environmental problems that those harvesters are causing are really dramatic.

We'll forget that part of it. I'll go back to what the minister at the end of his speech mentioned about what's happening with the savings, and that's exactly what I said. The savings from the use of those harvesters - I'm not saying you have to stop them. You can't stop them. There's no way to stop them. There are only so many areas in the Province they can cut anyway. The other areas where a logger and a timber jack and the porters have to go in to get the - that's still there. The harvesters, there are only certain places they can work, period.

The other thing about this is that we have the federal government, through ACOA, and the provincial government, through Enterprise Newfoundland, helping fund those harvesters, and at the same time putting someone (inaudible) -

MR. FLIGHT: Helping the harvesters (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Helping the company. ACOA funds the harvesters, and if they want a small interest loan or a small business loan, or a conventional or a term loan, the company can get it through Enterprise Newfoundland, just like any other company in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Well, I can only speak for my area. I mean, that is a loan, it is not a grant. ACOA is a grant, that is what I am saying. So it is a little bit unfair when you talk about the loggers being put out of work. I think the company, especially Kruger, can put something in place so they can accommodate the loggers who have been displaced by the harvester. I think they really can, by increasing reforestation, silviculture programs, and so on. I think something could be accommodated.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I know all about - that's right. But the minister knows full well what those big companies are like. We have been held hostage for years, right back to the 1930s, with regard to Bowater and those other companies in the Province, and I think the time has come where we will soon have to say `enough is enough', the same as we are saying to others around the Province. We are saying it to the hospital boards.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible) Abitibi (inaudible) hundreds of millions of dollars (inaudible) years. Where do you think the savings are going to go if they find a way to get cheaper wood?

MR. WOODFORD: If you could see the books of Abitibi or Kruger -

MR. FLIGHT: I have seen them.

MR. WOODFORD: We can't see them. I know we don't have the luxury of looking at their books, but as far as I am concerned, they are soon going to have to be challenged in no uncertain terms. We are doing it to hospital boards, we are doing it to school boards, we are doing it to municipalities, yet, we can't touch a big company in the Province.

I know, at a time now, when unemployment is high and so on, it is a bit hard to try to address that problem. Again, I said it before with regard to the timber rights in the Province. We, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, can't go out and cut enough lumber, cut a log, to build a home, because we are controlled by someone else. I can't build a cabin, I can't put a road down to the lake. In some parts of the Province I can't even put a line in the water.

Mr. Speaker, somewhere soon, somehow, that is going to have to be addressed. I firmly believe - this is a personal opinion; I've said it in the past and I will say it today - we have to have - if we had control of our offshore resources and control of the fishery, we should have control of one of the biggest industries, and the best and biggest resource in this Province today, and that is our forestry. We do not have control over it.

If I want to get a permit on Crown land I have to go to the minister and get a quota to cut x number of cords of wood or x number of cords of wood for the mill or x number of cords of wood for the saw mill industry. I have to get it. As a Newfoundlander I have to get it. That is very hard to come by. Today, if you go for a commercial saw mill licence in the Province, you are history, you might as well forget it. If you go for a domestic licence you will get it, but where are you going to get the logs to put through the mill? It's rather hypocritical in a way. If you want to build a cabin, you can't do it. If you go to Crown lands, you have a chance, you go in the draw. But everywhere around you, you go into moose hunt, the gate is closed. It is terrible.

MR. FLIGHT: We are over-cutting Crown limits by 100 per cent (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: On Crown limits. Sure. Do you know what is happening now with Crown limits? It is another indirect - I say direct - cause of the harvesters. Because all the jobbers - the union fellows and the jobbers are being put out of work, so what they are doing now is going to Crown lands and getting permits to cut x number to try to sustain them over the period of time.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that is for the supply. I notice now that Abitibi has to bring in probably 30 per cent of their cut this year from Labrador. Well, that is coming.

MR. FLIGHT: So how do you -

MR. WOODFORD: I am talking about the control of the resource. As I said, it is a personal opinion, but I think there are a lot of other people in the House who probably have the same idea, who would probably like to see it. I know it is not going to be easy. It is not going to be done overnight. I realize that also. It is going to take a long, drawn-out process to try to regain some of the timber rights in this Province, I can assure you.

A lot of things are happening for the positive in the forestry industry, as well, especially in areas of the Province where it hasn't been utilized before. I can refer to down in the district of the Minister of Education, around Roddickton the and Hawke's Bay area. A lot of things are happening with regard to a saw mill industry and so on. And that is where the new jobs are in forestry today, they are in the sawmill business.

MR. FLIGHT: We have to find the wood, though.

