December 3, 1993           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLII  No. 28

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. This week the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council recommended closure of a number of fisheries, particularly in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and with that a 50 per cent cut in the quota for redfish. It is most likely the federal minister will act on those recommendations and not only continue the moratorium on Northern cod, but the other fisheries as well, when he brings in his new groundfish management plan. Does the minister have an estimate of the number of fishermen and plant workers in the Province who will be put out of work as a result of those latest closures? Does he have an estimate, or could he provide the House with that?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, there is a meeting in Québec City on December 15th, at which time the federal minister and the provincial Ministers of Fisheries in Atlantic Canada will be getting together to discuss the recommendations of the FRCC. At that time, we expect the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will unveil what his plans are for 1994.

It is quite likely that there will be a moratorium placed on the Gulf fishery. It is quite likely that the redfish quotas will be drastically reduced. There has been no firm estimate made at this date as to the impact it will have on the employment picture in the Province. That is being worked on, and as I said, we will know more as to what the minister's plans are around December 15th.

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

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

As I understand it, the minister met with the federal minister last week, I believe it was, last Wednesday or Thursday. I am wondering if the minister presented any proposals to the federal minister for payment of compensation to fishermen and plant workers who will be affected by the recent closures and reductions, and as well for those who will continue to need financial support after the present package expires in May. Did the minister make any proposals to the federal minister, and could he inform us of what they were?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, just about every time we meet or talk on the telephone, that is one of the topics we discuss, the need for continuation of compensation and, as well, a need to harmonize the so-called compensation package, where the recipients on the South, the Southwest and the West coasts will be treated in a similar manner to fishermen affected by the Northern cod moratorium on the Northeast Coast. I have every confidence that the new minister is very sympathetic to the idea of harmonizing the program. Again, that is something that will be discussed in Québec City on December 15th.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Apparently, some of my colleagues are saying there was a story that broke on it last night which I didn't see, so I don't know what that was. A few days ago I heard the federal minister say basically that the compensation for those put out of work by the new closures and cutbacks or quota reductions will have to come from the existing pool of benefits, from the existing pool of funds. In other words, it seems that the federal minister is now indicating that there will be no new money. So, help for hundreds or perhaps thousands of new compensation claimants will have to come from the pockets, it seems, of those who are already now benefiting from the compensation package. I want to ask the minister, does he and the government support that or will he insist that the new claimants be compensated fairly without cutting benefits from the existing claimants now?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I can't very well dictate to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I suppose. I can only tell you that in the course of my discussions with him, last Wednesday, I did not get that impression. I got the impression that there would be additional money found to provide some kind of a compensation package, certainly until the end of the original moratorium period which would be in May of 1994. That was the impression I got from the federal minister. I certainly don't think it makes sense to talk about reducing the current compensation package, because contrary to some of the things we hear, only 7 per cent of fishermen on the package, so called, get the maximum benefit. One would think, hearing some people, that every fisherman out there is rolling in riches, drawing down $406 a week and that is not so. Like I said, 7 per cent of people get the maximum benefit and the vast majority of them get quite a lot less than the $406 per week. So that being the case, Mr. Speaker, I don't see how they could expect the fishermen and fish plant workers to manage on less than what they are getting now.

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

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

I say to the minister, oh how the tune has changed, because not too long ago, all members opposite would stand up in this House and dictate certain things from the federal Minister of Fisheries and now that there is one of their own stripe, it seems they have softened the back-paddle quite a bit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, what I detect from what the federal minister is saying is that there will be no new monies and really there will be redistribution of benefits. With more people coming onto a package, whether it is going to be the NCARP Package or one equivalent to NCARP or one for the South and Southwest Coast, there is going to be an adjustment. A lot of the federal MPs that are now sitting in Ottawa refer to the South and Southwest Coast Package as a second-class package, that they were treated as second-class citizens. So it is going to be most interesting now to see if the NCARP recipients will be brought down to second class citizens or if the South and Southwest Coast will be brought up to the first-class citizens that are receiving NCARP' but whatever way it goes, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister - and perhaps it is a supplementary for the Minister of Finance - if we are going to have, which we know we are, more people on some sort of package, a compensation program - hundreds or thousands more, and then that is shared throughout the Atlantic Provinces, the money is going to be shared throughout the other provinces, it seems we will have more people out of work with less money coming in to the Province. And I want to ask the Minister of Fisheries, or the Minister of Finance if he so desires: Has government considered the broader impacts on our economy and the revenues for the provincial government, if indeed, the federal minister proceeds to redistribute those funds to a larger number of people, which means we will have less money?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that all members of government on this side of the House are well aware of the impact that the problems in the cod fishery and in the fishery generally are having on the economy and on the Treasury, but I don't think the hon. member has a right to assume that the current NCARP program will be redistributed all over the Province. I don't think that is going to happen. I don't think it makes any sense. I don't think the new federal minister would support that kind of proposition and certainly, I can't see how the Province could.

Now, what happens after May of 1994 - I don't think even the federal minister, at this point in time, knows what is going to happen. We hope there will be a continuation of the current program. It might change, Mr. Speaker, it might be restructured, but certainly, I don't see the federal minister coming up with a program that will offer less to the fishermen of the South Coast, for example, than what is now being paid to fishermen on the Northeast Coast.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a couple questions for the Minister of Finance, arising from his love-in with his federal counterpart in Halifax over the last few days. Would the minister care to tell us what assurances, if any, the federal minister has given to the minister relating to any reduction in transfer payments to the Provinces this year, particularly, obviously, Newfoundland? We heard the Premier recently say the Government of Newfoundland would do everything they can to help the poor federal government, quite a switch from what we were listening to a few months ago; it is amazing how the colours can change the approach. Would the minister like to tell us, Mr. Speaker, exactly what assurances we have on transfer payments, what cuts does he see for this year? Does he see that having any impact on our deficit or what he had projected as a deficit for next year, and do we expect any tax increases other than the 3 per cent on personal income tax that was announced last year, to take effect on January 1st of this year?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I suppose, if I had an hour I could deal with all the issues in some detail. First of all, let me comment on the impression that the hon. member has tried to create in his preamble. I remind members opposite that this government, perhaps, was one of the few, if not the only, government in Canada to support the general thrust of Michael Wilson's budget and Don Mazankowski's last budget, so we do not deal with these serious issues in a partisan way. I would like to remind members opposite of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: That day is gone. That may have been the way it was ten years ago, but that day is gone. We deal with the issues on the basis of the issues, and we will continue to do that.

Now, in answer to his question, obviously we all, in this country, have a serious problem, and the federal government has a serious problem, and we are trying to deal with it, and the process that is in place, in terms of an examination of transfers, is remarkably different from the process that happened in previous years, before this government took over.

We have been very used to being notified at certain points in the year that things are going to happen, that changes are going to be made, that money is going to be reduced and so on. Well never again, Mr. Speaker, are we going to be caught at the last minute like that.

There is a process in place now where Finance Ministers - we have some work to do, and we are going to get together in January. Before that January meeting, the way that the federal government intends to deal with this problem will be obvious to us. We will have their proposal a couple of weeks in advance of that meeting so we can prepare, and we will know well ahead of time what their plans are. We will have lots of opportunity to debate their plans, and to make changes in their plans, before they actually finalize their budget.

So, Mr. Speaker, we are in a process now that is a co-operative process involving the provinces, and I would like to say to the member that certainly we are discussing, and we will be discussing in January, leading up to the federal budget, all aspects of federal and provincial expenditures, jointly, as a group.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, years ago `Rocket' Richard used to say: My brother Henri, he not play tonight, but he cheer well. Now we have the minister here saying: My brother George, he not minister, but he shout well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister, in the proposal -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: I say, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. Member for Gander - Twillingate is delighted that he has a brother in office, because when we did a poll prior to the election, 50 per cent of the people in Gander - Twillingate did not know who their MP was. If the Minister of Finance was not out there to boost his image, they still would not know who he was.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: Would the minister like to tell us what this government proposes to have in the package they are going to put to the federal government prior to that meeting he just referred to? Specifically, does the minister propose to put anything in there relating to co-pay and the health care system, or this new term we are hearing the `workfare' where people have to work in order to gain their welfare. Is this government proposing to be involved in those type of programs?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I suppose members of the Opposition always run the risk of trying to prepare cute lines and then having to use them in a situation where they do not fit.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the poll the member refers to I would ask that he provide me with a copy of that poll because I have seen polls done at the time that are in direct opposition to what the member says. I would like to see a copy of his poll and I will show him a copy of mine. I suppose the results of that poll are what made the member back out. He had to come up with his former leader to try to improve the position but that did not work either, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, the gist of the question, I believe, had to do with the Province's presentations to the federal government and the presentations we are going to be making at the finance minister's meeting in January. I would like to point out to the hon. member that our position essentially is that there is nothing to be gained. If the objective of looking at federal government payments - the federal government pays 25 per cent of its budget in terms of transfers to the Province, another 25 per cent in terms of transfers to individuals, another 25 per cent or more in terms of debt servicing, and what is left goes into the general running of the federal government, so obviously these are big chunks and they are going to be discussed.

It is useless, from a debt perspective in the country, to take $10 million off the federal government's debt and add $10 million to the Province's debt. That exercise is a futile exercise and just cannot be gone through. So it is a much more complex situation than that. We are going to discuss the situation and hopefully come up with a solution, but simple transfer of debt is not in the books.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm delighted to hear the minister say that because we've been saying that for some time. Would the minister like to tell us then how does he propose to participate in the federal Prime Minister's great plan to create jobs by building infrastructure - roads and bridges - a great $6 billion plan that he says will cost the federal government $2 billion, provincial governments $2 billion, municipalities $2 billion?

Where is this government going to get its share of that program? Where are municipalities going to get their share of that program? What is this great job creation initiative we finally hear coming from the side opposite? We've been screaming for years to ask this government: start spending some money to create some jobs. Not sitting back, as the Premier says, waiting for the private sector to be the engine of the economy. The engine is there. This government has to put some gas in their tank.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When you are sitting in the Opposition I suppose you can afford to have simplistic points of view. The fact that we must tackle deficit and debt reduction, the fact that we must do that, then doesn't automatically preclude the other side of it, which we must be always conscious of, and that is the Canadian economy and job development within the Canadian economy. They are not mutually exclusive.

Mr. Speaker, although we haven't got to the stage yet in terms of the infrastructure program, where we've made specific representations in the process - and there is a process ongoing now where the federal minister is going to be carrying on bilateral talks with the provinces in terms of that program - I can say to you that we will take maximum advantage of the program in spite of the fact that we're in difficult financial circumstances.

Across Canada the recognition is that that amount of money is going to be spent in the system and at the same time we're going to tackle debt reduction. Now it may seem an impossible situation to members opposite, but that is what the next few months are all about, to come up with that desirable mix in terms of fiscal policies.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. What is the policy of the Minister's Department in terms of how people to the Workers' Compensation Board of Directors or other boards are appointed, and in the final analysis, how are those people selected?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the question from the hon. member. With respect to the direct question relating to Workers' Compensation, the legislation spells out what the make-up of the Board is to be in terms of worker representation, employer representation, and some representation from the public generally. The practice that we have followed, while Cabinet always retains the right to make the appointments in the final instance, we have on the employer side made a practice in the last three or four years of making sure that we got input from the representatives of the business community for the employers and representatives of the labour movement for the employee representatives.

Then the public representatives, with respect to Workers' Compensation, since the changes this year effective in 1993, in the information that the Cabinet and government dealt with, with respect to those public appointees, it was felt that it was in the best interest of that Board, because of the expertise needed, to have public members who had expertise in either the medical profession, the accounting profession, or the legal profession. So we sought out names of people who would have expertise in those particular areas to fill the public representation roles. Then we tried, as we do in all boards, to make sure that there was some kind of balance on a gender basis as well, as long as the people had the qualifications to fulfil the task required by the board.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister talks about input from employers and from the general public at large. I would like to table a letter here this morning which was written by the minister to all Liberal caucus members - not to members of the House of Assembly, but to all Liberal caucus members - dealing specifically with the appointment, due to a recent resignation, requesting that members of the Liberal caucus submit names to the minister.

This begs a larger question, in my opinion, in terms of government appointments to government boards. It gives, I believe, all politicians, and all members of this House, this sort of action - it smacks of patronage, so I ask the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I can say to the Member for St. John's South that the politics of my generation is much different than the politics of his generation; I can assure you of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: So I ask the minister: Will he undertake a review of how people are appointed to government boards? Will he open up the process to the general public, through an independent body like the Public Service Commission, so that people in general can apply for such boards, and that even the perception of patronage may be eliminated, and those who are actually qualified will get appointed to such boards?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, it is a fact that - I am not sure what practice all of my colleagues in the Cabinet and government use, but one of the things that I have done, and would expect to continue to do, because I value the opinion of the colleagues on this side of the House, as with my friends opposite, that one of letters that I have written, as a matter of course, with every appointment that comes up, along with letters to the Federation of Labour, the Board of Trade, the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council and other groups.

