May 19, 1994               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLII  No. 45

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 a group of teachers from the Harbour Grace Branch of the NLTA.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

The other day he said that following the resignation of the executive director of the Appeal Tribunal just over a year ago, government decided not to fill that position, but to have Mr. Seabright do the work of the executive director on a part-time basis, and I ask the minister today: was Mr. Seabright paid in accordance with the salary scale for that position, prorated to the hours he worked, or did he claim the same per diem or hourly amounts for that administrative work, as he charged for the time he spent in hearing appeals?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At the appropriate point on the order proceedings today, I will table the complete information that I have been gathering so that there is no misunderstanding; but the short answer to the question just asked, the arrangement with Mr. Seabright - and I will table the documents, the exchange of letters putting the new arrangement in place - was to spend a couple of hours a day doing the administrative duties that were done previously by the executive director and to bill at the hourly rate that was normal for him in the position as CEO and Chairman of the Board.

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

MR. SIMMS: I thank the minister for the answer.

Could he now tell us then for comparison purposes, what is the difference between, or what would be the difference between the hourly rate on the salary scale for the executive director's position and the fee charged by Mr. Seabright, and secondly, would the minister table in the House - if he does not have it there today - the number of hours that Mr. Seabright actually spent at the commission's offices doing the administrative work of the executive director and the total amount claimed and paid for that particular work; I gather he has some of that information, but will he table all of it?

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, those issues are dealt with in the information that I will table today because I wouldn't want members of the Opposition to do as they did with previous information, to twist it or contort it in any way. It is straightforward; it spells out the case and shows exactly the time spent and charged with respect to administration versus the time spent on hearings, preparation and decisions.

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

MR. SIMMS: We shall see, Mr. Speaker, who is twisting what when we are finished with this.

I want to ask the minister this question: Did the work of Mr. Seabright, as acting executive director, include approving appeal hearings, assigning the people to chair those hearings and write decisions, and approving the payments?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, not to my understanding. Those were the duties carried out by the executive director before. Most of those duties have been transferred now to the senior office manager, who is the person who does those kinds of arrangements, and verifies the claims and so on, and passes them on to the Department of Employment and Labour Relations for final payment.

In fact, with respect to the previous question, the information that will be tabled shows that in last year as compared to an annual salary of $67,496 for the executive director the year before, the amount claimed by Mr. Seabright for duties relating to administration were in the range of $16,380 compared to the $67,496 paid on a salary basis the previous year for the same duties.

MR. SIMMS: How much per hour?

MR. GRIMES: Sixty-five dollars an hour.

MR. SIMMS: Sixty-five dollars an hour, and that is the rate that the executive director (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Just for the record, I would like to recognize the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So the minister is saying that the rate of $65 an hour being paid to Mr. Seabright to do the work of this acting executive director is less than he would have paid per hour to the other original executive director; is that correct?

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

MR. GRIMES: No, Mr. Speaker, and that is why it is better to wait until I table the complete information so there will be no confusion. There was no hourly rate for the executive director. It was a salaried position at $67,000-plus a year.

Mr. Seabright, when he did the duties a couple of hours a day that were billed for, at the rate of $65 an hour, charged just in excess of $16,000 last year for administrative duties.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: So the minister says he has all the information that we are looking for. Remember, now, I asked him if he could tell us the number of hours that Mr. Seabright worked and claimed for, and also we would like to know the hourly rate that would be applicable to the executive director.

MR. GRIMES: There is no hourly (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, if he is making $67,000 - even the minister could multiply five days a week times -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: We will do it. We asked him to give it to us for a purpose. The minister didn't tell me. Did the work of Mr. Seabright, as acting executive director, include approving the appeal hearings and assigning the people to chair those hearings? I asked him those questions and he didn't tell me - he didn't give us the answer. And when he is on his feet, would he also table the job specifications for Mr. Seabright as acting executive director?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly table the job description for the executive director's position which was there before and the arrangement that's made, as outlined in the letters, I will table as well. We asked Mr. Seabright in the minimum time possible to provide the administrative work that was required for the efficient running of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal minimizing the cost and making sure that there was no jeopardy to the hearing schedule so that people could get their hearings heard.

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

MR. SIMMS: I'm asking the minister very directly - responsibilities of the position of executive director, in the past, included approving appeal hearings and assigning people to chair those hearings. Did Mr. Seabright, in his role as acting executive director, continue to fulfil those functions? Did he approve appeal hearings and did he assign people to chair those hearings and write the decisions, was it up to Mr. Seabright?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the bulk of the actual administrative arrangements in terms of just saying, `A hearing will be held next Friday at two o'clock. Would you please find out which of the sides persons representing the employer are available, which of the sides persons representing the employee are available, which of the five either the Chair or the Vice-Chair are available - most of that work that is done by the senior office manager used to be done by the executive director.

The reason we didn't fill the executive director's position, again at a $67,000-plus salary, was because there wasn't a full-time job to be done at that salary level. Many of the duties were done by the office manager, who has been doing them now for over a year, and then, the other duties of a CEO at the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal were done by Mr. Seabright, who, by legislation passed and introduced by members opposite, is designated in that legislation as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal. It is one of the things that the government is now reviewing in terms of the structure of whatever kind of appeal process remains for the future.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I'll give the hon. the Leader of the Opposition another question on the matter.

MR. SIMMS: This will be the final one. I'd like to ask the minister - see if we have this straight now; $67,000 was the salary paid to the former executive director. That works out, by anybody's calculation, to $32 or $33 an hour roughly. That's what it would work out, five days a week, etc. Now, the minister is saying, the former executive director did all of these duties that I just asked him about, which he now says is being done by the officer manager. He is now saying that he paid, or he's paying, or Mr. Seabright is being paid probably twice as much an hour, $65 an hour, to do even less work than the former executive director had to do. Is that correct? I would like to try to get it straight.

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

MR. GRIMES: It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition has so much difficulty understanding something that is straightforward. It is clear that members opposite, in putting together legislation to set up and structure the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, put in that legislation a description different from any other tribunal in government. This is the only one where, by legislation, the Chairman is also named as the Chief Executive Officer, and in this instance, the minor administrative duties that did not require an executive director and did not require the attention of the Chief Executive Officer were handed over to an office manager who was already on staff, with no change in salary.

In this case, the other duties of a Chief Executive Officer envisaged by the members opposite when they put the position in place that need to be performed for the efficient operation of the Worker's Compensation Appeal Tribunal were done on the basis of a couple of hours a day, if necessary, billed when used and when the services were provided and needed, and they came out last year to just over $16,000.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. A couple of days ago the minister and the federal minister, Mr. Tobin, announced a $25.6 million capital works program to approximately twenty-two municipalities in the Province. Could the minister table a breakdown of the funding that will be put in by each of the three involved, namely, the Province, the municipalities, and the Federal Government?

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

MR. REID: On an individual project basis? I am not sure what the hon. member is asking me for. In St. John's, for example, if it is water and sewer, the City of St. John's will repay sixty-six and two thirds of the total cost. If it is in Salmon Cove, in my district, the town council will pay nothing. The Federal Government will pick up one third and we, then as a government under NMFC, will have to finance the remaining two thirds.

If that is the kind of breakdown he wishes, well, it is not a problem. Maybe what I should do is give him the list of names of all the communities in the Province who are still more or less paying their own way and that would answer the total question for all the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley on a supplementary.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to table the amount of funding put in by each of the three involved. That is all.

The minister stated a couple of days ago as well, that the Province would be putting in some 48 per cent of the funding. Could the minister explain how this is so, especially in view of the fact that - it is like, for instance, the City of St. John's, the City of Mount Pearl, a Town like Happy Valley - Goose Bay, that has very little in the line of water and sewer debt, would have to pay approximately two-thirds towards this particular capital program. Could he explain how, then, the Province would be putting in 48 per cent of the total cost?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, some of the communities that he mentioned, like St. John's, Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander and Mount Pearl, have substantial tax base. We know that probably the largest tax base in the Province rests right here in St. John's because of the number of businesses, because of the number of offices and apartments and so on.

MR. HARRIS: And the highest rate of taxes.

MR. REID: Yes, they do have the highest rate of taxes, but I say to the hon. the Member for St. John's East, they have the highest rate of services as well.

Mr. Speaker, what basically happened here is that if under a regular capital works program we were announcing funding without the one-third from the federal people, the wealthier towns in the Province, those who can generate taxes, yes, sure, they pay their own way, which they should do. St. John's, for example, is only up to something like $67 a household towards their debt charges.

Then we get out in the hon. member's district or in mine, or let's go up on the Labrador Coast or the West Coast or Central Newfoundland or the Bonavista area, and you have communities out there - a lot of communities - with a corner store the only business to tax in the whole community. Those communities cannot survive on the small amount of business tax and taxes that are collected. So, as I said earlier, on a number of occasions, what this government has done is offered those communities which can't really afford the large amounts of money for infrastructure - water and sewerage and road - what we've said is: Okay, we will pick up your share, we will pick up your one-third as well as ours. But don't forget, the Federal Government will pick up the other one-third.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, on another matter. In the district of St. George's, the minister and his department have been active, along with the member, in trying to get a number of communities in that area, local service districts and unincorporated areas, formed into some kind of a regional body. Could the minister tell the House what procedure has been followed in giving the people a say as to whether they should be united or not?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, all I know about the possibility of talks among people in the St. George's area was that the hon. member asked me about two weeks ago, would I send one of my ADMs out with him to his district and the ADM went out and had a meeting with a number of people and what I gathered from what the hon. member has told me and the staff, that it was a very positive meeting and everyone felt that maybe it was time to look at combining a number of local service districts into one and so on, and I basically commend the member and the people in the St. George's area for thinking that way because I think most of you on that side and especially the hon. member who asked me the question, believes in a regionalization concept and by doing that, by coming together it is going to make those communities a lot more viable to operate. I haven't made any final decision. Whether or not we are going to hold any other meetings or not at this particular point in time, I can't say, but I will encourage anybody anywhere in the Province to come together as communities to try to do their best to survive with the little we have I suppose, as a government right now to offer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I have questions for the Minister of Education.

I have here a copy of an advertisement that the government has published in all the major newspapers of the Province in recent days in relation to the teachers' strike.

In it, the ministry or the government makes the following statement with respect to the 2 per cent savings clause and I quote: `It prevents government from assigning teaching positions where they are most needed.'

Let me ask the minister this: If you succeed in getting rid of the 2 per cent savings clause, will you lay off the teachers or do you have a plan to reassign them to other positions?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that this year we gave interim assignments to the school boards and we gave these assignments as if there were no 2 per cent rule. Now a logical assumption would be that there would have been no extra teachers in the system if we had totally wiped out the 2 per cent rule, however, we could not do that.

We recognized that even if there was not a 2 per cent rule, there are places in this Province, because of the small schools and other factors that would need extra teachers, so we did not wipe out the full 363 teachers, Mr. Speaker, we recognized exactly what the hon. member is suggesting, that there are special circumstances in this Province where you have to put extra teachers in, so if there were no 2 per cent rule, there would have to be extra teachers allocated to the system.

Would it be 363, would it be 500? In our estimation, Mr. Speaker, it is somewhere in the vicinity of 200 teachers in excess of the normal teacher/student ratio are required to meet the special needs in the Province. There might or might not be some special cases in addition to them which we are quite willing to look at if that be the case.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, on April 21, the minister had said and I quote: It was determined, taking into consideration declining enrolments and what have you, that in order to do an adequate job, a perfect job in delivering the courses, the system will need or would need 7,293 teachers.

I say to the minister: how does the minister then propose to reassign those teaching positions? Will he lower the overall pupil/teacher ratio, will he approve allocations for small schools, what is his plan and will he communicate that plan with the members of the House?

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

MR. DECKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, in due course all of these things will be revealed. The reality is that for the past number of years the department has been hamstrung because of this clause in the union contract or the letter which is attached to it, and which made it difficult for us to assign teachers on a basis of need, we were hamstrung.

Now, if that 2 per cent clause is in the new agreement then we will have to play by these rules. If that new clause is not in the new agreement and if in the negotiating process government does not get the 2 per cent out, then we will deal with that but it would be extremely imprudent for us to come up with a whole set of rules right now, only to find that within two or three weeks a new contract is in place with the 2 per cent rule into it and that could happen, depending on how negotiations go.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the superintendents of the Province have not been informed of the plans of the ministry and the minister has indicated that he has not been at the bargaining table to discuss these matters in the negotiating sessions so I say to the minister, the fact is that since you have refused to give the details of the plan the obvious comes forward when one almost has to say that the only plan you have is to lay off teachers.

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

MR. DECKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I don't interpret the situation in that light at all.

The superintendents have been given an interim assignment of teachers. They know perfectly well the reality that there is a teachers' contract in which there is a 2 per cent clause, and come September we might have to revert to that, depending on negotiations. The superintendents can see now, though, what the system would look like if there were no 2 per cent rule - 7,000 and some-odd teachers, as the hon. member pointed out; I gave the answer earlier.

Now, I also said that there might be some exceptions. We have to make some policy changes to deal with the isolated school, and I don't mean the small school. There are dozens of examples in this Province where small schools exist simply because there is a small schools policy, not because they have to exist. They are two and three kilometres apart, and they are 1,000 feet apart, and they would more logically be under one school and make a viable school which would not need these extra resources.

The hon. member knows that, and the superintendents of school boards know that; however, the Department of Education is hamstrung until this issue is settled. Is there a 2 per cent clause? Is there not a 2 per cent clause? I suppose nobody knows that, certainly no frail human being would know that, until the process works its way through.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question was to be placed to the President of Treasury Board. In his absence I will direct my question to the Premier.

Yesterday, the President of Treasury Board confirmed that he is not interested in getting the $23 million from teachers' compensation just to meet this year's budget targets, that you want the permanent savings.

Now if you get rid of the 2 per cent clause and lay off about 363 teachers, you will save about $8 million in the present fiscal year. What else does the government intend to do to get the additional $15 million you want from the teachers in permanent savings?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board is dealing with this issue on a collective bargaining basis, and I don't propose to do it by answering questions from the hon. member in the House. I think it best to leave that bargaining with the President of Treasury Board and the representatives of the NLTA.

The President of Treasury Board has made the government's position on policy fairly clear, and I don't think the objective of achieving a resolution of this problem can be served by my engaging in a debate about what government wants, or might seek or might not seek. We will leave that to the collective bargaining process. I think it would better serve a resolution.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I am not into a debate with the Premier. I am merely asking the questions, and the people of this Province expect answers.

Mr. Speaker, my question again to the Premier is: Do you intend to lay off more than the 363 teachers covered by the 2 per cent clause, and will those lay-offs be in addition to the 320 teachers that you have already ordered school boards to lay off at the end of this school year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: As nearly as I know, all of the assumptions in that are incorrect.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Totally incorrect. The Minister of Education may best be able to answer what numbers of teachers might be involved or might not. I don't have that detail off the top of my head, but I can say to you, so far as I know, the government has no intention to lay off any extra numbers of teachers or anything, but whatever the solutions or the resolutions are to finding a way to make up this 2.5 per cent compensation adjustment, let's leave that for the collective bargaining process. I know that some proposals have been put forward, and the matter is being discussed, or some correspondence is being exchanged. Leave it to the collective bargaining process.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, again my question is to the Premier, in the absence of the President of Treasury Board.

