May 4, 1994                   HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLII  No. 36

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the public galleries, ten Level 1 students from the Democracy Class of St. Catherine's Academy in Mount Carmel accompanied by their teacher Josephine Davis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have some comments with respect to the position which the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association (NLTA) has communicated to its members in response to the Department of Education's directive to gather the records for high school students due to graduate this year.

The NLTA has made it quite clear that they are telling their members to defy the instructions of the Education department. I am very disturbed by this turn of events, because the NLTA, in so doing, is making the high school students a pawn in their dispute with government. To sacrifice the students in this manner to make a point in collective bargaining is unconscionable.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: It is also completely unacceptable, Mr. Speaker.

My colleague, the Minister of Education, has taken reasonable measures to ensure that students' records are placed in the hands of his officials so that Level 3 high school students are not hampered in their ability to graduate.

The directive of the NLTA to ignore the Department of Education's instructions says clearly that the NLTA is not concerned with the interests of these students. This is very disappointing. Apart from that, Mr. Speaker, this instruction from the NLTA violates the Schools Act because it tells teachers to refuse to carry out instructions that they are bound, as employees of the school boards, to carry out.

There is also another important dimension to this, and it is as follows: the NLTA has pushed itself to this point by its own doing. The government made proposals to the NLTA on February 23 to which we have never had a response. The NLTA has consistently refused to respond to government's proposals. Furthermore, even in the face of a unanimous Conciliation Board recommendation that both sides resume negotiations with the help of a mediator - a recommendation that the NLTA's own nominee on the Board supported -they have refused to come to the table.

Government has been quite clear in its position: we are willing to negotiate at any time. We have flexibility in our opening proposals, as we have demonstrated in our discussions with other unions. But the other party to these negotiations, the NLTA, must be willing to come to the table to respond to some of our opening proposals.

The point is, Mr. Speaker, no progress can be made in negotiation if only one party, the government, is willing to negotiate.

I reiterate, Mr. Speaker: the government is willing to negotiate to try to find a solution that will avert a strike. We have made that crystal clear. But we have also had to plan for a strike, because the NLTA is insisting there will be a strike come May 16. The government would be remiss in its responsibilities if it did not take reasonable measures to ensure that this year's high school graduates are taken care of.

To hear the NLTA saying openly that they do not care about the students is beyond belief, and is completely unacceptable to the government.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I will also say today that the government will have its bargaining team ready to negotiate this coming Monday. I am asking the NLTA today to also have their bargaining team ready to negotiate on Monday.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If there ever was any doubt in anybody's mind in this Province about the intent of this government provoking the membership of the NLTA into a strike position it is affirmed here today. That is exactly what they are up to.

Mr. Speaker, instead of inciting and using inflammatory tones such as the minister has done they should be holding out an olive branch and proposing an offer to the membership of the NLTA and the collective bargaining unit of the NLTA, the same offer that has been made to the nurse's union, to CUPE and to NAPE. That is what should be done, Mr. Speaker. Instead of holding the students of this Province as hostage, as this minister and this government has done, they should be making those offers to the NLTA so that we can ensure a sound education and a good future for those students who are now being discriminated against because the minister knows, Mr. Speaker, that what is occurring in their proposal with regard to evaluating students this year is not a creditable alternative to the proposals that should be done.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. Member for St. John's East have leave to address the House?


Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Fisheries. Yesterday in The Evening Telegram there was somewhat of a good news story related to FPI's success this past year. It was headlined "Worldwide outlook pays off for FPI." Now, the story is about their success in rebuilding its operations, and in part that was done through a major international procurement program for groundfish species. I would like to ask the minister if he can tell the House, how much of the offshore groundfish purchased by FPI is processed here in this Province and how much for example, is processed in the United States, does he know that?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, in FPI they have a secondary processing operation in Danvers, Massachusetts and my understanding is that that plant is only concerned with secondary processing value, value added, so I can only assume that all, if not the bulk of the fish to which they referred in the article yesterday, would have been processed in this Province. A lot of it of course, is procured outside the Province, Barents Sea cod, Russian cod and so on, but I would imagine that most of it is done here in this Province.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat startled by the answer of the minister. I mean most of the processing plants in Newfoundland aren't even open, so I don't know where the processing would be occurring, but my understanding is that last year FPI had record-breaking sales of about $600 million and they expect to do even better this year from reading the story; but my understanding is that a relatively small percentage of the sales, perhaps less than a quarter, is actually based on FPI's operations in this Province. Is the minister not aware of that, or does he agree with that, and if so, how does he square that with what his answer was to my first question?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the FPI organizations have acquired the controlling interest in a company known as Clouston Seafood Marketing, I think they call themselves, and that's a huge marketing company based I think in Central Canada, and that company markets seafood for a variety of companies. In fact, I understand that FPI are the marketing agents for a lot of fish that's processed in the Province. I am just trying to think of a few; in fact I believe that they market the red fish that's processed by Conpak Seafood Ltd. for example in Gaultois, and they are the marketing agents for a lot of Newfoundland companies not only in groundfish but other species as well.

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

MR. SIMMS: Is Gaultois the FPI operation, or is that Conpak? I was talking about FPI, and I asked the minister how much of the processing, percentage wise, was done here in Newfoundland. Now in his first answer he said: most of it, that's what he said; but my understanding is only about a quarter is processed here in Newfoundland, so maybe the minister could try to find out precisely for me because I would like to know, because my questions are based on the understanding that less than a quarter of it probably is processed in in Newfoundland. So my question then is - whatever the percentage is, it certainly is not as high as the minister said in his first answer, and I think he had better check that. I think it is very little processed. I want to know if he or the government has initiated any discussions with FPI and\or with the Federal Government, for example, to see if there are ways to have more processing done here in Newfoundland and in Labrador rather than elsewhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: All of it - preferably all of it.

Have there been any discussions or any initiatives taken by him, as the minister, or the government, with the FPI people or with the Federal Government, to see if something could be done to ensure that more of the processing is done here in Newfoundland, particularly now, at a time when most of our plants are closed.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I will undertake to get the information the hon. gentleman wants in terms of the actual amount of fish that is processed in the Province. We have an ongoing line of communication with the principals of FPI, and certainly, the Province is endeavouring to have as much of that fish processed in the Province as possible. But FPI has become a very complex organization in that they are not only involved in the harvesting and processing. Through their affiliate, Clouston Marketing, they are the marketers, they are the marketing agents, for a lot of companies, and I presume in the entire Atlantic area, but as I said a moment ago, Conpak Seafoods is a Newfoundland company with several plants, as a matter of fact - a plant in Clarenville, in Hermitage, in Gaultois, in Twillingate, up until recently in Rose Blanche, and my understanding is that FPI and its marketing arm, Clouston's, are the marketing agent for that company as well.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I will try to make it simple for the minister. He is talking about marketing. I am talking about processing to create more jobs here in Newfoundland and Labrador. That's the purpose of the question.

FPI's workforce in the Province has reduced, over the last couple of years, since the moratorium, down from 6,000 workers to 2,000. Those 4,000 people are on unemployment insurance, they are on fisheries compensation, or they are on social assistance. That is probably costing the Province about $15 million to $20 million a year. So the question is: Is it possible to put that money to much greater effect in a way that puts people to work here in Newfoundland, and maybe make it most cost-efficient for FPI to ship more of their finished products from Newfoundland rather than from the United States?

Now, I know that tariffs would be one of the questions, so, for example, I asked him earlier about initiatives: What initiatives had the government taken, has the minister taken? Has the minister, for example, initiated any discussions with the Federal Government to see if they could speed up the schedule that is now in place for removal of tariffs on fish products under the Canada/U.S. Free Trade Agreement? Is that one of the initiatives, maybe, that he might have thought about?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I will get the information for the hon. gentleman, maybe a complete breakdown of what their activities are, where they are acquiring their fish, where they are selling it and at what stage they are selling it. The establishment of the FPI plant in Danvers, Massachusetts was done initially to get around the tariff problem. We all know that under the free trade agreement tariffs are reducing. In fact, I think they started at 20 per cent and I believe now they are down to about 6 per cent or 7 per cent. I have talked to the principals and Mr. Young of FPI and enquired at what time we can expect them to maybe phase out their operation in Danvers. Because once the tariff situation has been corrected then it might well be that the plant in Danvers, Massachusetts is no longer necessary, once the tariff problem has been gotten around.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: I have talked to him about that. That is a matter that is being looked at, I presume, by the company. That plant in Danvers, Massachusetts, by the way, is not a big source of employment. I believe it employs probably a couple of hundred people for a limited period - something we could certainly use in this Province. Given the fact that they do have a very substantial operation in Burin for secondary processing, the government would certainly like to see them shift the operation from Danvers into their Burin operation.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, it is a struggle but I will pursue the line of questioning just once more. I think the operation is a little bit larger in Danvers than the minister is describing but I will stand to be corrected by him - he should know. I don't believe he is right on that either.

Let me ask him this. People have to wonder out loud whether the Federal and Provincial Governments are really talking about trying to find new opportunities to improve economic activity in the fishing industry. You have to wonder out loud what exactly is going on. Or do we spend all of our time quibbling over jurisdictional matters or fish aid packages and the fishery of the future and so on. There is a fishery in existence today. We all know that. I want to ask the minister - he said, we are doing everything we can to improve opportunities, in discussions with FPI. The success of FPI proves there are alternative opportunities for them. Let me ask him this: Is he, the minister, trying to do anything to capture any of those opportunities for the people of our Province, to create jobs here? If so, can he give us some idea of what he is doing?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman can be assured that we are endeavouring to make sure that FPI is maximizing their operation here in the Province. I can tell him as well, that we have initiated meetings with the Federal Government, for example, having to do with the importation of foreign fish - Barents Sea cod. A lot of that is being done in the Province.

In fact, this year it is anticipated there will be about 12,000 metric tons of Russian cod or Barents Sea cod processed in this Province. In fact, FPI is doing it in their plant in Triton. They are also doing it in a plant in Winterton owned by the Green family and it's being done, to a large extent as a matter of fact, in Arnold's Cove by National Sea. We would expect FPI - and other companies by the way - to get more involved in importing other cod for processing in this Province.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is also for the Minister of Fisheries. Earlier last week we had discussions during the estimates committee meetings on the non-commercial license for seals in the Province. I want to ask the Minister of Fisheries if only bona fide fishermen, that is persons who hold a valid fishing license, are permitted to hunt seals this year?

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

MR. CARTER: Yes, the bona fide fishermen are entitled to a license and I'm not necessarily agreeing with the conditions that have been laid down. For example, a crew member on a vessel must serve two years, must be in the seal harvesting business for two years before that person is entitled to a full-time sealers license. I quite frankly cannot understand the rationale for that kind of policy. In fact, it was only yesterday that I had discussions with a highly placed official of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans complaining that that regulation, in my view, just doesn't make sense. Most Newfoundlanders who serve on vessels, certainly they shouldn't have to serve a two year apprenticeship in order to get a license to kill a seal and that's the way the regulations read but I can tell you now that I don't necessarily agree with them.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Now Mr. Tobin has made it quite clear that he intends to reduce the number of fishing licenses by half or more over the next few years, as the minister knows. As it stands now, fishermen who will surrender their fishing licenses on the TAGS program, as well as those who gave up their licenses under NCARP, also lose the right to hunt seals for their own consumption as well as commercial. Can the minister confirm that and would he give us a status on it?

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

MR. CARTER: That's the matter that we raised not too long ago actually with the minister. Where people who relinquished their licenses under the NCARP program - at the same time forfeited their ability to catch seals. We've asked the minister to address that problem and I expect he will be doing that.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Now many people in rural Newfoundland are accustomed to taking seals for personal consumption, as the minister knows. Now it appears they may lose that right along with their fishing licenses. There is a shortage of fish but there is no shortage of seals. I've heard the estimates have now reached as far as 10 million in the herds. Would the minister support, again, a licensing system for seals similar to moose and other wild game that would allow anyone - and that's what I'd like to repeat here today in the House, Mr. Speaker - anyone to take the limit of four to five bag limit on seals and would he make that such proposal to his federal counterpart?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I can only assure the House and the hon. gentleman that I'm prepared to support any initiative that will have the effect of reducing the seal herds. Let me give the hon. gentlemen in the House some statistics on where we stand at the present time. There is an estimated herd of 4 million animals out there -

AN HON. MEMBER: There's more then that.

MR. CARTER: - increasing at the rate of 500 and some odd thousand per year consuming huge quantities of fish, Mr. Speaker, and certainly we'll support any attempt, any move on the part of the federal government to step up the seal harvest, whether that means giving a license to whoever wants one is another matter but we'll certainly look at that and talk to the minister about it.