Every time there is an appointment, as well, by the way, I get, as a matter of course, because their office keeps track of it, a submission from the Women's Policy Office, putting forward a group of qualified women who might be considered for board appointments. After all of that has come into consideration - and I have received, on most occasions, I might add, because members opposite are good at doing their homework, and they do keep track of when board appointments are due and so on - most members do; I am not sure if every member does - but unsolicited as well, because there are people who have a great interest in these things. We often get representations from members opposite who would ask that certain people be considered for board appointments as they come due, because I believe one of the functions in the opposition office is that some people are keeping track of board appointments.

Despite what happens by myself, as any one minister, or anyone else, the process that we have had in place for some time now is that then the minister's recommendations, at the end of that process, are forwarded to a committee of the Cabinet that go through the whole process. They have been given one mandate, because I served on that committee for a period of time, and that is to make sure that the number one priority is exactly as the hon. member opposite states it - that we will make sure that the boards that serve the different agencies, and provide advice to the government, are first and foremost supplied with people who have the expertise and qualifications required for the work of that board. That has always been the number one priority. I do not know what it was like prior to 1989, but that has been the basis on which the boards have been filled since 1989.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: I say, Mr. Speaker, to the members of this House, that half of my colleagues here do not know what it was like before 1989. We were not part of any previous government.

I want to submit to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations the question again: Will he undertake a review? Will he discuss with Cabinet? Will he undertake a review to open up all board appointments to greater public scrutiny? Will he open it up through an independent body, upon review, and bring back his findings, or bring back his suggestions to this House, so that the public, in general, can have greater input into the selection not only of the Workers' Compensation Board of Directors, but other government boards as well?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I tried to state in the last answer - maybe I did not make it myself clear - one of the things we did in 1989, was to have a look at the board appointments. This government did not dismiss people who were on boards because we took, under the Premier's leadership, the view that the Opposition, the current Opposition, the previous Administration, had placed people on boards because they were capable, qualified people, and we left them in place until their terms of office expired and then we made new appointments, which we do now.

The process is completely open. Anybody can ask at any time for the listings of anybody on any of the boards appointed by this government. It is readily available, open to the public, and we would be very glad to demonstrate that the boards that have been put in place by this Administration are filled on the basis of qualifications to do the job, as the number one criteria. And we don't feel the need to be any more open other than to show exactly what has been done and let the record stand for itself.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the hon. the Minister of Social Services.

The new welfare police as they have become known, have been on the job now for approximately three months. I assume the minister has been carefully monitoring the work and results of these investigators. I wonder if he can tell the House how much fraud has been uncovered and how much money has been reclaimed by his department up until this time?

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

MR. LUSH: The member makes an erroneous assumption in his statement that the minister is closely monitoring the investigators. We have gone through a professional process in setting up the investigators and as the member says, they have been there for three months, which is not a long time; three months is not a long time, but we are monitoring to the extent that we know they are all situated in their offices, located strategically throughout the Province, doing the job for which they are mandated, and from what I can understand, doing an excellent job for the Province.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister says that those people have been well-trained and I can't argue with that, but my understanding is that they had two weeks training and that is not a long time, in my books, when you go out to deal with the problem we are being faced with today. However, I would like to ask the minister, how far back in time, those investigators are going. If the minister will recall, last spring, this caucus brought up a case where one elderly couple was forced to pay back overpayments that occurred over twenty years ago - over twenty years ago, Mr. Speaker - of which they had not been made aware. I would like to ask the minister: Are you still digging back into the past? Are those investigators still digging back into the past, and are you really uncovering fraud or is it the result of inaccurate assessment by overworked welfare officers?

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

MR. LUSH: I suggest to the hon. the Member for Bonavista South, if the latter part of his question is correct that the uncovering of overpayment is related to an overload, then the overload has existed for some time; because I dealt with that question of people having overpayments when I was in the Opposition many, many years ago. I say to the hon. member that an overpayment - the two are not related. The one that he relates of the couple having to pay back an overpayment has nothing to do with the investigators. It might so happen that it was brought to the attention of an investigator but these things are found out in the natural process by workers, themselves, and monies owed to the Crown are always there, unless there are some circumstances by which the Crown agrees to cancel the overpayment. So I can't answer the member as to how far you are going back. I don't expect we are going back to pre-Confederation days or anything like that, but within reason, monies owed the Crown are always owed the Crown, and I suggest to the Member for Bonavista South, that is not the kind of activity for which investigators are solely hired to investigate, but monies owed to the Crown are always owed to the Crown until they are paid.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, under the previous heading, I would like to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I can't hear the hon. the Minister of Finance. I believe the hon. minister wants to present a report.

MR. BAKER: Under the heading, Presenting Reports, I would like to table a Special Warrant relating to pre-commitment of funds for the Department of Forestry and Agriculture. I would also like to table, Mr. Speaker, copies of a Special Warrant relating to the $6 million Emergency Response Program in terms of employment in the Province. I would like to table both of these today.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I would first ask that we deal with motions 5 and 6. I understand there is agreement in the House to adopt motions 7 and 8 without further debate at this stage. If that is so, I would ask that they be called, and if they are to be debated then we will do it at another time. But, if we could do first, Nos. 5 and 6, which is simply first reading, Sir.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act (No. 2)," carried. (Bill No. 54).

On motion, Bill No. 54 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Education to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Colleges Act, 1991," carried. (Bill No. 55)

On motion, Bill No. 55 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: If we agree - if we could pursue No. 7 and No. 8 without debate. I am not trying to foreclose debate, but if this agreement will put them forward, let's just adopt them now and let these people get on with their work, because each motion simply asks committees of the House to get on and address an issue for us. If that is agreed, I would ask that we call No. 7. I should make a declaration under the House of Assembly Act, just so it is on the record, that many years ago, at the Bar, I represented the Certified General Accountants Association. So let it be recorded that I take no part in the discussion, debate or this decision, with respect to motion No. 7.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We agree, Mr. Speaker, we have no problem whatsoever with that. I don't know about the Member for St. John's East, but we don't have any problem with it.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the Member for St. John's East in agreement as well? Yes, okay.

Motion 7: Rather than read the motion, it is on the Order Paper. The Premier read it yesterday.

Motion 7, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Motion 8 again, I gather there is a consensus - it is simply a procedural motion to enable the Public Accounts Committee to report upon evidence and hearings which they held before the election.


MR. SPEAKER: Agreed, as well.

Motion 8, carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we now deal with some of the bills which stand in my name - they start with Order No. 23, which is Bill No. 43, "An Act To Amend The Judgment Interest Act."

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgement Interest Act". (Bill No. 43)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a very straightforward amendment to the Judgement Interest Act and I trust it will not require a lot of time in the House, but that is for members to decide, of course.

The Judgement Interest Act came into effect in 1984, and before it came into effect, no interest was payable in respect of a judgement rendered by the courts, except in very unique circumstances which did not apply in almost every instance, or, in almost every instance, did not apply, to be precise. Once the Judgement Interest Act came into force, as of, I think, April 2, 1984, if I recall my days at the private Bar, interest was payable but the Act did not specify the rate at which interest was payable, for the obvious and proper reason that interest rates go up and down. They were fixed by a fairly cumbersome practice which involved the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

In real life what happened was the interest rate was set at 9 per cent, in 1984, which was a reasonable rate, and it stayed there for many years because interest rates didn't change. Then we came into the era of rapidly dropping interest rates and they are now well below 9 per cent. I have no idea what prime is today but it is, what, 5 or 6 per cent, 4 per cent? It is quite low.

That really uncovered a flaw in the mechanism of the act, which is that it is really quite a cumbersome and complicated procedure to change the interest rate. That is what leads us now to come to the House and simply ask the House to authorize the amendments to be made by the Minister of Justice. The proposal is that we would amend it from time to time as required by the changes in the prime rate. It is related to the prime rate and it simply gives the authority to the minister to make the change. That is all the act seeks to do. I will sit down and let my friend for Humber East and other members address the issue and see how we proceed.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is, as the minister indicated, a simple amendment. The minister says the purpose of the change is to provide for a more efficient setting of the judgement interest rate to track prime, which has fluctuated rapidly from time to time. My colleague, the Member for Mount Pearl, who is not a member of the legal profession and who has the benefit of perhaps greater objectivity than do members of the Bar, asked, Why doesn't the legislation simply peg the judgement interest rate to prime? A sensible question. Perhaps the minister will address that when he rises to conclude the debate.

MR. WINDSOR: Why not simply set it at prime plus two and let it go?

MR. ROBERTS: I can give an answer now or later if the hon. gentleman wishes. There is a reason.

MS. VERGE: By leave.

MR. ROBERTS: If the hon. member would yield?

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

MR. ROBERTS: The reason is a practical one. Prime goes up and down week by week. Simply as a matter of calculating, remember, you get a judgement rendered, and then the lawyers - my hon. and learned friends will concur - the lawyer is probably not capable of calculating it because the prime is expressed in bases points, two decimal points.

Mr. Speaker, it is simply a matter of being able to take a number to work with. The prime going up and down week by week would make it very complicated, because you would have to make a calculation for the interest due in respect to the judgement in each week, or for each week, between the time the judgement was entered - I shouldn't say entered, the time the judgement was given, in fact, because it may have been entered a week or two, or a little period later. And you would end up with quite a complicated calculation. If there was $100,000 owed, you would have to sit down and say: now, for the first week the judgement was effective -

AN HON. MEMBER: It goes back to the tort.

MR. ROBERTS: It goes back to the date the cause of action arises, in fact, not simply the tort. In a case of fire insurance, that is different from the day of the act itself

The answer, without going into detail and trying to dazzle everybody with my knowledge of these erudite matters, is quite simply a practical concern for the calculation process, that is all.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. it may well be that lawyers are not so learned after all. It may be that people other than lawyers may be more learned, especially when it comes to doing sums. My colleague for Mount Pearl is going to have a few words to say about this when I sit down. As between having the Cabinet set the judgement interest rate and the minister setting the judgement interest rate, I would have no hesitation agreeing with the latter, with the change put forward by the minister. I can't see why the Cabinet decision-making process was so cumbersome, but apparently, in the new regime, Cabinet decisions are not made all that expeditiously; nevertheless, I have no problem agreeing with the minister's suggestion to delegate to the minister the setting of the judgement interest rate. But now I will wait for my friend for Mount Pearl to question why the act should designate anyone in the government to set the judgement interest rate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, just very briefly to respond to the comments of the Minister of Justice. I understand where he is coming from, but I say to him, it is not such an onerous task and it could be very significant, not if we are talking a judgement of $1,000 or $2,000, but presume for a moment we were talking a judgement of $1 million, which is not impossible, and if the legal work took a month, which is certainly not unusual, I can tell you, from my experience with the legal profession.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is would be unusual to do anything in a month.

MR. WINDSOR: I agree with my hon. friend, it would be unusual to do it in a month. Let us just assume it were a month and if the interest rate changed by 1 per cent, then 1 per cent on $1 million for a month is about $1,000. It becomes a significant amount and there could be larger judgements. I say to my friend it is not so onerous, prime doesn't change daily, not normally.

AN HON. MEMBER: Weekly though.

MR. WINDSOR: Perhaps, weekly and perhaps not, but it is not such an onerous job. In this day of computers it would be a very simple matter to plug in the time period we are talking about. Banks do it every day for anybody who goes in with any kind of a demand loan and says, I want to make a payment on my loan. What is my interest for the last thirty days? A clerk there will very quickly figure out what the interest has been for the last month so you can pay your interest plus whatever principle you might want to pay. It is a very simple procedure, I say to my hon. friend. I hear where he is coming from, but I don't accept his argument that it would be so difficult to do. I see no reason in the world why we cannot simply say that the rate will prime or prime plus one, prime plus two, or whatever might be deemed appropriate.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to speak briefly on this matter. First I thought this was a power grab by the Minister of Justice to take power for himself from the Cabinet but, seriously, I agree with the decision to let the minister make the ruling from time to time, but I do question really the suggestion that it is tied to the prime interest rate.