The government plans to take another $21 million or $22 million from the benefit package of the nurses and the members of NAPE and CUPE. Can the Premier confirm that this government has made a new demand to teachers of a 2.5 per cent wage roll-back, and will he tell us, and confirm for us today, that this wage roll-back offer will also be made to the nurses and to the membership of NAPE and CUPE?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, my understanding of the situation is no wage rollback has been proposed to any public sector group. What I know the minister has talked to public sector unions about is finding an adjustment of some aspect of the total compensation. Not wage rollback. Nobody is suggesting wage rollback so far as I know. He has asked each of the public sector unions to help find this shortfall. He has also put another proposal to the public sector unions and that is being discussed through the normal collective bargaining process. I don't propose to get involved with thwarting that process by a public discussion of it here with the hon. member.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health. Last year the Province brought in a policy which specifies that new doctors will only receive half of the regular MCP fee schedule if they practice in the St. John's area. As of May 16 that policy was extended to include Clarenville, Buchans, Port Saunders and Baie Verte. Government claims the purpose of that disincentive is to get doctors to establish and stay in rural under-serviced areas of the Province. I ask the minister: Is the policy working, and will the minister table whatever evidence he has to show that more doctors are practising in rural areas as a result of this policy?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have extended a 50 per cent rule to other areas. Since it has barely been extended it is very difficult for us to judge the effect of it at this point. I suggest that the member get on with some more serious questions.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the minister should get on with some serious business of doing something for the health problems here in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe he plans to do what he did to finance. One of the great fears is that the disincentive will have just the opposite effect to which it was intended. A year ago 48 per cent of new doctors graduating from the MUN School of Medicine said they planned to stay in this Province. After the fee reduction policy was implemented only 12 per cent said they plan to stay here. Is the minister concerned that the policy may backfire and new doctors will leave this Province in greater numbers than they would if the policy had not come into effect?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, we have a very serious problem in getting doctors to go to rural areas. We have much more serious problems. We also have problems in that they tend to congregate in areas where they are not needed, such as St. John's and some other places. What we have to do - we just can't keep -

MR. TOBIN: Oh, oh!

DR. KITCHEN: We will probably need an extra doctor here in the House of Assembly to look after the hon. member. He seems to have something wrong with his throat. It seems to be open all the time.

Apart from that little specific, that special need we need for that particular member, Mr. Speaker, we have sufficient doctors in some parts of the Province and there is no point in hiring other doctors where they are sufficient and in excess. In effect, that is really what we are doing when we are allowing doctors to practice in areas where they are not needed. The doctors are paid on a fee for service. They set up housekeeping wherever they wish. If we do it that way then our bill will go high from that area, and in addition what happens is the areas which need to be serviced are not serviced. We can't permit in medicine, any more than any other profession - we can't have all the politicians from one area. We have an area by which they are spread out around the Province. Similarly with teachers and with most other professionals that government hires. We can't have them bunching up in areas where they are not needed and creating shortages in other areas.

That is government's policy, and that is what we will continue, and see if this particular measure will work. We believe it will work. It is a measure that was put together in conjunction with the Medical Association. It is not something that government has imposed unilaterally. It is something which the joint management committee came up with as an interim measure while we are waiting for a longer term report that will study the situation in greater detail. We are hoping very much, Mr. Speaker, that this particular policy will work and if it doesn't work we will change it. Thank you.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have three doctors on the opposite side of the House and I sure hope it is not contagious. If not we will be calling for an undertaker, not a doctor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, disincentives alone have rarely worked to solve problems like this. Ten years ago Quebec introduced a balanced program that cut fees for new doctors in certain areas to 70 per cent, and in other designated areas they increased it to 115 per cent. Now that policy has worked. Has the government considered a similar approach in this Province, I ask the minister, or are you determined to keep the present fee reduction plan in place for another five years as you originally planned?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what the member is proposing is a variation of what we presently have in effect on a temporary basis. I don't know what else we can add. We've moved into this, we have a long range committee in place which is studying the question in great detail but we do have a very serious problem here and just adding more money to the budget is not going to solve these problems. The hon. Minister of Finance, not long ago, indicated the serious financial position that the Province is in. Just throwing money at the problem is not going to solve it. That was the solution that was put forward for years and years by the Opposition, when they were government, and which has led us to this terrible financial situation which we now presently face and now they're proposing exactly the same thing. Throw a few more dollars out is the wrong solution.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GRIMES: I would like to provide answers to two questions, one from a couple of days ago, the continuation of concern expressed about payments and billings at the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, and once I have done that, Mr. Speaker, also the question yesterday about breach of privacy with respect to claimants at Workers' Compensation.

If I could, before I table the documents, Mr. Speaker, have just a minute or so of explanation. I have provided information here showing the letters that showed the arrangement agreed to with Mr. Seabright after the executive director left and the basis on which he was to assume the executive director position and to bill for those duties. I have given documents that show all the payments paid to every chair and vice-chair since the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal has been put in place since 1987.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the hon. member wants an answer I think I will hear what the minister has to say, and then if anything further is required we will deal with that then.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If there are further questions I should clearly demonstrate I will take them under advisement and provide answers at the appropriate time as necessary. Nuisance questions I do not bother to spend a lot of time at because this does take some work and effort for staff and I would rather not have them doing things that are a nuisance. I would rather have them do something that needs to be dealt with.

I am also tabling Mr. Brake's report in which, I think, upon reading it everyone will understand that the characterization given to it by the Opposition is totally unfounded and they actually should apologize to Mr. Brake, Mr. Speaker, at this point in time.

The explanation shows clearly that the Opposition in taking two documents that were provided earlier, a calendar year statement of the number of decisions in the Workers' Compensation annual report, which for the first time, by the way, in the appeal tribunal is trying to give more and more information each year. The 1993 annual report was the first time ever that the number of decisions by the chairperson was recorded. I encouraged him to do that and to continue into the future.

That number was divided by the researchers for the Opposition into fiscal year numbers for total billings and payments which led to conclusions they drew. Unfortunately, I guess, in their conclusion there was either inefficiency or that people - I think, the phrase they used, were milking the system.

When people read the documents, in my opinion at least, I think, the conclusion will be that it was a classic example of selective statistical sampling at its absolute worst, Mr. Speaker, because similar unfair use of selective statistics that I have looked at here could certainly raise questions about vice-chairs pre-hearing costs in 1987-88 that appear to be out of whack for no reason. Vice-chairs pre-hearing costs in 1992-93 are laid out in the documents.

This kind of use of these statistics serve no purpose. The information is here for all members to look at, and I table that. With respect to Mr. Brake's report. Mr. Brake did regularly express concerns about increasing costs at the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal because his concern always was, and remained to the last day he worked for the Appeal Tribunal, a more effective system for claimants and a more efficient financial operation. It was never suggested that people were excessively billing the system. His concerns were about the cost of running the system.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am just looking at our rules. I am not sure the extent to which tabling answers that are in writing, how much latitude the minister has in giving a speech about the contents.

MR. GRIMES: I am concluding my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly from the point of view of clarifying which questions are being answered, I think, is legitimate and so on, but I ask the minister to perhaps try to focus in on that part of it.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again I just wanted to provide a couple of comments so that it would not raise other unnecessary questions and we would not have to repeat this procedure again.

Two other very brief comments, Mr. Speaker, that people should be aware of because it is not in this report. Prior to presenting this report Mr. Brake had brought a couple of matters to my attention. There was a prior practice at the tribunal which had been in place since the beginning of 1987 that allowed tribunal chairs and vice-chairs to bill hours while attending conferences, seminars, and so on, even if they were not foregoing any income from other sources. It was stopped immediately. There was a prior practice at the tribunal that allowed members to claim a per diem meal expense which was higher than government rates, and as soon as it came to my attention it was stopped immediately.

The other issues that Mr. Brake was concerned about are clear in the report and they have nothing whatsoever to do with the accusations made by members opposite.

If I could, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the question yesterday by the hon. Member for Kilbride, a breach of confidential information at the Workers' Compensation Commission, the relevant section in the act is Section 18 and it outlines that an employee of the commission or person authorized to make an inquiry under this act shall not divulge except in the performance of his or her duties or under the authority of the board of directors information obtained and so on. There was no breach of that particular section, Mr. Speaker. What the commission did was release the names of several of its claimants to a firm so they could ask them - Mr. Speaker, it's important that this be made clear. It is the answer to the question - so that they could ask them on a volunteer basis if they would participate in a questionnaire so that the Workers Compensation Commission could improve its level of service. The people were called, they agreed or disagreed. If they agreed they filled out the questionnaire voluntarily. If they disagreed, Mr. Speaker, they just refused to participate, the information was tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No, the minister is in order.


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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased this afternoon to rise and present a petition on behalf of students in several of the schools in the St. John's - Mount Pearl region. Particularly, Beaconsfield Senior High School, Bishop's College, Booth Memorial, Mount Pearl Senior High School and Eugene Vaters Colligate.

Mr. Speaker, the prayer of the petition says that the students here - I'll read the text it says: below are the names of students from the schools of St. John's and Mount Pearl who believe that the government, due to its unwillingness to fairly negotiate with our teachers, are robbing us of our right to an education.

Furthermore, we the students will not stand by and watch our government, which is supposed to be for the people, take away our right to a proper education and our chance at a post-secondary education. We ask that they work their hardest to come to a quick and fair resolution to this problem. We hope that there can be some sort of a quick and fair resolution to this problem without interrupting our school year needlessly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the students of this Province who are in their graduating years, as I said yesterday to a similar petition, are in great levels of anxiety. Mr. Speaker, I can only tell you that the parents that I've talked to and the students that I've talked to, students who are in the gallery today from another school - but, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that if you were in Grade 12 today, Level III, and you wanted to find out what you're going to be doing in September, another mere three or four months from now, you would have great levels of concern.

Students are concerned about their marks. Now the minister has said he's got a contingency plan. The minister said that they're going to evaluate in all the 3,000 Level courses, all eighteen courses. Now note, there are only eighteen courses for which public examinations have been made up. In addition to the fact, these examinations are already completed, they were done in March. They include the entire curriculum. For example, one school I contacted told me that in honours math, Level III honours math course, that they have three chapters left to study and yet they know that the examination that's made up will be on the entire course. So therefore the exam itself is invalid, it's unreliable. It doesn't measure what was taught. Mr. Speaker, so these students are wondering, what do we do now? How do we measure up? How can we measure up? What will be done for us? So, Mr. Speaker, the students of this Province and the parents of this Province are concerned about the marking system.

Now let me also explain. I don't know of one single student, after many years of teaching in a senior high school, I don't know of one single student who ever had all 3,000 Level courses in their final year, normally it's a combination. It's about eight credits that would be in the 3,000 Level and then the other six credits, normally there are fourteen credits in your final year that you would have about eight credits that would be in the 3,000 Level and about six credits that would be in Level II courses or Level I courses, depending on the individual student's profile.

So if we had all of the Level III marks completed, we still can't complete the evaluation without the active participation of the teachers of Newfoundland and Labrador. So therefore the idea the minister has, that he is going to mark all of the examinations, in addition to the fact that if we place these students' evaluation totally on that, it is totally an unfair evaluation. It is the cumulative examination for courses that have been taught in a sequential kind of manner, an evaluation carried out at specific times throughout the year. We have to have the evaluation of the teachers who are in the school system, to be fair to the students of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The minister can come up with all kinds of schemes. I know that yesterday he gave directions to the consultants in his department, and said to them: You must get ready to start to mark the examinations.

Now these people have not taught these courses, and here is the Minister of Education, giving directions yesterday to consultants in his department, that they would have to mark these examinations, even though they haven't taught the courses at all.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise and speak on the petition so ably presented by my colleague from Waterford - Kenmount. Over 400 people signed the petition.

AN HON. MEMBER: Students.

MR. A. SNOW: Four hundred people signed the petition. Those people happen to be students. This will give you an indication of the importance that these students place upon the value of their education.

Mr. Speaker, while I haven't visited the schools of Beaconsfield High and Booth Memorial, and Mount Pearl Central High, I, in my district, have several high schools that have students who are concerned about their education also. While the particular schools in Western Labrador aren't shut down because of a job action, they are concerned about their education. They understand in Western Labrador about the consequences of strikes.

I fully support the prayer of this petition, but if I may digress from the petition for just one minute, in a sense of not speaking to the dilemma that the people of Beaconsfield High find themselves in, and talk a little bit about how I compare the students in my district.

In my district, the NTA is presently reviewing, I understand, the conciliation board report with regard to the status of negotiations. They have taken a vote on the conciliation board report, and I think it will be made public in a day or so, and we may indeed find ourselves in a similar situation in our schools in Western Labrador as in the rest of the Province.

The people in Western Labrador have been blessed, for the last thirty years, with the best education system in this Province, by far, probably the best in the country. Why is that? Some people even smile now on the other side, thinking that all I am doing is bragging about my particular district. Yes, I am proud of it, but I have often said that one of the reasons why we have the best education is because we have the best teachers. We have the best teachers in Western Labrador because we treated them with respect and pay them handsomely for the work that they do, and the people of Western Labrador were rewarded. They were rewarded in the fact that we have, in Western Labrador, some of the best results of any schools in the country - a 94 per cent graduation statistic from high schools in Western Labrador, that's what we have, or 96 per cent, I believe.

Eighty-four percent of the people who graduate from high school in my Town of Labrador City go on to attend a post-secondary institution. Why do they do that? Because they understand the value of an education. They understand and believe that they need the skills necessary to further develop themselves and their community.

They got that not just from their home, or from the community they live in. They got it from their classroom, instilled in them by the teacher. That teacher, Mr. Speaker, is treated with respect, he is paid handsomely for his wages, but he or she works.

MR. EFFORD: Are you saying the crowd around here don't work, they are not good teachers?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he didn't say that - you don't treat them right, is what he said.


MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, that is the type of respect that the teachers of this Province are getting. That is the type of respect that is causing this work stoppage! That is the type of respect that puts this government at 25 per cent in the polls; it is because of arrogance such as yours.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: That's what is happening in this House, with education.

MR. EFFORD: No, that's wrong!

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, you are right - it's wrong! You shouldn't treat people like that! You have to treat them with fairness and balance and honesty. You don't force them out on the street with threats of cutting out a severance pay package.

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


MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to continue, and perhaps members could cease speaking across the House. Thank you.

The hon. member has about another twenty-five seconds or so left if he cares to continue.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the collective bargaining process has been poisoned in this Province, because of the attitude of this government that has just been expressed by this minister. It is tremendously unfair and it shouldn't be allowed to continue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have no problem at all sitting here in my seat and allowing a member opposite to present a petition -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: - but when a member -

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I can't hear the minister.

MR. EFFORD: - when an hon. member presents a petition and praises up the people in his own district, saying that they are a better class of teachers than in any other part of this Province, I totally disagree with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the teachers in my district or in anybody else's district in this Province.

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

There is no point of order.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Well, that may very well be.


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

There is no point of order.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Another point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Another point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, what has to be clarified here - the minister missed the point.

MR. EFFORD: No I did not.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What this member is saying is that if you treat people decently and you pay them as they should be paid, you don't take away their morale, as this government has done now with the NLTA. That's what the member says.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You can't whip people year after year.


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

The hon. the Minister of Education.


MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I -

Are you going to protect me, Mr. Speaker?

I suppose I can understand political posturing. I'm not sure it fools anybody. I'm not sure anyone in this Chamber, in the galleries, or anyone on the floor of the House is fooled by the posturing. If they are just let your mind go back to 1983 when the Tories were in power and Brian Peckford with his tie flying back over his head, Mr. Speaker.

MR. A. SNOW: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. the Member for Menihek have a point of order?

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, a point of order. If the hon. minister is referring to what occurred in 1983, I was not in the House.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. A. SNOW: If he is talking about political posturing, I wasn't in the House here in 1983, and he knows that.

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

I ask the member to resume his seat.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: I was talking, Mr. Speaker, about 1983, and I assume the hon. member was in the world in 1983.

Mr. Speaker, I can understand political posturing, but I cannot understand the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount when he makes an accusation which is totally untrue. I can only assume he must have been misled. He makes the statement that I have given orders to consultants in the Department of Education to get ready to mark exams, and that is totally untrue, totally unfounded. There is no basis to it whatsoever, Mr. Speaker, it is a figment of someone's imagination and the hon. member can only be ill-advised.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the petition put forward expresses the hope that there would be a quick and fair resolution to this strike. That, Mr. Speaker, is my feeling, that is government's feeling, that is the feeling of the people of this Province, that there would be a quick resolution and there would be a fair resolution, Mr. Speaker. That would be ideal.

