May 31, 1994                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLII  No. 52

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to inform members of the hon. House officially that a tentative agreement has been reached with the NLTA.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: The NLTA is now going through the process of ratification which will probably take a couple of days, according to their process, and we all hope that the students get back to the classrooms as soon as possible and that the vote will be ratified.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We want to say to the President of Treasury Board that we share his optimism on behalf of the students of Newfoundland and Labrador, 120,000 of them, who will hopefully be able to rejoin their teachers in their classrooms in the next few days; and, on behalf of the parents of Newfoundland and Labrador, we are pleased that the possibility exists that teachers will get back to doing what they do best, which is teach, and that this year can be finished up -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HODDER: - and the preparations for next year can be completed in the appropriate manner.

We look forward to the resolution of this dispute in its final manner with the teachers' ratification, hopefully, in the next several days.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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


MR. SPEAKER: Leave given.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say that I am very pleased that both negotiating teams have been able to come to a compromise on the issues outstanding during the strike, and hope that we can get back to school quickly and that too much damage hasn't been done to the school year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: I only say that it was a necessary strike, and it is unfortunate that this had to happen due to the approach taken by government towards negotiations.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last week, over the weekend, government launched another barrage of advertizing based on no truths and half-truths in another attempt to convince people to go along with the sale of Hydro with these colourful, $2,500 full-page ads that I'm sure everybody saw. These ads contain the same distorted information that the government has been feeding the people of the Province for the last eight months, and an overwhelming majority have told the government time and time again that they don't buy it, they don't believe it.

Today the coloured ads have been replaced. Obviously the reaction hasn't been positive. You have now, not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, but eight -


MR. SIMMS: - eight ads worth about $3,000 in total, I dare say, of taxpayers' money once again. I want to ask the Premier: Why are you persisting in this obscene waste of taxpayers' money in this desperate attempt to try to convince these people of the Province that they should do something which they've already told you they don't want you to do?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The answer is very simple. Mr. Speaker. We are trying to save the economic and financial future -


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

PREMIER WELLS: I will start again,. Mr. Speaker. The answer is quite simple. We are trying to save the economic and financial future of this Province from the devastation that the Opposition would wreak upon it, that they attempted to do while they were in government, and that they are still trying to do in Opposition, to put their own political interest ahead of the real interests of the people of this Province. We intend, Mr. Speaker, to do whatever is reasonably necessary to achieve those results.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we will see if we can get another truthful answer from the Premier. The first phase of the government propaganda campaign cost around $100,000, the minister told us at one time. I would like to ask the Premier: How much money have you budgeted this time to spend on the second round of propaganda, and will this second round of propaganda include any other form of advertizing, such as television or radio advertizing, householder mail outs, or is it simply going to be newspaper advertizing? Can he tell us that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the government will take whatever action is necessary to make sure that the people of the Province are fully informed as to the real issue.

MR. SIMMS: They are already informed.

PREMIER WELLS: With great respect to the members opposite, they've been misinformed, largely by the efforts of the members opposite, and it is incumbent upon government to take reasonable -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) but it hasn't worked.

PREMIER WELLS: I will start again, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can start all you want. The truth is still going to come through.

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

PREMIER WELLS: I will start again, Mr. Speaker. It is incumbent upon government to take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to make sure that the people of the Province are fully informed as to the real merits of the government policy and in fact the essential nature of following this policy, if government is to achieve a reasonable level of economic activity for the future of this Province, and if government is to be able to achieve sound financial management that will avoid the necessity of increasing our debt beyond the already unacceptably high levels. It is important that we achieve that and the government intends to continue, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate the Premier can't be truthful. I asked him a specific question about the $100,000 budget.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have sat as have other members and listened to the hon. member break just about every rule in the House and I hesitate to interrupt him in the middle of his carefully rehearsed diatribes but, he just used an expression, Mr. Speaker, which even the Leader of the Opposition knows is unparliamentary, and I ask that he be directed to withdraw it, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

One member cannot accuse another of being untruthful.

MR. SIMMS: I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker and save all that old effort.

MR. SPEAKER: That's fine.

MR. SIMMS: I would like to ask the Premier - it's too bad he continues to be loose with the truth, is that acceptable? Because I asked him: how much are they going to spend? I asked the Premier, how much are they going to spend on this second round of propaganda and he gave us the big lecture. Can he answer the question I asked him?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The truth is, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is so unfamiliar with truth he wouldn't recognize it if he were wallowing in it up to his ears.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Is that parliamentary?

MR. TOBIN: Is that parliamentary, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: No, I think the same point applies across the House and the Premier's remark is unacceptable as well. I will ask the Premier to withdraw.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, that was a response to the question -


AN HON. MEMBER: You will need a lecture just as (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: That was a response to the additional question as to whether I was loose with the truth, and I told the hon. member that I treat it the same as he does. If that's the standard to which we are -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: I am quite prepared to withdraw the statement, Mr. Speaker, and I do so, but I expect the hon. member to also withdraw that question.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, I already withdrew. A supplementary, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, in this debate about who is telling the truth and who is using the right words, I tell the Premier this: We would be prepared to take up a collection on this side of the House to put him on TV once again so he can tell us the truth.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: We will even pay for it if he is prepared to do that. Now, a few days ago - he won't answer the question I asked him, How much money do you plan to spend? How much do you intend to spend? How much have you budgeted? That was the question, but let me ask him this other one while I'm on my feet: A few days ago, you said in response to a press question or a question from one of the press members during a scrum that you had conducted your own public opinion poll on the Hydro sale. Will the Premier tell the House what polling company was hired to do the poll? How much did the poll cost and will he table all of the questions asked in the poll and the results?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will find out the name of the company and the cost, and I will table it.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, obviously, since last Friday or whenever this latest round of newspaper ads started - $2,500 a day, full-page, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and yesterday - and another $3,000 worth of ads today. Now, I'm told, radio ads have started today. Will the Premier tell the House forthrightly, how much does he plan to spend? How much has he budgeted on this second round of advertising?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the government hasn't budgeted a specific amount. It is incumbent upon the government to do whatever is reasonably necessary to cause the people of this Province to be fully informed and to have the misinformation that hon. members opposite have caused to be distributed around the Province corrected.

MS. VERGE: It's our money you're spending.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: It's an absolute outrage, Mr. Speaker. It's a disgraceful attempt by the Premier to try to buy the people with their own money. That's not acceptable and the people have told the Premier that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Now, Mr. Speaker, just a few days ago, last Thursday, to be precise, the Premier said on provincial television that he expected Bill 1, the Hydro privatization bill, to be approved before the House adjourned for this summer. Is that still your plan and expectation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, what I said, Mr. Speaker, was that I certainly hoped it would be approved. I didn't indicate that I expect it. I said that I hoped it would be approved. I don't know what media reports - I heard the media this morning reporting something that's totally incorrect, for example, that I wasn't worried about what was happening in Corner Brook - totally incorrect, I never said any such thing. So I ask the hon. member not to pay much attention to headlines that he reads in the media.

MR. WINDSOR: Why won't you pay attention to the people?