When the rate was set at 9 per cent in 1984 the prime rate was significantly higher than that. It was changed only once in the period from 1984 and that was a year ago or something, back last February or March, when it was changed to 3.5 per cent, or something. I am not even sure what it was changed to. The prime at that time was something like 6 or 7 per cent. If it is tied somehow vaguely to prime, would the minister explain how it is tied to prime, how often he intends to change it, and by what sorts of policy guidelines would guide his decisions in that matter? Surely, I wouldn't expect the minister to change it willy-nilly. Perhaps the minister has it in the act that the relationship to prime would be important. Perhaps it is less, more, or something like that.

It is a significant issue for people who are seeking judgements because until the coming into force of the Judgement Interest Act, it was a great advantage to defendants to delay a case as long as they could, because the longer they delayed, of course, the more they had to deal with their own money, and insurance companies and others who might have a lot of litigation could make a significant amount of money that way by merely delaying trials and actions. With the Judgement Interest Act, of course, you now see insurance companies very anxious to settle clams because they see the interest rising.

So, I think it is a beneficial piece of legislation, although a bit obscure. A number of members have asked me: What is this Judgement Interest Act about anyway? It is really about making the playing field level between plaintiffs and defendants when it comes to pursuing actions.

I do support the legislation and I ask the minister, in his reply, to tell us the relationship between prime and the judgement interest rate and how often he would propose, or what variation would he expect to see before he would make a change?

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now he will conclude debate.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me thank my hon. friends for their comments. I think there were two points raised, by my friend from Mount Pearl and my learned friend from Humber East. We used to have an hon. learned and gallant member in the House. We now have hon. and learned members, and then the rest of us. Let me address that issue first.

It would be possible, I assume, to do as the banks do. There is certainly no difficulty. The bank is able to calculate both one's loan interest to the day, and one's savings account, or earned interest. There is a daily interest savings account and what have you.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) lawyers do, too, when they are putting a mortgage through (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, that calculation normally comes from the bank, or from the lender - from the mortgage company. There is an adjustment factor that is given to the solicitor.

I guess the answer would be one, or both, of two points: the first is that the banks and financial institutions do have much more sophisticated computer programs than the lawyers do. That is not to say that lawyers couldn't get them. Secondly, one comes down to the fact that across Canada this is the universal method, and every province has legislation similar to this. So I am not saying it couldn't be changed. Perhaps it is the sort of thing I could talk about with the Law Society.

MR. WINDSOR: It is time for us to lead the way.

MR. ROBERTS: I believe in that. I sponsored an act in the House, on behalf of the government a year ago, with respect to leading the way in some matters affecting lawyers, and there hasn't been overwhelming acceptance among my friend at the Bar. I think there has been overwhelming acceptance elsewhere.

MR. WINDSOR: That means you are probably right.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I hear what my friend says. There will be another day and we will have a discussion.

The point raised by my friend from St. John's East, I can only address by saying that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is empowered by section 8 of the act to make regulations. I don't have the regulations here. They haven't changed in their essence since 1984.

AN HON. MEMBER: There are regulations?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, there are regulations. I don't have them with me. The regulations do peg at the prime. I would propose that we set the rate quarterly, but if there is a major variation in prime I think we would have to look at it. There is an advantage in having a degree of certainty so that people know.

My friend from St. John's East is right when he says that for a long time it was the advantage of the defendant. Usually an insurance company, in most tort actions, delayed resolving the matter because the defendant had the use of the money until the judgement was made. It swung the other way when the interest rate went well below the 9 per cent. Then plaintiffs gained by delaying because they were being paid 9 per cent of whatever they were due, and they couldn't make anything like that in any comparable investment.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I hear the points made by my hon. friends. I will undertake to have a look at them, but I am going to say, it is not a matter we are going to address with a great deal of priority.

With that said, I move second reading of the bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgment Interest Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 43)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we call Order 24, please, Bill No. 31.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 24.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Statutes Act". (Bill No. 31)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief again.

The effect of the amendment is more than adequately set out in the explanatory note and the amendment itself. All that I will add is that this is an interesting historical anachronism.

The Table officers in the House, Mr. Speaker, came to me and pointed out that the law, as it stands, obliges the Registrar General of the Province, who is now my friend for Carbonear, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, who was also the custodian of the Great Seal of the Province. I am not sure I have ever seen the Great Seal, but there is a Great Seal of the Province. In fact, I guess it is placed on ministerial commissions, if I could find the number that - with the ministerial commissions I have had over the years, maybe I could see one.

Anyway, the Registrar General is responsible for safe custody of the assented bills because, as Your Honour knows, and as members know, when His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, comes and gives assent to a bill, which is an essential part of making law, until a bill is assented to, it does not become law. We can pass all we want in this House, but until the Crown gives its assent, the bill is not law. His Honour actually signs each bill to signify his - or in some future day, her - consent. The signed copy then becomes the official record that a statute has been enacted, and it has been held in the custody of the Registrar General.

Now, the Registrar General, it turns out, has no proper place for that, so we are asking the House to provide that the Clerk of the House, our Table officer, will be responsible for the custody of the bills for forty years, and thereafter they will go into the archives and be held as historical mementos, which I guess, in forty years, is what any given statute would become.

The other point I would make, the historical anomaly, is that I asked, "Why the Registrar General - this rather unknown official, this unknown capacity?" The answer I was given, as far as we can find out, is that the Registrar General is the successor, in this context, to the Colonial Secretary.

Years ago, when we were a colony, one of the most important officials in the then colony was the Colonial Secretary who was charged with all sorts of very important duties, among them holding on to the assented statutes which, of course, in those days were subject to a much greater degree of control by the Crown than today. In any event, if this bill is adopted, we will finally put to an end that last vestige of colonialism, and will instead have our own Clerk holding our bills for forty years.

I move second reading of the bill, Sir.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had no idea until I just listened to the learned Minister of Justice, that `Art Reid' is the last vestige of colonialism.

This bill would remove from the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the privilege of being the custodian of the original assented bills between the time that assent is given until they are deposited in the Provincial Archives. Now, I am wondering why the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is not here to speak up for himself in this weighty debate.

Mr. Speaker, I have every confidence in our Clerk as being a worthy successor to the Registrar General. I am sure the Clerk will be able to ensure safe-keeping of the original assented bills and make sure that they find their way to the Provincial Archives. I have more concern, however, for the condition of the Provincial Archives. Now, the minister responsible for the Provincial Archives, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, is also absent, and I am wondering if this is part of a conspiracy.

The Minister of Tourism and Culture has publicly acknowledged that the Colonial Building, which now houses the Provincial Archives, is not large enough and not adequate to serve the purpose of a Provincial Archives and he has talked about the need for a new Provincial Archives facility.

During the election campaign in the spring, the minister went as far as to say that in 1997, the year of the 500th anniversary of Cabot's discovery, that he anticipates a grand, new complex in St. John's to house the Provincial Archives, as well as a new Provincial Art Gallery and a new museum. Now, when a few months later, he and his colleague, my good friend, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, said that the government cannot afford to rent space at Murray Premises for the museum, we have to wonder how the Province is ever going to be able to afford to staff and operate the grand complex that the Minister of Tourism and Culture talked about.

At any rate, Mr. Speaker, with those remarks, I will wait for one of the ministers involved in the weighty matter of safe-keeping of the original assented bills to have a word to say about this.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister now speaks, he will conclude the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Justice, the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: I should think, Mr. Speaker, that if I conclude the debate I would be expressing the wish of the House.

All I can say to my hon. and learned friend from Humber East is to make two points: The first is that my colleagues with direct responsibility for the Archives and particularly my friend from Mount Scio - Bell Island, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, would be delighted to address this issue either here in the House or during the Estimates discussions; the second, is to say that I concur with her concern. I am one of those who believes we must preserve our history and that includes the written and the artifact record of our history.

It is a matter of regret to me that over the years we have not done enough in this Province. I hope we can do a great deal more and certainly, within our means, that phrase which must apply on everything we do. Within our means, this administration will do what we can. We believe that we must preserve our history and cherish it; it is a record of the men and women who have gone before and built what we have in this Province today.

I move second reading, Sir.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Statutes Act", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No.31)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Could we have Order 25, Sir, the Residential Tenancies Bill?

MS. VERGE: We don't have that.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, I am sorry. If it is not circulated then we won't do it. Bill No. 29, Order 26, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act? I apologize, there is a copy in my book but if it was not circulated we won't do it.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Repeal The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act." (Bill No. 29).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, this bill is the statutory implementation of a decision the government took two years ago or a year-and-a-half ago that - it was a budgetary decision announced in the Budget Speech by my friend, the Minister of Finance, who I believe was then, as now, the Member for Gander.

I wonder if I could ask my colleagues in the backbenches, including my colleague the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture - I am sorry, I can speak as loudly as any member of this House, Mr. Speaker, but the conversations are awfully loud and it is difficult. If we could, I would appreciate the relatively lower level of hubbub.

In the 1993 Budget, we ended the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and this act would repeal the legislation under which that board and that scheme operated. Mr. Speaker, we can have a debate here, if we wish, on the wisdom or not of it and that is for hon. members to decide. Let me simply state, one; that we came to this decision very reluctantly, because I think the criminal injuries compensation scheme had merit. My colleagues believed, too, that it had merit but nonetheless, when we came to look at the financial resources available to us and the demands which we had to meet, we had to make decisions with respect to priorities and the decision was that the criminal injuries compensation scheme could not take priority. The limited amount of money that we had available, we decided instead to put into another scheme, another plan called the Victim Counselling Plan, and there we have made considerable progress with substantial support from the government's substantial financial assistance. The applications that were outstanding under the criminal injuries compensation scheme have been dealt with, they are being processed through the system.

The late Adrian Battcock, a distinguished member of the Bar and a magnificent person in his own right, who as we all know, coped in a magnificent way with a handicap that most people would find absolutely crushing - Adrian Battcock was Chair of the Board and they worked their way through the outstanding applications. There were 180, in fact, outstanding at the time the plan was brought to an end. They were dealt with and have gone on.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what else I can say except perhaps to add a note to the House, or to bring to the attention of the House that this scheme is an example of something that happens far too often in Canada. We, by which I mean the Government of the Province - and I believe it was probably during the time that my friend for Humber East was Minister of Justice - got into this plan, the compensation plan, at the instance of the Government of Canada, which came along and offered, I think it was probably 50/50 funding. Somebody in Ottawa had the idea and said, Let's have a plan to compensate the victims of crime, to help people who are injured by the acts of criminals. Now, a person injured by a criminal act still has the right to sue the perpetrator of that act but, in most cases, that is an empty gesture. In most cases the criminals would not have any resources.

So somebody in Ottawa dreamed up the idea and said: let's do it. They went to the provinces. We had a federal-provincial scheme, 50/50 money. Terrific. We got it up and running. We created the appetite in people. We acknowledged the need. The need began to be recognized, the plan began to grow, and then the feds decided to pull out of the scheme. The 50/50 money came to an end, and so we were left with a choice of either financing a much larger expenditure and a rapidly growing expenditure, or of ending the scheme. We took the decision to end it. We did so reluctantly, as I've said, but we did so because we believed it was the right one. I must say, nothing that has happened in the year or two since then has shown me to the contrary.

Mr. Speaker, with that said I shall move second reading and await comments from other members. We will deal with whatever points they want to make.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Repeal The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act". (Bill No. 29)

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the government announced in the Budget Speech of March 1992 that they were not going to take any more applications for criminal injuries compensation I condemned the decision at the time. I regarded that move as extremely regrettable, especially in the face of the sharp rise in reports of personal injury crimes, particularly of sexual assaults against children.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation program was designed to provide a measure of financial compensation for victims of personal injury crimes. Personal injury crimes include physical assaults and sexual assaults. As the minister indicated, the program originated several years ago - I believe more than twenty years ago, around the time of the downfall of the Smallwood regime - at the initiative of the federal government of the day. The minister correctly said that the program was supported by the federal government. He suggested a ratio of 50/50 funding. Actually, I think the federal share was much higher than 50 per cent.

For reasons unknown to me, for the first many years of the existence of the program, Ministers of Justice, Justice officials, Crown attorneys, and defence lawyers either were oblivious of the existence of the program or made little or no effort to inform eligible victims of their entitlement to compensation. When I became Minister of Justice in 1985 I was amazed when I checked the record to see that very few applications had been made. I set about changing that by having a Province-wide publicity program and by having in-house education sessions for the Justice officials who deal with victims of crime, particularly the police and Crown attorneys. That publicity effort coincided with the beginning of the increase in reports of sexual assaults. During the late '80s and early '90s the number of applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation program increased.

The nature of compensation provided under the program involved reimbursement for out of pocket expenses resulting from criminal injury, out of pocket....


