June 8, 1993               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                 Vol. XLII  No. 13

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was sidetracked there a little bit, just glancing at the new piece of legislation that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is about to introduce on workers' compensation, which brings me to ask my question today to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations relating to workers' compensation.

Recently the minister was quoted as speaking in glowing terms to the press in particular about reductions in the cost of workers' compensation. The real question is: How are these savings being achieved?

I want to ask the minister this: Has the commission changed its criteria for evaluating claims from injured workers, or are they under orders to reduce the number of claims accepted, regardless of who gets hurt in the process?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In responding to the question, I think the Leader of the Opposition, the hon. member, understands clearly from his own experiences when he was in government that the Workers' Compensation Commission is never under any orders from government.

The relationship clearly is that the government and ourselves are responsible for the law of the land which says that there will be a protective system in place for injured workers - that being workers' compensation - and that the Workers' Compensation Commission, through its board of directors and its staff, delivers the programs and establishes the policies that will make sure that the law of the land is adhered to. All we have done is regulate, change and adjust the law of the land to put in place certain accommodations because the whole system was in danger of bankruptcy and collapse, and that as before the board of the commission, upon the advice of its senior executive staff, determines which policies are in place to make sure that the law is adhered to.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, as usual the minister did not answer the question at all. Let me ask him this: Is he aware that MHA offices have suddenly - or MHA's have suddenly - in the last little while, been flooded with phone calls from claimants who are being turned down? Is he aware of any of those calls, and also calls from existing claimants who have had their benefits cut off by the commission? It all seems to be happening over the last little while.

Let me give him a quick example if I might. One of the cases, which I think is typical of many others that we have had to our offices, involves an injured worker who has had his benefits and his medical therapy cut off, and he has been told that it will take a year, or even longer perhaps, before his case would be heard by the appeals tribunal. In the meantime that individual has been forced on welfare and his whole family is in some kind of a crisis right now. So, I want to ask the minister this, let him be direct please if he would with his answer: why is it taking so long for injured workers who are denied benefits to get their appeals heard number one, and secondly, can he confirm that the appeals panels really are overloaded now because the commission is now rejecting the types of claims that were approved in previous years, can he confirm that?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not in possession of any knowledge that suggests to me that any different practices whatsoever are being followed at the commission now than would have been at any time in the last ten years. If anything they are trying to accommodate requests from claimants and to service claims more quickly than they did in the past, if at all possible. With the appeals procedure, I point out to the Leader of the Opposition and to all hon. members, that in fact the process has been speeded up by reducing one of the two internal appeals that were available to claimants before so that they now do one internal appeal within the commission. If they are not satisfied at the end of the day they then lodge their complaint with the external appeals tribunal and that appeals tribunal, as was indicated in the annual report submitted here in the House and tabled in the House about ten days or two weeks ago, they do have an increase in their caseload because of the fact that people are getting through the internal process more quickly and if not satisfied are at least beginning the process of external review a little more quickly than they would have before.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised to hear and shocked to hear that the minister is not aware of this mess. It is occurring I can assure him, and there are people in the galleries today representing the newly formed Newfoundland and Labrador Injured Workers Association who I think would also be appalled at the minister's answer. Since he says he does not know anything about it or he is not aware of it, would he at least undertake to take a look into this matter, check into this matter to see if in fact some of the things that I am telling him here today, is in fact a reality because I want to assure him that it is. Now, let me ask him this, if I may too, Mr. Speaker, given that - we say at least and we are told by a lot of people who are calling our offices, that there is a very long wait for appeals, would the minister not think that it would be fair and more humane or human for the Workers' Compensation Commission to at least continue benefits for those people who are affected until their appeal can be heard. What is happening, as I described earlier, is that they have been cut off from the benefits. It takes a long time for their appeal to be heard. They are forced on welfare and surely there is no compassion in that.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker. The system again, as I would have fully expected that the hon. member opposite would have understood from some ten years in government - has been and has not changed and is not expected to change - is that when the Workers' Compensation Commission, through its own assessment, feels that a worker has been fairly dealt with under the system and that their entitlement to benefits at Workers' Compensation is complete and is finished, then, at that point in time, they notify the worker that he is no longer entitled to benefit under the workers' compensation system.

If the worker is dissatisfied with that ruling, then he has the right to appeal. It has never been the case where the person has been continued on while the appeal has been in process and we have not made, as the government, any representation to the Workers' Compensation Commission because, as I said in the first question, we don't order the Commission to do anything. They are arm's length removed from government, very much so; they don't operate out of the public purse - they do not operate out of tax payers' dollars; they put forward assessments to the employer community. They pay out the claims on the basis of the best information that they have, and they have been doing that since they have been here now, some forty years. Granted, there will always be complaints but I point out for the hon. member, that, in fact, less than 5 per cent of all the people who deal with workers' compensation, ever end up appealing either internally or externally. And we recognize that those people do undergo a fair degree of frustration and that they are dissatisfied with the time lines, but it is not one of those things that the government can order a fix in today. I am sure if it were that easy, that the members opposite would have ordered that some ten or fifteen years ago.

MR. SIMMS: A final supplementary to the minister.

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

MR. SIMMS: His stubbornness today is very familiar to all of us in this House, because it is the same type of stubbornness he used last Fall in defending legislation that he brought into the House. We said it was wrong, and he said, `No, it wasn't, you should know better yourselves, you were in government.' And here today, we have a bill tabled that exactly proves we were right and is exactly the point we were trying to make to him six months ago, so I am only asking him to listen, never mind his standard pat answer in reply to the question.

The long wait for appeals is a reality. People are being forced on welfare because their benefits are being cut off. In addition, I want to ask him about this: Is he aware that claimants now, have to wait longer than they normally have been waiting for medical treatment? Is he aware that that is a problem? And let me tell him of an example. A woman who called our office, who has been on workers' compensation for four years, has been waiting for eight months for spinal fusion surgery, still does not know when she is going to get it and that, too, is a typical case. So I want him to tell the House, will he check into these allegations, these concerns, will he try to bring himself up-to-date on what is happening down there and will he, for once, put the interest of these injured workers ahead of his own pat answers in the House of Assembly?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think the record is clear for anyone who would examine it in an objective fashion, and that is, that this particular administration, this government, did put the interest of injured workers ahead of everything, by making sure that we saved the Workers' Compensation system from guaranteed collapse which was the course it was on under the direction and guidance of the previous administration. There is no questioning that whatsoever. That is unquestionable. Without the kind of intervention legislatively that this government introduced a year ago, there wouldn't be any protection for injured workers in Newfoundland beginning in 1996. They would be left to the wolves, the whole lot of them. In fact, the record of that is completely clear.

We understand completely that there will always be a certain number of people in any system - including Workers' Compensation - who will have some difficulty with the treatment that they get in terms of how their claim is dealt with, and that they will go through an appeal process. That takes a bit of time. Ninety-five per cent of the incidents, as I have indicated, are dealt with to the satisfaction of the claimant and there is no further intervention needed by anybody.

With respect to the access to medical treatment, Mr. Speaker, the exact opposite of what the Leader of the Opposition put forward is the truth. We have been monitoring and reviewing the things that happened with workers' compensation, on an ongoing basis, and no one should try to suggest that we haven't been. We have indicated to everybody that at the end of this year we will totally assess the impact of our legislative changes to see whether or not there should be further adjustments in the law with respect to workers' compensation, which is what this House of Assembly and this government have control over.

With respect to access to medical treatment, the exact opposite of what was proposed is true. If anything, access to medical treatment right now is more readily available for workers' compensation claimants than it has been in the history of the Commission. In fact, the Commission has put in place certain agreements with certain of the health care providing institutions to make sure that claimants in Workers' Compensation are given priority access to medical treatment. The hon. member opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, can check with the Commission at any time to find out exactly where those arrangements are in place.

MR. SIMMS: You should check. You are the one who should check. Wake up, boy!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. I know of numerous cases of people who are being kicked out on the streets from Compensation. One of the many cases brought to my attention is that of a forty-four year old man who has been denied compensation, despite the fact that two specialists - both orthopaedic surgeons - have examined him and confirmed that he cannot work because of injuries related to his work. He has been told to take his claim to an appeal and he will have to wait for at least six months to have his case heard in appeal.

Why can't the Workers' Compensation Commission decide a case when there is clear, expert, medical opinions on the condition of the individual and the cause of the injury? Why does he have to wait for months to get an appeal, in a case like this?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, I appreciate the question, but I would suggest that all of us in this Legislature are very poorly and ill-equipped to judge the merits of an individual case at Workers' Compensation. I put this proposition forward, Mr. Speaker, in response to what the hon. member just proposed. The reality is that the worker has been given a decision by Workers' Compensation and that is that their assessment in the case just put forward, their assessment of the medical evidence, is that there is no entitlement to benefit. Now, that is the reality of it, so it is not that the claimant doesn't have a decision. The claimant has a decision that the particular person disagrees with, and when you disagree with a decision there is an avenue to go through to appeal that decision, so there is a choice. The proper recourse is being followed and that is exactly the way the system works, so it is not a matter of putting forward, `Why can't the Commission make a decision?' The evidence has been put forward in front of the people who are given the responsibility to make those assessments and make the decisions. They have told the particular person that you are not entitled to benefit and the person disagrees. When there is a disagreement there is another process to go through which involves an internal appeal first, and if that is not to the satisfaction of the claimant, the injured worker, then that person has the access to an external appeal. That is the process, so it is not a matter of not getting a decision, it is a matter of getting a decision that that individual disagrees with. I am sure that none of us here can replace our judgement, with no information, with that of the person charged with doing that job.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Not ill-equipped to make a decision. If the reports of two independent orthopaedic surgeons is not enough information for Workers' Compensation to make a decision on someone's health, well, who is going to be ill-equipped in this Province? What do you want, every orthopaedic surgeon in this Province to give a report? They are here, they are documented, they are in the hands of the Workers' Compensation and they can't even make a decision, they are turning it to an internal committee to look at it, an internal appeal. This man has been working for twenty-five years and has not been injured. In 1990 he injured his back and was off work for several months and received benefits. He went back to work in 1992 and re-injured his back, and that is documented by the medical opinions of two independent orthopaedic surgeons. Now, what happened between 1990 and 1992? Is the Commission under a directive to cut back on the number of claimants or they have they been cowed and browbeaten to reduce the number of claims and cut back on the payout under the Workers' Compensation Commission?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again I am a little taken aback because I really did believe and gave the members opposite credit for knowing more about the system than they are suggesting they do now, because they have all made representations on behalf of injured workers.

Everyone understands that when there is medical evidence, it is presented to the commission and the commission then makes a final determination on the basis of that evidence plus the fact that the other criteria for claims are also met - that being that there was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again the system requires that there be medical evidence that there is clearly an injury preventing the person from working, and that injury was clearly related to work on the job. If those two criteria are met then the claims are accepted at the commission. Any medical evidence is reviewed by the medical staff at the commission before a final decision is rendered. If there is a difference of opinion, as there is in this case, then there is an appeal process, which is a normal process.

There is absolutely, and I repeat again, Mr. Speaker, and I am surprised that the Opposition would try to suggest it, because of the fact that we respect the autonomy of the Workers' Compensation Commission. No government in the Province runs workers' compensation. The Workers' Compensation Commission were given absolutely no directives from this government other than to institute policies that would make sure and guarantee that the legislation enacted before Christmas was carried through.

The board of the commission is putting in place and formulating policies to make sure the legislative changes that were introduced and passed in this Legislature last Fall are acted upon. They are under no instruction or direction from us in the government as to how they should conduct their business, other than to make sure they do so in a fashion to see that the law of the land is upheld.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is time they got their direction from somebody, because a man who has to wait six months, who can hardly straighten up after twenty-five years of work, has to wait six months to hear it by internal appeal - wait for an internal appeal, not to count a tribunal - with two independent orthopaedic surgeons opinions on his condition as work related, and he meets the criteria you speculated. So there must be something other than that in the system here that is delaying this process. There must be a quota system in the system. Is this not the kind of person that workers' compensation was originally initiated to help - a person who has twenty-five years of work without any claims prior to 1990?

This government is cutting out benefits, and I ask them again: Is this government intentionally limiting the number of claims here? Are they trying to deny benefits to people who need it most by bogging down the system with months of appeals?

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

MR. GRIMES: No, Mr. Speaker, and it does not matter how many times and how many people stand up and try to say that in a different way. That is not the case.

The Workers' Compensation Commission is under no instruction or direction from the government to do anything with its claims management other than to make sure that they do it as expeditiously as possible and institute policies to make sure that the law of the land respecting workers' compensation is adhered to and abided by.

