June 1, 1993                   HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLII  No. 8

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of all hon. members I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly seven students from the GAIN Centre, Norman's Cove and Long Cove in Bellevue district, accompanied by Mr. Bill Norman, Miss Evelyn Ennis and Ms. Jill Cumby.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, on May 4, 1992, I announced a successful Request for Bids that resulted in work expenditure commitments of approximately $1.65 million for three petroleum exploration permits in onshore Western Newfoundland. Those permits cover an area of about 117,000 hectares.

On February 5, 1993, I announced a second Request for Bids, at which time interested parties were invited to submit bids in the form of work commitments on ten parcels of land by May 28, 1993 - last Friday.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce today that I have selected bids totalling approximately $5,729,000 on six parcels covering an area of about 191,000 hectares.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: As before, the successful bids are in the form of work expenditure commitments whereby the companies undertake to spend the bid amount on exploration during the five year term of the exploration permit.

The successful bidders are:

For Parcel No. 4, Labrador Mining and Exploration Company Limited with a bid of $16,712;

Parcel No. 5, Labrador Mining and Exploration Company Limited with a bid of $135,000;

For Parcel No. 6, Vinland Petroleum Incorporated with a bid of $25,000;

For Parcel No. 7, Vinland Petroleum Incorporated with a bid of $27,500;

For Parcel No. 9, Hunt Oil Company with a bid of $5,125,200;

For Parcel No. 10, Canadian Roxana Resources Limited with a bid of $400,000.

I would note that Labrador Mining and Exploration Company is a Canadian company with headquarters in Calgary. Vinland Petroleum is a Newfoundland-based company with connections to another company in Calgary. Hunt Oil Company headquarters is in Dallas, Texas; and Canadian Roxana Resources' headquarters I understand to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Parcels No. 4 and 5, which encompass approximately 35,000 hectares and 33,000 hectares, are located north of Parsons Pond, adjacent to the other permit area given to Labrador Mining last year.

Parcels 6 and 7, approximately 24,000 hectares and 29,000 hectares in area are in the Deer Lake basin north of Deer Lake.

Parcels 9 and 10, each about 35,000 hectares in area, are located on the Port au Port Peninsula for No. 9, and south of Stephenville on the Fischells area for No. 10.

Mr. Speaker, certain requirements must be met before I will be able to issue permits, pursuant to this Request for Bids. These include, in some cases, the receipt of a $10,000 performance bond for the first year's work and, in other cases, the verification of eligible pre-permit expenditures in the area of the licences which can be credited toward the work obligations for a permit.

Mr. Speaker, provided all requirements are met, the number of onshore exploration permits issued since the Newfoundland and Labrador Petroleum Regulations were promulgated in 1991 will be a total of nine, with total work expenditure commitments to date of an amount to approximately $7.4 million.

On offshore Western Newfoundland, there are eight exploration licences with total work expenditure commitments of approximately $6.1 million have been issued since 1991.

Mr. Speaker, I am gratified by the level of interest that the oil and gas industry has expressed in Western Newfoundland and we hope that this will lead to further economic activity whereby the full petroleum potential of that area will be realized.

Thank you.

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly want to say to the minister that it is nice to hear something positive in this House for a change coming from the government. Obviously it is interesting to note that onshore development is going to take place in somewhat more of a significant way than it has in the past particularly in the area of Western Newfoundland and that is encouraging news. Last night at the estimates committee, the minister made reference to the two bring spots in the economy of this Province namely Hibernia and the Come By Chance oil refinery. Both of these projects are ones that were brought in by the previous administration, so it is nice to see that this government is at least initiating some good, positive economic news for a change on their own.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has not returned I take it from the province so I will put my questions to the Premier, anticipating the arrival, with great anticipation, of the minister. He is on the way, I presume.

Over the weekend the Premier was reported as saying, in some of the media at least, that the public sector unions would soon have to make a decision, or cut a deal, on how to save that $70 million that we hear so much about in employee compensation, or the government will have to legislate cuts as it did with Bills 16 and 17. That clearly indicates that the government has some kind of a deadline in mind in order to bring it into the negotiations. Can I ask the Premier what date has the government set to break off negotiations, or talks, if there is no agreement? There must be some date in mind.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. We do not want to sort of have a guillotine hanging over anybody's head. We just say simply this: we are already two months into the fiscal year so we have to move expeditiously. Now, does that mean by 4:30 p.m. this afternoon? No. Does it mean noon tomorrow? No. But, it means pretty darn soon after that. We do not have much time left. I do not want to say it has to be by such and such an hour or minute. I do not want to seem to be threatening anybody in that way. I just say to people, from a practical point of view, the Budget is not yet passed for this fiscal year and it is now June 1. We cannot go on forever like this. We have to deal with the issue soon.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the Premier points out there are now only ten months left in the fiscal year and the government still has to find ways to save that $70 million from the spending estimates of the government departments, and that is the concern that I have. I would not expect him to get up today and announce that 4:30 today was the deadline, but how much longer exactly can we expect it to go on, another week, another month, another year? How much longer? He must have something in mind.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the time we had in mind was the day when the House opened. That is when we expected to have it resolved, by the day when the House opened, so that we could move to address it. Now, we have been accommodating to the unions and associations involved and we have given as much time as we possibly can. We have not had an absolute and I do not want to be provoked by the Leader of the Opposition into saying such and such is an absolute cutoff. I am just saying we expected to have this done when the House opened. It did not work so you try a little bit longer, and a little bit longer, so as to try and achieve agreement, but we have pretty well reached the end of the line and we have to move quickly.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Far be it for me to try to provoke the Premier. There are many others in this Legislature who have a knack and a way for doing that, rather than I do. Let me ask him something else then, is the Premier or is the government trying to negotiate with public sector unions some sort of a social contract similar to what we see going on in Ontario? Where the government will offer to the unions, and I do not expect him to provide me with details of negotiations, but where the government would offer to the unions some security or some concession on job security or some other benefits in return for a deal on compensation cuts of $70 million in this case, is that the kind of negotiation that is going on? Just so we know what is going on or have some idea.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, there are no negotiations, no quid pro quos, we agreed to sit down with the unions to identify the best manner in which to implement the $70 million overall cost reduction. It is not a question of saying: if you agree to the reduction, we will agree to give you that. That is not the issue, that is no part of the agreement.

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

MR. SIMMS: No, social contact than. Can I ask the Premier this and this is a very specific question and I am sure he can answer it: In addition to seeking the cut of $70 million from employee compensation, is the government proposing to continue the wage freeze or the freeze on public sector wages and if so, how long will that particular wage freeze last this time?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to let the collective bargaining process that we have in place run its course and then the government will announce to the House exactly what has been agreed upon with the unions. I do not want to thwart or make more difficult the discussions that are underway by answering and responding to these kinds of speculative questions. I would sooner let the negotiating process take its ordinary course and hopefully the minister can work out an arrangement with the public sector unions and associations involved.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I did not realize I was asking a speculative question, to be perfectly frank with the Premier, I was hoping he would confirm what I thought was already said publicly by some of his ministers that in fact it is obvious that there will have to be a wage freeze. I do not know who I thought had said it, maybe the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations or somebody else. In any event, let me ask him just this one final question. Obviously the preparation of legislation would take some time to deal with an unsatisfactory resolution to this current situation. Can I ask the Premier: does the government have the legislation prepared that they may have to bring in to the House in the next week or thereabouts if the negotiations are not successful? Have they made that kind of preparation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It seems to me the Leader of the Opposition is determined to provoke and create difficulty. I just ask him to put for the first time perhaps in his career the interests of the people of this Province ahead of his own political interests.


PREMIER WELLS: I'm asking him to put the interest of the people of this Province ahead of our narrow political interest.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, perhaps not. To put the interest of the people of this Province ahead of the political interest and stop trying to provoke difficulty in the negotiations between the government and the unions.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. The president of FPI told shareholders earlier this month that the company is shifting its emphasis to secondary value-added processing using fish that they're getting from foreign sources in the Pacific, Iceland, Norway, Greenland and so on. I would like to ask the minister: can he tell the House how much if any of this foreign fish that FPI is borrowing from foreign interests is being processed here in Newfoundland? Is any of that fish being processed here or is it all being processed outside the Province?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure I can answer that question except to say that there is a lot of foreign fish - not a lot, but a certain quantity of foreign fish - finding its way into the Province. My understanding is that most of it is being processed here. Not maybe in a secondary processing form, but certainly it's being processed here. At least that's my information.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister touched on the topic really that I'm pursuing, that of secondary value-added processing, which I think we all agree we have to further encourage and support if we're to maintain a fisheries economy in the Province. FPI says 60 per cent of the groundfish it will use in 1993 will come from sources external to FPI's traditional groundfish supply. As a result, its secondary processing plants in Boston and Danvers are fully utilized. Really, they're at maximum utilization. I'm just wondering. There are some, only marginal, improvements in the secondary processing at Burin, which is FPI's only value-added plant in the Province. Is the government taking any action to encourage or require FPI to do any more value-added processing in our Province? Can the minister inform the House of that?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, we're constantly encouraging all companies to do as much secondary processing as they can given the limitations that are on secondary processing, there is only so much they can do.

Now, the plant in Burin, I am told, is one of the most modern plants of its kind probably in Canada, maybe even in North America, and it is operating at about, I think, 40 per cent of its actual operating capability. Naturally, we are encouraging companies to get involved in secondary processing. In fact, there is a lot of interest being shown now, Mr. Speaker, in the secondary processing of caplin, for example. There is a lot of interest. In fact, there are at least two plants that I know of in the Province that are very much involved now in producing the product that the Japanese are buying from Newfoundland, the female caplin - shishamo, it is called - and a lot of that secondary processing is now being done in the Province.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the minister has referred to encouraging secondary processing. Can the minister inform the House what the Provincial Government is doing to encourage secondary processing? What actions are you taking as a government? What support or other mechanisms are you putting in front of companies to encourage? You say you are encouraging. Is that by way of sending telexes, faxes, or writing letters, or having meetings? Really, specifically, how are you, as a government, encouraging or promoting secondary value-added processing in this Province?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, there are many ways in which we are assisting and encouraging the companies. For example, it was only a few months ago that the Province, in collaboration with the Federal Government, undertook a trade mission to Japan, with representatives from ten companies in Newfoundland, for the purpose of identifying new markets in that country.

I am happy to say that there has been a certain, in fact quite a high level of success and that markets were discovered in Japan for certain products that will soon, I hope, be processed in the Province; but we are constantly, one way or the other, providing support for most companies who want to get into secondary processing. My own department, the Department of Fisheries, has a branch that is very much involved in product development, seeking out new markets, and a number of other things to encourage secondary processing.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

FPI projects sales of some $650 million for 1993 - up 64 per cent from the level reached in 1987. As a corporate entity, they are recovering very well from the problems, really, that we are facing in our fishery today, but it is not translating into new investment or jobs in our Province. National Sea, to all intents and purposes, are following the same course.

I want to ask the minister: Is the Provincial Government prepared to let the investments and the jobs go to the United States? Are you concerned that the largest corporate entities in the fishing industry in this Province are directing new investment and job creation to the United States instead of right here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador?

The minister can talk all he wants, but what we are really seeing is that the corporate entitles of FPI and NatSea are moving all their efforts into the U.S., creating jobs in investment, while we will be left with practically nothing in this Province.

MR. SIMMS: All the jobs are going to the U.S.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, of course, we don't enjoy seeing FPI or, indeed, any company shipping out raw material for processing in the U.S. There were certain barriers, of course, that FPI and other such companies had to deal with - one, of course, being tariffs that still exist on finished product going into the U.S. In fact, under the Free Trade Agreement it is reducing, but certainly the tariff is still there. I am told that does provide an impediment to companies who want to get involved.

We have had discussions with FPI with respect to their plant in Danvers, Massachusetts, to find out precisely what they can do in this Province - what they are now doing in Massachusetts - and I can only speak as I find. I am satisfied that Mr. Young, the President of FPI, is making an all-out effort to engage his company in secondary processing in the Province. It might not be moving as rapidly as you want it to move, but I think there is a lot of effort being made now in that regard.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health. As a result of budgets presented to them in March, hospitals all across the Province have been closing beds and laying off staff. Can the minister tell the House how many beds have been closed and how many staff positions have been eliminated since March?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I do not have these numbers at my fingertips but I will certainly look these numbers up and relay them to the hon. member at the appropriate time.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Some of the shutdowns have been carried in the press. They have carried layoffs on big closures at St. Clare's, at the Grace Hospital, the Peyton Memorial Hospital in Gander, the Jackson Memorial Hospital. Among these hospitals, they have shut down over fifty beds and eliminated seventy jobs. How many bed closures and layoffs does this government expect to achieve from its latest assault on hospitals and nursing homes? Do you have a figure that you expect?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the budgetary restraints that we faced imposed quite a burden on the health care system. We had to take something like $10 million out of the health care system. Each hospital board was asked to prepare a plan as to how they might achieve the savings that were allocated to them. They came back with a variety of proposals, some things of which impacted very little, most things, not at all, on the care of patients.