MR. WOODFORD: That is what I am saying, we have to find the wood. The wood is there if we could put what should go into pulp wood into pulp wood and what should go into a log into logs. I have to take a few seconds and commend the minister. As far as I am concerned, when it comes to access roads in this Province on the forestry and agricultural part of it, I have to commend him on some of the actions he has taken. He has made some excellent moves with regard to access roads in the Province, in consultation with Kruger - I don't know about Abitibi, but with Kruger, anyway, on this 50/50 cut with regard to pulp wood versus logs, especially in the Chouse Brook area of the Province, Gold Cove, and now the White River road area of the Province. I mean, that is a good move and where I see something positive being done, I will be the first to say that it is positive and I will be the first to commend a minister, or whoever is responsible for doing it. That is auguring well for my area and I know it will auger well for the rest of the Province. As I said before, the only place where you can get any new jobs in the forestry industry is in sawmilling, because the mills are only taking 200,000 or 300,000 cords of wood, regardless. That is all they can take. But a sawmill can run through in perpetuity as long as they have sales, like the Roddickton mill now, if they want to cut all year.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible) log supply.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, with a log supply. Mr. Speaker, do I have four minutes left? I was going to say, I knew I spoke fast but I didn't think I spoke that fast.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments pertaining to the forestry industry and the health care sector. The Member for the Strait of Belle Isle mentioned the Sprung greenhouse, the $21 or $22 million Sprung greenhouse. Mr. Speaker, people in this Province have very short memories. You talk about a Sprung greenhouse being labelled by an administration. What about a Churchill Falls? What did Newfoundland Hydro get out of Churchill Falls last year? They got $26 million out of it and Quebec Hydro got $867 million, one year, one Sprung. If we had what was going into the coffers of Quebec Hydro for one year we could look after the people of this Province forevermore. We wouldn't have to worry about any more Budgets, current account or capital account deficits. Memories are very short, Mr. Speaker, and the only thing is, that message can't get across to the people because they are too hungry and don't have the energy to fight anymore. They have a job, a full-time job now, in looking for one. They have absolutely nothing to do, nowhere to go, no hope, no vision, and every time they turn on the radio or television they hear a minister, or the Premier, talking about the negative attitude. Even if they changed that part of it and came on in the evening and showed something positive. For the first time yet, last night I heard something positive coming out of the lips of the Premier of this Province and that was pertaining to the Hibernia development and the possibility of further oil development in the next couple of years. That is the kind of stuff we want to hear. We know these are hard times. We know the unemployment rate is high. Everybody in this Province knows that, but in order for the business sector in this Province, private citizens, and residents of this Province to do something, they have to be preached to, they have to be told, and not hear this negativism. Let them hear something positive and that will, little by little, change their attitude.

A businessman came to me last week and talked to me about a $300,000 investment in the town of Deer Lake, asking what did I think he should do, because of all the negative talk that is around, and so on, and he said: If there were only some positive talk, I have the money. I don't need government money, I can put something in place here. Well, I said: `Boy, it is one thing to take a foolish risk, it is another to take a calculated risk. You make up your mind.' I didn't want to go out on a limb and say do this or do that. I was always an eternal optimist, even when times were bad and things were not working right. But here is an individual who wanted to invest $300,000 of his own money and was a bit hesitant because of the negative attitude that was being preached around the Province.

You talk about people with their own money. How come Newfoundland Hydro, how come the Minister of Mines and Energy, how come the Premier and his Cabinet Ministers have not acted on the mini hydro sites in the Province? Proposals were called last year for fifty megawatts but they are not going to look at them until July. Companies with their own money and one company with $12 million of their own money, ready to go, not a cent of government money, not a copper, not a penny, they are not asking for any help, no environmental assessment required, the environmental assessment was waived, and they are there today sitting in their offices and can't do a thing. They can do absolutely nothing.

They wanted to go in and go to work, although they didn't want to take the power until 1996, Newfoundland Hydro was not going to accept any power, but I can understand that, as well, because Newfoundland Hydro was supposed to have their own little kingdom over there and they want to try to preserve it, and by putting out proposals for four megawatts or five megawatts or ten megawatts or what have you, in this case a total of fifty megawatts of electricity, that, little by little, would erode their power, pardon the pun, from Newfoundland Hydro, and I can see, probably. why.

But the government, the ministers of the day, have the final say with regard to Newfoundland Hydro and they can dictate to them at any time, what and what not to do and that, in this case to me, Mr. Speaker, is wrong, because those projects should be proceeding and creating jobs at a time when government says they have no money, but yet, at the same time, we have private entrepreneurs in here, offering to do something, create jobs without any government money and the one I am talking about in this case, Mr. Speaker, is the four megawatt project on Rattling Brook on the Cat Arm Road.

I have three more projects in the district which are much bigger. One is a six, one is a ten and one is a twenty megawatt, but that one is ready to go and can't see the light of day. Newfoundland Hydro will not give them - now they are going to call and say they are going to look at proposals again in July, and I will venture to bet, that they will be back again the end of July saying: Well, we have to ave another look at it now, we will look at it again in January,' even when a company is willing to go in and put the infrastructure in place and wait for four years before they get any money out of it, not a cent of government money, not a copper. I just don't understand the rationale behind it. I just don't understand it. I brought it up here last year and the Premier said: `There is an environmental assessment needed.' There was not, it was waived. I checked that out and it was waived. So, those are the kinds of things that I would like to see, that don't cost one red copper. Those are two projects, and I can name more, but I can't name individuals, I can't name companies - very close to the scene and very close to what is going on in the district; but that's it; I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned also that he has a new social strategy come out in the Throne Speech. In order to have a social strategy, Mr. Speaker, you first of all, have to have a social conscience; that is the first thing before you can put a social strategy in place. He mentioned about school boards, about the school tax -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: No, members here don't want the school tax back, that is a fact, but where has it gone? It certainly hasn't gone to the school boards. Where has the money gone? School boards are not getting it. The monies that are being collected are not going to the school boards. It was a good idea that they were going to be brought up on par with other areas in the Province and were going to be averaged out so that they could enjoy the same benefits as school boards, we will say, on the East Coast of the Province, especially in the St. John's Metropolitan Area.