The hon. members opposite know, and anyone who has been involved with the system knows, that if the basic fundamental criteria are clear, and if there is no disputing of the facts, if there was an injury that occurred on the job related to work, and if the medical evidence is such that that prevents the person from working further, there would be no question as to entitlement to workers' compensation. So one or both of those criteria are being questioned, which is why any claimant would be denied access to benefits under workers' compensation; and asking questions about a particular case in the House of Assembly, in this Legislature, is not going to make that difference of opinion disappear.

When there is a difference of opinion there is an appeals process available to the injured worker, to the claimant, internally first and externally second, and I assume that is what is happening - that recourse, due process, is being followed.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I address my question to the Minister of Social Services.

I ask the minister if he will confirm that transportation assistance for persons on social assistance has been cut by $1 million, which is a cut of 21 per cent from what was spent last year?

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, the department has been forced to make certain cuts in order to meet the budgetary requirements of the department, and yes, in that particular vote the amount has been reduced by $1 million. I cannot comment on whether the member's percentage is right.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Can the minister tell the House how the cut in transportation assistance will be applied? In other words, how will social assistance recipients be affected?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. LUSH: The answer, I should say, to the hon. member's question is that in this particular area I'm sure hon. members will know that there's probably been some abuse. The intention of the department is to cut out any abuse but not to deprive any of our clients, any sick people, from reaching hospitals or nursing clinics, or whichever places they have to go for care.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have been told by a social service recipient who is an expectant mother that she will be only allowed one trip to visit her family doctor for pre-natal care. The family doctor lives outside of her own community. I have had this confirmed by her private physician, by their family doctor. Why, Mr. Minister, I ask you sir, has your government cut into the most basic health care for mothers and unborn children? Do you believe Third World health care standards are good enough for people on welfare?

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I tell the hon. member that the philosophy, the intention and the approach of the Department of Social Services is to offer the best care we can to our people at a minimal cost to the taxpayers of this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. At the end of question period on Thursday I asked the Minister of Forestry about the affects on the forest of using mechanical harvesters in logging operations. He gave, to say the least, a flippant response which I can tell him angered many loggers and other people who were concerned with the hi-tech equipment that may cause long-term harm to the forest resource. I want to now give him a chance to redeem himself, to show people that he takes this issue seriously. Is the minister concerned at all that harvesters may cause permanent damage to the forest? If he is concerned, what is he doing about it?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I would be concerned, and this government would be concerned, if anything did permanent damage to the forest. We're aware that roughly 30 per cent of the wood requirements of Abitibi-Price and Kruger is harvested with mechanical harvesters. About 30 per cent per company. We're not aware - and I might tell the hon. member that his question could well be directed, I suppose, if he's so concerned about the environment, then the Department of Environment would have concerns in that area as well.

In the sense that we work and deal with the Department of Environment on forest management plans in Newfoundland, no, I am not concerned at this point in time that those harvesters are doing, as he says, irreparable damage to the forest resource.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: We have a disaster in the fishery due to, at least in part, the use of hi-tech trawlers and equipment. It may be possible to recover the damage in five to ten years as they say now about the fishery, but as you know, being the minister, that it takes fifty to 100 years in the Province to grow new forest. If damage is done to the ecology of the forest it could be destroyed forever, as you've already said to me. Will the government undertake a full environmental impact study to determine the impact of the use of the harvesters on the forest?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, it's not the intention at this point in time of the Department of Forestry to request the Department of Environment to do a full environmental assessment on the harvesting techniques used by the company. We approved the companies' management plans. Those plans include the use of mechanical harvesters. As I pointed out, they cut about roughly 30 per cent of the requirements of pulpwood for the paper companies.

I would point something else out to the hon. member, Mr. Speaker. We're managing the forests in Newfoundland on what we refer to as a sustainable basis. If the annual allowable cut, as directed by the Department of Forestry, is maintained, the forests in Newfoundland will never suffer the same fate as the fisheries. What I am telling the hon. member is that if we stick to the annual allowable cut that has been determined by the professional foresters, by my officials, the Department of Forestry and Agriculture, we will never get in a position where there will be no trees in Newfoundland the way there is no fish, as a result of the kind of management that the hon. members' cohorts allowed to come out of Ottawa.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: I hope you are right on that. The minister said the government was managing the forestry on a sustainable basis. As we found out in the fishery, it doesn't help much to have a management plan unless you also have a solid scientific knowledge about the resource and the impact on it, of harvesting techniques. If there are no environmental studies of the harvesting methods being used, how does the minister know what damage is being done to the young trees or the ability of the forest to regenerate new growth?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, when I say the forest is being managed on a sustainable basis, I mean that the Department of Forestry and Agriculture officials know exactly, or very close to exactly, the wood requirements to maintain the basic industry - the three paper mills and our saw-milling industry. We know the wood requirements year after year after year. We know how much wood we can allow to be cut to sustain, to maintain those industries at least at their present rate of production. We know what age class to cut and we know how long, for argument sake - if we follow that forest management plan it is being managed on a sustainable basis. Now, Mr. Speaker, the difference - I will tell the hon. member the difference in the management of the forestry in Newfoundland and the management of the fisheries in Ottawa. In Newfoundland, we know what we are doing. In Ottawa, the Department of Forestry is managing the forests based on common sense - they know what they are doing, Mr. Speaker. It is very obvious that the members' cohorts in Ottawa did not know what they were doing, but they managed anyway and they wiped out the resource.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. As a result of accident prevention efforts in the workplaces of the Province of Newfoundland, the number of workplace accidents were reduced by 9 per cent last year. This was one of a number of causes of the financial problems of Workers' Compensation identified by the recent review committee. Will the minister take action to speed up the adjudication process, to speed up access to medical services and rehabilitation services and make further efforts in the area of Occupational Health and Safety as measures to reduce the problems of the financing of Workers' Compensation and reinstate the level of benefits to injured workers which he reduced last year unnecessarily?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is only one problem with the question, which was the conclusion that the hon. member drew at the end, that we introduced changes unnecessarily. I think everybody else in the Province would understand clearly that the changes we introduced were completely and absolutely necessary, and right now, we are seeing early indications that we may be headed in the right direction, which is what I have been saying publicly.

With respect to the components of the question, when we announced the changes in July of last year to take effect on January 1, we indicated that there would be a four-pronged approach. The key to the whole thing would be increased emphasis on Occupational Health and Safety so that the number of lost-time accidents and injuries would, hopefully, decrease. The report indicates that that is happening and that is good news. No matter how anybody looks at it, that is good news. We are headed in the right direction even with the 20,000 people or so taken out of active participation in the fishery, despite that being factored out, there is a real 9 per cent decrease in the number of lost-time accidents and injuries, which is positive. It is a step in the right direction. But, in the changes that were made, Mr. Speaker, it was clear that that was only one component of it. The organizational rearrangement was a second part that was necessary, and right now, that is probably the part on which have not gone as far as we would like to go. The Commission advises that, in fact, the organizational rearrangements, so that claims can be processed more quickly and more expeditiously, are in process, and that they are trying to make sure that a person who accesses the system, Mr. Speaker, is taken by a particular adjudicator and that relationship maintains right through their whole duration of time on claim rather than being bounced from one person to another. Those organizational changes are being made but are not complete yet.

The other part of it, in terms of access to medical treatment and duration of claim is still under review. As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, in answer to an earlier question, it is hoped, there are agreements in place with providers of medical care to make sure that, in many instances, Workers' Compensation claims are given priority access to diagnosis and treatment where possible without jeopardizing access to the medical treatment for the community generally. The benefits, Mr. Speaker, were deemed to be necessarily reduced so that we could look at the cash flow situation of the Commission immediately. We committed to do a review, Mr. Speaker, at the end of 1993, of the outcomes of all those approaches, to see whether or not further adjustments were needed in one direction or the other.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I can't hear the hon. member.

MR. GILBERT: At this time, I would like to present the report of the Social Services Committee. The Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have passed, without amendment, the estimates of expenditures of the Departments of Social Services, Education, Health, Environment and Lands, and Justice.

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

MR. PENNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At this time, I would like to table the report on the Resource Committee. The Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have passed, without amendment, the estimates of the expenditures of the Departments of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, Mines and Energy, Tourism and Culture, and Industry, Trade and Technology.

On motion, Report of Social Services Committee and Report of Resource Committee, carried.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to Consider Certain Resolutions Relating To The Raising Of Loans By The Province." (Bill No. 15)

I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the advancing or guaranteeing of certain loans made under the Loan and Guarantee Act, 1957.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that this House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the guaranteeing of certain loans under the Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would ordinarily have given notice of this motion yesterday except that I spoke with the Leader of the Opposition and with the Leader of the NDP and proposed that we present this as a motion on behalf of all three parties in the House. I am glad to report to Your Honour that the motion I am making now is being made, in effect, with the support of all three parties in the House.

This is Oceans Day and it has been designated. It is the First Anniversary of the Oceans Day that occurred last year, and it is a day that is very important to the people of this Province because the United Nations is still dealing with a major matter. The resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS the United Nations Conference on high seas fisheries to be held in New York from July 12-30 is designed to build upon the Law of the Sea and to provide for effective conservation of high seas fisheries resources; and

WHEREAS June 8 is the First Anniversary of Oceans Day, declaring the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development the Earth Summit, a conference which highlighted the serious problems facing the oceans of the world and the action necessary to protect them for future generations;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the House of Assembly declare June 8, 1993 to be Oceans Day, a day to raise public awareness and promote co-operative action for the health of the world's oceans; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Canada should take a leadership role at the UN conference, along with New Zealand, Chile, Iceland, and Argentina, and other like-minded nations, to ensure a treaty-based solution to the problem of high seas overfishing, and that any new treaty would include minimum standards for the conduct of high seas fisheries, commitments to comply with the fisheries management decisions of competent international organizations like the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, a binding dispute resolution mechanism, and recognition of the superior rights of coastal states.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this resolution has the full support of all parties in this House, so I need say very little about it, except to add a comment or two about the significance at this particular time.

Newfoundland is in effect, sort of caught in a pincer movement. We have the pressures that come from the federal government and other provinces on fisheries, and we have the pressures that are coming from the European community and other nations out there fishing on the Nose and Tail of the Bank. I think the minister said the other day there were ninety-seven vessels out there fishing, at the same time that there are 25,000 people in this Province whose incomes have either been totally eliminated or severely reduced as a result of the fishery decisions made by the federal government.

Two weeks ago there was not a single FPI plant working in this Province, not a single FPI vessel out there fishing and there were ninety-seven vessels from foreign nations out fishing on the Nose and Tail of the Banks. We are still under pressure, there is still fishing going on and fish resources go to Nova Scotia, caught off the coast of Newfoundland, go to Nova Scotia to be processed and there are 400 communities in this Province whose future is in jeopardy because of what is happening to the fisheries.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland has to take some more effective action to strengthen the spine and the will of the federal government to take some effective action. I heard the Opposition House Leader the other day, stand and ask that the Navy be called out to deal with the foreign overfishing. Well, maybe in the end that might have to be, but first the federal government should steel its political will to deal with it on an effective basis instead of cavorting with the members of the European community as it is, trying to please them and diminishing the pressure on the European community and other nations, to deal effectively with this and find a treaty- based solution.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, they are so conscious of not upsetting the European communities and others, that today, I should have been in Halifax speaking at the Oceans' Day Conference. I had agreed to go. I was originally invited by one of the directors to speak and I intended to go and address this issue; arrangements had been made but the federal Department of External Affairs did not want the Premier of Newfoundland speaking at that conference to deal with it because they would be embarrassed by the strong position we would take on behalf of the people of this Province, so they caused that organization to withdraw the invitation to me to speak.

Now that is the kind of lack of commitment of the federal government. What we need, Mr. Speaker, and I am glad to see the endorsement of all members of the House for this particular proposal, to ask the federal government to ensure that it puts every possible effort behind a treaty-based solution to this Province, and as long as the federal government is going to play politics with it, the way they have been doing so in the past, then they are risking the entire future of the fishery of this Province.

I want to thank hon. members for their support for the resolution to ask the federal government to ensure that they support a treaty- based solution, instead of the wishy-washy approach they are taking to it and have been taking to it. Mr. Speaker, by agreement with the parties, this is not intended to be a lengthy speech, but I do thank hon. members for their support.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, when the Premier originally approached me to ask if we would support this resolution, it was done without hesitation. Frankly, because the resolution simply asks that this House declare June 8 to be Oceans' Day. Now I had occasion, as did the Premier, to be at the Rio summit a year or so ago when this was first declared during that particular conference, Oceans' Day, and this is the first anniversary.