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm having a little trouble hearing the hon. member. If we could keep the noise level down a bit in the House, please. I'm having trouble hearing the hon. member.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Out of pocket expenses which were reimbursed through the program ranged from ambulance bills, expenses for prescription drugs or over the counter medication, loss of wages, to reimbursement for costs of counselling needed for recovery. Counselling and assisting victims to deal with the trauma resulting from the criminal injury. The program also provided financial awards for what is referred to in the law as `pain and suffering', arbitrary awards of money to demonstrate in a token way an atonement by the state on behalf of all citizens for the injury resulting from criminal activity.

Mr. Speaker, in my opinion the essential part of that program was the reimbursement of out of pocket expenses, and particularly the reimbursement of the cost of counselling. Through the publicity of child sexual assault cases, particularly the televising of the Hughes Enquiry hearings, members by now should be aware of the long lasting damage resulting from child sexual assault, trauma that victims deal with and recover from very slowly, typically, and where there is recovery usually only with counselling. Members should also be aware of the difficulty people in this Province have in accessing counselling. For most people there is no counselling provided through hospitals funded by the government. The majority of citizens can receive counselling only on a fee-for-service basis from private counsellors, psychologists, or therapists, and that fee for service counselling is concentrated in the urban centres. For people in rural areas to receive counselling there is not only the fee but also the cost of transportation from home to the counsellors office.

Mr. Speaker, the minister and his predecessor talked about substituting a victim/worker program or a victim counselling program for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. All they have in fact done is put in place a few victim workers in the urban centres with responsibility for urban areas only. For example, in Western Newfoundland the Department of Justice has one victim counsellor, or victim worker, based in Corner Brook, whose formal responsibility is to serve people in only a thirty mile radius of Corner Brook. That victim worker has no responsibility for helping victims of crime who live on the Port au Port Peninsula, who live in Stephenville, who live in Bay St. George, who live in the Codroy Valley, who live in Port aux Basques, who live in Burgeo. That Corner Brook based victim worker has no responsibility for assisting victims of crime who live in Howley, who live in Bonne Bay, who live in Port Saunders, who live in Roddickton, or who live in St. Anthony. Mr. Speaker, what a pathetic substitute. The minister did say that he personally saw the merit of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, given the increase in reports of sexual assault crimes, given society's appreciation of the nature of the damage done by child sexual assault not to mention other personal injury crimes, there is absolutely no excuse for the government's cancellation of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. The government showed no sign of having taken care in reaching this decision. There was no consultation with victims' groups, or advocates for victims. Apparently there was no effort to continue a program at a lower cost. Now, Mr. Speaker, that was an option.

The Province of Nova Scotia eliminated the provision for awards for pain and suffering, but continued provision for reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, including covering the cost of counselling. Now the minister did not even acknowledge that approach to cutting costs.

Now the minister correctly pointed out the pressure put on provinces with the withdrawal of federal support. As I mentioned earlier, my recollection is that federal cost-sharing started at considerably higher than 50 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: My recollection, actually, Mr. Speaker, is that the Province was responsible for the cost of administering the program, for having a board and paying board members, and covering the cost of board members holding hearings, but that the federal government shared perhaps as much as on a 90\10 basis the cost of actual awards.

Now until the mid-eighties, when I became Minister of Justice and tried to ensure that eligible victims accessed the program, what was actually happening is that a disproportionate amount of what was being spent went for the operation of the board, which prior to that time was composed of members of the private Bar. Relatively little of what was spent in total actually went to compensate victims. I regarded that as a ridiculous situation.

Not only did I attempt to rectify that by the measures I described, the publicity and the in-house education for police and Crown attorneys, but I also arranged to have an in-house board. I had the Cabinet appoint lawyers who were already working for the provincial government departments or agencies, who served on the board without additional remuneration. So that dramatically brought down the cost of operating the program, and once the publicity had a chance to work, it resulted in more of what was being spent actually benefitting victims, but the real benefit did not start to occur until the end of the eighties and the early nineties, and that was just about the time that the need arose with more awareness of child sexual assaults and more reporting, and it was just about the time that the federal government began to withdraw its support.

Mr. Speaker, there is a new federal government in office in Ottawa today, and I am disappointed that the minister did not even talk about trying to persuade his counterpart, the new Minister of Justice, Mr. Rock, to re-institute cost-sharing for criminal injuries compensation.

Now I realize the economic realities are different today, or at least our appreciation of them has changed from what was the case twenty years ago, or twenty-five years ago when this program started, but there are definite needs to ensure that victims of crime get reimbursed for expenses that result from the criminal injury, and in particular to ensure that victims of personal injury crimes get counselling and support to enable them to recover from the criminal injury and get on with more normal, productive lives. Society pays in other ways for lingering criminal injury and for prolonged suffering resulting from crime. Members, the same as others in our society, should understand better than ever now the profound damage done to victims of sexual assaults and domestic violence.

Mr. Speaker, the reports done of the Newfoundland and Labrador Social Services Child Welfare system, the reports that the government withheld from the public for over a year, illustrate the shocking increase in reports of child abuse. Many of those reports of child abuse involve criminal activity. The victims should be able to access some kind of financial compensation so that they can get counselling. The Minister of Social Services would have to admit to the findings of the covered up report, the findings that indicate a major staff shortage, an inability on the part of the Social Services personnel to cope with the current child abuse caseload. The reality is that most of the professionals working for the minister's department are pre-occupied with the financial assistance program, that badly strained welfare program. Relatively little time of the Social Services social workers is free to do actual social work. To do counselling to deal with child welfare or youth corrections' problems.

So victims of crime - children who are abused, dysfunctional families - have to look elsewhere for counselling. Those who were the victims of criminal injury, and that would be a significant number of the child abuse caseload, formerly could access the Criminal Injuries Compensation program and get money to cover the costs of counselling - travelling to counsellors, and counsellors' fees.

I've already pointed out that the minister's substitute, the Victim Worker program, is pathetically inadequate, for a start because it doesn't cover most of the Province. There are eleven provincial districts in Western Newfoundland from St. Anthony to Ramea. For those eleven districts the minister has provided one worker who covers three and a half districts. In the areas that are not covered there are few if any counsellors available to people for a fee or not. It is the people in the rural parts of our Province who are most disadvantaged by the abolition of the Criminal Injuries Compensation program.

When the minister speaks to conclude the debate I would like him to address the question of reinstating a Criminal Injuries Compensation program, at least to cover out of pocket expenses, at least to fund needed counselling for victims to recover, and I would like for him to indicate his willingness to take this up with his new federal counterpart.

Next, I would like to ask the minister: If he claims that the Victim Worker Program is a substitute for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program, why hasn't he provided workers for the rural parts of the Province? Why aren't there workers for the majority of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and why are the workers who are there, in the urban centres, which already are the best-served by hospital social workers and psychologists, which already are the best-served with private fee-for-service counsellors? It is the people in the rural areas who have the most difficulty accessing counselling and who have to incur the greatest cost to see a counsellor. Why isn't there anything at all for them?

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest, contrary to the minister's intimation, that there was no thought or care involved in the Budget decision to scrap the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. I would suggest to the minister that he was brand new in his position at the time, and that the Treasury Board analyst, basically, struck the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program from the books without even allowing the Minister of Justice or his officials to have any involvement in the exercise. Because, in the current set-up, it is Junior Budget analyst with Treasury Board, fresh out of Memorial with Bachelor of Business Administration degrees, who have the real say in Budget decisions; it isn't the ministers, it isn't the deputy ministers, it is the Junior Budget analyst. I would submit that the decision to scrap the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program was essentially made in the bowels of Treasury Board and the minister didn't fully understand what was at stake until he heard his colleague, the Minister of Finance, make the announcement in the Budget Speech.

MR. ROBERTS: Is the hon. lady saying -

MS. VERGE: Now, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - there might be an excuse for the minister's failure at that time, after all, he was brand new, he didn't even have a seat in the House of Assembly at the time. But the minister is well-ensconced in the Justice Department now, the minister is well-read; the minister should have a keen appreciation of the need for victim support and victim counselling, especially for victims of personal injury crimes, sexual assaults, physical assaults, domestic violence crimes, and the minister should act immediately to co-operate with the Minister of Social Services and the minister responsible for the Status of Women - who seems to find this whole issue amusing - in putting back an adequate compensation program for victims of personal injury crimes, at least, a program that will allow victims to access counselling.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has a role to play as well, but the minister's whole approach to dealing with victims of crime is quite shameful. This Administration made a great to-do about the Royal Commission inquiry into Mount Cashel. The government spent millions of dollars for that inquiry. The process served the purpose of educating people about the profound damage, the long-lasting damage done when a child is sexually assaulted. Having gained that knowledge and understanding, the government has done precious little about it. People were encouraged to disclose abuse and come forward to the authorities; some have been damaged worse by the criminal justice process, arguably, than they were damaged by the initial crime, because proper supports have not been put in place to assist victims through the criminal justice process or to see that they get needed counselling during and after that process.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear the minister responsible for the Status of Women and the Minister of Social Services comment on this bill - this bill that legally abolishes the criminal injuries compensation program. Now, this legal measure is being put forward almost two years after the budget decision to cut off applications. Now, I would argue, Mr. Speaker, that victims were eligible to apply ever since, but this bill, typical of so many other shoddy measures of the Wells Administration, purports to retroactively wipe out that right. The bill would repeal the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act altogether, totally wipe it out, not even allow a reduced lower cost version of the program, and not take the Nova Scotia approach of continuing to allow awards to reimburse victims for out-of-pocket expenses or to provide compensation for counselling.

Then, the bill goes on to say, where a person who believed that he/she had a right to receive compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act failed to make an application for compensation before March 27, 1992, a right that that person may have had, is extinguished. And finally, subsection (1) is considered to have come into force on March 26, 1992. What a way to treat victims of crime! What a way for the government to make legislation!

Mr. Speaker, what infuriates me about all of this is that members of the government don't even show any reluctance or regret at cancelling this program. They glibly, blithely say that another program has been put in its place. That is no substitute - a few victim workers in urban centres. Who is serving victims in the Port de Grave district?

MR. EFFORD: I am looking after them. There are no problems in Port de Grave.

MS. VERGE: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation may be good, but he can't even say with a straight face that he has the ability to counsel victims of personal injury crimes, and he is a former Minister of Social Services, a former defender of young people in trouble with the law. How times change! Where is the social conscience now? Why isn't the minister speaking up on behalf of -


MS. VERGE: - youth and adults who are victims of personal injury crimes? What is the minister doing to ensure provision of counselling for victims in rural areas such as his district? Does the minister realize that all that his colleague, the Minister of Justice, has put in place is workers in the urban centres? In Western Newfoundland, I say to the minister, where there are eleven provincial electoral districts, there is one worker based in Corner Brook, whose formal responsibility is to cover an area with a 30-mile radius of Corner Brook. That worker formally is directed to serve victims only in three-and-a-half electoral districts. That worker can't help victims - of course, the workload would be impossible in any case - but that worker is not mandated to help victims in most of the Humber Valley district, in the St. Barbe district, in the Strait of Bell Isle district, in Stephenville district, in Port au Port district, in St. George's district, in LaPoile district or in Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir. Now, where is the minister's substitute for all of those districts?

MR. EFFORD: How many did you put there when you were Minister of Justice?

MS. VERGE: When I was Minister of Justice, I say to the minister, we had a Criminal Injuries Compensation Program which provided financial compensation for out-of-pocket expenses and also awards for pain and suffering. Mr. Speaker, it is inexcusable for the government to cancel that program, to wipe it out totally, to not even continue compensation for counselling, not even make a provision for a victim of a child sexual assault who lives in Bay Roberts to get to a counsellor in St. John's, to cover the costs of transportation or the counselling fees - nothing at all.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the former Minister of Social Services can't say with a straight face that that problem doesn't exist in his district. I challenge the minister to discuss in this debate the findings of the American Child Welfare League on the grave problems in the Child Welfare division of the Department of Social Services, with a caseload that has increased, what - twelvefold, fourteenfold, in the last few years?

MR. EFFORD: I brought in fifty new workers when I was minister.

MS. VERGE: The minister brought in fifty new workers, but that increase did not keep pace with the rise in reports of child abuse, and that has been conclusively established by independent experts. Even the former Director of Child Welfare, Mr. Stapleton, who was conveniently moved to another job, wrote in his assessment that major improvements and increases of resources were needed to cope adequately at all with the child welfare problems.

Now, the minister is nodding his head in agreement. Mr. Speaker, all those child welfare problems require counselling. A majority, or many, at any rate, of the child welfare cases, involve criminal activity, involve incest, involve other types of sexual abuse of children, involve physical mistreatment of children, which constitute criminal activity.