School boards are having a hard time of it, Mr. Speaker, and every school board in this Province today is in trouble. They're in trouble. They find it hard. I have a school board in my area with something like a $250,000, $300,000 deficit. How are they going to address it? Where do they cut? They've cut to the bone. Now they've got to start cutting the bone. There's nowhere else to go. Something has to give, something has to suffer.

Those are the very basic essentials. Health care and education. If we haven't got that, we haven't got anything. Those are the two areas in this Province today where there have to be some improvements.

I often hear members opposite - especially the Member for Eagle River, just about every time he gets up - nail the federal government, nail John Crosbie and the feds. Only for the federal government today in this Province the unemployment rate would be about 40 per cent, 45 per cent. You take ACOA out of this Province, you take the UI out of this Province, and you take the federal-provincial agreement on forestry, on tourism, on rural development, and all kinds of other agreements that we don't hear about every day, and you've got a lot more than 44 per cent of your income coming into the Province from the federal government.

I don't agree either with all that the federal government is doing. I'd be the first to say that. One of the things that I don't agree with today, although it has nothing to do with this, is the appointment of senators, that's going on now in Ottawa. As far as I'm concerned it should be done away with, if anything. No appointments. Just do away with it completely. But only for the money that's coming in today from the federal government into this Province the unemployment rate of 20 per cent is just based on - it doesn't include the people on NCARP. It doesn't include anything to do with the moratorium, the package, or anything else. It's just a - everything but the fishery. You can imagine the 20,000 or 25,000 people who would be added to that, what it would amount to with regards to percentages rising and UI in this Province.

I would like to touch on students. Student employment program. I found it - an application and a letter from the minister on May 17 put on my desk, dated May 12, deadline May 7. That was extended after to May 19. How can businesses - when I got it May 17 how can I expect businesses out around my district to get applications in by May 19? It can't happen, it's wrong. Every student in every district in this Province has the right to a job, a few weeks, or a couple of months' work, to help them through the school, help them through their university, or their trades school in the Fall of the year. They haven't got the same opportunity to do it. I know there are other districts in the Province, and other areas in the Province, that were told beforehand, that had access to those applications. It's going to be interesting to see what's going to happen over the next couple of weeks pertaining to those projects in the Province.

On the general economy, all you have to do is look in the Budget. You talk about forestry, you talk about - it reminds me of what's happening in the trucking industry in the Province, pertaining to especially the people who are hauling the logs and hauling the pulpwood to the mills in Corner Brook and Stephenville. Last year, the year before last, two years ago in the Budget, the Province in a deceitful and deceiving way increased registration fees, motor registration fees, fines. It was never announced in the Budget. The only things that were announced were the cuts, Department of Health certificates and so on like that. When you look at the estimates in the Budget there's no trouble to see why. When you see, for instance, fines and forfeitures: $8 million last year, and the previous year, something like $2 million or $3 million.

I have people in my area now, truckers in my area, who are just getting ready to pack it in. Every time they go down the road, every time they cross the scales or get handy to the scales, if they smell them at all, or see them at all, that's it, they're fined. If they don't get them on the actual weight of the wood on the truck - I mean, it doesn't make sense. They've been for the last few years asking for a different scale and a different rule with regard to the measuring and the weighing of trucks and they do not have it. We have them going in now and getting fined $600 and $700. How does the trucker know? Members opposite must have truckers in their districts that have been hurt by this. They have to, especially down on the northern peninsula highway, I mean getting $600 or $700 fines, their profits are gone but hon. members just do not seem to take it seriously. This is ruining these little small operators with one, two and three trucks and every time they go down it is anywhere from a ninety to a $700 fine, Mr. Speaker, and it is no trouble to see, when you see an increase in fines and forfeitures in the Budget. Where is it coming from? I would venture to bet that 50 per cent of it is coming from truckers in this Province. Vehicle and drivers licenses, up $5 million in one year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I was going to say we almost heard it all from the Minister of Education but he left a little bit, he did not have time to finish it all.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to join with the other speakers that have spoken since we resumed, since the general election and offer my congratulations to all those members who were elected or re-elected to the House of Assembly. It is good to see so many familiar faces back and good to see so many new faces here. I would like to offer my congratulations to the Speaker, the Member for Humber West in his selection as Speaker, to you the Chairman, Deputy Speaker, the Chairman of Committees and all the others and to those new ministers, not new ministers I suppose in some cases but to those who -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes. What is there, one new minister? Two new ministers, Municipal and Provincial Affairs -

AN HON. MEMBER: Two new and one renew.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: One renew, yes, there is no doubt and I want to offer them my congratulations.

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Born again, yes there is no doubt. I must say for the new Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I would say to the Minister of Education that that probably sums it up very well, born again. But I was saying to the Member for Humber Valley that if there is an award to be given out so far for performance in the House or for whatever, the minister -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) Ross Reid will be the new cabinet minister from Newfoundland?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I do not listen to what Macleans says, I say to the -

MR. ROBERTS: Does the hon. gentleman not feel that is correct?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: Does the hon. gentleman not feel that is correct?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, I think there is a fair possibility if Ms. Campbell wins -

MR. ROBERTS: Now where does that leave my friend from Ferryland who has been carrying Crosbie's cross all this time?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, he has not been.