These proposals were examined by staff in the Department of Health and some of the proposals were rejected because they did affect patient care. But, through discussions that were going back and forth, eventually plans were achieved which, in almost every case, did not affect patient care to any point that anyone needs to be alarmed about. So I would caution the hon. member not to equate efficiencies in the health care system with reduced health care. The two don't necessarily go together, any more than if we doubled the number of people in the health care system would we have any better health care. We might have worse health care.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister has admitted that, in some cases, it has affected patient care. He said, in all cases it hasn't, in some it has. Hospitals are concerned about the latest impact of cuts in health services, waiting lists for surgery and other procedures, in diagnostic services. Does the department, intend to set up an independent group to monitor and evaluate the impact of those cuts in our health care system?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker, we will not be setting up an independent group. Each hospital is operated by a hospital board consisting of individuals who are apart from the staff of the hospital. They monitor. This job of mostly lay people is to monitor what is going on in the hospital. In addition, no change can take place in what a hospital does unless agreed to by the professional staff in the Department of Health and, where necessary, consultants are asked to review certain proposals. We have been doing that consistently, and I am satisfied, up to this point, at least, that that procedure works quite well.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. Will the government continue any kind of a swine breeding program anywhere on the Island of Newfoundland? Will the government build on the twenty-year success of the Western Swine Breeding Station in the Humber Valley, take advantage of Newfoundland's unique disease-free environment, pursue opportunities for expanding the economy by exporting swine breeding stock, and heed the findings and recommendations of the Task Force on Agri-Foods, chaired by the minister's colleague, the Member for St. George's?

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

MR. FLIGHT: No, Mr. Speaker, the government have decided they are not going to continue funding the Swine Breeding Station to the extent that we did. That Swine Breeding Station was costing the Province $800,000 per year. The government decided they were going to get out of subsiding the hog industry, that is, by way of price support and by way of subsidies. The Swine Breeding Station was one of those subsidies. It may be possible to privatize the Swine Breeding Station. We have had some enquiries about that possibility, but, if the Swine Breeding Station is to survive in the future, it will have to survive -

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the Hulan report?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FLIGHT: - by way of being privately operated. It won't continue the way it has been operated for the past twenty years.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A supplementary to the minister. I am not asking the minister to continue subsidizing the commercial industry. I am not asking the minister to continue the large, expensive Central Swine Breeding Station outside St. John's, but I would ask him to reinstate the small, efficient, and successful Western Swine Breeding Station which operated very successfully in the Humber Valley for about twenty years. Will the minister do that?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, the only real purpose of the Swine Breeding Station was to support the commercial production of hogs in Newfoundland. That Swine Breeding Station supplied young pigs to the sixteen commercial producers in Newfoundland. Without a commercial hog industry, as supported by the Province, with massive subsidies, there would really be no purpose served by the Swine Breeding Station. The main purpose of that Swine Breeding Station was to supply young pigs to the commercial hog industry,supported by the Province through subsidies. We have cancelled those subsidies, so there is no reason, from our perspective, to continue to maintain the Swine Breeding Station.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A supplementary to the minister. Has the government assessed the pros and cons of squandering the investment of the past twenty years and abandoning swine breeding? Has the government, for example, looked at opportunities for exporting breeding stock, the opportunities that were pointed to by the Hulan Task Force?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the government considered all the options with respect to the hog industry in Newfoundland and came to the final decision that it was going to withdraw its support to the hog industry. Part of that decision was: What will we do with the Swine Breeding Station? And the decision was made to effectively close the Swine Breeding Station as of June 15. If that has to be carried to July 15 or August 15 to get it closed down effectively, then that is what it will be, but the decision has been made to close the Swine Breeding Station.

Mr. Speaker, let me finish on a comment with regard to squandering. The money that was squandered in the hog industry, Mr. Speaker - this government also made a decision not to follow through on the $22 million that was squandered in the cucumber-producing industry, as well. It didn't take as long to squander that as it did to take the money that might have been squandered in the hog industry.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A final supplementary to the minister. Do the genetically superior animals that were bred at the Western Swine Breeding Station and trucked across the Island to the Central Station outside St. John's, in the Summer of 1991, still exist? Do the animals that were bred successively over the years at the research unit in Pynns Brook still exist? Do we still have the benefit of that investment?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know that the animals produced at the Western Swine Breeding Station were any more genetically superior than the hogs produced at the Central Swine Breeding Station here in Portugal Cove. I can take that question under advisement and find out exactly what the situation is at the hog breeding station now. I know we have been downsizing. I can tell the hon. member that we have been downsizing the Swine Breeding Station this past month or two. Hogs and young pigs are being sent out to producers, so we are slowly but surely winding down the operation of the Swine Breeding Station, and unless there is an intervention, unless we get an acceptable proposal from a private source then the Swine Breeding Station will effectively be closed as soon after June 30 as possible.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have one supplementary question to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. Several months ago, I wrote to the minister under the Freedom of Information Act, as I recollect - and I don't know but that the law may have been broken, I will have to check that later on. But he certainly remembers my letter, I am sure, because he mentioned it to me, personally. I asked if he would provide a breakdown of the expenses and expenditures incurred by the commissioner who did that report - months ago. When is the minister going to provide that information to the House of Assembly?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, as required, I intend to provide the information to the hon. member, and it will be up to him to provide it to the House of Assembly.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. The minister and all hon. members will know that there exists a serious discrimination against school students in St. John's and their parents with respect to school busing. Where students all over Newfoundland and Labrador, urban and rural, receive school busing at the taxpayers expense, in St. John's it is not available and parents or students must pay the cost of school busing. I want to ask the minister why, last night, did he refuse to give a serious answer to the question of when the government will address this discrimination? Does he not regard this as a serious issue?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the school bus system in this Province, evolved I suppose - at no time did some group of people sit down and put in place a firm plan as to this is the way it will be done, it evolved. As a result, what we have is a system which does show some drastic differences. For example, in St. John's, as the hon. member points out, as a general rule school busing is not provided but yet at the same time we are busing children from East Meadows who live in St. John's, we are still busing people from the Goulds. The whole issue of school busing is one which we intend to look at, Mr. Speaker, in due course, as I explained to the hon. member last night. In very specific terms, I told him that in due course we would be looking at it. Somehow he considered it was better to kick up a racket and try to make a big public issue of it but the reality is, Mr. Speaker - we recognize that there may be some perceived inequities there and in due course we will be looking at them but it is not something that I can say is going to start five past twelve this afternoon or 3:00 a.m. tomorrow morning but we will be looking at that in due course.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, if the minister regards, `in due course', as a very specific response to an important question involving discrimination against people then he is using a different language than I am. Mr. Speaker, this is a problem that affects students every day and families who are required to pay the cost of school busing from limited incomes. I want to ask the minister, can he be more specific than the words; `in due course'? Can he tell us whether or not his department has undertaken a review as to whether he has asked for a review at this time, what alternatives he is considering, and when we can expect to hear some response from the minister on this issue?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I really do not want to get into any specific time frame on this issue, the whole St. John's issue. There is a St. John's Transportation Committee which would have to give authority to the Province if we were to do school busing in the city. The reality is, we do not have the authority to go and start busing St. John's students without the approval of the St. John's Transportation Commission, that issue has to be dealt with, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member talks about discrimination. Now most of the school busing which has taken place in the Province, was done as the result of schools which were closed and because the schools were closed children had to find their way sometimes up to thirty miles to the school. Now I would think that if the people in Raleigh, for example, were allowed to keep their schools open, they would be quite satisfied to be discriminated against, to find their way to their school. So, I do not think discrimination is the right word to use in this case, Mr. Speaker. As I pointed out this system evolved over the years. There may be some perceived inequities in it and hopefully in the not too distant future, we will be seeing if there is a way that we can take out some of these perceived inequities, if indeed they are as inequitable as the hon. member would have us believe.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Education. Recently the department published a booklet entitled, Profile `92'. In that booklet note is made of the fact that there has been a very significant increase in the number of sixteen-year-olds who are dropping out of school. In fact in 91-92, the rate was 97 per cent attendance, in the past year it is down to 91 per cent. Can the minister explain the sudden increase in school dropouts for sixteen-year-old?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I would commend this book to educators and to all stakeholders throughout the system. This is essentially a snapshot which was done of the school system in a specific time and it is a tool that educators and school boards and superintendents and various people will use to make their planning for the way they deliver education in the Province over the next year. A lot of good things are in this thing. For example, we find that the rate of females who participate in science and math, who excel in science and math, is higher than it is for males in this Province, which is different from the rest of the country.

Now one of the things which was pointed out, is that, there seems to be a lesser number of sixteen-year-olds participating at this particular time. Now that has turned up as a statistic. Educators in school boards throughout the Province hopefully will look at that weakness and see just what the cause is, likewise, it will be evaluated within the department. I am not in a position at this time to get up and say: here is the reason for that. All I have done is provide the facts, now, Mr. Speaker, over the next months, people will speculate and people will try to arrive at a reason as to why this is happening, if it is some failing in the system that we can correct. That is the whole point of this Profile '92 and there are other things, Mr. Speaker, like the performance and the CTBS and so on; all these things will be looked at and hopefully, at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, we will be able to improve the delivery of education. That is what it is all about. I would like to commend the people who made this available.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

Order, please!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, some time ago my friend, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, asked if the university had intended to cancel admissions to first year education courses as a means of dealing with their costs - their budget problems. This was two or three days ago it was asked.

The answer, Mr. Speaker, is no.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: It is my turn now. Could we call Motion No. 2 please, before we get into the substantive debate?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, Motion 2.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act," carried. (Bill No. 8).

On motion, Bill No. 8 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, would Your Honour be good enough to call Order No. 6, which is Bill No. 3? My friend from Humber East adjourned the debate yesterday on the bill to create the Department of Tourism and Culture.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, this is continuation of the debate on second reading of Bill No. 3.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

Order please!

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the two minutes remaining to me, let me reiterate that I support this measure creating the new Department of Tourism and Culture, with qualifications. I am concerned that given the orientation, given the context, the government may focus much too narrowly on culture by looking at only the dimensions of culture and the arts related to the economy and tourism. Culture is all pervasive and has many meanings beyond immediate short-term measurable economic gain.

Mr. Speaker, I do see this as a big improvement over the previous arrangement of assigning responsibility for culture to the giant Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. I am concerned also because the department has been set up in the absence of a provincial government policy on culture.

The Wells' administration, on taking office, appointed a policy committee on arts. The government appointed Dr. Patrick O'Flaherty to Chair the committee, and appointed several others - artists and supporters of the arts in different parts of the Province - to make up the committee. That group gave the government its report more than three years ago, and in the beginning of the document pleaded with the government to develop an arts policy. The government has ignored the whole report and has failed to develop an arts policy.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I have to underline one of the chief findings of that committee, which is that a minuscule percentage of government spending supposedly for the arts actually is going to the artists - to the creators of art. Something like only 3 per cent of government expenditure reaches directly the creators - the people for whom all the trappings have been put in place, the people who are supposed to be boosted and served by the buildings and the bureaucrats. In many instances, the government, the Cultural Affairs division, is actually making life more difficult for artists, and the situation is getting worse.

The Arts and Culture Centres - and we are blessed with these facilities; we have six of them throughout the Province - are being expected to generate more and more of their own revenue. What is actually happening is the opposite. There has been a sharp drop year after year in Arts and Culture Centre revenue, from $1.6 million some six years ago, down to $900,000 last year. The government keeps over-estimating the revenue that will be generated by the Centres.

There is a basic problem in the government's policy, or de facto policy governing Arts and Culture Centres. I don't think there is a conscious policy. Management is poor. Communication between the political level and the staff is poor or non-existent, and the people in the Centres are floundering. Arts groups are being asked to pay more and more so that many are finding the cost prohibitive and are either finding other space or are not able to mount the kinds of performances that they would like to produce.

So, Mr. Speaker, with those qualifications, I support the bill creating the new department. I would join with the Arts Policy Committee in urging the government to develop a policy, a conscious, deliberate policy governing culture and the arts, and would ask them to try to keep in perspective the fact that most of this is for the artist and for the benefit of patrons and audiences. Instead of spending such a disproportionately large amount of available public funds on bureaucrats, administrators and buildings, can't we do better for the artists, themselves?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

If the minister speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I didn't realize that the minister was going to close debate. I just wanted to have a few words to say on Bill No. 3, An Act Respecting The Department Of Tourism And Culture.