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

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

I have questions as well for the Minister of Fisheries following up on a question I asked the minister last Thursday on the fisheries observers program. It had been brought to my attention at that time that there's a reduction, that all the boats are not being manned with observers in Newfoundland boats but more so Nova Scotian boats. I am wondering if the minister is aware that in late March-early April there were approximately fourteen vessels fishing in the 3O zone and the only two vessels that had fishery observers on board were the Newfoundland boats The Grand Banker and The Fermeuse? That the twelve or thirteen Nova Scotian vessels were there fishing in the same zone without observers and the Newfoundland boat The Grand Banker had to get out of the 3O zone because the cod by-catch exceeded the 5 per cent limit which they were allowed, and the Nova Scotian vessels were allowed to stay there and fish. We all know they weren't discarding or not keeping the cod. Is the minister aware of that?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the observer program that is sponsored and paid for by the federal government is grossly inadequate, and we've made that point many times. In fact we've been talking to the federal government about 100 per cent observer coverage. Unfortunately they've not seen fit to accede to our request. The matter referred to by the hon. gentleman concerns of course the changing of the system in Nova Scotia. Earlier this year I think a new company succeeded in getting awarded the contract, because the price that they quoted was slightly less than that being quoted by a Canadian company.

I should tell the House that the contract in the Newfoundland region does not expire until 1996. I'm only hoping that when the time comes to renew that contract that the same thing won't happen. I would certainly prefer to see things continue as they are, where we have a large and very competent core of observers. In fact I believe there are about seventy-two observers, most of whom have in some cases college degrees, so they are well trained in the art of observing. That is something we are supporting, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I say to the minister that my information as well is that there are three vessels owned by Fishery Products International that are out there now fishing, Newfoundland vessels without observers. That is very disturbing, because the only conservation measure we have inside the 200-mile limit for foreigners and domestic vessels is the fisheries observers. If we are going to spend billions of dollars on compensation for people at the same time as we are talking about a fishery of the future, then why are we wasting our time talking about it if we are not putting observers on the vessels that are out there now to monitor what is going on? That is the point.

I want to ask the minister, and would he undertake to check out for me - as well I'm told in that same time frame, and I had a discussion with a crew member this morning, by the way, from the vessel I referred to. I want the minister if he would to check out through DFO or whoever, the federal minister, that I'm told that in that time frame on the vessel that this observer was on that they steamed through approximately one mile of redfish floating on the water. This crew member said to me this morning: There was only one of two ways it got there. Either they had that much in the trawl, the trawl broke open, or they dumped it.

I'm wondering if the minister would take this up with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, first of all, to confirm this, and to ask why there are Nova Scotian vessels, fifty, sixty-five footers, one hundred, 150-footers, and this man as well told me there were two large vessels there, The Cape York and The Cape Charles, fishing for redfish from Nova Scotia without an observer in the midst of all that redfish. So I ask the minister, would he undertake to seek the information and to request of the federal minister, when you are spending billions of dollars on compensation trying to keep the people of this Province together and fed, why in the name of God can you squeeze the penny for a few measly million dollars to man every boat with an observer so conservation comes first?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I couldn't agree more. If that is the case, and I have no reason to doubt the hon. gentleman's word, then it is almost a crime against humanity to engage in that kind of waste. I will certainly take it up with my federal counterpart and get an explanation, and at the same time again make representation to him for the need to step up their observer program and to have 100 per cent coverage rather than just spotty coverage as is now the case.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Final supplementary to the minister. While he is doing this and undertaking the information would he as well try to find out for this House, and the people of this Province, what is happening to the Fisheries Observer Program in Newfoundland and Labrador. I have heard that there is a move underfoot by Ottawa to nationalize, to centralize that program in Ottawa, to be controlled from Ottawa, and that there are serious attempts under way to restrict and limit the budget for the Fisheries Observer Program.

I am told, by the way, Minister - and I want you to check this out for me and for everyone else who is interested - that the coverage levels of observers has gone from about 100 per cent when we were fishing Northern cod, to 50 per cent, and now, today, less than 30 per cent, and that is why we are having Newfoundland vessels leaving port - Newfoundland vessels - without observers. Would he undertake to get that information as well?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will, and the mere suggestion that they move that program, the administration of it, to 2,000 or 3,000 miles in Central Canada, inland, to me just would not make sense, and I hope that the member is wrong in that respect, but I will certainly make the necessary enquiries and find out what they are up to.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no Minister of Tourism and Culture. That position has been vacant for the past two-and-a-half months. The acting Minister of Tourism and Culture has gone away on vacation for a couple of weeks. The Premier has been avoiding the House of Assembly lately, and is absent again today, so I will ask my questions of the acting, acting Minister of Tourism and Culture, who I believe is the Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations.

Will the minister remove the government obstacles in the way of the Stephenville Festival? number one, write off the approximately $60,000 government debt, which is an impediment to the festival getting working capital from a bank; number two, reinstate the paltry $35,000 a year tourism grant that was abruptly cut last year; and number three, forget the foolish recent demand that the festival have their box office run by government employees, and see box office revenue paid to St. John's and festival cash flow badly hurt.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't understand what all the gibberish and nonsense was at the beginning there. I knew there was a question at the end, but I guess the hon. the Member for Humber East always feels obligated, in asking a question. She is the self-appointed and self-anointed now representative for the Stephenville Festival. She must have assumed that role herself, because I know of no one involved with the Stephenville Festival who has asked this hon. member to be their intervenor with the government.

We are meeting with the group, myself and my friend, the hon. the Member for Stephenville, who has been concerned about this for several years now, because it is true, there is some accumulated debt which the festival has run up. The numbers, again, are wrong. Maybe she should check and get her numbers right. There is some money owed to the Provincial Government, on which the Provincial Government, through the Department of Tourism and Culture, has offered ways to have a repayment schedule spread over several years that would not be onerous to the festival organizers.

There have been overtures made to the festival organizers to show them how, in fact, they could apply for some monies under certain agreements that would probably take care of all of their financial needs in the short term over the next couple of years, for sure.

One thing about it, Mr. Speaker, is that if the government is going to respond, we have to have willing partners in terms of the organizers of the festival. They have not come forward. I don't know where these questions are coming from. We have been in contact with the festival representatives. They have not asked these questions of the government - would we do these things. We are meeting with them on Friday morning to suggest and find out, to see whether they, themselves, are willing to run a festival and to organize it and keep it going; if there are certain accommodations that can be made, what kinds of things do they think would have to happen in order for them to make sure they can run the festival, not only this year, but over the next twelve, fifteen, twenty or thirty years, which is what they are trying to do. Because they have a very real concern about trying to make sure that there is a Stephenville Festival for the long term.

I am not sure where the basis of the questioning comes from, or the bit of nonsense that the hon. member got on with at the beginning in trying to lead into it and trying to suggest, I guess, that there is anything other than the greatest of interest and concern about this issue by the Provincial Government.

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

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

If the Member for Stephenville has been concerned for years about government impediments harming the Stephenville Festival, why hasn't this government acted on those concerns?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: I would like to ask the minister: How does he assess the economic and the artistic losses that will result from the cancellation of the planned 1994 Stephenville Festival program? Is the minister concerned about the loss of approximately fifty seasonal jobs, or about the cancellation of a travel generator, to use tourism industry jargon, or about the loss of sales for Stephenville area service businesses, or about the cancellation of Newfoundland-produced professional theatre? What is the minister's assessment of the magnitude of the loss to the Province associated with the cancellation of the Stephenville Festival productions this summer?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker.

Just to deal with the first part of the comment made by the hon. member. I indicated the concern of my friend and colleague, the hon. the Member for Stephenville. It wasn't in the context of what the hon. member portrayed because that has not been the problem. The hon. the Member for Humber East, in putting the question, asks: Has the member for Stephenville or others been looking at removing government impediments? The problem is, government impediments don't exist, and it is not because of Provincial Government impediments that the Stephenville Festival organizing committee decided not to run the festival this year.

We will meet with the group on Friday, and again check with them to see what it is that would be required to make sure that they, themselves, will take on the responsibility of running the festival for another year. Then we will access whether or not government can meet any, or all of their requests. They are the organizers. They started the festival. They run the festival and they have decided that they can't, or don't want to run the festival this year. They would like to step back for a year and reorganize it so that they can run the festival again for many years into the future.

Mr. Speaker, it is the whole notion and the tenor of the question as put by the hon. member, which is totally false, that for some reason there are some provincially government-imposed impediments that led to this decision. That is not the case. It was not the case before, and it is not the case today. It was not the case two days ago when questions were asked, and no matter how many times she asks the same question, just by asking the question that cannot become the case because it is not.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary to the minister. The minister obviously does not know what he is talking about. The only time the minister has even spent in Stephenville was in the penalty box. It certainly wasn't going to the Stephenville Festival.

I ask again, and I will give the minister a chance to redeem himself and to apologize for the slurs he made about the volunteers who started and successfully operated the Stephenville Festival for fifteen seasons, and who had a sixteenth season planned until the government scuttled it.

Now, won't the minister admit that government's abrupt cutting in half the $35,000 tourism grant last year dealt a deathblow to the 1994 Stephenville Festival? Won't the minister admit that government's refusal, despite the promises of the former minister to write off the debt, has prevented them from getting an operating line of credit with the bank for the operation of the 1994 season? Won't the minister admit, or perhaps he doesn't even know this, that the ridiculous recent demand for the festival to turn over their box office to government employees is impossible for the festival?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, the hon. member either doesn't understand English, or doesn't understand my use of it, one or the other. I did nothing to slur the people that organized and ran the Stephenville Festival. As a matter of fact, I thought I complimented them, because they, themselves, had done a great job for fifteen years, and up to the point in time that we heard in the media that they had decided, themselves, to cancel out the 1994 festival, we assumed as well that they were running the festival again this year.

This massive grant that was mentioned again the other day, Mr. Speaker, I guess I should point out again, that out of an operating budget annually of almost $400,000, what the government did was take a $35,000 grant and reduce it to $17,000, so there is $17,000 or $18,000 out of a $400,000 operation that has never, ever shutdown any $400,000 operation anywhere in the world. Granted, they would rather have the money, just like all the other agencies or organizations that we cut funding for last year; they would rather have the money.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about it. The hon. member has been working with them for years, and the former minister has worked with them to try to make arrangements to make sure that they could handle their debt load, to make sure that they could put in place an operational base so that they could continue on a more sound financial footing, both this year and into the future. They, for their own reasons, none of which are reflected in what the hon. member puts in her questions, none of which have been presented to government in that vein, they, for their own reasons, have decided to step aside for a year, reorganize, and try to make sure that there can be a successful Stephenville Festival for years to come.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance and concerns a brief presented to the minister by the City of St. John's concerning the St. John's Transportation Commission.

Mr. Speaker, the St. John's Transportation Commission operates the bus service in St. John's and pays to the Provincial Government some $785,000 in provincial taxes, including about $250,000 in road tax on diesel fuel, $398,000 in provincial sales tax, $41,000 in license fees for coaches and a payroll tax of approximately $92,000. I want to know whether the minister and the government have considered this brief, and is the minister prepared to give the same kind of exemption to the St. John's Transportation Commission, as an arm of the City of St. John's, as it does to municipal governments throughout the Province?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, right on the spur of the moment, I can't recall the particular brief that the member mentions. I will check into it and inform the House tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like today to report on the Social Services Committee on the Estimates. The committee has reviewed and approved, without amendment, the estimates of expenditure for the following departments: Social Services, Education, Health, Environment and Lands, and Justice.

Report received now, ordered debated on tomorrow.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In response to questions from the Member for St. John's East Extern yesterday, I promised to look up some information and table it in the House.

The ministers are covered by the relocation procedures of the Public Service Commission and I would like to table these procedures; they were issued pursuant to MC-1092 in 1979.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MS. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of 1,542 constituents in the district of Terra Nova. The petition reads as follows:

`To the hon. House of Assembly in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland humbly showeth:

WHEREAS accessibility to health care is a right of all Canadians as defined by the Canada Health Act, 1984; and

WHEREAS the provision of nursing home care at Level 2 and 3, is a responsibility of the Government of Newfoundland; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland conducted a bed study in 1986 that recommended construction of a fifty-bed nursing home facility to serve the Clarenville region from Port Blandford to Winter Brook in the west and Little Harbour to Chance Cove in the east; and

WHEREAS the facilities required by the Clarenville region have not been constructed, citizens are deprived of access to nursing home facilities consistent with those available to citizens in other areas of the Province; and

WHEREAS the 2,100 elderly citizens of a population of 19,000 are denied local chronic services; and

WHEREAS the placement of the chronically ill and elderly patients in distant facilities far from family and community can be brutal, an inhumane process;

WHEREFORE the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to instruct the Minister of Health to take action leading to the construction of a chronic care nursing home facility to address the needs of the people in the Clarenville region, and in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.'

I support this petition because it is very important to my constituents and those from neighbouring districts. I would like to share with the hon. House an example of an elderly gentleman who was living in one of the Level 1 facilities. However, he took ill and had to be hospitalized. It was deemed necessary to have this gentleman then placed in a Level 3 facility. However, he had to wait until there was space available for him. Meanwhile, while he was residing at the home or the hospital, his family members could visit him daily, and take him out for a day or so, but they were very concerned that he was going to have to be moved to St. John's and it would make it impossible for them to see him, except probably only about every two weeks. This was placing tremendous stress on the family and certainly on the old gentleman, but I guess divine intervention resolved the matter, because he passed away before he had to be moved to St. John's.