Let me say to the Government House Leader, I want to finish what I was saying about the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I think he will get the award as the most changed person -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - a man who I sense now is very, very conciliatory, very understanding, very cordial, so maybe like the Minister of Education said, it comes with being reborn, but I want to say to my good friend, the Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that I do sense a change in his -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well that may be, perhaps he is trying to hoodwink the Opposition now to pretend that he is really a nice fellow and he is going to go out to their districts and look at their problems and all of this stuff, I do not know, an attitude adjustment I would call it but having said that, I am delighted to see him back in the Cabinet because -

MS. COWAN: Does he have his cucumber recipe book -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, he has that given up. He promised that he would give up the recipe for Bev's Special Dip if I sent a recommendation to the Premier to put him in Cabinet, I say to the Minister of Environment and Lands, so I did that.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) the hon. gentleman did not live up to his promise.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, yes I certainly did, always. I always do, I always live up to my promises. I do not make many promises, I say to the Government House Leader but I live up to the few I make.

MR. ROBERTS: Could you produce a copy of the recommendation for us?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But I want to say to him that there was never any doubt about the Member for Port de Grave being a good minister when he was the Minister of Social Services. He was a very good Minister of Social Services, I say to the -

MR. ROBERTS: He is not going to pave all of your roads, no matter how nice you are to him.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - to the new members in the House, he was a very, very good Minister of Social Services. He performed his duties very well. He just got a little carried away, of which he has learned a lesson, and now he is going to be even a better Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Having said that, I want to congratulate all members, and ministers as well, who were reappointed as ministers or stayed on as ministers in the portfolios in which they were, and the new ministers that were appointed.

I want to make a few remarks about the tone of the Minister of Education's speech. The Minister of Education, you know, is sometimes enjoyable and there are other times when he is very difficult to listen to, but he has been known to really exaggerate and stretch the truth.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well I was outside for a good part of the minister's speech today. I was outside, eavesdropping on the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations when he admitted to the press that it is not all new money for the new program that he has announced. It is not all new money. I heard him. He did not know I was near him. I was stood up listening to him, and I almost shouted out 'not true', but I could not do it because that is the minister's famous quote - famous saying - in the House, and whenever anyone says anything, he says: It is not true.

The Minister of Education went on about how on May 5th - I was outside when I heard this - May 5, 1989, how when they opened the books what they found. Well, Mr. Speaker, you know, the new members in the House have to be told what they found. They were left with a surplus on current account. That is what they were left with, and each year since then the deficit has ballooned - mushroomed. First it was the former Minister of Finance who did not understand the tax formulas. He could not understand that we were amongst the highest taxed people in Canada. I am sure members who have returned remember that. He could not understand it, and I used to go on record as saying - I saw him the other day on the way out of the House - I said that he would go down in history as the worst Minister of Finance the Province ever had - I say to the Minister of Health; but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am not finished. He has lost the title, I say to the Government House Leader, and I hate to say something in the absence of the present Minister of Finance.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, he will forgive you.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh he will. We are always very forgiving, but he has now taken over the title as the worst Minister of Finance the Province has ever seen, because his deficit is even bigger and worse than the now Minister of Health's when he was Minister of Finance. The President of Treasury Board, the present Minister of Finance, has won the title of being the worst Minister of Finance the Province has ever seen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the best President of Treasury Board did he say?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well I had better be careful how I answer that because I have not seen all the results yet of his being President of Treasury Board. I am looking forward quite anxiously to the next number of days to see really, I guess, if there will be a solution to the problems that the President of Treasury Board has been trying to deal with over the last couple of months with the unions and so on. I hope it does resolve itself in a manner that will not see any confrontation, I say to members opposite. I hope it works itself out. Everyone knows the government intention. They are going to deal with it, and I just hope that between the negotiations they can work that out in a manner that everyone can live with, without confrontation or any disruption of services to anyone in the Province.

The Minister of Education also went on talking about money going here and money going there, and I believe he mentioned Baie Verte and a few other places. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education must be reminded that back in those days there were several hundred people working at Baie Verte - several hundred people working in other mining locations around the Province - that this government that he is so proud to be a member of shut down. It was the former Conservative government that got involved with Kruger, and that is why we have an operation in Corner Brook today. You cannot just say you are not going to support any type of industry in this Province unless you want to totally decimate the provincial economy.

That is the attitude that this administration has taken with forestry and with mining and with the fishery. I am sure very soon with the fishery we will get the Minister of Fisheries plans. He will soon now - he is going to go around the Province with those public hearings, meetings, to hear the views of the people of the Province on the fishery. Really what he is looking for is to get the opinion of the people of the Province of what they think should be done with the Province's fish plants, with the excess processing capacity. That is what the Minister of Fisheries is up to.

There are two things he is doing; trying to get an opinion from the people on that but as well, of course, he wants to get public reaction to the federal Minister of Fisheries proposal on the Atlantic Agency, and I am pretty certain of what the provincial Minister of Fisheries is going to find as the reaction on that and I think the people of the Province are going to be very, very opposed to that proposal, as we are and all members of the Legislature are, very opposed to Mr. Crosbie's proposal for the Atlantic Agency, so I do not think the Minister of Fisheries will be very surprised at what he is going find there. On what direction he is going to get from those involved in the industry and the public at large on what should be done with the processing sector, I could not even venture a guess as to what he is going to find there.