Now I have to say with some concern, that I was not aware of the item to which the Premier alluded a moment ago about this conference in Halifax, and I sure hope, I sure hope - I sure hope that this is not being used as some kind of a political ploy by the Premier to get some vindictiveness out against the federal government. I sure hope that is not the case and I take his word, he knew nothing about it until today.

PREMIER WELLS: I discovered what happened this (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, that is totally another subject. I want to deal with the real issue as strongly as I can on behalf of our party, and it has been emphasized time and time again by members on this side of the House, it is absolutely vital that this particular issue be treated with urgency. We all agree with that. There are no differences of opinion on that particular point.

For years we have ignored the views and advice of fishermen in this Province about the impact of foreign overfishing on the Northern cod stocks. For years we have ignored that advice, and while we all know that alone is not the only reason for the depletion of our stocks, it certainly has been a major contributor - and sadly we are now paying a terrible price in this Province for the uncontrolled foreign fishery for Northern cod.

Now according to the Minister of Fisheries' statement a couple of days ago, there are nearly a hundred draggers and factory ships still on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. Some of them, without question, are fishing Northern cod while our own boats here in Newfoundland and Labrador are tied up and fishermen and plant workers are idle. All of them are dragging the ocean floor for other species of groundfish, and that should cause us some concern, and there are many signs that the intensity of their fishing efforts nowadays is having a major impact on the survival of these other species. For example, you heard my friend from Grand Bank allude to the fact that many plants in this Province - or plants in this Province that have processed flounder, for example - have been closed because that species is virtually disappearing. Fortune, I think, is one area in particular that is suffering. So if we do not take action now, urgently, soon, to control foreign overfishing, then we stand in great danger of losing the fishery as an industry in this Province - something that has sustained us economically for over 500 years.

My second point deals with the point in the resolution that calls for a treaty-based solution to the problems of overfishing on the high seas. With regard to the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, it is my own view, and I guess the view shared by members on this side of the House, that any such international agreement that might be reached must accept Canadian standards for stock conservation and fisheries management. I think that goes without saying - without question.

My final point is simply this: If foreign nations who exploit the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks are not prepared to accept Canadian standards for conservation and management, then Canada should move, without further delay, to extend its jurisdiction, as often has been called for in this House. Whether it be done by other methods or by the method proposed by my friend and colleague from Grand Bank, I do not know. It is difficult to say. We do not want to advocate necessarily that kind of movement, but I must say, the other day when I heard my friend from Grand Bank say - at least suggest - it might be time to send out the boats, then there are a lot of us here in this House, and indeed certainly a lot of people in this Province, who would have some affinity for that kind of statement.

So, Mr. Speaker, we support the resolution without hesitation on those grounds.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise in support of the motion and the resolution of the Premier, on which I was also consulted, first of all to declare Oceans' Day as an important day, certainly to this Province but obviously to all of the world.

What we are dealing with here in the second part of the resolution is really an attempt to put some pressure on Canada to, perhaps for the first time, act in the real interest of Newfoundland and Newfoundland's interests in international affairs. We have suffered from a lack of directed attention over the years. In fact, Mr. Speaker, if Canada had insisted in 1972 on the Continental Shelf definition of economic zone instead of 200 miles, we would not be in this position with respect to the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. The reality is, Mr. Speaker, the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks should not be considered high seas at all.

I support this resolution because it is at least an attempt to agree with other countries on a treaty basis that what is now regarded as high seas fishing be regulated. We've suffered from, and the world has suffered from, an inadequate regulation of common property resources. It's resulted in ecological and economic disasters in and around this Province, Mr. Speaker, and it has to stop.

If this doesn't succeed in New York this summer then we should withdraw from an attempt to get other countries to agree to this and take action to ensure that the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks at least, and perhaps the Flemish Cap, ought to be included as part of Canada's economic zone, and start enforcing our regulations in that area for the protection of that resource and for the protection of our economy.

MR. SPEAKER: There's a motion before the House to declare today Oceans Day.

All those in favour of the motion, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Contrary-minded, `nay'.


Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, by agreement among all groups in the House, we're going to ask that we deal with the Social Services report today. May I make just one comment and one motion?

The comment is that I assume we'll have the same understanding as hitherto of ten minutes, I believe, a speaker. The motion reflects the understanding yesterday that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m. The understanding will be that we will adjourn at the earlier of 5:00 p.m., or when the Concurrence debate ends.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is to engage in Concurrence debate according to Standing Order 121.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, before I ask you to deal with that - have we dealt with the motion?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Could we deal with motions 2 through 4, which are first readings of three bits of legislation?

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Education to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act," carried. (Bill No. 9).

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce the following bills: "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act," and "An Act To Amend The Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991, The Teachers' Pensions Act, The Uniformed Services Pensions Act And The Memorial University Pensions Act," carried. (Bills Nos. 12 and 10).

On motion, Bills Nos. 9, 12 and 10 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: The Concurrence debate if you would please, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. Concurrence debate.

The hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's indeed a pleasure for me to start the debate on the Social Services Committee and to say that I was honoured to serve as the Chairman of that Committee. I would now like to recognize the members who served on that Committee with me.

The hon. Member for Humber East, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, who was appointed but didn't serve. I understand that it wasn't his fault, but he was appointed as a stand-in, and then when the gentleman from Placentia was confirmed he was appointed as the member for that Committee. Some people might think that was an improvement. I don't know, but depending on if you know him or not. The other members were the hon. Members for Fortune - Hermitage, Port au Port, St. John's East, and Terra Nova.

You can see from the make up of that Committee that it was made up of some veterans, some sophomores and some rookies. I think that everyone contributed equally in making this a very successful committee. I understand that previous Social Services committees in recent history - there was some degree of acrimony among participants and it not operate as smoothly as this one did. I do not know if taking the fact that I was the Chairman had anything to do with it, but we did move through the estimates of the various departments very smoothly.

I am sure that as I chaired the meetings I realized that the estimates were well and duly debated, and I am sure that the members asked the questions and the ministers provided the answers. I see some differences between the questions in the night and the questions the next day. People who agreed with things in the night have now asked questions the next day but that, I suppose, is part of going through this. For the members of the opposition it gives them an opportunity to get the details of the various departments examined, and I commend them. They did do an excellent job, as did the members on my side who helped to make this a very smooth operation.

I would like to thank the committee that put those estimates through the House. The estimates again, we just presented the report of the various departments. The estimates now have been through and are ready to be debated here in the House for Social Services, Education, Health, Environment and Lands, and Justice.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that the other members of the House will have a chance this afternoon to rise and debate the estimates of any of those departments, and at this time I move the concurrence of this report, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I enjoyed, once again, this year serving as Vice-Chair of the social services estimates committee. The Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir did a fine job of chairing the committee, as did his predecessors, the Member for St. John's South, the Member for Carbonear, the Member for Harbour Grace, and the Member for LaPoile.

This year the Social Services Estimates Committee functioned quite well. We had five full meetings, considering the estimates of five of the big spending departments of government. The departments whose estimates we examined were, in the order we examined them, Environment and Lands, Education, Health, Justice, and lastly, last night, Social Services.

I am not sure why Environment and Lands was assigned to the social services estimates committee. More logically it would be grouped with the Departments of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, mining, Tourism and Culture. I would think Employment and Labour Relations and Municipal and Provincial Affairs would more properly belong with the Social Services departments.

At any rate, the committee was assigned the Department of Environment and Lands as well as the four social departments. Together those departments are projected to spend over 62 per cent of the Budget this year. Health and Education are the biggest spending departments of all, and Social Services, which is projected to spend about 9 per cent of the provincial Budget, actually spends twice that amount when you consider the federal 50 per cent cost-sharing for most social services programs.

Mr. Speaker, all members of the committee made a good contribution. My colleague, the Member for Placentia, was the other official opposition representative on the committee. As the Chair pointed out, because the Member for Placentia was not sworn in when the committee was set up, the Member for Burin - Placentia West was nominally appointed, and the formal substitution never was made, but on an ad hoc meeting by meeting basis, the Member for Placentia was given voting status in place of the Member for Burin - Placentia West. The Member for St. John's East and the Members for Port au Port, Terra Nova and Fortune - Hermitage also served on the Committee.

Mr. Speaker, I was disappointed because the news media, by-and-large, ignored the proceedings of the Social Services Estimates Committee, the same as they seem to be ignoring these remarks of mine in the full House this afternoon.

The Social Services Estimates Committee scrutinized, in some detail, not only the particulars of proposed spending of government departments, but we discussed, in philosophical terms, the ministers' and the administration's aims and objectives. We certainly asked about their goals, their program for the next year. The replies often were disappointing, but we did have wide-ranging discussion about each of the five departments we examined.

Much of the discussion, I believe, was newsworthy, and I feel it is a shame that the news organizations in the Province didn't assign reporters to cover better the proceedings of the Committee. Actually, many people who have participated in the Estimates Committee process, have observed that those proceedings are much more informative and much more constructive than debate in the full House of Assembly. By-and-large, the Committees concentrate on serious issues and pack quite a bit of discussion into each three to three-and-a-half hour sitting.

Mr. Speaker, a dominant impression I formed during the Committee's deliberations, is that, this Budget is a shoddy piece of work. We know that the numbers that appear in the document, in many instances, are not figures the government is committed to, because they are going to reduce all the salary votes by a total of $70 million, so that will alter, in a major way, the spending plans of the social departments of government, since most of the spending goes for salaries and benefits of public servants.

When Committee members ask ministers about particular heads and subheads, frequently, the ministers cavalierly talked about the possibility of those figures changing. Last night, at the Social Services session, for example, when I asked the minister how he can expect to operate for the next year, spending less on social assistance than last year, remembering that last year the government's estimate was $20 million short of what was ultimately spent, he did admit that he and his staff are projecting an increase in the caseload. Now, a projected increase in the caseload is at odds with the estimated lower spending on assistance. He did give an explanation but it simply didn't add up.

I asked the minister how he can justify planning to spend significantly less on community development projects for social assistance recipients than was funded last year. The Budget estimates spending of only $9.7 million this year compared to $14.6 last year. He said: As the year goes along, if we find that the economy continues to be in bad shape, perhaps we will have to supplement the amount budgeted.

Now, Mr. Speaker, for the last few years, each Fall, panic-fashion, the government has mounted an Emergency Employment Response program, indicating some surprise, come September, that we have a high unemployment rate, and a great number of people are facing the cold weather with bleak prospects and no reliable source of income. Mr. Speaker, by waiting until late in the year, as the cold weather is setting in, by springing an emergency employment program the government is not allowing its own staff to plan. The government can reasonably project a need for at least as much spending this year as last year on community development projects. Why not make the decision now, inform staff, community organizations, and other potential employers, encourage them to plan ahead, enable them to start before the cold weather sets in, and maximize the return on the investment? After all, social assistance recipients who are able to work, who have employment skills and are used to working, should be doing useful work instead of being expected to passively receive welfare cheques. We all know of many unmet needs in our communities and, with some advance planning, useful projects can be mounted, well supervised and people can be harnessed to make a meaningful contribution, but government has failed to adopt that approach.

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

MS. VERGE: By leave?


MS. VERGE: Too bad, I will have to continue later.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had the opportunity last night to sit in on the Social Services Committee meeting, filling in for the hon. the Member for Placentia, and I must admit, it certainly was a learning experience for me. I was a little disappointed in the answers that were given by the minister and his staff, but there seemed to be a lot of compassion on the minister's side, and if that reflects back onto the government members, then I am sure we can see some positive things happening, even though there are a lot of Budget cutbacks in the social services area.

I was a little disappointed in the government members who were part of that Committee, in that there wasn't a question brought forward. It was a little different from the Government Services Committee, of which I was Vice-Chair, last week, whereat the government members, the Member for Harbour Grace, the Member for St. John's North, and the Member for Pleasantville freely took part in the discussion. So it bothered me, in that I thought maybe the government members had no problems or didn't want any questions asked regarding social services out in their districts.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are responsible.

MR. FITZGERALD: I know there is a lot of need out there and there are a lot of questions to be asked. Somebody told me afterwards that the minister was taking the group out for supper, so maybe they didn't want to stay too long. Whether that is true or not, I don't know, but I know that the Member for St. John's East, the Member for Humber East and myself were not invited.

Mr. Speaker, the Budget, as it was brought forward, left a lot of guesswork as far as the questions that were put forward and the answers that were received. There seemed to be a lot of guesswork. There was one memo put forward, written by Terrence Haire, the Director of Social Assistance, that stated that home support should be cut back, or ask for a reduction of 30 per cent. The 30 per cent reduction was not reflected in the figures that were put forward in the government estimates, so that was certainly confusing. The sad part about that, Mr. Speaker, is that a lot of those cutbacks and a lot of the services that have been discontinued, I can assure you, have already taken place. If it is not a 30 per cent reduction, then I think the people out there in the field should know exactly what reduction the minister and his staff are looking for.