I think basically, as most speakers to the bill have said, it is positive legislation. I consider it a positive move to establish a department such as this. As the Member for Humber East said, we had concerns where components of this particular department now were in the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - no reflection on the ministers who have held those portfolios. But once a department gets so large and so cumbersome, then it is my impression and my belief that certain segments or certain divisions get lost and they don't - not by design or by intention, but it just so happens that once departments get too large, some aspects or divisions suffer. I think this was the case here with the components of this department, that they were lost in other departments. I say that with no ill intent, but that is just the way I feel about it. I think it is positive that now we do have a Ministry of Tourism and Culture and I think that will augur well for the industry.

I see the minister over there tightening up his tie and so on. Of course, he wants me to say that we have an excellent Minister of Tourism and Culture, but I would have to be bribed a fair bit now, Mr. Speaker, before I would get that carried away.

Having said that, there is a lot of potential -

AN HON. MEMBER: The Grand Bank Museum is closed.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Grand Bank Museum is closed.

- a lot of potential in the Province for tourism and culture.

MR. SIMMS: Did you close that?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, the minister is threatening me over there, I think. There is a lot of potential, particularly the tourism aspect of it, I say to members. It is something that, in my region of the Province, I have had some very serious concerns about for years. Having said that, I think there has been a lack of initiative and a lack of involvement by those who have most to gain from the tourism industry, I say to the Minister of Tourism.

So many times I have run into people in the district - particularly around the St. Pierre ferry service - and I have heard people who are benefitting from that service; they are always looking to someone else to do something, I say to the minister. They are always asking: When is someone else going to do this? and, When is someone going to do that? Quite often, I ask the question back: When are you going to do something to improve the situation so we get more travellers, so that travellers are more comfortable when they are waiting for the ferries, and so on?

Because too often, I think, the people who have most to benefit from the tourism industry are not pro-active enough. I don't say that in a derogatory fashion. I think that is basically the problem in my region of the Province. There have been some movement and some initiative and some gains over the last couple of years there specifically in trying to develop the tourism industry and to promote the industry, but yet, we are still a long way from reaching our potential in our region of the Province, that being the Burin Peninsula. But we do have a pretty natural set up there with The Loop and so on, and with the attraction of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

I see the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology looking in a sort of - I was going to say in a strange way, but I don't know, really, if he believes in this or not - but there is in excess of 20,000 visitors who go, as I understand it, through the port of Fortune to St. Pierre and Miquelon, and that is a lot of people.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not allowed there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The minister says I am not allowed to go there anymore, Mr. Speaker. That is not quite correct. I have been a visitor to the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon for twenty-six or twenty-seven years, some years as many as five or six times.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman should be careful what he says on the phones (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: You never know who is going to be listening.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: If your phone is tapped, or from St. Pierre -

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman will never know.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: From St. Pierre, you mean, or at home?

MR. ROBERTS: Can't you remember anything about this (inaudible)?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, I can remember quite vividly.

AN HON. MEMBER: They gave us the key to the city over there one time.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They were thinking about giving me the key to St. Pierre and Miquelon, but that was before I made what they considered to be inflammatory statements about the fish situation when they had the demonstration there, how ever long ago that was, when I said that I felt it was in bad taste, and that the political leaders in St. Pierre and Miquelon and the people should come to their senses, because there wasn't any fish to give them. And they took great exception to that, and word wasn't very long coming back, telling me that I would perhaps not be too wise if I visited there in the near future. But that didn't bother me, I felt what I said was correct and I still do.

MR. ROBERTS: No more (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is right on, the hon. member knows.

Mr. Speaker, a lot of people go there to visit, quite naturally, it being a French territory so close to our shores, but we, in our area of the Province, are not reaping any benefits from the people who go through. The most we get out of any of them is probably a tank of gasoline for the cars. The schedule of the ferry is so that they drive in in the morning, take the boat, go to St. Pierre and Miquelon, stay for a night or two or three nights, come back, take their cars and drive away.

MR. ROBERTS: You have to leave the car (inaudible) before you go over because you can't use the gas on St. Pierre.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I didn't say that. But, Mr. Speaker, my point is that, there needs to be some attractions or some promotion done in the area to keep some - you know, not to keep all of those visitors, but at least keep some of them in the area for a night or two, and consequently, get some of their valuable dollars. But as of now, what is happening is, the dollars that are spent, are spent in St. Pierre and Miquelon and we get very few of the dollars.

So it is just a concern that I have about tourism in our region of the Province and it is something that needs to be dealt with. I know, the Member for Mount Pearl, when he was responsible for tourism, tried to do some things down there to get the industry going, but as of now, we are still not getting the benefits from it that we should be getting. And, as I said, I am not throwing the blame at anyone's feet - I think, in the region itself, we have to take responsibility for that. We have not been good promoters.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the ferry (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The ferry times, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology are set by the operators of the St. Pierre Ferry Service, both St. Pierre-owned-and-operated and they set the times as they see fit. And, of course, they are setting the times so that they get most of the people out there, quite naturally.

MR. FUREY: Is there anything we can do to (inaudible)?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't think there is anything, really, that we can do. I mean, what could we do, as a Province, to tell, again a private operator? I think one of the ferries is part government controlled from the French end of it; I think it is partly owned, actually, one of the fastest boats, by the Government of France and I think there is some subsidy involved, so I don't see how you could really influence that, because they, quite naturally, as I was saying, have the schedule set to reap the most benefits for the people of St. Pierre and Miquelon. They want people to be able to drive in, take them over and when they come back still be able to drive back to their destinations, particularly in the Island section.

Those are the concerns that I have, Mr. Speaker, and I just hope that someday, with the help of the Provincial Government and the Department of Tourism and Culture, and with the initiative of the local people, that we do have a proper tourism plan and a tourism plant in our region of the Province that will attract more people in and be of greater benefit. Because we are certainly not reaching the potential that we can in our region of the Province in tourism.

Those are the few comments I wanted to make on it. Having said that, I think, basically, that the bill is positive. I think the establishment of the department is positive and I would like to wish the minister all the best in what has been a very important industry for the Province, but I think we are nowhere close to reaching our potential yet, so I wish the minister all the best.

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

MR. TOBIN: I would like to have a few words on this bill, as well. First of all, I would like to say that this department is going to be extremely important to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I want to continue in the same vein as my colleague from Grand Bank, that being the tourism potential on the Burin Peninsula that has not been developed and has not been taken advantage of. There are several areas where there is potential for tourism development on the Burin Peninsula. One such aspect would be the Bay de Loup Heritage Village. I know the minister is very familiar with that. The present Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is very much aware of it. He had meetings, as did previous ministers.

I would like to have the attention of the minister. I want to talk about the Heritage Village, I say to the minister, the Heritage Village for Bay de Loup, with which both ministers are very familiar. They are very important to the people of the Burin Peninsula, there is no doubt about that. This has great potential. A study was funded by the government, it was put in place, and it determined that a Heritage Village at Bay de Loup would be very beneficial. It claimed to restore the old Bay de Loup area and turn it into the type -

MR. A. SNOW: (Inaudible) around Trinity Bay somewhere.

MR. TOBIN: Well, I say to my colleague from Menihek that there is no other area in this Province, including Labrador, that has done as much work in terms of determining the area, having the study done, and having the leg work done as that committee has done.

MR. WALSH: It has to be a place with a better climate. It is always fogged in down there.

MR. TOBIN: Well, I am not concerned about the land you own, 'Jim'.

I am after losing my train of thought, thanks to my colleague. In any case, to restore the Bay de Loup, which is a former fishing village in this Province, the Placentia West Development Association has done a tremendous amount of work on it. Elizabeth Murphy has been the chairperson of that committee, which has done a tremendous amount of work, and I think that is something that the minister should look at.

Now, there is another area, and something that concerns me, which I am going to mention here tonight, and I don't care who -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Who is offended.

MR. TOBIN: - who is offended - and that is the need for a second hotel in Marystown.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: I wish the minister would listen to this. There was a determination made for the need of a second hotel in Marystown and there is something very conspicuous happening. There is something very fishy as to why that hotel cannot receive any assistance. I say to the minister, there is something happening as to why that hotel cannot receive assistance. Now, the whole thing is above board, I say to the minister. A group of businessmen went out and purchased the land, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the piece of land, and made application to ACOA for funding. ACOA, as I understand it, submits it to the Department of Tourism and a joint committee made up of officials from Tourism and ACOA decide on where funding is to be spent and if the Burin Peninsula has the potential, in terms of tourism, to support the second hotel.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I ask the minister, when he gets up to speak, to tell the House what the recommendation was from his officials to ACOA, to that board, as it relates to the second hotel for the Burin Peninsula, because there is a need for a second hotel on the Burin Peninsula. There is a need. It has been proven.

MR. MURPHY: You should have known (inaudible) there has been a monopoly down there for twenty years.

MR. TOBIN: Pardon?

MR. MURPHY: There has been a monopoly down there.

MR. TOBIN: The Member for St. John's South says there has been a monopoly on the Burin Peninsula for twenty years.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I am sure you did.

So this is what is happening, I say to the Member for St. John's South - that a group of businessmen, last year, got together and applied to build an hotel.

AN HON. MEMBER: Whose district is it in?

MR. TOBIN: It is in my district, and that is why I am standing up today and fighting for a second hotel. And I want to know what was the recommendation the officials of the Department of Tourism - the people who sit on that board - made to ACOA as it relates to funding.

AN HON. MEMBER: It should be vice-versa: What recommendations has ACOA made to (inaudible)?

MR. TOBIN: Well, okay. I can tell you one thing. Neither ACOA nor your department mean anything to me in terms of representing my district, and if ACOA is at fault, and I believe they are, and if your department is at fault - and in this case I believe both of them are - then there is something wrong.

What we have here is the potential to improve and develop tourism on the Burin Peninsula. We have a proven need for a second motel and there is some reason why - and I am suspicious as to the reason, but there is a reason why the funding for that second hotel cannot be approved.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Did the owners donate to the Liberal Party?

MR. TOBIN: Well, I am suspicious, I say to the Member for St. John's East, that is all I will say. But there is a reason why the provincial Department of Tourism and this government, collectively, have turned thumbs down on any funding for a second hotel in Marystown.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, I can say to the member that there was a group of businessmen there who did not apply. The application of Brunet Investments has only been to the government about a year or two years maximum, I say to the Member for St. John's South. I say to the Member for St. John's South that Brunet Investments has only been to the government a maximum of two years.

Why are they continuing to deny funding for the second hotel where the need has been proven? That is the question the minister has to answer. That is the question I want the minister to answer. Who is running this Province? Who is running this government, and who is calling the shots?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Who is calling the shots, I ask the Minister? Because there is some reason. How can you do a tourism study on the Burin Peninsula, funded through ACOA and probably your department - I am not sure - that shows the need for a second hotel, and every roadblock that can be thrown up has been thrown up by both ACOA - ACOA are no different, or probably worse on that issue than the Department of Tourism - probably worse.

DR. KITCHEN: It is a plot.

MR. TOBIN: It is a plot?

DR. KITCHEN: Yes, it is a plot.

MR. TOBIN: Now, okay, Mr. Speaker, this is very important - the Minister of Health has stated that there is a plot to keep the hotel from going to the Burin Peninsula.

AN HON. MEMBER: He told the truth.

MR. TOBIN: The Minister of Health probably has told the truth - that there is a plot. I know that, collectively, the government are involved in it.

MR. SIMMS: 'Herb' knows of a plot.

MR. TOBIN: But if there is a plot, why? Why, I ask the Minister of Health, is there a plot to keep the hotel from going to the Burin Peninsula?

Mr. Speaker, growth, tourism and development on the Burin Peninsula has been stifled because this government and ACOA are not prepared to support something that is beneficial to the Burin Peninsula, something that will cause growth. The minister knows because I spoke to him shortly after he became minister. He is very much aware of it, he took a personal interest in it, I will say that much for him. He took a personal interest in it and he had resolved to do something about it but that resolve did not get very far because I would suspect that when he brought it to some of his Cabinet colleagues, thumbs down, to putting a second hotel in Marystown. Both ACOA, your department or this government collectively are to blame for -

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: All I will say to the Minister of Health, we had three hospitals on the Burin Peninsula before this crowd came into office and now we have one. So you worry about the hospital industry and not the hotel industry.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: That is right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: There is one.

AN HON. MEMBER: No there is not, half-a-one.

MR. TOBIN: One, there is not two. There are not two hotels. No, there has not been two hotels in Marystown for years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said there were two out there?

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Tourism and Culture, he did not know that.

MR. TOBIN: No it was not the Minister of Tourism and Culture, he did not say it.

MR. SIMMS: The Premier's assistant.

MR. WOODFORD: The Premier's assistant used to be down there. He used to stay down there -

MR. SIMMS: What other one, which other one?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You closed it down with FPI.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes you did.

