December 2, 1993              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLII  No. 27

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East is on her feet; normally we start with Statements by Ministers. Does the hon. member have leave to address the House?

MR. ROBERTS: No, Mr. Speaker, unless she can (inaudible) the Cabinet, she cannot speak, Sir, with respect, during Statements by Ministers.

MS. VERGE: I would like to speak on a point of order.

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

MS. VERGE: I would like to speak briefly to draw to the attention of members, that Monday coming, December 6, is the anniversary of the Montreal massacre. The anniversary is an occasion observed by people across Canada to reflect on the tragedy and the pervasiveness of violence against women in our society -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - and I would like to ask the Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

What would the point of order be exactly?

MS. VERGE: The point of order, Your Honour, is that, groups in the Province have asked me to make a request to Your Honour, to have our House of Assembly, on the anniversary on Monday, observe a moment's silence to reflect on the Montreal massacre, as well as pervasive violence against women in the society and to discuss ways of -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's request -

MS. VERGE: - curbing violence against women.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's request is that we vary from the procedure to observer a minute's silence, I guess.

The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, to the so called point of order, there is, in my submission, no point of order. The hon. lady is either deliberately assaulting the rules of the House, or, is in appalling ignorance of them and either way, there are ample opportunities for her to make her point. She has every right to do so at the appropriate time, but she has no right to do so on Statements by Ministers, Mr. Speaker. If hon. gentlemen over there, wish to deny leave on occasion, as they have ever right to do, we on this side choose to deny leave as well. This is an abuse of the privileges of the House, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, just a brief statement.

Quite commonly in this House, members stand to make points to bring to the House's attention the passing of some former members or important people in the Province, or to recognize sports groups or some athlete who has done quite well and really all the hon. member has done, is to bring to the attention of members, that Monday is the anniversary of the Montreal massacre, and I don't think it is that uncommon for her to rise at the beginning, before we get to the Ministerial Statements and make a request of members.

Now if the government does not want to grant the request of a moment's silence on Monday, why don't they come out front and say it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think we have heard enough on the matter. We have a procedure that we have to follow. It is not a point of order to ask to depart from the normal procedure we follow. We have been a little lax in the rules and we have had some problems over the last few days. I think if one wishes to depart from the rules the proper way to do it is to bring it to the attention of the House Leaders who should confer and then ask leave of the House, but I don't think we should be raising matters such as this under Statements by Minister's. So if the House wishes to do it I think the proper thing to do is to bring a motion to the floor for debate at an appropriate time if there is going to be any difference of opinion on it. In the absence of any procedure I can only enforce the proceedings that we have and ask if there are any Statements by Ministers.

MS. VERGE: On a point of order, Your Honour.

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

MS. VERGE: I would like to ask for Your Honour's direction as to what might be an appropriate time for me or any other member to request of Your Honour a determination of whether we have the unanimous consent to have a moment's silence on Monday, the anniversary of the Montreal massacre. This request I am making not only on behalf of the official Opposition but also on behalf of leaders of the White Ribbon campaign and women's groups in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the proper procedure is to allow the House Leaders to confer and of course the member for the NDP, to see if leave can be sought and then if there is any disagreement, or I suppose if there is agreement, to bring it to my attention and bring forward a motion at the appropriate time. I think that is the proper process to follow, otherwise our proceedings get out of order too quickly.

Are there any statements by ministers?

I would like to welcome to the gallery twenty-six Grade nine students from Frank Roberts Intermediate School with their teacher Bill Raymond from the districts of Conception Bay South, Harbour Main and Mount Scio - Bell Island.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. I would ask the Premier on behalf of leaders of the White Ribbon Campaign in Newfoundland and Labrador and women's groups in the Province, if he will confer with his colleagues on the government benches to determine if there is consent for Members of the House of Assembly to rise and have a moment's silence to mark the anniversary of the Montreal massacre, which is Monday December 6th?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the question has come up in previous years and it has been answered in previous years. So really all that I can say to the hon. lady is to remind her that even at Concordia University they have now changed their (inaudible) with respect to this. The way to honour the memory of the women who were murdered in that heinous incident in Montreal is to show a proper respect (a) for their memory and (b) to move forward to remove the societal causes that lead to these types of criminal conduct.

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

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

I have a question for the Premier. I would like to draw the Premier's attention to a press statement he made when he was Leader of the Opposition, a statement made on Friday, September 16, 1988. The Premier's statement had to do with a proposal from a firm called Canadian Ecology Limited to store industrial waste in the abandoned mine shafts on Bell Island. I would like for the Premier to listen to what he said: "The Liberal Party is opposed to the proposal from Canadian Ecology Limited, and will be opposed to any similar proposal for dumping industrial and toxic or potentially toxic wastes in any part of this Province." With the recent controversy that is about the Province over the Long Harbour proposal and Baie Verte and Schefferville I would like to ask the Premier what has changed his mind since that date in 1988?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Nothing, Mr. Speaker. I am still opposed to importing industrial toxic or potentially toxic waste for storage in any part of the Province. I am still as unalterably opposed to it now as I was then.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I will table a copy of the Premier's - well he was Leader of the Opposition at the time - his full statement and provide members of the press with it, so that members of his own benches can see exactly what statement was made then. It makes quite interesting reading because from what is in here SNAGG would really like the Premier if he took the stand today that he took then.

I want to ask the Premier if he still believes what he said then? You said: the people of Newfoundland should not and will not grovel for a few jobs at the price of creating a dumping ground for waste material that people of other nations are not prepared to have around. I say to the Premier, really, who is doing the grovelling now, and why does he not, as leader of the government, come out with a statement that would deny any opportunity for any proposal from any firm to make this a dumping ground for waste anywhere in this Province? Why does the government not just come out flat, square against it?

PREMIER WELLS: The position is exactly the same today as it was then. There is absolutely no difference. I stated very clearly in the last week or so that I do not want to say, yes, to American garbage, I want to say, no, to American garbage, but what I am not prepared to do is to say the members opposite, or somebody else in the Province, have no right to express a contrary opinion, and I am going to pass a law that says you cannot even bring a proposal forward for consideration. We do not operate on that basis.

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

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

I just say to the Premier that right now you like to promote yourself as a man of principle, and your objection to the importation of garbage at that time was clearly and purely a statement of principle. It wasn't based on an environmental assessment or any expert knowledge that you had at the time. It was really, pure and simple, a matter of principle, I say to the Premier.

The final question I want to ask him is, Why are your principles so short-lived? Why could you make such strong statements and defend those statements back then when you were Leader of the Opposition, and now you cast them aside so readily? The only thing that has changed from that time, Mr. Premier, is that you have changed seats in the Legislature from that of Leader of the Opposition to Premier. So could you answer why you have thrown your principles aside and abandoned the very strong principles and statements that you made in 1988 now that you are leader of the government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I am just going to remind hon. members of the House how misleading is such a representation as the hon. member has just made. Just let me read the first four paragraphs of this statement:

`The proposal to establish an international industrial waste dump site on Bell Island is clearly unacceptable to the citizens of that community, and I believe it is offensive to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.' I share that view today.

`The Liberal Party is opposed to the proposal from Canadian Ecology Limited, and will be opposed to any similar proposal for dumping industrial and toxic, or potentially toxic, wastes in any part of this Province.'

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) industrial (inaudible)!

PREMIER WELLS: Industrial and toxic or potentially toxic wastes in any part of the Province.

Just listen to the rest of the statement: `We became involved in this issue when Canadian Ecology asked the Liberal MHA for Mount Scio - Bell Island, Leo Barry, to arrange a meeting with Bell Island municipal officials to discuss the project. Mr. Barry properly discharged his duties as an MHA and made the appropriate arrangements so that that council on Bell Island could receive and examine the proposal. He did no more, but he could do no less.

Now,, my position remains exactly the same today as it was then.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know - I mean, yes, perhaps Mr. Barry did discharge his responsibilities as he should have. That is not the question here, who discharged their responsibilities in an accurate or responsible manner. The question is, the Premier made a very definitive, strong statement in 1988 that he would not tolerate - and called upon the government of the day, to just say no to such importation of waste into this Province and any community in this Province.

I want to ask the Premier, Why won't he, as leader of the government, stand in his place and say today that this government will not accept, will not consider, any proposals for any industrial or toxic waste to be dumped or placed or buried or covered up in any community in this Province? Why doesn't he do that, as leader of the government?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I say again, Mr. Speaker, I have stated many times what my personal views are. I am opposed to the importation of waste in the Province. That is my personal view, but I will not stop others from expressing their views any more today than I would two years ago, or five years ago, whenever that statement was made.

I can do no more than express my opposition to it, and provide for an opportunity for people to be heard, but I can also do no less than to provide for an opportunity. My position is exactly the same today as it was then, and any fair-minded person who reads it fully and objectively would readily agree.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health.

Recently, the minister has been busy announcing the establishment of regional health boards in Newfoundland - two in Central Newfoundland recently, and one for the St. John's area. Now, the minister's actions are based on the Dobbin Report, but that report gives no rationale or justification for the recommendation.

Now, the minister says that the regional boards will lead to greater efficiency. He will not find any basis for that in this Dobbin Report. Does the minister have another study to show what efficiencies will be achieved, and how they will be achieved? For example, what kind of positions would be eliminated, and how many jobs?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't require a genius to know that if you merge boards there is going to be greater efficiencies in the operation thereof. It is obvious, it is axiomatic.

The reason we are merging boards - there are a number of reasons for merging boards and for regionalizing our concepts - is this: One of the big problems we have in a health care system is that a tremendous number of organizations - with fifty hospital and nursing home boards, each one of which is out there working for the benefit of the people they are representing, very often there are advances made, and decisions and suggestions made, to expand what they are doing; and we find there is quite a bit of duplication in the system, and it is very difficult to get a regional approach to health care.

What we are trying to do is bring about regional thinking in health care so that the new board will think regionally and won't think what is best for this institution. We will think regionally, and in that way we can develop in an appropriate manner rather than just be involved in things like turf protection and advancement at other people's expense and we have to be very careful of that. We do not have many dollars in the health care system, there are a great many things we have to do in health.

We have to move in the whole area of health promotion and disease prevention. We have an irregular system of home care, some places have good home care in place, other parts of the Province have very little home care and what we have to do, is to have a comprehensive system and where there are extra dollars involved and do not need to be spent, then we will have to extract these dollars because we need them to spend on things more important, but in answer to your question, we have had no study to say that we will save X dollars. It is obvious that dollars will be saved and they will be quite substantial in some areas, but hopefully these dollars will be spent in other ways in the health care system, so your answer, as to how many are going to be laid off, I do not know if people are going to be laid off or rehired, because we have to expand the health care system; we have to expand our promotional efforts and there are many other things we have to do as well -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the minister has answered the question and I -

DR. KITCHEN: - but what we can't afford to do is, to spend money on things that are no longer necessary.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister has based his Ministerial Statement on public comments on the efficiencies that will be achieved and he has stated it is based upon the Dobbin Report. Now, he has not, and that is in his Ministerial Statement, I ask him to read it. I will ask the minister another question, other than deficiencies in the system. The minister also said that regional boards will enhance patient care services. He will not find any basis for that in the Dobbin Report either. Now, does the minister have another study that will show how patients services will be improved? For example, will it bring an end to the number of people who are dying while they are waiting for heart surgery? Will it tell the people of Port Saunders that they can now have funds to make use of their spanking new facility?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member gives some examples of what can be done when money that is improperly spent, is no longer improperly spent but which can be spent on things which are necessary.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am appalled. Surely the minister has not proceeded with a major change in the administration and delivery of health care service in this Province, without knowing the answers to questions if we are going to achieve efficiencies or we are going to achieve an improvement in patient care services; surely, he has documentation to back up these claims. Now how can the minister proceed with these changes when he has no more than a gut feeling that they are going to help? Now his gut feeling could turn out to be a severe bellyache for the health care system in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, he talks about bellyaching. If that crowd opposite, during the seventeen years that they were over there misdirecting the health care system, had brought in one simple anti-smoking measure, we would not need as many heart operations, we would not have as much lung cancer, but these people for seventeen years made no changes in the health care system except to spend money in a wide way. So, Mr. Speaker, what is wrong with that crowd there, is that they, after total misuse of the health care system, are just wondering now why we, can suddenly start making some appropriate changes which are very long overdue, by about twenty years.

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say to the Minister of Health, it is unfortunate he blames us because he continues to smoke, but in any case, my question is to the Premier.

This past summer, the people of the Burin Peninsula received some devastating news when they found out they were not successful on the mechanical outfitting bid. July 29, I say to the Premier, I believe is the date that it was announced that MIL or Peter Kewitt or M & M or whoever it was got the contract, and the people of Marystown were very concerned about that. I would ask the Premier if he could tell me when he knew about it himself personally and who informed him of the decision.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I'm just trying to remember now. I knew about it before it was formally announced. I don't know whether it was Gordon Gosse, who is the person responsible for monitoring the Hibernia project for the government, or whether it was Mr. Kimberlin. I don't remember. I could try and look through my records and notes and find out, but it was before the decision was made public that I was aware of it.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, my information or my sources tell me that the Premier probably knew about it for some time before. Not any great length of time but probably a week or so, and probably informed on a trip with Mr. Kimberlin. I'm just wondering if he as the Premier and leader of the government, and owner of the facility, made any attempt during that period to try and - because as we all know, the tenders were later negotiated. It was not a matter of opening a bid and awarding it to the lowest tender. The tenders were actually negotiated after the bids were submitted.