It also goes on to say that no new home support will be given except in cases of extreme emergency. One person in my district called the local district office and asked what an extreme case of emergency might be. He was told that if you can turn on a light switch or if you can turn off or on a water tap, then it is not considered an emergency. That, to me, doesn't seem to be a very compassionate statement. I think we have to look after our sick and disabled in a much better fashion than that.

The other situation that concerns me is family commitment, Mr. Speaker. It is not uncommon for people who are looking for home care help to be told that if they have families living in their communities or surrounding area that the family is expected to come and provide care to them. That is all very well, and probably should be expected, but I can assure you that it is not always there for them.

One case that I refer to - and I would like for the House to hear this. I would like for the government members on the other side to hear this. This relates to a personal experience, too, by a constituent of mine in Bonavista South. This one particular gentleman is home lying in bed, paralysed from the waist down. I guess he weighs about - the hon. minister said about the same weight as himself - about 220 pounds. When you go into the house and you look and you see this gentleman in bed, he is lying there with a piece of rope hanging down from the ceiling. I can assure you, it is not a cabin that he is living in and the piece of rope doesn't fit in with the decor of the House. The piece of rope is there because he has to help himself out of bed with his hands, and his wife, being about a ninety-pound person, has to struggle to get him from the bed to the wheelchair to get him into a bathroom.

The gentleman I refer to is seventy-nine years old. His wife is sixty-three. Those people are unable to get care to look after and help that lady or help that gentleman for any hour in each day. The lady has informed me that she hasn't been to church for about three months. In order for her to get out and buy her groceries she has to work it at a time when she takes her husband in to the hospital in Bonavista. While he is receiving his needles there, she gets a chance to go out and buy her groceries. I think that is criminal, Mr. Speaker, that we would allow people to live like that. She is not looking for any special attention. She is not looking for people to come in and do her house cleaning or her ironing or washing for her. All she is asking is for some help.

I would like for the minister, now that it is put forward again, to probably look into that special case. Being the very compassionate person that he is, I am sure that he will see fit to provide some help to this lady.

Another subject that was brought forward - and I don't think it was given the fair hearing that it should have been - was dentures and eye care. In fact the government members, I think, sniggered at the idea when it was brought forward, and asked: Why should we provide dentures to people so that they look well? It is not the point of looking well, Mr. Speaker, it is something that is needed by people, not only for their appearance, but to be healthy as well. Eyeglasses: a very important thing if people are to be able to - if they go to a doctor, if they have to read their prescriptions or read the instructions that are on the prescriptions. Eye care is very important and I think every case should be judged individually rather than one blanket policy that says none of this is included.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister if he would show some compassion. We realize we are in bad times, hard economic times. But I hope he doesn't try to balance the Budget on the backs of the poor and the not-so-well-off Newfoundlanders in rural Newfoundland. Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to rise to discuss the Estimates and the report of the Estimates Committee. I, too, have to say that the Committee was very well run by the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir. I must say, plenty of opportunity was given to the Opposition members and to all members, really, but certainly from an Opposition point of view, to deal with the estimates fairly. I have to say that I don't exactly share the opinion of the member who just spoke, about the alleged lack of participation of the government members. Last night, at the Social Services Estimates Committee, I took their not asking questions as really giving the Opposition members an opportunity to fully explore all of their issues without having to have a second session. So, I didn't place that same interpretation on it, although I suppose the members didn't quite say why they were not participating. But that is how I interpreted it. I would not think that they would have ulterior motives in doing that, I suspect that is the answer. I suspect also that the new members to the Committee may well have benefitted from the efforts of the existing members on the Committee, the members who have been here before, to explore the kinds of issues, to see what kinds of issues were being brought up, to know what members who have been around for a little while thought of as important issues.

Hopefully, they did find out some of the things that were of concern to Opposition members and have been brought up to all hon. members on a fairly consistent basis, having to do, in particular, with social services - one of the areas, along with Workers' Compensation, that individual MHAs get consistent and ongoing calls about. And I think it is some evidence, Mr. Speaker, that these departments or these issues are not really being handled in a way that is satisfactory to the members of the public or to the clients of those services. If that is the case, Mr. Speaker, it is my view that they are not being handled satisfactorily to the public interest. So we do need ways of improving that, and I think one of the ways of pointing out some of those problems is through the Estimates Committee.

I also have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I was impressed by the concern of the minister about the problems that were raised. It is a new department to him, but it is my view that the minister is prepared to take on the task before him in trying to resolve some of the problems that exist. I know him to be personally compassionate for the problems, not only of his own constituents, but of the people of this Province. I hope that he will continue to take up that task and resolve some of the institutional or fundamental, the systematic problems or systemic problems within the Department of Social Services for the benefits of the clientele. I have to say that the minister, when he started last night, said that he had a number of officials with him who were there to deal with the facts and he would deal with everything else. I thought that was a particularly genuine response from the minister as to what was going on.

I do have to say, though, that there are a number of serious problems in the Department of Social Services, both in the policies that the department is carrying out and in the level of support being given to individuals. Not all of the problems are financial ones. There are, in some cases, an attitudinal problem that I think hon. members will realize, or should realize, sometimes results in the difficulties that the individual clients of the department are faced with. One of those comes out of the same issue that the Member for Bonavista North spoke of a few moments ago, that having to do with the provision of home care by the Department of Social Services. What we have seen has already been criticized both publicly and in the House, is a reduction in the provision for home support services to clients of social services. When dealing here, we have to underline with individuals who require home support services because of their disabilities. In the case of those who are developmentally delayed, this program in the Budget for developmentally delayed, for seniors and for physically disabled persons, provides homemaker services, attendant care and respite care. The budgeted amount for this year of $13.1 million is a decrease from last year's expenditure of $16.6 million by 20 per cent. Twenty per cent of the amount that was required to meet the needs last year is being chopped from the budget, and that is going to mean quite clearly a reduction of that amount of services, attendant care service, respite care services and homemaker care services for these individuals who are unable to look after themselves and need this type of service to maintain a life, be able to live at home and not be institutionalized at obviously a far greater expense to the public treasury, but also in an institutional setting which is obviously not as desirable as living in one's own home or in that type of situation with one's family.

What has happened though, given this 20 per cent budgetary reduction requested in the estimates, the Director of Social Assistance has sent out a memo to all and sundry around the Province. It said: We want you to reduce by 30 per cent in order to meet the budgetary requirements.

So here we have an individual, under the direction of the minister, when confronted with a budgetary reduction of 20 per cent, sends out a directive and tells them to slash 30 per cent. Why is that, Mr. Speaker, and why is that allowed to go on? That is one of the kinds of issues that are going on in the Department of Social Services where some people somewhere along the way think they have the right or the duty to give out as little benefits as possible.

In fact, in that directive sent out by the Director of Social Services, there is a direction for the supervisors and for the field staff of the Department of Social Services to look at each individual case and find out the absolute minimum number of hours of attendant care or respite care that can be provided to physically disabled, senior citizens, and developmentally delayed persons so as to meet the needs for their safety - their safety - not their comfort, not their care, not their dignity, not what they deserve to have to enjoy a minimum standard of hygiene, but safety - their personal safety. That seems to be the bottom level that the department is trying, or at least this official of the department, is trying to push clients of social services, the physically disabled, senior citizens, and developmentally delayed persons, to bring them down to that level of care in order to slash the budgetary allocations, not by even the 20 per cent that the budget provides for, but by 30 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, no doubt there may need to be a review of services from time to time on an ongoing basis to monitor the effectiveness of programs, and the minister so pointed out last night, but it seems that we have other attitudes, other efforts at work within the department, and no doubt that attitude is pushed on down to the supervisors and to the other levels and to the front line levels of social services, and a mean spirited culture, a mean spirited corporate culture, in the Department of Social Services is being encouraged, and more than encouraged - demanded by the Director of Social Assistance in this particular memo.

This memo was not distributed to MHA's, but one of the MHA's had a copy of it - no doubt provided by some social services worker who was appalled at the attitude being expressed by senior management in this particular instance.

Mr. Speaker, there are two reasons why this particular attitude and this particular problem needs to be underlined. Number one is the physical comfort, the personal dignity, and the needs of these particular people, senior citizens, physically disabled, and developmentally delayed persons who are living in their own homes. Number one is to make sure that these people -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave? No leave.

The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. YOUNG: As a member of the social services committee, first of all I would like to say a few words of praise for our committee Chairman, the hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir. He certainly did an excellent job of keeping the hon. members within the allotted ten minute period for questioning and in doing so, he acted fairly to all. It was certainly a pleasure to work with the hon. Members for Port au Port, Fortune - Hermitage, St. John' East, Humber East and the other hon. members who came through for the different committee meetings.

The hon. Ministers of Health, Education, Environment and Lands and Social Services, certainly provided us with all the information. I know that the hon. ministers work diligently with the officials in their departments in their efforts to reduce the deficit and that they had to make big decisions within their departments, so that they could still provide services to the residents of this Province.

As a former educator, and a former member of a hospital board, and a member of the Premier's Round Table on the Environment and Economy, and having been involved with community development, I could certainly relate to a lot of the things that were discussed in the committee meetings, however, I found that these meetings were certainly a valuable exercise and provided me with a whole lot of information that I certainly did not have before me, and I think it was just wonderful that I was asked to participate in that particular committee.

As the Member for the district of Terra Nova, I can certainly advise my constituents that this government cares about the people of this Province, and is acting in a very responsible manner. We have to certainly look toward the future and avoid past mistakes, on all sides, I guess. The ministers have certainly acted wisely when considering their expenditures and when scrutinized by members, they were certainly capable of justifying the budget estimates for their departments, and I certainly want to say a word about the hon. Minister for Social Services. He was new to that department but he was just super yesterday evening, as he always is of course, he was my member - yes, I will get everything I want from social services if I keep this up - and the committee members themselves certainly acted in a responsible manner too. They took this work seriously and rightly so, because that is what we were elected to do.

My district, and certainly all others will benefit from this Budget, therefore it was crucial that we get all the information and understand where and why the increases and the decreases had to be made within the departments. Although we hear some negative things from some hon. members about the Budget, I personally feel that it is a good Budget and my people are certainly going to be the beneficiaries of this Budget.

With regard to the hon. Member for Bonavista South, and the comments he made about not asking questions yesterday evening, we were certainly giving the Opposition members, extending them every courtesy to ask all the questions that they wanted to ask, and believe you me, a free dinner never ever muzzled me and never will-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: Yes, that is what the hon. member suggested, that that is why we did not ask questions -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), bought off.

MS. YOUNG: Yes, dinner would not buy me off, and -

AN HON. MEMBER: What would (inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: It would take more than a day, yes.

Now then, when I did ask questions at the other committee meetings, which I certainly did, I asked a lot of questions of the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Environment and Lands, they were certainly questions of my own design and not questions that were poked under my nose by a senior colleague -

AN HON. MEMBER: A freethinker.

MS. YOUNG: Yes, I am a freethinker, I might not be a free diner but I am a freethinker, and It was interesting. Yesterday evening at the Committee meeting the Member for Bonavista South was coming down hard on the social service recipients. He was saying that there was a lot of abuse and so forth and so on. Then to turn around today and start talking about how they were being mistreated by the Department of Social Services. I can't believe it. It's sort of a - is this a Jekyll and Hyde thing?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no, you can be both, you know.

MS. YOUNG: You can be both. I see. Okay. Well, thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: Oh, thank you, hon. member, I'm so glad you pointed that out to me.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is a big difference when the press is here.

MS. YOUNG: Yes. I have compassion for the people in my district who are on social services, and far be it for me to judge them as to whether they are in need or whether they're abusing the system. That's not for me to decide. I hope that the Member for Bonavista South doesn't set himself up as judge and jury like that.

In closing, I just want to say again that I think it was a wonderful exercise, that I certainly enjoyed working with all the hon. members, and look forward to serving on other committees in the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to make a few comments, more particularly about the Department of Education. Some of them, I do believe, are very positive, and some of them give cause for some concern.

I'm sure all hon. members have now read thoroughly the Royal Commission report entitled Our Children and Our Future. Of course, in Newfoundland we certainly have no greater commitment than that commitment which we have to our sons and daughters and to the youth of our Province. During the Committee hearings, many questions were directed to the minister that arose from the Royal Commission report.