MR. TOBIN: There were two hotels years ago. I would say that Brakes Hotel in Marystown, which was probably closed fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years ago or something. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, fifteen, sixteen years, the Member for Trinity North lived down there one time. As a matter of fact, the job that I - no, I will not say that.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, this government is causing a delay in having growth in the tourism industry and I ask the minister, when he stands up, what is going to happen now when Cow Head reaches its potential, when Marystown receives the contract for the mechanical outfitting? I would say to members opposite, when Marystown, the Cow Head facility in Spanish Room, Kvaerner received the contract for the mechanical outfitting, what will that do for the need for the second hotel? Will it not be time for ACOA and tourism to reevaluate the requests that are before them? Now, there is one other issue that I want to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) monopoly.

MR. TOBIN: There is one other issue - when I can get the ministers attention - there is one other issue which I want to mention to the minister and that is the need for an arts and culture centre on the Burin Peninsula.


MR. TOBIN: The need for an arts and culture centre on the Burin Peninsula, that is what I am saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is a waste of money.

MR. TOBIN: The need for an arts and culture centre on the Burin Peninsula, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: They have the culture, they have the artists, Mr. Speaker, they have the artist, let me assure him that, they have the artist - Port de Grave.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: And I will not put the first word ahead of it but there are three letters in it, I say to the Member for Port de Grave. Anyway, there is a need for an arts and culture centre on the Burin Peninsula, 40,000 people or close to it on the Burin Peninsula and no arts and culture centre.

AN HON. MEMBER: 40,000?

MR. TOBIN: Yes, sure you are never down there so you would not know. 40,000, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is St. Pierre et Miquelon.

MR. TOBIN: Forty thousand or close to it and no arts and culture centre. Now, there has been a request in there to the minister and to others and I would like to ask the minister to look seriously at developing an arts and culture centre on the Burin Peninsula to serve the people. It is very important. There are other areas such as a golf course for the Burin Peninsula that needs the support of this government as well as ACOA. I think it's very important that it be put in place.

AN HON. MEMBER: What's Marble Mountain?

MR. TOBIN: Marble Mountain is not a golf course, I say to the minister of....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What did the Minister of Justice say? Well before there is one on the Peninsula?

MR. ROBERTS: I didn't say that.

MR. TOBIN: If that's what the Minister of Justice said I'd tell him I have news for him. If that's what he said. I've news for him.

Anyway, I want to clue up, Mr. Speaker. What I say to the minister is that he has an interesting and challenging department. The Minister of Tourism and Culture has a very interesting and challenging department. I hope that he'll look at this Island and treat it all fairly, and I would hope that he will do something as it relates to the Bay de Loup heritage committee. Give me the answer as to why you made a recommendation to ACOA not to fund a second hotel. The other thing is, for God's sake do something to help out the tourism industry from the numbers of people who travel the Burin Peninsula to go to St. Pierre and Miquelon. As my colleague for Grand Bank said, they hardly buy a tank of gas when they drive back and forth.

There's a reason for that. It's because there is really nothing put in place on the Burin Peninsula to attract them to stay there. The business community have a role to play on the Burin Peninsula as well. A much larger role, I say to the minister, than they have played in the past. The business leaders on the Burin Peninsula have to show some initiative to get things done. That initiative has been shown in terms of a new hotel. It has been rejected. That initiative has been shown in other area in terms of getting the tourism thing in Goobies.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Tourist chalet.

MR. TOBIN: Tourist chalet in Goobies a couple of years ago. More has to be done by business. More has to be done by this government and this department. I ask the minister to get on and do it.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to rise and have the opportunity to speak on Bill 3, An Act Respecting The Department of Tourism and Culture.

Tourism is indeed, as previous speakers have mentioned, a very important industry in this Province. I'm not sure of the exact contribution that the tourism industry makes. My understanding is that it's almost in the vicinity of half a billion dollars, about $450 million annually, about 12,000 people employed in it, and 2,000 small businesses contribute to the economy very substantially. The reason why I speak in favour of the Bill is that I think it was a wise move by the government to set up a separate Ministry and to combine Tourism and Culture. I think those two go very hand in hand, especially in this Province, and I commend - and yes, the former minister deserves to be commended for making that particular recommendation.

Quite often people tend to protect their turf when they get into a certain office. That doesn't just occur in government. I'm talking about generally speaking in the management of large corporations, or even small corporations. People have a responsibility and they tend to think that if they divide up their responsibility or give responsibility to someone else they think it's giving up turf and giving up their so-called power. I want to commend the former minister responsible for development for making the suggestion of creating this new Ministry. If he had any input in selecting the new minister - I can understand how the minister responsible for trade didn't always make very wise decisions. They weren't always wise.

In all seriousness, it is a good Bill. Because I recognize the contribution that tourism has made, more specifically to the Island portion of the Province, and hopefully what tourism can do to add to the economy in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, speaking just for a couple of minutes on Labrador specifically, we are one of the gateways into this Province now. Since the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway portion that is in Quebec we have now become an entrance into this Province by road, which is probably one of the biggest hindrances - and when I say `it` is, I mean `it` being transportation - has been one of the biggest drawbacks to attracting tourists to this Province, in my humble opinion - the fact that it is a very difficult Province to enter. So tourists are finding it very difficult because of one, the expense, and the inconvenience. The two go very much hand-in-hand, whereas previously in my portion of this Province where I live, Western Labrador, the only way in was through a railroad that took a twelve hour trip. The railroad itself was a selling point to some tourists who had a specific interest in riding a train, but in most cases the average Joe or Josephine tourist looked at convenience of travel, speed of travel and cost of travel, and a railroad, of course, was very narrowly aimed at people who wanted to travel on a railroad, and it did attract a certain number of tourists, but it was not able to attract the numbers necessary to make it a very viable industry.

The other method, of course, into Western Labrador was air travel and that was very, very expensive. The airlines operating in there found that we did not necessarily get the amount of seat sales that were offered in other parts of the country, and because of the monopolies that airlines have, I would suspect, or a lot of people have suspected, that it was very expensive for people to travel into Western Labrador and, of course, also Eastern Labrador. But with the opening of the road into Western Labrador from the Province of Quebec, and connected to the Trans-Canada Highway system throughout this country, we found more people able to come in. Along with this - along with the addition of these new people coming in and spending money - they also brought some problems, so to speak, that this administration did not address.

Now, Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons why a lot of these people come in is because Labrador is a specific attraction to people for its wildlife. The opportunity to go hunting and fishing, and the opportunity for a sense of adventure, the so-called `adventure tourist`. We must protect that environment in Labrador specifically because it is one of the few untouched parts of this Province. We have to properly supervise these people who are coming in because we are finding that the proper amount of respect is not made with regard to the throwing away of garbage, littering, and also these people who are coming in hunting and fishing, because of the vastness of the size of Labrador we are finding that the people cannot properly enforce regulations in the hunting and fishing regulations that are within this Province.

So I would urge that the minister responsible for tourism would work hand-in-hand with the minister responsible for wildlife, especially in the enforcement and the enforcement regulations themselves, because it is very important that we protect these resources that we do have and that will be used to attract more tourists to the Province.

The Minister of Tourism is going to have to work hand-in-hand with the department of wildlife to ensure that regulations are changed. I have mentioned it to him several times before, to the ministry, in other opportunities in speaking here in the House and in Budget Estimates, that we have to in some cases change regulations with regard to the outfitting industry as it specifically relates to the fishing in Labrador.

The Minister of Tourism spoke recently about how they were hoping to be able to encourage the tourism industry to be able to expand their season. He talked about going to the `shoulder of the season` I believe is the expression he used which, what he was attempting to do, and his ministry is attempting to do, is encourage more of these operators in the tourist industry to be able to have things planned so they could extend the season to make it more economically viable for specific attractions.

Mr. Speaker, I know people who have invested a lot of money in Western Labrador into their outfitting businesses, and they specifically started initially with the idea of catering to hunting and fishing during the period of probably the end of June, mid-June, up until the middle of September into hunting and fishing.

In the short span of four or five years they have found that the industry that they were catering to seemed to have more attraction in the Winter months. I think, Mr. Speaker, that is one of the areas we have to sell in Labrador, the mystique and the sense of adventure that is associated with Labrador Winters is something that we should be selling and I believe we can do very, very well in that market.

I think there is a market out there that we could have an advantage because of the climate. We should use the climatic conditions and the vastness of Labrador as an attraction in itself. I think it is something that we have to promote and one of the methods of promoting that, I believe, would be to encourage more the people who organize the Labrador 400 which is a sled dog race organized out of Western Labrador. I believe we should be doing more to promote this particular race because while specifically that itself does not attract, and will not attract a lot of tourists, but as the (inaudible) did for Alaska in promoting Alaska as a place of wilderness where you could go and view nature in its vast untamed beauty, Mr. Speaker, I think we could do a very similar type of thing in Labrador.

I do not believe there is any other part of the Province that can cater to that specific narrow part of the tourism industry as well as Labrador could do it. I think we should be using the Labrador 400 as a method of advertising. If we could get one story in a New York newspaper, a Berlin newspaper, or a London newspaper, on the front page, talking about some of the things that occurred in the last Labrador 400, Mr. Speaker, I think it would reap benefits to this Province a thousand fold. Because of the sense of adventure that sled dog race would evoke and the sense of mystique that the word Labrador evokes throughout the Western world, Mr. Speaker, I believe the advertising value we would get would reap benefits to this Province in a thousand fold. It could be a thousand times as much because we would have people coming to visit and see some of the things that are here for the Winter.

I say we should be doing this because we have to move, specifically in Western Labrador, because we have been totally dependent on the mining industry and as we know the mining has had some problems over the last couple of years. We should be doing this so that we can diversify the economy so that we are not totally dependent on the mining industry for our total survival in Labrador because we are so then tied to how the global economy goes.

We are resource based in the whole Province but more specifically in the mining industry so if the steel industry slows down or has some extreme competition we would then hopefully be able to pick it up. One of the articles I read recently in a financial magazine suggests that while the tourism industry is going to slow down this year one of things that is going to occur within Canada is that the tourism industry is going to stay within the country. Now, that should augur very, very well for this Province, especially the part where I live in Labrador, because the more people who stay within the country, and if we do some good advertising, good promotion, and good development, we should be able to attract people in the Eastern Seaboard to move into what I would hope would be Labrador. Indeed they could probably just make the so-called circle route, the one that our hon. friend for Naskaupi has talked about. The former mayor of Happy Valley, Goose Bay has probably been the grandfather of the particular route, the circle route to attract tourists to his part of Labrador and also down to the Island portion of the Province.

I think that could do very, very well for, not just Labrador, of course, because it would attract people who would spend money in Labrador but it would also benefit the whole Province because once the money comes in from other places undoubtedly the Province itself would realize revenues from it. But, Mr. Speaker, we as a Province, and you, as a government, Mr. Minister, you have to ensure we do have a tourist chalet that could be used as an interpretation centre, as a place to greet visitors when they come in, and the other thing we have to do, Mr. Speaker, is - continue to operate that chalet of course - to promote the improvement of the highway across Labrador, the Trans-Labrador Highway. That highway has to be improved. I was disappointed that this administration did not feel it necessary to participate in a 50-50 agreement with the federal government that was offered, a $20 million construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway would do -

Now the Minister of Tourism and Culture is shaking his head -

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible) give us some time.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the minister will have the opportunity to speak after I speak, or after somebody else speaks on this side, but I would please ask him to allow me to finish what I am saying without his interrupting.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I realize that $20 million is not going to complete the highway from Churchill Falls to Goose Bay, it will not do it but it will go far in making that highway more passable for people to move in. If we had used the same principle that he is talking about, if the Quebec people, the Quebec government had used the same principle, you now would not be able to drive from Labrador City to Baie Comeau. I will refresh his memory, Mr. Speaker.

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible) look what they are doing with the link for PEI. Now come on, if you are going to do it, do it right, but do not settle for nickels and dimes because you will never get an opportunity to get the money again, so if you are going to serve your constituents, serve them right, get the money that is needed to do the job completely.

MR. A. SNOW: I believe the principle of what we should be doing, Mr. Speaker, is, if we have the opportunity of doing something now, let us not think up all the reasons why we should not be doing it. Let us think of the reasons why we should be doing things. When this highway started construction in 1983, and Bill Rompkey was in the federal Cabinet, he argued for $16 million and got it and started it. People in this Province said it was a waste of money and he should not be doing it. I remember that very, very well, Mr. Speaker. I happened to be involved in Labrador West when it occurred and I commended Bill Rompkey at the time for doing it, because somebody had to start it and that is the same principle today.