Not only with MIL, I say to the Premier when he nods his head. The Vinland bid was also asked for the difference in price and clarification and the whole bit. So I ask the Premier if he did anything during that period to try to convince the HMDC people to award the contract to Vinland?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There were indeed, so far as I know, extensive clarifications, but I don't think it was negotiated. I think the hon. member misrepresents the situation. The bidders were requested to provide clarifications of their bids. I was aware that clarifications were being offered. I met with the people from Marystown. The minister responsible met with the people from Marystown Shipyards. We did everything possible within our power to ensure that Marystown had the best possible opportunity to win that contract.

However, we could not and would not illegally or unduly interfere with the awarding of the contract on a proper basis. We have no right to pass laws or to use governmental pressure on HMDC to ignore the normal bidding rules and practices and invite bids from others and get the lowest bidder, and then subvert the process and award it to Marystown. We would not participate in such dishonest activity. Short of that, we did everything reasonable that the government could do to ensure that Marystown would have the best possible opportunity to win that bid.

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

MR. TOBIN: I say to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, that $120 million of work for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador would cause the government, I think, to do whatever they could do that was legally - and it would certainly be legal. Because the Premier knows as I know that the Marystown bid from the time that it was submitted and opened on the evaluation process, that changed substantially as well to the bottom line. Both the Premier and I know that. So I would say to the Premier that he could have done a lot more than he did.

I would ask the Premier then, Mr. Speaker, back in 1988, I believe it was, there was a $22 million subsidy program put in place by the federal-provincial government cost-shared 50-50 to assist the Marystown Shipyard, put in place for the Marystown Shipyard, to assist the Shipyard to construct vessels. It is my understanding that approximately $11 million of that money was spent as it relates to the construction of trawlers for FPI before the bottom fell out of the fishery. So there is $11 million left for a subsidy program to the Marystown Shipyard. I would like to ask the Premier what happened to that money, and why it was not used to assist Vinland in their bid.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member says there is a $120 million contract at stake, the Premier should do everything he could to get it, that difference is only of degree, not of kind. It is no less dishonest, whether it is $120 million or $120 billion.


PREMIER WELLS: It is no less improper for a government to intervene in the way in which the hon. member suggests, and this government will not do it. If the people of this Province want to have a government that will act illegally and improperly, will put in place contracts and an arrangement that invites business to invest here on the understanding that you will be treated fairly and you would be able to run your business on an honest and straightforward basis, and then seeks to subvert it, they will have to elect another government other than this one. They will have a chance in four or five years from now to do that, if that is their course. Their recent expressions of opinion would lead me to believe they are not likely to follow that course.

Mr. Speaker, the $11 million that the hon. member talks about, there is no $11 million fund anywhere stashed away for building boats or anything else -

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened to it?

PREMIER WELLS: Nothing happened to it. Any monies that belong to the Province are part of the consolidated revenue fund. There was no $11 million in the first place.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Premier concerning the problems of the Innu people, particularly at Davis Inlet.

I would like to ask the Premier whether or not he is prepared to release the report of Professor Henriksen, commissioned by the government, on the future of the Davis Inlet community, and is he prepared to agree with that report? The media reports say that he favours the move to Sango Bay. Would the Premier care to comment on that, and is he prepared to release that report?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: To begin with, Mr. Speaker, the report was a piece of work done by a consultant. It was done at the request of the Economic Recovery Commission.

Last week, some time, Dr. House asked me if I had any objection to their releasing it. I said: Certainly not. The media asked me about it a week ago. That same question the hon. member just asked was asked by some members of the media about a week ago, and I said I had no objection to releasing the report, and -

MR. ROBERTS: It has been released for approximately a week.

PREMIER WELLS: The Minister of Justice says it has been released for a week. I do not know whether it has or it has not. I certainly have no objection to it. I want to ensure that people are not misled as to what the report is.

About two years or so ago I asked the Economic Recovery Commission to look at the situation in Davis Inlet, in as careful a way as they could, to see if they could try and identify some economic opportunity - something the government could do to help economic opportunity in the community and provide for employment opportunity for the people in the community.

I think they had a discussion with Mr. Henriksen, who is from Norway, because they knew he had done some work in the community, and in fact had spent a good deal of time in the community many years ago, and had recently spent some more time in the community, so I am given to understand that they asked Mr. Henriksen, at that time, to give them some advice as to what kind of economic opportunities might be developed for Davis Inlet.

I do not think anything was done for a year or so. Then, a number of months ago, Mr. Henriksen indicated he was prepared to do some work along the lines that had been requested. He did some work, and presented a report, which I have seen and read, that really had very little to do with developing economic opportunity for Davis Inlet and, instead, was simply an expression of his personal views that the community ought to be moved to Sango Bay, and he gives some argument in support of why he feels it ought to be moved to Sango Bay.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier speaks of moving the people to some place where there is economic opportunity - a pretty doubtful proposition, considering our economy at the moment.

Would the Premier not agree that to move the band away from their historic, geographic and cultural roots would be a mistake, Mr. Speaker, contrary to their own expressed wishes, and not in the best interest of the people of the Davis Inlet Innu, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, he was not requested to provide information as to moving the people at all. The original request was to advise the ERC as to how economic opportunity could be generated for the people of Davis Inlet. Now he really did not address that question. Instead, he addressed another separate and different question.

I have no wish to move the people away from their historic roots. As a migratory people, all across the Ungava Peninsula, really, is their historic roots. The settlement in Davis Inlet is relatively recent history, but I see little point in moving from point `A' next door to point `B' if there is no significant difference between the two points in terms of dealing with both the social and economic question. So I have asked the Innu, and all concerned, to let us try and find a place to move that can provide some reasonable prospect of increased economic, social and cultural opportunity for the people of the community. That is the objective of this. The government does not determine that they not be on the coast. If there is better opportunity there then by all means move to Sango Bay but for heavens sake look at what Sango Bay has to offer in terms of economic, social and cultural opportunity or enhancement of those opportunities over and above the existing. That is all we are asking and we think that if we are to be involved in authorizing any expenditure of provincial funds, and we may not be, it may be entirely federal, but we think if we are to be involved in authorizing the expenditure of provincial funds we have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this Province to take that kind of an approach. Even if there are no provincial funds involved, if the federal government is going to be doing it entirely, we have a similar responsibility to express our concerns or views on the expenditure of public funds. But more than the expenditure of funds, we have a greater responsibility to the people of Davis Inlet to try and do whatever we can to contribute to the best possible economic, social and cultural future for them.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Despite the Premier's views, the leadership and the people of Davis Inlet have spoken about the future that they want, surely they have considered the Premier's views on this. When will the Premier stop trying to impose his will on them and listen to what they have to say about their own future?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, unlike some people, I look to history for lessons. The real reason why we study history is to get lessons so we can decide how is the best way to go forward. I look back at what happened in 1967, and contrary to the views and the opinions oft expressed, the Innu of Davis Inlet were not forced to move into Davis Inlet by an insensitive government against their wishes, as sometimes has been suggested, rather diametrically the opposite is true. The government of that day said much the same thing as I am saying today. There is very limited opportunity in Davis, why don't you move somewhere else? Why don't you move somewhere near Sheshatshu, Goose Bay or somewhere else where there is better opportunity? The Innu took a vote on it actually at the time. Twenty-two people voted not to move to Sheshatshu, to stay in the Davis area, two people voted to move to Sheshatshu and get out of the Davis area, seven families did not vote at all because they were away at the time. On the strength of that, the government of the day said: we concede to the wishes of the Innu. We will help provide for and manage the move to Davis Inlet, what is presently today's Davis. Against their better judgement the government of the day agreed to that. The same arguments were relevant then as they are today. Now we saw that mistake made twenty-five years ago and we have seen the results of the last twenty-five years. Some of us have the good sense to look at history and try and avoid repeating those mistakes. This is all I am trying to do, look at other opportunities and if there are better opportunities then for heavens sake move and provide those better opportunities for people. If there aren't better opportunities then obviously, in this present circumstance, the community has to be moved and Sango is probably as good a place as anywhere else but don't shut your eyes from looking at other places that may provide an opportunity for the people of Davis to enjoy and improve social, economic and cultural benefits of the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a quick question for the Minister of Health. Will the government establish one super health board for the Western Region with responsibility for both institutions, hospitals and senior citizens homes from Port Saunders to Burgeo, plus responsibility for community health, and when will the changes, whatever form they may take, when will the changes be made?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are proceeding on this health board reorganization in an orderly manner. It is taking a bit longer than we had anticipated, the Cabinet has made its decision with respect to Central Newfoundland, we will have two boards there and in St. John's. That was another pretty momentous decision. We now have to get the boards appointed, and that is quite a bit of work. We have done a fair amount of preliminary work in the third area we are going to examine, which is Eastern; that is the area of Bonavista, Burin, Carbonear, Placentia, that general eastern area, which is between St. John's and Central. I have some further consultations to take place before we can finalize my recommendations to government on that point.

Next comes Western Newfoundland, and we have had a proposal from the people in that area to do as the member suggests, but I want to have some consultation with them just as soon as possible, once we get Eastern - well, it is hard to pin it down. I hoped that would be done in November, but November is past and we don't have Eastern done. Then we will see what has to be done in the Northern area. It is a bit slower than I had hoped, but we are working on it, and that is the order in which we will be examining them. The next one now is Eastern, then Western, and then Northern.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe Question Period is close to expiring but we might have time for one more question, if there is one more.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: I have a question for the Premier. Last July the Premier told people in Western Newfoundland that he personally ordered an immediate assessment of Western Memorial Regional Hospital practices and procedures. Will the Premier now release to the public the results of that immediate assessment, and will he make a definitive statement about the future of the Western Memorial Regional Hospital School of Nursing, to remove doubts about the future of the Corner Brook School of Nursing which are probably affecting plans for nursing education next September?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the future of schools of nursing is under consideration by government because, as you know, there are really five schools of nursing. There are the Memorial University school and three others in hospitals in St. John's, plus Western. We want to do what is appropriate in the Province and we haven't made any final decisions on that matter.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has elapsed.

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the public galleries the former member for the District of Torngat Mountains, Mr. Garfield Warren.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Let us welcome, as well, Mayor Leona Gillette of the community council of Steady Brook, together with Claude Wilton, who serves on council.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table the reports of the exceptions to the Public Tendering Act for the months of May, June, July, August, September and October.

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

MS. COWAN: I rise today as minister responsible for the Status of Women, Mr. Speaker, to present the annual report of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act, No. 2".

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

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

WHEREAS the practice of public accountancy in the Province is regulated by the Public Accountancy Act;

AND WHEREAS that Act provides that chartered accountants have the right to be licensed to practice public accountancy in the Province, but does not accord that right to other accounting designations;

AND WHEREAS the other jurisdictions of Canada have passed legislation or are contemplating passing legislation to accord certified general accountants the same rights or substantially the same rights to practice public accountancy as are presently enjoyed by chartered accountants;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Members for Trinity North, Kilbride, Mount Pearl, Port au Port and St. John's North be and they are hereby appointed as a select committee to examine into and to report upon:

A) The present criteria for licensing as a public accountant in Newfoundland and whether those criteria are unnecessarily restrictive;

B) Whether there are categories of accountants other than chartered accountants who are qualified to perform public accounting functions;

C) The present criteria for licensing as certified general accountant in Newfoundland, and whether the training and qualifications of CGAs in and of themselves or under certain conditions are adequate to qualify some or all of them to perform public accounting functions;

D) The legislative provisions required to ensure the maximum competition in the marketplace by qualified individuals consistent with the protection of the public;

E) The body or bodies that should be empowered to licence public accountants and the composition and manner of appointment to the same; and

F) Other matters directly and necessarily related thereto.

And that the Committee be empowered to send for persons, papers and records that they may sit at St. John's at all times during the Assembly for which they are appointed whether or not the House is in session or has prorogued, and that they may hold hearings at St. John's to receive further representation from members of the public;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the select committee shall submit their report to the House by the 31st of March, 1994.

I should advise the House, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition has submitted two of the names that I've read and we have named below.

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council in making its recommendations for the 1994 quotas is recommending that the Gulf cod fishery be closed and quotas for other stocks be substantially reduced;

AND WHEREAS if implemented these recommendations will have a direct impact on the fishermen and plant workers on the Southwest and Northwest coasts;

BE IT RESOLVED THEREFORE that this House of Assembly support acceptance of the recommendations made by the Fisheries Research Conservation Council and the implementation by the federal government of a fair and adequate compensation package to fishermen and plant workers in that area.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Colleges Act, 1991".

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Finance, I have two notices:

I give notice that he will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a 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 he 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, on my own account, I give notice that I will move at the appropriate time that the Public Accounts Committee be authorized to consider and report upon evidence taken by the committee during the Fourth Session of the Forty-first General Assembly - and may I add that the latter motion is being brought forward at the request of the Public Accounts Committee to overcome a procedural problem which I will address at the appropriate time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am responding now to a number of questions raised by the hon. the Member for St. John's East when I was absent with the 'flu on Tuesday or Wednesday - I am not sure which day.