It is too bad the Minister of Fisheries is not here because I wanted to just pursue the line with him. I read with interest, a couple of days ago, Mr. Crosbie's comments to the editorial board of The Evening Telegram, where, he said that the federal government was willing to look at some funding to deal with the issue of the processing sector in our fishery, and really, the Province, for whatever reason, did not put forward a plan. Now, I can understand the Province perhaps leading up in the eve of the election not putting forward a plan because I think most people realize the inevitable when it comes to the processing sector, with the number of plants we have around the Province, so I could see the government perhaps holding off until the election was over, but I think the Province missed a golden opportunity here, if indeed there were federal dollars here to help resolve this situation we have with the processing sector of our fishery, and I would like some day for the Minister of Fisheries or someone else, perhaps the Premier, to perhaps inform and enlighten members as to why the Province has not put forward a plan, because it is not too often that you get a federal minister who indicates that there are federal dollars available for something, but yet, the Province does not pursue it for whatever reasons. So I would be most interested in hearing the Minister of Fisheries, perhaps next week - or no, next week he is out and about his hearings I believe for a couple of days, so maybe, when he gets back. Perhaps that is something we will pursue with him in Question Period and see why.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education of course, as we know -I was going to say he had a lot of expertise in the area of health care, but that would certainly be an erroneous statement on my part, he has no expertise in the Newfoundland health care system. He will be remembered mostly as the man who did most damage to the Province's health care system. He likes to say how efficient he made it, how good he has made it and how much better it is than it was before he became Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: It is better.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It is better?


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, that really worries me, I say to the current Minister of Health. If he says now that the health care system in this Province is better, well, that really worries me. I was quite delighted when the former Minister of Health moved out but I cannot say that I was quite delighted that the current Minister of Health moved in, especially after statements like he just made. It worries me very much -

MR. SULLIVAN: At least the former minister knows it is worse.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but he would not admit it. But he certainly knows it is worse, because if there is ever a man who took the brunt of the public uproar and ire over what he did to health care it is the now Minister of Education who is going to take the same scathing attacks on education, I say to him, but of course that is his role with the government. You know, he is known as `Dagger Decker'. I say to new members, he was always referred to as `Dagger Decker', but he did not get that reputation since he became minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh yes. Not true I say to the minister, not true. He got Dr. Death - I put that name on him when he was Minister of Health because I say to him that is the only growing industry I know in Newfoundland and Labrador today. The only growing business is the funeral business, I say to the Minister of Education, and a lot of it is due to the decisions that he made in the health care system -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) come on Bill.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am serious, I say to - who said that, come on Bill? The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. Yes, I am serious, I am very serious. He did so much damage to our health care system that it will take us years to get over it. As I said, for the present Minister of Health to say that it is better, then, I really expected more.

Now, maybe they think the health care system is better because we have a million dollar facility up in Forteau that they cannot open. The nurses last fall - great building. I heard, or read an article yesterday, a Mr. Patey, I believe it is, of the Northern Peninsula somewhere saying about what a beautiful facility it was. It was ready for occupancy last fall but government refused the money to furnish it so that they could put the people who need to go in there for care in there. Then I read further on in the article where the Minister of Health talked about a similar situation that may develop in St. Lawrence and in two or three other places. It was only yesterday the Minister of Health talked about the beds in St. Lawrence costing $85,000 a bed, I think, he said. Well, it is no good to spend $85,000 on a bed if you are not going to put people in it who need the care I say to the minister and that is the problem we find ourselves with.

MR. DECKER: You have forty beds in your hospital there. They have been there for years.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: And I tell the minister there are fifteen closed up down there right now. They closed them up in the last few days I say to the minister, in the new hospital in Salt Pond.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, they have them all shutdown there. They eliminated positions at Grand Bank at the Health Care Centre and at the Blue Crest Centre Faith Home. People got their notices within the last two days I say to the Minister of Education. It is not a very happy story, especially on the heels of the provincial election when you had some statements made by certain candidates about how committed the Liberal government was to health care in the area. That is well documented I say to the Minister of Education. Thank God, they were not successful.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, they certainly do, and they deserve it I say to the minister. They are not asking for anything they do not deserve. They really deserve it and they need it.

AN HON. MEMBER: They do not want it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, they do want it. I say to the Minister of Health that I just hope funding will be provided to open that new facility in St. Lawrence because it would be very, very sad if we see facilities like that constructed and then government do not have whatever it takes to open them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take away the payroll tax (inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You did not eliminate the payroll tax. You cannot use that excuse I say to the minister. You are still collecting the payroll tax. As a matter of fact the health and education tax I say to the minister is what it came in under, the health and education tax to further enhance health and education in this Province. That is why the tax was implemented by this government. The health and education tax it was called and there has never been a greater attack on health and education in our history than there has been this last four years.

I say to the Minister of Health in all sincerity that I hope that does not happen because there is no point going out and building great new facilities if you are not going to move the people in who need to be moved in and cared for. I say to the Member for Humber Valley and for new members who listened to him, that I think the biggest single problem we have in this Province today is what we are going to do with care for the elderly? What are we going to do to be able to take care of them? I think it is the biggest pressing issue that we have. The waiting lists in all our facilities are growing daily. Serious, serious cases cannot get admitted that need to be admitted and it is no fault of the admissions committees that are in place. Really, now before you can get into one of these facilities you practically have to be dead I say to members. You practically have to be dying to get in and that is just how serious it is.