One of the concerns we have is that all of the stakeholders in the educational system be consulted before there are any changes made to the structure that we have. I have heard the minister say that he is having a dialogue with the representatives of the churches. I am not against that. I just want to assure the minister that there's need for increased dialogue with the school trustees association; for dialogue with the superintendencies across the Province; with the school boards; and indeed, direct dialogue with the parents. Because in the final analysis, the product that we put forward as a province will have tremendous effects on the education of our Province for many years.

I do believe that the Royal Commission report is the basis for a tremendous positive change for education in this Province. In fact, many of the Royal Commission recommendations will find concurrence with members on this side of the House. However, we want to again state that as we change direction we give opportunity for all members who have a role to play in education from the post-secondary institutions, the University, the colleges, the other areas of adult education, everybody has an opportunity to have some input into the final decisions that are reached.

Because we want to have a product that evolved, that has the agreement of the greater majority of the Newfoundland population. I think that if we're going to have a product that can be implemented it will have to have the concurrence and acceptance of the general public.

A couple of things I want to highlight that arise out of the booklet called Profile '92. Some of the information here is of general knowledge. In the Grade VIII Canadian Test of Basic Skills, the CTBS test, which is administered in Grade VIII.

We have to have concerns when the Grade V111 students of this Province, for the most part, do not measure up to the national average. Only two or three school boards in this Province can say that their students, as tested on the Canadian Test of Basic Skills, that their students measure up to the average Canadian standard. That has to be an issue of great concern. However, there are some things in this report which are very positive and I would like to highlight just a few of them. The number of students participating in Enterprise Education, the new entrepreneurial course is very, very encouraging, and I recommend to all hon. members that they consult with the document because it shows, for example, that in 1991-92 there were only five schools offering Enterprise Course No. 2125 but in 1992-93 there were nineteen schools.

As an example as well in the number of students enrolled, in 1991-92 there were fifty-nine males registered in that course but a year later there were 341. This is a very good program and we want to give encouragement to the government to continue this kind of initiative. Likewise, I would like to recommend the continuation of the Co-operative Education Program. These programs have been adopted in many of the schools and they are very, very good programs and we want to compliment the government initiatives in that area. I would also like to comment on several other programs, in particular, Distance Education. Distance Education is a new initiative and it is something that has been developed over the last several years. It permits students in the more rural parts of our Province to be able to access quality type courses and be able to have them offered to them in their home communities. This is a very good initiative of the government and we want to compliment them for it.

Mr. Speaker, I want to address a couple of issues that are not so positive. I want to address an issue that is of concern to many teachers in this Province, and that is the issue of disruptive students in the classroom. How difficult it is to teach from day to day when you have so many people in your classroom who have learning difficulties and experience the frustration associated with being retained, or not able to cope with the learning program that is available for them. This environment is not good for any of the students, not for the students who are more able and want to continue on with their studies or for the students who are in the average group. Indeed the real tragedy is that it is very, very discouraging for the students who are suffering from various learning disabilities. The difficulty is common in most schools in the Province. It is an issue which should be of concern to the minister and I am sure that the minister being an honourable person is well aware of the difficulties that are presented in classroom settings by having to cope with disruptive students on a daily basis.

The Budget will also show that there has been a reduction in the subsidy to school textbooks. In fact the Budget will show that the subsidy last year was 50 per cent but that subsidy has been dropped to 40 per cent. This will result, Mr. Speaker, in there being significant increases in the cost of textbooks in the next year. This is going to make education more expensive for all parents and the $700,000 which has been taken out of the budget as a consequence of that move by the government will, of course, have to be picked up by the parents in September.

Mr. Speaker, in reference to another aspect of the Royal Commission Report I want to go on record as saying that I am totally in favour of the parent councils that are proposed in this report. I do believe that parents in this Province have to take a greater sense of ownership for education. They have to be more directly involved on a daily basis. I am not saying they should run the schools - not at all. I am saying we have to look to our parents more than simply as people who come in and do fund-raising projects. We have to move them into real positions of ownership - real positions of power.

Certainly, as a former principal of a large junior high school, I had tremendous support from my parents. I want to say that when you empower parents it can make your school a place of joy, and make the school a place where you can have happy students, happy parents and happy teachers.

I want to recommend to the minister that he take all initiatives to empower parents, to give them some real power in education, and not to let them remain as people who come into the schools purely for the sake of raising funds for parent/teacher committees and that kind of thing.

Another initiative that is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Social Services and the Ministry of Education is the concept of having social workers directly involved in the school. I am not sure whether all hon. members here know of this particular initiative, but there is a co-operative program between the Department of Social Services, the Memorial University School of Social Work, and the Department of Education, whereby the social workers can do their internship programs in the school system itself.

Having been involved in that program in the last two MUN semesters, I can assure hon. members that this is indeed a very, very positive initiative. It is one that should receive encouragement and necessary funding from both ministries, because -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HODDER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I may get an opportunity to continue later on in the afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, hon. members, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in the review of the Budget estimates. As a new member of the House I found it most informative. As was pointed out here this afternoon, I think it is an excellent way for new members to get some information with regard to the workings of the various departments.

There were a number of issues that were raised in the various meetings, I think, that are certainly of concern to all of the hon. members of this House, as to all of the people of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In our discussions on the environment, it is certainly obvious to all of us in this House that it is something in which everyone has to take an interest. It is something for which we all have to accept the responsibility, and I think it is kind of appropriate in this session of the House, for the first time ever, we have in our ranks a representative of the aboriginal peoples of this great nation. I think one of the things that all of us could take a lesson from is the way in which the aboriginal peoples of this great country have dealt with the environment over the years, the respect they have shown for it, and it has been based primarily on their understanding that the land and the resources are something that they hold in trust. No one owns the land. You hold it in trust and you ensure that it is kept in proper order so you can pass it on to future generations. I think that if we were to adopt, in this Province, that kind of attitude then certainly many of the problems, environmental concerns that confront us, would be eliminated.

I was pleased to see and to learn from our discussions that the regulations with regard to the disposal of automobile wrecks in this Province will become a reality this Fall, in September. I think that will certainly be a tremendous development and will do an awful lot towards improving the environmental situation, especially in a lot of the rural areas of the Province.

With regard to education, my hon. friend from Waterford - Kenmount just touched on a number of the ongoing concerns with regard to education. There are just a couple of things that I would like to reference today. The hon. member opposite did mention the distance education and I, too, want to point out that indeed is a very positive development, especially in terms of our being able to offer programs to the smaller schools, which are basically located in the rural areas of the Province, and I think it ties in nicely as well with the concerns in a lot of the smaller schools about this 2 per cent savings clause that a lot of us have heard about in recent days and weeks, and among the general public there is not a clear understanding as to what this clause is all about and certainly the significance of it, but the two things are related because the argument for retaining the 2 per cent savings clause, is, that it does provide additional bodies in the smaller schools to deliver the programs, that you do have quality education available in this Province wherever you happen to live, but also, I think the distance education will offer us in time, another option, because using the technology that is available to us today, there is absolutely no reason why a student attending school in Lourdes on the Port au Port Peninsula should not be able to avail of all courses that are available to those students attending the larger institutions here in the City of St. John's.

I was also pleased to note in the budget estimates this government's ongoing commitment to providing for bilingual education. Coming from a bilingual district, I was very pleased to note the budgeted amount of $1.65 million to provide for the extension to the French school in my district, and I think this is a tremendous thing and I think it is something that all of this House should take great pride in, since the Francophone population of this Province, on a per capita is the smallest in this country, but I think this government and governments previous, have certainly been on record as recognizing the aspirations and ambitions of the Francophone people and their desire to retain and promote their language and culture, and I think it is a credit to this hon. House that we have all been on record as being supportive of this and I am pleased to see as the Member for Port au Port, that this government is committed to see this continue.

In the area of health, there are a couple of things that I would like to reference. First of all, the Regional Health Boards on which there has been a lot of debate on in recent weeks. Initially, the response was quite negative but I think as the debate unfolds, people are seeing more and more now, that there are some merits to the idea of the regional boards; it just requires some further debate and some clarification. Also, the thing that I was most pleased with, in our meeting with the minister and his people dealing with the estimates from health, was the emphasis on 'wellness', and we have heard the minister mention this in the House as well. I think this is really nice to see that they are talking about wellness as opposed to sickness, because I think, as you travel around the Province now, and certainly in my district and I am sure in all of the districts in this Province, we see a lot of evidence of people becoming very concerned about keeping fit thereby keeping in good health.

Everywhere you go now, you see people are walking and I guess this is certainly, in a large part, contributed to by the Participaction Program which was instituted some years ago. It is obviously paying off because people are concerned about their health, they are getting out and a lot of institutions now are talking about wellness in the workplace, and I mentioned to the minister at our hearings that I think that certainly maybe this hon. House is something that we should look at and introduce here to directly benefit all the members, because in looking around the House, it is pretty sparse here this afternoon, but having seen the members when they are in attendance, I know a lot of them are like myself and they certainly could use something to help keep them fit.

From the Justice department, when we dealt with the estimates from there, one thing that stands out and that I recall and noted, was, the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission. This Commission is in place I understand, and has been charged with reviewing and possibly restructuring the electoral map in this Province. Throughout the election campaign, there was certainly great support in the media for reduction in the number of districts, and if you were to listen to the media, they certainly feel that this House is overstaffed, that we do not need probably half the number of people we have here now, and I guess this is a debate that we are all going to be engaged in when the hearings are held and certainly, I am sure that within our own districts, we have many lobby groups who will be putting forward the arguments for retaining their districts as they now stand.

Under Social Services: one thing which I want to touch on and it kind of relates to social services and education and that deals with the idea of day care or early childhood education and I think it is something that both departments have an interest in. Right now under the regulations day care is the responsibility of the Department of Social Services and regulations as it pertains to preschools comes under that department. I have had some direct involvement in that. I think it is something that we probably need to revisit because it does present some problems in trying to provide for preschool programs when they are being offered within the school setting. What happens is that the regulations as they are drafted under the day care regulations do not really apply in the same way to the schools because if it is a program being offered within the regular school system then we can assume that a lot of the controls and everything are already in place. So, we really do not need a lot of the things that are contained within the present act. Also, one of the things which comes to mind with regards to that, in trying to offer a preschool program, the ratio as it is indicated there is 8 to 1, which means that you must have one person working with no more than eight children. This cannot be weighed even within the school system if you are using parents as volunteers. I think it is something that needs to be looked at.

I come from an area where we have had considerable experience and considerable success with the support of the Department of Social Services, using resources of that department and being able to offer programs which basically amount to early childhood or headstart programs which enable children to get a good grounding and it enables them to get an early start. It puts them on a level playing field with children who are coming from more advantaged environments.

Mr. Speaker, I should point out as well, I was a little disappointed to hear the hon. Member for Bonavista South point out that the members last night from government were being very quiet at the committee meetings. I can assure him, as my hon. colleague for Terra Nova pointed out, it certainly was not that we had been bribed by the minister but indeed were, as the hon. Member for St. John's East pointed out, we were trying to be gracious toward the hon. members opposite and to allow them the full opportunity of the three hours that were available to be able to put forward their views and to raise any questions that they had.

I also must reiterate what I heard the hon. member mention as well, the hon. Member for Bonavista South -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

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


MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will just be a couple of minutes to clue up.

I was pleased to hear the hon. member commend the minister by saying that he was pleased with the fact that he was so compassionate but I also must point out that unfortunately in the remarks of the hon. Member for Bonavista South, I did not see the same compassion when he was referencing people who are on social assistance. I think that was regrettable and I think it is something that he should take into consideration as well.

Just as a closing remark, I should point out to this hon. House from my experience prior to coming to this hon. House, I think the thing that we need to do and it certainly came out in our meetings or in discussions dealing with the Budget estimates, is that we need to make the bureaucracy more responsive to the people. In computer parlance there is a need to make our bureaucracy more user friendly. People are important and they may not always agree with the response which they receive but they do have the right to be treated with respect. As someone who has over the years dealt with bureaucracy, that is not always evident and I think it is something which we should press for. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I must say that I listened with interest to the comments from my friend for Port au Port. It is somewhat refreshing to hear someone on the other side get up and say something that makes a lot of sense. I say to the Member for Port au Port that I enjoyed most of his comments, similar to the comments that were made by my colleague from Waterford - Kenmount, Mr. Speaker.