There are many examples of that sort of stress out there in rural Newfoundland. With decline in the economy and a lot of people unemployed, they are concerned that they will not see their loved ones if they are placed in facilities that are far from their communities.

As well, I realize that there are no dollars allocated for such a facility in this current Budget, and I realize that the financial restraints that we are experiencing, I guess, are not favourable to such a move at this present time. But I would certainly urge the minister to consider this facility in next year's budget. I certainly support my constituents in their petition.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to support that petition, and I have been stating that for the last several months. It has been carried in the Clarenville Packet and other areas, and I've stated it publicly. The Nycum study showed - and I said here yesterday in the House when it was presented - that that area has the highest incidence rate of elderly people in this Province. There are more people living in that area and it is a need in the area.

The minister beat around the bush yesterday and didn't give any indication of what is happening. One of two things is happening here - either the residents in the area are getting very upset with their members and they have to present a petition, or the government is probably planning on making an announcement now on the homes in the area.

I certainly hope it is the latter, that the government is ready to make an announcement to the people in this area. Their elderly people are in dire need. They are scattered all over Newfoundland, and I have the figures for them in my office and where they are located. They are in nursing homes from St. John's all over the East Coast of Newfoundland, everywhere, from Carbonear, and in St. John's and down in Bonavista and everywhere else. They are all over the place, having the highest incidence rate in the Province. The area was high on the priority list. The priority list has been ignored and they have put them where they want to.

I'm not complaining about putting nursing homes in important areas in this Province, or chronic care facilities, at all, but I think they have to have some rationale for population in a specific area and a priority for areas where there has to be a degree of understanding and reason used in establishing these facilities. I don't think the department has exercised that in this case. I think the people in the area have a very legitimate beef, the people in Trinity North, the people in Bellevue district and the people out in Terra Nova district.

It is a very legitimate concern. The minister hasn't given indication that anything would be done. The same as he has done with Harbour Breton: It won't be next year, it may not be the year after, it may not be the year after that. I think they should have a long-term priority plan for this Province and they should release that plan to the public. They should let the public know where they stand in terms of serving the needs of the public properly and not jumping around and using it as a political mechanism.

I support that, very strongly support it. I hope the people will get the facility they need in the Clarenville area. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I might say that there will be no announcement in the immediate future. We don't operate that way. At least, I don't operate that way. We operate according to a plan and we announced our plan for building -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. KITCHEN: It is nice to listen to the cackling, just to sit back and listen to the cackling, sometimes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) but it is interesting.

DR. KITCHEN: It is interesting, isn't it?


DR. KITCHEN: I might say that 8,500 names have been signed to this petition. Can you imagine what the Opposition would do with 8,500 names on a Hydro petition? Members used to get up with three names, and then three more, and then three more again. Nine names would last them the whole day. We have 8,500, and I must say to the three members who presented these petitions yesterday, they showed remarkable restraint. They could have spun this out - and I suppose they still could, because I'm sure there are another 8,500 people in the area who would support their petitions.

I want to congratulate members for not taking up the time of the House on silly, trifling matters, but to present the views of vast numbers of their constituents. I believe that's how petitions should be presented, not phoney petitions where several names or with the same handwriting and all that sort of stuff, but honest to goodness petitions.

I mentioned yesterday, and I will say again that, one of the problems in the general area of which we are speaking is the lack of organized home care throughout that whole region, and what we are hoping to do shortly is to set up in the area, in the eastern region, a regional community health care board whose responsibility it will be to properly design for the area, an appropriately funded system of home care and we believe that will be able to relieve to some extent, to some extent but not to a large extent, the pressure that's on for adequate care of the sick who are elderly and who will probably remain sick for some time, because a nursing home is just that.

We are talking about nursing homes and nursing homes are for extremely sick people who will remain there for the rest of their lives and we have to be absolutely certain because these are very expensive operations. The member opposite from Ferryland indicated that the average cost was $30,000, but it is actually quite a bit more than that. He was forgetting about the capital cost of putting a building in; we put a building in St. Lawrence not long ago and I think the figure, I am not actually certain of the total capital cost but it is probably, let's say, $7 million.

Seven million dollars, thirty residents; $7 million is $700,000 a year in interest which the Minister of Finance has to come up with forever, $700,000 and you divide that by thirty residents, which is what is opened there now, and you come up with a figure of about $25,000, just to pay the interest on the building, and on top of all that we have to operate it to feed people, provide nursing services, keep the building clean and all the other things that are required which comes to the other $30-odd thousand, which makes a total of $65,000 or $70,000 to provide one bed for one person and that's a lot of money and if there is some other way we can do it, by putting in home care, I suggest that home care in many cases is much more appropriate than even institutional care. It's closer to the family, it's in the community and in many cases it is much more appropriate and that is the direction of the future; it is not the sole direction of the future, and we would daily like to be able to put more nursing homes and to fix up nursing homes where we have them.

I might say that I spoke with another group this morning who were talking to me about the desperate need that their home has to be renovated so that they can take in longer-term care and heavier care, level 2 and level 3 - because a lot of these currently existing nursing homes were put up for level 1 nursing care, walk in, ambulatory type care and now nursing homes are not ambulatory care, they are basically for people who are confined to wheelchairs and beds for the rest of their lives.

What we have to do is, make sure that that type of person who cannot be accommodated appropriately perhaps in their home, but they must be accommodated in nursing homes, that these beds are reserved for them and not for people who don't really need them and that's been the problem. It is a matter of setting appropriate priorities and I am very sorry to say that in the past, the proper priorities were not in place. Nursing homes were built as walk-ins for people who had ambulatory care, I am sixty-five now they would say, come, I am going to close up my house and I am going to move in and have a great time with all the other people of similar age. It was not a nursing home, these were more like hotels than they were nursing homes, and this transition from the hotel type situation to a nursing home, where sick people have to be looked after, is one that we are now in the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. minister's time has expired.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. Member for Menihek wish to present a petition?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, new petition.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak to a petition on behalf of numerous residents of my district. Some twenty-eight people have signed the petition and this petition is a result of a public meeting held in my district with regard to giving the people of my district some information with regard to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

From that meeting there was a committee struck of some twenty people. Some twenty people formed a committee, and they were instrumental in raising the profile and making the people of Western Labrador, and indeed the whole Province, more aware of the problems associated with the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. The prayer of the petition is:

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop immediately the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

The people in my district are very, very concerned about the privatization of Hydro because they are the highest per capita users of electrical energy of any municipality in this Province, and it is largely due to the climate. As an example, in my district even today people have to plug in their cars with block heaters and interior heaters overnight. If cars are parked overnight they must continue to have them plugged in, and here it is the first week of May, so they consume more energy than anybody else in this Province, generally speaking, and per capita they consume the highest amount of electrical energy in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, because of their high consumption they feel that they are going to be penalized even more. The Premier has already announced that they are going to have to pay, even without privatization, a 30 to 40 per cent increase. They are going to be facing a 30, 40, or even 50 per cent increase. The Premier announced this, and we know how slick the Premier can be sometimes in how he states things. They don't know if that is going to be 30 or 40 per cent in the first year and again in the second year, or again in the third and the fourth and the fifth.

We have had ministers in Cabinet, and want to be ministers who want to get in Cabinet, suggesting that the people in Western Labrador should face 500 per cent increases. The Premier himself has suggested that the people in Western Labrador should be paying - should be paying, he said - an equal amount as the people in Central Labrador, which is about three times the amount that we presently pay for electrical energy in Western Labrador. They know they are going to have to pay more, and we consume more, so we are going to be hit twice, so to speak.

Now the Minister responsible for Health is a very infamous person in my district because of his mistreatment of the hospital and the health care workers in my district.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, he is not a very popular fellow.

He made reference to people standing up and presenting a petition with only a few names. There are only some twenty-eight names on this but, as I said in the beginning when I started to speak on this petition, my original petition that was sent to me, the original bulk of these pages that came in, there were over 1,500 names, and I submitted that one, but these petitions continue to arrive. They could be supplementary, you could say, and they are continuing to arrive day after day at my office, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand and speak to the petition because of the concern that the people who reside in my district want me to express on their behalf, because they have a lot of concerns about the effects of privatization of Hydro and how it is going to affect them today and tomorrow, and their children, and their children's children, because that is the type of effect it is going to be. It is going to last forever.

When we sell this Crown corporation, you can't take it back. It's a one-shot deal. You sell it, it's gone. We will never be able to afford to get it back. We make this mistake, it's going to go down in the annals of history, I believe, as a similar type of mistake that was made by this same party, by some of the same individuals, who made the infamous Upper Churchill deal. This is probably going to be an even more colossal mistake than that was.

That is what the residents of my district are concerned about. They recognize that it is going to have a negative impact on them. They have looked at and listened to the Premier in some of his statements, and they don't believe him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. A. SNOW: They don't trust him, because they know you can't trust him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: One minute, Mr. Speaker, just to clue up?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's East, I think, was up first.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support the petition presented by the hon. Member for Menihek. Even though it has a few names on it, these individuals have the right to have their petition presented to the House of Assembly, and the right to have their issues debated before this House. They are a portion of the overwhelming majority of people of this Province who are opposed to this action by the government, an action which has been castigated from one end of the Province to the next, Mr. Speaker, and has now moved from a debate about Hydro to a debate about democracy.

The Premier stated in the House yesterday his full intention to go ahead with his plans to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. This is after he gave a commitment to the people of this Province on Province-wide t.v. that he would not proceed with the privatization of Hydro until a means had been found to determine the wishes of the people of Newfoundland, and he committed himself -

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

It now being 3:00 p.m., I call it Private Members' Day.

Private Members' Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the motion to be debated today as I advised the Chair and hon. members yesterday is number 6. My friend for St. George's I think can be persuaded to speak to it.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 6.

The hon. the Member for St. George's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this hon. Chamber today to begin the debate on this very important resolution, a resolution that if supported and acted on will effect in a very beneficial way the economic wealth of the Province and the health and well-being of present day Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and all generations to come.

I'm not going to go through the whole prayer of the resolution or all the `whereases' but I will simply state the resolution itself:

"BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly endorses the continuation of efforts of the present administration and the development of a public policy on food and nutrition."

To begin with, at the December 1989 Growing Together conference held in Ottawa, Jim White, of Jim White's food group, and the creator of the President's Choice brand of green food products, predicted that there would be a revolution in agriculture and food production in the next decade. He indicated that he thought the markets for food products would be driven in the future primarily by nutritional forces. At any one time right now there are 22 million North Americans dieting and wanting low fat or no fat foods. They are also indicating that they want foods produced with fewer pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and fewer preservatives, and more wholesome, fresh and natural food products to be offered in the marketplace. Products like bacon high in fat, sodium and nitrates, whole milk, and processed foods are likely to go the way of the carrier pigeon.

Consumer behaviour is also changing dramatically and several studies recently have outlined the role policy makers should play in promoting and accommodating new food marketing and consumption. The 1990 report, Action Towards Healthy Eating, sponsored by the Department of National Health and Welfare, for example stated that an increased flow of food and nutritional information, a greater emphasis on dietary advice, and more awareness of environmental issues, suggests that consumers indeed in Canada are making significant dietary behavioural changes. Social and lifestyle factors will also have a tremendous impact on food production and purchasing practices in the coming years and governments need to set guidelines and encourage the food industry to make nutrition a primary consideration in the development and marketing of foods.

Newfoundlanders are showing some evidence of following this international food consumption trend and of recognizing the links between nutrition, lifestyle and health, albeit than at a slower pace than elsewhere in the nation. People's food choices reflect a complex interplay of parental influence, cultural heritage, formal and informal educational influences, levels of advertising and economic circumstances. Several of the factors combined to explain a general lower awareness of the importance of food health and nutrition in this Province than elsewhere.

Since Confederation, Mr. Speaker, this Province has moved away from a reliance on staple diet of fish and other subsistence foods which provided the nutritional requirements for a strenuous outdoor lifestyle to a dependence on new processed foods marketed internationally through the industry food supply system. This shift has occurred in only a few decades and it was assisted by the powerful advertising medium, the television. Improved communications, particularly since 1960, allowed Newfoundlanders to see how other North Americans were behaving. Improved transportation and the consolidation of the food distribution system internationally meant that more and more of the food fad fashions of the rest of North America could be brought to this Province.

It is not surprising, Mr. Speaker, that the first international fast food outlet to be opened in Newfoundland in 1970, set records in sales within the organization itself, and in less than twenty years, all major food chain restaurants have established outlets in the capital city, and across the Province in many cases.

Mr. Speaker, these changes in Newfoundland and Labrador food consumption patterns have been accomplished by a move towards a more sedentary lifestyle and a greater emphasis on leisure. More of the population is now engaged in non-physical work which requires a different kind of basic food intake than occupations involving physical labour.