The criminal process, in itself, is traumatic. Some victims have said that that experience, going through the criminal justice system, was as bad as, or maybe worse than the damage from the criminal activity, itself. Who is there to support people through that process? There are a few workers in place in the urban centres. There is nobody in Bonavista North, I say to the Minister of Social Services, there is nobody in Port de Grave, there is nobody in Terra Nova district. The Department of Justice doesn't have victim workers for the rural parts of the Province, and in the rural areas there aren't the hospital personnel who are available to people in some other parts of the Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in Corner Brook there are some hospital personnel, but not as many as there used to be. Unfortunately, the child therapy people at the hospital in Corner Brook are no longer dealing with people on an out-patient basis. Because of personnel reductions, they now are only helping in-patients. So that is another source of help for victims of crime which has been cut back.

MR. EFFORD: What would you suggest?

MS. VERGE: What I would suggest, I say to the minister, is a reinstatement of a Criminal Injuries Compensation program to the extent the Province can afford covering, at the very least, reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses, particularly costs associated with counselling. Mr. Speaker, I see the greatest need for that program being a need of victims in rural parts of the Province.

I ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, does he realize that his colleague, the Minister of Justice, is justifying the cancellation of the compensation program by the substitution of workers, yet he has put the workers only in a few rural areas? There is one in his own district, in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, there is one in my district, in Corner Brook -

MR. EFFORD: There are three in my district.

MS. VERGE: - there is one in Central Newfoundland, maybe two, perhaps one in Grand Falls and one in Gander, and there are a couple here in St. John's. There is nobody for Bay Roberts or Coley's Point, nobody for Badger's Quay, nobody for Victoria. There is nobody for Doyles, I say to the Member for St. George's.

MR. EFFORD: What did you do about it?

MS. VERGE: There is nobody for Holyrood, I say to the Member for Harbour Main, nobody for Piccadilly, I say to the Member for Port au Port -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: nobody for Ramea or Burgeo, I say to the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir, nobody for Lethbridge, I say to the Member for Terra Nova. Is Lethbridge in Terra Nova district? Somebody can correct me if I am wrong. And there is nobody for Eagle River district; nobody for Forteau.

What does a victim of a personal injury crime in Forteau do for counselling? The person does without. Now, there might be fee-for-service counselling available in St. Anthony, but how does the person in Forteau get over to St. Anthony for the counselling?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I can't say enough about the regressive nature of this bill wiping out the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program. It is regressive at a time when members should be more conscious than ever before about the need to help and support and assist victims of personal injury crimes.

What was the point of the Hughes Inquiry? What did we really learn from the Hughes Inquiry? To look at what we have done - precious little. What difference did the Hughes Inquiry really make? It cost some money. Are we really responding any better to the plight of child sexual assault? It is not obvious to me. I don't know if the Minister of Social Services wants to have something to say about this; he should. The loss of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program is a great detriment to the individual children and families on his child abuse caseload.

The former Minister of Social Services, the former night-crawler champion of youth in trouble with the law should be concerned about this. Perhaps if he weren't back in Cabinet he would be speaking out about it.

MR. EFFORD: Now, be nice!

MS. VERGE: He displayed some independence of thought when he was a backbencher. He didn't often do that by rising and speaking in debate, but he frequently did it through his heckling and facial gestures.

What about the minister responsible for the Status of Women, who is absent for the moment? Does she have any concern about wiping out the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program?

Do any of the members opposite have any influence on the Minister of Justice? Does the Minister of Justice talk to members sitting on government benches about important justice decisions such as cancelling the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program? Have members opposite talked to the minister about the need for programs of assistance to victims of crime?

Now, the Member for Port au Port represents a district where there has been community action, through the Bay St. George Status of Women Council and others, to provide some response and help and support to victims of child abuse. Does the Member for Port au Port have any views about the effect of wiping out entirely financial assistance for victims of crime? Does the Member for Port au Port believe that with financial assistance some of his constituents who need counselling, but cannot now access it, could get it and benefit from it?

Does anyone on the opposite side have any idea about what we should be doing to support victims of crime and help them get over the damage done as a result of the crime?

It seems as though the Minister of Justice intended to simply ram this measure through the House of Assembly today. It appears as though he has muzzled members opposite. None of the members opposite are taking part in discussion of bills, and I say to Your Honour and members of the House, this is the most important bill that we have dealt with in this sitting of the House of Assembly. This is the most important measure that we have had before us. It has to do with assistance to victims of crime. Surprisingly, it is not a measure to give even a small amount of additional assistance. It is a measure to take away assistance that formerly was available.

Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge that the withdrawal of federal funding put a strain on the provincial government. I condemned the federal withdrawal when the Mulroney government made that decision. But I think we should all unite now in calling on the new government to resume cost-sharing with provinces, financial compensation for victims of crime. I haven't heard the Minister of Justice even hint that he has that thought in his mind. Perhaps he has, and perhaps he will enlighten us when he speaks to conclude the debate. Perhaps members opposite have been considering measures to assist victims of crime. Perhaps later in the debate we will hear from the Member for Port au Port, perhaps we will hear from the Member for Terra Nova. Those new members may have some useful fresh ideas for the consideration of the House of Assembly about how the provincial government can assist and support victims of crime.

Remember, this financial compensation program that is being abolished was specifically to assist victims of personal injury crimes. Most personal injury crimes are sexual assaults, and many victims, sadly, are children. Many victims of personal injury crimes are also women who are abused in a domestic setting. The losers through this bill are the most vulnerable people in our society, children and women who have been beaten and sexually violated. The losers are not powerful. The losers have very little power in our society. They are not even aware that we are talking about this here this morning.


MS. VERGE: The Member for Port de Grave is listening, and I appreciate that. I am hoping that later in the debate he will participate in this discussion. Because I would say that if he and his seat-mate, the Minister of Social Services, put their heads together, they could come up with a new program, perhaps a modified program, but nevertheless, some program that will help victims of crime throughout the Province, the victims in the rural areas who really have nothing now.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks -

MR. ROBERTS: Those few remarks.

MS. VERGE: - those few remarks, I will repeat my challenge to members opposite, new members as well as experienced members, back-benchers as well as Cabinet ministers, to speak up here this morning, speak up in private discussions with the Minister of Justice, speak out publicly, reach out to women's groups and victims' advocates and unite with us in calling on the federal government to reinstate funding to assist victims of personal injury crimes, to ensure that child sexual assault victims, adult sexual assault victims, victims of domestic violence and other victims of personal injury crimes, get the counselling they need to recover from the criminal injury as quickly as possible and go on to have productive lives. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (L. Snow): The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak on this bill because I think it is probably one of the most important government measures that we have seen this term that indicates an approach to social programs of a very important nature. I was going to suggest that the members on the opposite side are becoming part of what might be called a `closet reform party' by doing away with programs that have been instituted as a part of our social fabric. Now the Minister of Justice referred to it as an idea that somebody up in Ottawa thought up a few years ago and convinced the provinces, by cost-sharing mechanisms, to get involved and that is the origin of the notion of criminal injuries compensation but, Mr. Speaker, that is not correct at all.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: The idea of criminal injuries compensation has its origin in the notion that the state tries to control crime by an extensive expenditure on a police force, by a justice department and looks after policing efforts and punishes criminals, puts them in jail, spends a considerable amount of money attempting to reform them, et cetera and also to act as a deterrent and punish them as well. That responsibility to the citizens also includes the responsibility to the victims of crime. So that if somebody, as a result of the criminal activity of members of society, suffers unduly, that the state take some responsibility, only some responsibility, to try and mitigate that loss. That is the idea of criminal injuries compensation, Mr. Speaker. It is not some fancy program that somebody thought up in Ottawa a few years ago but in fact it is a well recognized responsibility of the modern state.

It is something that I know myself from years ago when I studied in England - I, in fact, was at a conference sponsored by the European Community which talked about criminal injuries compensation and talked about developing a model legislation for the European communities. It is something that most of the European communities have put in place and is recognized as a responsibility of a state to look after the victims of crime, not just through ordinary social services that might be available to anyone, but because they have been particular victims of criminal activity.

So, Mr. Speaker, in doing this we are not just being asked as members of this Legislature to give legislative approval to a budgetary decision made by a government, a Cabinet, last year covered in one line in the budget, that we will no longer accept applications for crimes compensation. What we are doing here is wiping out a program that has become a feature of the modern state that recognizes responsibility to victims of crime. That is what we are being asked to do and that is a strike against our social fabric. If more people were aware of the importance of criminal injuries compensation, such as they are, of health care, of education and other social services, the government would not be able to get away with this because the place would be filled with people complaining about the governments callous disregard for the problems caused to victims of crime. It is particularly important, Mr. Speaker, in our Province today because, as the Member for Humber East has said, it is just coming the time when members of society, when victims of crime were taking advantage of this program because it was made available to them, they were notified of it by Crown prosecutors, they became aware of it, took advantage of it and were able to get assistance.

Part of the reason for the great increase in approach and access to the crimes compensation board resulted from the Hughes Enquiry, not directly but indirectly. When the government announced the Hughes Enquiry, and the enquiry got going, the stories from the young men from Mount Cashel became known in this Province, nationally and internationally, people all over this Province who have themselves been victims of crimes, particularly sexual assault, were given the courage to come forward and tell their stories to police, to social workers and eventually to courts and judges and to bring out excruciating histories of their past.

This was a painful experience, Mr. Speaker, for them and still is. An excruciating personal tragedy that they, as a result of the Hughes Inquiry, were given courage to bring forth and try to deal with themselves, instead of being further victimized by having to repress these memories, to pretend that they never happened, and often, and in many cases, continue to associate on a daily basis with the perpetrators of these crimes. The psychological damage done to these individuals is very considerable.

I'm surprised that hon. members from the districts of this Province who ought to know of the great pain caused by sexual assault perpetrators, particularly children who have lived with that pain for ten and fifteen, and sometimes more, years, without being able to deal with it, without being able to get assistance, when they come forward - and I say this from personal experience in dealing with victims of this kind of crime - and open their psyches from the protective walls that they've built up over the years, they are very vulnerable. They need help, they need assistance, they need counselling, and that is not something that can be looked after by the new program that the minister has set forth.

I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he thinks that it will. I say to him that that is not the case and cannot be the case. The Criminal Injuries Compensation program gave access to a number of types of remedies or monies for several different heads. Money was available for out of pocket expenses. If an individual - not just a victim of sexual crime, but a victim of assault, for example, on the streets - had clothes destroyed or that type of thing, compensation for that, compensation for transportation expenses, ambulance services which individuals have to pay for, and also a maximum amount of $6,000 for pain and suffering. That is not a very high amount when you consider some of the pain and suffering endured by victims of crime.

Some victims could end up in the hospital for many years as a result of serious criminal activity. Criminal negligence, for example, in the operation of a motor vehicle, would attract that type of dangerous, long-term injury. Ordinary assault victims can suffer ongoing trauma. I know of one case of a stabbing victim having very serious psychological impairment for a number of years following a stabbing incident on the streets of St. John's several years ago. These are individuals who are innocent victims of criminal activity perpetrated upon them who have an opportunity to apply for compensation to get some money for pain and suffering, a very small amount compared to other provinces.

I know that in the Province of Ontario, for example, the amount of money available for criminal injuries compensation for pain and suffering was four times what we had here in Newfoundland. Perhaps that could be justified by our lesser fiscal capacity, perhaps that could be justified by our lesser fiscal capacity. I am willing to accept that there could be different levels of compensation in different parts of the country because of the very different financial circumstances we might find ourselves in, but it must bear some relation, Mr. Speaker, to the damages caused.

In addition, if an individual, as a result of being a victim of a crime, lost work. Someone may have been victimized, a victim of sexual assault, rape, a victim of a physical assault, assault causing bodily harm and could be in hospital for a week or ten days and lose pay. Who should suffer that loss, Mr. Speaker, the innocent victim? Should the innocent victim lose two weeks pay or should that victim somehow be compensated by the state in the first instance?

The perpetrator of the crime sometimes may not even be known. Sometimes you might not even know who it is. A victim of assault is found on the street, unconscious, having been struck by an assailant, ends up in hospital for two or three weeks, loses three weeks pay and does not know who the perpetrator is, the perpetrator is never found and there is nobody to sue.

We have a criminal injuries compensation system that says the state will remove from that individual the burden of losing three weeks pay and will compensate them. That is what the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is all about. It recognized the states responsibility to that individual. The state may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases trying to find criminals and if they catch them they put them in jail. We know the cost, Mr. Speaker, of keeping someone in jail. I think it was said in the House last year that it was $130 per day per individual to keep someone down at HMP. That is what we spend if we do catch somebody and we put them in jail. We could spend the amount of money that would be given to a criminal injuries compensation applicant in a matter of weeks.