There are a couple of issues here which I want to speak on as well today. Going through the budget over the past few weeks, I made some notes and one comment that was made by my friend for Port au Port was the health care boards and that people are beginning to understand the merits and the benefits. I tend to disagree on that issue because I do not think that the health care boards in this Province are going to be very effective, I say to the member. I think that the people on the Burin Peninsula know more. The boards are not being paid but just take the Burin Peninsula for example, 30,000 people on the Burin Peninsula. I believe that we should be able to get a board from amongst that 30,000 people that knows what's best in terms of health care and how to deliver the health care system on the Burin Peninsula.

I don't think that the same dimensions and understanding of what's best in terms of the delivery of health care for the Burin Peninsula can come from the people of the Bonavista Peninsula. Nor do I think the people of the Bonavista Peninsula should be told how to manage their health care system by the people of the Burin Peninsula.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have different diseases down there.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's an administrative function too, you know.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, it's not a matter of different diseases, I say to the Minister of Health. It's a matter of administering the health care system. Because I didn't know until now that the health care boards are involved in the medical services. If that's what the minister is suggesting. What this government needs, what the people of the Province need, is a Minister of Health who's concerned about the delivery of health in this Province, not a Minister of Health who continues to make fun of the health care system.

I'd say to the Minister of Health that he doesn't know what's best for the people of this Province either. I think that the initial start up of boards - on the Burin Peninsula health care board looking after their health care systems, the people in Western Newfoundland looking after theirs, in the Corner Brook hospital, I believe it was a good system and it worked. I think it should be allowed to continue to work, I say to the Minister of Health.

There are other areas that I want to mention. One issue that has caught my attention recently - and I don't know how other members feel about it, but I know how I feel about it, and I want to say it. It's dealing with Justice, by the way. I think that there's something wrong with a system when someone can decide, out of the blue, for whatever reason, to lay some sort of a charge against someone in this Province. That individual has to be dragged through a court system. When the media is finished with it, his name is not only dragged across - or her name, his or her, for that matter, or any accused person in this Province. It's not only dragged across this Province. If Newsworld decides that the story is juicy enough it's dragged from Vancouver to Newfoundland.

A victim has the right under our system to be protected, for their identity not to be known. I agree very much with that. That if a victim has a reason to lay charges that their identity should not be known. But I don't think that an innocent person in this Province should have their name dragged all across the globe, all across this Province and the nation if the media so desires. We've seen some of that recently. Because what can happen, you know, when you have a court for four or five days, and it takes the jury an hour and half or two hours to make a decision, and a person is found innocent, they will never be able to shake - if the charges are serious enough - what's going on.

What's happened - and I'm sure most people know the case that I'm referring to - what is happening in this Province, and throughout Canada probably, I don't know, is that you basically are guilty until proven innocent. I always thought a person was considered innocent until proven guilty. I have problems with that situation. I don't know - and there's probably nothing the Minister of Justice or the government or anyone else can do about it. It's something that I've thought about after I watched some stories in the last little while, something that I give some consideration to.

I believe very strongly that a victim who lays a charge has the right to be protected. I have no problem with that. I believe that's the way that it should be. I don't think it's right that an innocent human being in society today should have their names smeared from one end of this country to another. If they are guilty, expose them. If they are guilty, and proven guilty, and found guilty, expose them. I have no problem with that, but what is happening today is not just the accused who gets caught up and hurt. It is the family members. We all know what family members are like. We all know, in this Province, that people come from families - large families - and they have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and everything else. We all know what large families are like. People can get hurt. Families can get hurt; and yet that person is innocent, but you can be ruined financially. Your character can be ruined, and you can never, ever get it back. You can never, ever get that back, and I believe that is something that the justice system in this Province should look into.

You can see it from time to time, when the media zooms in on it - and do they ever zoom in on it - when you see a man walking out of the court room, day in and day out - or a woman, whatever the case may be. When you see it happening and you see their family and friends standing by; when you see, after an hour-and-a-half or two hours of deliberation you listen to what the judge had to say in summary to the jury; when you see that happening; when you see innocent people found innocent being ruined because their names are smeared across this country and this Province, somebody has a responsibility, in my opinion, not to see that continuing.

I can tell hon. members that I have a problem with that. It is not something that I have heard raised very often in this Legislature, but it is my belief that it is wrong. It is my belief that it is wrong, and I have always been the type of individual who decided to say what I believe in, in any case, and I am saying that today, and I hope that all hon. members will probably express their feelings on it. I have problems with it. We have seen it happen in this Province several times, and there has been a recent example on the West Coast.

Mr. Speaker, there are other issues that I want to discuss, because my time is getting short - although I could stay on that issue, I tell hon. members, for a long time, because it really bothers me - but there are other issues, and that is dealing with the Department of Social Services. I know the minister is only new in the department, and I know he was not there when the Budget was brought in, but today in this Province people who depend on the Department of Social Services are facing a very serious crisis, I say to the minister of that department.

There are several areas, and one of the areas the Member for St. John's East alluded to, and that is the issue of home care for the sick of this Province. When they are told to cut their budget by 30 per cent, people who depend on home care are suffering. I would think - I certainly would hope - that there is no one in this Province getting home care who does not need it, and I do not think that is the case, but when you then tell the social workers to cut it by 30 per cent, then 30 per cent of the people who are cut are being affected.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if I could have a few minutes to clue up?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave? By leave.

MR. TOBIN: Okay, I thank my colleagues.

People are being hurt in that case. Like I said to the minister, I would certainly hope, and I believe, that the minister will familiarize himself with that, but I had a man call me the other day. His mother is living with them. She's ninety-odd years of age, bed-ridden for the most part. They have two workers. He and his wife are there in the nighttime and they're both, I think, basically retired as well. As a matter of fact, she's on her way into hospital now to have surgery herself, the daughter-in-law. They were told that eight hours a day, I believe it is, is going to be cut from the home care that they're receiving. That man was so upset he was basically in tears, crying out for someone to help him. I spoke with the social workers. Hopefully they'll be able to do something. Get a greater understanding for what's needed, for what's happening.

There are situations in this Province - and I don't know - I think we have to be honest with one another. We have to be honest with our constituents. There are situations in this Province where some family members probably don't even visit their parents, no matter how sick they are. That exists. For social workers to expect them, who haven't been in the house, or been involved with their parents for months and probably years, except to drop in every now and then or occasionally, to go in and care for them, it's just not going to happen. It's not going to happen, I say to the members.

The minister probably should talk to his officials and tell them that this 30 per cent cut is unrealistic. If there are areas that something can be done and adjustments can be made in times of restraint, probably that can be done. Probably there are areas certainly - but for someone to send out a memo from the department - now I didn't see it, but I think I heard a couple of members mention it today, and the minister would know - saying: cut the program by 30 per cent. It is not realistic. It just cannot happen. It should not be expected to happen. I think, and as a matter of fact there's no doubt in my mind, knowing the minister, that he will familiarize himself with that, and see if there's some sort of a way that it can be dealt with, rather than an arbitrary cut of 30 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, there are other issues that I would love to have the opportunity to get into, I'd like to talk about the VRDP program. I'd like to talk about the Transition House program, but I know that there are other members who want to speak. I'd certainly thank my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to express my feelings on a couple of issues that were very important to me. I'd probably have an opportunity later but in case I don't (inaudible).

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday I had opportunity to contribute to the debate regarding the Committee that examined the departments that came under Government Services, because that was the Committee I served on. Today I'm taking a few moments to speak with respect to some of the departments that were examined under the Committee's report that was received just a short time ago. I want to speak about a couple of things because there are some departments there that I have an interest in, and some of the matters that I'm sure I would have wanted to ask questions on, had I been involved in that Committee's work.

I want to say one of the department's that I have some familiarity with is the Department of Education, because I've been honoured by at least some of the people in the Province to serve as their elected school trustee for the past eight years with a school board. I must say that sitting on a school board is probably not unlike sitting on a municipal council or some other body. You do have opportunity to at least learn something. You do have opportunity to be involved in the area and in the process that goes on with respect to whatever you're involved with.

The area of education is one area where I have had some opportunity to work. I would say that if there's probably one misunderstanding out there in the public it is this: that people do not fully realize and are not fully aware. They haven't apprised themselves and they haven't been duly informed of all the good things that are happening with respect to education in this Province. The most we hear about is the severity of duplication and the lack of funding for specific programs and that sort of thing. They are mostly negative things that we hear about coming from the media.

There are some significantly good things happening in the Department of Education and I think the department is to be commended for the leadership that it has shown over the past four years. Certainly the school boards in the Province are to be commended for the effort and the work that they put into the field of education. Somebody mentioned a little while ago - I think it was my hon. friend, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, who is also my member, of course - that the concept of distance education is something that probably goes unnoticed a lot. But distance education is doing a great service to the students of this Province who are located in remote areas where otherwise they would not have access to programs that are now being delivered because we are in the age of computerization. So that is an initiative that I would commend the department for funding and for vigorously promoting.

One of the pet peeves, I guess, that I have had and I do have to this day, however, with respect to one of the things that is happening in and through the Department of Education, is the situation with substitute teachers. Now, I realize that the department is doing the best they can. I commend, and I did commend the former Minister of Education publicly in a forum in Gander a couple of years ago for what seemed to be a terrible thing he was doing, that was, reducing the allocation for substitute teacher days. I think what he had done was appropriate at the time because I do not think it negatively impacted upon the delivery of education in the Province.

One of the most serious problems we have as a province, Mr. Speaker, is the lack of employment opportunity for our young people. We don't have a lot of jobs to go around for anybody, young or old, but certainly, our youth are amongst those who are suffering the most because of the lack of employment opportunities. I believe that there is significantly more we can do in terms of employing our new, well-educated, eager, ambitious and non-burnt out young teachers as substitutes in the classroom when the need arises. Too often, I believe, the school boards, the schools, the school principals, are guilty, if you like, of engaging retired teachers who have been in the workforce and who have been wanting to get out, who have been due for retirement and have gotten out. They have been employing them in the classrooms at an inordinately high rate, as far as I am concerned. I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that an initiative should be taken to ensure that the teachers who are called in on a substitute basis, where and when needed, are first of all, those who are unemployed, those who are young and looking for experience and an opportunity to get into the classroom, and those who, I believe, have probably equally as much to contribute.

I fought this battle at my own school board level a few months ago. Predictably, as you usually get from bureaucrats, you get a counter-argument. One of the arguments that they put forward to me at that time was this: But we want the most experienced person in the classroom. We want experience in the classrooms. Well, to that, I say this: that half of the crowd they are calling back after six months were burnt out for five years, so they said in their own mind, and had to get out. But as soon as they get out and are able to take their package and get their pension and serve their time so that they can come back, they are back in the classroom again. And I'll tell you what: no talk of burn-out. I can give you names and instances where that is happening. I am not minimizing, I am not belittling, I am not suggesting that there is no such thing as burn-out - I believe there is. I believe that after thirty years in the classroom, anyone who survives that long should not only get a good pension, they should get a medal to go along with it. I wouldn't want their job for a farm down south and a herd of cattle on it. Because it is not a pleasant thing these days, to be a teacher in a classroom. It is a hazardous job, it is a stressful job.

The point that I am trying to make is that we should, as a government, ensure that those teachers who have been duly trained and have the latest in technique and technology, and have the most to give in terms of ambition, and most to give in terms of energy, are the ones that we should put in our classrooms at an early and opportune time. I believe that in the area of substitution, it is a point in time where we can take advantage of these students. They will gain experience. I believe they will add to the education of our young people, and I believe it is something that we should consider doing.

In saying that, I say it not as a criticism of what is happening out there, but I say it rather in terms of a suggestion that probably we, as hon. members, could make in the constituencies we represent. There are schools and school boards operating throughout the Province in every area, and I am sure that we have, in all of our districts, young people who are in a situation of being educated and unemployed. And I would suggest that we do what we can to see that they get an opportunity to at least get in the classroom and let us see if they have the qualifications. I am not saying that every student who comes out of university, Mr. Speaker, and is trained to teach, is a good teacher, any more than every mechanic who is trained to fix a car, turns out to be a good mechanic, but at least, they should have the opportunity to get in the classroom and gain a little bit of experience. And I believe it will help with our unemployment rate - I think it will help reduce the numbers of people who are scrambling for jobs.

The Department of Social Services, of course, has to be cut back, but I have great concern for the hon. members on the other side, when they talk about all of the cuts that are happening in social services, but they do not reflect upon something that I mentioned yesterday when I spoke, and that is, the responsibility for some of those cuts that should be placed on the Federal Government because of the cuts that they are making in the funding that they are giving to the area of social services. I referred to housing yesterday and I will refer to it again now, because, even in St. John's North, which is deemed to be an urban seat where, probably people think there are no problems with housing and less problems with unemployment, I can assure you that at least 50 per cent of the calls that I have gotten in my short tenure have been related to public housing, the need for better housing, and the need for additional public housing.