In the school system, the inclusion of nutrition and food-related curriculum content has been less than ideal, to say the least, resulting in minimal institutional emphasis on nutrition and food. Furthermore, home economists and community nutrition services were virtually non-existent over the past couple of decades when the dramatic transition in the food delivery system occurred.

On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, there is considerable evidence to suggest that many Newfoundland and Labrador consumers are demanding that more nutritious and health food products be offered in the retail stores and in the food service trades. An example of that is the switch to calorie-reduced foods and a switch from whole milk to 2 per cent, 1 per cent and even skim milk amongst our population. Consumers are, indeed, more concerned about all the kinds of foods they eat.

In the commercial food service industries, many of the fast food chains have established salad bars recently to accompany what has often been referred to as junk foods or empty calorie foods. They are promoting the nutritional aspects of foods almost as much as the `convenient' factor.

On the environmental side, Mr. Speaker, the President's Choice brand of food products is becoming increasingly popular as consumers are drawing direct links between food quality and environmental considerations. Foods under such labels as President's Choice are billed as being of a higher quality nutritionally because either they are made from real food ingredients or because they contain minimal amounts of preservatives. In addition, the packaging material is either recycled or the degree of packaging is minimal, capitalizing on the notion that environmentally friendly food products are also likely to be better for you.

Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, because Canada is the most wasteful society in the world, consumers are becoming sensitized to the problems with waste and this is beginning to affect their food-buying habits. Consumers are now starting to respond to messages that Styrofoam trays, for example, and excessive layers of plastic wrap are indeed wasteful.

The move away from certain types of packaging has direct implications for the preparation, presentation, and quality of foods. Given a choice, consumers are becoming more likely to select unwrapped foods than pre-packaged products. The nutritional revolution, which will probably occur in the food industry within the next decade, and the impact of consumers' concerns over excess packaging will affect the entire Province, not just St. John's. Therefore, it is imperative that all who are associated with the agri/aqua food sector, from the farmer to the fisherman, on to the food service industries be prepared well in advance and that the development of an appropriate public policy precede rather than follow this process.

The food selection and lifestyle of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians appear to have had a detrimental impact on their nutritional and physical well-being. Diets of deep-fried, heavily salted and fatty meats, sweet desserts, and highly processed foods of dubious nutritional quality are not balanced by foods with a high fibre content or by fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy products.

Furthermore, it is well-known that the per capita consumption of fresh fluid milk in this Province is only about half that of the national average, while the consumption per capita of canned evaporated milk, which is nutritionally not as sound as fresh fluid milk, exceeds that of all other parts of the country by a very large margin. Mr. Speaker, these concerns are compounded when the dietary behaviour of our young people is examined. Bad habits related to diet are often passed on from the parents and they can be perpetuated and reinforced, unfortunately, in the school system.

A recent Queens University study of the dietary habits of school-age children across the country in Grades IV, VII, and X, for example, showed that nearly half of the young people in this country do not eat a balanced diet. Approximately 30 per cent of the nine-year-old males do not eat vegetables every day, if you can believe it, and 20 per cent of the fifteen-year-olds do not eat breakfast. Two-thirds of the young people have diets high in fat and one-quarter of them have high sugar diets.

As young people get older, they are less likely to consume yellow vegetables, fish, beans, and whole grain cereals and breads. Boys, typically, have a diet higher in fat and sugar than girls. Indeed, young people's eating habits are nutritionally poor for the nation as a whole; however, Mr. Speaker, which is alarming, schoolchildren in Newfoundland and Labrador have the poorest eating habits of any province in Canada. In almost all categories of diet, nutrition and lifestyle, Newfoundland and Labrador children came out worse than all other provinces in this country, sometimes by a very wide margin.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that this Province has a serious problem, a very serious problem, indeed. The dietary and nutritional habits of young people in this Province are far from what can be expected to promote a healthy population. As learning ability has been shown to be directly related to physical health and nutrition, the problem takes on a completely different, another dimension, indeed, which has implications for the Province's education system. Unless, these trends are turned around, Mr. Speaker, our youth are likely to grow up carrying their bad eating habits with them, thereby putting themselves at risk for serious dietary and medical problems later in life.

More alarming still, Mr. Speaker, is the strong chance that when this generation become parents, they will pass on their poor eating habits to their children.

Mr. Speaker, treating diet-related chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, yes, Mr. Speaker, and even some forms of cancer is expensive. At a time when funding for provincial health services is under tremendous pressure, as we heard already today to some degree, and recognizing that no society can tolerate an unhealthy population, efforts must be, they must be made to institute preventative health care. The area of food, health and nutrition is one that can be addressed, and addressed immediately, at minimal cost to the Treasury.

It should involve, Mr. Speaker, the co-operative efforts of nutrition and health care professionals, the education system and food producers. Farmers and fisherpersons and the health food professionals, food scientists, nutritionists, dieticians and home economists, are closely linked by their common interest in meeting society's needs to be fed adequately and by the delivery of information on the appropriate selection and handling of foods.

However, Mr. Speaker, the Agri-Food system in this Province is dominated by decision-makers far removed from the primary production of foods, who are often out of touch with the needs and demands of consumers in any one localized area. In this Province, the once-strong agricultural production base providing fresh food supplies to much of the population has deteriorated drastically since 1949. The population's ability to produce its own subsistence foods now appears to be over-stated and Newfoundland and Labrador has become, unfortunately, has become dependent on imported foods as its indigenous agri-foods processing and marketing industries have been severely, severely arrested.

The Provincial Government has expressed a firm commitment to encourage local self-reliance in economic development of the Province and its constituent regions. Self-reliance, Mr. Speaker, is guided by an underlying philosophy aimed at helping individuals and their families live full and productive lives. Implicit, then, in this philosophy, is the goal to develop regional food security to ensure access by peoples at all times to sufficient food for active and healthy lives.

Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland farmers and fisherpersons are on the front lines in the battle to ensure that families are fed healthful and nutritious foods. Newfoundland and Labrador probably has the cleanest environment in North America in which to produce food. As efficient as the North American food production and distribution system is, there are still perishable products that lose quality during long-distance transportation to this Island. In many cases, Newfoundland farmers can indeed grow the same product and distribute it in retail stores or directly to consumers much faster and with less handling than food importers can; therefore, local farmers should always be able to offer products to consumers that are higher in quality, fresher and more nutritious than imported equivalents.

Mr. Speaker, the freshness and quality of local produce cannot be surpassed. Slower growing conditions under a cooler climate in this Province results in the production of superior quality produce and the eating quality of local fruits and berries, the quality of our vegetables are unrivalled anywhere in the country. Newfoundland meat producers are also providing top quality products from natural fed beef and lambs and the highly professional poultry and egg industries. Other nutritious meats abundantly available, Mr. Speaker, come from local wild game such as moose, caribou, rabbits and waterfowl.

With proper management, Newfoundland and Labrador can indeed sustain healthy wildlife populations for tourists and, at the same time, harvest as they do in Western Europe, a portion of these highly nutritious foods to complement our agri-foods industries. It is imperative then, Mr. Speaker, that government policy assist the Newfoundland and Labrador farm community in capitalizing on consumers' trends towards purchasing larger portions of fresh and nutritious produce and meats which are produced locally.

Forging links between the agri-food industries and the food, health and nutrition service serves to provide regional and individual self-reliance, allows local producers to diversify and expand the range of foods they can produce, meets the demands of consumers, and also contributes to the overall health and population by promoting better dietary habits.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I welcome the opportunity to have a few words - and a few it is; politicians speaking for twenty minutes that is only a few words - on this particular subject.

I say to the Member for St. George's that there are seven `whereases' in his resolution, and as far as I'm concerned, each and every `whereas' is just as important as the other. However, one of them does stand out, the one on the top of the last page of today's routine proceedings: "WHEREAS food selection and lifestyle of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are having a detrimental impact on their nutritional and physical well-being."

That, to me, sums up most of the rest of the `whereases.' However, the last: "BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly endorse the continuation of efforts of the present administration and the development of a public policy on food and nutrition."

Now, Mr. Speaker, it would be nothing new for me to say today that you can bring in all the regulations you like, you can bring in whatever you like with regards to government, farmers can grow all they like, pesticide-free, herbicide-free, whichever, disease-free, in any case, but unless and until individuals are educated to the fact that they should eat good nutritional foods, and combine with that an excellent exercise program, then it is not going to work.

People buy by choice. When they walk into a supermarket in these latter years, people are more health conscious, more conscious of what they are picking up and putting into their food baskets, they are asking more questions as to whether foods are pesticide-free, herbicide-free and so on. They are asking more questions, no doubt about that. But Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as we know them today - in fact, I was going to suggest, and I think one of my colleagues mentioned it the other day, that we have a provincial plant and, in the last couple of years, a provincial bird. I say, we could today take a poll and a vote in this Province and ask what our provincial dish would be, and that would be French fries with hamburger meat and gravy.

Mark it down. You go anywhere around this Province today in fast-food outlets, whether they are - not so much in the McDonald's of the world because they don't serve that, but that is another story; I will get into that. But hamburger meat and gravy - what does it contain? What does it do to you? I don't have to tell you how much sodium is in it, what it is cooked in, what effects it has on the body. Now granted, it is like everything else - our forefathers lived on beef and cabbage and salt fish and salt pork -and the salt pork wasn't cut up in scrunchions, it was put right in the pot with the salt beef and cabbage, taken out of the pot in big globs of pork, pepper put on that and eaten, and some of them - well, I say some, but a good many of them, lived to be ninety, ninety-five and one hundred years old. And, by god, the only secret I can see, the only way I saw them overcome it, was by hard work, because they worked. They are not like the society we have today when we go in, and even if we work for eight hours, those people worked ten, twelve, fifteen, sixteen hours a day, and that is the only thing I can see that kept them going. If you put the food that they ate down in the individuals in this Province today, none of them would get past twenty-five or thirty years of age.

An example the other day in the Globe and Mail of what I am taking about - they were talking about movie theatres, and if somebody bought a medium-sized popcorn in a theatre, the type of popcorn you have today, and they put butter on it, and salt and whatever, they say that one medium container of popcorn is equivalent to six Big Macs, and the large one is equivalent to eight Big Macs. That's how much fat and sodium is contained in the popcorn in the theatre. It is unreal.

As an example of what government can do, imagine if you put up a sign there saying just that, and saying what the popcorn contained and what it can do to you. It is unreal what people are eating today, and our young people today - the analogy I make is this: The government of the day, the people of the Province, and the producers and processors of milk in this Province, instituted a school milk program. Why? so that younger children could start drinking milk at an early age and thereby, as they get older, and as they get out and become parents themselves, they would make the habit of drinking milk, then they would pass it along to their children, and so on and on the chain goes. But that, in conjunction with some of the other rules and regulations, and some of the other things that are happening today - it is an education program; it is in the schools. Now we can't on one hand do that, and on the other hand have a regulation in place whereby - one of my colleagues handed me a note; at the end of my speech I will probably say what is on it.

In any case, that is a program that is working excellently. It is an excellent program. It means, last year, I think, an extra million litres of milk to the producers in the Province. What does it mean in savings to health care, the Department of Health in this Province? We can't judge that on a daily basis. We can't judge it on a yearly basis, but I can guarantee members opposite, and every member in this House, that somewhere down the road each and every day of the week we are saving dollars, and big dollars, because of what is happening, just this one example of drinking milk - milk, the most perfect food.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are in a conflict of interest (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: No conflict of interest, and even if I am in a conflict of interest, I don't mind getting up here and pontificating. Even if it means they are going to sell an extra million litres next year, it wouldn't hurt my pocketbook, I can assure you.

I will just continue on with this conflict of interest bit the minister refers to. Whole milk must contain not less than 3.25 per cent milk fat and not less than 8.25 per cent milk solids or fat. That is whole milk. I can go on to low fat milk. I can go on to skim milk. I can go on to chocolate milk - another myth out there that chocolate milk is no good to you. That is wrong. I don't have time to go into it. Evaporated skim milk, sweetened condensed milk, eggnog, cultured buttermilk and so on.

To call a food nutritious, it must contain a nutrient that is required by the body. Some people are concerned with chocolate milk, for instance. That is wrong. The only thing that is added to chocolate milk is a little bit of sugar that is added in the process. There are less carbohydrates in a glass of chocolate milk than there are in an equal amount of apple juice. That is proven. The protein and fat in milk slows down the digestion process so you don't feel hungry, that's one of the examples. I can go on and give other examples of what - for instance, one 250 millilitre glass of milk contains 129 calories and fifteen essential nutrients. We're talking about nutrition, we're talking about nutrients, we're talking about one food that can put such a thing into the body and be life sustaining. Protein; 8.6 grams in the same glass. It builds and repairs body tissue. Riboflavin; which is Vitamin B2, 25 per cent. What have we got to do other than that to get that into the body? Vitamin A; 11 per cent, Vitamin D; 44 per cent, Vitamin B1; 8 per cent, Calcium; 29 per cent. It helps in the formation and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. How much is that costing the health care system today? How much is that costing the health care system today just in dental care alone?