DR. KITCHEN: (inaudible) with your suitcase

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, they did before I say to the Minister of Health. It happened before and that was not right either. I say to the Minister of Health, what happened to those who walked in with their suitcases, we all know that now they are the people who need the long-term care, the chronic care, and the facilities they are in are the same ones they walked into with their suitcases, so they are not equipped and designed to take care of them.

MR. SULLIVAN: And now they are pushing them out and they cannot walk out with their suitcases.

MS. VERGE: The Joey Smallwood days.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, Joey Smallwood and his administration build them I say to the minister. You can attack us if you want for the five year hospital plan where we built the regional hospitals in Port aux Basques, Clarenville, and Salt Pond. You can attack us for that if you think that was wrong, but you cannot attack us for the facilities -

MR. DECKER: (inaudible) Grand Falls.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I say to the Minister of Health that he should listen and not get carried away. You cannot attack us for building the facilities where people walked in with their suitcases. I know people who lived on the same street that I did in Grand Bank who walked out of their house, got aboard the car, and went up and walked into Blue Crest Home in Grand Bank. A little apartment is what it was, but a lot of these people have now died and those who are left are in those very same facilities and they are not structured to be able to care for them the way they need to be cared for. A lot of them have Alzheimer's, are wandering, and they do not have a ward to put them in. Seriously, it is a big problem in this type of facility. People are wandering about. The Minister of Health says, no.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I did not have one dumped anywhere, I say to the Minister of Education. The people who were in the St. Lawrence U.S. Memorial Hospital were there because there was no one else to care for them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But you do not have anyone in there. You have shut down the old facility and you have not yet opened the new facility to move those people into. So that is the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Education knows so little about it that he should be quiet, and he should listen and he will learn something about the problems in health care out and about rural Newfoundland, I say to him. The problem is, you do not listen. You do not listen. That is your problem. You did not listen when you were Minister of Health. You are not listening now you are Minister of Education. There is only one person you will listen to, and that is the Premier. It is too bad you do not listen to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

MS. VERGE: Crab workers.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, you do not listen to the hundred or so people up in Roddickton who cannot - he has been four years trying to put them back to work, so effective he is, I say to him. A Minister of the Crown who has been there for going on his fifth year, has a resource up there, has a trained workforce, a skilled workforce, and he is not able, I say to new members in his own back bench over there, to put things together with the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to put those 100 people back to work, in five years. They are no further ahead today than they were five years ago - if members want to know about the efficiency and effectiveness of the Minister of Education. The only person who ever got things going and stirred up up there was me. They would have been a forgotten lot if I had not brought the issue to the floor of this Assembly, I say to the Minister of Education - and if I had gone up during the election I would have taken care of him. I would have wiped him out if I had gone up during the election, but I could not get there.

MS. VERGE: He is threatening them now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What did he say?

MS. VERGE: He is threatening them. He said they blew their chance because they talked to a member of the Opposition.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They blew their chance. Now members opposite did not hear what he said. They blew their chance because they talked to a member of the Opposition. Now that is what this minister said.

Now if the minister continues with this - I have embarrassed him enough - I will embarrass him even more, because I will ask the Speaker to put up a big screen and I will show a video of the minister in a public meeting up in Roddickton, and I will let everyone witness what that minister told them up there.

MR. DECKER: What was the real reason you did not come up there?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It was too far - three days. I could not get there.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is on the video?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, I am not going to disclose what is on the video.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, she sure did.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Punch and Judy Show.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Punch and Judy Show, yes.

Well all I say to members opposite is that the election that was just over was my second-best election. I have been in four elections. My first two, I tell hon. members, were much closer than this one - much closer. This is my second-best election out of four, so that is not too bad.

AN HON. MEMBER: Watch out for the fifth one, Bill.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, you never know about the fifth one. That is another four years away. We will not talk about that now. That is too far away.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He has even pre-planned his funeral like everybody else.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What did Rick say?

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Health is going to have everybody dead in four years.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, that is too far away. That is one thing that members will begin to realize - that four years is a long time in politics. Six months is, as a lot of members know. Six days is a long time in politics, as my good friend from Port de Grave knows. My good friend from Port de Grave knows it can be a long, agonizing six days, so you never know.

AN HON. MEMBER: Six hours.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Six hours - and I would say that the time between the time on election night when the government was declared, I would say there were a lot of long days for a lot of members who were waiting by the phone. Every time it would ring they would just about have a fit, hoping it would be the Premier calling them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, some fellows were glued to the phone.

AN HON. MEMBER: The hon. gentleman was not.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I surely was not. As a matter of fact, I certainly was not, but I know what it is like, I can tell hon. members. I know how it feels to wonder if you are going to get the call - not like the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, who missed the call. He missed the call.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) your house and get off the phone.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, don't have that line tied up, I say to the Member for St. John's South. And he knows. He was there. Someone told me he wouldn't leave the living room where his phone was.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: But we went through it all, too, of course. We know what it is like. We used to joke with some of our members at the time that they actually camped out on the eighth floor. As a matter of fact, my good friend from Burin - Placentia West, when he was parliamentary assistant to the Premier, on April Fool's Day - I won't say which member he called - but he called down to the fifth floor.