As far as the Department of Health is concerned, I listened a little while ago to one of the members on the other side talking about the long, lineup of people waiting for surgical, medical procedures in our hospitals. One of the points they talked about was the big long wait that is out there for people to get open heart surgery. I don't deny that there may be instances or situations where people are waiting for procedures, but my hon. colleague from Ferryland, whom I think brought that to the floor of the House some time ago, saying there were long lineups for open heart surgery, I just want to tell him for his encouragement, I just want to tell him for his edification, and so to relieve his mind a little bit, that a friend of mine, whom I met two Sunday mornings ago in church, had just come in from a rural area to go on the waiting list for quadruple bypass; four or five procedures, I suppose that is quadruple, it is more than triplicate, and that is as far as I can get right now. So he had to get four or five bypasses done and he had come in the previous week, I was speaking with him on Sunday morning, the following Tuesday, two days after, he was in the hospital, was called in, had his procedure done and now he has gone home. So, Sir, I don't deny that there may be lineups, but, Mr. Speaker, I want to assure you, and the hon. member who had that concern, that there are good things happening in the health care system, as well, and I say that for his edification and enlightenment. What is happening in education? We could talk about some of the good things that are happening in the Department of the Environment.

For the past two years, I have been honoured, I guess, and privileged, at the request of the Mayor of the City of St. John's, Shannie Duff, to chair the first board known as 'St. John's Clean and Beautiful'. Now, that is an organization that is affiliated with an outfit called: 'Keep America Beautiful'. It is an affiliation of 400 or 500 municipalities throughout North America, and I can tell you that there are good things happening with respect to environmental initiatives, not only within the City of St. John's, but within the Province, and I believe the program that was announced last week, this core of young environmentalists that will be engaged throughout the Summer to do some good things in terms of clean-up and assessment, I think is an indication of the interest, an indication of the support, an indication of the commitment that this government has to ensuring that we have a community environment in which all of us can live.

Our communities must be made more environmentally friendly, more environmentally clean, they must be made better places to live, and the place to start, Mr. Speaker, in ensuring that we have the mind-set in our citizenry that this is what has to happen, is to start in the classroom, with the young people, with the children, so that when they get it straight in their minds how they should treat the environment, then it would be a natural for them to follow those habits and trends into their future lives.

So, Mr. Speaker, with that, I will clue up by saying that the initiatives of this government, through the departments that I have just referred to, and whose estimates we are referring to today, the initiatives of those departments, I believe, confirm again that this government have policies and have a concept of what needs to be done in the Province and throughout our communities to ensure that our future will be the better for our young people, as opposed to being the worst for them.

We do not want to leave them with a debt load beyond what they already will incur as a result of the actions of previous governments, and I say that not so much as a criticism because, in all fairness, I believe that governments in this Province in the past have done the same as governments in all of the provinces, and indeed, throughout the nation of Canada have done. They have borrowed and they have spent like drunken sailors to a point, and now the chicken have come home to roost and we have to take action and have to take initiatives that will bring things back into line.

So I say, let us do what we can with the bucks we have, spending them frugally and wisely. I believe that is the hallmark of this government, and I believe that history will treat this government and the previous government very, very well in terms of reflecting upon the initiatives and the direction that the government has taken and will continue to take.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wanted to continue my remarks with respect to the Social Services Estimates and, in particular, the issues related to the item that I was discussing - that of home support services.

My concern is that the attitude in the department - as I said, I don't know where it is coming from. We had a memo from a senior management person, but I think that the notion of ministerial responsibility would make the minister responsible, ultimately, to this House for the actions of his department. Somebody, obviously, is that individual's boss, as well, and the buck stops here in this House, Mr. Speaker, under our Parliamentary system, with the minister.

I think that the point was made fairly strongly to the minister last night about the concerns at least of this hon. member about that kind of approach and attitude, and I know the minister will take it upon himself to look into that particular matter and see whether or not his officials -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The conversations to my left are getting very loud. I can't hear the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I know that the Speaker is listening very attentively to what this hon. member has to say, as all hon. members were listening to the last hon. member, the Member for St. John's North. So I would hope that the same courtesy is extended to my remarks on the occasion of this speech, because I think we all understand that if home support services are decreased, the chances of an individual being required to be hospitalized or institutionalized is far greater.

That is of considerable concern to the individuals, of course, and family members, but also should be of considerable concern to the public in general, to the members of this House, and particularly to members of the government and the Department of Finance and Treasury Board who are responsible for public revenues. Because we all know, having looked at the estimates of the Department of Health, that the cost of hospital care varies from hospital to hospital, but is in the neighbourhood of $500, $600, $700 per day to have a person in a hospital. It is somewhat less than that for nursing home care, but perhaps somewhat more than that for other types of institutional care that these individuals we are talking about, whether it be the developmentally delayed, the physically disabled or senior citizens who, if they are not looked after properly in their homes, are going to require institutional care at a far greater cost.

We cannot have the kind of attitude being encouraged in the Department of Social Services that seems to be expressed by the approach taken in the memorandum from the Director of Social Services on this particular point. That was only one of the issues that was raised with the Minister of Social Services in the Estimates Committee, but it was one I think he got the message on in terms of the concerns of the Opposition, not only myself but also the Member for Bonavista South, I think, who raised some particular examples of individuals who were being denied support from the Department of Social Services on that issue.

There are all sorts of examples, Mr. Speaker, where the small dollars from the Department of Social Services can lead to big returns for individuals and big savings for the public treasury in one way or another. I raised one of them last night with the minister and members of the committee having to do with one of the organizations which the department, in its Budget estimates, and in the documents provided to the House after much insistence by this side, prior to the election, were cutting back on the provision of what the government has chosen to call third party organizations. I am referring to the whole series of organizations, non-governmental organizations, organizations such as Epilepsy Newfoundland and Labrador, Consumers Organization for the Disabled, the Community Services Council, a number of the organizations designed to assist people with particular diseases or afflictions, the boys and girls clubs, organizations such as the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, who provide social services and community educational services to the public and often to members of the minister's department, provides informational services on particular diseases and alternatives that people have which is of great assistance.

I will relate one example that I related to the Estimates Committee last night having to do with the Newfoundland Hearing Association which provides on a volunteer basis services to members of the public who have hearing difficulties. Members may be surprised to hear that constitutes some 35,000 members of our Province who are having some form of hearing loss, short of deafness, or deafness itself, which is a serious affliction and can cause a lot of problems with individuals as they perhaps become, whether for environmental reasons having been exposed to too much sound, for genetic reasons, or for, in some cases, merely by aging have their ability to hear reduced or effected by some affliction such as tinnitus.

I was told of one example by the president of that organization where they were able to provide help for an individual whose job was in jeopardy because of hearing loss, and through a visit whereby the association was able to provide advice as to the moving of certain equipment from an office location to another room that was causing hearing problems, providing a few simple devices to enable this individual to answer a telephone properly without confusing who the speakers were, the names, or messages, changing the lighting in a room to enable the individual to see a person's face and therefore be able to respond and use the eyes to assist the ears through a form of lipreading was more able to recognize what someone was saying, and that enabled the person to keep her employment in a business location, and that is a very valuable service.

That is only one example but it can easily be seen by hon. members that such a service can in fact maintain an individual in a productive work environment contributing not only to his or her own self esteem and way of life but also as a taxpaying member of society contributing to the support of all services for themselves and everybody else, in short a productive and contributing member of society rather than one who is dependent upon society for their well-being.

These organizations, Mr. Speaker, and there are many of them which get very little in actual nominal dollar terms from government, the Newfoundland Hearing Association for example got $22,000 last year and this year the government wanted to reduce that to $11,000. I think one member of the Committee, the Member for Humber East, last night was able to demonstrate that the total cost of these three so called third party organizations, non-governmental organizations providing services to the public that the government has helped, comes to about one-tenth of 1 per cent of the total government expenditure for the Department of Social Services. So, it is not a very lucrative way to save money, Mr. Speaker, but it is a very, very important service that is being provided. In fact, it not only provides services both educational and direct but it also saves the government and the public money in the short run and the long run.

Again, another example pointed out last night was that the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organizations, providing companionship and adult role models for children from, in most cases or in all cases I guess, from single parent homes or perhaps broken homes, providing that kind of -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If I may, by leave to finish for one minute.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: If one person through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Organization can be saved from a stint at the boys home or the girls home, as a result - through the Young Offenders Act, that will save the public, I think the cost was $200 per day to keep an individual in closed custody. So, we can see very easily how these services can provide great savings to the social costs involved. I know the minister has these items under review and I hope that the remarks made last night and today and by members of the public will assist the minister in coming to a conclusion that these types of expenditure reductions are unwarranted and will not result in great savings to the public.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank hon. members for granting me leave to continue my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before I recognize the hon. Member for St. John's Extern, I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members that it is unparliamentary for hon. members to turn their backs to the Chair. This has been going on in the House now for the last two or three days. Pretty soon the Chair is going to enforce the rules and I do not want to embarrass hon. members and call them by name but pretty soon I will do that.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday in the House I was quite interested and amused to a certain extend by the words of the hon. Member for Eagle River. The member was pontificating, he likes to use that word pontificating, on the good job his ministers are doing, and I would not necessarily disagree with that, with respect to labour relations and negotiating agreements - what a wonderful grand job they are doing.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Be careful now.

MR. J. BYRNE: I listened yesterday, Mr. Speaker, to the rantings and ravings of the hon. Member for Eagle River and I did not interrupt him so I would expect him to give me the same courtesy. I would like to bring the hon. member back to reality, I would say to the hon. Member for Eagle River that the various associations and the unions out there that are agreeing to these agreements are wise enough to accept the lesser of two evils. When I say the lesser of two evils, I refer to those groups being told that they should either accept, come to an agreement, let us work out an agreement or we will use the power of the Legislature against you, as they did with Bill 16 and 17.

When I was coming back from lunch today I heard on the news that the nurses now have a temporary agreement worked out, a temporary agreement up to March of 1994. Now, Mr. Speaker, I was quite surprised to see that the government actually wanted the nurses to cut another 125 positions - 125 more positions gone from the nurses. What they did agree to, I believe, was somewhere around forty positions to be cut.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we are educating our nurses, or trying to educate them. I know of six who recently went to the United States, down to New Orleans, to get work because they could not get any work here in the Province. I am becoming increasingly more fearful that the health care system in this Province is being affected negatively - very negatively. Nurses, as it now stands, are understaffed and overworked, and I speak from experience, Mr. Speaker. I know. All I can say for nurses at this point in time is, thank God for their dedication.

I would not like to be accused of fearmongering, but the nurses can only stretch themselves so far and, as far as I am concerned, the time is coming fast when they are not going to be able to handle the workload and we may see some serious consequences of that, but I sincerely hope not. I know they will do the best they can, even with the situation that they have to face in the hospitals today.

With respect to education, I have to agree with many of the members present of being opposed to the increase in tuition fees - as much as 40 per cent and over 40 per cent. I believe it is not acceptable. I believe the fee for services now that they are talking about imposing in there at the University is not acceptable. Maybe I could go along with an increase with respect to the inflation rate or whatever the case may be if - `if` there were jobs out there for the students to get, but we have over 40 per cent unemployment rate for students, so I do not know how you can expect the students to pay for the services that they are talking about bringing in to me.

AN HON. MEMBER: John Crosbie (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, Mr. Crosbie. He has done far more for this Province than the hon. member opposite has done, and I expect that he ever will do.

Mr. Speaker, I would imagine - I do not have my facts and figures on this, and I do not like speaking without facts and figures - but I would imagine some of the hon. members in this House today went through Memorial University when the education system was free in this Province. It was free for a number of people in the past, but it seems to be getting harder and harder all the time for our students of today.

I was reading the newspaper last week in respect to the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: One.

- with respect to the Spring Convocation at Memorial University. We had thousands and thousands of students graduating from university with no jobs out there. I am just wondering when this government is planning on doing something to keep our young people in the Province?

As I said earlier, one thing is counteracting the other. It is harder and harder to get an education here. It is certainly harder for the ordinary person to get an education. I am wondering in the future, what are we looking forward to here? Are we looking for an education for the elite?

From my perspective, when it comes to the young people in this Province we are losing too many. We are going backwards in this Province with respect to education.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: True. We are definitely going backwards. I can remember the day when you could go to university for a lot less than what it costs today, when everybody had a chance to go, but now it seems it is going to be just for the rich, if we continue our ways.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the way they want it.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is right.

I would like to comment on the remarks of the Member for Burin - Placentia West a few minutes ago with respect to people's reputations being dragged through the media and basically being - this reputation that these people are getting, that they are being dragged through the media before they are being found guilty of any offence.