AN HON. MEMBER: St. John's East Extern.

MS. COWAN: What did I say?


MS. COWAN: I am sorry, St. John's East Extern. I beg your pardon.

I would have liked to have been here for Question Period, Mr. Speaker, because I would have been on my feet for the entire Question Period - and it would have been great - but I don't want to tie up the business of the House this afternoon, so I am going to submit my answers to these questions, most of which are very straightforward and could easily have been answered by any staff member in my office, easily available to the public, and anyone who wishes to call at any time is certainly - they are just sort of routine-type questions anybody would ask about an environmental assessment, nothing to get in a state over.

I will table these, then, Mr. Speaker, and I imagine that people will rejoice at having these in their hands. And the Member for St. John's East will notice that I am `standing pat' again today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we begin with the adjourned debate on "An Act To Amend The Fire Prevention Act". It is Order No. 11, Bill No. 32. I am not sure who adjourned, but one of the gentlemen opposite, I believe.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 11. I believe the hon. the Opposition House Leader was last speaking and adjourned debate.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I was concluding my remarks, actually, on Tuesday, on this bill to amend the Fire Prevention Act. Basically, what I was into at that time was the liability question that seems to be surfacing more and more across the country. Having had discussions with fire-fighters from my own region as late as last weekend, it seems to be a great concern now with fire departments - the whole issue of liability.

As I said on Tuesday, at one time, all the fire departments had to worry about was showing up at the fire, putting forth their best efforts to control or to extinguish the flames, but now, as we have seen, I guess, in all areas, the question of liability has become more and more prominent. People are suing more and more, looking for financial awards for what they perceive, I guess, as poor procedure, bad procedure, so it has become a big, big concern for fire departments and fire-fighters throughout the Province. So I wanted to bring it to the attention of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and, as well, I guess, to the Minister of Justice, that this is - I am just talking about the liability, I say to the minister. It seems to be a growing concern amongst fire-fighters and fire departments in the Province, and I think there have been some seminars run recently where they brought fire-fighters, and particularly, fire chiefs, from various fire departments around the Province, together for seminars dealing with the liability question.

I wanted to finish by commending the minister, by the way, on increasing the fines for those who violate the act. As I said on Tuesday, I was a little concerned that the fines were not increased in a more dramatic fashion, because when someone violates the Building Code, or violates the Fire Prevention Act, we all know the dangers and we all know the potential for not only loss of property, but for loss of life.

I hope the minister will take my remarks under advisement and probably talk to his officials, talk to the Fire Commissioner, and probably some fire departments around the Province, because I don't think you could have a much more serious crime than someone who violates a code or an act that threatens not only the loss of property, but more importantly, the loss of life. So I ask the minister to consider that, and perhaps when we come back this spring he might want to further amend the act, to further increase fines for those who, in a lot of cases, by the way, blatantly violate.

People congregate in public halls, as we all know, whether it be a bar, whether it be a restaurant -

MR. ROBERTS: That's why there are public halls.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, exactly.

Schools, service clubs - their meeting rooms are often rented out to the public for weddings and banquets and so on. So I think it is an area, I say to the minister, to which he really should pay more attention. I am not saying that in a derogatory fashion, but I would ask him if he would have some discussion on the possibility of increasing the fines even to a greater extent. Because I really believe that the increasing of fines, for whatever offense, is certainly a major deterrent. Coming from my own area of the Province - and not particularly talking about fire-fighting and fire departments but some other illegal activities, I can only say to members opposite that the increase of fines is certainly a deterrent to those who engage in breaking the law. With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, if he speaks now he will close the debate.

Order, please!

I believe the hon. the Member for Placentia wishes to speak.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Minister, and thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say a few words about the Fire Prevention Act. I know how important it is because it is people like me who are to benefit from these volunteer people, and these paid fire people, as well, who answer the call and are always ready.

The situation is arising where insurances - and we all know about insurances, their costs are rising. And the insurances do not help the fire brigades, not one cent, from what I can gather, out our way anyway. They don't invest back to the people who are saving them fortunes.

The fire brigade in Fair Haven is trying to get off the ground, so I will be asking the minister in short order if we will be able to give them a hand. We are into a situation, in our way, as the members of this House well know - we have towns in the area where I live, amalgamated, and on January 1, 1994, that will be taking effect. With the Americans leaving Argentia and retaining some twenty to twenty-five acres - in a secretive place that they have down there for monitoring different affairs under sea and wherever, there is going to be a need for fire protection there. So we should be able to make the best of all bargains for the people who are going to be retained.

The amalgamation - we have three fire brigades who do a yeoman service to the area and I will be asking the minister, to be kind in the new year, to be able to negotiate with those people in the fire protection of the area.

This act - I must get back to it; we are all conscious of it - this act to put volunteer and paid firemen in is good and I have no trouble with the bill. But I do have trouble with - and I will just say for one moment what I said earlier, about insurance companies reaping the benefits of what some of these paid firemen and volunteer fire people of this Province of ours do, and they do not reinvest back into even a pair of rubber boots for these people who put their lives on the line at times to save us all. Sometime or other we are going to have to get to the task of these rich companies who are doing very, very well. The rates are escalating and I do not see them helping the people of this Province. I thank you.

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, let me say congratulations to all the members who spoke on this particular bill. I guess fire-fighting and volunteer fire-fighting in the Province is close to all our hearts. As a lot of my friends know, every time I get a chance to talk about voluntarism in the Province, I always say without exception that our volunteer firemen have to be ranked as the top group in the whole Province. I certainly concur with just about everything that was said from the other side and this side with regard to accolades for those people who risk their lives almost on a daily basis to provide the necessary service that we need in the communities around the Province.

I will close the debate, Mr. Speaker, by just making a couple of final comments. This is basically a cleaning up of the act. I guess last year when we introduced the new Fire Prevention Act, we missed or somebody missed a couple of technicalities, and it was a chance for me or my department to go back and change these technicalities and to make them more in tune with today's, I guess, lifestyles, or whatever.

I just want to mention one comment the hon. the Opposition House Leader made with regard to penalties. In the old act, we talked about a maximum $1,000 fine and twelve months imprisonment. These new changes will have gone now from $1,000 up to $5,000 and a maximum of twenty-four months in prison. Maybe it is not enough -

AN HON. MEMBER: Sock it to them.

MR. REID: I don't know, maybe it should be a lot more than that, and I will certainly take my hon. colleague's suggestion under consideration. Five thousand dollars doesn't sound like very much to me, for someone who violates I suppose, the life safety codes in the Province, because that is what the Fire Prevention Act is, basically, and maybe he is right in saying that. But at least, let me have the privilege of presenting and tightening up what we have, for now, and I will certainly guarantee the member that I will go back and look at the possibility of introducing maybe more stringent regulations at a later time.

I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Fire Prevention Act, 1991," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 32).

MR. ROBERTS: Could we now go on to Order 16, Bill No. 36?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Revise The Law In The Province Respecting Rail Service." (Bill No. 36).

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is not going to rock the air waves of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador this evening, so I will just take a brief minute and see how the Opposition relates to this particular piece of legislation. It is housekeeping, Mr. Speaker, to repeal the Railways act and there are just a couple of points I want to make.

There are presently thirty-eight pieces of legislation controlling the railway activity in Newfoundland which I think is very silent, you don't see a great many locomotives running across our tracks anymore. These acts are attached to the form of the schedule of the act. Some of the legislation predates Confederation, while some has been modelled under present legislation and, in most respects, the Railway Act of Canada, the National Transportation Act, 1987, has rendered Newfoundland legislation redundant.

Just one or two points here, the issue of tax exemptions for locomotive fuel presently being enjoyed by the Quebec Northshore and Labrador Railway and the Wabush Lake Railway, have been addressed by the Department of Finance through the existing legislation and/or the regulations to the Retail Sales Tax Act.

So what we are saying here, Mr. Speaker, very clearly, is to do away with all of the legislation, the thirty-eight pieces of legislation that have been on the books of the Province's legislation authority and just make sure that for those who are operating in Labrador, the two railways now, that the locomotive fuel tax act is on the legislative authority of the Minister of Finance.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: I haven't railroaded anybody yet either. Mr. Speaker, I have no dispute with the revisions and I am glad the minister mentioned Labrador City because we have a small bit of operational rail and we also have Trinity Loop which should be promoted, and probably there are other places with abandoned rails where they might do the same thing. Now, how far it goes I don't know.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. CAREEN: Well, that is in operation, that Trinity Loop.

MR. ROBERTS: That is not a rail line.

MR. CAREEN: It is not a rail line, I know that. The sad part about it all - and the Premier mentioned earlier about learning from history - if we don't we will continue to make the same mistakes. Now, these bills have nothing at all to do with it because lots of this stuff happened long before we were born, but the sad part about the railway in this Province is, it is one of the contributing factors in our losing our country, and I always find that very hard to take. It is not for me being a nationalist Newfoundlander close to home, but I just find when they talk about old railway bills and what other people have done long before us when there was no need really to go centre - if they wanted to open Buchans they could have come in from the sea.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, but they could have come in from the sea. If they wanted to open up certain parts of the Island they could have gone in from a harbour or a cove instead of the dreadful penance they put on this country, the former country of Newfoundland and the livyers that were here. If you take a divider and put it on the map of Newfoundland, there is no place any further than forty-five miles from salt water and we could have opened different parts without going to the expense of going right through the middle. Anyway, that is only a short history lesson.

I have no trouble with the bill introduced by the minister, and to get it off the table, I will sit down.

Thank you.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have just a few questions to the minister basically. We do have a railway still operating in Labrador. Under what legislation is it therefore operating? The minister seems to be eliminating all the railway acts here, but there must be some legislation to cover it. If you want to answer it I will just carry on afterwards.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: If I may simply respond to the question, by leave? The railways, of course, are matters for the Parliament of Canada under the Constitution of Canada, so the QNS & L, and there may still be a Wabush Lake railway, I am not sure. The line of rail that runs from Sept-Iles to Ross Bay, turns left or west and comes into Labrador City and Wabush and goes north to Shefferville is operated under the authority of the Railway Act of Canada. I think I have the name correct. The legislation in here, which is being repealed, was legislation that had to do with the guarantees at the time the Wabush mine operation was coming into being, I guess, would be the correct word.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that. I just wanted to clarify that so we would be sure what we are dealing with. I don't have a problem with getting rid of all these redundant acts which is just garbage that is sitting around and that needs to be taken out of the statutes.

I want to use this opportunity, though, to ask the minister, or one of the ministers - the Minister of Tourism is not here, but maybe the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation can tell us what is happening with the old rail bed across the Province? We know there is a number of groups who are interested in developing that as a tourism corridor across this Province, an invaluable resource. I have asked in this House many times for the ministers to ensure that that rail bed would be protected, that right of way would be protected.

I have some concern, however, that in a number of municipalities across this Province, some other property has been alienated, particularly where there were railroad stations. Those railroad station areas, the old yards, are being transferred to municipalities for industrial purposes. All that is well and good, and a useful purpose for that industrial area generally in the heart of the community. I don't have a problem with that, but I want to ensure that there is still a corridor through there and that some provision is made either to go through that or around that, so that we have an uninterrupted corridor right across this Province which has tremendous potential for all-terrain vehicles.

In view of the regulations government has recently introduced dealing with all-terrain vehicles, they are still a valuable tourist resource there, but if you are going to restrict where they can be operated, you have to provide a reasonable place for them to be operated if you are going to continue with any tourism operations related to that.

Snowmobiling, of course, is one activity that is near and dear to my heart and that I am most interested in. It has a tremendous potential, not only the main line, but the spur lines as well - the Bonavista Line, the Argentia Line, the Buchans Line, and so forth. They have tremendous potential for tourism development based on snowmobiling and all-terrain vehicles, and provide a ready means of access to a great deal of the interior of this Province.

Can the minister give us an update on what government's position is on protecting these rights of way in various areas of the Province, and what, in fact, they may be doing to ensure that some development takes place?

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the minister - normally I could recognize him now to answer the questions, and not in the sense of concluding the debate, or I could move to other members and the minister could answer all the questions at the end. I would be guided by the members.

MR. WINDSOR: Maybe he could answer the question then (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps I will let the minister answer the questions at the end. There may be some overlap.

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

MR. MANNING: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on Bill 36, "An Act To Revise The Law In The Province Respecting Rail Service."

As stated by the former speakers, there is not so much to talk about in relation to the bill, itself. I am pleased to see that the government is bringing all the legislation in under one piece of legislation. Some of this legislation goes back many years, and maybe before our time. Talking about the past, the Minister of Health was talking today about what happened twenty years ago. He is blaming me for something that happened when I was in kindergarten. I have a problem with that, sometimes, but that is interesting.

I am pleased to see that the government is bringing all the acts - a lot of them obsolete now that the railway service is shut down across the Province, mostly - bringing them all in under one act. As we all know, the railway service shut down across the Province a few years ago because it was a costly venture with very little return. We struck an $800 million deal to try to develop our roadways so the transportation links across the Province could be improved.