We are not talking about a great deal of money but we are talking about fairness, Mr. Speaker, fairness of public expenditure for the victims as well as public expenditure on the other side, in policing, in prosecuting, in providing rehabilitation and reformation for the perpetrator. I think we are going to be in a shocking state of affairs, Mr. Speaker, if a perpetrator of a crime can have thousands and thousands, and tens of thousands of dollars of public money spent on trying to rehabilitate him or her. They are going to be advantaged by the system by having public money spent to rehabilitate them, thousands of dollars, counselling, group therapy sessions, special jails, special programs developed. The perpetrators are going to be looked after. I will not say, coddled. They are going to be looked after, they are going to be helped. The rehabilitative approach to corrections in this country dictates that if the perpetrator of a crime can be helped then a program will be developed and money will be spent, tens of thousands of dollars on each individual, to look after them and to try to make them better. What about the victims? What about the innocent victim who has no control over what is done to them? We are now saying to those innocent victims, you are on your own. Let the loss fall where it may. Let the victim suffer the loss and let us use our public funds to look after the perpetrator. That is what we are saying when we pass this legislation. I think that this legislation is indicative of an attitude of government that says we cannot afford to look after our people. We can afford to spend money looking after criminals, we can lock them up, we can feed them, we can house them, we can have programs for them, but we cannot afford to look after the victims of crime. When this government - I guess it was this government - the Hughes Inquiry was announced by the former Minister of Justice, but it was this government that conducted the inquiry. When this government unleashed the outpouring of the excruciating past of so many people, first of all in the Mount Cashel, the effect of it was Province-wide, Mr. Speaker, and resulted in the seven hundredfold increase in reporting of sexual assaults. Not necessarily new ones. They were old. Most of them had taken place two, five, ten, fifteen years ago. These people, Mr. Speaker, if they had been able to report those crimes because of the societal changes at that time, and if they had gotten the kind of assistance that a criminal injuries compensation system would give to them, they would be much better off today than they are now.

I say to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Social Services that the victims of crime now, if they are able to be looked after now by counselling, will be able to have the damage that was done to them by the crime considerably lessened. I say that from my own research into the long-term effects in particular of sexual assault on young children. If you are able to provide the support and counselling that is required and necessary very close to at the time of the perpetration - and that may not be, and that is not just a very short period of time, but the kind of counselling that is needed at that time - then the psychological damage that is done is very much lessened.

I say this because cost consciousness is important but also compassion is important. If that is done at the time of a criminal injury, of sexual assault in particular, that the long-term costs to the society will be considerably lessened as well. The cost of the Social Services Department in later looking after victims of crime when they become adults and have difficulties operating within society. In some cases the cost to society of victims of crime themselves becoming a part of the criminal system and using up government funds to deal with that. Many victims of sexual assault, for example, have difficult problems with addictions, with alcohol, with drugs, as a result of the psychological consequences of sexual assaults as children.

These costs for treatment, for social loss, in addition to the significant human cost to the individual, are very great indeed. I ask hon. members opposite - in fact, I'm going to go farther than ask, I'm going to plead with hon. members opposite, particularly those in the back benches who may be new to the system and may not be fully aware of the consequences of removing this protection from their constituents in the form of criminal injuries compensation.

This is particularly true for rural areas where access to services is so limited. I'm aware of people who have had crimes compensation awards who lived in remote areas and had to travel to St. John's or Corner Brook for counselling services that they would never be able to afford if they did not have this kind of criminal injuries compensation, an individual travelling from Stephenville to Corner Brook, for example, once every two weeks, to get a counselling session that is so vital to his psychological well-being. Some of these counselling requirements go on for six months, some might go on for a year, or some for two years and more perhaps, in order to enable an individual to cope with the consequences of a criminal act committed against him or her.

These counselling services are not available. The Minister of Social Services does not provide those services, he cannot provide those services he does not have the people to do it and he does not have the funds to do it in his department. He does not have the programs to it. The Victims Services Program which the minister referred to, which all the government resources are apparently putting in to it, is totally inadequate to deal with these problems and let me say further that it is not designed to deal with these problems; it is not designed to deal with the ongoing problems of individual victims of crime.

The Victims Services Program is designed specifically to look after individuals, through the criminal court process, that is what it is there for and very necessary, no doubt about it. I have seen over the years, and mostly as defense counsel, because I have never acted as a prosecutor, but mostly as defense counsel, I have seen the victims of criminal acts, particularly difficult trials, where, there are allegations of sexual assault and denials and the usual kind of things that goes on, the victim being treated as just another witness, being treated in a callous manner, really, from their point of view, the prosecutors there doing their job and the witnesses waiting, sometimes for a day, or two and three days waiting to be called as a witness, all of a sudden they are on the stand being cross-examined by an apparently hostile defense counsel in a very foreign setting about very personal and intimate details of their lives and that has been referred to as a further victimization of victims of crime, done in the interest of justice for the alleged criminal, Mr. Speaker, but nevertheless having a very negative affect on the individual who has spoken up about a crime committed against him or her and sometimes very young children are involved, so a Victims Services Program is very necessary.

I have seen some prosecutors whom I hold in very high regard go out of their way to ensure that victims of crime are not treated as mere witnesses in a criminal trial but whose needs are looked after, but that is the exception, Mr. Speaker, because of the constraints of the system and the demands on prosecutors, as well as some individuals not being aware of the great necessity for it, so the Victims Services Program is very good, because it can provide that on the spot service, in a trial situation, to a victim of crime to make sure they understand the system, to make sure they get the respect they deserve from the system, even to the extent of being aware of what the progress of cases is, why the days are going on, when the matter is coming to court, what a preliminary inquiry is versus what a trial is, all of this stuff, a victim of crime needs to know about to be able to feel that they are treated fairly by the system and not just a cog in it, they are after all the reason.

The act that was perpetrated against them is the reason for all of this activity in the court in the first place, and victims have not been given proper attention by the judicial system and by the administration of justice system, so I welcome the Victims Services Program to the extent that it is able to assist that, and the Member for Humber East has pointed out its inadequacies, and perhaps we will have some promises from the minister to rectify those inadequacies, I don't know, but nevertheless, that is not a replacement for criminal injuries compensation. I say it is not intended as, it is not designed as a replacement for Criminal Injuries Compensation, it does not do the job of Criminal Injuries Compensation and it will not in any respect make up for the loss of this to victims of crimes past and to victims of crimes in the future.

So I say to hon. members that this is a very, very regressive, retrogressive piece of legislation. I say leave it on the books, make some attempt to examine how this system could work at a lesser cost. Consult, consult and consult with people in the field who know what goes on with victims of crime. Consult with the working group on child sexual abuse; consult with the Status of Women Councils who have been dealing with these problems all across this Province, consult with the transition houses who deal with victims of crimes; consult with Crown prosecutors who are daily operating with situations that are most excruciating and difficult. Consult with the police forces; consult with anyone who wants to have a say as to how a system could be designed to help victims to deal with the consequences of being victims of crime, but do not throw it out the door.

If it means taking away the pain and suffering award and leaving the other aspects, the counselling, the therapy needs, the out of pocket expenses, leaving that there at a lesser cost, I would prefer to see that, Mr. Speaker, than to see the system wiped out and the Crown and the government and the state say that we are not taking any direct responsibility on an individual, one on one basis, to a victim of crime.

This legislation, Mr. Speaker, I think is very good. It says that a person has a right to compensation. It says `... a right to compensation. Nobody has a right to victims services, except as a general citizen they can go and ask for services. If they are in Burgeo they do not have a right to it because they do not have any services there. If you are in Burgeo and you are a victim of crime you have a right, under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act, to make an application; and people from the South Coast, from Harbour Breton and from other places, have had awards from Criminal Injuries Compensation. So that is available to everyone in the Province, Mr. Speaker, on an equal basis. The Victims Services Program is not, and I have not heard a promise that it will be; and it is, as I say, a program that is designed for a different purpose - designed to help people through the court process, not designed to compensate victims of crime.

This legislation, I hope it does not pass, Mr. Speaker. I hope the government will see that there is a possibility of perhaps amending the legislation so that pain and suffering awards might be suspended for a time to allow the Minister of Justice and his Cabinet to consult with their federal counterparts, consult with other provinces, to see what they are doing. I know of no one else who has wiped out crimes compensation. I know Nova Scotia has made modifications to their plan, but they have not wiped it out. I think they have removed the pain and suffering award - I am not sure - but they have still kept the basic right in tact, the right to some form of compensation from the state for victims of crime. I do not think we should lose that, Mr. Speaker. I think we are on a slippery slope if we do.

There are many other rights that individuals have, social rights, social programs, that we see on the block as an excuse - the excuse that is used - and we hear that from the Reform Party. Their excuse used is fiscal, but the reality is that we are changing the nature of our society and taking away the kind of caring society that we have been trying to develop in Canada over the last number of years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. minister speaks now, he closes the debate. The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I think we have ventilated the subject thoroughly, so I will not be very long.

I do not disagree with much of what my friend from St. John's East said, and even some of what my friend from Humber East said, although I must say, listening to her speak is a little like having one's teeth drilled without an anaesthetic. She just keeps going on and on and on, and it keeps getting more and more painful.

AN HON. MEMBER: Be nice now.

MR. ROBERTS: I am being nice. If one makes a good point, by the thirty-seventh time it is made it loses it effect. Let me just make a couple of comments.

The hon. gentleman from St. John's East is correct when he says that -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Here I am, making a few conciliatory remarks, and I am being viciously attacked by gentlemen on the other side again, Mr. Speaker. The only thing is, being attacked by gentlemen on the other side is a little like being lashed with wet macaroni.

Mr. Speaker, let me get on with this and bring it to a conclusion. The hon. gentleman for St. John's East makes some valid points. The issue is, how much we, in society, should, as a group, be able to do to compensate individuals who are affected by others.

We have not repealed this program, or anything in this program, because we argue against that principle. We have ended it because given the means at our disposal we simply are not able, in our judgement, to do all that we want to do, and this is one of the things that we have dropped.

Repealing the act is simply tidying up a loose end, something that was done two or three years ago. The major theme of what both hon. members said was the need for victim services workers. Now, I realize that is separate and apart from the crimes compensation thing. The problem with crimes compensation was that it did not necessarily represent a wise use of scarce resources in that they did not go to the people who needed them. They often went, as with any tortious type of thing to those who reached out and grabbed. We have chosen instead to put our money into a victim services program. We have four workers in place now. The hon. lady for Humber East went on at great lengths about how overworked the people in Corner Brook are, and I agree with her, but I will say two things, she ought to have realized, and perhaps simply did not remember, that we are committed to expanding the program and in fact we are now nearly at the point where we can advertise for, I think, six or eight new workers who will be coming on as soon as the PSC process of the applications. That was provided in this year's Budget. We are committed to do that and we are doing it. We are doing it because we believe that is the best way to use scarce resources. I can tell my hon. friend for Humber East that some of those workers will be stationed in Western Newfoundland. From memory, I think, one goes on the Northern Peninsula, the other goes in Bay St. George, and that is a stationing determined by the caseloads and by the forecast workloads.

The only other comment I would make at this time, Mr. Speaker, is to say on behalf of all of us that when the hon. lady spoke of junior treasury board analysts, and she gave us the benefit of her views on this point, I can only say that it sounds familiar. My friend the Minister of Finance, and I, and other members of Treasury Board, that caring gentle group of ministers who are charged with doing the impossible, getting a quart of water out of a pint bottle, or trying to make the financial means at our disposal go as far as they should go, can only say that this is an all too familiar attack, and not simply from the hon. lady. It comes from our own colleagues as well and I am prompted to ask her, whether when she was a minister - I do not know if she served on Treasury Board or not, I could look that up, I suppose, she would have heard the same charge made to her then - and I think she nodded acquiescence that in fact she did get fingered by the Premier of the day to serve on Treasury Board -

MR. BAKER: If we could only find that one -

MR. ROBERTS: - but whether she made the same plaint then that she makes now - and my friend the Minister of Finance says: if we could only find this junior analyst who has such great power, the very least we would make him or her the opposition finance spokesman and thereby elevate the level of debate very greatly.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Repeal The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act," read a second time, referred to a Committee of the Whole House tomorrow. (Bill No. 29)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we now go to Order 27, Bill No. 28, moving right along here?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judicature Act." (Bill No. 28)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, this is an Act To Amend The Judicature Act. It implements a decision taken in the budgetary process a couple of years ago. What was done was this, we closed the judicial centre at Brigus and this bill -

AN HON. MEMBER: Why did you do that?