Part of that highway, before the minister interrupted me, I do not know if he knows the history of the construction of the highway, not just in this Province but the part that connects us to the Trans-Canada Highway system in Quebec, but part of that road, was built with volunteer help. Now if they had waited for somebody in Ottawa to build it, it still would not be done, we still could not drive from Labrador City to Baie Comeau but they did not wait, they built the highway and now we are using it because they did not think up reasons why it should not be done, they thought of reasons why it should be done and dreamt up ideas of how it could be done and did it, Mr. Speaker. They did not blame somebody else about it. I would love to see the federal government spend $100 million and pave the highway, but recognizing that that is impossible today, because, even as our Premier suggests -

AN HON. MEMBER: That money will not even scratch the paving for Labrador.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, okay, I would like to see $200 million or a half-a-billion, $500 million, but we are not going to see that, he should look at what Bill Rompkey has suggested, that politics is the art of compromise,-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) to finish it will be over $2 billion.

MR. A. SNOW: - so it can be $5 billion, but if we think of reasons why we should not accept $20 million and not repair a bridge or a washout, it will never be built. The Premier has suggested -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: We are the crowd who kept it open.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, with $400,000 and I think that is fine, but it should be kept open with the same standard that a road between Gander and Grand Falls is kept open.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Again we are arguing about the reasons you always suggest why we cannot do something. Start thinking of reasons why you should. $20 million will go a long way in completing that road, $20 million is better than no money, and when Bill Rompkey got $16 million for the start of the highway, people like you, sir, were down here in the Island portion of the Province saying, it should not be done, but he did do it and he should be commended for it, because people like you, the naysayers, who come from the Island, who come into Labrador and do not want to spend the money, you think of reasons why you should not be doing something rather than the reasons why you should be doing something.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I commend Mr. Rompkey for doing that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, and I am proud to say that I have voted for him at times -


MR. A. SNOW: Yes, I have.

And he has this right on transportation too, Mr. Speaker.

It's very important that we continue with the development of Labrador and using this particular part of the infrastructure within Labrador, the highway, to continue with the economic development of that part of the Province. It's an important part of this Province and it can contribute and wants to contribute more economically. By the same token, we want to be treated fairly as people who live there and we expect the government to make decisions that will benefit not just the Island portion of the Province but that will benefit the people who live in Labrador.

I would also just very briefly like to suggest to the minister that he would work together with his Minister of Finance to ensure that the business operators, the tourism operators, the people who operate hotels, play on a level playing field with their competitors in the sister province, Quebec. Because what's happening, Mr. Speaker, they don't have a sales tax on hotel rooms in the Province of Quebec and that makes it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: But they don't do it in Quebec. So the problem is we set up a - the minister interjected that it's refundable in our Province. I realize that. What it does is still when a person looks at it and he sees that it's going to cost ninety dollars a day or $100 a day in Quebec, and it costs $112 a day - for simplification, the rates aren't that high, but for simplification of the tax amount - but if it costs $112 a day down in Labrador City or Wabush, Mr. Speaker, then they stay in Fermont. Because we have to recognize they're only a few miles apart, and very similar quality lodging places.

So to make it a level playing field what they should be doing is in a border situation such as we have they should be saying that it's not necessary to collect the provincial sales tax. This allows not necessarily a benefit for the tourists. It should never be construed as that. This allows the operator of that particular small business to have a level playing field with his competitor in a neighbouring province, who, by the way, was given that concession because that particular government in Quebec recognized that in border situations they needed a competitive edge, because that goes right around the Province of Quebec, because they're neighbouring competitor over on the other side is Ontario.

So they recognized in the border situations in Quebec that they do not have sales tax. My understanding is is that down in Southern Labrador there is no sales tax collected on the hotel rooms. The hon. member representing Eagle River suggests that I am correct. So what's good in Eagle River should be good over in Western Labrador. The Minister of Finance - I hope he's taking down notes on this - because what's good for the goose is good for the gander. He should recognize -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, so he can hopefully get together with the Minister of Finance and correct this process that's occurring in Western Labrador that's not allowing the people who operate a business in Western Labrador to compete on a level playing field. That's all we're asking for, that's all I'm asking for, in asking the minister to check. I would hope that he wouldn't listen to the right-wing zealot who sits to his immediate right.

Again, to reiterate, I want to commend the government for, and I will support the intent of this particular piece of legislation. It's a good piece of legislation, and I would hope that the present minister would continue his understanding and appreciation of what Labrador does to the economy. He's been recognized as somebody who does participate with the people of Labrador, and I must say he has been doing a good job of communicating with the people of Labrador and I hope that he continues that. I would urge that he would look into those aspects that I did raise with a special interest into that Labrador 400 problem. Because I believe that's something we should be funding.

It shouldn't be just looked at as what we so-called spend up front. Because it's a terrific investment that I believe we should - I've talked to Mr. Crosbie about it and I've talked to the minister about it. I would hope we could get together with the promoters of that so we can make that into a better project than it is today. By better I mean larger and thus we will attract more media attention and create a tremendous amount of advertising for this whole Province.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak in support of this legislation at second reading. I think it is a good piece of legislation on the whole. I am pleased to see that there will be a separate Department of Tourism and Culture because it is an area of the provincial jurisdiction that I believe we have a great opportunity in this Province to develop and promote, and having it under a single ministry is a very positive way to do that.

I say as well that I think the minister of this department is a minister with a great deal of enthusiasm for his job - even if he does not listen to the praise that he gets from time to time - but the minister is one who has a great deal of enthusiasm for this job and I hope he carries it out with a great deal of force and even aggressiveness in pursuing the mandate that he has to the development of the tourism industry in the Province.

I do have one concern about the mandate of the department. I have examined the legislation and I have a concern that the department is being given responsibility for a couple of areas that should properly be in other departments. The management of wildlife is one, and the management of wilderness and ecological reserves as defined in the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act. This is contained in Section VI of the Bill. Clause VI sets out the various powers and functions and duties of the minister.

I believe that it is not a good idea to give wildlife and wilderness and ecological reserves to the Department of Tourism and Culture. I think they are more properly looked after in the Department of Environment and Lands. We are dealing with issues that have to do with environmental concerns, the preservation of wilderness, the preservation and the development of ecological reserves. While they may well have tourist potential, so do many other aspects of our Province; but to put them into the Department of Tourism and Culture, I believe, is to leave them open to a different kind of approach by way of management and development than you would expect to find in a department that was concerning itself with the management of lands, with the control of land use, with the overall responsibility for environmental protection, and I think that these two areas - wildlife and wilderness and ecological reserves - really ought to stay with the Department of Environment and Lands.

I have a concern because I have raised this issue with the Minister of Environment and Lands in the estimates committee, and I have been given some assurance that there are committees that work in an interdepartmental way, but I have a concern that the approach taken by a department under a Ministry of Tourism and Culture would still be different - would still have a different thrust - than it would have in the area of environment and lands where officials in such a department are concentrating their efforts on the management of environmental issues, on the management of the environment generally and that, of course, provides expertise, experience, contacts with other departments and similar departments across the country in inter-departmental meetings between this Province and other provinces on a national level, that it would be appropriate to have the management of these two resources, which is what they are, under another department.

That is not to say that we do not have a tremendous amount of tourism potential in our wilderness, but that is not why we are preserving our wilderness, Mr. Speaker, to attract people from other lands. We are preserving our wilderness because it is important for us to do so as a commitment to the environment in general, as a commitment to our stewardship of the world, our stewardship of natural resources and our stewardship of all living forms, which we have the opportunity to have some dominion over within our Provincial boundaries.

I see that, Mr. Speaker, as part of environmental protection, part of an environmental commitment, one that we would hope we could promote, one that we would hope visitors from other parts of the world will want to come and enjoy. Certainly the promotion in a tourist way, the provision of advertising, even organizing marketing tours, so called eco-tours would be very much an interest of the Department of Tourism and Culture but the actual management, preservation, control and protection of these wilderness and ecological reserves ought to be the purview of the Department of Environment and Lands. It is that department, Mr. Speaker, that ought to have the say over what level of activity can go on in wilderness areas and ecological reserves, not the Department of Tourism and Culture.

With that exception, Mr. Speaker, I can support the legislation. I have no difficulty with provincial parks and the provincial interest in national parks being treated as part of the Department of Tourism and Culture, because once a park is established it is understood that that park would have a recreational use and a recreational value within either the Provincial Parks Act or the National Parks Act, which itself provides the kinds of protection which I think are desirable in the area of park service, in the area of preservation of wildlife and other life forms in the national parks or provincial parks.

But the notion of having separate wilderness and ecological reserves there to preserve an element of our living environment or other natural environment, that is something I think, Mr. Speaker, should be left to a department that is concerning itself with the whole issue of land use management and an assurance that taken out of that land available for development are significant examples of all of our unique ecological areas and made sure that they are made into ecological preserves to make sure that we do have available to ourselves and to the generations to follow, the maintenance of our natural environment.

One of the many areas of concern, Mr. Speaker, that we have under the management areas of the Department of Tourism and Culture is the historic resources of the Province, the Heritage Foundation, the Provincial Archives, the archaeology and ethnology of the Province are listed as part of our cultural and tourism heritage.

Just to give an example of one of those that has a great interest to many people and is also a way of promoting visits or visitors, and I have just seen recent correspondence received from the Newfoundland and Labrador Genealogical Society which itself plays a very interesting role in supporting cultural and tourism activities by providing a source of information to individuals from all over - not just Newfoundland, but North America and indeed the world - of people who have connections with Newfoundland through their ancestors or through their current relatives. This organization is a small organization in this Province, and has 1,000 members internationally who communicate their research interests in Newfoundland ancestors through a journal produced by the Newfoundland and Labrador Genealogical Society.

A certain activity - a very specialist kind of activity - that a lot of people at some point in their lives pay attention to - their own personal family histories, some for egotistical purposes, I suppose, looking to find some ancestor with a very high profile past -

MR. WOODFORD: Or a big bank account.

MR. HARRIS: Or perhaps a big bank account, as the hon. Member for Humber Valley says. More often than not they find some fellow with a scoundrel in the background, or a skeleton in the closet, or some generation, two or three generations ago, that runs you into some dead ends of past research, but nevertheless it is an area of great interest to a lot of people. Certainly at some point in their lives most people wonder where their ancestors came from and where they may find other relatives, just out of interest or excuses to travel to other places and do a little bit of research or a little bit of checking. So it is the kind of activity that I think the Department of Tourism and Culture can hopefully find ways of promoting and assuring that organizations such as that keep alive.

In the area of the historic resources and the heritage foundation, both of whom are listed in the legislation as being important areas of responsibility of the minister, I think the minister can start a process, even without costing money, that can have a salutary effect on the maintenance of historic resources in this Province.

We could develop, and we do now have, a system of voluntary registration of buildings. It gives them a certain amount of status to others within the Province, but I think that we can do more in following perhaps the British system of what they call `listed buildings` where buildings that have been identified as historic resources, and on a list of qualifying properties established by some jury board of disinterested people - not those who would have a property interest in particular historic resources or historic buildings that might want to be on this list, but someone who can establish criteria and objective criteria to develop a method of identifying significant buildings for either architectural or historic reasons that ought to be preserved.

There may develop a way of providing, over the long term, a fund or a trust fund of some kind that the public may wish to subscribe to, that the government could add to from time to time, that could be used and accessed by owners of these buildings under certain conditions to maintain significant properties so that as time goes on we are not losing significant properties to development or to just a change in the decisions by the owners as to what they want to do with them.

We had, in the last couple of years in St. John's, a very significant property on Freshwater Road. I believe it was the Kelly home - one of the oldest and earliest and longest surviving examples of an Irish-Newfoundland cottage in St. John's, Mr. Speaker, that was taken down by its owners to put up a more modern house on the same property.

In that circumstance there was quite a number of groups and individuals who wanted to see something done about that. In the absence of any legislation or legislative scheme that would allow actions to be taken to save this property, the owners were able - or attempted - in fact, it was suggested at one point in time that there was almost a form of blackmail going on. Where the owners were prepared to keep this if someone was prepared to pay them very significant amounts of money - far more than the market would value a property of this nature - to stop it from being destroyed.

Surely that's not the kind of scheme we want to have. Where if I as an owner of a particular property which is regarded by many as being a significant historical building, and I say to government bodies: I will tear it down or I will destroy it unless you pay me what I say I would like to have for this property, and the public or the government or city councils are required to either meet the demands of these individuals or see an important historic resource destroyed - that's not a very happy situation. So I ask the minister, when he's looking at ways of promoting and protecting the historic resources of our Province, that he put in place a legislative scheme that would allow such properties to be maintained. There are many ways it can be done. I'm not going to provide an answer right now. It's something that I think is important.

While the minister is listening, I don't know if the minister heard me when I started my speech, I wanted to say that I supported the legislation and I supported the minister in his role. I think that the minister is a very enthusiastic and energetic minister who likes his job. I guess that means he's going to work very hard to keep it. I encourage him to be very aggressive in the pursuit of the development of the tourism industry. To work very hard in the pursuit of the development of the tourism industry and to pursue the protection and enhancement of all of the tourist resources of this Province. If he does that he will receive my support.