MR. ROBERTS: The Premier would like to see you.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The poor fellow went up. The elevators at the time were busy and he took the stairs on the fifth floor and ran to the eighth floor. I mean, if the Premier were really going to invite him into Cabinet, he probably would have died anyway, because he just about had a heart attack. But this is true. When he got up there, of course, he rushed into my friend's office and asked: `What time do I have to see the Premier?' and he said: `April Fool.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is a true story, by the way. That is true.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did `Jim' say, then?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: `Jim' who? I don't know who you're talking about. No, it wasn't 'Jim'. I assure you, it wasn't a 'Jim'. No, his legs weren't too long and the member wasn't here too long.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes it was. But these are the kinds of things that happen, as you know.

I want to say to all the new members in the House, that I have been most impressed the last week or so with the performance in debate, and with our members, of course, who get a chance to participate in Question Period. As a matter of fact, I have been here now - this is my fourth election, and I would have to say it is the best performance. It started right back on Throne Speech day, by the way. I thought the mover and the seconder and the Address in Reply did very, very good speeches, I want to say to them.

The speeches since and the questions - because it is sometimes intimidating for new members to get up in debate, or to get up and ask a question, but they have done extremely well. I think it is the best performance I have seen from a group of new members. I say that very sincerely. So I want to congratulate you all for that. There is one thing on which I really have to agree with the Minister of Education, that is, when he talked about the talent in the government back benches as compared to the Cabinet.

I have to say, it is not very often I agree with the Minister of Education on anything, but I assure you, if there is one correct and true statement that minister has ever uttered in this Legislature, that is the one. Because I assure the people - the private members, I like to refer to them. I hated being called a back bencher. I was there for three years and I hated it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't worry about it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Don't worry about it. Who said that? Why?

AN HON. MEMBER: I am comfortable with it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Are you really? Well, I am glad to hear that, but you won't be for long. Look, don't try to fool me, I have been through it. Alright? Don't tell me you are comfortable back there, because you're not. I know all about it. You won't be comfortable until you get up here. Then it depends on how ambitious you are, how close up to here you get. We are all political animals and I respect that.

Yes, there is no doubt - there is far more talent amongst the private members than there is in most of the Cabinet, I say to the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am not denying that, you see. I am an honest man, an honest person. But having watched the performance of most of the ministers opposite for the last four years, I can't wait for January when the Premier has promised the big shuffle and the big shake-up. Because if ever there were a Cabinet that needed shaking up it is over there. I know from what I have seen in the last week that there are members over there who are going to fill in the Cabinet seats and are going to do extremely well. It is hard for me to say but I think we may even have an effective Liberal Cabinet then. I think we will when that happens.

So I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, I can see why he is nervous and shaky. The thing is, sometimes a few days in politics is a long time for one reason or another, but I am sure the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture now dreads every morning he wakes up, because it is one less day that he has in Cabinet, I say to him, one less day that he has left around, because Christmas is going to come very fast.

MR. FLIGHT: I have come through six elections.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Six elections? Well, I congratulate the minister for that. It is quite an accomplishment to win six elections, I say to him.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible) minister, I believe, (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Was what?

MR. FLIGHT: Was demoted.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, the Member for Burin - Placentia West was not demoted, I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. He just wanted a little less responsibility. He is at that stage in life where he said, `I would like to take it a little bit easier now, Matthews,' and I said, `No problem, old boy.' The kind of person I am, again, I am quite helpful to my colleagues, if they want more responsibility, I try to give it to them. If they want less, I try to ease them out a bit. To be very honest - since he is not here, I hate saying this - but the real reason why I moved him down a seat behind me is because he has already got me deaf in my right ear, and now, the Member for Ferryland is going to be deaf because - I don't have a bit of hearing left in my right ear, I say to members opposite, he has totally deafened me. As long as you don't tell him that is the real reason, which I know you won't. I know that when he gets back, the Member for St. John's South wouldn't dare tell him.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Before I finish, I can't forget the Member for St. John's South, the tormenting he used to give the Member for Burin - Placentia West because he was parliamentary assistant to former Premier Peckford. He used to call him a `gofer'. He used to be over in his seat and he would have the Bic lighter out -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - like he was lighting up the Premier's cigars.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I say to the hon. member from his good side that his time is up.


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am just going to finish up, Mr. Speaker. Now, as long as we don't pick on the member - I promise I won't pick on the Member for St. John's South, but I just want to say to him, the moral of the story is, `what goes around comes around'. You should be very, very careful who you make jokes at and make fun of because it is very, very interesting now - I am observing all the time when the Premier just does like this, and you should see that man come up out of his seat!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Bad knees and all, Sir. He was a little bit let down yesterday because the Premier didn't take him out to Bull Arm. But I watched him this morning - he was in his seat when the Premier came through the doors. Well, you talk about a guy getting out of his seat! He rushed up to him and walked the Premier back. But, having said that - I am only being facetious, as the member knows - I congratulate him on that position. Now, my good friend from Burin - Placentia West always said and he still says to this day, even when he was a Cabinet Minister - the best job in government, he always called it, and I think the Government House Leader was there one time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but my friend from Burin - Placentia West always speaks so highly of that position. I guess it depends on your personality and type of individual you are, whether or not you really like that job. As for me, I would have great difficulty with it, I say to the Member for St. John's South.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) cigars.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I suppose some members would carry around a lighter even if the Premier didn't smoke cigars.