PREMIER WELLS: What I did say to the media, Mr. Speaker, was that I certainly hoped that it would be passed before this session of the House rises until the fall but if it isn't, we can recall the House in July, we can recall the House in August. The House will sit again in October or whenever it is necessary to deal with it.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, is it any wonder that people have their doubts about the Premier, and his integrity is in question these days? We can't get a straight answer from him. Now, he said, I would certainly expect so, when asked whether he expected the bill to be approved before the House adjourns for the summer. This is the transcript, not the headlines, it is the transcript of your television interview, so you did say it just last Thursday. Now, do you intend to call the bill again before the House adjourns for the summer? That is what we are asking, and that is what the people of the Province want to know.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: We may indeed, Mr. Speaker, or we may not, depending on what the Government House Leader does. We cannot say at this moment, and it doesn't matter whether the Opposition Leader shakes his head, rattles his tongue, or what he does, it doesn't alter that, government will call the order of business when we are ready to call it. That is one of the prerogatives that those who win elections have, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, call it! Come on! Call it!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has now received the plans of hospitals within the St. John's area to cope with government's latest cutbacks in funding for health care. Now, will the minister tell the House how many hospital beds, operating rooms, and other facilities in St. John's will be closed either permanently or temporarily to bring costs in line with their proposed budget?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I can't answer that question off the top of my head, but I will find out. The hospitals in St. John's have been reducing the number of beds deciduously over the past number of years and I believe there are well over 200 beds that are presently vacant. I believe there may be some more closed, but not very many, as a result of this budgetary exercise, but I will dig out the precise details.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier stated, there is no budget for Hydro advertising, but there sure is a budget for health care in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, St. Clare's Mercy Hospital has informed its staff that it will close seventy-four out of its 279 beds, an endoscopy unit, an operating room, for a period of eighty-eight days beginning on June 17. Now, a quarter of the beds at St. Clare's will be closed for a quarter of the year. Is that the average, I ask him, for all hospitals in St. John's? And will the closures add to the long waiting lists for medical procedures at these hospitals?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, a couple of points to be made, he brought in the sale, the privatization, of Hydro. I can tell the hon. member that if we don't privatize Hydro we will be closing a darn sight many hospitals boards than he mentioned already, and that's what it's all about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. KITCHEN: What these people are afraid of over there is they will not face the budgetary realities that this Province has presently confronted. You have to open up your eyes, my son, and realize where we are in this Province financially.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. KITCHEN: Now, to come back to your question about the number of hospital beds that we will be closing, it is customary in this city, and in other parts of the Province, to reduce the number of hospital beds in the summer to take into account holidays in the hospitals, and things like that. I wish the hon. member would stop inflaming people for no good reason. He is at it again!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, there is a need for concern. When this hospital was identified, or this Province, with the highest readmission rate of any province in this country, it is time for concern.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, I ask the minister, last year St. Clare's announced a temporary closure of beds, but many of the beds they announced at that time never reopened, not even to this time. Now I ask him, is the same thing going to happen again this year? Will some of the bed closures at St. Clare's again this year be permanent?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to be able to be in a position to close even more hospital beds in this Province, because the thing is that we are embarked on a different course of action. Our course of action involves prevention, long-term steps to eliminate smoking, and things of that nature, and that is what we are up to. We are attempting to keep people healthy, and not to try to keep them in hospital beds. So the member shouldn't be concerned, the fact that we don't need as many hospital beds as we did at one time. That is not the case. The waiting lists are not high in this Province. They are the lowest in Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister if he will table the plan submitted by hospitals to his department on the closure of beds. I think the only thing that seems to stay in the minister's head any more than a month long is a head cold.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations pertaining to the situation surrounding the termination of electrical inspectors in the Province.

I have had a number of calls to my office in the last twenty-four hours. The Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay, have had calls as well, that their seems to be a log-jam developing in the electrical inspections in the Province. I am wondering if the minister is aware of this situation, and could he tell us what he is doing to straighten it out.

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the registration that is required for the new regulations that go into effect tomorrow is just about complete, has been ongoing for some three weeks now, and the only thing that has been brought to my attention are concerns by certain contractors who are either not certain or dissatisfied with what their status will be under the new regulations, but I am not aware of any bottleneck, whatever the description that is, and we are not doing anything about it because I am not aware that it exists.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the minister. I guess it is sort of a supplementary, but I guess as well to provide information to the minister.

I had a conversation with the office in Grand Bank today, and there are presently eighteen inspections waiting to be done in the area covered by that office, and the two other members have had calls as well. That seems to me to be a serious backlog that has developed in that particular area. People need work done, for obvious reasons. Some of them have possibilities of being without electricity, so I am wondering if the minister would make an undertaking here today to immediately send someone to the Burin Peninsula area, and other areas of the Province, where the need is there, where it is decided that there is a need, to send an inspector into those areas to try to clear up the backlog, because with the new system due to come on stream tomorrow, where now the certified electrical contracts will be going in to pick up the permits, I think this backlog needs to be cleared up before we really get into the new system, or else the problem will be further compounded, I say to the minister.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, the hon. member in his question mentions a number eighteen. I have no idea whether eighteen is a normal number, an abnormal number, or whatever, with respect to the office in Grand Bank, that services the Burin Peninsula. I'm certainly sure that the current electrical inspector who is working his last day today will do everything that he can to inspect as many as he normally would on a working day, because this is a working day, and that if in fact there is a problem that he would have used the normal routine procedure, which is to report that fact to his immediate supervisor who would have made accommodations to make sure that there are no unnecessary delays in electrical inspections.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the minister that the Burin Peninsula is just one region of the Province that has a problem. St. Mary's - The Capes, a totally different region, Baie Verte - White Bay, another region that has problems. I can say to the minister that there are eighteen permits issued in the Burin Peninsula area covered by that office that that work has not been inspected. The electrical inspector is terminated as of 5:00 p.m. today. In order for those inspections to be completed someone is going to have to be sent down to the area to do the inspections. People can't wait for weeks or months for the inspections to be done. They paid for the permits, they deserve and they should receive the inspections as soon as possible. Will the minister undertake today to contact his officials and have an electrical inspector sent to the Burin Peninsula or to the other areas if necessary to get this work cleared up? Will he do that?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, the inspections, even in the areas where the ten electrical inspectors are laid off as of the end of work today - it is not that inspections cease. Those inspections that are still required under existing permits will be carried out by the remaining ten inspectors. The inspector who is stationed in Clarenville has responsibility for the Burin Peninsula. I've been assured that there will be timely visits to the Burin Peninsula for any inspections that are required, whether they were registered today, before the new regulations, or tomorrow, and that there should not be any unnecessary delay with respect to electrical inspections.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. Kruger's recent announcement that it will close number 4 machine will adversely affect many loggers, as the minister knows, as well as unionized and private contractors like there are in my District of Baie Verte - White Bay and also in Green Bay. Actually, the announcement was that some 355 loggers will be affected. Can the minister tell the House if these will be permanent lay offs or a reduction in work time for these loggers, and what will be the equivalent loss in person years of employment?

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

MR. FLIGHT: No, Mr. Speaker, if Kruger, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, closes number 4 machine on July 24 as they've indicated they may be doing they will have a 25 per cent less wood requirement. Roughly one-quarter of the wood requirement that they need now.

At this point in time we are not certain. We are talking to Kruger on a daily basis. That is to determine exactly what they are proposing with regard to wood supply. The early indications are that they will reduce the wood supply that is the most labour intensive, because of course that is obviously the wood with the greatest cost. The high cost wood will be reduced.