So I say in closing that I do support the legislation. I do have very serious concerns about the Department of Tourism and Culture being involved in wilderness and ecological reserves and wildlife, other than making use of their tourism potential within the limits established by what I believe should be another department. Other than that, Mr. Speaker, the legislation receives my approval and commendation, and I commend it to all hon. members.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If I could speak just for a few moments on this particular piece of legislation. It's an interesting piece of legislation. The first thing I would have to say is that nothing tremendously changes here except that we now have a Department of Tourism again. I remind the hon. members of the House that -

MR. ROBERTS: Where's Doyle now that we really need him, eh?

MR. WINDSOR: I remind the hon. the Government House Leader that it was this government that took the name Tourism away from the department. It was the Department of Development and Tourism when my friend first took over, and it was changed to the Department of Development. The name Tourism was taken out of it.

That may not seem very significant. I'm sure my friend the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology learned during his time in being responsible for tourism that the name Tourism in the title of a department is very important in the tourism industry. It was precisely why we put the Department of Development and Tourism together - originally it was the Department of Development. I recommended after about a year, on the advice, and on the submissions from the tourism industry, that we add the name tourism there, because many tourists who are seeking information will look for tourism.

One real advantage of having the Department of Tourism and Culture is that now in the telephone there appears the Department of Tourism, even when it was the Department of Development you did not find it, and when it became Development and Tourism you probably found it, but Tourism and Culture makes it that much easier. That is a small point but when people from out of Province, out of country, are looking for information they will look under Tourism, they will look under `T', so it is important to the industry from that point of view. The drawback in what is happening here is that now it is a junior portfolio whereas before it was part of the Department of Development with a senior minister, a member of planning and priorities, and with all due respect to my friend the Minister of Tourism and Culture he is a junior minister, he is not a minister of planning and priorities, and he does not have the same impact that his predecessor had, and that unfortunately is a simple fact of life.

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible) no signs on my lawn for you -

MR. WINDSOR: There were no signs on the hon. member's lawn for me the last time, although I was close, but I can assure the hon. member that when he looked out his window all he saw were signs for me because every one of his neighbours certainly had them, all his next door neighbours. On the street he resides on, I think, there are thirteen houses and I believe there were ten signs in the windows for me. The only red sign was the ministers and there were two undecided and I put them down as doubtful. That was a rather good cul-de-sac that I visited on a very pleasant, actually, Saturday afternoon, a very hot afternoon. I had a good chat with his next door neighbour, Mr. Head, a long-time friend of mine from Mount Pearl, Jack Head.

AN HON. MEMBER: You got a good reception at my house.

MR. WINDSOR: I got a good reception at your house. Actually, I did not personally go into your house. One of my campaigners was next door. I did check to see if you were home and I was told you were not home, that you were out in your own district as you should be. Mr. Speaker, I want to get back to what I was saying on tourism here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you win my street?

MR. WINDSOR: I won every street.

AN HON. MEMBER: I was the only one on that street.

MR. WINDSOR: That is right. Not only that I say to the Premier's press secretary that I visited her street and she had a picture of the Premier about that big in her front door. I spoke with every one of her neighbours and I tell her she was all alone on that street as well. They were delighted she was not around because they were friends and neighbours and were found in a difficult position.

Mr. Speaker, I only have about two minutes and I do want to talk about tourism here. After having made that point on the name of the department and the power that particular minister has within Cabinet. I am sure he will do his best, but we must recognize that he is not a member of planning and priorities and that certainly carries a lot of weight with it were he a member of planning and priorities.

My friend for Labrador West, I think, made a tremendous speech in dealing with tourism in Labrador. It is not very often I watch television but I happened to be watching last night and I saw a couple of commercials, a couple that were placed by the Tourism Department which I found to be quite good, I say to my friends opposite. I found them to be quite good. There was one there that I think was placed by a Labrador agency. The address was in Labrador City, so clearly it is some kind of a tourism organization stationed in Labrador City and it was specifically on Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: `Destination Labrador.'

MR. WINDSOR: `Destination Labrador' is right. It specifically was Labrador and it was one of the best tourism commercials that I have ever seen. I was very impressed with it and I thought it showed Labrador in an extremely good light and was very attractive. I have no idea who did it. It was extremely well done. The photography was absolutely superb.

AN HON. MEMBER: M-5 did it.

MR. WINDSOR: M-5 did it. I congratulate M-5. It was extremely well done and it put Labrador in the light that I know Labrador to be. It showed all aspects of life in Labrador. It showed hunting, it showed fishing, it showed the natural scenery, the wilderness, it showed the dog sled races, and it showed the native peoples. I thought it was an extremely good commercial to attract somebody to Labrador, and if I did not already have the great affinity that I do for Labrador, it certainly would have enticed me to visit Labrador.

The point that my hon. friend from Menihek made is that there is a tremendous opportunity. I have spoken in this House many times about the opportunity to develop tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador, but he was speaking specifically about the unique experience Labrador has to offer, and indeed it does. It is a different part of the world. I have not been to Alaska but I have been to the Yukon and I have been to the Northwest Territories. I have been to Tuktoyaktuk Inuvik and I have seen the tourism industry they have there.

We always think of the Yukon Territories as having the great gold rush. No doubt there were millions of dollars of gold came out of the Yukon Territories, but that does not hold a candle to the amount of money that the Yukon has received from its tourism industry, and on an ongoing basis. The tourism industry in the Yukon today, as remote as that is in comparison to Newfoundland, makes our tourism industry look like child play - very highly developed, very seasonal, unfortunately - very seasonal - a very short season, but a tremendous tourism industry that offers a tremendous range of activities dealing with the culture and the heritage of the people, all based on the gold rush. I do not think there is any one of us who came away from the Yukon without purchasing a piece of gold jewellery of some sort made from natural gold nuggets - and they are not all very, very expensive. In fact, the price of gold in the Yukon is quite reasonable. It is not a fire sale by any means, but it was quite reasonable, and the fact that you are there at the heart of it, and some of the gold mines are still operating there.

Mr. Speaker, there is a tremendous opportunity in Labrador, but we have to get away from the traditional package concept of tourism. Labrador has a different thing to offer. It has the hunting and the fishing and the backpacking and the hiking and the wilderness and the nature trails. These are the things that Labrador have that are unique, that are different from any other part of Canada, perhaps indeed any other part of the world. I have seen most of Labrador, and there is no more magnificent scenery to be seen anywhere than can be found in Labrador, and the hunting and fishing is unmatched.

Now we often criticize ministers if they take people in to entertain them. Well I say, and I say without any apologies whatsoever, that I took a fishing expedition to Labrador about eight or nine years ago, when I was Minister of Tourism, and the people that I took - I took five people with me - they were the top five fishing writers in North America. The editor of Field and Stream Magazine, the fishing editor for Sports Week - these types of people - the five top editors. We were very fortunate to get them here. We only had them here because there was a North American conference of hunting and fishing writers and promoters held here in St. John's, and we took advantage of the opportunity to take those five people - to invite those five people - to Labrador for four or five days I think we spent up there.

We visited, I think, four different camps during that time. We went to the Minipi camp. We were down at Sand Hill, or Michaels River, I think, and we were at Osprey Lake and I think one other. We saw salmon. We saw some of the trout. We saw some arctic char. We were at Char Lake as well, and we saw the full range of fishing in Labrador. My friend a moment ago said if we could get one good article... Well I tell him that we got twenty good articles. They are on file in the department - beautiful articles in Hunting and Fishing Magazine, in Field and Stream, these sorts of magazines, with good colour photography, very complimentary to Labrador. We could not have purchased that kind of promotion through normal commercial advertising channels for a hundred times what we paid for it. I would say the total cost of that trip was $6,000 or $7,000. That might seem like a lot of money, but when you're talking about chartering aircraft, hiring these commercial established lodges to look after you - in fact, a great deal of it was donated by these people. Because it was an honour for them. They were delighted to get these type of people come to their lodges and write about their particular facilities. The advertising we got out of that was worth millions, absolutely worth millions.

If ever the minister can get an opportunity to do that again I encourage him to do it. He should stand up proudly and defend it. Because that is the kind of thing that is good advertising. That's getting to the people who have an impact. Bring in your tourist promoters. We've done that in the past. Bring in the people who are putting together packaged tourist plans. There are many trips that are offered to eastern Canada. Many of them are Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Invariably. There's a trip to Newfoundland, but it costs $200 or $300 more because, A) of the cost of getting here, and B) because of the increased costs once you get here.

Because in a package tour such as that all of the costs are wrapped in there. The cost of accommodation, with the taxes that we have here that go on hotel rooms, that again makes us uncompetitive, or less competitive, with our maritime neighbours; the costs of alcohol, the taxes on alcohol here that go in; the cost of gasoline; and the fact that you don't have the same rebates on money spent by tourists in this Province that other provinces offer. We have some but not nearly enough.

So a commercial agent or a travel agent in the United States offering a package to eastern Canada can offer a comparable package to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to one in Newfoundland for about $300 less. That is a matter of concern. The point I wanted to make to the minister - if he was interested he might be listening - is that be very wary of tax harmonization. Because we have the highest retail sales tax. If that becomes harmonized with the GST so that it is now spread over all of the services that are provided, that will make us even less competitive. Because again, it's a higher tax in this Province than anywhere else. Even if all the other provinces harmonize as well - which I would hope that we wouldn't even consider tax harmonization alone, that we would only do it if the rest of Canada were doing it. That if we do that, again we're taking our highest tax and applying it to those items that are so important in tourism, and we're making ourselves far less competitive.

If we were truly interested in the real, true, raw tourist dollar we would find a mechanism to eliminate most of those taxes from the pure tourist. We can't eliminate it from all travel, because commercial travel and local travel is all involved here. But the pure tourist coming into this Province, even if it's just package plans, if we were to eliminate that. If it were for hunting and fishing outfitters, to eliminate taxes being paid on those types of things. It would make them more competitive and would give us an opportunity to develop those resources even further than they already are.

We've made a lot of strides. My friend talked about some of the developments on the Northern Peninsula. I've often used the Northern Peninsula group - and I've forgotten the name of them now - but the Northern Peninsula had a tourist group that formed back about 1979. They showed a tremendous amount of leadership. They had tremendous support from government during those times. As a result, the Northern Peninsula has developed into one of the more prosperous tourism areas, more frequented tourism areas, in this Province. The tourism industry has developed and grown tremendously over the past decade. That can take place in all areas of the Province. Government's role in that regard is not to simply go down and develop the tourism industry itself. Government's role is to create a climate, to provide some incentives and some seed money for agencies such as that to develop the tourism industry.

As we did on the Northern Peninsula. Where when you hit Deer Lake you saw a sign talking about the Viking Trail. That was the first area, and it was their initiative largely and they asked government to designate the Northern Peninsula Highway as a Viking Trail based on of course the L'Anse aux Meadows discovery with the Viking settlement. One of the greatest tourist attractions we have by the way. That is what you call a major travel generator, something like L'Anse aux Meadows, Red Bay and the Straits. Those facilities, those assets are real travel generators.

I think I have said in this House before that one time, when as minister, when I was visiting L'Anse aux Meadows, there was a family there from California and I asked them what enticed them to come to Newfoundland and specifically to come to L'Anse aux Meadows. The answer was: I read about it in National Geographic. National Geographic had done a story on L'Anse aux Meadows and that is the greatest - I guess that sort of advertising which cost us nothing - but that kind of advertising is the greatest advertising we can get.

There is a huge market out there of people that have seen all the normal tourist trap type things and they are not interested anymore in that but they are very much interested in history and culture, in something new and something different. They have money to spend and they are prepared to go to a place like the northern tip of the Northern Peninsula to visit L'Anse aux Meadows.

I mentioned the Yukon, while I was in Inuvik in the Yukon Territory, constantly there were bus loads of senior citizens from California. Now the Labrador Highway is not a pleasant highway to travel on. It was not paved in those days. I believe now that it is, if not all paved, not totally paved, certainly most of it is paved, but bus loads of senior citizens from California in Inuvik to see something different. They have the time, they have the money and they are prepared to travel to those extremes to have a new experience and I have no doubt that we have seen them here. We have seen bus loads of senior citizens coming to Newfoundland. One of the biggest industries that we have. More package plans, more bus tours contain senior citizens coming out of this Province than anybody else, there is a huge market there.

My friends may recall that back in 1983 we had an exchange program with Pasadena, California, which twinned Pasadena, Newfoundland with Pasadena, California. For the first time then, we had a caravan of some seventy-five motor homes, driven mostly by senior citizens, that started in Pasadena, California and came all the way, collected people as they came and there were around seventy-five of them when they arrived in Pasadena. I participated in some affairs in Pasadena and welcomed them. I was actually screeched in. I was the guinea pig for the night and if you have ever been screeched in let me tell you, they screeched me in that night, in Pasadena. The senior citizens got away lightly.

AN HON. MEMBER: They twisted your arm.