MR. ROBERTS: We did that because in looking at the resources available to us in the sense of judges and officials, and after consultation with the Chief Justice of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court, we decided, it was our decision but the judges, of course, were consulted, we decided it would be a better use of scarce traditional resources to close the judicial centre at Brigus and to move the judge station there - it was then Mr. Justice O'Regan, into St. John's so that is what was done. It has worked very well over the last couple of years. There was not universal approbation at the time. Some of the lawyers who practice on the north side of Conception Bay had concerns but these appear to have been allayed. The court still sits at Brigus when needed. When council wish to hear matters at Brigus, the judge goes in and sits and hears it, just as the judge does at Clarenville or other places that are not judicial centres but are still circuit points.

Mr. Speaker, unless hon. members have some questions or some concerns, I will let the debate go by simply moving second reading. It is a very straightforward piece of legislation.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A couple of quick questions. I have no quarrel with the move to eliminate the Brigus judicial centre and merge that with St. John's but when, a few years ago, there was some question about phasing out Brigus as a judicial centre, some members of the Bar and judges talked about the idea of creating a judicial centre for much of the Avalon Peninsula and the Bonavista Peninsula at Clarenville. The minister did reflect the fact that the Supreme Court does go on circuit from the remaining five judicial centres, but I am wondering if there is any thought currently to establishing another judicial centre at Clarenville or for that matter anywhere else to serve the area formerly covered by the Brigus judicial centre?

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. minister speaks now, he closes the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I gather no other member wants to speak. What I shall say to the hon. lady is that - there are six other judicial centres by the way, not five. She forgot either Grand Bank or Labrador and one would be (inaudible) and the other would be utterly unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, we have examined recently the question of whether we would move the judicial centre now at Grand Bank to Clarenville -


MR. ROBERTS: - which I think is the same - Well my hon. friend does not need to get his knickers in a knot for a moment. That I think is the concern the hon. lady was putting forward. Now let me explain to the House why the timing now?... and then I will give the answer. We are not going to move it but I will tell you why.

The judges are appointed of course, these are Section 96 judges, these are appointed by the Government of Canada. Because of the principles of judicial independence, which of course, are paramount and must be observed and properly so, we have the right as a Cabinet, under the Judicature Act to approve the initial posting of a judge to a judicial centre, but once that judge is in a judicial centre, then he or she may only be moved with consent for obvious reasons.

Now the Grand Bank judicial centre is currently vacant. Mr. Justice Green who served there for two or three years has now been moved into St. John's and transferred to the judicial centre here. No judge has been appointed to sit in Grand Bank, I don't why, I have had some consultations with officials in Ottawa and there is a need to have a judge appointed. I believe Chief Justice Hickman of the Trial Division has also been urging an appointment be made but for whatever reason, no appointment has been made. It may have been caught up in the election process -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The judge should be bilingual? In fact we had our first bilingual criminal trial in Gander, oh no, sir, it is coming up in January, the first bilingual criminal trial I think held in this Province. Mr. Justice Roberts, in deference to him, I hasten to say no relation, will be holding the trial and it will be held in Gander simply because the Crown and the defence counsel have agreed that that is a more convenient place for all concerned. It is these men from St. Pierre who have been charged with breach of the fishery regulations -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Grand Bank.

MR. ROBERTS: No, my hon. friend says it should be in Grand Bank. All concerned, court and counsel have agreed that Gander would be a more convenient place so that is why it has been moved. But Mr. Justice Roberts will be hearing that trial and I understand it will be conducted entirely in French, the first time that has happened in this Province, but in any event, with the Grand Bank centre being vacant, we have an opportunity to revisit the issue, we have looked at it; we have discussed it with Chief Justice Hickman and I believe my officials have been in touch with Mr. Justice Green -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, Derek Green, who was there for two or three years in Grand Bank, succeeding Mr. Justice Easton and it has been decided we should not move it, that the workloads are such, that the present disposition of judges is the appropriate one, so we are going to continue for the time being and we will see where we go.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I can say to my hon. friend from Grand Bank that there has been an unusual pattern to criminal activity recently on the South Coast. He may know more about it than I, but the disposition of the RCMP has changed. We have put substantially more officers in Burin.

MR. TOBIN: There are some people who would suggest that (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I have no doubt, as my friend from Burin - Placentia West says, there are those who say we should transfer them out. I can say to the contrary, the word should go out that we are having a new fast, boat built -

MR. TOBIN: In Marystown?

MR. ROBERTS: The RCMP are building it. I am not sure where it is built.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The Government of Canada is building it, is it, in -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It could be; I do not know. It was ordered by the Tory government in Ottawa. It probably went to Quebec; I do not know. Anyway, the RCMP are having it built.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, my understanding is that this new boat, in conjunction with radar, will be very effective. Also, the new penalties are very effective. Also, with reference to the courts, we are going to be charging people under the Provincial Statutes, and the Provincial Statute offenses are dealt with in the provincial court, which is interesting.

The phenomenon we have seen whereby everybody was exercising their right to a jury trail, under the Criminal Code, will not continue to be the problem it has been. I think we have probably had more jury trials per capita on the Burin Peninsula than in any other part of the Province the last few years. People charged have a right and, of course, we respect their rights scrupulously.

In any event, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: If one is charged with offenses under the Provincial Statutes, these charges, in my understanding, are dealt with in the provincial court. The House has approved strong amendments to the Alcoholic Liquors Act last spring, and we have equal or comparable amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act which my friend, the Finance Minister, will bring in. In fact, I will tell you how far we are prepared to go. The hon. gentleman can mention this to anyone who may ask of him - I know he has no personal knowledge - that if the police apprehend somebody who is using a vehicle in unlawful activity, they have the right to seize that vehicle, and we are going to ask the House for authority to make that seizure override the rights of any lien holders.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That is exactly it. We are prepared to go... We think the matter is serious enough. Now that does not wipe out the person's debt. He or she will still owe the money to the bank, but we will have the vehicle, and they can make their own peace with the bank.

Also, in the event somebody wants to lend a truck - we were running into this problem, where people were borrowing vehicles and saying to the police officer: Well, it is not my truck; you cannot seize it. The answer is: You had better go talk to your friend, buddy, because we now have the vehicle."

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to tolerate these unlawful activities. Any proper means that we can find to stop them, we will do. There will be another day for that.

MS. VERGE: What about entrepreneurship?

MR. ROBERTS: My hon. friend asked about entrepreneurship. There are some types of entrepreneurship that we probably do not feel fall within the Strategic Economic Plan.

I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judicature Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 28)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, members, I suspect, have had more than enough of me. Could we call Bill No. 27, which is Order No. 20, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 20.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Forestry Act". (Bill No. 27)

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

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. members will know that normally when amendments are brought into existing legislation it is always referred to as `housekeeping'. Well, Mr. Speaker, I can tell the hon. House that this bill is indeed that. It is purely housekeeping.

Most members will remember that a couple of years ago, or within the past year or year-and-a-half, we introduced a major forestry -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I can hold my own in speaking over other people talking, but I would prefer to have a little bit of quietness.


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I can only second what the hon. gentleman says.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, what this really is, is a housekeeping bill. In the year, year-and-a-half that the legislation has been in force, they have come across all sorts of problems with the legislation that causes difficulty for enforcement in the field. For instance, Mr. Speaker, we are changing the word `harvesting' to `cutting.' We are changing wording in here that allows the department to manage public lands, municipal lands and other lands. We are really changing terms, Mr. Speaker - we are changing language in the legislation to make sure that the terms used are consistent with the definitions under the act. We are clarifying terms for the purpose of enforcement in most cases of the legislation, Mr. Speaker. So it is really truly housekeeping. There are a lot of clauses being amended. I am prepared, Mr. Speaker, to deal with each and every clause or concern raised by the hon. Opposition but again, like I said, if there were a substantive amendment in here that changed to any major decree forestry regulations that would affect the users then I would draw the Houses attention to it but that is not so, Mr. Speaker, it is pretty well, purely housekeeping.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I concur with the minister that it is basically housekeeping and nothing really significant. I guess basically it is to clarify points so that you can enforce the rules in forestry. I agree with those things and anything that will help in the management of the forestry I am certainly always in agreement with.

I thought I could get a chance to make a couple of points though. Over the summer months, getting my chance to get around the Province a little bit and talking to as many loggers as I could and some different groups - maybe point out a few things that were brought to me, letters and that type of thing. The first thing that I would like to make a few comments on is the basic - when I speak to loggers or logging groups, not so much as the companies -is the basic state of the forestry in the way it looks these days. I am sure the minister would agree that in certain parts of our forestry there is nothing short of a mess in some parts that needs to be cleaned up, needs to be revitalized, reseeded, replanted or which ever way you want to put it but there is no doubt that there is a state in the forestry. Myself, being a person who enjoys the outdoors, ice-fishing, the annual moose hunt and everything else, I take every opportunity I can to get into the forest and do the different things that I enjoy.

One letter I got this past summer was from a logger, he said: I have been a logger for the past twenty-four years and I class myself as a professional. No seal fishery, no cod fishery, I suppose the government won't be happy until they see no logging industry in the same field. I wonder is there a package deal cooked up in the back of your heads for us loggers.

I hear that question over and over and over, especially now in the light of the fishing moratorium and the so called package. I cannot help but agree with the loggers sometimes when they start to say: we are fading fast. Things are on a slippery slope down as some would say and they said: I wonder is there going to be a package for us when we finish? The people who have already been affected for different reasons they say: is somebody going to take care of us? Where is my package? What about the loggers? That is what I hear over and over and over. It is a good point and sometimes I sit back and think about it.

I used the analogy last spring in the House before it closed and the minister gave me a sort of flippant answer, I think he was just using his wit. I can handle that but on a more serious note, looking at the analogy of the fishery, for years we have heard fishermen, my grandfather and people in my community, my district say to us: we are heading for trouble. I always remember the fellow, when confederation came in, he said that - I read somewhere because I was not around at that time - he said: listen now, if we join confederation there is going to come a day when we won't be able to go out and jig a fish. Everybody laughed at him and said: no boy, we are going to join confederation and everything will be much better.

The analogy that I make to the forestry is that - we have loggers now saying to me, and I am sure the minister hears it and I am sure all my hon. colleagues hear it, we hear it all the time: listen the forestry right now is in a critical, critical state. I am glad that the twenty year plan came out and things had to be implemented but I am sure we are at a stage now where we must say we have to move on those things. The implementation of some of those things in the twenty-year plan have to be moved, but moving more quickly than right now.

We have problems in forestry where unless - I mean, we live on an Island. Now, I won't speak so much for the Labrador part because maybe some of the hon. members can mention that when they speak, but for the Island part, we live on an Island and only have so many trees. I am not an expert in mathematics, or an expert in forestry, but I can just, using logic, say that we only have so many trees on this Island; if we keep cutting, damaging through the harvesters, domestic cutting, and all the other ways in which we are tending to destroy the forests, if that is not brought under control there is going to come a day when a minister will have to stand up in this House, and I hope it never comes, and I hope that I am not the minister at the time, in four or five or ten years, whatever it is, when we have to stand up in this House - I don't think anybody would want to do it - and say, `We have to close down the forestry. You cannot go back in. The companies are finished; domestic cutting is finished.'

It is a real fear, and it should be a fear of each and every one of us, political stripes aside. We should all be very concerned about it. It was the mainstay and cornerstone of this Province for years and years, and forestry has to be looked at that way.

Hopefully, the fishery will be back in ten or twelve years, or so, and it is a renewable resource. So is forestry a renewable resource, but we have to remember the timing of this. If we destroy forestry and there comes a day, and a sad day it will be, that we have to shut down the forestry of this Province, remember, growing trees takes a lot longer than it does to grow fish. It will take from 50 to 100 years for a forest to grow back.

When I look around the Province now, especially when I go out on the West Coast where Kruger, and also in Central Newfoundland, Abitibi, are working the woods, I know there is a fine line in that they have to bring in this big equipment, but just look at the analogy of the fishery again. We heard for years about the big trawlers out scooping up the fish, and now the loggers are saying the same thing to me. We have these big harvesters in there doing the big job on the forestry.

Now, I realize in this competitive world of global economics that these companies have to use harvesters to keep their business profitable so they will make a dollar. They are there to make a dollar. They are not there to be nice to Newfoundlanders - they are there to make their dollars. I can appreciate that, but there has to be a balance there somewhere, where we say, `Okay, you can use the harvesters, but we have to have more control.' And there are not enough answers to these harvesters.

I say not just to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, but to the Minister of Environment and Lands, you people have to work together in trying to balance out what is exactly happening here with these big harvesters coming in and scooping out the trees the same as we have had the big trawlers come in and scoop out the fish. It is a concern that you should take very seriously.