At this stage in time we don't know exactly what their proposals will be. I might point out, Mr. Speaker, that although the media is using a figure, 355, Kruger's statement said that 355 or thereabouts will be adversely affected. They didn't say there would be 355 jobs lost, and we know there will not be 355 full-time or temporary jobs lost. They may be affected. One could assume that where a given logger has ten weeks work he may now only get four. We are waiting until Kruger clarifies exactly what they intend to do with regards to the woodlands operation.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the minister is aware there was also an announcement prior to the announcement about the number 4 machine being closed down. Kruger has also changed its policy for assigning contracts to cut pulp wood to private contractors, as I spoke with the minister before about. Traditionally, companies distribute the work among all contractors that usually supplied pulp wood to them. Now the difference is they are calling for tenders on all these. As a result of course there are fewer contractors, therefore fewer loggers will be working this year. Does the minister know how many jobs have been lost as a result of this change in the policy?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr., Speaker, I'm not aware that any jobs have been lost as a result of the policy. The contractors are still there. This year Kruger decided to use the process of calling tenders for their wood supply on private lands. It would seem to me that they will still require the same number of loggers to supply the same amount of wood that they required last year. The process may have changed but I'm not aware that there's any reason to believe there will be reduced numbers of loggers required.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. All I can say is I hope the minister is right because what I'm hearing from my district and from the Green Bay district is that there are going to be less people working on the private contracts this year so I hope you are right.

As a result of Kruger's announcement also, loggers are saying - and I've been told this by many calls I've had and in my district - that after July 24, when the machine will close down, they will not have enough weeks to qualify for UI this year. That's a fact. Will government do anything to help those loggers? For example, is silviculture work being considered as an option, an alternative?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, we intend, at this time, to have at least the same level of silviculture that we had last year which is roughly about $8-$10 million spent on silviculture. Mr. Speaker, we're hopeful, we take the positive view that things may happen that will cause number four not to have to shut down but in the event number four shuts down, no, Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of anything at this point in time that government can do to provide alternate employment to the men who will lose their jobs as a result of that company decision.

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

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

My question is for the Minister of Justice. Can he confirm that the government is seriously considering reducing low to medium risk prisoners back into the community and into society and then monitoring those low to medium risk prisoners by electronic surveillance? If so, if he can confirm that, can he table any information related to the decision or pending decision government is about to make in that area?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman asked whether I could confirm that we're seriously considering it, the answer is yes. That was in The Evening Telegram I think about two weeks ago. I confirm here what I said there. Can I table information? Not at this stage. We're preparing a package that would be provided to members as well as to the press and to the community generally. Nobody has been released on electronic monitoring, nobody is about to be released on electronic monitoring and nobody will be released on electronic monitoring until we have first taken adequate measures to inform the public, including members of the House of Assembly.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I read The Evening Telegram a couple of weeks ago. I say to the Minister of Justice that this is a serious issue. What steps is he and his government planning to take when it comes to informing the public on the process of electronic monitoring? Can he give us any information today on what those steps will be, whether it be public hearings or whether it be public consultations? Can he inform the House at all what steps he plans or his government plans to take in that area?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I agree it's a serious issue and that's why, when the gentleman from the telegram approached me two weeks ago, I gave him the story. That's why, I assume, that the TELEGRAM ran it on the front page. They took it as being a serious and an important issue and I agree completely. Now nobody has been released on this and nobody will be released until there's been adequate public information or adequate information made public. I hadn't thought of whether we would have hearings.

I mean the hon. gentleman may not be aware that at any given time significant numbers of prisoners are allowed out through an administered process. It goes on here and all over Canada. All we're doing is expanding it a little using a device that's in use, if memory serves me, in forty-eight states and four provinces, but I am subject to correction on that. So it's nothing to get excited about. It's simply another measure we're taking to try to alleviate the extraordinary pressure that's been caused by the fact that the length of sentence - prisoners incarcerated in the provincial system has doubled in the last five or six years and the number of prisoners being incarcerated has increased significantly as well and yet we have not added any bed capacity except through the double bunking which really is triple bunking.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Justice for the lecture, as unwarranted as it was. Let me ask him again, what steps will he and his government or what steps are he and his government planning to take in ensuring that there's proper public consultation on this issue? A very simple question and if he can at this time, who will do the monitoring of the electronic surveillance? Will it be done privately or will it be done through the government agency or the Department of Justice?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it's a very simple question and deserves a very simple answer. Adequate steps will be taken, is my answer.

Now his second question is, he asked who will be doing the monitoring, public or private? It will be a combination because we'll be using officers of the correctional system, officers of the police system and we'll be using the telephone company, which is a private utility in this Province, subject to public regulation.

It is the same system that has been used in forty-eight states and I believe in four other provinces. The hon. gentleman should simply possess his soul in patience; I assure him that when we are able to bring forward this initiative, which was also I should say in the budget process, if he had been at the estimates committee discussion of the Justice Estimates, there were some very good questions asked by his colleagues. His colleagues were there and asked some very good questions, we dealt with this; so he should simply possess his soul in patience. I can assure the House, Mr. Speaker, that we will not be releasing anybody who in the judgement of my officials, presents any undue risk to the community and not only that, we will not be releasing anybody under this new system until we have first taken adequate steps to ensure that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are informed.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the absence of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I would like to ask questions to the Premier about the proposed new four-lane Trans-Canada Highway in Pasadena.

Three years ago, the Premier's administration made a decision to locate the proposed new highway south of Pasadena, around the town. Has the government recently changed that decision as the minister has proposed, if so, what is now the proposed route? If there has been no change, will the government stick with the decision made three years ago to have the southern bypass route?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I think the hon. member is very much aware that for the last number of months the government has been planning an alternate route. As nearly as we can determine, there is really little or no harm to Pasadena and would save the people of this Province some $10 million in construction and many thousands of dollars in future operation and maintenance and I believe, although I am not discussing the matter daily with the minister and his departmental officials, but I believe that that is currently the route that's favoured by government. Whether or not they have made a final decision, I can't say at the moment, but I undertake to inquire and advise the House, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the Premier if he is troubled by the fact that the minister's proposed route has not been studied by qualified highway designers, is opposed by almost everyone in Pasadena, would divide the town with spoiled farms, interrupt tourism businesses, and would involve at its central stretch through Pasadena, an eighteen-foot deep trench. The minister's plan involves having the four-lane divided super highway go under a level community road where Lakeland Lodge & Motel Ltd. now stands. Is the Premier troubled by any of that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am not troubled by the fact that a four-lane highway, being the Trans-Canada Highway, will go right through Grand Falls - Windsor, as it always has; I am not troubled by that fact. I think appropriate arrangements have been made to provide for reasonable access to and from Grand Falls - Windsor, appropriate arrangements have been made for the highway going through Grand Falls - Windsor so I am not troubled by that. Government has to live within its means in terms of the building and operation of highways.

Pasadena, as important, as pleasant as it is, as nice and pleasant as the people of Pasadena are, we cannot put the people of Pasadena or the community of Pasadena in a privileged position that no other community in the Province would enjoy, I don't think that that would be the right thing to do. I don't think, at least I am told from those who do the design, and I think the hon. member asked about whether or not the plan had been submitted to highway designers, the plan was done by highway designers who had been employed in the department for many years before we took responsibility for power and we operated on the assumption when we took over, that the people employed were competent, and so far we have no reason to believe that those designers are anything less than competent and we accept the advice that they have given us so far. I think the matter can be resolved on that basis.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Social Workers Association Act".


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

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

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the Pippy Park Land Owners and Residents Association. It is addressed to the hon. House of Assembly, Province of Newfoundland in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned residents of the City of St. John's humbly sweareth:

WHEREAS people who own property and residences within the boundaries of the Pippy Park Commission pay the same taxes as all other residents in St. John's; and

WHEREAS the Pippy Park Commission enforces unfair restrictions on residents and property owners within the park; and

WHEREAS the Pippy Park Land Owners Residents Association was formed to address concerns about these restrictions, and to preserve and protect the environment and lifestyle of those living in the park, we the undersigned request the House of Assembly to subject us to only those buildings and property regulations which govern all taxpayers within the City of St. John's.