MR. WINDSOR: They twisted my arm. They twisted more than that that night, I can tell my friend.

A very enthusiastic group and they have been coming back every since, not as many of them, but they still come back every year. I took the opportunity when I was in Los Angeles in fact, to visit the mayor of Pasadena and to exchange greetings as part of that whole exchange procedure and it was a very worthwhile thing. That is the kind of promotion that can have lasting benefits because when those people, those seventy-five families, go back to California, they talk to hundreds of more families and spread the word and that is how tourism can grow.

I started to talk about the Viking Trail and that whole concept, Mr. Speaker, of developing regions of tourism, and my friend from Fortune or Grand Bank when he spoke talked about some work that I had initiated on the Burin Peninsula in speaking with people down there about developing the Burin Peninsula as a tourism region. I did the same thing on the Bonavista Peninsula and they have now named that I believe the Cabot Trail, on the Bonavista Peninsula. We did the same thing in the Gander Bay loop from Gambo all up around Wesleyville and Carmanville and back around the Gander Bay and out through Lewisporte and back to Gander, that whole loop makes a tremendous tourism area. There is the strength, Mr. Speaker, in getting those areas together to form a comprehensive tourism package

To market that and to say: look, here is an area, here is what is available, we co-operate together, we are an organized group, we are offering you a package here. We are offering you a whole range of activities and it is pretty nice in the Northern Peninsula when the Viking Trail was in its heyday, in any restaurant that you visited and you sat down, your place mat was a map of the Northern Peninsula with all of the tourist destinations, all of the hotels and facilities marked on that map, and I saw many, many tourists sitting down in Rocky Harbour at the little restaurant in the corner, I do not remember the name, it is just down from the Parsons' home -

AN HON. MEMBER: Fisherman's Landing.

MR. WINDSOR: Fisherman's Landing, one of the finest restaurants in Newfoundland, the best, fresh cod tongues you can get in Newfoundland, bar none. But I remember sitting there and seeing tourists sitting next to me, taking their place mats and planning their trip because they could see the whole map of the Peninsula and all of the major attractions, and all of the motels, and all other facilities that they needed, and on their place mats they could plan their trip, we will go here and will stop at this place this night and then we will go here and then we will go here, a tremendous thing and we should have that for every area of the Province.

You go to Prince Edward Island, you have the Blue Heron Trail, you have Pink Lady Slipper Trail or something like that, I am not sure what they are, but they have three or four areas like that as well; and Nova Scotia is done that way. And it provides a focus for a tourist, let us go look at this area; you probably do not have time to cover the whole Province, but the tourist who comes here and visits the Viking Trail one year, and really enjoys himself, may very well come back the next year and do the Cabot Trail and the next year and do - do we have a name on the Burin Peninsula yet?

AN HON. MEMBER: I suggested Smugglers Alley.

MR. WINDSOR: Smugglers Alley. Do not laugh, there may indeed be a big market for that, a big attraction, but the Burin Peninsula has many things to offer from a tourism point of view, and again, a package of events and attractions can be put together to make that extremely attractive to tourists.

Again I say to my friend, it is government's role to create the climate. Government has to be prepared to finance these agencies, not to build all the facilities, there are not a lot of facilities needed, it is organization and marketing. We have for the past fifteen years been concentrating on building up the tourism plant, because fifteen years ago when you looked at attracting tourists, you said: if we attract them where are they going to stay, what do we have to offer them, what is the point of bringing thousands of tourists into Newfoundland if we do not have anything to offer them?

How many times have I said to the staff in the Department of Tourism when I was there: what is the good of bringing them here, if they go back out of Newfoundland with just as much money in their pockets as they brought in? Unfortunately, fifteen or twenty years ago that was often the case. Many of them came and they camped and there was a lot of benefit of course from having people here who were camping, but by far, in those days the majority of people who came were staying in camps, they were bringing a lot of food with them - they might buy a bit of food and a bit of gas, not a lot else, there was not a lot of things for them to spend their money on and few of them stayed in commercial accommodations. We have changed that.

A lot of federal/provincial money has been spent over the last fifteen years in building up the tourism plant so that today, we can, in most areas of the Province, offer a reasonably good level of service, and the whole concept of hospitality homes is an area that is growing and that makes a lot of sense in this Province, because one of the problems of developing a hotel or a motel in rural Newfoundland is that the season unfortunately is all too short, depending on how you look at the season, in some areas of the Province that may well be true, but for too long we have talked about the tourism season, as July and August.

For twenty years I have been saying I do not believe you. What is wrong with winter tourism, what is wrong with snowmobiling, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, winter camping, ice fishing?... all of the things that can be done in Newfoundland and Labrador in the wintertime. There is a whole range of activities that people are just starting to discover and our winter tourism has grown in the past ten or fifteen years tremendously, but we have a tremendous amount of room to grow.

Now I do not know what is happening. I asked the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - he was listening to me a second ago - I would like for him to listen again, if I could get his attention. If I could get the attention of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation who had been listening intently until just a moment ago, I would like to ask him, as I asked him some questions some time ago, from my friend who was Minister of Tourism and Culture a year or so ago. What is happening to the study on the old rail line? That is potentially one of the biggest assets that we have. I'm greatly concerned that in many areas across the Province, in municipalities such as - I hate to use examples - like Bishop's Falls, Deer Lake, and down through the Humber Valley, the route has been destroyed or sections of it. If you destroy that link, that corridor right from one end of the Province to the other, you're going to destroy a tremendous opportunity.

I can bring you from home, books that I have asked for, requested, from Ontario and Quebec and other provinces, outlining snowmobile trails, groomed, government controlled, facilities all along, marketed, packages. You can get on a plane in St. John's and fly to Quebec. You can get snowmobiles with guides if you wish, but you don't need them because the trails are all marked. There are maps, there are all kinds of emergency facilities. Tremendous packages being developed on snowmobiles. I believe that we are the only province in Canada that has not marketed snowmobiling to that degree. I think we're the only province. I may be wrong. I'm pretty -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: He's not doing his job. There is a tremendous opportunity there. I realize that's a small market but there's big money involved. Big money involved in snowmobiling. People are prepared. Whether somebody travels by car or by plane or by snowmobile is irrelevant. In fact, the snowmobiler will spend more money locally than anybody who flies in or comes in by car.

The old rail line across the Island, the old rail line up to Bonavista. I spoke to the tourism association of the Bonavista Peninsula one time. I said to them: you're missing the boat. That old rail line goes through Trinity, goes through Trouty, goes through Bonavista, all of the historic settlements of that peninsula. What a beautiful snowmobile route that could be.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) bridges.

MR. WINDSOR: The bridges are all still in place. We'd have to make a commitment to preserve them. Don't forget, those bridges were designed to hold a train. They're going to last a long time before a snowmobile is going to go through any one of them, let me assure you. Or maybe they need to be replaced with a small culvert or something.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) guardrails.

MR. WINDSOR: Guardrails. No big deal. Small price to pay, I say to my hon. friend from St. John's West. Small price to pay to protect that. But the potential - from people in St. John's alone who would be prepared to drive to Clarenville on a Friday evening. Probably stay in Clarenville Friday night. Take a snowmobile early Saturday morning, drive to Bonavista on that route, stay in Bonavista overnight, come back the next day. A nice weekend excursion. Same is not quite as true for the Burin Peninsula because the snow conditions are not always quite as dependable. Those are the sorts of things that can be done.

I guess I'm almost out of time. There's not enough time for me to carry on with anything else. Let me say that we don't have a problem with the legislation because it doesn't do anything except create a department that already existed as part of another department. It does separate it. There are so many things that can be done but it's not by government. It has to be done by industry. The minister's role is to get out there and provide leadership, provide a climate, and provide incentives to stimulate industry to get them moving. You've got to do the coordination. Get them together in areas where they're not organized or they haven't been able to organize themselves. Because once they get organized they are the engine that can really move the tourism industry.

The minister's role is in promotion. But I don't want to see him promote a province that doesn't have anything to offer tourists when they get here. He has to do the promotion, nationally and internationally. I think he has a good product here to market but there is a tremendous area left to grow. There are tremendous opportunities in tourism, tremendous numbers of jobs in rural Newfoundland and Labrador that could be created by taking advantage of some of the opportunities that are available in tourism.

I'm out of time, Mr. Speaker. I'll have another time. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank all of those who had such kind words to say about me, in particular, in this new job, and to assure them that we will take a lot of the comments that they made under advisement. Some of the things we'll try to accomplish during this mandate, and in actual fact look forward to a good tourism season this year. With that comment, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Department Of Tourism And Culture," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 3).

AN HON. MEMBER: Order 7, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 5.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 7.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act". (Bill No. 5).

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, just before we closed the House last December there was a bill introduced to the House called the taxation - or a bill related to taxation on cable television companies as well as public utilities, Newfoundland Light and Power, Newfoundland Telephone, Newfoundland Hydro. At the time a number of members, as well I guess as the previous minister, was trying to get this particular act through the House so as to accommodate the municipalities in their budgeting process for 1993. In doing so, I can only admit, I suppose, and take a certain amount of responsibility for a number of anomalies that were in the particular bill at the time.

We found that there were a number of communities in the Province - a number of municipalities in the Province - that were using the bill, and the problems that we had in the bill, to their own advantage and collecting, or starting to collect, large sums of taxes that really were not meant to be collected. These changes that I am introducing to Bill No. 5 will tighten up the legislation and make, I guess, the legislation fairer.

In the first section of the bill we talk about an area where, as of January 1, 1993, based on real property value, a community with a tax rate that exceeds 2.5 per cent. The idea at that time was that rather than make that community drop back to 2.5 per cent, and I will try to explain in as simple terms as I can, a community, for example, that was charging more than 2.5 per cent, and we had some communities out there, believe it or not, that were charging up as high as 10 per cent. I think one in particular, in my area, was charging 13 per cent at one time. Rather than put that, I suppose, `shock` if you wanted to call it, on the municipality, and force them to move from say 13, like my hon. friend from Grand Bank said, force them down from 13 to 2.5, would have been quite a difference or disparity.

What the hon. minister did at the time was bring in a reduction system. If you remember correctly, we brought it in on a two-thirds/one-third basis. So we said that communities who had in excess of 2.5 per cent taxes, there could be 2.5 charged and then on top of that, of course, the difference between the 2.5 and the 13 per cent - two-thirds of that they could collect in 1993 and one-third in 1994; but the way the legislation read was that you could collect two-thirds of the total taxes. It was not meant to be that. It was meant to be the difference between the 2.5 and what you were actually charging. So you had communities collecting the 2.5 and then two-thirds of the taxes that they collected last year, which was two-thirds really of the 2.5 plus the difference. So this particular section of the change to the bill, the amendment to the bill, will cover that difference.

The second part of the bill - oh, I want to say something else, too, that is not really shown in the draft amendments to the bill, but you have to remember that it is in the other bill - and I am saying this for my colleague from Humber Valley - if a town, for example, was charging less than 2.5 per cent, and there were towns out there charging less than 2.5, the new bill, even though it does not say it in this, the new bill allows that town to move immediately from wherever they are below 2.5 up to 2.5 and stay there. There are communities in the Province that were charging less than 2.5 under the old act. The second part, the B part of the bill, Mr. Speaker, paragraph 10(3), basically, we are deleting the word `may' now and replacing it with `shall'. I guess a lot of us, over the years, have run into the definition of the words `may' and `shall', and as far as the minister is concerned, the word `shall' denotes more determined strength. The word `shall' means that you must do it, `may' basically leaves the option to whether you may or you may not, so that is just straight housekeeping. Under Section 3 (10) then, the next section, which is No. 4 on Page 4, we are talking in that particular case only about the cable companies, so Subsection 3 of Section 10 of the legislation provides a two-year phase-up period. Now, remember, a few minutes ago we were talking about a two-year phase-down period for those communities with taxes in excess of 2.5 per cent, but when we are talking about cable companies, there were a lot of towns out there that were not charging the 2.5 per cent, so now we are talking about the difference between those people who were less than 2.5 and now are moving towards the 2.5. So we are phasing-up in this particular case, which is opposite to what we were doing in Subsection 2 of Section 10. In this particular case, like I said, only the cable companies - and I am not sure, because of a strong lobby because of the cable companies and a number of other instances, I think, that happened prior to the legislation coming in, this particular piece, or this particular section was placed in the bill to accommodate the cable companies because of the discrepancies throughout the Province in charging cable companies actual taxes on either property or actual net revenue. With the cable companies, Mr Speaker, instead of going from where you are, if you are below 2.5 up to 2.5, what this bill basically does is allow a council to charge but not charge up to 2.5. Basically, what you do is take one-third of the difference, move up so whatever you are now, let us say, 1 per cent, move up one-third this year, then up two-thirds the next year, and then the following year you will have reached the 2.5 level, the plateau, and that is where you will stay, and that is the change. So, one-third in 1993, two-thirds in 1994, and then in 1995, of course, it reaches the 2.5 level, so we are going from wherever you are up to the 2.5.