Now, I am assuming Mr. Speaker, I am hoping that there will be a quick and fair resolution, however, I cannot take the chance, I cannot risk the futures of the children of this Province by assuming that there will be a quick resolution. I can assure you that there will be a fair resolution; the resolution that we sign will be fair, I can assure the people of that but I cannot assure them that it will be quick, so in the event that there is not a quick resolution to this strike, then we have an obligation to the students of this Province to try to put a process in place to deal with the issue. And we have announced that we are going to try, we are going to try our level best to put on the public exams this year.

Now, the hon. member tries to raise a lot of reasons why it should not be done. Okay, that's political posturing, he is welcome to do it, but we don't have the luxury of getting up like a bunch of `naysayers' and saying this can't be done, this can be done. I know full-well, the hon. member talks about the number of his students who are doing 3000 courses. The fact of the matter is there are 19,000 students in this Province who are writing 3000 level courses. Some of them are doing more than others, we know that. The hon. member doesn't get up and think that he somehow has a special option on all this knowledge because he taught in a junior high or a senior high or whatever he taught in, that doesn't give him any special right, Mr. Speaker.

We recognize that before we can give a mark, before we can give a certificate, it has to have some basis. There has to be a public exam, there has to be a year's evaluation, we have to take into consideration the midterm marks and all these things. We know all that, we are trying to deal with it under very difficult and trying circumstances, Mr. Speaker, and it doesn't help matters when members opposite, because we have a few teachers in the gallery, get up and try to posture as if they were God's gift to this Province. If they hadn't run us into debt and made the mess they did in the last seventeen years, it would have been a lot easier for us to deal with that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I'm sorry, there is a further petition. I didn't realize the member was on his feet.

MR. SIMMS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, just to clarify.

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: I have to apologize to the House and to the individual in the gallery, whoever wrote the note. There is a note addressed apparently to Mr. Grimes. When the Page gave it to me, it looked like Mr. Simms, and I did read it. I do apologize.

MR. ROBERTS: I hope it said good things about the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Well, it said: Roger, why not mention about the P.C. appointment of Ed Maynard to the Workers' Compensation Board. I won't say who signed the note, but there, I have mentioned it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a note for all to know.

The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.


MR. WHELAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to stand in this hon. House -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If members are finished, I would like to hear the hon. the Member for Harbour Main. Thank you.

MR. WHELAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to stand in this hon. House today and present a petition on behalf of the students of the Roncalli Central High School of Avondale. The petition is signed by 120 students of that school and the prayer is as follows:

`We, the students of Roncalli Central High School of Avondale, do hereby petition government to take into account the problems that students will be encountering during this present school year because of the teachers strike.

Students in some schools have not yet completed the school year and have not been tested on this core material. This, in effect, means that students have not received all the credits they might have otherwise obtained.

We petition government on two fronts:

(1) To maintain the Memorial University entrance qualifications at 65 per cent as it has previously been and start the 70 per cent entrance requirement next year.

(2) To grade students up to the 16th of May, thereby eliminating the need for public exams. Students who are in danger of failing the Grade XII year could have the option of writing a June or later date public exam in the form of a supplementary.'

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in support of this petition. I commend the students of Roncalli Central High School for the positive attitude they have shown, the reasonable requests they have made, and I commend them on their initiative.

I ask for unanimous support in the House for this petition. I personally have no problem in supporting it, and I certainly have no problem in signing my name to it.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to commend the students who took the effort to collect this petition for presentation to the House. It shows the deep level of concern that these students have, along with the 100,000 students who are off from school as a result of this teachers' dispute which has been forced on them by the government, and it underlines the concerns that these students have.

I have talked to a number of students, and I have been trying to encourage the students that I have talked to not to despair about their school year, to expect their government to resolve this dispute quickly, to be reasonable and not take the kind of stance they have taken in forcing the teachers out on strike in order to defend their position.

Now, we see opposite a number of people who are former members of the teaching profession, the Minister of Finance, the President of Treasury Board, himself, is one, the Minister of Labour is another. I see quite a few, including the Member for Port au Port, and others, who were members of the teaching profession. They know how concerned - particularly in high school, and high school graduating year students - how concerned they are about their future because in many respects they feel that this is about the only thing that has been offered to them by society, a chance at a decent education so that they might, at least, have some future for themselves.

So I commend them for their thoughtfulness in trying to find practical solutions for themselves, but I say that the practical solution for all the students is to have a government that is going to respond to the situation that we find ourselves in, to undo the damage they have done by putting the teachers on the street, to undo the damage they have done, starting back last fall, in refusing to sit down with the teachers and discuss the whole area of the restructuring of schools, and the whole area of restructuring of the education system as a result of changes proposed by the government, to put that on the table from the beginning, instead of taking the position that the President of Treasury Board said, `It is none of your business, we are going to our own thing over here on the one side with respect to school restructuring, and over here all we are going to talk about is your contract.'

Mr. Speaker, that is not fair. It is not fair to the teachers; it is not fair to the public, and it is certainly not fair to the students, to take the kind of position that the government has taken in forcing teachers - and I have heard a number of teachers speak to the minister today on the radio, calling in and saying to the Minister of Education that the principles that were at stake in this particular strike had to do with the teachers trying to protect rural schools, trying to protect small schools, trying to protect education in smaller communities in the Province.

I heard them tell the minister that this was an important principle that they were going to bat for, and that all they could hear from the minister and the government, by their advertising in the paper, was about greed - greedy teachers wanting it all - when what I heard teachers say today to the minister was that this doesn't affect the teachers in St. John's who are out on strike. This doesn't affect the teachers in Gander who are out on strike. The 2 per cent clause that the minister is waving around and trying to shove down the throats of the teachers protects rural schools. It protects rural schools.

No other alternative had been put forth by this government, other than to take, and not take from the teachers in St. John's - they are not protected by the 2 per cent clause - they are okay, but rural Newfoundland, and rural schools that are struggling to exist; and if the teachers in St. John's and Mount Pearl and Corner Brook are going out on strike for that principle, I have a lot of respect for that, but I don't have respect for a government that refused, back in October, to discuss the whole restructuring issue, and who put the teachers in a position, through their negotiating stance and upping the ante the way they did, and challenging the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, threatening the security of senior teachers who were forced to resign because this government wouldn't commit themselves publicly in this House to taking a position that they wouldn't impose the removal of severance on them. This is what's wrong with the school system, Mr. Speaker, this is what's wrong with this strike, and those students deserve to have better consideration from this government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to speak to the petition, but does the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount want to speak to this same petition?


MR. DECKER: You can have leave if you want leave to speak to the petition.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: The rules of the House provide that Your Honour shall recognize one person from each side. We've had a person from Your Honour's right. If my friend, the Minister of Education, speaks now that will end the discussion on the petition. We're quite prepared to hear the Member for Waterford - Kenmount by leave if he wishes to speak to the petition, but I would ask that he be recognized before my friend, the Minister of Education speaks.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, only three people may speak to the petition. So does the hon. member have - in this case we would have four people speaking to the petition. Does the hon. member have leave of the House, then?


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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank my colleagues on the opposite side for giving leave.

Mr. Speaker, some of the students who signed this petition are in the galleries today. My colleague on the other side has outlined the prayer of the petition and I would like to be able to address some of the issues. Some of the issues, in particular, relate to the 65 per cent criteria which we raised to 70 per cent entrance requirement at Memorial University for this coming autumn. The minister responsible for monitoring the affairs at Memorial University, we would ask that he have dialogue with Memorial University so that students who find themselves in particular circumstances - this might not be a year in which you can have the kind of reliability in the data that the university might want to have. So, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister of Education to take upon himself to consult with the President of Memorial who indeed will talk to the Board of Regents and the Senate to see if that can be varied in the particular circumstances.

The other prayer of the petition is that the students' grades will be tabulated to May 16, thereby eliminating the need for public examinations. Mr. Speaker, we sincerely hope that within the next several days, next week, that this whole issue can be resolved. The minister said earlier today that he is hopeful we can get a resolution that permits the school system to finish up the school year so that the Level III students, the Level II students and all the other students - and we have concentrated most particularly on the Level III students, the ones who are eligible to graduate this year. However, we want to point out, that does not mean that we are not cognizant of the primary, the elementary, the junior high school students, the students who are in French immersion, students who are in special programs; all of these students need to finish their year as well.

I think, in this particular case, all of the signatures are from students in one school, Roncalli Central High School in Avondale. We congratulate them on wanting to have a voice, speaking up on their own behalf. And the two young men who are in the gallery, who brought in the petition today, we want to say congratulations to them. I want to encourage them to speak up, because I can assure you that the voices of these young people will need to be listened to by the ministry, by the government, by the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association and all the teachers of Newfoundland and Labrador as well. That is not to say that we are not understanding of the position of the teachers, but we also want to make sure that we, as a community and the government as a government, make every effort to assure that when next September comes along that the students of Newfoundland and Labrador have been treated fairly and reasonably, and that when they get ready to go off to post-secondary education they will not have the constraints that appear to be placed in their way now by the frustrations that are self evident to everybody.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The petition puts forward two requests. The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount has already mentioned them. We petition government on two fronts, to maintain the entrance qualifications for Memorial University at 65 per cent as it has previously been, and not at 70 per cent which is proposed for next year.

Now, the hon. House knows that government does not have the authority to dictate to the university, and I do not believe government would want to have that right. Memorial University would lose it's status as an international renowned institution pretty fast if government started telling the university how to set its exams and these sort of things.

The House knows that government cannot do that, however, personally I believe this is a reasonable request, and on behalf of the students I will indeed speak to Dr. May. I will not dictate, I will not demand, but I will ask. I will make known the wishes of the students on this issue, and in view of the fact that there are unique circumstances this year I will certainly bring that issue to the attention of the university.

For years the entrance requirement was only 60 per cent, they might indeed deal with it, but in the event that some media should pick up that we are going to dictate to the University, and immediately that would start a problem, I want to reiterate right now that I will discuss, I will bring it to their attention, and I will even go so far as to offer my personal opinion, which I think is a reasonable expectation.

The second request is that we grade up to the 16 May thereby eliminating the need for public exams. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is an option that we still have not totally given up on. We tried to get the marks back some weeks ago but the vast majority of teachers in the Province refused to make available to the department the marks and the full year evaluation. Now, not withstanding the fact that the marks were not made available the mid-term exam marks might not be that difficult to get because there are report cards somewhere in existence which would have the marks, but it is going to be more difficult to get the evaluation of the year's work of each individual student. That is going to be more difficult.

I cannot say to the students that we are going to base simply on the year to date without going with the public exams. We still intend to do it, but that is not to say that there will not be some insurmountable reason whereby we cannot do it. We can only try. If the strike goes on much longer, if the strike goes on until the end of June, for example, and we have to do this, we will try our level best to make sure that the students who are writing the 3000 exams will have a certificate, will have a mark that they can take to the job market, or can take to a post-secondary institution. In order to do that we need three things. We need a written exam, we need some evaluation of the year's work, and we need the results of the mid-term exams.

Hopefully, we will have all three of these factors, but if we do not have all three we will have to try and find some way to prepare a certificate which will be accepted. A certificate is more than just a piece of paper. It has to be something which is accepted either by the employer or by the post-secondary institution. I cannot perform miracles, Mr. Speaker. We can only do our level best, and if we can get good will on the part of the parents, the teachers, the students, and government, to deal specifically with the case of the 3000 students, I believe if good will prevails in the end no student will be deprived of a future career, a future job, or whatever the case may be, because of the unfortunate event which is now taking place.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: I am anticipating you will call Orders of the Day. I am awaiting that.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you.

Your Honour, in order to implement the arrangement I outlined yesterday may I first move that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

All those in favour.


MR. SPEAKER: Against.


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, would you be good enough please to call the business we are going to address today, and that is the concurrence motion for the Government Services Committee report to the House. The understanding is that the House will adjourn when we conclude this debate, which is not more than three hours. We will know at 4:00 p.m. whether there is to be a Late Show or not. If there is a Late Show that will add half an hour; if there is no Late Show we will go straight through till about 6:15 p.m.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Just to that point, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to inform the Government House Leader that we've agreed to forego the Late Show, so three hours hence we will conclude the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: That is of course fine with us, Mr. Speaker. It is in the hands of members. When you call the order we will carry through till 6:15 p.m., deal with the report, and then we will adjourn until tomorrow morning.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 3, the concurrence motion on the Government Services Committee.

The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to take a few minutes to begin the debate.

I must say I was pleased again this session to chair the Government Services Committee, especially on the Estimates. I want to take the opportunity to thank the members of the Committee: The vice-chair, the Member for Bonavista South, and the Members for St. John's East Extern, for St. Mary's - The Capes, for Pleasantville, for St. John's North and for Harbour Grace.

The departments that we were charged with were Works, Services and Transportation, Municipal and Provincial Affairs and Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, Finance and the Public Service Commission, and Employment and Labour Relations.

We had some very good discussions, I must say. The Department of Finance: We didn't use up all the three hours that we had allocated. It ended up to be a fireside chat between the Member for Mount Pearl and the Minister of Finance, and that is the usual way it goes. In past years they just sit and chat and talk about old times. Finally we got through it. I think it comes from the fact that the Member for Mount Pearl was a former Minister of Finance.

MS. VERGE: Ed Roberts and I (inaudible) fireside chat.

MR. OLDFORD: It went quite well and as I say we got through it very quickly. Municipal and Provincial Affairs, there was also good discussion, good questions. We got a little problem at the beginning. We got tangled up with the scheduling. I don't take the blame for it but I take the responsibility for some mishandling of the scheduling. I want to apologize to the minister for the fool-up there.

Works, Services and Transportation, we did a review of their estimates. The Member for Humber East sat in as a substitute for one of the members. The hon. member and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation didn't see eye to eye on all the issues. I think the Pasadena road was a main issue. They didn't agree on who invited who to lunch. Other than that things went well. The Department of Employment and Labour Relations: One problem we had was keeping the minister in line, trying to curtail some of his longwinded answers to some short snapper questions. We got through it.

I commend the members of the Committee. There was some excellent questioning and I must say some very detailed answers. Good answers given by the ministers and their officials. I think that the very responsible attitude of the members ensured that the interest of the general public was well served. I can't speak for other committees but I must say the members of the Government Services Committee did a - led by the Member for St. John's East Extern, we stuck in most part to the estimates, to the subheads. I think because of the questioning we got some detailed answers and a detailed review was done.

I'm sure that, as I said, members of the general public got a better understanding of the process. Somebody mentioned yesterday we didn't get much media coverage, and I don't think we did in any of the committees, and that is unfortunate because the whole purpose is to review the estimates and make sure that the tax dollars of the people of the Province are spent in a fair and equitable way. Also, the estimates review gives the members of the committee, members of the general public, a greater appreciation of departmental programs.

Again, I want to thank the members of the committee and I look forward to working with this group in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was very happy to have taken part in the Government Services Committee, and play the part as vice-chairman. I think I certainly owe the chairman a compliment for the job that he performed. He was a very lenient chairperson, and gave everybody ample time. He didn't have the clock out all night long, saying: You must do this, or you must do something else. I think it was a very relaxed mood in each meeting that we had, and I compliment the chairman for that.

There was no problem in getting members to show up. I think we had pretty well a full slate of our committee at each meeting, and everybody participated fully.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, I suppose - and I have to say this - the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations certainly impressed me on how well he knew his department. I have to give him credit for that. He certainly knows the department well, and answered most of the questions himself. He did a good job, an excellent job, and I have to compliment him.

Some of the concerns that were raised, and I think they were legitimate concerns by the committee, were the lay-off of electrical inspectors and boiler inspectors. Even though the minister answered it in an honest way, and put forward the reasons for doing it, I don't know if he convinced many people that his actions were the right actions, taking into consideration the safety factors involved there. I know that I wasn't convinced, and after coming from the construction trades myself, I know full well what happens out there when you are working with contractors, what the bottom line is. The bottom line, sometimes, is to go there, make a quick buck, get out of there, get your money, and go on to the next job.

Sometimes I fear that we might be in bed sleeping, and I don't want to be putting fear out there, but our houses are all wired with electricity. Most of the fires we see are domestic fires, and a lot of them are electrical fires, and when you see this type of installation now being put forward without inspections, the gyproc being thrown on the walls, and nobody knowing what is inside, I still have grave, grave concerns that maybe we are moving much too fast, and haven't thought out this procedure quite to the extent that it should be.