We further request the House to ensure that the provincial government play a primary role in the enforcement of provincial regulations affecting forestry, wildlife, environment, and policing within the boundaries.

As in duty bound your petitions will ever pray. It is dated February 9, 1994.

Mr. Speaker, I present this petition today with pleasure on behalf of approximately 190 residents and landowners who currently reside within the boundaries of Pippy Park. The Pippy Park, of course, is an area that has been in existence for about twenty-five years. During that period of time it has had it`s boundaries somewhat expanded.

I should say at the outset that these people who own property and reside within the boundaries of the park are delighted to be able to do so and take great pleasure in being residents within the park and within the City of St. John's. Over the years these residents have had two interests really at heart. One of the interests is to ensure that they continue to enjoy the property rights and the every day living rights that they would otherwise enjoy as residents of the City of St. John's, and in addition to that they are most interested in preserving the natural beauty of the park, and also ensuring that those who use the park use it in an environmentally friendly manner, and do not abuse it in terms of the activities that are carried on there.

Some difficulties have arisen, Mr. Speaker, over the years with respect to certain aspects of things that can be done by residents and landowners of the park, particularly with respect to the disposition of property and also as it relates to them being able to otherwise improve their property as they need to from time to time to accommodate growing family needs, and that sort of thing.

Essentially what the residents of Pippy Park and the Landowners Association are asking in this petition is to be able to live in the park and to be treated as residents of St. John's because that is after all where they pay their taxes, and not to be unduly burdened or incumbered with additional regulations and rules that grow out of an appointed body being the Pippy Park Commission.

The Pippy Park Commission, as we know, has a mandate of its own and it relates to the preservation of the park and it relates to the activities that can go on there. It can happen there in a commercial sense, in a residential sense, and in a recreation sense, so the people who live in this area believe that they have an interest in the park that is equal to, if not greater than, even the Pippy Park Commission, so they are essentially only asking that they be given a couple of things, really.

Number one, they would like to be more adequately represented on the Pippy Park Commission so that their concerns can be addressed in a more direct manner. Secondly, they want to ensure that their property values are not unduly prejudiced or deflated by virtue of the fact that some of the regulations which say that at one point the park would only be obliged to pay 10 per cent above property value for extensions that they put in. They want to see that is done away with. They want to see that the regulations with respect to the usage of firearms and the usage of things like cutting Christmas trees, hunting, and that sort of thing in the park, are carried out in a manner that protects the park, not solely for their benefit, but certainly for the benefit of all the park users and in the interest of the Pippy Park Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: By leave, to clue up?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has leave.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: In short, Mr. Speaker, the residents of the Pippy Park area are simply asking to be taken into confidence by the Pippy Park Commission. They are asking for the opportunity to be able to work with the Pippy Park Commission so as to ensure that their rights and privileges as citizens of the city, and as residents of the park, are taken into account into rules and regulations made by the commission, and also to assist the commission where it can, and as best it can, in ensuring that the park continues to develop and continues to be the place that it was meant to be, not only a place for government buildings and that sort of thing to be lodged there, to be housed there, but also a place where people can come and enjoy the myriad of recreational activities and beauty that is contained in the park.

These people want to work with the commission. They have an interest in the park. They have an interest in being treated only fairly. They are asking for no more than fairness and justice, and I commend to this House the prayer of the petition that has been presented, that I presented today on behalf of the residents.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to speak to the petition. I can support parts of what are in the petition, but I have to say that it is impossible to have it both ways. If you are going to preserve the need of the park, the importance of having a park implies that there are special regulations that apply to people who live there. If what the residents want is to be treated exactly the same as every other resident of St. John's, then that would be incompatible with having a park, so I can't support that part of the petition.

I would say that I think part of what has happened that prompts the kind of response from home-owners and landowners in the park is the cavalier attitude which government has toward the park as an entity, as seen by the attempts to build this useless road through the park at great expense of $110 million of direct expenditure from the Roads for Rails Agreement, with an additional $30 million or $40 million that it is going to cost the municipality of St. John's, and perhaps the provincial government, in building access roads to it.

So once you start saying: Well, yes, it is a park but we are prepared to put a four-lane highway through it, prepared to avoid proper environmental studies to the point where one group has to try and take the government to court to do a proper job, we are going to do all that, where the government has that attitude, this government has that attitude toward the park, I am not surprised that the residents are saying: Well, why shouldn't we be treated as everybody else? If you are not going to respect the park, and build a four-lane highway through it, which is a useless, unnecessary road, and hasn't been proven to be necessary, then how can you expect us, as residents of Pippy Park, to accept restrictions on our property development, restrictions on our building extensions in our home, extensions that are causing us to lose some of our property values that we have had? How can you expect us to do that when the government has no respect for the park as a whole?

I understand where they are coming from, and I understand why they are upset, but I can't support the petition where it says that they should be treated like everybody else in St. John's.

I do think, though, that there are special problems with living in Pippy Park, and living as part of a park, and I think - we do have an appointed board. I would certainly support any effort to include on the board representatives of an association that has been chosen by residents and home-owners, or landowners, in the park, to have a say and have their voice heard directly on the authority itself. I think that is only fair.

We have had situations before where parks have been imposed or superimposed on people, and they have been kicked out of the park. Gros Morne is a good example. Eight or ten communities along the coast were excluded from the park, and their traditional use of the park lands had to be fought for and be recognized in order to be accepted, and I think that was a mistake, and here in Pippy Park where there are people and families who have lived there for many, many years and generations, they deserve to have a little more say than they have been given, and I would support that part of it.

I wanted to speak on this petition because I support some aspects of the petition in that it is necessary to give full and proper consideration of the needs of people who live in the Park, but at the same time I don't think that it would be compatible with the purpose of the Park to have all of them treated exactly the same as if there were no Park at all, which is what the end result of accepting the full petition would be.

I would end by saying that I call upon the government to change its mind on building this four-lane highway through the Park. That $110 million that is being accessed, some of that could be used to have a more decent highway through Pasadena, and there would still be plenty of money left to solve the transportation needs, the real needs, of the area of St. John's. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of the petitioners and the petition presented by the Member for St. John's North. The vast majority of the 200 residents that he referred to are in my District and unlike the Member for St. John's East I would like to address their concerns and their needs as opposed to dealing with issues that were not part or parcel to the petition.

The residents of Pippy Park have endured hardships beyond that of anyone else in the St. John's metropolitan area. Over the last number of years they have found themselves literally in a squeeze whereby if they wish to do any repairs to their homes they have to go through so much more than anyone else. As their families grow and expand and they want to do the same thing to their homes they find that they are not allowed to do it except for a very small portion. There are some two-storey homes in the area that, in order to build a porch onto their homes, a lot of them have been refused and can't do that. In particular the Groves Road area have within the City of St. John's endured the fact that they can't get water and sewer because this idea of living within the Park has been hanging over their heads for so long.

I think what the people of the area have suffered from for the last good many years is the fact that successive governments, and indeed the Pippy Park Commission itself, has put them in such a squeeze that the intent is to try to, if not force them to move from the Park, to ensure that the value of their properties will continue to go down. For me that is an unfair practice because it is - instead of giving them fair market value for their homes it is allowing their properties to deteriorate, so that in turn they will be trapped.

I'm pleased with the fact that the residents have had some meetings with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Although all of the issues that they had to cover with the minister were not totally cleared to their satisfaction I know that progress has been made. Back in 1989, 1990, I recommended strongly at that time that a representative of the residents be allowed to sit on the Pippy Park Commission, and I'm glad to see that at this point in time one of them will. I know that the residents would like to see four members on the Commission but a good beginning is to have someone at that table who can represent their needs.