If that was made up, this government would be able to put an exercise program in pretty well every town and community in this Province, I would say, based on the health care bill alone. Carbohydrates; 12 grams, Vitamin B; 6.6 per cent, Vitamin B12; 45 per cent, Phosphorus; 22 per cent, Magnesium; 14 per cent and Zinc; 11 per cent. Mr. Speaker, that's fifteen nutrients in a 250 millilitre glass of milk. That's, like I said, one of the most perfect foods. Mr. Speaker, there's an old saying that you are what you eat. There's an old saying, it goes back a long time that you are what you eat. I can assure you, in looking around at some of the - I won't say some of the people in the House of Assembly, a lot of people around this Province - Mr. Speaker, that probably suits some people but if not in the House of Assembly, it certainly applies to a lot of people outside the House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I was never so humble in all my life - I thought I was doing a big thing. I usually run around 44-50 kilometres a week and I usually work out a few times a week at a gym, especially here at the Aquarena when I'm in the city and I was never so humble - in the morning, I like to do it in the morning's early, around 6:00 or 6:30. I go out around this city, there's not a soul on the streets, there's no one to be seen anywhere but myself. I have no worries about bumping into anybody. A blind person could lead the CNIB and run around this city in the morning. He got no worries about hitting anything unless he wanders onto the road and hits a car but regards to a sidewalk, you haven't got a worry about hitting anybody.

Now, what I'm getting at is this; when I talked about humility and talked about being humble, I figured getting up early in the morning was a wonderful thing. I was doing a big thing, big deal until I started over here at the Aquarena. Go over here at 6:15 in the morning, the first three people I meet, one seventy-one year old lady that's got two laps done around the course just outside the Aquarena. A sixty-eight year old gentleman who is waiting in his car for the doors to open. A sixty-three year old gentleman waiting for the doors to open. Three people lined up ahead of me to go into the - no, I'm a little bit younger then the sixty-three year old -

AN HON. MEMBER: Sixty-one.

MR. WOODFORD: - but in any case when you walk into that gym and you look at every machine around there; the nautilus machines, the stair-masters, the cycles and all the cycling machines and so on, it's unreal what those people do. They get on one, they do their aerobics or their cardiovascular and they warm up. Some of them stay there for thirty minutes on one of the machines and then they go from nautilus to nautilus right around to the leg curl, the leg extension, right on around to the biceps, triceps, right around, its unreal. I don't see one person from 6:30 in the morning, until I leave there at probably 8:00 or 8:30, not one person do I see any younger then myself. They may be but they certainly don't look any younger then myself in that gym.

You talk about the day and age of exercise and so on but it does your heart good. That's not the only three but I say that because those three start that early. There's a lot of other elderly people who do come in after and start to participate in an exercise program.

If we don't get the young people today educated, combine two things, a proper diet and a proper exercise program, you are not going to do one without the other. Some people may get away with a slim waistline just probably eating the right foods. Some may get away with a slim waistline and so on and a fairly good system based on what they eat. Everybody should have some kind of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise, or doing something to try to get the blood pumping, to try to get the heart working, and try and get your veins opened up so that it flows more easily.

There is nothing like an exercise program. It doesn't have to be much. Everybody I talk to about an exercise program says: We haven't got the time, I can't afford to do it. You can't afford not to do it. That is what I tell young people. Twenty minutes. What is twenty minutes a day even, let alone twenty minutes three times a week, one hour a week, if they wanted to?

Mr. Speaker, one thing I say to members opposite that they have control over. Last year when the smoking regulations went through the House of Assembly I said it was a sham, I said it was a bluff, and I stand here today and say the same thing. What is the point of putting a 50 per cent non-smoking and smoking area in a restaurant or an eating establishment in this Province when you can go in - there are absolutely no physical barriers. The 50 per cent is here for non-smoking, the 50 per cent is there for smoking. There is nothing as bad as far as I'm concerned than a cigarette. Cigarette smoke, second-hand smoke, to me is just as bad as the person who is sucking it down in his lungs.

I look and I see the Minister of Social Services there. I know he is saying: Sit down, will you? Because myself and him sit down every other morning down at Holiday Inn for a coffee. The minister has his cigarette and I have my cup of coffee and so on. A few of the other gentleman there - but it is an example, and he knows. You haven't got to tell the Minister of Social Services anything about this. It is just a matter of habit and he can't get out of it. That is one of the examples we have.

Bringing in regulations whereby you have smoking here and non-smoking there, that is crazy. No physical barrier, the boundary is the edge of the table where you sit. Government has got control over that and that is one of the things that I think members opposite should pontificate about and should take to their colleagues in Cabinet with regards to making some changes.

I just picked up a little pamphlet the other day at a restaurant here in town. I won't name the restaurant because I would probably be accused of advertising for them. It says on it: Do yourself a favour, ask for: (1) 2 per cent, 1 per cent or skimmed milk for drinking and with coffee or tea; (2) soft margarine; (3) calorie-reduced salad dressings; (4) foods prepared without rich cream sauces or gravy or served on the side. Plain vegetables, rice, potatoes or salad as a substitute to French fries. Whole-grain bread rolls. Broiled, barbecued, roasted, steamed, poached or grilled foods. Skinned poultry. Fruit salad, frozen yoghurt, or angel food cake. On it goes.

For instance, the potato. I mentioned French fries. The potato is one of the best things you can eat today with regards to carbohydrates. What kills the eating of the potato is what we put on it, how we do it. We can't cook a nice potato and load it up with butter; we can't cook a nice potato and load it up with sour cream. We can do it, we can eat it, but you are defeating the purpose.

What is the first thing a Newfoundlander does? He takes a knife and peels it off, peels the potato. He hasn't got time to cut it up for French fries; sometimes he just dips her down solid. When he does cut it up I think it is 60 per cent - make sure before I make a statement on it. Sixty per cent of the protein, the carbohydrate, in a potato goes out with the peel.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. WOODFORD: Sixty per cent, once you peel it.

Members must wonder sometimes, when they go into a place in town that is popular for potato skins, is Holiday Inns, they serve it lunch time down there as a pub lunch and so on - potato skins - how good do they taste at all? They are delicious, and they taste better with a bit of cheese. They taste better with a bit of salt. They taste twice as good again if you put something else on them, but if you could only stick to the potato peel, with something else to wash them down, they are probably three times as good.

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned about some of the fresh vegetables. We can have all the fresh vegetables we like. Unless we instill in people the proper formulas, the proper dieting habits and so on, what they should eat and so on, as far as I am concerned, it is not going to work.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: If I could have just a few seconds. I am not going to take other people's time.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. WOODFORD: One of the things I wanted to stress is that in order for a nutrition food policy, or nutrition policy in this Province, we have to get into the schools, and this is something that members opposite can do. Get it into the schools as young as they can. If there is one class in the schools in this Province, anywhere in this Province, that does not have an exercise program, then I say to the minister opposite, and I am sure that he will agree with me, that they should be forced to. They should be forced to have an exercise program in every classroom in this Province, and tie to that - they can't do this, I know, tell people what to eat, but at least give them an idea of what is good and bad and so on.

A good diet tied to a good exercise program, we would cut the health care problems in this Province, I would submit, probably 50 per cent. Now it wouldn't help us overnight. The minister's budget wouldn't go down overnight but, by God I will tell you, over the next number of months and years you would see some difference in the health care bill in this Province.

Name the fruits and vegetables and so on that we can eat. We can eat it. We can go on diets, and the best thing to do is eat five or six different meals a day rather than two meals of 1,200 or 1,500 calories each. Eat five or six. It burns off faster. You increase your metabolism; and if you take in protein, what does it do? If you haven't got the proper metabolism there to burn it off, regardless if you walk, run, sit down or whatever, it is not going to work anyway. You have to do something to build that up in conjunction with what you eat.

I say the old adage `you are what you eat', as far as I am concerned, is exactly what it is, and I say all of us should look around and take a little bit more time to pay attention to that particular thing.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise today and speak in favour of this motion submitted by my hon. colleague from the District of St. George's.

Nutrition is certainly something that has to be of concern to us all, and I think today it is certainly a very current topic. Myself, like a lot of others, I guess, in my age group, it was brought home to me about three years ago when, as part of a regular routine check up, my doctor determined that I had elevated cholesterol levels, and subsequent to that became very interested in looking into the root cause and working with my doctor in looking especially at the dieting end of it.

The thing that struck me at the time that I do recall was a statement he made to me that Newfoundlanders in general have elevated levels of cholesterol. As a matter of fact, I remember he said to me: Your cholesterol isn't too bad by Newfoundland standards, but by mainland standards it would have been considered to very high, very high.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was the level?

MR. SMITH: It was 6.7.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: High normal, but in Newfoundland it is within an acceptable range, by Newfoundland standards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: I am just going by what I was told by my doctor. I didn't bother to check it out, but what he said to me, is that Newfoundlanders generally have elevated cholesterol levels, and just a general statement like that was certainly cause for concern. Since then it has been a struggle, I must say.

My hon. friend for Humber Valley was referring to `you are what you eat' and we certainly would not want to pursue that to any great length. I notice he kept referencing the smoke without then saying anything to his waistline and opening his jacket and everything else. I am not going to try to compare waistlines with him today but obviously my battle of the bulge has been a little more difficult than his has to this point in time.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: You have to get up earlier, boy.

MR. SMITH: My colleague for St. John's North says I have to get up earlier. The hon. member is saying he does not see too many people around at 6:30 in the morning. He remarked that sensible people are still in bed at 6:30 in the morning.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, it is certainly something that all of us have to take an interest in. I was pleased to see, since I have had the privilege to sit in this hon. House, and to hear from the Minister of Health that more attention is being paid to the whole idea of wellness. More and more today, when you look at publications that are out there, the thinking is that we need to be concentrating more on keeping our good health as compared to being faced with the consequences of down the road dealing with the enormous costs of trying to restore good health once it is lost.

There is no doubt, as has been said by previous speakers today, a large part of that does deal with the whole education process. Efforts have been made over the years to try and convince the people of this Province, and indeed of this nation, of the importance of maintaining proper diets, and the importance of practising good nutrition. No doubt it is not easy.

The Canada Food Guide, which has been around for some time now, does offer guidelines for healthy eating, and does offer some very practical suggestions as to how we may in choosing the foods for our diet may ensure that we have a balanced diet and thus a better chance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some of the things they suggest refer to enjoying a variety of foods, emphasizing cereals, breads, and other grain products, vegetables, and fruits, choosing low fat dairy products, lean meats and foods prepared with little or no fat.

As the hon. member opposite mentioned this is certainly, I think, a big weakness of a lot of us, that our diets do contain an inordinate amount of fat, and for a lot of us it is not easy to correct. They also suggest increasing the consumption of foods high in fibre. Of course today many doctors throughout the world are preaching the benefits of high fibre diets. There are many claims that have been made with regard to this, and I think there is certainly sufficient evidence, and sufficient research to support the idea that we should be paying attention to this.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight by enjoying regular physical activity and healthy eating, the combination that my hon. friend opposite mentioned, and limiting salt, alcohol, and caffeine intake. These are certainly all very important points.

When we speak of nutrition we must give grave attention to the concerns relative to the young people of our Province. Anyone who is a parent, especially a parent of a teenager, will certainly be able to relate to the difficulty of getting people to eat proper diets. If you turn on your TV, on a regular basis, interspersed with the programming, are ads for various fast foods, and certainly for young people who do not have the time to sit down and eat a proper diet it is very easy to get caught up with the idea that the hamburger is king and the French fries and things of that nature are what most of our young people exist on and I think what we have to keep in mind is that, when we are encouraging wellness and healthy lifestyles, these involve in addition to balanced diets, things like eliminating smoking and I certainly relate to that, and moderate use of alcohol.

These are all worked together and these are all matters of concern as we work towards these healthy lifestyles; but I think we should keep in mind and not lose sight of the fact that we have to accept that the hamburger can be just as dangerous in terms of your health as can the cigarette, because fat has certainly been demonstrated, it has clearly been demonstrated now that an excess of fat in our diet is certainly very, very dangerous for us.

These concerns with nutrition, Mr. Speaker, have to be started at a very early age and I am not necessarily meaning that from the time children begin school; as a matter of fact it has been demonstrated and clearly demonstrated that proper diet for expectant mothers is something that we have to be looking closely at. In recent years the Department of Health, through their public health nurses, have been encouraging proper nutrition on the part of expectant mothers, because it has been demonstrated that it is very important if mothers are to have healthy babies that they do during their pregnancy practise proper eating habits, and it continues on through.

The educating generally, of young people of the importance of nutrition, there has been no doubt as has been mentioned, responsibility for this has been placed primarily with the schools, and in the main I think we have to recognize the schools have done a commendable job, but what we have to keep in mind is that in recent years, and I guess it has been a tradition, that anything that we want to disseminate, if there is any new program that is coming down, whether it is to do with nutrition or Aids awareness or whatever it is, it is always the schools that we go to and give primary responsibility for delivering these programs.