MR. WOODFORD: Peckford left after our buddy went with him.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, well, that is true, too, I say to my good friend from Humber Valley. I will conclude on this note. 'Bill', he says, `Premier Peckford left after buddy went with him' - Burin -Placentia West. He says he doesn't know if that is an indication -


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank members for the extra few minutes to finish.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity to participate in the Budget Debate. The document we are discussing now, of course, is the same document that we debated briefly in March before the election was called. The document then was incomplete and we find now that it is incomplete, and we note that ministers do not seem to have any serious intention of sticking to the forecast in the Budget.

Before I get into the content of the Budget, or the lack of content, let me join with several other members who have spoken before me in this debate, in welcoming to the Assembly, new members. It is good to have several first time members here, bringing with them, new ideas and enthusiasm. On this side of the House, in the Official Opposition, we have eight or nine new members. About half our caucus now comprise brand new MHAs, and I was interested in hearing a few of them comment about the House of Assembly. In particular, I noted their sincere but exasperated observation that the questions that we ask in Question Period are not being answered. They can't get over the fact that ministers are not answering the questions. Now, those of us who have been around for a few years are, of course, quite used to the evasiveness on the part of ministers. We have seen examples of it here this week with the Premier failing to give a direct response to the questions by the Leader of the Opposition about government's intentions to sell Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, as well as other Crown agencies. Obviously, the government is entertaining selling Hydro but the Premier is not willing to own up to it. We saw it here this week with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, when I asked him about funding for student employment this summer. Obviously the Budget contained $600,000, which is a 25 per cent reduction from what was actually spent last year, and when I asked the minister about that he said that $600,000 is in the Budget but he did not say what will actually be spent, he did not respond to the fact that his officials are saying only $300,000 will be spent on the student employment program.

This morning he announced the beginning of the Conservation Corps. Now that was promised by the Liberals four years ago in the election campaign of 1989, finally, they are getting around to making a modest start on that program. The minister, interestingly said approximately $300,000 will be spent on that this year. Now the $300,000 the minister's staff is saying is available for the student employment program plus the $300,000 the minister said this morning will be used to begin the Conservation Corps. add up to the $600,000 in the Budget estimates for the Youth Employment Program, which is 25 per cent less than the government actually spent last year to subsidize businesses and other employers taking on students for the summer.

This is quite a problem, Mr. Speaker, when we realize that there are fewer jobs available for students than ever, because of the difficulties faced by businesses and community organizations and because of the rising cost of post-secondary studies. Mr. Speaker, in conducting my campaign for re-election in Humber East, I set out for voters my priorities for this term in office. I put at the top of my list the improvement and extension of facilities and program offerings at Grenfell College. Grenfell College, which, as Your Honour knows, since it is located in Your Honour's district, is part of Memorial University of Newfoundland. The provincial government provides a block grant in aid for Memorial University's current account requirements for the university's payroll and other operating requirements.

The university hierarchy, who are all in St. John's, allocate a portion of the grant in aid to Grenfell College and historically, Grenfell College has been shortchanged. Because of the physical separation, because of the advances at Grenfell College, it is now time for the government to allocate a specific grant to Grenfell College to allow for appropriate decision-making at Grenfell for Grenfell. It is no longer appropriate for Grenfell to be operated from St. John's as a colony of the St. John's campus. Requests to this effect have fallen on deaf ears.

The university this year is short some $11 million from what is required to carry on the present level of operations, and that is extremely significant. It amounts to about 10 per cent of the government funding for the university, and it coincides with rising costs because of negotiated contractual provisions and because of the increasing cost of materials, books, lab equipment, supplies, and all the other aspects of the university's operations.

Now the university President, Dr. Art May, has said loud and clear that with the government cutbacks the university will have no choice but to downsize. Make no mistake, Memorial University, the St. John's campus, the Grenfell campus, will be smaller. There will be places for fewer students overall. There will be fewer courses, and there will be higher tuition fees.

The Minister was somewhat coy in answering questions posed by the education critic yesterday in allowing for the possibility of tuition fee increases this September. I would remind the minister that since his party has been in power over the last four years, Memorial University tuition fees have increased by 46 per cent and the university has no choice but to hike up tuition fees again this year.

Mr. Speaker, I adjourn the debate and I will be glad to continue my remarks on Monday.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I take it that the motion made by the hon. lady from Humber East carried Nihil Obstat, enthusiastically.

Perhaps I could indicate the business we propose to ask the House to address next week, Sir, before we adjourn. We have had a week of the Budget Speech and made some splendid progress and heard some excellent speeches, as members have said today. Next week we'll vary the broth a little by calling some legislation. I would propose to ask the House, Mr. Speaker, to deal with the bills in this order. Bill No. 1, which is the smoke-free workplace bill that my friend for St. John's Centre, the Minister of Health, will be bringing forward. We propose, I should add, to send that to a review process committee after second reading.

Then we'll go on to Bill No. 3, which is the Tourism and Culture department bill. My friend for Mount Scio, the minister, is here. Then we'll go on to Bill No. 5, which is the third attempt I think at trying to get the utilities municipal taxation matter straightened out. After that we'll have a look at the other bills.

I understand that one or two members would like not to go on the Budget speech on Monday, so we'll not go on the Budget speech on Monday. Or at least we won't conclude the Budget speech on Monday. I would say to members that we're getting close to the end of the Budget speech, so any of us who wish to get in it would be well-advised to be on his or her toes.

That said, Mr. Speaker, I'll move the adjournment until Monday at 2:00 p.m.

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