For me it is a pleasure to represent and support the petition as presented by the Member for St. John's North, and I wish the residents well in their endeavours to accomplish for themselves the right to live as other people do within the city limits of the City of St. John's. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to present a petition signed by some sixty-eight residents of Green Bay, most or if not all of them from the town of South Brook.

The document goes as follows. The petition to the House of Assembly:

We, the undersigned, are concerned about the legal status of young people between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. Such persons are neither children nor adults in our social welfare system. We ask the House of Assembly to direct the Minister of Social Services to address this matter.

Mr. Speaker, this matter first came to my attention several weeks ago when I had a call from a concerned parent. I've heard of this particular matter over the last number of years but this is the first time it has come to me directly as an elected MHA. A woman called me in a situation where her daughter, who was a single mother in her own right, her daughter had reached the age of sixteen years with an infant child and had decided to move out of her parents' home, indeed decided to set up house with her boyfriend, with whom I'm given to understand there was an abusive relationship. So the girl's mother, the grandmother of the infant concerned, was upset that her daughter and her daughter's child would end up in a household relationship that, to say the least, would not be healthy for her daughter or her grandchild, Mr. Speaker.

When the lady checked with the Department of Social Services as to the legalities involved here, she was told that the department did have some obligations to care for the daughter and the daughter's child in terms of food, lodging and clothing, etc., but the department had no control over the fact that her daughter and the child would be moving out, and into a household relationship with a young male who is alleged to have abused her daughter. This was very upsetting, and I told the woman at the time that if she wished me to bring it before the Assembly, a petition was one particular way it could be handled. I told her that a few names would suffice to have me bring this matter before the Assembly and before the minister concerned. She obviously took the matter to heart, some sixty-eight names of friends and neighbours were gathered for this petition and I have it here today.

Mr. Speaker, a sixteen-year-old, in terms of our society, is not old enough to vote, is not old enough to serve in the armed forces, is not old enough to consume alcohol, these days I don't believe is old enough to purchase cigarettes and tobacco products. So, by many of the standards of our society, a sixteen-year-old is not an adult. Yet, at the same time, when it comes to leaving home, when it comes to setting up a household with children and a husband or common-law husband, such a person appears to be free to go without any constraints as regards the social welfare system and, more particularly, the Child Welfare Act.

Mr. Speaker, this can be extremely upsetting to parents who see their own children and their children's children launch off into the unknown, at a very tender age, without any appropriate safeguards. I call upon the government to look at this matter. I know it's been put to them on a number of occasions in the past and I ask them again to look into this matter to see if something can be done to establish more control and safeguards for individuals in the sixteen- to eighteen-year-old category. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to rise today in support of the petition presented so ably by my hon. friend, the Member for Green Bay.

Mr. Speaker, the member is 100 per cent right when he talks about the sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds in this Province today having no opportunity and almost being a forgotten group, when we look at the unemployment rate in this Province for our youth, which is in excess of 35 per cent, even nationwide, in excess of 17 per cent. Over 1.8 million youth are unemployed in this nation today. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Social Services does supply an allowance, as small as it might be - I think it is something like eighty-nine dollars a month for some of those people who are eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds to expect to survive on. Mr. Speaker, we continue to say that those sixteen- eighteen-, nineteen-year-olds should be living with the family, should be part of the family unit. It isn't always possible, Mr. Speaker, that those sixteen-year-olds and nineteen-year-olds can continue to live with their families.

I have one case, Mr. Speaker, that comes to mind, in my district, that happened just a couple of weeks ago, where a family moved back to their home town, to a two-bedroom house, Mr. Speaker, with a son nineteen years old and a daughter eleven. The nineteen-year-old son went to the Department of Social Services looking for help and was told that he had to live with his mother and father and that meant moving the eleven-year-old daughter into the same bedroom with the parents. Mr. Speaker, that's hardly good enough in the 20th Century that we live in today - the daughter, age eleven and the son, nineteen. This is a common cry that's out there, but it seems that we're forgetting those people and there's not enough attention being paid to try to get them involved in meaningful employment. It continues to come up. We talk about the Department of Social Services putting forward a plan to have those young people take part in a training program, and instead of putting our dollars towards going out and just cleaning houses and cutting brush to compensate wages, to give them some kinds of skills so they might find their own way in life and become part of a meaningful job, but up until now that has not happened. Those younger people are out there crying for help.

Another situation that exists, and is continuing, not only in my district but in other districts, is, where those people are remaining at home, unable to find a job, and the parents who are already on social services, or making just above the poverty level, that would not entitle them to social assistance, are today without power in their homes. Newfoundland Light and Power went out and cut the power, and I can name you at least two families right now in my particular district, who because of the size of the family, are without power, and the homes continue to exist and children live there with the power completely cut off, no way to cook food and no way to heat their homes.

So I certainly support the hon. member's petition, and I call upon government to bring forward a plan of action so that those young people might be included, and be made capable of going out and taking part in meaningful employment, and to find their own way in life.

Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move the Orders of the Day now be read.

Motion carried.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how late members will decide they wish to sit tonight, but in an effort to accommodate those who may wish to sit a little later, I move that the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

Motion carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we go into Committee, please, to deal with Motions 2 through 5, or as many of them as we may get through. We will start with Motion 2; my friend, the Minister of Finance, is with us.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider Motions 2 through 5, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (L. Snow): Order, please!

Bill 9, the hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This is a very simple piece of business here today. It relates to a decision announced in the Budget back in March, and it involves a change from a gasoline tax exemption at the point of sale to a system of tax rebates. This applies to the marked gas and so on, that we have all become familiar with over the years.

We felt this is a necessary move at this point in time, and the mechanism for the tax rebates is well known in other areas, so we thought we would apply it in this area to make sure, first of all, that the level of abuse is not there that we have heard is there in the system. I think that is the main reason for doing this.

Mr. Chairman, the three sections of this particular bill make that change in the Gasoline Tax Act to allow for rebates rather than the price reduction at the point of sale.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I say to the minister, he very conveniently neglected Part I, which increases the gasoline tax as announced in his Budget. I don't understand why the minister wouldn't have even mentioned that. Was he hoping we wouldn't see that, or the people of the Province wouldn't know that this has been - and, of course, that took effect on April 1, 1994 anyway, so people have been paying it. I am surprised because he could have said that it also decreases the sale on diesel fuel, section 2. They are now both .165 cents per litre, I guess it is.

MR. BAKER: I was preoccupied.

MR. WINDSOR: Preoccupied, the minister says, and neglected to advise about his tax increase that he wants approved; I say to the minister, he is going to have to work a little bit harder than that to get taxes approved around here; but we will forgive him, Mr. Chairman. I congratulate the minister on finally reaching an agreement with the teachers; I can sympathize with him, I know what it's like, I have been through it. It is not a fun time and the minister deserves a word of congratulation for the role that I know he played, and I know his staff do a tremendous amount of work, the collective bargaining team of Treasury Board and, in this case, the Department of Education as well, I'm sure, but Treasury Board's staff do a tremendous job when these kinds of situations arise and there are some very, very capable people who deserve a word of praise as well, Mr. Chairman, and who are all too often forgotten. But I just want to mention that the minister has been working hard over the weekend and he will enjoy next weekend, I'm sure.

Mr. Chairman, to get back to this particular bill, The Gasoline Tax Act, the minister has already announced his tax increase and now I say to the minister, you know you can say, we are decreasing the price on diesel fuel, and that's good. Businesses and corporations in the Province will welcome that; those who are shipping goods, those who are bringing in goods that are coming in by truck, hopefully there should be some impact. I suspect there is probably not; I suspect it is the trucking companies that have benefitted from that, I doubt very much that that has translated itself into any kind of a reduction in transportation costs, and then, in turn, translated into reduction in the price of goods and services in the Province.