I understand that it is being done in other provinces, much similar to the new legislation that is about to be brought about here. I understand that from the minister, but I still have to be convinced that it is a positive thing. I hope that we are not making the wrong move.

Lay-offs at Hibernia was a concern that was expressed to the minister. Many of us have been getting a lot of calls about our own native Newfoundlanders being laid off. In my district, for example, one gentleman had been working there at the same job for over a year as an iron worker. He got laid off, and the reasoning for his lay-off was that he wasn't competent in doing his job. Now if somebody told me, after working somewhere for a year, that I wasn't competent in doing my job, I think it should be my supervisor who should be laid off, not me, if it took somebody a year to realize that.

Having travelled around, and chased construction around myself, in every other Province that I have had to go to work in, whenever there were lay-offs, it was always people from other provinces who got laid off first, and the people who were working with the local jurisdiction, or the local union, were always the people who were kept on, and they were the last to get laid off.

It seems like on the Hibernia project that this is not the case. Many of our local Newfoundlanders are being laid off while other people from other provinces continue to stay here and work.

Also, Mr. Speaker, there was a concern that that is probably the whole reason why the shift was changed around. The shift was changed around for no real apparent reasons until, when you stop and look at the numbers that are there from other provinces, and you will find out maybe that the shifts were changed that would accommodate those people and not have them lying around the bunkhouse or whatever for four and five days, rather than catering to the local labour that is working there and enjoys the time home with their family.

Mr. Speaker, another concern raised was the act of advertising for welders at the Newfoundland Dockyard in papers up in Nova Scotia. A lot of people here in our own Province that we felt were qualified to do the work, and were certainly qualified to go and write the test, or perform the test, weren't given that opportunity. I understand the minister has since come to realize that those people should have an opportunity to perform this work and be given the opportunity to write the exam and take part in the actual practice, the theory part of it as well. I understand that some of that is about to be changed as well. I hope that doesn't continue to happen in the future. I think we should look forward to having our own people working much sooner than having people brought in from other provinces and giving those people an advantage over our own.

Before I leave that I would like to comment on the overtime that is being paid out at Hibernia. That is another grave concern while we have many of our people out there today unemployed. I don't think anybody would dispute the fact that if they were offered a job, or would refuse a job, but if they were told they were going to be getting forty hours a week would say that they weren't interested in taking that job because they wanted overtime. Especially when you look at the rates of pay that are being paid out there at that project.

I put out a news release on it, in fact, and spoke about exactly that, about my dissatisfaction with the lay offs there. Our own local Newfoundlanders were being laid off and many of our people were out there working sixty and seventy hours a week, working in excess of thirty days. Mr. Kimberly had picked it up on the news. I think he is the public relations - or Mr. Simpkins, Bill Simpkins, had picked it up on the news and decided he was going to give me a call. He called me on a cellular telephone and said: You are wrong, the comments that you made are all wrong, you should be coming to me before you say those kinds of things because I know what is happening. Why don't you call me?

I said: I don't believe I am wrong and I stand by the story because I got it from very informed sources. After I put my comments forward to him and the concerns that I was hearing from my constituents we hung up and he said: Well, if that is happening I will check it out, but I don't think it is, and I will get back to you. That night I had a phone call from two other people who were working there in a rebar shop who had been working in excess of thirty days up to that time, twelve hours a day, and had been working in excess of thirty days and couldn't get a day off. I asked the gentleman: Is it a job that you are performing that requires a lot of skill? He said: Absolutely not. I didn't see the type of machine that we are operating there until it was brought into Hibernia. I got four hours training and I've been performing the duties ever since.

To me that is wrong. When you have those people out there working twelve and fourteen hors a day, thirty days without a day off, and when they go to look for a day off to be told: If you are not interested in working then maybe we will get somebody here from another province who is interested in working. I don't think we need that. I think our Newfoundlanders, our own people, are capable of working. They want to work but I don't think that they should be expected to work thirty days straight without a break, twelve hours a day, while other people are out there today without a job and without an income. I think we should be looking a little bit further than that. I think that we should be making sure that we get as many people working productively on that project and earning a living, and I suppose - well, the production would be certainly much more efficient than it is right now. Because nobody can perform on the twelfth hour or the tenth hour. Safety would certainly be much more adhered to, and the bottom line is we would have a lot more people working.

Works, Services and Transportation, another department of government that was part of the Government Services Committee. In conversation with the minister - and it is too bad that he is not here because I hope he hears it - I brought up a concern about the closing down of several depots on the highways. I indicated to him at that time that I failed to see where there would be any big savings there, when you consider the cost - some of those depots being a fair distance removed from the ones that were closed down.

In the morning now there is the situation where those people are expected to drive all the way over to this depot that's going to be kept open, pick up their truck, their grader, their loader or some piece of equipment and drive it all the way back again, Mr. Speaker - back in the morning, over in the evening. Mr. Speaker, I fail to see where there will be a great saving in laying off the clerk in that particular depot and allowing this kind of action to continue, but the minister assured me that wasn't happening, that what would happen is, all of this equipment would go back to the depot that was closed out, the depot that was being phased out in the summertime and re-opened in the winter.

The workers, the employees with Works, Services and Transportation who normally came to this particular depot - and I'll speak of the one in my area, Upper Amherst Cove - would still go there. They would pick up their truck, grader or whatever and continue to do their work, and that's not happening, Mr. Speaker, that's not happening. What's happening is exactly the fear that I put forward to the minister at the Government Services meeting. Right now, those people are leaving their job a half-an-hour or an hour earlier, depending on how far they are from the depot, driving all the way back to this new depot to get there at quitting time and then go through the same procedure again the next morning. So I think if you tabulate the extra expenses incurred by this action, you will find that it works out to many, many more dollars than the few dollars we saved by turning off a few lights in the depot or laying off the clerk at that particular depot.

MR. SIMMS: Cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

MR. FITZGERALD: Cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.


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


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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, another concern, and it was raised, I think, by the member over here who was - salt and sand. And I'm glad the minister is here because I don't know if he heard the comments I made a few minutes earlier, but if not, I'll repeat them, Mr. Minister. What I was referring to was a question that I had put forward to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation at the Government Services Committee meeting. The question was and the concern was that I fail to see where there will be much of a saving by closing down some of those depots in the summertime and allowing workers to take their truck, grader or their tractor and have them get in their own vehicle in the morning and drive to the new depot and pick up that piece of equipment and then drive back to where they're working, leave an hour in the evening, half-an-hour or three-quarters -

MR. EFFORD: That's the way you'd do it.

MR. FITZGERALD: - and go through the same procedure again. Well, the minister said, no, that won't happen - that will not happen. He said, what will happen is - and I'll repeat it again - he said what will happen is, the gates will be open at the depot that was vacated and the trucks and tractors will go in there. They will go in there in the morning and pick up their machinery and go on to work as they've always done. That's what will happen, he said. He said you don't need supervision. He said those people don't need supervision to go and get in their truck or car and go to work.

MR. EFFORD: Are you talking about winter or summer?

MR. FITZGERALD: I'm talking about the summer, the depots that were closed down in the summertime. So, Mr. Speaker, I think if you will find a copy of Hansard, because this is printed, that that was the minister's comments: No, this won't happen. They will be allowed to take their vehicles back there. That's where they will go, they will pick them up and go on to work as normal. My concern was that I don't see how you're saving a lot of money by laying off the clerk at that particular depot and turning off a few lights if you're going to allow the extra costs of moving back and forth between the new depot and the place of work.

MR. SIMMS: That's a reasonable question.

MR. FITZGERALD: A reasonable question, and from what I understand, Mr. Speaker, this is exactly what's happening, this is what I'm told. In fact, Mr. Speaker, some of them are going back for lunch. So, Mr. Speaker, this is a concern that was brought up and maybe the minister can address it, because I'm sure he was honest when he said that was going to happen - but it isn't happening.

The other issue that was brought forward - and it was brought forward, I think, by myself at the Government Services Estimates Committee of last year when we talked about the rocks - not boulders, as the Member for Burin - Placentia West referred to them, but a lot of rocks, probably even a quarter-inch or bigger, that are put in the salt that goes on the roads. It is a nightmare, and I said this to the minister before; when the salt trucks go out on some of those local roads, you almost have to to stay off them for two or three hours until the rocks get either worn off or else they are thrown away by the tires of the traffic going by.

The minister can shake his head but this is a big concern. In fact, I related to him a story about a person with a fairly new car that had two windows broken by a salt truck, two windows broken and it had to have a paint job.

MR. EFFORD: Tailgating.

MR. FITZGERALD: Not tailgating, glitter on the highway, glitter on the highway, it is the same story. And being in the insurance business myself, Mr. Speaker, I can truly realize the cost of replacing a windshield, of what's being charged today, and the costs that are incurred by the customer as well. A lot of people today are finding when the salt truck goes by that they have to stay off the road for a couple of hours, for fear that they may go out and get their windshields broken, or other things, and that is a very big concern, Mr. Speaker.

I think, on the Trans-Canada Highway they use salt alone. Now I fully realize that is probably much more expensive and I am sure it is, than using salt and sand, but maybe we can do something, that we can get the size of that rock down a little bit further than we have.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, screen it; screen it, Mr. Speaker, you are paying to have screening done so maybe you can screen it to a little finer stage, because there are a lot of rocks getting in that and it is causing a lot of problems.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shocking.

MR. FITZGERALD: Shocking, sure it's shocking.

Mr. Speaker, the meeting on the Department of Finance, I think, was one of the shortest meetings we had, and it was, as the Chairman said, pretty well controlled. A lot of questions were asked by the Member for Mount Pearl, but, Mr. Speaker, one of the questions that I brought forward was, wondering about the Atlantic Lotto Corporation. I thank the Minister of Finance for having his staff provide me with the information I was looking for, and I think that's the way it should be done. If you go and look for information, if it is a question that is asked, then you should be afforded the answer. There is only one thing that I didn't see in that and I would like to find out and that's the salaries of some of those employees. I suppose that is public knowledge and that it is being paid from public funds.

Municipal and Provincial Affairs. After some misunderstanding, Mr. Speaker, and a lack of, I suppose, communications or communications breakdown, we had to postpone that meeting for a couple of days, but finally, the meeting arrived. However, there were some questions asked that were not answered and I am still waiting to find the answers.

A question was asked, which referred to salaries in the minister's office. In 1993-1994, the budget was for $181,100 and the revised budget was for $261,800, a difference of $80,700, so the question that was asked was, why the extra $80,700, and I think the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs at that time stated that it was because there were two ministers for a particular term. So I asked if he would provide me with the figures on the cost there, because if there were two ministers, you know, another minister occupied the position, so I suppose he was paid the same salary and there was no big change in staff other than what the minister would bring by. I am still waiting for that information and I am sure the minister will provide me with it.

Mr. Speaker, another concern - and the minister referred to it today in Question Period - was about the infrastructure funding. He referred to a lot of communities out there that don't have a big tax base, and that is what I am finding in my district today. A lot of people don't have a tax base and because of that, they are finding themselves in arrears; and because they are in arrears, and unable to pay their arrears, they are going to be disqualified from receiving any money whatsoever under the infrastructure program.

I ask the minister if he would take another look at that, because in a lot of those communities, there is certainly a need there, and if some communities can be financed -

MR. EFFORD: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, is my understanding correct that the hon. member opposite is speaking with leave? If so, I withdraw leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the hon. member was given leave of the House to continue with the discussion.

MR. EFFORD: I withdraw leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A point of order, yes.

MR. FITZGERALD: I fail to understand why people can sit here and listen to a member from another side, from our side here, to put forward his thoughts and his concerns -

AN HON. MEMBER: Vice-Chairman of the Committee.

MR. FITZGERALD: Vice-Chairman of the Committee. Those people sit here with interest, and all of a sudden, a minister can leave the House and drift in and take control of the House like that. Is that permissible, Mr. Speaker? He should continue to stay outside the House until the leave has been granted and has run out.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There was no specific time limit put on the hon. member, so obviously, the hon. member could continue forever, I guess, unless the leave was withdrawn, or until he completed his speech.

My understanding is that leave has been withdrawn, and the hon. member will have to wait and take another turn.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. EFFORD: You can call it what you like; I withdrew leave. You have full opportunity, when your time comes around again, to get up and have your ten minutes' debate. Then you will sit down, and ten minutes again - that is a full opportunity - but you are not going to get the whole afternoon from this minister, or this Member of the House of Assembly, to get on and on and rant there like you have been doing.

I want to address a couple of points made about the re-arrangements and the re-organization of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. The one thing I pride myself on doing, as a minister, and previous to that, my former time in business, is not standing still, implementing change. The Tory way of operating for seventeen years was standing still and going in reverse. We don't intend to do that in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation.

Back after Newfoundland joined Confederation there were very few roads in this Province - very, very few roads. Of course, what needed to be done first was to start constructing the Trans-Canada across Newfoundland, and all the roads leading to and from communities had to be built up. You needed a wide spread of department services right across the Province, and that's the reason why so many depots sprung up all over the Province, it was because of the number of roads that had to be built. That's going back some forty-five or fifty years. Are we saying now, that we need to keep the same number of depots open today in this Province as we did when we first started constructing highways?

The Tory thinking there explains the reason why we have ended up in such a financial mess as we have in 1994 because of the administration, to think they operated that way for seventeen years. That is exactly the proof of what I have been talking about all these years.

What we are saying now is that we have closed out thirty-five depots, and I will say this - we are going to close out some more.


MR. EFFORD: We are not going to keep depots open that we do not need, just to keep somebody out there in a job, or to keep somebody happy. It is absolutely no reason to keep the depots open.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: If there is an area that requires change, it is going to be changed; make no mistake about it. If we have a reason to do something in the department, and it makes sense to do it, if there is some logical thinking put behind it and it is proven to be the right thing to do, it's going to be done; and to keep open the thirty-five depots just because you need to give a clerk a job, or you need to give somebody working a job - I mean, how silly can you get?

What I am saying to the hon. member opposite is, if he was as successful in making decisions in his business as he is here today, making no wonder he is not in business anymore, because you would never, never get anywhere thinking like that in the financial world.

Now, here is what we did. We took out the depots where there was absolutely no need. One of the things that has been happening over the years is that the people driving along the road have been looking at staff of the department at the side of the road replacing a culvert or digging a ditch, one and two people scattered all over different regions in the Province. What we are going to do now is we are going to implement, the same as a construction company, work crews.

In other words, if we have some maintenance to be done on a piece of road in any particular area, in any region - let's use the example of St. Mary's - The Capes - and there is a section of road up there, twelve, fifteen or twenty kilometres, whatever, and we need to do shouldering and ditching and culverts or whatever, regular summer maintenance, instead of picking at it with one or two men, we are going to designate a crew from the department to go out: `Now, there is your job. If it takes a week or two weeks, do it' - the same as if you were operating a construction company.

I think that is the sensible approach to take. This nonsense about leaving the depot 8:00 a.m. and driving two hours to the site, then leaving at 2:00 p.m. and driving two hours back, and only doing - that's the way the Tories did it. That's the way you people did it. That's the reason why there was never any work done, it was never done the proper way.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: It is not going to happen now, Mr. Speaker. It is going to be done the right way.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Now, they are talking about sanding roads. Just imagine! Here we are, talking about all the major issues facing this Province, and we are standing in this House of Assembly, and one member is saying: Well, the sand you use is too large, you should shake it, and you should sift it, and you should squat it, and you should stamp on it.' How silly are we getting! The sand is too large, the pellets of sand. Well, I tell hon. members, I will do everything in my power to make the sand as fine as possible next year. I will crush it and I will sift it and I will shake it and I will do whatever possible, so hon. members opposite will make sure that when they are tailgating next year they won't get the windshields broken out of their vehicles.