I have learned over the past number of weeks that projects are being pursued across the Province with in constructing this new road across the Province, and double highways, that some parts of the old railway bed are being disturbed or destroyed as we pursue this double highway, or construction of the highway. It has been brought to my attention, as the tourism critic for our party, that this is a concern to some people who are trying to develop the railway bed throughout the Province, as the speaker before me mentioned, to help develop our tourism potential, our tourism industry in the Province.

I am of the understanding - I stand to be corrected, and the minister may do so when he gets up - that you have over 3,000 applications before you to develop the railway bed across the Province, some sections, some whole, and some from municipalities and interest groups, et cetera. While I am a strong believer in the tourism potential of the railway bed, I ask the minister to look at each application but to be careful that private entrepreneurs who are trying to develop the tourism industry in the Province don't get `carried away' with the railway bed from one end to the other, and if there are sound proposals put before him that will create jobs in the Province, that will improve the tourism industry in the Province, that he look at them favourably when he goes over his 3,000 applications.

It is great to have this railway bed there, I believe. A couple a weeks ago I attended a news conference at City Hall here in St. John's where they announced the possibility of a Canada Trail being created, a trail that would be 15,000 kilometres long, reaching from one end of Canada to the other. I thought it was a great idea, the potential of this trail and what it could do for tourism in the whole country. The great asset we had here in our Province was the fact that we had a railway bed that did not have to be developed. It was there and it could have - I think, up to 75 per cent or 80 per cent of the Canada Trail that they propose is already developed in Newfoundland, and that we have a great opportunity there to avail of this, so I would ask the minister to consider this in his deliberations - the possibility of being part of that Canada Trail.

As I touched on earlier, it was brought to my attention that some places across the Province that have the roads being constructed, trestles that were used during the railway times are being destroyed, and in place they are putting back some roads and the trails are being cut off, and people have to cross highways in order to continue on a trail. I talked with a couple of ATV owners whose families spent a week on a holiday over in Central Newfoundland, and they had to cross the highway in several places to continue on the old railway bed, so that is a concern that they had.

Again, there is not much in regard to the legislation itself, but the tourism potential of the railway bed is very important to the Province. Over the next few months, I am sure, the minister will be entertaining all of the applications that have come forward, and some decisions will be made. I ask him to think of the tourism potential for the Province when he has his deliberations, and that private entrepreneurs, especially - everybody may be trying to get a piece of the action, but it should be for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders, and I ask the minister to accept that.

Thank you.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, in fear of repeating what has already been said by a couple of speakers before me, I can assure you that I am aware of the potential there, especially on the Bonavista Line of the old railway. I know that the rural development associations in our area, plus other people as well, have put forward some very good proposals of what might happen there. I think with some thought and some more interest expressed to it, and some people putting some effort into being realistic about this whole thing, that we can create something new and something different, to give some people another reason to visit the area.

My thoughts, my concerns, are more of a question to the minister. If you are going to use those railway beds as they are being used today, by ATV's and skidoos, hikers, etc., my concern is: Who is responsible for the infrastructure that has been left behind since the railway has been taken up? I know there are culverts that have been removed. I know that there are trestles and bridges left behind. My concern is that if we are going to turn our back on what is left behind, one of those days we may be faced with a calamity and we will be looking for places to lay blame. So when the minister gets up to answer some of the questions put forward by the Member for Mount Pearl, I ask if he would also address that question.

Another concern that I have had in my district, Mr. Minister, was the situation where the railway bed was taken up, some culverts were taken out and then filled in with gravel. This, in turn, has caused problems with flooding in the area. I know I have been very fortunate that the minister has looked after the problem. I do not know if he has been aware of it or not, but the problem was looked after without going to the minister. It was done from the bottom up, and there are sure to be some Tories in the administration up through. There are still some left behind, Mr. Speaker. I cannot tell where or how it was done, but it was attended to, and I thank the Department of Works, Services and Transportation for looking after that problem.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister to address those concerns, because it is something that has been a concern of mine, and also some other people in the area.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I was not going to have anything to say on this one. I have to have a few words now. I forgot all about the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation introducing this bill. I am just glad to have an opportunity to say a few words pertaining to this.

I am sure the minister, since his appointment as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, has read - for sure the minister responsible for tourism has given him a copy - of the `rails for trails' agreement.

I think I saw him the other morning down there having a coffee and reading it. He was really interested in it. I am sure that from cover to cover he knows exactly what some of the recommendations were from the committee that presented that report, two or three months ago now, I think. Just this weekend they have a meeting - I say to the Member for Stephenville that the rural development council have some meetings in Stephenville coming up this Saturday, Friday night and Saturday, pertaining to this subject.

I say to the Minister responsible for Works, Services and Transportation that when they took up all the rail bed and everything - oh, yes took up all the rail beds, spikes and everything else associated with the - what an irony, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the government of the day would not have touched that if ever they thought that a few years down the road that the minister, who was in opposition at the time, was one day going to be responsible for all the road work across this Province. That agreement would never have been signed I am sure of that but it fell right into his lap. He got millions and millions of federal dollars - in the Corner Brook area last year just outside - between Deer Lake and Corner Brook, millions of all federal money and the perception was what a great job the Province is doing with the roads in our area. But regardless of that, Mr. Speaker, it came from the federal government and it is going to be interesting to see where it is going to come from over the next few years. The road between Deer Lake and Corner Brook - the minister I am sure is aware of it because I have spoken to him personally on it and the Member for Humber East has spoken to the minister on it and got some firm commitments on finishing that road and trying to cut it down from ten years - trying to cut it down to three, four or five years - between Deer Lake and Corner Brook.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: That is right, that is exactly right. Now that is another point. I am sure that if that was not started it would not be there now. That is why I want to get some commitments now while the Premier is from that area. The minister would be a little bit reluctant about doing anything otherwise to hurt him because there might be some changes in the next two or three years pertaining to the Premier and that district. That is why I would like to have it done now.

Mr. Speaker, I would like - on a more serious note - the minister and some of his officials to have a look at what is happening in some areas. I know up in the Howley area, between Howley and Kitty's Brook, Pond Siding or up that way, there are a couple of construction companies up there going in and picking up whatever was left, I suppose some of the scrap metal and probably it is a good thing. It is a good thing for the environment that's for sure but in doing that, taking those big trucks in over the old railway beds, they are tearing it to pieces and the ordinary person cannot use it after.

What happened after CN took up the rail bed, they graded it over and made it passable for everybody to go in and use it. A lot of people in my area use it and use it quite often, all summer long, they have camps in there and they have cabins in there. The only time they had access to it previous to that, except along the side of the railway track, was in the wintertime when you use it primarily for skiddooing but now they have access pretty well year round. They use their trikes and quads or what have you and they go in there berry picking or hunting. A very, very popular area of the Province for hunting, fishing and berry picking, especially partridge berries, big area.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a way to keep people off the bogs.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes that is right, that is the other point. The minister asked do you have a quad? Yes, no doubt. It is a great way to keep - which is another bill that will probably be coming to the House fairly soon, regulations on ATV's. One of the greatest things I suppose that happened to the Province pertaining to quads or trikes - and keeping them off the bogs because that access, that corridor right through the Province, is a good, solid, hard access and they can go pretty well anywhere. Now what happens once they get in the country, that is another matter. So I would like for the minister, and I think his department has been notified of what is happening in that particular area with regards to those companies going in tearing everything up because it was left, I must say, in fairly good shape for traffic. Even cars and trucks had to go in over it. The only problem that they did have were the spikes, some of the spikes that were left in the gravel, in the granular stone and everything there. They used to have a lot of flat tires and so on.

The other thing that I mentioned from the outset about the minister being cognizant of what is happening with regards to this agreement, and recommendations made by - I think it was the rural development council put that in, was it? That report in on the rails for trails. They are very active. Like I said, they have a meeting this weekend I think in Stephenville. They are experiencing some problems with regards to going from a community - one particular community, especially where the rail bed goes through that community. I have a prime example of that, and that is in Deer Lake, where the rail bed comes up through the back of St. Judes, comes into Deer Lake, goes through the town, the main street of Deer Lake, and on into the interior again. So they have a problem there with - the council is not in favour of that apparently right now, so there may be some accommodations made to just make the loop up around because of the livyers. They don't want skiddoos and trikes all hours of the night - and that is understandable - going right through the heart of the Town of Deer Lake. There may be some accommodations made for that.

I'm sure -


MR. WOODFORD: I say to the minister, when he takes that into consideration, remember that there are probably 95 per cent Liberals in there on the trikes and owning the cabins. So take that into consideration.

Mr. Speaker, like I said, the rural development council will be making, and have made, a lot of recommendations to the Department of Tourism, the Minister responsible for Tourism, through and in conjunction with, the Minister responsible for Works, Services and Transportation. I for one see a lot of possibilities and a lot of positive things coming out of that report. When it does come to his desk I'm sure the minister will be cognizant of what they're doing and make sure that those rules and regulations are passed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (L. Snow): The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

AN HON. MEMBER: We will be here 'til Christmas?

MR. TOBIN: We intend to be here for Christmas, I would say to the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman would make a great Grinch who stole Christmas.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. gentleman would make a great angel for the Christmas tree. I think there would be competition from the Minister of Health, but....

Mr. Speaker, I was wondering as I looked over there, no wonder the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation's hair is getting so grey.

MR. EFFORD: Say that again?

MR. TOBIN: I said, no wonder his hair is getting so scarce and so grey, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few brief words as it relates to this Bill and that is the Roads for Rails deal and the need for the - he is talking about the Rail Service Act and improvements to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: We did have a train.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, a train. That was what I was going to ask him, what he plans to do with the railway track between Marystown and Grand Bank.

No, what I'm saying to the minister is that there is a fair amount of money as a result of the Roads for Rails deal that came to this Province, and it is for the people of the Province. The Burin Peninsula Highway, I would say to the minister, was the beneficiary of some of those funds a couple of years ago.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) Tory!

MR. TOBIN: A Tory riding? Yes, Mr. Speaker, and there is a good chance it is going to remain one for a long time, I would say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. A lot longer, I would suggest, than Port de Grave is going to remain Liberal.

MR. EFFORD: You've gone off track now.

MR. TOBIN: Whether it is a Tory district or a Liberal district should not be important. It is a good thing, Mr. Speaker, that we didn't practice that for seventeen years.

MR. EFFORD: How much money did Port de Grave District get? Not a penny.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, what a reflection on the MHA for the District, whoever he or she was. What a reflection on the member, he never got anything for his district.

MR. EFFORD: You remember that next year.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I know that the minister has made commitments for paving my District.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there are not very many of them in my district.

MR. EFFORD: There are some. Do you want their names?

MR. TOBIN: I would not object to the minister naming it, Mr. Speaker, if he has a name there that he wants to say?

MR. EFFORD: Rock Harbour.

MR. TOBIN: Rock Harbour?

MR. EFFORD: Yes - all Liberals.

MR. TOBIN: I can tell you, I have won Rock Harbour, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) vote for Joey (inaudible) Rock Harbour.

MR. TOBIN: I also say to the minister, Mr. Speaker, that he should not be practising the pork-barrelling that he is advertising here in the House, and I hope the media will have their mikes tuned in and turned on, to hear the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stating that only Liberal districts are going to get funding from the Department of Works, Services and Transportation.

Mr. Speaker, while the Premier might practise fairness and balance, it is going to be difficult for him to practise fairness and balance with that type of minister, with the most political department, at his Cabinet table. Now, the Premier had to make decisions before relating to that minister. The Premier had to and he did make decisions. I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, that if the Premier heard what he said today, he would again fire him out of Cabinet. So I would say to the minister, the best thing he can do to stay in Cabinet, is to get up and say, whatever Burin - Placentia West wants extra, they will get it!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - and he is probably aware of it; as a matter of fact, it is my understanding he is so well aware of it that he decided rather than drive to the Burin Peninsula, he would rather sail because the waters are calmer and smoother than the Burin Peninsula Highway - when he is allocating his funding this year, that he not let the Minister of Justice overrule the recommendations of the department and the decisions of Cabinet and take the money from the Burin Peninsula Highway and put it elsewhere in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I say to the Minister of Justice, when there is a strong recommendation and a priority made, submitted to Cabinet to be approved, then the Minister of Justice should not overrule that decision. And how do I know, Mr. Speaker? During the election campaign, the Premier met with the Burin-Marystown Chamber of Commerce, and they asked him about the funding for the Burin Peninsula Highway.

The Premier said, the funding is there under the Roads for Rail Agreement and there is so much to be spent this year; and the Chamber said: `Mr. Premier, I think you are mistaken,' because they had been made aware that the Minister of Justice had decided to do some - what would you call it? with the funding, as he did with the Burin Hospital when he was Minister of Health. And they said: `No, Premier, you are wrong, there is no money there from what we know.' The Premier said: `Yes, I am sure there is money,' and they said, `No, there is not, as far we know, but we are delighted you are saying yes - you are the Premier, you should know.' He said, `Well, to double check, I will send my assistant out to call the Deputy Minister of Works, Services and Transportation,' and the executive assistant came back and said: `Mr. Premier, I am sorry, but the deputy minister is not in his office.' Now, everybody at the meeting knew what that meant, that there was no money approved, and whether or not the deputy minister was in his office we don't know. The Premier was so sure that money had been approved, that he told the Chamber of Commerce that it was approved, but what the Premier had forgotten was that the Minister of Justice got into the Cabinet discussions and took the money that was there for the Burin Peninsula Highway and moved it elsewhere in this Province. So I ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, if he would ensure that this year there is money from that Roads for Rail deal for the Burin Peninsula Highway, and that includes, by the way, the districts of Grand Bank, Burin - Placentia West, Fortune - Hermitage and Bellevue. I say to the minister that there are four districts that chop up the Burin Peninsula Highway.