Nevertheless, it is positive; on the other hand, the increase in gasoline tax is very negative from a consumer point of view, for all of us, we are all paying more for gasoline, but it impacts most importantly on tourism in the Province, which the minister and the government and their great Strategic Economic Plan put forward as being one of the potentials for growth. Tourism has been one of the areas where they say they can create more jobs. An increase in tax on gasoline is very negative to the tourism industry and probably impacts on that industry more than any other in very, very subtle ways.

It also, Mr. Chairman, impacts on small businesses because small businesses are generally driving vehicles that are gasoline-powered. The small delivery vans, station-wagons, automobiles, that sort of thing - so I am talking about small businesses, there are very few big businesses in Newfoundland, and when I talk small business, it is in terms of Newfoundland small business, being very, very small almost minute in the national sense of business. So these companies that are operating are very shoestring operations, very generally, in this Province today with a very, very small profit margin, and are feeling the impact of that increase in gasoline.

If you have only one delivery van, you are probably burning fifty dollars worth of gasoline a day just on one delivery van, driving around St. John's, and an increase such as this could be fairly substantial to that very small company where that cost delivery is quite significant; but, of course, the minister is not going to change his mind on that, it was announced in the Budget, it is in effect, we are paying it now, so this is effectively retroactive legislation once again.

Now, Mr. Chairman, to get to the area to which the minister referred, which is changing the system of marked gasoline to one of tax rebates on gasoline. There are two sides to the argument, I say to the minister; there are those who will oppose it clearly and there are those who will agree with it and will welcome it. Those who oppose it will be those who have been benefitting from it, primarily fishermen and farmers. The Minister of Fisheries should be interested in this particular one and all members who have rural constituencies with fishermen, if there are any fishermen left in Newfoundland and Labrador today, but if we ever get fishermen back again, groundfish, obviously there are all kinds of other species as the minister quite properly points out on a regular basis, so there is still a very significant fishery in Newfoundland, but far, far below the levels that we have enjoyed in past years.

But the fishing industry and the farming industry, primarily, were the benefactors of that tax break. They didn't pay the gasoline tax, and they still won't pay it. What this does for the minister, from his point of view, is ensure that only bona fide fishermen and farmers actually benefit from that. That is fair and just. I find it difficult -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Keep her going, `Neil'.

MR. WINDSOR: A few hours?

I find it difficult to argue, Mr. Chairman, against that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) want to do that.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, they know that I'm good for quite a long period of time. I have a record of speaking - I don't check my speeches with my watch, I use a calendar.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't feel bad. It has nothing to do with you.


AN HON. MEMBER: It has to do with good news.

MR. WINDSOR: My colleagues have other business outside and that is fine.

To get back where I was. Those who benefit from it will find it as a detrimental thing to them. Because it will involve more paperwork for them. They will have to go and apply to get their rebate, they will have to document that they used the gasoline and that they bought it for a bona fide purpose. I have to say to the minister, I don't have a problem with ensuring that only those who are bona fide farmers and fishermen actually get the benefit of the rebate as it is now, or the tax break as it was previously. There are far too many situations in this Province where marked gasoline is going into automobiles, into snowmobiles, into all-terrain vehicles, into just about everything that runs on gasoline. Gasoline generators, you name it.

We have inspectors, quite a number of them, or at least we did, who regularly went around the Province checking. Because the marked gasoline, in case the minister doesn't know it, is simply vegetable oil added to the gasoline. If you are using marked gasoline in your vehicle or in any engine, your carburettor becomes coloured bright red or bright blue, depending on which dye the government is using. It is not hard to tell if marked gasoline has been used in a particular engine.

That has been a nuisance. You have to go around and collect - and I say to the minister, I don't know how many inspectors we have had on staff, I don't know how active they've been in trying to determine where gasoline is being used.

AN HON. MEMBER: Usually they get complaints.

MR. WINDSOR: Usually they get a complaint from somebody who said: John Smith next door never buys a gallon of gas at full price. He is a fisherman, he has a thirty-five horsepower boat - as I used an example in caucus this morning, I think. I said he has a thirty-five horsepower boat and he is buying as much marked gasoline as Day and Ross would need for all their transport trucks if they were gasoline, not diesel.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: All across the Province. We all know that is the case. I say again, Mr. Chairman, as I've said in this House many times before, people don't object to paying taxes as long as everybody is paying taxes fairly. When somebody, as my friend here points out, sees their neighbour next door evading taxes by using marked gasoline in their automobile or in their snow machine, when the gasoline is destined or designated for a fishing vessel, then they are not happy with that. That is why tax inspectors would be called. It is very rare that it happens, unfortunately.

So fine, the minister will get at that, and I don't have a problem with that. But for those bona fide fishermen and farmers, now they will have a large administrative burden for them. To keep a record of all their gasoline purchases, to somehow verify - I mean, the minister hasn't given us the regulations, so it is very difficult really to address the situation. All we know is that there will be some regulations of some sort to deal with it. I would have been happier had the minister said: Here is the legislation and here are the regulations that Cabinet have approved to go with it, so that we could really see the impact on the fisherman and farmer, because we really don't know what administrative burden he or she will have to bear in dealing with this proposed change.

Now, I mentioned there were inspectors. How many inspectors will be lost? If we had inspectors before checking to see who was using marked gasoline, I'm not sure - I don't recall whether they were designated only to inspect that, whether they inspect many other things, or whether this was only a small portion of it. Maybe the minister could tell us when he speaks again whether or not he anticipates any losses in the number of inspectors.

On the other side of the scale, how many administrative clerks and accountants will be required to process all of these claims? What will be the cost of administering the tax rebate system that is coming in place? I know it is incremental to the work that is already being done but it is additional work and it will require additional effort and additional staff and costs associated with it.

Maybe the minister would tell us what, if anything, it will cost. How many jobs will be lost by way of inspectors being laid off? How many additional jobs will be created by way of administrative clerks and accountants being hired? What, if any, additional revenue does the minister expect to receive? Does the department have any estimate of what government is losing, what the public treasury is losing at the moment, by marked gasoline that is not being used for the correct purpose? And will we get at all of that? I suspect, if the minister does have an estimate, it is probably one-tenth of what he is actually losing, so what we are losing is probably ten times as great.

If this measure accomplishes that, then it is a good measure, I say to the minister. It is a legitimate way to get taxes from those who should be paying taxes, and to plug up a loophole that has been abused in this Province for far too many years. I say to the Minister of Fisheries that there are so many programs today for the fishing industry, and we all know how important the fishing industry is to us, to this Province, particularly to the economy of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, but there are many other industries in this Province as well, many other people are trying to survive, and we are now starting to see - I can say it because I have maybe one or two fishermen in the district I represent - we are now starting to see other segments of society objecting to all of these many benefits that fishermen and farmers perhaps may get.

They perhaps can't see, as we may, as legislators and governments may, in the full knowledge of all the difficulties those industries are faced with, the requirement for those types of subsidies and assistance in order to keep those industries going. But when you see something blatant like this, I say to the minister that perhaps he needs to go one step further. Perhaps if we knew how much marine paint is being put on barns and sheds at $50 or $60 a gallon, good top quality marine paint; another item, lumber, that is extensively bought for the fishing industry, that is being used to build all kinds of things.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I don't think anything like that is happening.