Now, that is something to be discussing in this House of Assembly -with all the things that we have facing this Province - whether salt pellets are too large or sand particles are too large. Now, we can't do anything about the weather. I have power to do almost anything, Mr. Speaker, but I can't change the climate. Sometimes you get some rain, sometimes you get some wet snow, and then you get a cold frost; the sand freezes and you get large particles of sand frozen together. Just imagine, if we have to go out after every change in temperature and every time it gets cold and shake that sand - just imagine having to shake that on the side of the road.

You see, Mr. Speaker? I sat here for three hours in the Estimates Committee and that is the type of question I got for three hours - not one question pertaining to either issue, either sub, in the whole of the estimates of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation - complaining about the size of salt and the size of sand, and here again this afternoon we are going through the same silly thing.

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

MR. EFFORD: Ah, they're up now!

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like a few words on this debate on Government Services. In particular, I would like to make reference to my district of Green Bay with regard to municipal services and transportation services.

On a more general note, I would indicate that when the Premier first came to power in 1989 he, at the time, indicated that the previous government, from his point of view, showed too much favouritism towards government districts and that the Liberal policy platform was going to be one of real change. There was going to be real fairness and balance in the allocation of monies for government services. Therefore, I fully expected that the district of Green Bay, which at the time, I newly represented, would be treated fairly with regard to government services, especially in matters relating to municipal infrastructure and transportation infrastructure.

I would like to address each of these points in turn, but before doing so I would indicate that in terms of municipal services provided by the Wells Administration, the record of the government has been spotty, somewhat hit-or-miss. With regard to transportation services provided to my district since the Wells Administration came to power, the record of the Wells Administration has been downright awful, Mr. Speaker.


MR. HEWLETT: I will address each in turn, Mr. Speaker, and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation can get up if he wishes afterwards and address my comments when I'm finished.

With regard to municipal services, as I indicated, the record of the Wells Administration has been somewhat spotty. Some years, the district of Green Bay has done well with regard to water and sewer services, some years, it has done terribly, other years, it has done so-so. Therefore, while it has not been as good as I would like, it's not been a dead loss altogether either. With regard to the most recent infrastructure program that's been brought about by the new federal government in Ottawa, I was disappointed that in the first round of project announcements there the other day, no councils in Green Bay were included on the list. However, in general conversations with the minister, he has indicated to me that Green Bay should do well out of that particular program. So, Mr. Speaker, I hope and pray that when the second round of projects are announced, my district will do okay. A number of councils have water and sewer proposals in. I know South shore Green Bay has a proposal in for a regional ice arena located in Trition. I sincerely hope that some of these water and sewer projects and that particular arena will be among the projects announced in the second round.

With regard to transportation, Mr. Speaker, the record of the Wells administration has been absolutely abysmal as it applies to Green Bay. A few years ago they tried to practically destroy the ferry services to the two isolated islands in my district by trying to amalgamate ferry services for half the year. It was only due to long and strident protest on behalf of the residents of Little Bay Islands and Long Island that that particular matter was sorted out and the government went back to giving these two very distinct islands their own distinct ferry service.

With regard to pavement, Mr. Speaker, not one shovelful, not one spoonful, not one molecule of asphalt has come into Green Bay from the Wells administration. Mr. Speaker, in Green Bay the road to Harry's Harbour - Jackson's Cove is still unpaved. There's no pavement on Long Island and there's no pavement on Little Bay Islands. The roads to both ferry terminals for both islands are unpaved and with regard to existing pavement, we have pavement there now that is so old that it's broken up. The highway from South Brook to Brighton is falling apart. The highway to Little Bay and Beachside has fallen apart, Mr. Speaker, and the only road in Green Bay that's been recapped, as regards to pavement, is the road into Springdale which was paved by the Smallwood administration and recapped during the days of the Peckford administration.

Mr. Speaker, I've also gotten absolutely nothing spent in the Green Bay area on the Trans-Canada program that's currently under way. I asked the hon. the minister about the bridge and intersection at South Brook and he indicated to me in the last sitting of the House that that particular matter would be taken care of. Under the Trans-Canada program, the minister did - subsequently he undertook to give me the date that the intersection and bridge at South Brook would be done, he never did. I wrote the minister when the House adjourned from the last sitting, the minister hasn't replied. I put a question on the Order Paper in this particular sitting with regard to the bridge and intersection at South Brook and the minister still hasn't replied.

Now, Mr. Speaker, therefore as I've indicated in general terms, municipal affairs has been spotty but not a dead loss. I'm optimistic that something good will come for my district under the infrastructure program. With regard to transportation, the situation has been blatantly partisan, blatantly negative, an absolute dead loss and I do hope that the Wells administration will see fit to be as fair to Green Bay as it has been to any other district in this Province. I call upon the minister to come clean and give me a straight answer with regard to the intersection and bridge at South Brook on the Trans-Canada. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me tell the hon. member, I know exactly how he feels. I know exactly how he feels. From 1985 to 1989 in the great District of Port de Grave, we did not receive one dollar.

MR. HEWLETT: Two wrongs make a right, is that what you're saying?

MR. EFFORD: I remember one time I had to bring a committee of people -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: I remember one time I had to bring a group of people in from the small community of Mackinsons to protest the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs office. For eleven days straight we sat in his office for a mere $11,000 because they didn't have decent drinking water. They were willing to absorb all the costs except $11,000 and he said: absolutely no, you are not getting it. Only then we went to the minister - the then Member for Bonavista - Trinity - Conception, the federal member Morrissey Johnson, did we get the money but you people were in government and you have the gall to stand to this floor and tell me that I'm partisan?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: You talk about a hypocritical nature and manner in which to operate. I know what it's like to sit in a district year after year after year and get no money for anything. Like the Minister of Public Works, then the hon. Haig Young from Harbour Grace District, looked at the people and said: Are you Liberal? Yes. Well, you don't get anything. Are you Liberal? You don't get anything.

Now there is not a partisan bone in my body. All I have to do is try and help those districts that have been neglected for so many, many, many years, to try and catch up. That is what we are trying to do, the roads in the districts that were neglected for seventeen years, not an inch of pavement, not a rock, not a shovelful of gravel was put on the road. What are we going to do, still neglect them? How silly can you get?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: As far as the ferry systems up in the hon. member's district, you know full well that the ferry systems up there are operating on a regular schedule; the people on the islands are quite happy; there is absolutely nothing wrong. The only time they had a problem was when one of the boats experienced mechanical problems and had to go on refit. Then they weren't satisfied to share. They were not satisfied to share the services, and you know very well -

MR. HEWLETT: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: It is not, and the people up there were quite happy with the service they were getting, no thanks to the member.

If you are going to stand in this House and complain about the fact that your district is not being treated fairly, then you have to take full responsibility, because every other MHA comes over and talks to me about any concerns they have. You have never yet requested a meeting on behalf of the people in your district. Not on one occasion, one second, have you asked me for a meeting. So I am going to say to the hon. member, there is no problem with arranging a meeting with my office any time he wishes. I may not say yes, but you can certainly ask.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to make a few comments on the Government Services Committee and say, due to some scheduling, I only got to make a couple of the meetings, but I did have the opportunity to attend the committee in relation to Works, Services and Transportation.

I have to say, as I hear the minister elaborate today on bygones, I ask myself: Does he want to go down in the history books of this Province similar to former ministers, as he calls them, in relation to how they treated the people of the Province and how they treated the districts of the Province?

I believe we have to look at need, and not look at party politics, when it comes to some of this. I have to admit that I ran into some ministers on the other side who laid the partisan side of politics aside as they deal with problems from my district, and I have to commend those. I say I would be remiss if I didn't commend the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology today, as he took care of something in my district that had seen some partisan politics over the years.

I say to the minister, there were several things brought up in the committee meetings that were a concern to myself, in my district, and I am sure to many other members on this side of the House in regard to some work, and in regard to, mostly - there were many questions asked about the restructuring that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has touched on over the past little while.

I brought up some questions yesterday in the House in regard to roads in the district, and the minister more or less said that because of the restructuring, this work would be done when the time was right. I have to ask, and am concerned also, we discussed the sand and the salt situation that the minister touched on earlier.

I have to wonder, years ago when we were little fellows home, we used to watch as the grader would pass up the road and you would have two men walking behind it with shovels, flicking rocks off the side of the road. I don't know if that happened in other districts, but I know for years and years I watched it home, as two men would be employed as they walked behind the grader. I am wondering now if we are going to head back into those times and we are going to have to have men walking behind the sand trucks.

It is a sad day when you look, and I wouldn't call them boulders, as the Member for Burin - Placentia West called them, but they could be classified, in some cases, as beach rocks. That is a concern. I raised the concern with the minister back during the winter when I had some correspondence from St. Mary's Bay North especially, in regard to the Salmonier Line and the condition of the Salmonier Line during the winter months, and in regard to the portion of sand and salt that was being used there.

We also talked at length concerning other parts of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, and I must say that the minister was very forthcoming with his remarks. He was partisan sometimes when he would be answering the questions, but he was very forthcoming in his answers. I have to give credit where credit is due; he didn't beat around the bush. Now he may have been more or less trying to pull the wool over our eyes in some cases, but he didn't beat around the bush, and it was enlightening at times to listen to him go on and on about the wonderful things that have been happening, the wonderful things that have been happening in the Department of Works, Services, and transportation since this minister took office.

We talked about the past, and what has happened in the past with regards to services within the different districts of the Province. We had the opportunity to ask about our own specific districts, especially my district where we saw the closure of two highway depots for the summer months. I questioned the minister on the closure of the two highway depots in my district. I have to wonder sometimes the real reason for the closure of these highway depots.

The reason we were given, more or less, and the minister alluded to it today, concerns the construction of the roads over the years, and today we do not have the need for as many depots, and with the restructuring they are going to save some government dollars in this cash strapped economy we are living in. I wonder really how much money is being saved by the restructuring? I would like to have a figure.

Well, take District 1, which includes my district. I ask how much is really being saved? How many jobs were lost in District 1 due to the restructuring? How many people retired in District 1 because of the restructuring? How many people decided to retire because of the restructuring? I would also like to know, Mr. Speaker, how many superintendents were in District 1 before the restructuring, and how many superintendents are in District 1 now? I would like for the minister to answer that if he could. I am only concerned about District 1, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. MANNING: I was elected to represent the District of St. Mary's - The Capes and that is included in District 1. I would like to know right across the Island but I will deal with my own district in the first few minutes I have and then we can go on after. I would also like to ask the minister when he is checking this out, or answering those questions - he might not have the answers off the top of his head today, he just might, but I will be surprised, he talked about restructuring. I understand restructuring. I have no problem with restructuring and cutting down and saving money.

Twelve years ago at the St. Bride's depot, for example, there were twenty-two men, two dozers, two graders, four dump trucks, a loader, and a back-hoe. Today -I should not say today, before May 1, there were seven men, no dozers, there was a 1973 grader, almost as old as I am, I say, Mr. Speaker, there were two dump trucks, a back-hoe and a loader, so I say we have been restructured a fair amount over the years. That was before 1 May.

Today at the St. Bride's depot there are no men, no dozers, no grader, no dump truck, no back-hoe and no loader. Now, this all happened in my hometown before last night. I wonder, would they have moved the building had they known what happened after our bowling game last night? After our bowling game last night he may have moved building and all out of St. Bride's. At least we hang onto our building now.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a fair amount of restructuring. This is only one depot I got the chance to look for information on last night. Like I said it has gone from twenty-two men down to seven men before 1 May, and now none, Mr. Speaker, so I say that we have been restructuring a fair amount over the past number of years, the roads have improved, I have to say the roads have improved. We are sixty years on the Cape Shore, Mr. Speaker, and we had a cow path for a road, a cow path. We had a load of gravel I think, in sixty years. Now after the right people were in office I have to say that we had some work done with our roads and were brought up to a modern day road, but even with asphalt on our roads, we still have some problems with regards to shouldering and maintenance that have to be carried out after the winter with asphalt et cetera, and I am concerned about the plans that the department has in regards as to how they are planning on doing this work.

The minister has spoken several times about crews, you know, instead of one or two men heading out to do some work, and I have no problem with that, Mr. Speaker, if it was done in a fair way but if the minister believes for one moment that people in the depot are not leaving at eight o'clock in the morning and spending an hour to an hour-and-a-half travelling, taking their break at ten o'clock, half-an-hour dinner and then have to be back-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: - to the depot at 4:30, I would say the minister is sadly mistaken -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MANNING: - and he is out of touch with what's going on out in the district -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: - and that he should get some more information and I would say, Mr. Speaker, he should -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: When did you become Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Have some respect (inaudible).

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

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I wanted to rise in this debate today especially after hearing the Member for Green Bay say that there are one or two roads in his district that are not paved. I hear the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes say that the roads should be built on the need, not the partisan politics, and I quoted you, I wrote it down when you said and I am sure Hansard will record -

MR. MANNING: (Inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the people of this Province and the members of this House, how would they feel if they had to represent the people who had no roads? How would they feel if they had the people isolated for twelve months a year in a community in the northern part of this Province on the Coast of Labrador, how would they feel if there was an $800 million agreement signed in June, 1988, an $800 million agreement in June, 1988 that gave the Labrador 3 per cent -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: That was the Conservative government that was here then.

MR. MANNING: The minister is not interested (inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: The minister will do whatever is in his power and he has nobody to look over there and say one word of shame to, because he has a record here beyond reproach by anybody who ever sat in that chair on the opposite side; but the point that I want to make is this: that the greatest economic project that we have in this Province outside of the development of the Lower Churchill, the greatest economic project that's on the books that will give us long-term, meaningful jobs, that will open up our economy, that will build this Province is the Northern Gulf Route, which will include a road along the Coast of Labrador and in through the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area, joining up with the road that is there now between Churchill and Labrador City, Goose Bay and on into the Quebec region of the nation.

Mr. Speaker, you know, I fly home as often as I can and many people I guess when they fly around, maybe they read their magazines, maybe they look for some wildlife or something but I tell you, the one thing that I always look at and I keep doing it because I need to do it. The one thing that I always look at, is when I fly across this Province, is the number of roads that you see, when flying across here, all through the land, all through the Island from one end of her to the other; roads going here, there and everywhere, and then I go down to my area on the Coast of Labrador, particularly from Red Bay to Cartwright, I wonder if we are part of the Province as far as it comes to transportation policy. I really have to wonder whether anybody has given us the consideration that we are due to receive: a road network along the Coast of Labrador and throughout Labrador. Because we are a very meaningful part of this Province.

It is very disheartening, to say the least, to have people in this House get up and chastise the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation because they can't get the one last road in their district paved, because they can't get an extra ferry run so they can make it five times a day instead of four. It is very disheartening. Because I represent people from Lodge Bay, Red Bay to Cartwright in particular, who don't have a ferry. Who haven't got the luxury of being able to take their family and put them on a ferry and put them over to a road in the Labrador Straits or go to the Northern Peninsula and be able to have their family taken out on a vacation at a reasonable cost. They don't have the luxury. They haven't been given the consideration.

Mr. Minister, I know that you are doing your best. I know that the government of this Province is doing its best. I know that for the last nine years, before last October, that there was nothing that we could do when we had the likes of Mr. Crosbie in the federal Cabinet, who refused to even consider a meeting to discuss new funding for the Trans-Labrador Highway, who refused to be able to give us the kind of long-term agreement that we need. Even though we have a $200,000 study that shows that for every dollar spent in putting a new road down along the coast of Labrador the taxpayers of Canada and the taxpayers of Newfoundland would receive $197 back. It is a solid, meaningful economic proposal that would create new jobs in tourism, the service sector, in the forestry sector. To be able to get the great forests that are presently rotting on the Coast of Labrador because we can't get the transportation network to carry it out on an economic basis in Cartwright, in Port Hope Simpson, in Charlottetown areas.

These are the kinds of things that people look to to build the Province. When we had Province builders in the past under the great leadership of J.R. Smallwood, he took the roads across this Island, he took the roads to every place that deserved to be able to get a chance to be able to drive out with their families and be able to get economic development in their regions. After the 1970s, Mr. Speaker, that stopped. The time for Province building stopped dead in its tracks in this Province. It has only got back on track again since we took over in 1989, but we lacked the kind of federal cooperation that was there with Pickersgill and Mr. Smallwood. They built this Province and we now have the challenge before us, between Mr. Tobin, our federal representative, and our minister here, and our Premier.