Forest management seems to be put on the back burner and it is sort of quiet. It is really quiet. I hear about the fishery; I hear about mining; I hear about Hibernia, but we have a great resource here that we haven't tapped into as far as controlling it is concerned. The control has to be there or there will come a sad day in this Province when we have to close down forestry.

So let us take a little lesson from those fishermen, who spoke up years ago and said, `Boys, we are going to have to be careful or somebody is going to have close down here. There may not be a cod to jig.' I know it now from just going out on a boat, the same thing, and when I go into the woods now, for whatever reasons, in the wintertime for the fishing, that type of thing, you can see it. You do not have to be an expert to see it. There are trees cut that are left there - a thirty foot tree cut, and twenty feet of it left in the woods.

Then you see where those harvesters and those skidders have been in the woods and done their job, took the amount that supposedly they are controlled by taking, but what damage have they done before they left? That is the question that is not being answered. That is what I asked here last spring in the House. I think the minister, if he really thought it through, it is not the point that the harvesters have to be there. I know that. It is part of the profit; it is part of business, but my point is: How much damage is being done? How much of the floor is being torn up? Trees have to grow. They need to have the soil to grow. How much damage is being done by those harvesters? I think that is a question that the Minister of Environment and Lands and the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture should get together and talk about. It is something serious enough that we can't procrastinate on this forest industry like we did with the fishery.

Now, when I say `we' I mean you, me, the federal government, the provincial government, the PC parties, the Liberal parties - we all did it. It is no good putting blame on people unless we do something about it. Now let's not put it off for five or six or seven years. Let's not take five or six years. Remember that when the fishery went down we all jumped up and said, `Oh, it was the foreigners'. Fine. We all said it was the federal government - that is fine, I will even accept that; mismanagement - I agree with that; you are absolutely right, mismanagement by a lot of governments. But in five or six years time when some minister has to stand up and put a moratorium on the forestry, who are we going to blame it on? It is a provincial jurisdiction. It is ours. The forestry is ours. Who cuts it? It is not the foreigners who are cutting it; we are cutting it. We can't make scapegoats, anymore, of any government, I don't care of what stripe you are. The main concern is that we act on something that has to be done now. We keep putting this off. For years, everybody has been talking about the fishery, which is fine, it is a big issue, but forestry has to be dealt with now. I ask the minister here today in the House, while I speak on this - this is my main message to get across today - that you as the minister now, not four years from now maybe when the government changes or if the government stays the same and you are still there, that you take the lead role now and start to implement some of this twenty-year plan which I agree with, but I am talking about the timing of it. It has to be acted on quickly so that we don't have a total disaster and so that the day will never come when we will have to close down the forestry of this Province - because that is where it is heading.

That analogy I used - and I don't think trees did learn to swim after that - but the analogy I used with the fishery and the answer that I was given early in the fall - I can handle a bit of humour, but the point is that it has to be taken more seriously, and we have to bring it to the forefront now. I challenge the minister to take the lead role and start - and I will help in any way I can to get that message across, and to sit down with the people with whom we need to sit down. The mistake we made in the fishery was leaving it all to the experts to give us their advice. Who were the experts? The best experts were the local fishermen who had been saying it for years.

I say to the minister, let's use the real experts in this field, the local loggers and the people who have worked for twenty-five years, like this gentleman here. He has been in the logging industry for twenty-five years. My father was in the logging industry. Let's ask those people who are the grass roots of the problem. Because it happens so often in these governments that we go to our so-called experts or our so-called wise men and we forget about the person who actually cut his eye teeth, basically, on the logging industry. These are the people you need to go back to and listen to those people.

I would just like to bring up a couple of other points now in relation to that. It is more specific. I talked to the minister about it earlier and I hope that something will be done in the near future. It is concerning the transportation of logs in the Province, with the truckers who are transporting logs. They came to me saying they were being harassed quite frequently. They hit on a few points that I thought were incredible, really, to talk about, like the block-loading that the minister mentioned earlier.

Now, we have loggers who take a load of logs and travel from Baie Verte to Corner Brook. If it is a cold wet day or rainy or slushy by the time they get to the weigh scales the weight has changed and they get ticketed. There are so many inefficiencies with that particular transportation act now that I hope some progress is being made on the block loading the minister spoke about earlier and we can see some changes to that this fall. So, when the minister speaks on this later, I hope he can update me, let me know that some progress has been made on that block loading. It is something that should be considered.

I would like to mention one other thing now, the Member for Stephenville stood the other day in this House and talked about a new attitude of the government, how we should be more positive and we all should, as elected officials and MHA's, show the positive side every now and then. I agree with the Member for Stephenville and I think he made some good points there. A lot of times here in this House now, just being a young member here, a lot of these fellows stand up and talk about the seventeen years all the time. I don't mind talking about the seventeen years every now and then and I don't mind talking about the Churchill Falls every now and then or the Sprung Greenhouse, all big boo boo's as far as I am concerned, from my generation of politics. That is why we can make jokes about it but we have to go on but don't forget them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That is right, maybe a shot of new blood is what is needed on both sides of the House. I like to see the new blood get up and have their say but at this stage of your political career -

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) You don't see any on the floor do you?

MR. SHELLEY: No I don't see any - I say to the Member for St. John's South, there won't be any on the floor, there might be blue blood on the floor maybe.

I would like to say to the Member for Stephenville that I really agree with him on that principle and that attitude, I like that. I like working with the members and I have worked with many of the ministers there now. I can do that at any time and when the gloves got to come off at election time - because you talked about the memories of the voters, short memories of the voters, so let's work on it now. I am willing to work with any minister at any time.

On that point, Mr. Tobin who is now my member, he is also my counterpart for federal because he is my member and I am the member - like I said, Mr. Tobin had an overwhelming majority and I had an overwhelming majority. So obviously the same people voted for both of us so we have to work for the same people. Now that there is no official opposition on the federal side, well maybe - on the provincial side - my job becomes bigger. He serves the people of my district and so do I. They all voted for us obviously with the numbers that came out. So like I told Mr. Tobin, I am ready for a positive attitude to move on. My job now is to make sure that - and I congratulate him on his portfolio that he took on. I don't envy him because the portfolio of fisheries is a big one but I certainly do commend him on it. He has a big task ahead of him and I am willing to work with him. My job now becomes even more important for the people of my district because now we have a member who is a national minister. So now it is more incumbent on me to make sure that the points of my district are not lost in the shuffle of the big portfolio.

So as far as the logging goes, I would like to reiterate to the minister that my main concern is that we do not procrastinate and make the mistake that we made in the fishery. You have a big job as the Minister of Forestry now to make sure that the concerns of the forestry are brought to the forefront and that we do not let it fall behind until one day some minister has to stand up and make that decision, that the forestry might be closed down.

So I say to the minister, the couple of points that I did bring up - and there is one last one, I will make it quick, is on the Avalon Peninsula in district one. I have had some calls and some letters from some people who are very concerned that there is no five-year plan in place for the Avalon. Now, I do not know if it has been changed since then, when I talked to them which was in the spring and I would like the minister to address that when he speaks. There has been no five-year plan, therefore the access roads as far as I understand it, he can correct me, but if there is no five-year plan for forestry, then the access roads that go in through this particular district does not have to pass environment. In other words, these roads can come in and be pushed over rivers and ponds without any consideration for the environment.

If that is so, if that is the case, I say to the minister that this is something he should correct immediately, so that there is a five-year plan put in place for district one on the Avalon Peninsula and, remember that on the Avalon where there are less trees, although people seem to focus on the bigger areas where more cutting goes on, as on the West Coast and in Central Newfoundland, but on the Avalon there are not a lot of trees and there is still a lot of people cutting, so we should be more aware than ever, and if there is not a five-year plan in place and if it is true that the environment act has no say if the access roads are going in there without a five-year plan, I think the minister should move very quickly to correct that problem.

An overview of it all is that my simple message to the minister today and to my colleagues here, is that we have to act quickly in forestry so that we do not run into the same disaster that we are now seeing in the fishery.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak on this bill which the minister has referred to as a housekeeping bill and I accept that, but I want to talk a little bit about the Department of Forestry and Agriculture and how it might be kept a little bit better by the minister and by the government.

There are a lot of concerns in the forestry industry in the Province and amongst the people working in that industry and I do not think that the government has addressed those problems, so I want to raise some of them with the minister today.

The previous speaker has referred to the issue of harvesters and I think that, that is something that the minister ought to have seriously come to grips with. The harvesters were brought into this Province at very great expense by the paper companies. There was no environmental study done to assure the people of this Province that these harvesters were not going to cause the kind of damage to our very, very, thin soil that they are causing. The harvesters have been operating now for a few years. In fact I think we may have come to the point where the paper companies themselves are realizing that the economics of these harvesters are bad and maybe that is the only reason that they will go, I don't know.

Maybe the minister can tell us a little bit about the economics of these harvester operations? What they have done, I do know, is devastated a fair bit of forest, and not only the forest but the soil itself. There has been an increasing encroachment upon the soil areas and river areas around the harvesting operations. They cause great damage, not just to the trees - obviously they are there to cut down trees, but they damage the subsoil, they damage the soil, and it is very difficult to grow after these harvesters have been through. In addition, of course, they are a much less labour intensive operation and have caused job loss to the loggers in this Province. I would also like the minister to deal with the question of wood supply for the Stephenville mill. It seems that the Stephenville mill may be shortly running out of sufficient wood and I ask the minister what plans his department has in dealing with that, what considerations are being given to ensure that there is an adequate wood supply.

The third issue I want to ask the minister about is the question of the use of forests in general. We do have a lot of forest users in this Province. We have the paper companies who are very hungry for wood fibre in particular. They place that as their top priority, particularly and obviously in the lands they own, but also the lands they have access to and control over.

We have in addition the saw log industry and the lumber industry which has consistently failed to provide for the Newfoundland market for lumber. I think the figure stays the same over the years, that two thirds of our lumber needs are imported and yet we still have a considerable amount of saw logs going into the grinders at the paper mills and being turned into wood fibre. I know some efforts are being made by the paper companies in particular to deal with this, with a lot of pressure from the sawmill industry and also from the loggers union, in fact, to try and get the ratio of saw logs to pulp logs changed favourably so that there can be a proper wood exchange where there is an opportunity for the saw logs to go to those who can turn them into lumber. We have not had a report on that from the minister, as to what progress is being made. I would like to see more than just platitudes as well from him. The minister has officials who are - and if they are not they should be, monitoring the amount of pulp cut area that is going into saw logs. What progress has been made, and let's hear some quantitative progress in the use of saw logs and the transfer of saw logs even from land owned by the companies.

Last year I questioned the minister on this use of saw logs. I think the minister was of the view, Mr. Speaker, that there is nothing he could do about saw logs on the land that was owned by the companies. The minister seemed to have the view, and I believe he expressed it in the House, that there was nothing he could do about the saw logs on the land that was owned by the companies. That they could cut what they wanted. It is very interesting that the minister thinks that. If he doesn't think that, well then, let him tell us how he can find ways of doing that.

I see the time is approaching noon. I have a number of other points to make on this issue, but I understand that the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader might want to have a few words before noon. At that, Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn debate and continue it on the next day.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further motions?


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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I confess it never occurred to me that the hon. gentleman for St. John's East could get so carried away with the exuberance of his own verbosity that he would adjourn the debate. I thought he just simply wound himself down into nothingness.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, before I move the adjournment of the House, on Monday we shall come back to this debate on the forestry Bill. Then we will go on with some other legislation. My friend the Minister of Finance has to be away the early part of the week, so either our friend the Minister of Health will come back, as it were, and deal with the finance bills or we will address some other legislation. I will have a look at it and I will let hon. gentlemen opposite know as soon as I can on Monday where we are. We will start with the forestry Bill on Monday afternoon. The hon. gentleman for St. John's East will finish at some point. Other hon. members will speak as they wish, and then my friend the Minister of Forestry will answer.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow -


MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Sorry, Mr. Speaker. If you don't do the finance bills could you give us some indication where we will go after the forestry Bill, so that at least we can -

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I will. I want to have a look at it, but I will speak with my friend either this afternoon or Monday morning. If he has not heard from me by ten or eleven o'clock Monday morning, would he call me?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I will not be able to, so -

MR. ROBERTS: He could ask his deputy to be John the Baptist and go beforehand.

I would be even more delighted to hear from the gentleman from Ferryland than I would the gentleman from Grand Bank.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Now don't make me mad again. Don't get me upset again. It is too close to Christmas.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman gets angry at that, he will have good cause to get angry before we are finished.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am only kidding.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I confess that almost everything the hon. gentleman says I take in a jocular fashion anyway.

In any event, I move that we adjourn until Monday at 2:00 p.m. and that the House do now adjourn.

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