AN HON. MEMBER: Four Tory districts?

AN HON. MEMBER: Two Liberal (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, regarding the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, I am not sure what he is.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He changes like the seasons.

MR. TOBIN: What?

MR. EFFORD: I don't have to take lessons from you. The people sent me back with (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if you want to take lessons on loyalty, you can take them from me and if you want to take lessons on not knowing what loyalty means, stick to yourself.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: The people sent you back! You scuffled across the House on your hands and knees, you begged and cried and preached and coaxed the Premier to take you into the caucus and then he gave you a petition and said: Go out there and go door-to-door and get in if you want to get in. That is how you crossed over there, I say to the member. That is where you came from. That is where your loyalty is, and the party should be well aware of that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: How he gets the blood pressure up!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would rather have high blood pressure than grey hair, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. `Roberts' is taking a look.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) his hair, not letting it go grey. I would tell him, his forehead is going to be nearly as high as mine.

MR. TOBIN: I could probably brush it down like the hon. gentleman.

In any case, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that he should give serious consideration to the districts of Bellevue, Fortune - Hermitage, Burin - Placentia West, and Grand Bank, in the allocation of funding this year, and whether the members are Conservative, NDP, Liberal, or not sure, shouldn't matter.

What he should do is make sure that the people who drive over that road, from the District of Burin - Placentia West, from the District of Grand Bank, the people who drive over it daily to work in Marystown from the Fortune - Hermitage district, should have a road to drive over, and I know that the minister is going to be very sensitive to the needs of the people of these areas, regardless of their - because it is not like the minister, I would suspect, to judge people based on their political affiliation. I think that would be out of character for the minister, Mr. Speaker - totally out of character for the minister - to do something based on their political affiliation, and I would suspect that he will probably announce this evening that the money is going to be there. I have to leave, but my colleague for Grand Bank will inform me as to what he said.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, if he speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few brief comments. I never thought, when I introduced this piece of legislation to repeal all the legislation on the books, the Railway Act, that I would get such a Tory tribe over there making a pitch to get their roads done next year.

All I thought this legislation would do is clean up the mess that the Tories left behind, because they took away the railway; they left a mess right across the Province, and now it is our responsibility to clean up the mess, and this is the first step in cleaning up the mess that the Tories left. I think that is what we have been doing for the last four or five years - cleaning up the mess.

Let me first deal with the Member for Burin - Placentia West. That won't take very long. All I have to say to the hon. member is that we are very aware of the needs of the roads to be constructed and maintained right around the Province. We have to keep in mind the priorities of the people across the Province where the greatest need exists, and we have to keep in mind that for seventeen years there were many areas in the Province that did not get any road work. Now, we have to be very aware of that. So when all of those roads are done, and brought up-to-date, and those which were built after that, then I am sure we will take care of all of those roads as they come on stream, and be fair to all people, but we must keep in mind the roads that were left for seventeen years.

Now, one district in particular that I can speak about is the great District of Port de Grave. For years and years it never got any pavement, any gravel, but I can assure you, they are going to get it now. We have to get them done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: No. The roads have been in trouble out there for seventeen years. For seventeen years there were no roads done, so we have to be fair to all the people across the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is more than your district.

MR. EFFORD: There is a lot more than my district. That is what I am telling you; we have to look after those roads.

Mr. Speaker, the trails - there is the real issue, the railway corridor around the Province. One question that was not asked by any member opposite, was "What is it going to cost?" That is the underlying factor there. What is it going to cost, and who is going to pay for those railway corridors to be maintained right across the Province?

It is a very serious issue. The Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Environment and Lands are being charged with the responsibility to look at it, to make proper representation, and to deal with the development association - the groups of people who are -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, on a point of order.

MR. MANNING: I would just like to remind the minister, if I could, on a point of order, Mr. Speaker, that under the Canada Trail program they announced a couple of weeks ago at the news conference which I attended, part of that program was to sell a metre of trail to any Newfoundlander who wanted to buy one, and that would create dollars to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his point of order. What is the point of order that the hon. member is raising?

MR. MANNING: He indicated in his statement that he was concerned about the cost. I understand where the minister is coming from.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

That is not a point of order.

The hon. the Member for Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am aware of the information the hon. member is talking about; nevertheless, saying you can sell a metre of road is fine, but when it comes to the actual sale and getting the money, that is another issue. This whole cost of maintaining the railway bed across the Province - this government is very conscious and very aware of the need to have that railway bed protected.

The Member for Humber Valley made a comment about some of the construction companies going in there and doing major damage. I suggest to everybody that if you see anybody doing damage, it is incumbent on each individual to report that to the authorities. If you are going to allow it to go on for two or three months, then somebody has to be charged with the responsibility of repairing that damage. If damage is being done there, it is like damage being done to any properties across the Province. It is against the law for any construction company or any individual to go in there and do damage to that property, and it should be reported to the proper authorities.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there anybody now (inaudible)?

MR. EFFORD: Not, that I am aware of. The Minister of Environment and Lands is left with the responsibility for the whole railway bed and any activity taking place on the railway bed right across the Province. Somebody made a comment about the four-lane highways being built and the areas within the Province where we have to cross over a railway bed. Every time we construct a highway, or a piece of road over a railway bed, there is always a way left so that the railway corridor can be connected. I will use, as an example, Brigus Junction out on the Trans-Canada. When we had to build the underpass for vehicles to go through, there was a corridor left there to connect the railway bed through the overpass so that snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles can get through there. We are very aware of it, and you are quite right, although nobody has come up with where the money is going to come from to put this right across the Island, we have to protect the railway bed as much as possible until those decisions are made. There is some agreement between CN Marine and the Department of Works, Services and Transportation for a certain amount of money to deal with the culverts and the bridges across the Island, and all that is going to be done in due course.

The one clear message we are all aware of, and we are all in agreement with, is that that railway bed should be protected for the future of `rails for trails' so that groups can use it. When the day comes, I am sure everybody will be happy with it but finding the money is the bottom line now, and who is going to be responsible, not only for the construction and the rebuilding but for maintaining it in the future. Somebody is going to be left with that responsibility and that is going to cost one awful lot of money.

I think that was the main point, the protection of the railway bed, and who is going to be charged with the responsibility. The other one is the culverts. Now, I am going to remind the hon. the Member for Bonavista South that his committee from the town of Bonavista came in to see me, a group of people with a petition about the culvert down there and the flooding of the property, and I told them I would ensure that would be completed before summer's end, and I believe it was completed, as the member stated.

So we are very aware of the needs and emergencies, and that was an emergency there in the town of Bonavista. And I wasn't aware it had been completed until the hon. member said it was.

MR. FITZGERALD: I am talking about a different thing. I am talking about Southern Bay, which is right up at the other end of the district, it is not close to Bonavista at all. It was just a lady who voiced her concern.

MR. EFFORD: But it is in your district, the District of Bonavista.

MR. FITZGERALD: It is not the one you are referring to. There is no petition.

MR. EFFORD: There were people in to see me about that.

AN HON. MEMBER: There was only one lady.

MR. EFFORD: Anyway, I want to say that all of these things have been taken care of. The Minister of Tourism and Culture and the Minister of Environment and Lands are responsible for any concerns with the railway bed. If I am requested, as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation for work to be done through the department, it would have to come from these ministers in particular.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading on Bill No. 36.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Revise The Law In The Province Respecting Rail Service," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 36)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we now have Order 18 which is second reading of Bill No. 37?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act". (Bill No. 37)

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This Bill No. 37, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act, is for the release of information - information about charges laid in a motor vehicle accident and to remove the requirement to provide police with an estimate of damages to vehicles involved in an accident. Those are the two main changes in this Highway Traffic Act that we are going to change. (Inaudible) gives a couple of points that we are going to refer to in this particular piece of legislation and I will give the hon. member an example.

All the motor vehicle accidents now where there is $1,000 damage or personal injury, it must be reported to the police. The police are then required to make a written report of the accident to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. The Highway Traffic Act currently restricts the Registrar in the type of information that can be released to lawyers, insurance companies, or anyone sustaining loss. The present Act does not permit the Registrar to release whether or not charges have been laid in relation to any party involved in the accidents.

What we are going to do now is - release of this would be extremely beneficial to the insurance companies. Now, you would be able to release more information on any accident or any driver involved in accidents, to insurance companies, and solicitors who repeatedly request such information, and it would expedite accident investigations and claim settlements.

The current act requires that parties involved in an accident obtain an estimate of damage to the vehicle involved. The act also provides for release of this information to authorized parties. The validity of the accident damage estimate is questionable, is time-consuming to collect and is not used for any practical purpose. So what we are saying now is that an individual involved in an accident will not have to go and get an estimate of the damages and send it in to Motor Registration.

There is no means to establish, for argument's sake - if I had an accident today, or any individual had an accident, and you get a form written up about the amount of damages done in that particular accident and send it in to Motor Registration, they have no way to know the validity of the cost of the accident or the cost of the repairs. Anybody can go anywhere they wish. There is nobody saying that you have to go to an auto body shop. You can go anywhere, you can write it up yourself and send it in. That is the way it has been done in the past. We are now saying that nobody will have to send in those estimates to Motor Registration.

That will be done, and should be done - if a person has an accident he or she reports it to his or her insurance company and they will go through the proper standards and then the accidents will be written up in that way. That is the way a claim is settled. That is no business of the Department of Motor Registration. If there is any fault, or any charges laid in there, then the police will forward the information. If there are any charges like impaired driving causing an accident, all that information will be forwarded to Motor Registration, but not the cost of repairs of that accident. The cost of the repairs is not the issue.

MR. TOBIN: What about if you hit a moose?

MR. EFFORD: You get awful angry!

Obtaining an estimate information often delays the reporting process for police, and that is quite true.

The other thing, the minor part in this, is that up to now, there is a highway traffic regulation (inaudible) down here (inaudible) the equipment required to be present on motor vehicle inspections, like brakes, lights, wipers and tires, that is all under the one piece of legislation and the fee for all them is $20. The change in this act now is going to allow that if you have a problem with your brakes and you're caught in violation of the Highway Traffic Act, there will be a separate charge for each one. There would be a minimum charge of $20 and a maximum fine of $90, and from one to ten days in jail for failure to pay this fine. In other words, there was one charge for a violation of brakes, lights, wipers, tires et cetera, for the whole thing, under the Highway Traffic Act. Now it is going to be a separate charge, a minimum fine of $20, and a maximum fine of $90 on each offence.

There are certain defects which require more severe penalties than others. For example, defective brakes or steering are more severe than a single light not working. If you had a single light on your taillight not working, or your wipers not working, that is not as severe as if a handbrake or the brakes are defective on your car. So there are areas there - like the light would be on a minimum fine of $20 but then they would be encouraged to, under the more serious offence, the brakes or the tires, for argument sake - if you have smooth tires on your car, it is more dangerous and it would be a more serious fine. It would be $45 or $50 - whatever the magistrate decides at the time.

This amendment will give the authority to the minister, through the regulation, to set the penalties for equipment defects, with such penalties being approved by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a few questions about this bill. The bill purports to make two simple amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, to the section of the act dealing with the information that parties to an accident, insurance companies involved, or lawyers acting for parties to an accident, are entitled to get.

The reasons for the changes proposed are not obvious to me. I listened to the minister's explanation, although I had difficulty following it. I would like the minister to tell the House, when he rises to speak at the end of this second reading debate, why he is bringing this bill forward. Who asked for these changes? Did the insurance industry come to the government and ask for either one of these changes? Did the police ask for either one of these changes? Did any consumer's group ask for the changes? Or were the changes simply generated by bureaucrats?

The current act - and under the bill this would remain the same - requires people involved in a motor vehicle accident to make a report to the police when the damage exceeds $1,000; so it seems to me that people have to make some kind of an estimate of the damage when they decide to go to the police, and I cannot see why they would not still be required to give an estimate in their report, or why the police and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles would not be required to include that information in the file that is forwarded to a party, or a lawyer representing a party, or an insurance company affected.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: I say to the minister, if he reads section 174, which is being amended by his bill, insurance companies are mentioned, because section 174 reads as follows: A person involved in an accident, and a person or an insurance company that has paid, or may be liable to pay, for damages resulting from an accident in which a motor vehicle is involved, and a solicitor, agent or other representative of the person or company, is entitled to the information that may appear in a report made under the preceding sections.

Those are sections requiring parties to an accident to report to the police, and requiring the police to forward a report to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

I read those preceding questions quickly, so I may have missed something, but I believe that is the gist of them. Then, section 174 makes a list of information contained in reports that has to be given to a party, a lawyer for a party, or an insurance company affected, making a request for information.