I would submit to the people of this Province that as the Prime Minister is to the fishery, as the Prime Minister of Canada is to bringing in the unprecedented legislation to stop foreign overfishing, this Premier is to this Province when it comes to completing the northern Gulf route and the road across Labrador. This Premier is leading the charge, is carrying the ball, is having the first ministers' meetings with the Prime Minister of Canada on this issue. It will not be lost on the people of Labrador, it will not be lost on the people of this Province, that this Premier is doing this because it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for building this Province, it is the right thing to do so people can have a chance to be able to access the outside world. To be able to take their families and be able to do the things that other people take for granted.

I want to make this point on this particular issue. We are not asking that the road be built just because we want to become less isolated. We are not asking that you go and spend $100 million in Labrador just for the sake of spending money so we can drive out for a vacation sometime during the year. That would be wrong. That would not be fair to the people who receive and have certain needs for transportation dollars elsewhere. We have at the present time a Marine Atlantic system that is not serving the people on the Coast of Labrador. They give us three to four months' service each year if we are lucky, and then it is at their own whim. It is not to suit the needs of the people on the coast of Labrador. They are only doing it because they are obliged to under the Terms of Union of 1949.

At the present time we have $25 million a year in annual subsidy going into that system, poured down the drain for three to four months of service a year by a couple of boats. This year Marine Atlantic is saying you don't even deserve two vessels to deliver your freight. They're going to run freight from Lewisporte to Nain and back again using one vessel. Now that's food, vegetables and necessary supplies to be able to build their homes, be able to keep their infrastructure in place and be able to feed their families. That's the kinds of things that's being done to the people on the Coast of Labrador costing $25 million a year of taxpayers money.

I think it's time that we put that $25 million a year into a project like building the road along the Coast of Labrador because the road from Red Bay to Charlottetown and from Churchill Falls to Goose Bay, which would then take out 80 per cent of the required need for Marine Atlantic to go and service, would cost about $130 million. So you take it, just in ten short years not only would the people of Canada save $120 million just in one equation alone, Marine Atlantic subsidy would be cut back and we would be saving the taxpayers money. That's the challenge that's before us in this Province today.

Look at where we're spending our money and take that money and direct it to the best places to get the biggest bang for the buck. That particular equation is being lost on the Province, Mr. Speaker, and I hope that we'll be able to get it back on the rails now because these people do not deserve to have been told and to have listened to members opposite get up all the time and say that my last road is not paved or my ferry doesn't come five times a day now instead of four. We don't deserve that. We need to make sure that our needs are being addressed and we do it on a basis of solid economics. We don't need anybody's gratitude. We don't need anybody's pity. We don't need anybody to come to us and say that you're down there and be forgotten. We need somebody to come to us and say that we have a solid economic proposal and we're going to take you seriously.

I look to the leadership in this hon. House on both sides, to take this issue and do something meaningful about it and I know that the Premier and the Prime Minister are doing that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. DUMARESQUE: - and I congratulate both of them for doing so but, Mr. Speaker, it must not be lost on this House, that this is reality in this Province, especially from my perspective.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased today to rise and say a few words on the Government Services Estimates Committee. Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to have the opportunity to serve on that committee again this year and of course the committee deals with the Public Service Commission, Works, Services and Transportation, Employment and Labour Relations, Municipal and Provincial Affairs and Finance.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I had, for logistics, to trade places with the Member for Humber East who filled in for me in Works, Services and Transportation and I've been in on Environment and Lands. I heard the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation say today that there wasn't one question asked of him of the sub-heads. Well it was too bad that I wasn't at that meeting, Mr. Speaker, because I'm sure he would have had a number of questions from me on the sub-heads and I'm sure the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs can attest to that because I pretty well stuck to the sub-heads and the details of the estimates. I found out last year that you can get a fair bit of information through that system if you stick to actually what was budgeted, what was spent and what was budgeted for the upcoming year, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have to agree with the Member for Bonavista South, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations seemed to know his department really well. I had a lot of questions for him and I thought that his staff would have to answer the questions but he answered all the questions. The only problem was that he was a bit long-winded and he took up a fair bit of time but he seems to know his department really well. Also, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs had a lot of questions on him on detail directed to the minister and he seemed to know his department fairly well also.

Mr. Speaker, at this point in time I would like to compliment also the chairman of the committee, the Member for Trinity North. I thought he did a good job. He certainly gave me a lot of leeway on occasion to ask a lot of questions. I probably went over the time limit but I thank him for that. I'd like to thank the co-chair, the Member for Bonavista South and all the people on the committee.

AN HON. MEMBER: Superb job.

MR. J. BYRNE: Superb job, yes.

The Member for Harbour Grace, the Member for St. John's North, the Member for Pleasantville, and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, of course, I thought we got along fairly well. We asked a lot of questions and worked fairly well.

Mr. Speaker, I take serving on this Government Services Committee very seriously, and I look upon it as a very important job. Along that line I am usually prepared, and I review the estimates before I go the meetings and prepare my questions. As I said earlier, I normally ask a lot of questions. I get into the detail, and I learn a lot. I find you learn a lot if you are prepared.

As I said earlier, I stuck to the sub-heads, and one thing I dug out, and the minister tried to skate around this - at least she appeared to try to skate around it - or actually didn't know the answer, and that was the situation with the relocation expenses for the former minister, Mr. Kelland.

AN HON. MEMBER: Have they tabled those documents yet?

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what I am getting to now. I am getting into the tabling of the documents.

The minister skated around, as I said, or didn't know the answer, so I asked the question in the House about what the extra funding was for, the $10,000. When I asked the question, of course, the Premier looked at the Minister of Finance; the Minister of Finance looked at the Premier; the Premier looked at the Minister of Environment and Lands, back and forth for a minute or so, and finally the Minister of Finance got up and answered the question, which he couldn't answer, of course, and that was the $10,000 for the relocation expenses of the former minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is nothing new, sure.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, that is nothing new, not at all, not from what we can find out.

I asked the minister to table certain information. I asked that three weeks ago, and I have asked on a number of occasions since then, privately, and I am still awaiting the information. I have not received that information yet.

Now he did table some information, of course, and what he tabled was the guidelines for the Public Service Commission relocation procedures. From what I can gather, these procedures do not cover the expenses, or relocation expenses in this particular situation, for a minister.

When the Minister of Finance gave his answer to that question, he said that it took a Minute in Council, that is Cabinet, to approve it, which I asked for that to be tabled and it has not been tabled. He also referred, in his answer, that he had to refer to the Department of Justice. Now if he had to refer to the Department of Justice for approval, I have to ask the question: Why did he have to go to the Department of Justice? It would certainly be out of the ordinary if that was the case.

I asked for a copy, as I said, of the Minute in Council. I also asked for a list of the previous ministers who used the policy to obtain relocation expenses.

Now the relocation procedures that were tabled in the House for the Public Service Commission relocation procedures requires claims for expenses to be issued in accordance with approval. It also requires receipts be issued for the travelling expenses, and any documentation.

Mr. Speaker, I have been waiting three weeks for that information, and I have to wonder why it is not being presented. Is it because the Public Service Commission relocation procedures were implemented to cover the expenses of ministers done in this administration? The Minister of Finance certainly tried to give the impression that it was a normal procedure over the years to use these relocation expense procedures, but we still have not seen the Minute in Council, and I hope we will see that in the near future.

Also, Mr. Speaker, at the committee hearings at municipal affairs, I asked the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and his staff that work for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, to submit to me a copy of a list of the contractors who are used by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to do renovations and repairs to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing buildings and houses.

I also asked for a breakdown on the contracts that were issued to these individuals or to the contractors that have done work for the minister over the past year. I have yet to receive that. That must be certainly maybe - must be close to a month ago probably, Mr. Speaker.

When I ask for this information I don't ask for it lightly. I have reasons for asking for the information. It is too bad the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is not here in the House at this point in time now because maybe he has forgotten about it, or for some particular reason he does not want to deliver that information to me. I am still waiting on that information.

As I went through the estimates I saw a lot of changes in what was budgeted last year and what was spent in various departments, in particular in some of the ministers' offices. I referred to that at the point in time. A lot of it was to do with salaries. One in particular was - and this is not really related to the Government Services - but I've asked this question with respect to Environment and Lands, and that is the number of people who have been hired on, or budgeted for, to be hired on with respect to the ATV regulations for the enforcement and the applications to be dealt with. The budget has been there and from what I can gather those people have yet to be hired. I was certainly left with the impression that they were hired but I've recently found out that those people are not hired. There has been an ongoing concern with that.

I don't have a lot more to say at this point in time with respect to the Government Services estimates Committee other than to probably encourage the ministers to provide the information that I requested during the Committee hearings and in this House, the information that I dug up going through these estimates. With that I will pretty well conclude. I think there is only a minute or so left anyway. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the time.

MR. HEWLETT: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay on a point of order.

MR. HEWLETT: Yes, Mr. Speaker. In an exchange between myself and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation earlier in this debate the minister indicated that I hadn't made requests of his department for road work in Green Bay. I want to indicate that ministers Gover and Gilbert certainly requested road priorities from me when they were in the office of minister and I have provided many letters which are on file in the department indicating the roads priorities for Green Bay. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order. The hon. member was just using the opportunity to clarify a situation.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I take this opportunity to participate in the concurrence debate as it relates to the Government Services Committee. I want to be on record as saying a few things as a result of the work of the Committee that I was fortunate enough to be a participant in.

I certainly want to recognize the competency and the capability of the chairman of the Committee, my colleague for Trinity North. One of the members opposite in speaking a few minutes ago referred to him as being a lenient individual. I would rather classify him as being a competent individual who exercises the power of the chair with great discretion and does it with great fairness. I also want to take the opportunity to commend the members of the Committee from the other side of the House, the Members for Bonavista South and for St. John's East Extern. I found in working with these two individuals that they were fair-minded. They were gratuitous toward the ministers when it was appropriate. They asked the difficult questions when the question seemed to have some substance and to have some value in being asked. All in all, working with them was a pleasant experience and I look forward to working with them again in the future.

There were drop-ins to the Committee's work, of course, and one of the drop-ins who sat in on one of the Committees was my friend, my colleague for Humber East, I guess. That would be the correct District, Humber East? I must say, she gave me a quick lesson in terms of what is happening in the Pasadena area and with respect to the road that is to be constructed out there, and the routing and the re-routing and the alternate routes and the relative merits of each of the arguments as put forward by her, I must say, on the surface, sometimes they seem to be reasonable, but her reasonableness in Committee stage - she seems to lose all perspective when she gets in the big forum in the House. Consequently, I still have to defer to the judgement of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I would have to defer to his judgement in terms of the road route in Pasadena, because being rather a novice in politics, nevertheless, I do sense from time to time, a little bit of politics being played by the Member for Humber East and I don't think that should be the overriding factor in her discussion about this route.

I seem to recall just from driving through that part of the Province on some occasions, that there has been a fair bit of money spent on the West Coast on highway construction and yet there seems to be never enough to satisfy the insatiable demands politically of the Member for Corner Brook East, or Humber East.

MR. EFFORD: Humber East.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: So I would suggest, if a suggestion has any value at all, that the Member for Humber East say, for once in her life, a little word of gratitude to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and to this government, in general, for the more than fairness and balance that is being exercised in terms of dispensing transportation highway dollars in her area and in other parts of the Province. I am sure that the member is not as narrow-sighted politically and is not as blind to what is fairness and balance as she indicates sometimes when she speaks. I trust that I will have other occasions to sit close to her in Committee stage, and I hope I can convey to her a little bit of what I believe is right and proper, having heard her and having said very little; because I gave her more than equal time, being the lady that she is, and being the knowledgeable person that she is, I wanted to hear her. I did as the House Leader says sometimes, I wanted to contain my soul in silence and learn what I could.

The work of the Committee was most interesting and I want to comment on two or three or four of the departments as time permits.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: No, the roads are not paved, Mr. Speaker, in my district, but I don't intend to become political about it. I know that, in time, between the city and between the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, there will be funds provided to pave every square inch of road in my district that is not paved today. Now, we do have mostly all paved roads in our district and so I don't have a lot of complaints about anything. Rather, I want to offer words of commendation. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, as I have said, of all the things that he might be able to be accused of, I don't think you could ever accuse him of being overly political in the exercising of the duties of his department. He is not that type of person. He would never, never stoop to politics above practicality. He would never play politics above giving people what is fair and what is due to them. So I think the people on the other side should understand that their criticism of the hon. minister is sometimes totally out of context or out of character for the man that he is.

I was interested in the work being done and the comments that were put forward also by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the minister who is responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, and in all fairness, I would have to say that Minister Reid, the hon. the Member for Carbonear, for my money, is a capable, competent individual who deals with problems expeditiously and responds to requests in a very timely fashion. In my district I have about 874 public housing units and I want to commend the department for the way in which they exercise their mandate in the area of social housing, and certainly commend the minister, who is the leader and shining light in terms of seeing that Newfoundland and Labrador Housing does a good job in the area for which it is responsible. With 874 public housing units in the district, I can say that the number of complaints I get, the number of problems that they generate, are relatively small, and those that do come to the surface are dealt with in a timely, fair, balanced and compassionate fashion.

AN HON. MEMBER: I must get them all, do I?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I am not sure if the hon. the Member for Port au Port gets them all or not, but I don't think he gets any from my area.

I would like to be on record as saying, that while Newfoundland and Labrador Housing has a very significant public policy reason for existing, and that is to provide social housing where it is needed in the Province, I do believe that there are functions of that corporation that probably could be looked at in the context of the overall agenda of this government in terms of removing from the operations of government those services and those things that could be done better by the private sector. So I would suggest that Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is probably a prime area where we could look at getting some government services returned to the private sector where heretofore they were, and where properly they belong.

There is a place for government to be involved in certain areas of housing, but it is limited, I would suggest, to the areas where social needs exist and where social policy is being fulfilled for the greater good of the people of the Province. I support what they are doing in that area, but I also support the concept of getting them out of land development and that sort of thing, as soon as we can do so.

The Department of Finance also fell under the work of the Committee that I sat on, and I also want to say how pleased I was with the approach that the Minister of Finance took with respect to the tobacco tax issue.

While Provincial Governments and Ministers of Finance across the country were capitulating, and giving in, rather than fight the criminal element in society, they were giving in to them by means of lowering taxes and backing off in that area, I felt that our approach as a government was the right one, and that was no pun intended, a stand pat approach - an approach that said, we will not defer to those who want to make a quick buck -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: - but we would defer, rather, to the system of tax collection.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in my guest appearance at the Government Services Estimates Committee I had an opportunity to question the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation about his plan for the Pasadena four-lane highway.

I did have some private conversation with my seat mate, the Member for St. John's North, and he indeed did seem to see the sense of my position, and the position of the residents of Pasadena, but when he is on his feet speaking to the whole House, trying to impress the Cabinet Ministers, and hoping that the Premier is listening on the intercom, he can't admit that indeed what I was saying makes sense.

Mr. Speaker, some members of the House are familiar with the town of Pasadena. It is a town of 3,500 people in the beautiful Humber Valley, on the shores of Deer Lake. It is situated on flat, sandy, fertile soil. The present highway bisects the town. The town grew enormously in the 1970s, after that highway was built. Now, the Provincial Government, with Federal Government funding from the Roads for Rail Agreement, has embarked on four-laning the Trans-Canada Highway throughout the Humber Valley, all the way from Massey Drive in the west to Deer Lake in the east.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Works, Services and Transportation has started at the western end, and is nearing completion of the section between Massey Drive and Steady Brook. The work done in the Corner Brook area is extremely disappointing. For any of you who have visited Corner Brook in the last few months, since the new stretch of highway was opened before Christmas, you will realize that the money spent was misspent, basically. It is hard to believe, in this day and age, that with unlimited money, years to plan, and presumably the best of engineering expertise, such a mess would have been carried out. It is very regrettable.