During the course of my career as an educator, one of the things that I saw was an increase in the kinds of demands that were made of the school system. Now there is only so much time, Mr. Speaker, available within the school day, and there is only so much that teachers within the classroom can accomplish, and while they do a commendable job, I think it is wrong if we think we can leave responsibility for this solely to the schools. It has to be the concern of government generally and certainly of agencies other than the schools.

Within the schools, we certainly see schools doing an exceptional job with regards not only to teaching proper eating habits and good nutritional practices, but most schools in this Province now would have in place nutrition policies. Within recent years most schools would have developed this and these will place controls on things that would be available for sale within the school and let's say it falls within certain guidelines, then they would not be permitted within the school. As an example, Mr. Speaker, in most primary and elementary schools in this Province at the present time, pop machines or candy machines or the availability of chips or things of that nature, it is most unlikely that they would be found. At least if it's within a school board and within a school that's current on the thinking with regard to this, and certainly those that do have these nutritional policies would ensure that these things are not available within the school.

Also, health care; attention is given to this. Most schools do have access to public health nurses who visit the school on a regular basis and are able to address concerns of health, but also, as part of that, is the emphasis on fitness, the fitness part of wellness. The idea of Phys. Ed. programs and sports programs in the Primary, Elementary and High Schools, they are all geared towards teaching our young people who will some day be our adults, teaching them proper routines and practices in attaining a level of fitness and introducing them to sports that they can later use in their adult life as a means of maintaining this level of fitness.

My hon. colleague from St. George's mentioned the fact, and I think we have to recognize that our young people today, in comparison to previous generations, do live a type of lifestyle that involves an awful lot of time sitting in the living room and watching television or playing the Nintendo Games and unless we are aware of the importance of having this active lifestyle, and unless parents accept the responsibility of trying to ensure that their children are involved in activities outside the home, whether it is out just playing around the yard or whatever, that they do something to keep active.

I am not suggesting that watching t.v. or playing Nintendo Games in and of themselves are wrong or bad but I guess the point that I am trying to make is that they should not be taking the place of wholesome, physical activities which would help to ensure the fitness of the young people in our Province.

I'm sure we are all aware of some years ago and the study that was done that compared the fitness level of Canadians generally - especially they used the comparison with one of the Scandinavian countries. It was embarrassing how poorly we stacked up against these other countries. As a result we saw the birth of the Participaction program, which over the intervening years has certainly I think done an awful lot towards improving the level of fitness of Canadians, and I would suggest of Newfoundlanders. We still have a ways to go. I think the hon. member opposite by example is showing the importance and has referenced the fact that some of our senior citizens who in later years are still very active, and are demonstrating that by remaining fit it is still possible to be healthy and to be engaged in these activities late in life. This as well is something that we have to be concerned with.

Also within our schools, in terms of nutrition, we must recognize that there have been many important developments in recent years. We see in the media and we hear about schools that have introduced breakfast and lunch programs. Geared towards and in recognition of the fact that we do have within this Province children who come to our schools every day without having the proper nutrition that is so necessary in order to enable them to come into the schools and to put in a good day of work and to have a productive day.

Also I think we should recognize the school milk program which we now have in place. I think we should certainly here as well credit the efforts of the industry, the producers themselves, who are largely responsible for having this program in place. I think we have to recognize that. It is commendable that they have taken this initiative and have taken the lead in trying to ensure that this program is in place in the Province. I think all of can draw a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that this is something that we do have in place.

I remember my years in the school. It always struck me when I was principal of the school and concerns with nutrition. I remember when I went to school - and a lot of the hon. members here can relate to what I'm talking about - back in the days of the cocoa malt. I mean, I went to school - when it was a small school you had to bring your splits - but even back then, when it came recess time, I remember the routine was to bring a piece of molasses bread. You were served a hot cup of cocoa malt. This was a long time ago but I can still remember those days. It really struck me in my early days in the teaching profession that despite everything that happened after Confederation, and all the benefits that had come to this Province, in fact in areas like that, in terms of providing for the needs of our children within the classroom, we really hadn't progressed at all. As a matter of fact, the children who I saw twenty years ago when I was in the classroom teaching, they weren't as well off as I was. I certainly grew up in an era that was much poorer by comparison than the era in which they were living.

While the schools have an important role to play - and I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that they are rising to the challenge and are responding to the challenges out there - as I said, we cannot rely solely on them. The other thing we have to keep in mind as well, that as good as teachers may be, and as good as our schools may be, we cannot forget the influence of the home. You have the child in the school for four or five hours a day. When that child goes home the kinds of values that exist within the home, regardless of what you are teaching, but also the reality of what exists in that home, is important as well. We can't lose sight of that.

Government certainly, as my hon. friend for St. George's has suggested, has a role to play in this whole area of educating the people of our Province to the importance of good nutrition. In connection with that I would just like to quote from the task force on agri-foods which my hon. colleague played a major role in producing: There is a need for home economics specialists to be employed by the agriculture branch to work through their branch's existing extension service. The main objective for a home economics extension program within the agriculture branch would be to promote and increase industry and public awareness of locally-produced foods, to become the primary vehicle for implementing the policy on food and nutrition to the agriculture sector, and to become the primary vehicle for promoting sound environmental and food practices at the household level, avoidance of waste, selective shopping practices, composting, recycling, energy-conscious and nutritious food preparation methods - certainly all very valid arguments - and underlying the need for a role and the function that has to be played by government.

Also, we must be conscious of the fact that we do have within our Province many families who are living at or below the poverty line. If you are taking about the near poor, right now they refer to the social comfort line, but despite the fact that the message may be there and we may be convincing them of the need for good nutrition, there are many who would argue that they don't have the resources to go out and secure for themselves and their families the proper nutrition that they need.

I would just like to quote, if I may, from this publication of the Fraser Institute on poverty in Canada, 1994, in referencing and in speaking to the matter of food, and I quote: The basic needs approach attempts to find the least expensive way of providing good, palatable, nutritionally balanced food to Canadian families and individuals. Health and Welfare Canada specifies the energy intakes according to age and gender that are required to maintain a healthy weight. The Canada Food Guide indicates the balance; that is the number of servings from within each food group required for good nutrition. The assumption is that the household seeking good nutrition purchases food at grocery stores once or twice a week, or more or less, and more or less adheres to these energy and balance recommendations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think it's wrong for us to assume -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is not up. The Chair can't hear the hon. member because there are a number of members speaking here, engaged in conversation. I wonder if the hon. members could move outside, if necessary. Let's hear the hon. member in silence.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you - just a minute to clue up then, Mr. Speaker.

There are a number of points I would like to make in conclusion. First of all, I think we must continue our efforts at educating the general public; there is no question about that. Through our schools, we must try to ensure that our children have adequate diets insofar as schools can ensure that particular thing. Certainly, there is a role they can play, but they can't operate in isolation, and they can't do it alone. Also, we must work with our lower income families to assist them in utilizing their limited resources to ensure they avail of proper nutrition.

One other point, in conclusion, if I may, I really feel that we should be encouraging more of our people to return to the idea of subsistence farming. It really bothers me, in the rural areas of the Province that we have large amounts of good agricultural land that are just going to waste, that are not doing anything. Because not only can we grow much of the food we need, but also, as was referenced again by my hon. friend, the Member for Humber Valley -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has leave.

MR. SMITH: It can be grown organically, therefore ensuring that we get full nutritional value. So I think another role that government can be playing here is running a number of seminars throughout the Province whereby we encourage people on the idea of getting into gardening.

I might say, as a gardener of many years, someone who took great pride in being self-sufficient in growing vegetables, I don't think we should lose sight of the fact of the therapeutic value of self-reliance. Thus, gardening and subsistence farming in this Province will not only contribute to our physical well-being but I submit to you, it will contribute to our physiological well-being as a people as well. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am very pleased today to take part in this debate and discuss this resolution put forward by the Member for St. George's. It is a resolution that I find quite interesting. I must commend the Member for St. George's, the Member for Humber Valley and the Member for Port au Port for what I consider to be three excellent speeches on what is, to me, a very important topic about development of a public policy on food and nutrition.

I've really listened very closely to what members have said and so have most members who have been in the House today. I must say they have listened to the speakers.

AN HON. MEMBER: They were good speeches.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They were excellent speeches. But there are still those, of course, who don't pay much attention or attach much importance to anything, and they continue to talk and not listen while other people are discussing what they consider to be important.

There are a number of things, Mr. Speaker, that caught my attention in the debate about nutrition; diet, cholesterol levels, exercise, fitness, physical education programs in the schools, all of these things are of great interest to me, and for good reason. I spent a fair bit of my life working and trying to improve fitness, developing recreation and sport programs. I have always been concerned about nutrition and still am. I'm most concerned, I guess, these days, about my own nutrition and so on than anything else.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman has fewer problems than many of us.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but it hasn't been easy, I say to the Government House Leader. It doesn't come easier with each year that passes; it becomes more and more difficult to continue to do some form of exercise, to try to feel better, to watch your diet. Someone said, `You are what you eat' - I guess it was the Member for Humber Valley - and I thought to myself, my god, I'll soon either turn into a lettuce or a chicken because of, over the last few months, trying to deal with my cholesterol level, I say to the Member for St. George's.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Something like that. I was interested in hearing the Member for Port au Port talk about - I think he said 6.7 being in the high normal range, I believe he said, and I guess it depends on your doctor.

MR. ROBERTS: Is 6.7 a high normal range?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, that's what he said, which was interesting. That's cholesterol levels, and I think something like 5.2 - if you're below 5.2 you're considered to be okay. And a lot of Newfoundlanders have cholesterol problems.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No not really. There are other things that members have to disclose - the Minister of Justice, I know what he's getting at again now. He's throwing a few barbs at my colleague, the Member for Humber East about disclosure but she doesn't mind, Mr. Speaker.

MS. VERGE: I can take it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Maybe the Minister of Justice should get his checked. Maybe his cholesterol level will be as high as the interest he makes on all his money and that would certainly be high. He'd be certainly in the danger zone, Mr. Speaker.

There's one thing I would like to say to the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Education who I see has left the Chamber. But if we're really serious about improving the well-being of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, if we're as concerned about the cost of our health care and the escalating health care budgets as we say we are, then we should listen to the three gentlemen who have spoken already today. We should look at what spending a few dollars wisely - wise spending of our money for prevention, to educate our population about the benefits of good nutrition, proper diets, exercise and fitness. It may take a few years before we see the net result on the budget of this Province, but I assure you that if we go about it properly and we spend our money wisely, the reduction in the health care budget for this Province would be quite significant over a number of years - I really believe that.

Of course, as I've said before, what happens once you get around the Cabinet table trying to divvy up the few dollars that we have is that we sort of get short-sighted about it. We don't realize that five or ten years down the road if we spent those few hundred thousand dollars on education programs and fitness programs and whatever else, that it may save us this many million dollars, and it will. I realize the Ministers of Health and Education and other ministers have a difficult time convincing colleagues and getting a consensus on the way money should be spent.

It will do two things, of course - it will have our population feeling a lot better about themselves and being more productive, and it will improve the financial position of the Province. Because the Minister of Health won't always be facing the nightmares that he has to face every year, and throughout the year when emergencies pop up. We know the effects of poor health and heart disease and lung disease and on it goes, with the pressure and the cost associated therewith. We talk about it almost every day in this House, the problems that are out there in our health care system. A lot of it can be prevented, but government must be willing to spend the money wisely and be willing to take a chance on spending for prevention.

I want to say to the Member for Port au Port, who talked about fitness and the physical education programs - a very important aspect of all of it. What is happening in our schools today and in our school systems today, I say to the Member for Port au Port, is that we are going backwards, we are regressing. I will tell you for two reasons why we are going backward. It is all to do with the financial position the Province finds itself in, restraint and everything else.

What we are finding in our school systems today with the physical education programs, number one, is that teachers who are not qualified to teach physical education are doing the programs, particularly in the lower grades, the primary and elementary grades. We are finding more and more teachers each year, by the way, who are being given the responsibility for the physical education programs.

MR. ROBERTS: Even though they are not qualified.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Even though they are not qualified.

MR. ROBERTS: Why is this?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Because there are not enough physical educators in the system, and those qualified physical educators who are in the system are having to take up other responsibilities like mathematics and french and all the other stuff they have to fit into whatever. So there are two things happening.

The other thing that is happening, by the way, is that the time that those students are getting in the gymnasium or whatever sports facility for physical education programs, is being reduced. You are getting two effects. One is less time, and the other is you have people there - and a lot of those people, by the way, are not comfortable with doing the programs. It is like asking me to teach nuclear science or physics.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What is that?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but you know what I'm saying. That's what is happening. I say this quite sincerely because I know what is happening. And, you know, I'm not casting blame but I'm just saying really what is happening out there. Often we pay lip service to a lot of things and we are really not serious about it.