What I do not understand is why anyone would want to remove from that list an estimate of the damage. Whose idea was it to remove that from the list? Was it a request from the insurance industry? Was it a request from consumers? Was it a request from lawyers? Or was it simply an idea of the minister's staff?

Has there been any problem arising from the current inclusion of an estimate of the damage? That is one of the changes being made, and I am asking for an explanation of the origin of the change. The other change that is being proposed is an addition to the list of adding to the list information about whether a charge has been laid as a result of an accident. Now that seems to me to be a reasonable addition. Again I would ask whose idea it was to make the addition?

While I am at it, Mr. Speaker, since this is a highway traffic act amendment, I'll take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the Humber Valley Trans-Canada Highway. I said to the minister the other day that the work that has been done to four-lane the highway between Massey Drive in the west and Steady Brook in the east over the last couple of years has been quite frustrating for motorists. The end result may well be worth the trouble. Although the trouble should not have been necessary. I will have to reserve judgement on the end product because it still is not finished. Considerable work was done this past summer and fall but disappointingly the work has not been completed.

One of the major interchanges in Corner Brook has not been completed and evidently won't be finished until next spring. That is the Lewin Parkway Interchange so for the next several months the only way trans-Canada Highway traffic will be able to exit and get into Corner Brook will be to use the Riverside Drive Interchange in the east or the Massey Drive Interchange in the west. The central interchange at the Lewin Parkway still is not completed. That is confusing, especially for motorists who are used to leaving the highway at Maple Valley and turning off to the Lewin Parkway. It is also confusing because the current signs are not adequate.

Mr. Speaker, apart from the delay in completing the new highway through Corner Brook, the work that was done this summer involved unnecessary disruption of traffic for the few short weeks of sunny hot weather that we had in August. Dust control was quite inadequate and motorists had to suffer through dust at peak traffic times early in the morning and at the end of the work day. Traffic was snarled and lined up. There was a bottleneck basically on the outskirts of Corner Brook.

So as my colleague, the Member for Humber Valley said the other day, I would urge the minister in future to try to ensure more efficient and orderly highway construction. Much more work remains to be done in the Humber Valley with 100 per cent federal funding from the Roads for Rails Agreement. Plans are in place for the four-laning of the entire 30 mile corridor from Massey Drive to Deer Lake. Only a small section of that corridor has been tackled so far, the section from Massey Drive to Steady Brook, that is not properly completed but we have ahead of us the distance from Steady Brook to Deer Lake. Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister has not published a schedule for the remainder of the Humber Valley four-laning and residents of that area and perhaps others would like to see such a schedule so they can plan ahead. People who live in Little Rapids who will be affected by the reconstruction of the highway, by the four-laning, would like to know whether the work in their area will be done next year or five years' away. People in Pynn's Brook would like to know approximately when the work will be done through their community. It should be possible for the minister to proclaim a plan showing year by year the work that will be done.

It should also be possible, Mr. Speaker, for the minister to stick to the schedule by getting tender calls out early, well in advance of the construction season, and making it possible for the successful bidders to do their work through the whole construction season, to get started as soon as the frost goes out of the ground.

What has happened the last few years - and I say to the minister that he and his colleagues have now been in power for five years - the minister and his colleagues have been in full control now through five construction seasons. What we've seen year after year, despite the fact that they're able to spend 100 per cent federal funding, what we've seen are delays. We've seen tender calls coming out in June and July, and consequently year after year work is rushed late in the fall and confusion has existed. Jobs have taken more than one construction season, have extended through the winter and into a second construction season. I'm glad to hear the minister say that he is going to bring about improvements because I say to him improvements are certainly needed.

With respect to the four-laning of the highway through Corner Brook, much of which has been done over the last two years, but not all of which is yet finished, again I make an appeal to him to do his best with the horticulturists and gardeners on his staff, and with the Pippy Park Commission, to beautify the Trans-Canada Highway bank through Maple Valley, which is the middle of Corner Brook. The new highway may well represent an improvement for traffic, although again I say that remains to be seen, but the construction has marred the beautiful Maple Valley. Beautiful natural trees had to be cut down to make way for the highway. The new highway is on a fairly steep incline from the adjacent houses and businesses. Those people who used to look out on trees, maple, larch, hemlock trees - those are the names of the streets in Maple Valley; Larch Street, Hemlock Street, Maple Valley Road, Pine Grove Avenue - instead now look out on a steep, barren, rocky bank.

What I'm suggesting to the minister is that he take on that ugly bank as a challenge, and with the gifted people on his staff that he transform that bank into a beautiful rock garden by planting appropriate ground cover, and shrubs and flowers. The provincial government spends considerable amounts of public funds to beautify St. John's, to beautify the public buildings in St. John's, and also to maintain Pippy Park. The provincial government is doing nothing of the sort in Corner Brook.

In the case of Maple Valley the provincial government could spend federal money that has been promised over a ten-year period for a four-lane Trans-Canada Highway, and, Mr. Speaker, it does not even necessarily cost more to finish a property, a new construction or a renovation, to finish it attractively than to leave it in an ugly state and, Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have not, by and large, done a very good job of landscaping. There have been some recent improvements and I can point to notable exceptions, but by and large as a people, we have not done a very good job of landscaping.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I wonder if the hon. member could take her seat for one minute, while we inform the hon. members of the House of the questions for the Late Show.

The first question is from the hon. Member for Humber East: Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied with the response to my question about Western Memorial Hospital, and wish to address it again on the Late Show.

The second question is from the hon. Member for Humber Valley and says: Mr. Speaker, I was not satisfied with the minister's response to my question on the change to the MOG to municipalities and I would appreciate having the question placed on the Late Show, and the third question is placed here by the hon. Member for Placentia: Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied with the answer provided by the Premier to my question re the status of Argentia. I am requesting that it be placed on the Late Show.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To sum up, Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to explain the origin of the bill before us, the two changes to the Highway Traffic Act that are set out in the bill, and while he is on his feet, I would like him to explain how he is going to improve the performance of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation in completing the four-laning of the Trans-Canada Highway through the Humber Valley. I would like him to promise a schedule so that residents will know what to expect from one year to the next and so that property owners who will be affected by the construction, will know what year they will be affected.

I would like the minister to explain how he is going to complete the new Trans-Canada Highway through Corner Brook and indicate whether he will take a creative approach to beautifying the highway bank through Maple Valley, which is very visible to a great number of Corner Brook residents and of course, it is also in prominent view of tourists who visit Corner Brook. I would remind the minister that in his administration's red-covered strategic economic plan -

MR. EFFORD: Red? (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: I believe there is just red trim on it. Tourism is cited as one of the very few opportunities - that is the Throne Speech - the Strategic Economic Plan has a more modest smattering of red - but I would call on the minister to review the Strategic Economic Plan and note the identification of tourism and culture as one of the very few opportunities for economic growth in the Province, and to read on and see in the discussion of the tourism potential, the identification of Western Newfoundland as a prime region of the Province for tourism growth, now Corner Brook is the major centre of Western Newfoundland.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister has a particular fondness for the colour red and I encourage him when he is decorating, when he is beautifying the Trans-Canada Highway bank in Maple Valley, to work with his gardeners and horticulturists to choose some red foliage, perhaps similar to the natural maple trees, vegetation that will turn red in the fall, or perhaps he can go further and plant some red flowers. Mr. Speaker, with those remarks, I will take my place and listen with interest to others.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a few remarks on this bill, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act, and I want to suggest first of all, that the minister is probably doing a service here to the public in making the reporting provisions less onerous and also perhaps expediting settlements of insurance claims and accident investigations.

When I say that, I would also suggest to the minister that another provision of the act, which was brought in last year, perhaps he should have a look at that too. That is the provision which requires medical practitioners to report to the registrar of motor vehicles. Each time that a doctor encounters a patient who is, for medical reasons, unable to drive - I don't know if this minister brought that in or not but I remember at the time expressing concern about it because it seemed to me to be impractical in many, many circumstances and irrelevant. I have since talked to a number of medical doctors who have raised with me their concern that the letter of the law requires them to make a report to the registrar of motor vehicles that a particular patient is unable to drive plus give the reasons for it.

These doctors were concerned about two things; number one, the impractically of the requirement in many circumstances, secondly; the fact that there was no discretion involved at all and thirdly; the problem of confidentially of patients information in passing this on to the registrar of motor vehicles. If I may give an example, if a person is brought into the emergency centre of a hospital and is suffering from a stroke for example, well clearly that person should not drive. Should there be an obligation on the doctor, the emergency doctor who treats that patient, to sit down and make a note to the registrar of motor vehicles that Mr. So-and-So who was just brought in with a stroke should not be driving? That is what the legislation requires, Mr. Speaker, and that is perhaps an onerous duty on a medical doctor in an emergency situation who is required to make such a report. I think what happens is that medical doctors, like everybody else, make practical decisions sometimes in violation of the law. That is something I think the minister should concern himself with. If he is setting about, as he seems to be here, in simplifying and making more sensible, more practical, more reasonable the reporting requirements under the Highway Traffic Act.

The second kind of impractical situation, which does come up quite often, is there are many people who have never driven in their lives. A senior citizen who may be in his/her sixties or seventies, never driven a car in their lives and all of a sudden by virtue of some medical condition, they would not be able to drive because of eyesight problems, stroke, heart condition or whatever, why should there be a requirement on a medical practitioner to sit down and write a letter to the director of motor registration saying that Mr. So-and-So, who may be living in a senior citizens home, having his legs amputated already and is not able to get a drivers license? Well here is someone who has never driven in their life, never likely to drive and not at all a concern of public safety. Why should Dr. So-and-So, who is treating that patient, be required to sit down and write a letter to the director of motor vehicles? Someone has to pay for that. I don't know if the minister is prepared to pay the bills for that but someone has to pay for it. I imagine some doctors might start sending a bill to the director of motor vehicles for the service.

MR. EFFORD: He won't get paid.

MR. HARRIS: The minister says he won't get paid. Maybe if the law requires him to send this report, maybe he is entitled to get paid. Maybe he is going to try and find some way - maybe he is going to try to get it from the Minister of Health.

I say to the minister that the minister doesn't seem to be able to accept compliments. When I'm complimenting the minister on doing a service to the public by making the reporting provisions simpler, more practical and more reasonable, and offering a suggestion as to how he can make his regulations in this other matter simpler, more practical and more reasonable, he doesn't seem to be willing to accept the kind of compliment that I'm giving him. I'm complimenting him on his good sense in bringing in this change in the legislation. I suggest to him that he use that good sense to follow up on the other suggestion that he should re-examine the provision requiring medical practitioners to give written advice to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, even in such circumstances where it is totally impractical and unreasonable and not in the public interest for him to do so.

With those remarks, Mr. Speaker, and with apologies to Dale Carnegie for any failure to speak with the degree of interest that would keep the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation from turning his back to the Chair, with those remarks I will end my speech. Thank you very much.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Personally I have no trouble with the amendments as they are being put forward, but what I do have trouble with is making things easier on insurance. The insurance companies are gouging people all over this Province. The rates are escalating and they are talking about next spring escalating again.

While the minister is talking about some amendments, I noticed there the week when he was talking about safe driving, he was attributing it to inattention, that the people driving are not paying attention. What I've seen, in different parts of the districts, and people have called me, is the lack of yellow lines and faded yellow lines. People had no other choice but to try to keep one eye looking for the yellow line on the highway, and the other poor eye they have looking for a moose. I would say the minister should pay a little bit of attention to the lines in the districts. In places in this Province of ours -

MR. EFFORD: Oh, oh!

MR. CAREEN: Oh my, poor minister. I will have to use the words of Winston Churchill on that, Mr. Minister. Never before in the history of Newfoundland have so many been screwed by so few. That is on that side over there.

MR. DUMARESQUE: It won't be long now.

MR. CAREEN: It won't be long now. You said that before. Who did I hear? Oh, that is the Member for Eagle River. He was in a tug of war this summer and he was kicked off the team for pushing. I will also tell the Member for Eagle River that the difference between the Premier and Almighty God is that Almighty God never dreams he is Clyde Wells.

Minister, in all seriousness, I know what you said, because I questioned you earlier before about yellow lines, and I know that we had terrible weather this summer. We should make every effort that our roads should be safe for people to drive on, our own people and strangers alike.

AN HON. MEMBER: We should make every Efford.

MR. CAREEN: Every Efford? We got him, we've every Efford, and they're all on the other side.

AN HON. MEMBER: Freshwater (inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Freshwater? No sir. One thing about Freshwater people is they do not like sooks, mister. I learned lessons going to school from Grade I to Grade XI, but the best lesson I ever learned was on the school playground. That a sook got another smack in the head. If there is a by-election in Placentia I will show you what kind of a smack sooks will get.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CAREEN: Anyway, I am not here to waste the time of the House. The changes I have no qualms with, but we always should - and every one of us - if we see something that should be reported, we should report stuff that could be causing trouble to life and limb of anybody who drives over roads.

With that, thank you, Sir.

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

MR. WOODFORD: I have just a couple of short comments, Mr. Speaker, and probably a question to the minister.