The purpose of the four-lane divided highway in the Humber Valley was supposed to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety. The new four-lane divided highway through Corner Brook actually has resulted in greater safety risks than the old arrangement. Of course, the old highway remains and now falls within the responsibility of the City of Corner Brook, and the intersection formed by the old highway, the Lewin Parkway, Maple Valley Road, and the ramp to the new highway is extremely dangerous and confusing.

The new highway is so bad that this winter, woods trucks on the way to the mill in Corner Brook actually couldn't make the grade up to the Lewin Parkway exit. The minister did make a special arrangement to open a stretch of the old highway, and I gather that will be upgraded and will be a part of the road network. So the expensive, new four-lane divided highway wasn't even useable in winter conditions, and more money is having to be spent now to adapt the situation, basically, to make the best out of a very bad situation.

Not only is the new arrangement less safe than the old arrangement, not only is the new highway not even passable in slippery winter conditions, but it has created an eyesore. There is a scar across the forehead of Corner Brook.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible). Everything is an eyesore!

MS. VERGE: Last fall, I appealed to the minister's gentler and kinder self. I tried to use praise. I tried to use a positive approach and give him credit for being a strong minister, an innovative minister, a take-charge minister, and the minister basically deluded me into thinking he was going to co-operate with me and some of the business people and private citizens in Corner Brook, and the City Council of Corner Brook to landscape the banks adjacent to the new highway, the rocky, bare, barren, ugly banks, the rock wall.

Remember, we joked about how, if the minister employed the landscape designers and gardeners at his disposal, the experts at Pippy Park, and created a beautiful bank in Maple Valley, planting ground cover, flowers, shrubs, and trees, then perhaps the next generation in Corner Brook would remember John Efford with fondness, would remember him as the creative, imaginative minister who wasn't content to leave the ugly, bare, barren, rocky wall in Maple Valley but who was creative in beautifying it and maybe in years to come we would, in Corner Brook, dedicate that garden and call it the John Efford Memorial Wall or the John Efford Memorial Garden.

Mr. Speaker, the minister told me that he was going to come to Corner Brook in the winter and he and I would have lunch with a committee of citizens interested in the beautification project and I was eagerly awaiting this luncheon meeting but, Mr. Speaker, the minister basically stood me up. I'm still waiting for the minister to come to Corner Brook and have a luncheon meeting with me and the other citizens of Corner Brook who want to work with the minister to beautify and to restore the natural beauty of Maple Valley. Maple Valley was named for trees. The trees are now gone. The maples are gone, the balsam are gone, the pine are gone. What we have instead is a barren rock wall leading down from the new highway.

Mr. Speaker, the same minister and the same department are now moving east and beware. They are about to four-lane the highway between Steady Brook and the eastern end of Little Rapids and I know the Member for St. George's is interested in this because of his appreciation of agriculture. The minister's plan for the four-lane divided highway through Little Rapids involves taking land away from Hammond farm. Taking some of the scarce agricultural land in the Humber Valley.

Then, as the highway reaches the eastern limit of Little Rapids, instead of having it swing back to the existing corridor on the southside of Rapid Pond, because the minister's chief highway designer wants the fill of Strawberry Hill, the minister is going to have the new four-lane divided highway take more farmland and even take Strawberry Hill. The beautiful tree covered Strawberry Hill is going to be gutted and removed for what purpose? For fill. Mr. Speaker, the minister and his staff -I can't call them designers - are going to have two interchanges in Little Rapids, in the beautiful Humber Valley, and do you know what? They are going to be culvert interchanges.


MS. VERGE: There is an ugly culvert interchange now in front of the cement plant in Corner Brook. How ironic. They didn't make this overpass out of cement, in front of the cement plant, they made it out of an ugly, steel culvert, and there are going to be two more ugly, steel culvert interchanges along the Trans-Canada Highway in the beautiful Humber Valley at Little Rapids.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues, for showing me your support. I am very glad to have the opportunity to enter this debate and say a few words.

Although I wasn't a member of this committee, I am very keenly interested in the operations of the various departments that come under the auspices of this committee, as far as the budget review process is concerned.

My comments are going to be, surprisingly enough probably, more related to the area of finance - finance in the department, in the government and the Province. Before I go into that, I want to commend the Minister of Finance for the great job that he is doing under those very difficult times. No lesser a man could do what he is doing for this Province, and I commend him highly.

When I mentioned finance, I know it is interesting; you must be wondering why. I want to now zero in on the reason why, and that is the contribution to the Province and financial strength of the Province through preventative health care.

Do you know, hon. members and Mr. Speaker, that a study was recently carried out in the United States that clearly showed that about 75 per cent of the cases that a general practitioner sees in his office on a daily basis, the cases and problems are nutrition and food related; nutrition and food related.

Canada has the same record I can assure you, although probably a little more of a problem in Canada and especially in Newfoundland as a result of obesity. Many of the problems that I am talking about, I want to just mention a few that are costing us millions and millions of dollars per year and for instance, osteoporosis, a very well-known nutritional problem in humans of osteoporosis which is a depletion -

AN HON. MEMBER: Spell that.

DR. HULAN: Osteoporosis.

Anyhow, osteoporosis is a condition that is brought about by calcium depletion from the bones. That is the result of a number of factors, one of which is deficiency in calcium in the diet especially in early life and also the intake of calcium and phosphorus the other element throughout life resulting in an imbalance of the two elements and the cause of the loss of a great deal of calcium in the body. Also, 50 per cent of our population suffers from this disease as you know once they clear a certain age and menopause sets in because of the hormone estrogen, so that creates an even bigger problem for those individuals.

The area of obesity is a major problem in this Province and this is caused primarily due to the over intake of energy as opposed to the expenditure of energy by the body, and associated with it also of course is lifestyle and physical activity. Of course, in the development of obesity there is a genetic factor as well and the genetic factor can be largely controlled, largely controlled, Mr. Speaker, and hon. members through proper nutrition and diet.

Dietary regimes early in life are primarily responsible for most of the obesity in our society today and the reason why that is, is that you were born with a certain number of fat cells in your body and if the improper nutrition is carried out in early life, those fats cells will grow to a large size and you will end up a later time in life having a real weight problem and obesity problem. That can be controlled again through nutrition and diet.

The real troublesome problem of arthritis in our society today. There are two different types of arthritis. One type is viral arthritis and the other arthritis problem is more of lifestyle and nutrition related arthritis.

I am having difficulty hearing myself speak at this time in the chamber, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your audience just arrived.

AN HON. MEMBER: I was here.

DR. HULAN: Two of the audience are here anyhow.

Arthritis, Mr. Speaker, and hon. members, can be controlled through proper nutrition and diet as it results from the intake of improper mineral balance in the diet, and it is also greatly caused by an improper intake of large amounts of certain types of fat. In the past I have spoken to you of the benefits of fish oil. One of the great benefits of fish oil and those compounds I have talked about in seal blubber, and fish oil here in our great Province of Newfoundland, is they contain compounds that are beneficial in reducing the incidence of diet related, lifestyle related arthritis diseases.

The other area that is of significance to mention here is the effect of nutrition and diet on cancer. There are many forms of cancer that we know are related to diet and nutrition. Stomach cancer, for instance, is the result of increased intake of nitrosamines and nitrates in bacon, ham, and processed meat. The common table salt, because of the increase in table salt we know that sodium is a very potent carcinogen in the stomach, sodium, part of NACL, part of common salt you salt the fish with, the salt beef with, and in potato chips which people in this Province eat too many of, in french fries which are loaded with fat. I will talk about fat later. Then they pour the salt on the fat making a bad situation worse as far as health is concerned.

The other area is dietary fibre, good dietary fibre. We know that about 60 per cent of all colon cancers are the result of the fibre intake in the diet. Well, the best of types of fibre you can consume are cabbage fibre, at the top if the list, beet fibre at the top of the list, carrot fibre, and with carrots you have a double effect here because carrots are high in Vitamin A which is the result of its high level of beta carotene, and we have just heard, and the world is now hearing, that beta carotene is an anti-cancer compound.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that raw, now, or cooked?

DR. HULAN: Both cooked and raw, but you get more of it if it is cooked.

Then I want to talk about diabetes. Now I notice my good friend, the hon. Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, is gone, but diabetes in this Province is becoming a major, major problem for people who are in the age - older than me - in the age of forty to fifty-five. I will tell you, our society in the last twenty-five, thirty, forty years, we are the largest consumers - in fact, we consume about 70 per cent of all canned milk that is produced in Canada. We consume about 70 per cent of all canned milk that is produced in Canada - in Canada.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

DR. HULAN: About 70 per cent of all canned milk produced -

AN HON. MEMBER: Seventeen?

DR. HULAN: Seventy - 70 per cent of all the canned milk produced in Canada is consumed here in Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: And what do they use everywhere else?

DR. HULAN: Fresh milk, fluid milk, fresh fluid milk which the dairy farmers of this Province could provide to all the Newfoundland people if they were just encouraged to do so - and I don't say financed to do so; I say encouraged to do so.

Can milk is probably one of the most non-nutritious, malnutritious, undernutritious products to consume, because it is -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

DR. HULAN: If I could just finish.

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

DR. HULAN: Can milk contains an exceedingly high level of fat because it is produced through a concentration process. It contains a higher level of sodium than you should take in, as a result of the concentration process, and to it is added sugar, and to the young baby it is probably the worst thing you can offer as far as nutrition is concerned, as far as increasing these fat cells and developing a situation later in life for many of them where the onset early nutritional controlled diabetes will set in; we know that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are we using it (inaudible)?

DR. HULAN: No, fortunately now we are getting away from it, but still, out in the countryside we still have women who will feed their babies canned milk.

AN HON. MEMBER: You say there is sugar in canned milk?

DR. HULAN: Sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: You said there was sugar in canned milk.

DR. HULAN: There is sugar. Not only is there lactose in cow's milk, in goat's milk, in beets milk, in human milk, the milk sugar, lactose. As a result of the concentration of the product that increases because as you take out water you increase the lactose percentage but they also add sugar to it. Have you ever tasted the sweetness of can milk?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, it's terrible.

DR. HULAN: I can't tell you how much but there is sugar added. So it's probably one of the most malnourished products that you can take into the human body and we don't need to do that in this Province. In about eight short years the dairy farmers of this Province - and it's funny how I always bring in agriculture even into finance - but the diary farmers of this Province increased the consumption of fluid milk from 50 per cent to 100 per cent but we're still only consuming around 55 per cent of what is consumed in the national average. We got a long ways to go. We've got the capability to produce such an excellent nutritious food right here on the island and to go into further processing as we are now starting on the West Coast into developing cheese and so on and so forth, all the diary farmers are asking for is direction and encouragement.

AN HON. MEMBER: Cheese is fattening isn't it?

DR. HULAN: Now, why did I bring this into finance? Well the largest expenditure of our dollars here in this Province is in the area of health care followed by education. We must immediately take action through the agri/aqua-food industries and institute preventative health care through proper nutrition and food. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


May 19, 1994               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLII  No. 45A

[Continuation of sitting]

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I didn't mean to interrupt my good friend from Harbour Grace. I look forward to him speaking again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, and that's why I don't mind listening to a good fellow like you either, this is a mutual admiration club.

MR. SULLIVAN: He didn't say Port de Grave now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no. We'd like to welcome back to the Chamber the - yes the turtle. He's out of his shell again today. The Member for Port de Grave, he's out of his shell. The Premier is on the eighth floor and he comes out of his shell. When the Premier comes in the Legislature he goes back in the shell, it's amazing. I told him, I think it was yesterday, I said you must be a split personality but he looks very good there, yes I must say and he's as ambitious to be there to. He has ambition to - pardon?

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no, no. He's like -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well you can't be any worst than you are you know.

I want to make a few remarks to the Member for St. George's. The Member for St. George's who just gave an excellent speech. I have to tell him, anytime he gets in his place and speaks on nutrition and value of different foods, he gives an excellent speech. I always make a point of listening to him, I say to the Member for Port de Grave. I always listen to him because he has a very, very great knowledge of nutrition and it's interesting to hear him talk about fibre, cancer, colon cancer and things like that.

Well while he was speaking I was thinking to myself there's one or two places that the Premier should put him -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no. He'd make an excellent Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, he would. I think he would enhance the agriculture industry in this Province, I say that sincerely or even the Department of Health. He'd make an excellent minister of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I hope the Premier is listening because the sooner he brings him to the front benches of the government, the better off this Province will be.

MR. SULLIVAN: At least he knows what he's talking about.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, he well knows and it's obvious that he's interested in that particular area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't know where this came from but it's a question on a biology test at MUN. It's a question on a biology test at Memorial University; why is breast feeding better than using canned milk? There are three reasons answered from a young student; high in protein, it comes in two containers and hard for the cat to get at. I don't know who sent that over to me but - I don't know but that's very good. Whoever sent it over, that's very, very good. In front of the head of the class, yes right up but since I got that note, I'm not sure who sent it but I have suspicions.

I've been wanting to tell this little story now for the last week or so that was told to me by - I won't say who told me but - and I hope the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation takes it in the right light. I hope he doesn't get offended because it's about him. Only the other day the minister was up talking about dialects and how we all speak differently and of course the other ministers know the dialects and how we all speak differently, and of course the minister is noted for his.

He got up this morning dressed in his best suit and his best shirt and tie, dressed to the nines, and his good wife looked at him and she said: My God, John, where are you going this morning all dressed up like you are? You're supposed to be going down to the hospital for a vasectomy. He said: Oh yes, Madonna, I know, but the doctor told me I was going to be impotent so I'm going to look `impotent.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is the story about my good friend from Port de Grave. He took it in good (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, maybe, but I thought it was - when this particular person told me I would say I had a great laugh, such as the minister is doing now. I could just imagine him saying that, dressed up.

What I say, Mr. Speaker, just a few comments. The minister has been up on his feet over there today talking about his department and there have been concerns raised by members opposite. Very legitimate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes they were, because what we were talking about here was depots being closed, and then workers transporting to areas further away, and to depots further away, and being paid and expenses and all this stuff. Really what the members were saying is that in the long run perhaps there wasn't any money saved in a lot of those cases where you closed down the depots.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) summertime costs are low.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, costs are low in the summertime, that is right. That is what they were saying to you with regards to the road conditions and salt and sand. We all experience that at times. The minister knows. He drives the highway a lot as well as the rest of us. Now I wouldn't go so far as to exaggerate like the Member for Burin - Placentia West who said he ran up on a boulder on the Burin Peninsula. He said there were boulders in the sand. But we do experience it a lot and as a matter of fact I talked to a couple of people from insurance companies who said this winter was the worst on record for windshield damage and so on.

MR. SULLIVAN: Is that because of the new minister?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't know. I don't think it is the new minister.

MS. VERGE: There is only one thing that has changed there, he told me.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What was that?

MS. VERGE: The minister.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Only one thing changed was the minister.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh well. Well maybe he is responsible for the big rocks. It is supposed to be sifted. It is supposed to be sifted, that is what I can't understand. Because if all the depots across the Province, all the material going into them was - the screens were standardized, then how can it be so different?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That could very well be, but I can tell the minister this. Whether there are bigger rocks put in Tory districts I don't know, but from the time I leave here to drive home to the Burin Peninsula or come back I can tell you where the depot's responsibility ends and another one picks it up. I really can. All of them don't do the same work. The highways are snow covered some times for a number of miles that a depot covers, and then you run straight on to perfectly bare pavement. I marvel at it. I say: How can it be? Because if they all did the same work, they all have the same equipment, they all have the same shifts, but you can tell the difference in the road depending on which depot does it. I can't understand that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I'm too young to be cynical. It has nothing to do with being cynical. It has to do with driving the highway and driving on a bare stretch of pavement, I say to the minister, and then suddenly you are on to a snow covered pavement because the jurisdiction of one depot ends and another one takes over. That is my point. It is not being cynical, it is fact. I drive every week in the wintertime and I notice. I can tell where this one ends and another one takes over.