If we are serious about improving fitness levels of young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will have carried over value into later life, then it certainly has to start in the primary and elementary grades of school. We need people doing the programs like we need teaching mathematics and science, where we have a weakness, who are qualified and have a keen interest in those areas. It is like anything else - and we have to provide adequate time.

That is an area I think we should have a really good look at if we are serious about what we are talking about today. I think we all are, especially those of us who are talking about it. I think we are very serious about it and we care about it, and we want to see something happen.

One thing I want to say, I guess to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs: There is a division in government of Community Recreation, Sport and Fitness which, again, because of the dollar squeeze, has really been buried. That's what has happened to that division, it has been buried in that huge department, lost, no importance, no recognition attached to it.

I can tell you that was a very active and positive division. I say that because I happened to be Minister of Culture, Recreation and Youth for four years, or just about four years. I felt so good about that department, and it was mainly because of that division. Every day we were doing something positive for somebody, some group, or some community in this Province. Whether it was a youth group, a sports organization, or whatever, it was a very positive division, and now it is a shame to see what has happened with the cutbacks, the squeeze, and everything else, that they have been lost.

Again, a very important aspect of all this, because again if government is sincere about fitness and proper nutrition, and all of the other things, you should not be cutting the legs off the very division that should be out front for the government in educating, implementing, and developing fitness programs, and on and on it goes. The dollar savings in years to come if we spend wisely in a couple of those areas would be phenomenal.

The other thing I have to say, Mr. Speaker, is that we have made great strides and great gains in being conscious about what we eat and what we do. More and more people today watch what they buy. They look at the amount of fat. Almost everywhere you go, when you shop in the stores and supermarkets, people look at the fat content, because of cholesterol and heart problems, and on and on it goes, and with feeling good, I guess. We have made gains but we are a long ways from where we want to be.

I was interested to hear the Member for Port au Port say that he grew vegetables. I thought to myself I hope that is all he grows. Let us hope he was not into growing anything else that might be in direct contradiction to his vegetables.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, you never know. Of course we are not into growing too much. We are into other things, importing, but not things we grow. If we could ever get the Burin Peninsula people into growing, I say to the Member for Port au Port, we would be interested in exporting.

MR. ROBERTS: Exporting to the rest of the Province.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That's right. The Minister of Justice has a good understanding and a good handle on how the enterprising people of the Burin Peninsula might react if we were successful in growing some things that would compliment already the largest industry on the Burin Peninsula, the largest revenue maker on the Burin Peninsula which I need not get into.

Mr. Speaker, these are a few remarks I wanted to make on the resolution which I consider to be very important. I say to the Member for St. George's I am glad that he has put it on the Order Paper. The former Minister of Health, the Minister of Education, has returned but I do not know if he has listened to what has been said today.

MR. DECKER: I do not think we should build greenhouses and then we all could-

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, we could. We could build a lot of greenhouses, I say to the minister. Here is the minister's response to what I consider to be a very serious discussion. Here is the Minister of Education that is involved now in a further squeeze on the education system that is going to see fewer physical education teachers in the schools, fewer qualified physical education teachers teaching physical education programs, less time for students in physical education programs, then the minister comes in when we are talking about nutrition, exercise, fitness, wellness, and feeling good about ourselves, and that is the kind of response we get from the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: I though it was a good idea.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: If only I could take the minister seriously. Make no wonder the NTA and the church leaders cannot take the hon. minister seriously. Just when you get serious and start making some progress the Minister of Education will make some inflammatory remark and knock the whole thing back ten steps. That is what happens, I say to the minister. It is too bad to be so flippant in such a serious, serious, discussion.

Mr. Speaker, there is another very important consideration here and it has all to do with our provincial economy, what has happened to our fishery, and on and on. Today in this Province the caseload for the Department of Social Services has risen to about 35,000 which means that there are probably 100,000 people, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, who are dependent really upon social assistance, welfare, to keep themselves alive, I say to the Member for St. George's. We all know what dollars mean to a proper diet. It is fine for some of us who can go and be selective in shopping. We can buy the fresh fruits and vegetables, and we can look for the cereal, and we can look for this and something else, but it costs us more because we do that, and we know it is very expensive for a select diet for whatever reason, it is costly.

Now you have 100,000 individuals in the Province that are depending upon the Department of Social Services to keep them alive; now what options do they have to be diet conscious? It is very serious, we all wish we could give them - I know the government would wish they could give them enough so that they could go out and eat properly but we know what happens when you are on a tight budget. You know, you have to buy enough so families don't go hungry; I guess you buy in bulk and you buy things that sometimes are not the best for you but you have to live and get through it all; so that's very important.

The food banks, we know the food banks cannot keep enough food on the shelves anymore, the demand is so great, and these of course are very important aspects of it all I guess, when we talk about Newfoundland and Labrador as a society. They are all very important points and very important considerations but we all know the realities of it, but I still think even with our circumstances and with our money problems, and our huge deficits, trouble in our fishery, trouble in most of our industries that we can still make some progress if we go about it the right way; I really believe that.

Education is certainly the key, and I think if the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and their officials, would look at what returns you would get on a relatively small expenditure today, a number of years down the road, it would certainly serve the government and the people of the Province, well first of all, health wise, but financially as well, so I want to, Mr. Speaker, commend the member once again for bringing the resolution forward. I found it very interesting, the debate has been excellent I say to the members who participated, and I just hope that in the final analysis, that it is not four or five of us who stand up and speak what we feel about its importance, because quite often we find that about Private Members resolutions, you know.

At the end of the day you say boy that was a good debate or that was a terrible debate or that was a good idea or this was that and something else but that is where it stops. It is like a lot of meetings you go to, you come out saying that was a great meeting; great meeting you had there tonight, but nothing ever comes out of the meeting, you know what I mean, and that's the same thing with a lot of the resolutions.

If only there were some measure put in place where a resolution such as this, where we would see some action from the Department of Health and the Department of Education and the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and all the other relevant departments, that inter-relate on health issues and fitness and diet, if only, there was some mechanism in place where, as a result of this today, we could see something positive happen, because I suppose, just raising the awareness of members is positive, Mr. Speaker, I would say I guess, that's positive, that we ourselves could try to better improve ourselves and tell those whom we know, and can talk about it and discuss it in conversations which more and more of us are doing for all the right reasons, but I think we need a mechanism whereby something like this could be done and something positive might be initiated by the government to look at some promotion in fitness and nutrition and diet and physical education and whatever, so with those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I conclude and I commend the member for putting it forward and I certainly have no problem whatsoever, whatsoever in supporting the resolution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I too would like to say a few words about this resolution and I would like to thank hon. members who have participated in debate so far, the very wise and informed remarks on the specificity of the topic by the Member for St. George's, the Member for Humber Valley, the Member for Port au Port and the Member for Grand Bank.

On the matter of whether Private Members debates lead to anything, I find myself, well, listening to debate in Private Members Day, that a lot of the give and take is not there and it is an opportunity I think, for sober reflection; an opportunity which we don't get very often in the House because we are usually on different sides of an issue. I believe this gives us an opportunity to reflect and perhaps, as the hon. Member for Grand Bank says, in the long run perhaps we are steered in the right direction, all of us. So for that reason I believe this particular debate is certainly very useful, from my point of view.

I guess what we are really getting at is the notion that healthier lifestyles can lead to a longer life and a better life. It won't lead to immortality. I think we have to face that, that there will come a time when a person comes to an end, and usually the end is very costly, no matter how old, whether it occurs at age 50, or age 70, or age 90, it is often a very costly point. So I am not sure that in the long run we are reducing the cost per person, but we are certainly reducing the cost per year of life. I think that is what we will be doing, and also improving the quality of life in that expanded period. I think that is what we are tying to do in promoting healthier lifestyles.

Most of the components of healthier lifestyles have been very well developed here today. The federal government particularly has taken good action in the past on exercise, and their tremendous advertising campaigns have been very helpful. I see a big difference in some children today from the lifestyles of children earlier. Some children today are extremely involved in physical activities, in all sorts of sports and running and rowing and soccer, girls and boys - it doesn't seem to matter very much; the old sex barriers are gone in sports these days - and they are extremely well developed, for some children.

The unfortunate part about it is that if you haven't got the cash, you can't get involved, and that is the hard part about it. If you want to take part in the sports, in hockey, you have to have your equipment. If you want to take part in soccer, you have to have your equipment. If you want to row, you have to have your equipment, and it is very expensive, and many children do not participate, and that's the unfortunate part about that, and I think we have to make moves in that direction somehow. It may take some time, but while it is very good there for some, extremely good for some, much better than it had ever been in the past, I believe we still have great efforts to make along that route, and not only for children, of course.

The whole exercise movement is for older people. In the district that I represent we have the Rennie's River trail there, a fantastic area. I am sorry that the Minister of Transportation is not here, because the government grounds part of that, I believe that comes under him, has deteriorated. I would like to make a little plug in for that now. We probably should put a few loads of gravel on that to improve it a bit.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: A few loads of gravel for the Rennie's Mill River trail, to make it a bit better.

I notice, too, in the city we have proposals for the grand concourse, which will connect a whole series of walking trails in the whole city, and that will be good for this city, and similar things should be taking part in other parts of the Province. These are good things.

Coming back closer to the nutrition, later on in June the new tobacco laws will be in effect and it will be an offence to give or sell tobacco to any child, and we have some very interesting plans about that, as to the enforcement mechanism. We are quite serious about this. Tobacco is probably the one factor, perhaps next to exercise, and perhaps even more so, that interferes with good health. The cost of tobacco I won't go into, because we have had that debate here before and we all know the tremendous cost of that. The costs of alcohol are probably even greater than the costs of smoking, not so much to the immediate health care system but to the whole social fabric of our society.

I asked a group of people to come together recently to discuss, with me, the availability of alcohol in this Province because it's been my thought for some years that alcohol is probably more available here than it is elsewhere and probably more available then it should be. We had a very good meeting. The police were here, people from all over the Province were here on an invitational basis, they came and put forward concerns that they had about the availability of alcohol.

Now that was a discussion thing and certain thoughts were put forward there which we haven't really acted on yet. We're not so much thinking in terms of curing the people who have alcohol problems - that's a problem as well - but in preventing and this whole question of preventing people or encouraging people not to become involved in it. One of the problems we had with it is the extreme availability; wherever you go it's available. Anyone can get it at any age, at any time of the night or day, and whenever the spirit moves - and that is a nutritional aspect as well, alcohol is - as is, I suppose, tobacco. At least it comes in through the mouth. To come a bit more towards nutrition itself and already mention has been made of the tremendous costs to the health care system of poor eating. The effects on heart disease, many other diseases, cancer and so on.

I've been to meetings of the diabetic association and I'm very impressed by what they keep telling me, that more then half the people who have diabetes don't know they have it. Diabetes is a disease that can, in most cases be checked by appropriate diet and by appropriate lifestyle. At least half of the people who have diabetes don't know they have it and that means their disease advances without their knowing it, until the point comes when serious things happen. So that's a preventable disease which, to some extent, is related to diet. We can do things about it.

A number of initiatives have occurred over the years with respect to health promotion. I'd like just to mention that we're hoping that this - I don't want to put too much emphasis on organizational structure because we can become totally preoccupied with changing structures and not really get anything done except change structures but sometimes changing structures is important too.

What we're attempting to do in setting up our regional community health boards, separate from institutional boards, is so that local people can be involved in decision making capacities with respect to such things as health promotion and health initiatives and rather then it come from just the Department of Health or from people called physicians or whoever is paid to - the paid professionals in the field, we have to involve citizens generally in this whole question. One of the major responsibilities of the regional health care boards will be health promotion and illness prevention. Hopefully they will help us all, help the health professionals and spur on the health professionals in the area of prevention because it's very easy, as has already been said several times here today, that we can spend an awful lot of time curing what should be prevented.

Last, very recently due to public pressure, which everybody knows about, we had to increase the amount of money that we put into heart operations here in the city for all over the Province to the tune of $800,000. I didn't begrudge the money but I wish we had a similar amount of money to spend on health promotion and health prevention because in time, these illnesses can be prevented to a large extent. It's a terrible thing and we seem to be trying to catch up to the ball rather than control the ball in this area.

The same thing is true; we are building a magnificent cancer treatment foundation building up there with the latest equipment and that in it, and a lot of that can be prevented as well, and hopefully in the future it can. The remarks that have been made, particularly by the Member for Grand Bank and others, and the Member for Humber Valley, and the members on our side, are tremendously appreciated here.

I am concerned, though. Something that bothers me very much is the extreme poverty that I see daily. It is very hard to preach nutrition to someone who can't buy in bulk, who, when a few dollars come in, it is gone. It is gone on some sneakers or something for the kids or it is gone on this, and what are we going to eat? Sometimes the table is pretty bare, and very often when it comes, the money will go for junk food or something like that because that is easily available and you don't have to spend a lot to get a bit, whereas if you want to do your long range food planning, buy in bulk over a period, you just haven't got the capital to go into that.