MR. WINDSOR: The Member for Eagle River says that with tongue in cheek, and with a large smile on his face, because he knows what I am saying is true. I am nodding acquiescence here. We know it is true, but it is not right. It is not right, I say to the minister, and I'm not one who is advocating looking over somebody's shoulder all the time, but when we know there is widespread abuse of these kinds of incentives and benefits that are put in place to help a specific resource-based industry, then I say to the minister, it is his responsibility, government's responsibility, to ensure that those benefits go only to those bona fide farmers and fishermen who need that kind of assistance that ensures that those industries are able to survive in a fiercely competitive economy today.

I say to the minister that although I see some disadvantages here to the bona fide - unfortunately, the bona fide fisherman and farmer, under this legislation, will have to pay those costs in order to get at those who are not bona fide, who are receiving this improperly at the moment, and so that the government collects the taxes they are entitled to, that the taxpayers of the Province are entitled to have collected.

So, I don't have a major problem with the bill, but I point out those weaknesses and ask the minister for that information, as to what he sees the impacts are? I wish we could see the regulations so that we could access just what impact that will have on individuals who have to deal under those regulations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to comment on a couple of things. First of all, the Member for Mount Pearl is right, I neglected to even mention the tax decrease that was in this bill. It is rather nice to see a decrease in the cost of diesel fuel, which obviously will have a positive impact on business. I also neglected to mention the tax increase, so in here there is actually a tax increase, a tax decrease, and a tax change which will result in some increase.

The hon. member is absolutely right, that for budgetary purposes we have predicted a very small rise in terms of maybe a couple of hundred thousand dollars, that sort of thing, a very small rise, simply because it is difficult to estimate, at this point in time, the extent of the problem. We do know that in spite of the closedown of the groundfish industry and cutting off the recreational cod fishery, groundfish fishery and so on, that there didn't seem to be a tremendous impact on the use of marked gas - slight, but not very much.

We suspect that there was a fair amount of abuse out there. I suspect he is right. I think we will probably realize more in revenues, much more than we have estimated, except that we wanted to be very conservative in our estimates. You can't go estimating these things with high numbers, and then if you don't reach it you are in trouble at the end of the year and so on, so we estimated a very small amount. I suspect that there will be some extra savings there for us, some extra revenue for us -

MR. WINDSOR: I would love to have tickets on it.

MR. BAKER: - yes - in terms of the Gasoline Tax Act. But it is something that is difficult to get a handle on. I was amazed at the grasp that the Member for Mount Pearl had of all of the other ways of tax avoidance and the suggestions he made. It really surprised me, because he mentioned things that I would never think of. The marine paint, that is one that really surprised me. That stuff is really expensive and I didn't realize the situation with regard to that. It is interesting.

MR. WINDSOR: It brings (inaudible) your debt, you know. It is about the only thing that (inaudible) the annual debt.

MR. BAKER: Yes, yes. Works better than anything. I was going to hint at the fact that probably the Member for Mount Pearl has had a lot more experience at that kind of thing than I have. I don't know if that's true or not.

MR. WINDSOR: Never bought a gallon (inaudible).

MR. BAKER: But, obviously, the indication was there that he was very knowledgeable about this process, very aware of the kinds of things that could happen. I suppose I could give him the benefit of the doubt and say that it is because of his time in finance and he got to understand it, and not conclude the other obvious conclusion that he was much more aware in terms of his everyday life. I would assume that it is because of his past contacts with the Department of Finance.

I agree with the hon. member in terms of the increase in the normal gasoline tax. That does put perhaps an extra burden on particularly a type of small business that does a lot of delivery and so on. I'm thinking in terms of the fast-food places that do home delivery, stores that do delivery, and so on. It is an extra cost and that is unfortunate. There is a reduced cost to some of the larger operations that use diesel, and I'm talking about the woods industry and so on that use diesel fuel. There is a decrease in cost here. I would say to the hon. member that the large amount of money here - and make no mistake about it, this is a revenue measure on government's part - the equalizing of the two numbers does not have a zero revenue effect on the Province. We gain more money. We gain an extra $2 million or $3 million out of this, at least.

MR. WINDSOR: No, but your weakness on this one is that you are picking up on the gasoline tax, which is a local consumer, whereas 75 per cent of the decrease in fuel tax benefits out-of-Province transportation.

MR. BAKER: And an awful lot of in-Province, too, the transportation that is within the Province. But you are right, some of it is out-of-Province.

I was going to say to the hon. member, to continue on, that most of the effect of this is not on business, it is on individuals like you and me. That is by far the largest amount of money on an overall basis. The people - personal cars, and that is by far the biggest impact in terms of the revenue. Mr. Chairman, it is unfortunate that from time to time we have to do those revenue measures, and I will openly admit this was a revenue measure. It was not simply an equalizing, it was a revenue measure for government.

I would also like to point out, in terms of the effect on small business, at the same time, we did lower the corporate tax, small business tax, and we have lowered some taxes that have a net positive effect on small businesses in the Province.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Well, I don't know. Right now we are the lowest in Canada and I don't think we've ever been at that stage and point in time where we were the lowest in Canada. I think that is the significant thing.

Again, it is unfortunate that these revenue measures have to be taken and this is a revenue measure. We try to do these things in a way that least impacts the overall population. We are not always successful. We like to think that we are perhaps doing it in the best way, the way that's most acceptable to people in the Province and ways which they can, in essence I suppose, control their expenditures to suit their circumstances rather than on something that is not controllable and gasoline use in this Province or anywhere for that matter, is a controllable expense. Anybody who really would find it difficult to have a cent a litre increase or a cent-and-a-half litre increase could cut down on consumption and therefore not have the actual affect on their pocketbooks.

Mr. Speaker, I think that deals with the two or three points raised by the gentleman opposite. I thank him for his comments on the collective bargaining. He understands the difficult time that we've been through in the last couple of weeks and he understands the attitudes that were there. I would say to him in that regard that situation is not finished. We have a tentative agreement with teachers but we still have NAPE/CUPE which has not been brought to a successful conclusion yet. We still have the nurses, we still have the allied health professionals and we still have the police brotherhood. So we still have some ways to go before I can sit down and breath a sigh of relief and say that I can now sort of in that area at least, relax for awhile. There's still a long ways to go.

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

MR. WOODFORD: I would like to take a few minutes, Mr. Chairman, to make a few comments as it pertains to Bill 9, this particular piece of legislation. I too, Mr. Chairman, would like to echo the comments of my colleague from Mount Pearl in congratulating the President of Treasury Board in coming to some agreement, tentative agreement with NLTA. Hopefully the agreement, Mr. Chairman, will be ratified over the next couple of days and the students in this Province and the teachers can get back to the classrooms and get on with it. Students are only a couple of weeks away from writing their exams and they need every minute they can get in the classroom today with their teachers, Mr. Chairman, to try to - like I said yesterday - to try to salvage the school year.

Having said that, Mr. Chairman, as it pertains to Bill 9 - one of the problems that government always had and one of the problems the inspectors always had in working as inspectors as it pertains to gasoline and diesel, what they call dyed or marked gasoline and marked diesel is that they didn't - the irony in it is that after four or five months, after Budget time, inspectors didn't have the money to put in their own government vehicles to go around the Province to do the inspections. I talked to them time and time again over the past number of years and they could not do what they're supposed to do. They had a job to go around and inspect down the coast and all around, wherever - say for instance they were stationed in Corner Brook, go all over the West Coast and Northern Peninsula to do their inspection as it comes to dyed gas and marked fuel but they couldn't do it simply because they didn't have the money in their budgets to put in their own government vehicles to go do the inspections.