I believe, if I am not mistaken, the newly elected Member for Mount Pearl is quite aware of how legislation can be manipulated to serve the purposes and benefits of councils around the Province. I had to admit, I don't mind saying - I had to admit to a deputy minister just yesterday that quite often in my position as Mayor of Carbonear and on council there were times when legislation came out that we certainly tried to manipulate. I guess it is common knowledge and it is something that councils do, they try to make legislation suit their purposes as much as they possibly can. I think one of the major cities that was involved in using this piece of legislation as it was, was the town of Mount Pearl, I believe, my hon. friend.

I think that is about all, Mr. Speaker. There is not a lot that I can say, other than state the fact that this is pretty straightforward. I spoke to my hon. critic about this particular bill and I am sure he understands it. Maybe there are three or four members in the House who actually do understand it. But I am hoping that I do, and I am hoping that my critic does, and a few others. There is basically nothing else that I can say about these particular amendments, but we need to do these now because there are a lot of towns out there at the present time in a sort of dilemma and we need to straighten out the legislation and, of course, the legislation calls for it to be retroactive to, I think, January 1, if I am not mistaken.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a few short comments on the bill submitted by the minister for, I think, the third time. The two previous ministers, the first minister, the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, came in with the amalgamation process and then changed the MOG, and the former for repayment on capital debt. That legislation was retroactive. When that was introduced to the House of Assembly, it was retroactive legislation. The former minister, the Member for Placentia, brought in this one on two occasions, I believe. So, all the present minister is doing is trying to clean up what was fooled up, I think it was last January, if I am not mistaken, and like he said, the main word in this bill is the word `difference'. The whole gist of the bill is, you come down to difference and the rest of it was pretty well there when the bill was introduced last January.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I want to comment on is the original statement by the former minister, when it came to changing the whole system with respect to taxation, business tax and property tax assessed by municipalities in the Province. Always, under the Municipalities Act, every municipality in the Province, except for the City of Mount Pearl, the City of St. John's and the City of Corner Brook Act - they are governed by different acts - the rest of the municipalities in the Province are governed by the Municipalities Act. They all had the right to assess a business tax, whether it was based on gross - or, they could base it on property assessment in some municipalities in the Province. That, I must say to the minister, was a bit - some municipalities were whacking it up 5 per cent, 10 per cent, 15 per cent and some couldn't even collect 2 per cent.

A lot of municipalities in the Province were assessing the Newfoundland Telephone and Newfoundland Power, 2 per cent on the gross sales in a particular municipality and they were getting it, especially from Newfoundland Telephone and Newfoundland Light, but with the cable companies, if there is anything, you should - in fact, Mr. Minister, in this particular bill, we should even be stronger when it comes to cable companies in the Province, because as far as I am concerned, if there was ever any reason to increase the business tax or the property assessments levied by municipalities in the Province, it should be on cable companies. And I will explain a little further what I am talking about.

Since this particular assessment was changed, I mean, the gall of cable systems! I have letters here from municipalities in the Province, and I say the absolute gall of a person who sat down - and I know members opposite, if they mind to check with their municipalities, got those letters. Municipalities got the letters and I have the names, some of them here. Mr. Speaker, I will just quote a certain section of a four-page letter, threatening municipalities. Maybe the minister has seen it, as well. Coming down to the fact of telling a municipality - and I will just read one paragraph, I do not want to read a four-page letter in the House, Mr. Speaker: `Should you decide to hold your decision to charge the maximum rate of 2.5 per cent of gross revenue, we propose to impose an annual one-time charge to subscribers to collect such a tax. This charge will take the form of a new line item on our monthly invoice and will read' - and will read, now just get this: `The Community of Reidville Municipal Capital TV Tax. The option of simply increasing our monthly rates to account for this new level of taxation is not feasible, as increased rates simply generate increased taxes. The cycle simply never ends.'

Now, I can go on and on, but what the cable companies are saying Mr. Speaker, is this: They come into municipalities and they try to find the main concentration of residences in a municipality. That is what they do. They go in and try to manoeuvre a council to set up a dish in a certain part of a municipality; they will only service that particular part of the municipality, they will not do the surrounding areas. Now, I have it in my district, we have it in Corner Brook area, we have it all over this Province and what they are doing is, they are just coming in and grabbing the big chunk of money from the center of a community, out of the whole of a community and to heck with the rest. That is exactly what is happening to cable companies here in the Province. Newfoundland Light and Newfoundland Tel are governed by more stringent guidelines, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the hon. the Member for St. John's South had better be careful if he wants to go talking about cable companies. The Premier will be down in a minute - the member had better get back in his seat because the Member for Stephenville just went out and I am expecting him back any minute. So anything could happen back in that seat, Mr. Speaker.

Although we may josh and jest about this sort of thing, this, in rural Newfoundland, is very serious. This is threatening municipalities. The minister knows quite well that over the years through his affiliation with the federation of municipalities, this has been an ongoing problem with cable companies in the Province. They wouldn't pay under the Municipalities Act - they wouldn't pay at all. We had them down in the Premier's district, I don't know if they are paying yet - for years, assessing, billing those companies and they would not pay. Newfoundland Tel paid, Newfoundland Light paid, but those cable companies would not pay.

Now, the 2.5 per cent, Mr. Speaker, levied on Newfoundland Light and Newfoundland Telephone is an excellent move with regard to those particular companies, but what we have to remember is that the cable companies are now arguing that they are not a utility. Now, they have to go back to the CRTC, the same as Newfoundland Tel do in order for - they don't go to the Public Utilities Board anymore, they go to the CRTC for permission to increase their rates.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is wrong with that?

MR. WOODFORD: Now, the cable companies are saying, `We are not a utility; we should not be paying this particular money' - another escape route. I mean, this has to be - if they don't pay, Mr. Speaker, as far as I am concerned, we have to take stronger action here in the Province with regard to cable companies. Because what is going to happen, as sure as we are in this House of Assembly this evening, is, if the cable companies get away with it, the utilities are soon going to be asking for exemptions and that is what is going to happen. The fact that the former minister included Newfoundland Hydro in the assessment of 2.5 per cent is also an excellent move because Newfoundland Hydro under the other system were not paying anything because they were a Crown corporation. Down your way the minister for the straits knows that, that is for sure, what happens with regard to Newfoundland Hydro, especially the Town of Roddickton for instance and other areas, but Roddickton is one that comes to mind with me in the Northern Peninsula area.

Also I have some other areas down around Jackson's Arm, Deer Lake and other areas, they are paying but what is going to happen with the utility companies now is that they have to pay under the first section of this act, they have to pay their 2.5 per cent based on previous years gross sales. So, what is happening is that some of those companies, Newfoundland Tel for instance, are coming back now and telling a municipality: I, so and so of Newfoundland Tel of St. John's in the Province of Newfoundland, may go out and say that I am the supervisor of taxation of Newfoundland Telephone Company Limited and that to the best of my knowledge, inform the municipality that the gross revenue of business done by the company in the above municipality in the year 1991 was x number of dollars. When you look back at the previous years, it is almost half of what the pervious years sales were, half. Just a plain sworn affidavit that anybody can do, that should not be - as far as I am concerned there should be an audited statement by Newfoundland Tel or Newfoundland Light. Municipalities in the Province, right away, based on the 2.5 per cent, are getting nailed by Newfoundland Tel and Newfoundland Light plus the actions of the cable companies.

I just want to say to the minister that he should be very aware and very cognizant of what is going on with regards to the implementation of this 2.5 per cent by some of those companies. Municipalities in the Province have it very tough because of the other changes in the municipal operating grants and the formula for repayment on capital debt.

The other thing with this, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure that the minister is well aware of it, is the fact that when it came in last year, municipalities charged based on the previous years, and now with this change on the one third and so on, they have to change right in mid-year. This is the month of June and how are municipalities going to pick up the difference in what they should have assessed and what they did assess? They cannot, because their budgets are in as of December 31 every year. They have to submit a balanced budget. Everybody else can submit what they like but municipalities around the Province have to have a balanced budget in by December 31.

I have always said, and this is something probably for the ministers to take into consideration, I have always said that our budgets, both federally and provincially, most municipalities in the Province always have their budgets come down December 31 but we as a Province and as a country, all our budgets are March 31. Their fiscal year is from January 1 to December 31 and ours, the two levels of government, the fiscal year is always the end of March. It just does not make sense and if it were changed so that the fiscal year for the Province and the federal government to end on December 31 something else that would come out of that is that all municipal capital funding and municipal capital works projects, all transportation projects, any capital funding for any capital project in the Province would be out and done during the construction season.

So, we have the municipalities in the Province year end December 31 and most of us personally, any of us who have some private companies end December 31, but here we have both levels of government who we really depend on and the fiscal year does not end until March 31, you bring in a Budget and nothing is out until June or July. Make no wonder we are in the mess we are in year after year with regard to capital projects being finished. We cannot get them finished so we always have that overlap.

It would take a certain amount of initiative. It would be a very large step. I do not know what it would cost in dollars for that extra three months. I know we can cut here and cut there and hold back a portion of a capital program, rather than 100 per cent go with 75 per cent the first year and then by the end of the next year you could always bring in the full capital program. It is something, I think, for governments to consider. I threatened to bring it up before and I thought I might just mention it now because of the municipalities in the Province that have to have their budgets in.

The same thing that is happening now with this Mr. Minister, has happened with the MOG. That came in in '89, that was announced the day after Boxing Day. Municipalities had their budgets in, submitted, most did, and then they had to make re-arrangements for the next year.

The next year it was changed again. The road component was changed and the equalization component was changed, they had to make adjustments again in mid-year, and I mean, it makes it very, very tough for municipalities in the Province to try to survive even at the best of times, even when they know they have to try to adjust their budgets, they have a very, very hard job to do and this one here, now they are going to have to make some adjustments on this, but you cannot help it, it was done, it is no slight on you at all, this was done before ever you got to your chair and it should have been addressed before the end of the budgetary process, the budgetary year, so the municipalities could make their adjustments.

Now the Federation of Municipalities had some grave concerns with this particular thing and one of the things that they were concerned about, and I had to support them at the time, was the fact that they were taking the jurisdiction for the setting up of business tax and property tax pertaining to utilities out of the hands of municipalities, and really, that is what that bill is doing. Really, this bill is not an amendment, because it is outside the jurisdiction of the Municipalities Act. You cannot look at the Municipalities Act now and look at that particular section and say that this is what we do, because this will supersede the Municipalities Act now when they set their taxes and that is what they were worried about.

They were worried about really setting a precedent when it came to changing the taxation system of any municipality in the Province and this is a change and it is setting a precedent, no question, so unless there is a - I could never understand why it had to go that way, I mean, an amendment to the Municipalities Act and put in the Municipalities Act so that every municipality in the Province could then be served by it and make their own decisions, even if they had to go a minimum and a maximum. But to go with 2.5, you know, to some municipalities, no problem, and if the utilities were aboveboard and really told the municipalities in the Province exactly what you were getting, that would be another matter, but I have a funny feeling based on some of the correspondence that I have received from municipalities in the Province, that the cable companies and now, under this new formula, Newfoundland Telephone and Newfoundland Light are starting to catch on.

They are starting to catch on and I think what we have to do, and when we get to committee stage I just might make some amendment there to that particular section of the act saying that it 'has to be.' Even if we put it in that there should be an audited statement and not a sworn affidavit where we can run down the road and find a Commissioner of Oaths, or find a JP to sign it. I think it should be based on a legitimate audit, an official audit. I do not care if it is Newfoundland Tel, Newfoundland Light, or the cable companies, but I can assure the minister today that we are going to have problems with the cable companies. I can assure you this is not going to go smooth.

I find it rather interesting that they did not ask this to go through a committee or something because I know on the Northern Peninsula, in the Deer Lake area, and in the White Bay area when they go into municipalities they do not cover each and every municipality. They are really giving the smaller municipalities the shaft when it comes to the business tax, and now they can do it both ways. They can do it on the taxation, the 2.5 per cent on the business tax, but they also have a loophole now when it comes to the assessment on property, because it is only the shell, the building and the warehouse type of thing that can be taxed now under the property tax assessment. We cannot tax the equipment. We cannot tax the actual production facilities, either by Newfoundland Tel, Newfoundland Light, or the cable companies. That is another thing that municipalities are going to have to take into consideration, Mr. Speaker, when they are looking at that particular clause in the act. To have the cable companies in there is a start. I think we should have carried it a little further and I might just look at that yet.

Once again, thanks a million, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity, and I adjourn debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley has moved adjournment. Before putting the motion for adjournment - I do not know if it would be in order for me to recognize the hon. Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to notify the House that the motion tomorrow will be the motion from the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir. The motion tomorrow is the motion dealing with the fisheries issue from the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

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

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.