The minister, in outlining the reasons for the bill, in the explanatory notes, mentioned about the prosecution action resulting from motor vehicle collisions, and delete paragraph 174(1)(h) concerning an estimate of vehicle damage and so on; but he went on to say, in the second part, about the fines gone from $20 now for the total, like park light, the brake lights, the brakes, and so on, to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes - and now it will be individually for brake lights, park lights, brakes, or whatever in that category, but I do not see it anywhere in the bill. Is it included in another paragraph, because it is not in the bill. I do not see that. Usually, when you are talking about changes in fines and forfeitures, especially pertaining to the Traffic Act, it is itemized in the bill. Now maybe I am missing something.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) regulations.

MR. WOODFORD: It is under the regulations? Well, Mr. Speaker, that is interesting as well, because if you look at the budget for the last year alone, under vehicle and driver licences, it has gone up $5 million in one year. The difference, under provincial sources, under vehicle and driver licences, that has gone up $5 million, just last year's budget alone, because of the changes made to the budget the previous two years, really, the last of which came into effect, I think - and now, I would say, they are going to go further. So that is just under that. So under fines and forfeitures it has gone up $125,000 last year over and above the year before, just under that category alone.

Mr. Speaker, I saw an article the other day from, I think, APEC -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: No, I do not know if it is APEC. Anyway, it was one of the Atlantic Provinces concerned groups - I have it up on my desk - saying that no fines, any fines, changes to fines or forfeitures, when it comes under the Highway Traffic Act, should be brought to the House in the form of legislation. That is why I ask the question.


MR. WOODFORD: It was a poll conducted - oh, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business People - that was the one, because of the fact that under regulation the minister and his officials, really, can raise the fines and raise the charges under the Highway Traffic Act without bringing in legislation, and that is what a lot of businesses -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) that?

MR. WOODFORD: Well, up to this point any government could do it. The minister has the power, through regulations -

MR. TOBIN: Did he do that last year?

MR. WOODFORD: No - I do not know if -

But it is a very large concern among small businesses, especially, in Atlantic Canada, and in the Province as a whole, because if anybody noticed - especially any member who loses any points, or anything like that, around the Province - what they are charging for fines, it is just unreal.

One of the questions, and I think one of the requests that will be coming to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, will be in that vein. They are going to ask for changes so that the minister will be able to bring it to the House of Assembly the same as he is doing now with his explanatory note in this bill. That is the request that I know is coming, because all members had copies. Every member in the House of Assembly had copies, and I venture to bet if anybody ever responded to them. Everybody had copies; that is what I was told, anyway.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, that is the only concern I had, because of the fines and forfeitures increased by regulation rather than by legislation. Mr. Speaker, I think that is a grave concern and I think it is one that the minister should take under advisement. If the Member for Fogo does not want to get up and speak so be it but I have the right to speak on any piece of legislation in this House whenever I feel like it. I cannot help it if the Member for Fogo does not want to get up and speak on this particular piece of legislation. I was elected to stand up and speak on behalf of my constituents, I will do so, and I will not be dictated to by the Member for Fogo.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: This is a grave concern as far as I am concerned and one that will come to his desk within the next couple of months. When any minister can put up fines and forfeitures in the Province just by regulation I think that is very, very dangerous. What happens is we do not know anything about it until we have an infraction of the highway traffic act and then all of a sudden we find that instead of $20.00 it is $90.00, or instead of $25.00 it is $150.00. I think that is wrong. It should be brought in by legislation so we will all have a chance to speak on it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can certainly agree with those amendments to the Highway Traffic Act. I think eliminating estimates of damage sustained by a person involved in an accident does not really have any significance there in Section 174 and I think it is a good move. The amount of the accident, whether it is $200, $2000, or $4000 is not going to impact upon the responsibility on whether a charge is laid or whether a claim is established there, or a ticket is issued for an offender, and it is not really pertinent. Other information here is certainly pertinent to this specific section here, so I can certainly endorse that specific deletion there in Section 174 (1)(h) and also the addition of information. A person is entitled to be informed whether a charge is laid as a result of an accident where a motor vehicle is involved. Adding that there, I think, is very appropriate and a person or groups representing people have the right to be informed of any charges that are to be laid as a result of a traffic accident.

I will just use this opportunity to mention to the minister that we all want to see improvements in safety and the reduction of accidents on our highways. I think that is very important. One of the contributing factors to that, I guess, is public awareness and promotion.

One of the individuals in the department has visited the school I taught at and has done quite a good job there, and through your public announcements. One other very important factor is proper roads, proper highways, bridges and so on. That is very important to that. I spoke with the minister very briefly a few days ago about the proposal that was instigated a couple of years ago, or more, by the federal government on the Goulds bypass road. It is a very necessary road. In fact the only access now out of my district is through the City of St. John's, through a very busy main street, almost like Water Street, and it is causing a lot of confusion, a lot of slowdown in traffic. I can drive 80 per cent of the distance in thirty-five minutes and the other 20 per cent takes about forty-five to fifty-five minutes, depending on the time I come through there. It is a contributor to accidents, the improper highway there. I know it is being addressed, I certainly hope. There is unanimous support by the people there, and by all the towns and councils along the entire area, not one person in my district has voiced any objection to it. It has met environmental approval, I hope. It is running parallel to a water line and there were no environmental objections whatever, Bay Bulls Big Pond. On record since to my knowledge, the Environmental Preview Report, there has been no environmental objections that I am aware off. I think it is important that we do what we can to expedite that process and to make sure there is a very necessary road there that could result in the reduction of accidents and promote a better and safer highway so we do not have to get into a lot of red tape dealing with legislation. I guess if we had no accidents we would not need legislation to deal with accidents.

One other point, the expenditure under Works, Services and Transportation has decreased since 1989 from $45 million to approximately $25 million, million, and it reflects I guess, upon the safety. It is kind of difficult to try to improve highways with limited dollars, but also we have to keep in mind that there is a safety and a concern out there and in my district, this year, there was one project approved, last spring for a bridge to go in my district with the funding approved.

It was a bridge that was considered by some to be unsafe; there was an abutment, the bridge did not rest on the abutment, I think there had to be some type of grafting to make sure it was up to safe standards. Some independent people have said it was not safe and now your department has determined it is okay and safe for this year, I think that was the conclusion, but the tender was not called until last month, though it was approved last winter, but the tender did not come out until last month, it is money that won't be expended this year, it could have been started this summer and could have been approved and work could have been done there that would enhance the safety there.

School buses travel over that, tractor trailers, large trucks and so on. The bedding on the bridge is almost deteriorated now where spikes are coming up through it. I consider that at least on the surface, to be unsafe if not in structure to be unsafe. I addressed that concern to the department in a letter about a year ago, to the minister prior to this minister's term, here in office and his appointment and I would certainly hope - it is too late for this year now, that - I know tenders were just called last month but something would move on this, unfortunately it did not happen this year and hopefully it will happen very early in the next year, early in the spring so work can commence and ensure that we have safe bridges and safe highways and so on and we can eliminate wherever possible any thing that would contribute to traffic accidents.

It is approved funding, the department, the government has carried this over until next year, whether it is going to reduce - I do not know what the rationale is, there was no other rationale, it was ready to proceed, and I hope that it would proceed on time which it did not and hopefully next year, it is already approved and approved here in the estimates.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I support this legislation. It is not necessary to have estimates of damages provided at all, it is not really relevant there; it probably delays the process somewhat in establishing estimates and values of damages, besides police are not experts on determining the amount of damage. You have to wait on estimates coming in, it slows down the process and it does not do one thing for this specific section of the act, and also, addition certainly of the section that a person has the right to be informed, that is a positive there and that is somebody's basic rights that they should have. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a couple of brief notes and one of the things I want to mention about and I think all the hon. members opposite who spoke on it, touched on it, the importance of reporting the proper estimate to an insurance company is one thing but reporting it to Motor Registration, just sending in a message would have absolutely no value and the Member for Ferryland is quite correct. I think that is the question the hon. Member for Humber East asked, why would we be doing this at this time?

It is a policy of cleaning up legislation and the Highway Safety Act within the Department of Motor Registration and revising the act. They saw this as unnecessary to have it in there and it is absolutely of no value because the insurance companies do not use that information with accuracy. When there is an accident, they have to get three estimates from three different dealers and that is the one they act upon, so this work that was going on - an accident victim who had an accident with a car would send in the estimate to Motor Registration, was a formality and was absolutely of no value to the insurance company or to anybody else. It was all unnecessary work and that is the reason why they took this piece of legislation and changed it.

The other thing, the fines that were increased on the brakes and the wipers and other things, was a matter of safety, ensuring that the vehicles on our highways are used for the safety and protection of all people. What has been happening in Newfoundland over the last few years, Mr. Speaker, is quite evident, that the changes in legislation and the increase in fines are working.

Last year, 1992, there were forty-five deaths in the Province, total, really good across Canada. This year, to date, there have been twenty-five, down from, forty-five, I am not sure if it is forty-three or forty-five, down to twenty-five and it proves very clearly that it is working there, the regulations on the highway safety act that is being brought in here has been to the advantage of saving people's lives and improving safety on the highways, and we intend to do that, Mr. Speaker, and with those few remarks, I thank the Opposition for their co-operation here, I will move second reading on Bill 37.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of The Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 37).

MR. SPEAKER: It is now 4:30 p.m. I will call on the hon. Member for Humber East to commence the adjournment debate.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to speak once again about health in Western Newfoundland. A couple of years ago when this administration announced their intention to restructure health institutional boards and to set up regional community health boards there was an indication that the start would be made in Western Newfoundland. People working in the health field on the West Coast were certainly led to believe that they would be first. What has happened in fact is that the government has proceeded to make changes in the St. John's area and in Central Newfoundland leaving behind Western Newfoundland.

Now the Minister of Health in Question Period today listed a schedule indicating that after St. John's and Central, the government would restructure boards in the eastern region before tackling the western region. He did acknowledge that he and his staff have received a proposal from Western Newfoundland calling for one super board having responsibility for hospitals, senior citizens homes and community health. I would like him now to be a little more definite to indicate his timeframe for considering that proposal for having discussions with people in the western region and for making a final decision. One of the negative effects of the proposed restructuring in health, as well as education, is the uncertainty. As the government procrastinates, people working in each of these fields have difficulty injecting the same energy and enthusiasm in their jobs. They do not know if their job or their institution will exist come this time next year.

Mr. Speaker, in Question Period I also asked the Premier if he would release the results of the assessment he personally ordered last July. Members may recall that just after the House recessed for the summer, it was within twenty-four hours of the recess actually, news reached people in Western Newfoundland that Western Memorial Regional Hospital had a severe budget shortfall and to try to address that was suspending admissions to the Western Memorial School of Nursing for one year. There was a public uproar. In response to public pressure the hospital board and the Cabinet reversed the decision and reinstated admissions to the School of Nursing. When asked to explain that the Premier told residents of Western Newfoundland that he personally had directed an assessment of Western Memorial Regional Hospital practices and procedures.

Mr. Speaker, the public deserve to know the results of that assessment and people also are entitled to know what the government has in mind for the Western Memorial Regional Hospital School of Nursing. The minister's answer today was unsettling. He did not directly answer. He simply indicated that the government is reviewing all five schools of nursing in the Province. We now have four schools in St. John's, the Memorial University Degree Program and three hospital school programs. The only nursing education program in the Province outside St. John's is the one in Corner Brook at Western Memorial Regional Hospital. I would like the minister when he rises now to pledge that whatever changes may occur there will be equal opportunity for nursing education in Corner Brook, for people in the western region, as there will be in St. John's for people in Eastern Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, this government got elected on a platform of promising fairness and balance. What we now have is one nursing education program outside of the capital in Corner Brook operating in a cloud of uncertainty and charging 50 per cent higher student fees than the St. John's schools.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the same government funds all these nursing education programs, and there is no excuse or justification for having such a fee differential.

I am looking for the minister, consistent with the campaign slogan of `fairness and balance', to direct an equalization, to order that nursing education student fees be made uniform right across the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The time frame that I indicated in Question Period, or the schedule, is in place, and we will get to each place as time permits. We do not want to make any errors or mistakes. These are major decisions that are being made.

Just consider for a moment the size of the decision that has to be made in Western Newfoundland. We have, in Western Newfoundland now, a board that operates the Port Saunders Hospital, a separate board, and we have a board called the Western Memorial Board, which operates a hospital with long-term care in Bonne Bay. It operates Burgeo; it operates Western Memorial Hospital, and the O'Connell Centre. It operates clinics in Ramea and Grey River. It is quite a complex situation right there.

In addition, there is an inter-faith home in Corner Brook which has been there for quite a long time, which is operated by a different board, a separate board. We have the Bay St. George Senior Citizen's Complex run by a separate board - one of the largest senior citizen's complexes in the Province - which has cottages. It is beyond just a nursing home. It has extensive cottages and other developments for senior citizens, and on top of that we have the hospital in Port aux Basques which is a combination of hospital and chronic care institution which also is in the business of having senior citizens cottages and complexes.

Now putting all that together to be managed by one institutional board is a major undertaking of itself, and something which stretches from north of Port Saunders right down to Port aux Basques, including Ramea, Burgeo. This is an immense area of the Province, and we have to be quite sure of what we are doing.