We have seen recent examples of that when there were rumourmongering going on all over the Province and St. John's in respect to certain charges. I believe that something should be done along that line if at all possible. I do not know if it can be done, but hopefully it can be.

With respect to the Department of Justice, I have concerns with respect to the RNC. In November of 1989, with arbitration, the uniform pension plan was changed, and members with twenty years of service, their pensions were cut from 60 per cent of their last year's service to 50 per cent of the last year's salary, after twenty-five years of service. Also, in October 1990, the government made the following change by using the power of the Legislature: New Uniform Service Pension Plan. Number one, is the budget. The salary base for pension was changed from the final year's earnings to an average of the three best years, the contribution rate was changed from 4.5 per cent to 7 per cent; employees would no longer be permitted to purchase the last year of their service.

The Old Uniform Service Pension Plan: the contribution rate was changed from 4.5 per cent to 11 per cent. Employees would no longer be permitted to purchase the last year of service. Members of the association paid increased premiums in the amount of $700,000 over the past two years. In March 1991, government introduced Bill 16 in the Legislature, freezing the salaries of government employees for one year and eliminated 10.6 per cent of a raise given in arbitration, to the RNC members.

In March 1991, government again issued nineteen layoffs to members of the association and forced the members of the patrol division to agree to a change in shift. The savings that government realized from the members agreeing to work the split shift system, and one-man patrols during the 1993 fiscal year was approximately $750,000.

To continue on, Mr. Speaker, with respect to these types of cuts - but, I am referring now to the Member for Eagle River saying that these wonderful, grand agreements that are being worked out by the government, I mean, when you have the power of the Legislature behind you, you can do wonderful things, I suppose, depending on your perspective, but I would like to say, though, that total concessions made by the RNC from 1989 on, is over $12.5 million, and the reason why I bring this up is the fact that I am wondering, I am curious, and knowing the record of the government opposite, and I hope this will never happen - but when, I wonder, will the downloading by this government, of the RNC on to the municipalities occur? I sincerely hope it will not. I know the municipalities have been hit too hard in the past and there is no way they can take the burden of the cost of policing within the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like a few brief words on this particular heading. I guess I can safely say, for the fifth Spring in a row, I have been able to stand in my place and ask the following question: Where have all the Liberals gone? The party that forms the government today is called a Liberal Party, but is a reflection of the far right on the political spectrum, so they are anything but a Liberal Party in any dictionary sense of the word. They represent the far right wing of the political spectrum. So, for the fifth year in a row, and especially, when dealing with social estimates, I have to ask: Where have all the Liberals gone? It is a shame that for five Springs in a row, I have had the opportunity and the duty to stand here in this House and ask that question, and never more evident is that question relevant than when we discussed the social estimates of this government.

The health care system - `new and improved' they called it. They closed the hospital in Springdale, everything was going to be upgraded in Grand Falls, a new county hospital system. They closed the hospital in Springdale, cut the hospital in Grand Falls, the whole thing has been set back ten or twenty years.

Education under the gun. A little while ago, before the election, everybody was running absolutely mad, worried about the 2 per cent clause; for instance, out my way, the local school board, the integrated school board, could lose thirty-odd teachers and basically devastate its high school program if such a change were brought in. The Pentecostals, who form a very large group in my district, were scared stiff that their particular system is under the gun and all of that has yet to be resolved, Mr. Speaker, certainly not the work of what you would call Liberals.

The thing I found humourous in this particular session, Mr. Speaker, was a statement by the hon. the Minister of Justice about the tendering of legal work. In order to take the concept of patronage out of the allocation of government's legal work, what they have done now is they have formalized the system whereby Cabinet, through a formal process of pretence of tendering, actually dispenses the patronage so we don't have patronage, small `p' anymore, it is patronage, official Cabinet-directed patronage, and somehow, that is supposed to be a great reform - and I thought that to be somewhat amusing, Mr. Speaker.

The other problem I have with regard to the Wells Administration is that you either have a real job or you are on welfare. There is no in-between. There are very few programs of make-work or emergency assistance for people who never before in their lives have been on welfare. If you have spent your entire life on welfare, you have adjusted your life and, to some extent, you can survive. But, out there today, we have tens of thousands of people, especially in rural Newfoundland, who are used to working seasonally, drawing UI, and never having had to go on welfare before, and for these people that means that the furniture company comes and repossesses the chesterfield, the TV set, the washer and dryer, and that sort of thing, and the car company comes and takes the pickup truck from the driveway. That is what the Wells Administration means to these people - you either work in a real job or you are on welfare. There are very few programs to assist people caught in that situation and where there are programs they are grossly underfunded. There is very little hope coming out of this Administration in its approach to social planning. As I indicated earlier, this government got elected in its first term as a Liberal government but very quickly changed into a right wing government. This time, make no bones about it, this government even though it called itself a Liberal party, got elected as a right wing party, and God help us all, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to speak very briefly about a few specific areas in the Budget, especially education and health areas, but first of all, the area of education. While fundings are being cut on various programs, it is the same basically, as in the Resource Estimates Committee, there is money always found for administration and executive support. Once again, under general administration in education, we find executive support has increased by $42,000, and we find that administrative support is $360,000 extra.

At the same time, we have seen assistance to education agencies decreased, we see a decrease in contributions to youth services, we see $1.2 million gouged out of text books and other instruction material that are needed in the schools today, we see new school construction cut from $20 million down to $12 million, a cutback of $8 million. Basically, in the capital expenditure, there is no money for school construction at all, a cutback in capital to $12 million.

We have seen the curriculum development area being slashed by $500,000 over last year, the areas co-operative and enterprise education, a new area where expansions have been occurring, sliced $13,000. We have school services and professional development cut $16,500. They are reductions basically in essential areas within the education budget. When we look at the advanced studies areas of the Budget, we are finding that post-secondary education, in program development, to have programs that are going to make our schools competitive and be able to compete with others and turn out high-level students, there is a cut of $257,000 alone in program development.

In Memorial University, a post-secondary institution, we have seen over the last while, tremendous cutbacks that have occurred there. We have seen students hit to the hilt with increased tuition. We have seen 46 per cent over the previous four years and this year we have unprecedented hikes in tuition in this Province, not inflationary increases. At the same time it is happening, we have an increase in student enrolment at MUN over the past four years. We have had an increase for the past several years. When you get increased numbers you should get economies in savings in administration. Increased numbers paying higher tuition should result in being able to spread the cost over a larger number. In spite of that, this government has forced Memorial University to increase tuition costs by as much as 100 per cent, in some cases, with the pending increases this year.

For furnishings and various equipment needed there, we have seen it slashed by $1 million. We have seen the student aid administration, another very sensitive area, cut by $156,000. When student appeals for the Fall semester were being heard over on the floor of the Education Building in December, here they come back and cut administration by $156,000. They don't have enough people there to administer and be able to process the students loans as they are and students, when the semester is over, are finding out how much money they are going to get through the Student Loan Division, and still the government laid off people and slashed another $156,000 from the student aid division.

It is unfortunate. You have to really be close and speak to the students to realize that people applied for student loans and found out in December, the day after they have written exams, in the middle of exam week, they were hearing appeals. They couldn't deal with them under the division, they had to set up a second place to hear them on the floor of the Education Department.

The assault on education in the Province has been unprecedented in history. The facts are there. They are in the Budget to show it. The tuition hikes are there. They are concrete things that can be compared - they are not just fictional things, they are facts. They are factual there, and to look back on the records of the past, these figures are very easily obtained.

We have seen an assault now occurring on health care in the Province. We have seen lineups to get into hospitals. We have people waiting on surgery for almost a year. I have a constituent on workers' compensation since 1987, who was waiting to get into hospital almost a year to have surgery done, and was still receiving workers' compensation.

We have seen this government look at reorganizing the hospitals and forming community health boards in the Province. That, in itself, is not bad, but when you look back at the purpose of reorganizing, there is nothing in the Dobbin Report to show that reorganizing the hospital boards in this Province is going to produce increased administrative efficiencies here in the Province or, more importantly, increase care to patients, and services throughout the Province.

They are two basic, underlying things that should be done with health care. We should increase and be able to provide at least a provision or a maintenance of the current level of service we are giving, and to get efficiencies in the administration of that. That has not been done, it has not been shown in that report - and hospital boards, with a recommendation down to seven.

I have some very serious concerns about the formation of community health boards in the Province - five community health boards. It is going to make these health boards very, very impersonal type boards that are going to administer large areas of the Province. It is going to be a disincentive for local people to get closely involved and to draw out people from the community to work on these boards.

I had the opportunity to sit on one of the boards there for two years, and I found that it was very easy to get local people actively involved in a small regional area. When you expand that to include areas of 150,000 people, it becomes very impersonal and very difficult to get the level of volunteer service that is needed.

What these boards are going to end up being, even though they have stated now it is not their intention, these boards are going to end up being regional areas that will have paid people sitting on the boards eventually, because it is going to be difficult to get the skilled people, from an administrative point of view, with certain medical backgrounds, that are going to be necessary to be innovative and to be able to set forth a pattern or a model for health care in this Province.

It is very important that health and education should be a big chunk of the Budget, and it is important that efficiencies be achieved that is going to put money in areas where it is needed the most. That is not being done now within the health system in the Province, and I caution the government to proceed very, very carefully with the community health care boards, and let it be a generated board from the grass levels up, not a board that is going to start from the top with appointments and work down to the ground level, because it will never generate the steam and the momentum it needs to become vibrant, and enable people within the communities to take an active role in changing their own lifestyles within the community. People don't want to be dictated to about what their health and lifestyle should be. They want to be participators in that process, and the direction we are heading with larger, more impersonal boards is not going to give people the opportunity to do that.

So I caution once again, the minister, to monitor very, very closely - and I have great fear that we are going to have a health care system here in the Province that is going to be another big administrative problem that is going to cost tens and tens of thousands of dollars to administer, who are now small community type boards here, run very efficiently, they operate usually out of health offices in the area and at a very, very cheap - in fact no remuneration whatsoever has been involved on a small local level.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to concur the report?


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, since we have a moment or two left I wonder if the House might be minded to dispose of - we still have a substantial list of what I may call relatively insubstantial legislation and some substantial pieces too. I wonder if the House would be minded to give second reading to an act to amend the Schools Act which is the one that simply allows the Minister of Education to extend the period - or to postpone the elections. My friend the minister is not here but if the House is so minded, I will ask that it be called and we will deal with it and then we could go home for the night. The act to postpone the school elections next year.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded - which order number is that?

MR. ROBERTS: It does not have an order number because it was only given first reading today but if the House is minded we could give it second reading today. The bill is quite straightforward.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The only thing I want to say to the Government House Leader is that we only agreed to go beyond 5:00 p.m. to complete, if necessary, the Concurrence Debates.

MR. ROBERTS: It is not 5:00 p.m. yet.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, well you are not going to finish it in three minutes. Every other day you want us to adjourn debate at three minutes to. In all fairness I say to the Government House Leader that at 4:57 p.m. every day, whoever is speaking he is keeping on him to adjourn the debate because we do not want to be here after 5:00 p.m. Now, I have not even consulted with the education critic, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount on it, I say to the Government House Leader, so I feel a little bit uncomfortable doing this really.

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

MR. ROBERTS: To that, what I would say is that I am only asking if the House is so minded. I would think it is the kind of bill that we could dispose of really in five or ten minutes, the principle is very straightforward. I believe every member in the House will endorse it because we have already said so in so many words. Now, I am not going to have an argument over it. If there is any kind of reluctance to proceed, on that basis I will simply call it 5:00 p.m. and we will come back tomorrow. I mean I am the easiest guy in the world to get along with as long as you do what I want.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We know that, the record speaks for itself, Mr. Speaker, in that respect, but I want to say to the Government House Leader, in all fairness, we had a couple of other people who -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, we had a couple of other people who were intending to or signified intend to speak on the Concurrence Debate but we figured we would give it up at 5:00 p.m. and have it over with.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am persuaded by the eloquence of my friend from Grand Bank, the House Leader on the other side. So I'll move that we call it a day. Before we put the motion, tomorrow we shall do the Concurrence Debate on the Resource Committee, chaired so well by my friend for Lewisporte, who will make the opening speech and no doubt carry the day. I will propose that we follow the same arrangement tomorrow as we have today. In other words, we'll sit till the earlier of 5:00 p.m. or the adoption of the resolution.

I notice the Speaker is hovering in the wings. If he wants to take the Chair, fine. If not, I'll simply move that the House do now adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00, and remind members that tomorrow will be a government business day.

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