I find it easy to say to the poor: Plan your meals. It is easy to say that, to give guidance on how to handle your budget. The real problem is, there isn't enough budget there to handle, and one of the problems that we have, in my personal view, is that we have to somehow make sure that there are enough funds for people to appreciate it. It is not just a matter of education. It is a matter of putting the dollars there so that the people who know what to do can go and do it, although education helps as well; I am sure of that.

Another area which we are quite proud of, and it is related to prevention of disease, is our dental program for children in the Province, which we have been able to maintain, to a large extent, although we have trimmed it a little bit, programs which are not universal in Canada. This is one of the areas that we have in this Province, our dental program, which is not in some other provinces, and that is a good thing too.

We are in the midst now, in conjunction with the dentists - the dentists, up until now, have had a fluoride program which is administered in the dentist's office, but now we are going to gradually introduce fluoride rinses in the schools. Anyone who doesn't want to participate won't have to. For the same dollars, we can reach a vastly increased number of children, because not all children participate - go to the dentist to get the fluoride treatment which is available to them, but all children go to school and, for a quick rinse, a regular rinse, their teeth can be protected. That, too, will help them in their nutrition and what they can eat and what they can't eat. It is indirect, but it is there.

There has been some movement in the area of breast feeding, but I don't think it's that great, as much as it should be. I don't want to speak too much about the junk food industry. My comments on that in this House have been well known, and I have been duly reprimanded, and I have apologized and so on, and I see that the junk food industry is improving its image and doing some useful things now. You will see some healthy things happening there, and I really think that's a good thing.

I would like to refer you to a pamphlet which has been produced by our department, called Perspective 2000, Eating Healthier in Newfoundland and Labrador, and another document Perspective 2000 - the same thing, only it's Proposed Policy, Directions, Goals, Objectives and Strategies. These are proposed. It is by no means a comprehensive policy for the department, but I would like to turn to Table 6 here in this particular document and just indicate some of the policies that have been in effect. I don't know how many people here will remember some of these policies, but in 1944 white flour was enriched with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and iron. Now that means a lot to the Member for St. George's, but I remember trying to tell the difference between riboflavin and niacin, and being totally unsuccessful.

I don't know if we remember that one. I don't want to laugh at it, but that is what we were told about it. Make sure you get your riboflavin. I didn't know if I was getting it or not. I didn't know but what it was something to eat, the B2 and the rest of it.

Then the government introduced the fortification of margarine with Vitamin A in 1945 and Vitamin D in 1946. I am sure these were good things, too. They were aimed at specific diseases which were out there, to try to prevent them - scurvy, rickets, and these things.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't forget the cod liver oil.

DR. KITCHEN: I am coming to that now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Scott's Emulsion.

DR. KITCHEN: Flour was enriched with calcium in 1947, but that was repealed in 1989. I guess we had lots of calcium. In 1964, evaporated milk was fortified with Vitamin C and Vitamin D in 1976. Then, there were other supplementation programs initiated - concentrated orange juice and cod liver oil for pregnant and nursing women, and infants under one year, cod liver oil for pre-school and schoolchildren.

I can remember the cod liver oil very well. The first year I went teaching, these enormous cartons of Munn's cod liver oil, I think it was.

AN HON. MEMBER: Gerald S. Doyle.

DR. KITCHEN: No, we never got that. We got Munn's cod liver oil. It was a Harbour Grace organization.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: `Bud' is biting at the bit.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave of the Member for St. George's?

DR. HULAN: By leave.

DR. KITCHEN: Anyway, I remember getting this there and dishing it out to all the students. I brought a bottle home, too, for myself, and the guy at the boarding house where I stayed, the skipper, said, `Give me that, I would like to have a look at that,' and he took it and downed it, the whole bottle. Not everybody appreciates cod liver oil like he and I do.

With these remarks, Mr. Speaker, I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for St. George's.

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, I am in the conclusion of this debate, but before I get into the concluding remarks I want to recognize in the gallery, health professionals who are representing the areas of the Dietetic Association, I believe, nutrition, home economics, and so on. I am very pleased they are here to show us their keen interest in this resolution, and the work they have been doing, both professionally, and on a volunteer basis, I might say, in this whole area.

I also want to thank all the speakers. It is alright for me, as a professional nutritionist, to get up here and talk about this resolution, but I was indeed very impressed with the quality of delivery by the Member for Humber Valley, the Member for Port au Port, and the Member for Grand Bank and, of course, the hon. the Minister of Health.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. HULAN: I want also to remind the Member for Port au Port that I do remember the days of splits, cocomalt, and cod liver oil, when we would bring home one bottle to take and one bottle for our logans, if you remember.

Mr. Speaker, I should continue at this point and present to this hon. Chamber what I feel are some of the key elements of a proposed food and nutrition policy for this Province. Given the importance of adequate nutritious food as a major health determinant, it is indeed imperative that government adopt a policy that makes nutrition a primary consideration in any future agri/aqua food initiative.

For example, marketing programs should stress the nutritional benefits of local foods, and such characteristics as freshness and wholesomeness must be highlighted through promotion and information programs to increase consumers' awareness of foods consistent with established guidelines for healthy eating. Stressing and developing the links between the agri-food sector and food, health and nutrition in such a policy would do the following: It would improve dietary habits and the overall health of our population, it would allow for the expansion of the local agricultural and fishing industries, it would insure greater provincial food security which is very important. It would also encourage individual communities and regional self-reliance through the production of local foods, and it would provide a further rationale for adopting a comprehensive policy and strategy on agri/aqua sectors.

Mr. Speaker, in 1990, the Department of National Health and Welfare released a report entitled: Action Towards Healthy Eating, Canada's guidelines for healthy eating and recommended strategies for implementation. The report recommended that the Department of National Health and Welfare advocate and co-ordinate the efforts in federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to develop food and nutrition policies linking nutrition and health with agriculture, education, fisheries, social services, environment and other related sectors; therefore, Mr. Speaker, the Provincial Government should develop and adopt a provincial policy on food and nutrition.

This policy should be complementary to the policy and strategy for agri-foods and agri-aqua industries and to any other food and nutrition policies adopted either nationally in this country or in other jurisdictions. It is appropriate that the policy be developed by a provincial interdepartmental co-ordinating group, comprising representatives of all the departments that I just named and other related departments. Furthermore, an advisory committee should be drawn from all groups interested in health, nutrition and food.

Mr. Speaker, government actions aimed at directing people's lifestyles or behaviour are often initiated through negative intervention programs with policies aimed at reducing smoking, regulating alcohol consumption or legislation prohibiting drug abuse. However, Mr. Speaker, the development of a food and nutrition policy and the implementation subsequently of programs, fulfilling policy objectives represent a positive intervention into the lives of the people of this Province. That is, the policy will allow people to do more and better things rather than restrict behaviours and lifestyles.

This may be important as positive intervention programs show the public that governments and government action are not always intrusive or restrictive, therefore they are usually well-received by the population on the whole.

Mr. Speaker, it is imperative in any provincial policy covering food and nutrition that a procedure be established to collect information about food consumption, the availability of food commodities, and pricing, so that programs and objectives initiated under the policy's guidelines could be targeted to appropriate socio-economic groups and regions of the Province and could address certain problems encountered with the nutrition of food.

Mr. Speaker, for more than fifty years Canada's food guide has been indeed the cornerstone of nutritional education. It was developed initially and called Canada's food rules. It translates nutrient requirements into foods and provides a simple guide for consumers in selecting foods that are likely to ensure nutritional adequacy. That is, to prevent disease caused by nutritional deficiencies. However, a shift of emphasis from deficiency disease to nutrition, related health, and the preventative medicine, which has prompted the need to re-evaluate nutrition education tools and programs.

The Action Towards Healthy Eating report presents recommendations for updating Canada's food guide. It states that the guide should be revised immediately based on the total diet approach and it should become the major tool communicating and translating into action established nutritional requirements. Nutritional requirements may vary across Canada because of factors such as differences in lifestyle and availability of food types. Therefore, while Canada's guidelines for healthy eating can be used to form the basis of provincial dietary guidelines, in preparing a food and nutrition policy for this Province the appropriateness of the national guidelines for this Province should first be evaluated.

The national guidelines are quite detailed in nutritional requirements and the Member for Port au Port summarized some of them today: That you should eat a variety of foods, emphasize cereals and breads and so on, limit salt and alcohol and caffeine intake, and what have you. He also mentioned the need to increase dietary fibre in the diet and to reduce total dietary fat.

The adoption of a provincial nutritional requirement should be viewed as one of the most important components of the policy of food nutrition, focusing on reducing obesity, promoting balanced diets and modifying lifestyles through food processing behaviour and physical activity.

Mr. Speaker, there are many existing programs, organizations and networks currently in place which can be used as resources for the development of a provincial food and nutrition policy and which ultimately will be the front line in the implementation of related programs. These groups are unanimous in their message that there is not enough attention paid to nutrition and dietary issues in this Province. The agricultural branch in cooperation with the Department of Health should work with the food processing industry to encourage the development and promotion of products which are low in total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and high in micro-nutrients complex carbohydrates and fibre.

Mr. Speaker, a food and nutrition policy cannot be developed and implemented if the professional staff, both in government and in non-government organizations, are not in place to perform the front line work necessary to make the policy, programs and strategies effective. Although this is a time of government restraint and non-government organizations involved in nutrition and dietary activities particularly, voluntary agencies are stretched to the limit of their capabilities. The existing infrastructure for implementing and promoting community and public health nutrition programs must indeed, Mr. Speaker, be evaluated carefully in the development of a public policy on food and nutrition. Therefore, I would suggest the following groups must be at the centre of this evaluation; public health nutritionists, food scientists, dieticians, home economists, health care professionals, non-government organizations and health groups and the agri/aqua food organizations.

One of the major tasks, Mr. Speaker, of those charged with developing a provincial food and nutrition policy will be to identify nutrition intervention programs that can be effectively implemented in this Province. Because of the limited funding and personnel, resource program options will have to be carefully evaluated based on the experience of other jurisdictions and on past expertise and with some programs initiated right here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is evident that influencing the nutritional behaviour, diets and lifestyles of the Province's youth is one of the keys to improving the overall nutritional health of the Province's population. Therefore the proposed policy must be directed particularly at the school system, and you have heard from many speakers today comments along that area.

There are two principal opportunities for nutrition intervention programs in the schools: in the classroom and in the food services offered in the schools. The former can be used to educate students and families about nutrition and healthful diets. The latter to reinforce the educational message by providing an environment supportive of healthy dietary behaviour.

To be effective, then, Mr. Speaker, these efforts must be supported by a comprehensive food and nutrition strategy adopted by all school boards in the Province and implemented in all schools. Nutrition education must start in the classroom, even at the elementary school level, I believe, and continue through to high school. Therefore, teacher training programs should incorporate basic nutrition issues in their formal curricula.

Work sites provide a means also of providing a very large proportion of the adult population of this Province, both men and women. Health promotion programs in the workplace have been shown already to have a positive impact on health, productivity and morale of workers, as well as to reduce the recourse to and the cost of health care.

The proposed food and nutrition policy should consider, then, implementing work site nutrition education programs similar to those which can be offered in the school setting, targeted to food service operations such as the canteens and cafeterias and so on.

A significant opportunity for nutrition intervention programs exists at the point of purchase. There are few programs anywhere in Canada along those lines, although some retailers and restaurants in this Province have started to provide some basic nutritional information to consumers.

Consumers make most of their food decisions at the point of purchase - for example, in the grocery store. The availability of nutrition information at the moment of decision making therefore would appear to have a powerful influence indeed. The mass media, the television, can also reach a wide range of people and that should not be overlooked.

In summary then, Mr. Speaker, to bring about sustained behavioural changes consistent with Canada's guides for healthy eating, efforts will be required in each of the elements of the proposed policy on food and nutrition described here today. In particular, the strong interrelationship between self-reliance, sustainable agriculture, and a nutritional well-being should be promoted and maximized. The importance of coordinated and collaborative planning to mobilize the agri/aqua-food industries, health care and nutritional professionals, and the public, must be recognized. Within government there is a need to strengthen communication and coordination on issues of nutrition and food among the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Fisheries, Education, Social Services and Justice. The cooperation of the many partners interested in food and nutrition and a commitment by government and other agencies to provide the necessary funding must be secured if the policy and subsequent strategy for action is to be effective.

Mr. Speaker, I humbly ask this hon. House to support this resolution and I ask that we all play a part and do what we can to ensure that it does not end here. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

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


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

Motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: There seems to be no need, Mr. Speaker, to divide the House on this matter so I will simply move that we adjourn.

Tomorrow we will be doing one of two measures. If members are so minded we could probably address the automobile insurance act, but that is a matter where there are consultations behind the Chair to see what they lead to. Should that not be agreeable to all concerned then the government will call the Electrical Power Control Act and we can have another day of debate on that. The House will decide, members will decide in their respective caucuses, caucii, whatever, overnight.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?


MR. ROBERTS: I will leave that one on the Table and hope Hansard hasn't picked it up, Mr. Speaker.

With that said I move the adjournment of the House.

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