Now, in addition to that, the proposal that has come from Western Newfoundland is that we also roll in the functions of a community health board. Now we are inexperienced with community health boards in the Province. We have set up one in St. John's. The board, at the moment, has met a number of times, has advertised for a CEO, and will assume the power shortly, but not yet. That itself is a complicated measure, and what the proposal is from Western Newfoundland is that all public health in that whole, vast area - that includes the public health nurses and public health inspectors, all alcohol and drug services, all home support services for the sick and so on - will all be rolled into one great big board, and that is a step beyond what we had contemplated, because we thought we could get the institutional side together and the non-institutional side together. By the way, I omitted to mention mental health, which is a major function of these community health boards, and one to which we must pay great attention, and we had representations from the West Coast in that area.

So it is something that we do not want to go into just because somebody said: We want it. I am not saying that we are not going to do it, but it is something that has to be very carefully thought through in view of the very large situation involved here. We do not want to bite off more than can be chewed, but the schedule is there. We will come to grips with that situation, talk to people, and see what is the right decision to make. Perhaps it is right to do what is proposed and perhaps it is not.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When you put up a question for the Late Show you are suppose to put it up and say you are not satisfied with the minister's answer as it pertains to the question you put. In this case, Mr. Speaker, it is not totally that I am not satisfied with the minister's answer, it is just to get a chance to try to explain because this is - the minister said previously, and I will say it again, a complicated issue for municipalities in the Province, and one that a lot of municipalities are finding more difficult year after year to try to keep track off.

One of the reasons for that, Mr. Speaker, is this. If we go back to 1989 when the original components of the grant system were changed, for every dollar collected on property tax in the Province government use to match it with forty-five cents and the minister, above all people - what an irony. I go back to my colleague for Mount Pearl who can remember the days in Gander when we took strips of the minister then responsible for Municipal Affairs - I never though I would ever be buddied up with him - Mrs Newhook from Gander used to be the minister - that was a dark day in the history of municipalities in the Province. We were all banded together that day on the stage of the Arts and Culture Centre in Gander because they cut it from fifty cents down to forty-five.

AN HON. MEMBER: And, we elected a new president.

MR. WOODFORD: A new president at that time, yes, responsible for the Federation of Municipalities. Anyway, we have a social assistance component and a per capita component. Then in 1989 -the minister is not responsible for this - but the two previous ministers that were responsible, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount at that time, Mr. Gullage, and the other minister who inherited that and continued to do it, who continued to make the (inaudible) for municipalities was the Member for Placentia who is no longer here. They are all gone. They are history. Little did members opposite think that municipalities in the Province had so much clout.

Anyway, we came in then with a new system in 1989, Mr. Speaker, and there were four components. We had the equalization component, a local revenue component, a road component and the household component. The road component was $2,000 in 1989. Before they brought in the new one it was $2,000 per kilometre for municipalities. A godsend. Then they brought in the household component, $85, I think, the household component, except in local service districts or in unincorporated areas where it was $40. That came in because that was a part of the equalization component that local service districts couldn't take advantage of, and so that was there to cover them.

The minister is only one individual in Cabinet. He needs the support of other ministers in Cabinet, and he needs the support of back benchers when anything goes to Cabinet for change. When members opposite, such as us on this side of the House, bring our concerns to a minister and to the House of Assembly, we expect something in return. We bring the concerns of municipalities. That is their only forum, really, to the House of Assembly for debate and so on. Then the minister has to go to try to get those funds instituted. But every year, the worst thing about it, every municipality in the Province covered under the Municipalities Act and the cities acts - Corner Brook, Mount Pearl, and St. John's - have to have their budgets in by December 31. Every year, since 1989, Boxing Day, the day after Boxing Day, 1989, it was changed. That was when municipalities had three or four days to bring in their budgets. Every year since that it has been changed in mid-stream.

Members opposite, in the back benches especially, may think that municipalities are not hurting, but I can assure you they are hurting, as the minister said yesterday. They are hurting. When you can make changes to the MOG in the middle of the year, how do they pick it up? How would government like to make changes to their budgets in the mid-year and all of a sudden find out that they're out $100 million or $50 million or what have you? Those municipalities in mid-stream found out that they were short of money and they couldn't get it.

This year, I don't know what the minister is going to announce yet. I don't know, but I heard part of it on CBC this morning, or I think it was VOCM, saying: we might or will go to $500 a kilometre under the roads component.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. REID: Let me begin by saying: what a wonderful, glorious time we had in Gander when we were fighting the previous government under Mr. Peckford. I remember Mrs. Newhook from Gander. What a gracious lady she was, she was so nice to everybody. It did not really matter who you were, or what religion you were, whether you were Liberal, Tory, or what you were, she was so kind. It was only about a month ago when I was in Gander with the town council and they unveiled their town crest, and Hazel was there. She came up to me and said: Well, Mr. Reid, it is some good to see you. I haven't seen you in such a long time. What a great lady, and what a terrible position she was in, at the time, if you remember, Rick. She was such a nice lady, but then she had to stand up and do what her Cabinet dictated to her, I suppose. She did not want to do that.

MS. VERGE: Then why are you doing worse?

MR. REID: Am I doing worse? I thought I was doing much better, to be quite honest about it, my colleague over there from Humber. To be honest about it, I thought I was, in the past six months, going to be considered as probably one of the best municipal affairs minister's the Province has ever seen. In fact, if I remember correctly, you were one of the first people to come along and congratulate me and say: I know you are going to do a good job, Art. So I really appreciate it.


MR. REID: Eat your heart out, Johnny Efford.

If there is anything I miss, I tell my hon. friend from Humber East, it is all those meetings we used to have doing committee work when I was a backbencher, to be quite honest about it.

Let me make a few comments in answer to the questions that my hon. critic has put forward here. Let me say this much, that I think we did quite well. You are looking at December 1 coming out and, by the way, members, letters are gone now to all of the municipalities. It was just this afternoon that the media asked me to tell them what municipalities are going to get, and I refused to do it. I said to the media this afternoon that I would prefer for the municipalities to get their letters before I made a comment to the public about it, so they are getting their letters.

I said yesterday, if you remember, that what we plan to do is to go with $500 per kilometre, and an across the board reduction in the revenue incentive component of 13.52 per cent, and that is going to be hard on some communities, it is going to be hard on some communities.

The larger communities, St. John's for example, will lose a sizeable amount of money, but it is the way that you figured it, when you use that formula, that is what happens. Victoria, Carbonear, for example will lose over $25,000. Carbonear will lose I think, $12,000 or $13,000, but overall, the vast majority of communities in this Province will see increases. In fact I believe this morning in my calculations it was something like 8 per cent or 9 per cent that will actually see decreases in communities but the vast majority of the smaller, harder pressed communities in the Province, because, like I said yesterday, of the fishery, the downturn in the economy and all the other things, they are going to pick up a few dollars, so within the next twenty-four hours you are going to have calls from some of your communities complaining that they have been cut somewhat and you are also going to have calls from communities saying that we gained a few dollars, and there are a number of areas that gained substantial dollars.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, take just a minute. I told my hon. critic yesterday, to spread it around his caucus; I have also done it with some of our new members on this side and next week or the week after I am going to provide a morning, whereby we can explain the MOG system to the members of the House who do not understand it, because like the hon. member said, it is a complicated system and you need to know really how to be able to sit down and talk to your councils; you really need to know the system to be able to understand it so I am going to provide that opportunity as soon as I possibly can.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Premier for being here.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is not being sarcastic (inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, I am not being sarcastic because I thought that someone else might have to answer the question.

AN HON. MEMBER: I assume he is genuine.

MR. CAREEN: Yes, well I am genuine, but the answer that came off the other day when I was speaking about Argentia, it just did not set right, sir. Now, I am not saying that you were crass or that you were cruel but when you were talking about no one area being more special, not Argentia, not Long Harbour, not Labrador City, but in fact, there are places that are special. I know that they are all special, but there is a case in point about Argentia.

Argentia is the last of the Lend-Leased bases. Canada is not a whole country because there is a section there, 9,000 acres in area belonging to the Americans. The people who work there through the Canadian Government, because they were caught in a point of law with the national government of the United States they have been relegated to the status of alien. Newfoundlanders that work in Argentia are relegated to the status of alien and they do deserve special treatment.

The sacrifices that were made by people when the Americans came in 1941 did not happen in other places on this island. Pleasantville was largely farmland. Gander, nobody was there. In that area of Stephenville there were only a couple of people, a couple of families, but Argentia faced a scorched earth policy. People were driven out of their houses with American bulldozers going into them, fires, torched, people leaving their houses, and those people after awhile with such an uproar, the Commission of Government (inaudible) to the Americans and they did not torch or burn down the houses until they had disappeared from the community. The Americans claimed they moved graveyards out of Argentia and put them up in Argentia, but we all know they did not take the bones. They could not take them all so there is a symbol up in Freshwater of the old livyers that had died down in Argentia years ago.

It is special and not because I am the representative. It is because they are caught on a hook not of their own making. I know there are people who are laid off in industrial and construction and it is not of their making either, but we are caught in a special situation in Argentia.

The Americans have a scavenger list where moveable assets can be taken and the more stuff is taken the less can be reused after, so what I am trying to get across to the Province is the quicker we can move to intercept some of the things that are happening at Argentia the better off we will be, because I think Argentia, handled right by all of us - people can drive from Port de Grave to Argentia like they did years ago, Carbonear, Harbour Grace, St. John's, or wherever. We are not covetous. We are Newfoundlanders and we chose to stay here and we have a chance to make it a bit better than it is. I am saying that Argentia is a special situation. We are not all special people, we are all special, I suppose, but they are caught, like I said earlier, on the hook, and I would like the assistance of this government to be able to make it easier for what is the impending disaster, economic disaster that is going to happen. I am not going to give you the figures I gave you the other day because it is only a waste of time, but the Canadian government, American government, and our own government have to move and move quickly because October 1, 1994 is coming fast and the layoffs the Americans will put in will come even quicker. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I understand the views of the hon. member that a major community in his district is special, but I have responsibility for the whole Province. I can't say to the people of Argentia that there is any reason why, in terms of dealing with the economic disaster, you, the people of Argentia, are entitled to special treatment over and above that which was accorded to your next-door neighbours in Long Harbour. I can't do that. I can't say you are entitled to special treatment over and above what was accorded to the people of Baie Verte. I can't do that. I'm sorry, I can't do it. If that is what the hon. member expects, the answer is no.

Now, it may well be that the Americans rode roughshod over the people of the community when Argentia was set up. I don't have the detailed history. I've heard the suggestion made. A base was built at Stephenville. I assume they didn't treat the people of Argentia any differently from the way they treated the people of Stephenville - the Commission of Government and the American forces at the time - but you have to remember it was a time of war, there were special circumstances. These things were necessary.

That does not, with great respect to the hon. member's argument that he presented, entitle the people, or obligate the government, to give a special treatment to the people of Argentia in terms of dealing with the economic problem, over and above the kind of treatment it would provide in terms of the people of Baie Verte, or the people of Wabush, or the people of Long Harbour, or the people of St. John's, or the people of St. George's, or anywhere else in the Province, for that matter. We still have to make every conceivable effort that we can, the same as we would make for Baie Verte or Wabush. We have to make every conceivable effort that we can to try to find economic alternatives.

I have to tell the hon. member that the government is doing just that. We haven't just been sitting back waiting for something to happen. I've had discussions with some people about economic alternatives for the usage of Argentia. I mentioned one in the House the other day, the foreign trade zones. There is another one that I've been discussing recently with interested business people that would see some substantial potential for the development and use of Argentia. I don't want to say any more about it now, other than to say - and it may come to absolutely nothing - I can't say. But we are trying. So I want the hon. member to know that we are not just simply sitting back and doing nothing.

We are, indeed, trying to find a solution to what, for the people of Argentia, is a major, major problem. But other communities have had those kinds of problems in this Province, too, and we had just as great an obligation to those other communities as we do to Argentia - no more, but no less either. And we are discharging that obligation now in exactly the same way for the people of Argentia, and we will leave no stone unturned that we can reasonably be expected to turn over to find the maximum level of economic opportunity that we can for the people of Argentia.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before we put the adjournment motion, which I suspect will be carried, perhaps the members could give me a minute to say where we are on business.

We have done, in three days of legislation, seven bills at second reading stage. I think it is fair to say, most of them were relatively minor pieces of legislation. That is an average of 2.3 bills a day. We have been averaging four or five speakers from the Opposition on each of these bills. I believe, on this side, in most if not every case, the only speaker has been the minister in whose name the bill was brought forward.

There are twenty-three other bills now on the Order Paper. That is ten more days, at the current rate of progress. We have four days a week for government business; that is two-and-a-half weeks. That brings us up to December 21, I think it is, and there are still several more bills to come.

Now, the point of all of this, Mr. Speaker, is that I want to advise members that as we are most anxious to allow members on both sides every opportunity to debate these matters at whatever length they wish, consistent with the rules, beginning Monday, we will not be taking the supper break. We will be carrying on in the pattern and practice we developed before, beginning at 2:00 p.m. and working on through until we finish our day's work. I just want to advise members of that so they can prepare themselves accordingly.

Thank you, Sir. I don't think I need to move the adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: No. The adjournment, in accordance with the rules, is that we now adjourn until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.