I don't know if all of them do the same supervision or if the foremen go out and check the roads and don't get their crews out early enough or soon enough or don't apply salt early enough or what it is, but there is a big difference. I'm sure for members who drive - I'm not the only one who drives here. That is a concern the minister, if he is sincere about safe driving conditions in the winter, he should look into and ask why, and send some people out to spot check. Because it is a concern. I tell you, it is a serious concern so I hope the minister will take his job seriously; take your job seriously next winter and ask some people unannounced, to go out and check the conditions of the roads in certain areas and you will see where one ends and another one starts; I am telling you, you have no trouble detecting it at all, so do that; make that commitment to the House for next winter, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: If he is still there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: If he is still there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, he might not be there, he might be moved to another portfolio, you know that could very well be. He has eyes on other portfolios but I don't think the Premier will ever put him there you know. He will never be there, I don't think - where he wants to go, he will never get there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: He will never get into Fisheries.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He should though. For any man who has turned into a jellyfish I think he should be the Minister of Fisheries. Any man who has turned into a jellyfish in this House should be appointed Minister of Fisheries. Yes, and I wish the Member for Eagle River would stop applauding so loudly. I am only joking with both the minister and the Member for Eagle River.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Harbour Grace.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRANE: Well I wouldn't take much time but I tell you, I never thought I would have to stand up listening to the rhetoric and the garbage that is going on this evening, I figured I couldn't let it go.

First of all, being a member of the committee was a great pleasure. It is five years I have been on the committee and it is the first year that I have been rid of some of the people with whom I worked for the four years and it is a real pleasure to be clear of them I can tell you.


MR. CRANE: I am not mentioning any names but we did have a very good committee this year. We worked with and enjoyed the committee; a committee that didn't use politics when questioning the ministers and didn't spend hours questioning them on politics. That was something that I have not been used to since I came here working with some of the people I worked with before.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name them.

MR. CRANE: No, I wouldn't name them, no.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) he doesn't mean the Member for (inaudible).

MR. CRANE: Well one of the members on this was the Member for Humber East, I mean, who wouldn't miss the Member for Humber East for various reasons, more than I stated, right? Certainly, congratulations to the ministers who explained and answered questions very well, but listening to some of the criticisms of the ministers this evening, especially from the Member for St. Mary's -The Capes because he didn't get any paving. How could he get any paving when every lane and every path up there is paved long before he came in here?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) before he was born?

MR. CRANE: Before he was born it was paved up there; Dr. McGrath paved them so how could you ever expect to have paving from this minister, but what really flabbergasted me was the Member for St. John's North, getting up and pouring laurels on the Member for Humber East saying how co-operative she was. Well, I think he should take a pill because there is something radically wrong with him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRANE: Any time, since I have been here in the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Give him some Omega 3.

MR. CRANE: Oh, omega-3! Omega-3 fatty acids will do nothing for him, nothing in the world. If I see the Member for Humber East stand up here once and even co-operate with her own side, that itself will amaze me. She complains about all the rocks around Massey Drive; the only thing I would complain about out around Massey Drive is that she is getting too much money for out there, and we are not getting enough; but, I don't know, there is something going on between the minister and the Member for Humber East that - I can't see what it is, but she seems to be getting more than her share of money.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRANE: The only suggestion I figure might please her is to cover up all those rocks and that. Pippy Park will move out there maybe? I'd put it out there in Maple Valley and I think it would do a great job out there. So maybe if you get after the minister in the right way you'll get Pippy Park moved out there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRANE: I'm sure if there's a way you'd find it.

You know, take the Member for St. George's, he's the most insulting member on this side and I know he's getting back at me but the first thing he stands up and says - he's talking about health care and all this - I feel so inhibited when you're talking health care and certainly when you talk about obesity. I know he's talking to me because I might be maybe the most obese in the House. I know he's getting back at me because I sat him down the other night but I can assure you I'll have the opportunity again and I'll do it again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRANE: I'd like to congratulate the member on his speech, if I knew what he was talking about, but he loses me when he gets to number three fatty acids and I don't know what good that is but it might do some good for your lawns out there. The Member for Humber East, if you get some of that out on the Holiday Hill, Green Hill or whatever it is out there, it might really do something fantastic for your lawns. I suggest you go with the Member for St. George's, get together with him and you could come up with something that would really make the grass grow.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CRANE: Yes, get the two of them together, yes.

Mr. Speaker, speaking on the committees, I would like to say thanks to all who've worked on the committees with us and I hope we're here again when the committees are put together again. I hope somebody wouldn't make the mistake and break up this committee because it's so cooperative I wouldn't want to be away from it.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Well after that fine speech I'm sure the House is now ready for the question? No, I'm sorry.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, no, no.

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak -

AN HON. MEMBER: It's going to be hard following John.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, it certainly is going to be hard - very difficult to follow the last two or three speakers. They were very enjoyable but I thought I'd like to get the discussion back to what we're supposed to be talking about here, the government services. I just want to have a few comments with regard to a particular department that I have some interest in and I have the interest in it because a lot of the citizens in my district, a lot of the residents of Western Labrador have an interest in the Works, Services and Transportation Department.

MR. EFFORD: You do?

MR. A. SNOW: Oh we certainly do.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it was with a lot of interest that I listened to the Opposition House Leader when he was speaking about the difference in the maintenance on the highways on the island portion of the Province, when you go from one zone into another zone, different depots, the quality of work that's being done on a particular section of the highway and how they differ. How you can tell the difference when you're going from one zone into another zone.

Mr. Speaker, I guess you could have a similar type of comparison to the type of maintenance being done on the highways in Labrador, and the Quebec portion of Labrador. We both have similar types of highways in each Province, and I would ask the minister to make a note of a couple of questions that I do have. I would like it if the minister could get me the amount of money that's being spent on winter maintenance on the Trans-Labrador Highway in different sections, the one from CF(L)Co. I'm sure he is familiar with how it's broken down. CF(L)Co does from Churchill over to Western Labrador, the Lab City/Wabush area. Actually, they come down as far as Ashuanipi Bridge, it's called, or Emeril - they come to Emeril Junction, I think it's called - and from there, then, up it's maintained by a private contractor.

Mr. Speaker, then from Churchill Falls going east to Happy Valley - Goose Bay, that's being maintained again by private contractor, and I would like to know how much money is being spent and how the contract is being supervised, that type of thing, how much is being spent each month, and how the figures are arrived at. So if he could just make note of that maybe he can give me the answers, because it's the only section of highway in the Province, in my understanding, that the maintenance is done in this particular manner.

The road from Churchill Falls down to Happy Valley - Goose Bay, has been closed more times - several times this winter - because the budgetary allotment for winter maintenance on that highway isn't the same as it is on highways here on the Island portion of the Province. Nobody in Grand Falls worries, if you get a heavy snowfall at the end of the month, whether or not the road is going to be maintained to Gander. They know that the road may be closed for a few hours, not several days or a week.

Mr. Speaker, the Province of Quebec maintains a similar type of road for a couple of hundred kilometres in their Province, and it's very seldom closed. It's a similar type of highway. It was built from Mount Wright - a portion of the highway which is about 100 kilometres - from Fire Lake to Fairmount, Quebec. It is a road, actually, that was built through volunteer efforts during a work stoppage, a strike, on the Quebec North Shore and in Labrador back in the seventies. The company donated the equipment. This is when there was a town site in Gagnon, a mine in Fire Lake, and also a town site with a mine being developed in Mount Wright.

Mr. Speaker, the strikers donated their labour, the mining company donated their equipment, and they ended up with a highway so they could go back and forth visiting the families. Everybody on the Quebec North Shore and in Labrador were on strike, but that's the type of co-operation that built that highway, and that road is very, very seldom closed, and it's a similar type of construction that's in this Province from Churchill down.

I understand, and everybody in Labrador understands, the problems with that particular road. It's a tote road, a winter tote road that was originally constructed for the transmission line construction, so I think that we're going to have to spend, as a government, more money on the winter maintenance because it's very important; it lessens the cost of doing business for people living especially in Happy Valley - Goose Bay.

Communication is one of the most important facets or structures that is necessary for an economy to properly develop, and part of communications is transportation, and in the transportation in Labrador I have become more and more aware of the importance of transportation in and out of Labrador. We could have had a lot more economic development in Western Labrador if there had been better communications in and out of Western Labrador to the highway network of North America. There would have been a lot more economic development.

I firmly believe, as I heard the Member for Eagle River suggest earlier today, while he was speaking in this particular debate about the importance of highways down in his district, in the coastal region of Labrador and how he looks forward to the opening up of that particular region of Labrador - but speaking with reference to my district, Mr. Speaker, and Central Labrador, there's a tremendous potential of economic development which has been, I think, the biggest failure - not of just this administration but previous administrations - and development of Labrador was the lack of a commitment - and making the improvement of a transportation system in Labrador a commitment and a priority of the particular government. It wasn't there before and it isn't there now.

Now the minister says it is but recently, Mr. Speaker, when the federal government announced $10 million this government did not commit any matching funds with it. That's not a commitment. You mouth the words but you don't have the commitment. That road is necessary for a better economic development for Eastern Labrador then any other thing we could be doing here, that highway. Not only Eastern Labrador but specifically for Eastern Labrador because it can not only improve the lifestyle, the quality of life for the people living there and a greater opportunity for them to do more business, more economic activity -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: A personal interest? Yes I have a personal interest in the development of a better, sounder, richer quality of life and a richer -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, not a conflict whatsoever - to have a better quality of life for people living in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, in my district and also down in Naskaupi district because it's cheaper for them to have a product shipped in on tires weekly or even daily. We can get freight out of Montreal now in twenty hours to Western Labrador. So if you put out sixteen hours there's no inventory costs. Two years ago in Central Labrador they had to inventory groceries for up to six and eight months. That's the cost. The business first of all bears the capital cost of having to pay for it but the consumer ultimately ends up having to pay for it because the business has to recover that cost and the only way the business can recover the cost of inventory - an extended inventory because he has to store up to six or eight months - is by charging it to the consumer. Now that's exactly what happens. So we improved the economic life of the consumer. We improved the quality of life because it's better socially for individuals to be able to drive out rather than having to fly. There's a greater interaction with other people in the country, Mr. Speaker, and it also provides a tremendous opportunity for the development of tourism.

The rubber tire tourist, Mr. Speaker, is a tourist that we've been attempting to attract into this Province for the last several years. We have and it's working somewhat to a degree here on the island portion of the Province. You are getting some success with the improvement of the ferry service to the island but we need more, especially in Labrador, improvement in the highway to attract more tourist because that's an economic factor, Mr. Speaker, that can and will provide opportunities for investment and opportunities for employment.

Now, the Minister responsible for Works, Services and Transportation says that he has a commitment, his government has a commitment to the further construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway, yet when the federal government announced the $10 million expenditure for a Trans-Labrador Highway construction this government would not match those funds. If they did make the accelerated construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway a priority, they would've matched the funds and indeed accelerated the construction. We could have a more improved highway, especially from Churchill Falls down to Happy Valley - Goose Bay which is about 300 kilometres.

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

MR. EFFORD: A couple of points, Mr. Speaker, I want to make.

First of all, I am going to start with the last first. I am not going to shout now.

The hon. Member for Labrador West, when he made some statements that we don't have a commitment to build the Trans-Labrador Highway; well I am going to set the record clear, that I do, as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, have the Trans-Labrador Highway, No. 1, on the list of priorities as does the government as a whole. The completion of the Trans-Labrador - not only the 90 kilometres, the $90 million required to do the present highway but also the highway right across Labrador connecting the coastal communities. Negotiations are ongoing with the federal government in Ottawa, and funding has to be arranged but it has to be a federal initiative because of the high cost, so I want to set that straight.

Secondly, this is the second time this afternoon he has made some derogatory points about Newfoundlanders. First, earlier this afternoon, he said that the teachers in Labrador were much more qualified and much better teachers than the teachers on the Island portion.


MR. EFFORD: Hold on now. Okay, let's take it to the second point, the point I am getting to; he just said now, a minute ago, that the winter maintenance on the Trans-Labrador is second to the capability of the people clearing the Quebec portion of the road. In other words, the people on the Quebec side are much better at their work than the people on the Labrador side. That's exactly what he said, and I am going to copy Hansard and send it down to each and every one of his constituents, and point out exactly what he said here in this House this afternoon. That's what he said: the roads are cleared much better on the Quebec side than they are on the Labrador side, and that means that the people on the Labrador side are not capable of doing their jobs.

MR. A. SNOW: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

The minister is again attempting to mislead this House -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

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

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is again attempting to mislead the members of this House and the people of this Province. I did not say what he is attempting to say that I did; I did not say that. I said that his particular government and his department weren't funding, they weren't funding -

MR. EFFORD: That's not what you said (inaudible).

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

MR. A. SNOW: Now, Mr. Speaker, he knows that -

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

The hon. member is taking issue with what the member said. Hansard will bear out which of you is correct.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That's the point I was going to make. I will copy Hansard with an attached letter and I will send it to the news media in Labrador and make sure that all the constituents in Labrador understand full well what the member said; so, Hansard will clearly state what he said on both issues, teachers and the workers.

Is the House ready for the question?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, having checked with the Leader of the Opposition and the information I tabled earlier today, after tabling it in the House I provided a copy to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal, and they notified me that there had been an error in terms of the table. Half the information came from the tribunal and half came from the administration department and for the record I want to make sure that the accurate information was on the record because I won't be here to do it tomorrow.


MR. GRIMES: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House now ready for the question? Does the House accept the report of the Committee?

On motion, report received and adopted.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I take it, it would probably be the wish of the House that we adjourn but before we do, I wonder if I might ask the Clerks at the table to let us know when next the House meets, how much longer we have left on the Supply process because the time -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No. I say to my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, that I am afraid he is wrong for once. It is more than eleven hours, forty minutes. It would have been eleven hours, forty minutes had we taken the full three hours on the Concurrence debate but we have not taken the full Concurrence (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, if the hon. gentleman wishes to. He has used up more time than any member (inaudible) but in any event, I am simply asking Your Honour, if the Clerks would let us know the next time we are back on the Estimates side of it, if they would let us know where we are.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Juniper stump. I say to my friend for Harbour Grace, I've been reading in the Hansard today from 1974, a debate about Juniper Stump, that a number of us... God, there's nobody left but me.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: It is not a story, Mr. Speaker, that I will -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Clyde.

MR. ROBERTS: The Premier wasn't in the House in 1974. It is not a story I should repeat in the House so I won't, but I've been looking at Hansard. It is amazing how Hansard captures some things but not others.

Mr. Speaker, bad news to the House. I will not be here tomorrow.


SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: I thought I would ruin your weekend. My colleague and friend, the Member for Gander, will be back in the -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: `Bring Back Baker!'

MR. ROBERTS: Cries of `Bring Back Baker' have been heard with approbation, led primarily by my colleagues, I would add, before somebody over here says that.

MR. CRANE: (Inaudible) Tuesday?

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Harbour Grace will be disappointed to learn I will be here Tuesday.

Anyway, tomorrow -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: I must admit, Mr. Speaker, when I see members opposite it is very tempting to stay away. You know, it reminds one of the old story: I dreamed I was having a nightmare and I woke up and I was having one, and there they were.

Mr. Speaker, we will be on the Budget tomorrow and I understand that the first speaker will come from one of my colleagues on this side, and then we will hear from others. With that said, unless anybody else has any half witticisms or otherwise that they want to put in, on either side, I will move that the House -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, it is not secret. I have to have some medical tests done tomorrow. If my hon. friend would permit, one of my colleagues said: They are going to find if you have a brain. I said: Well, it is not quite that bad, I hope. I recall a story which hon. gentlemen would enjoy, I suspect. Randolph Churchill, son of Sir Winston, once went off to the hospital to have a tumour - he had been diagnosed with a tumour. They immediately cut out a piece of the tumour, as they do, whipped it down to the pathology lab and good news came back very quickly: The tumour was benign. Mr. Churchill did not have cancer. When this story was recounted to one of his friends the answer came very quickly: How clever the British doctors are to find the one part of Randolph that was not malignant.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: In any event, Mr. Speaker, on that happy note I move the House do now adjourn.

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