Now, Mr. Chairman, this mainly, I would say, would affect farmers especially as it pertains to rebates, farmers and fishermen in the Province - fisherpersons I should say. The diesel part of it, most farming operations in the Province use diesel in their tractors and so on. Very little gas is used by farmers except in big machines like the truck, on road vehicles and that's not allowed anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that's good. Yes hopefully, as the minister said, hopefully there will be some good news coming forward in the next few days possibly as it pertains to farmers in the Province. Industry, I might add, that could grow. It has the potential to grow and has grown over the last number of years. It has a lot of other potential to grow further, Mr. Chairman, but the diesel part of it will not have a big effect on the farmers in the Province as it pertains to the actual pricing.

Gas; mainly fishermen and fisherpersons in the Province they're the people who use gas because engines - all those motors are mostly, whether they are inboard or outboard, are all gasoline driven and there's not too many, only the bigger outfits use - the inshore, mostly, is gasoline. Offshore, the bigger boats, use diesel in their inboards.

Mr. Chairman, where it will hurt is the actual rebates. Now when a farmer or a fisherman goes to pick up a drum of fuel, or a drum of gas, they go to, for instance, Imperial or Irving Oil stations, Ultramar, or whichever. They pick it up and then they exempt at the place of purchase.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I yield to the minister.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: I thank the hon. member for yielding. I just want to welcome to the gallery, if I could, to your gallery, the former Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Ron Dawe, and some investors from Austria, Wolfgang Breuss and his wife, Sabina, who are here looking at the lamination plant for the Great Northern Peninsula.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: I would like to take this opportunity now, seeing I am on the type of bill I am on, I can go on in welcoming the former minister and colleague to the Speaker's gallery, and his wife, and the other visitors as well. I am sure that over the next few weeks we may hear more about the lamination plant on the Northern Peninsula. That is probably timely now, too, with what is happening with regard to Kruger in Corner Brook, and so on.

Anyway, getting back to the actual bill, Bill 9, the problems that I see with this particular piece of legislation is that it is more bureaucracy for small business. There is more record keeping, there is more time involved in office work, and so on. Before, it was done at the point of sale. Now all receipts, every bill, every receipt, everything, when it comes to the purchase of diesel and gasoline, will have to be kept and then a proper adjustment made, and request made at the end of the year, to have those rebates refunded to the individuals.

There will be an increase in taxes, but the increase mostly, I would say, is going to be in the gasoline sector. The other thing brought up by my colleague from Mount Pearl, I think, is something that is going to have to be addressed. It has been in the past year or so, but not enough, and that is that most of the truckers coming into the Province usually fuel up in Sydney, and come in here with all tanks loaded, thereby cutting down on the amount of fuel that is actually purchased in the Province. This is not good for the Province. The Province must be losing an awful lot of revenues with the truckers coming into the Province fuelling up on the other side of the Gulf, coming in and waiting, just having enough to get on the boat in Port aux Basques to go across to the other side and then fuel up again, because the tax regime is lower in Nova Scotia than it is in this Province.

There is no question, the government is losing a lot - not only the government. We have small businesses all along the Trans-Canada, when they get off the boat in Port aux Basques, that are losing out with regard to the fuelling up of those big trucks - and big dollars.

I know of the Irving Big Stop in Deer Lake, for instance. There is nothing at all to have 150, 160 or 170 trucks a day pull into the Irving Big Stop in Deer Lake, and it is no trouble to tell. That is the barometer. That is where you can take a reading on what is going on with regard to the fuel purchased by the truckers. They come there. What they used to do once before, before the price went up, they used to fuel up there, but now there is no trouble to see the difference. The drop in the sales and so on is dramatic.

I would say that the President of Treasury Board said there would probably be a $1 million to $2 million, I believe, increase in taxes as it pertains to this particular piece of legislation. I think it will be more, based on this, and it would be more still if the opportunity was given and something was done with regard to the truckers coming across the Gulf and fuelling up on the other side. I think it would be more revenues for government, and it is an area, as far as I am concerned, that they should look at. If they did, they would bring more revenues into the Province, and would be creating and helping the small business sector in the Province.

Mr. Chairman, there is not much else can be said about this. Like I said, the big thing here is that the business people, the small business person, has to make a request for a rebate at the end of the year, and that is one of the things that they have to be cognizant of, and make sure they have good record keeping. If they haven't they are in trouble. Because a lot of those farms, fishermen, and so on, and some fairly big operations that consume a considerable amount of fuel and gas every year. With those few comments I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My remarks are few on this particular bill. It is indeed regretted in a way that we have to increase taxes. We look forward to the day when these measures will no longer be necessary, but they are necessary, and I commend the minister on bringing in such a fair tax increase.

I look forward to the day when the health system will not take as much out of the provincial budget as it presently does. As we move more and more into the area of prevention - I see in the paper today a very alarming statistic, where the World Health Organization is warning that 10 million people a year over the next thirty years will die because of smoking cigarettes. Ten million people a year over the next thirty years; 300 million people in this world will die because they smoke cigarettes.

I'm encouraged today by an event which took place, because today is `World No Tobacco Day.' A number of restaurants in this city, particularly the McDonald chain, has decided that today, `World No Tobacco Day,' there will be no smoking in all McDonald's restaurants. I want to commend the McDonald chain for this good effort they have made in observing `World No Tobacco Day.' Because these fast-food organizations, which deal to a large extent with children, are in a very good place to bring about this change in society which we need. It is the children that - if we can keep children from smoking by the time they are seventeen or eighteen, that means, the research indicates, that they will not smoke from there on in. Very few people pick up smoking once they get into their 'twenties. This measure by these organizations to promote non-smoking has very much to be commended.

I also would like to remind hon. members that June 17 will be a red letter day in this Province because on that day nobody under nineteen will be able to buy tobacco legally, nor to be given tobacco legally. Also on that time we will begin our measures, increase our measures, to make public places and places of work smoke free. With these few comments, Mr. Chairman, I will conclude my remarks on this gasoline tax act.

But let me say one more thing. One good thing about this particular tax, as far as consumers are concerned, is that it, to some extent, is tax avoidable. If you don't burn the gasoline, if you walk instead of drive, you can avoid this tax. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just have a few brief comments here. I guess the thrust of what government is doing here is to bring it down to the same level there, the taxation for diesel and gasoline. There seems to be a reason behind it, and maybe it could be a very justifiable reason too, is that they haven't been able to expend the dollars in doing the inspections, and monitoring this has become expensive, so they decided to apply for a rebate for the tax now rather than having it there when it is purchased. Because it is a very difficult job in making cases to monitoring with I guess government resources drying up and applying less people to do that. They've decided to - let's do it the easy way out. Let's have the same taxation on both diesel and gasoline and also go through the process of having these complete and submit for a rebate.

It may very well I'm quite sure cut down on abuses. On the consumption I know of gasoline it would certainly eliminate that. It would also probably expedite certain areas there and eliminate the need for any further inspections and system, which could be positive.

I guess on the other hand, submitting for rebates by these people would make it a little more cumbersome and would require a little more accounting procedures, probably both by the user now, by the farmer or the fisherperson, and probably a little more accounting needed on the government side now too, to process and deal with these rebates. It might be a little more labour intensive in terms of the accounting aspect of it, and where government has not been applying any or very little manpower in inspection areas, there might not be in the long haul a savings but it certainly would be a less cumbersome and a probably more acceptable route to go, so with that, I conclude my comments on Bill 9.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


That it is expedient to bring in a measure to amend The Gasoline Tax Act.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, could we go on please to do, Motion No. 3, Bill 13, The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957. My friend, the Minister of Health will speak for the government.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Chairman, this, "An Act To Amend The Loan Guarantee Act, 1957", has just four simple points to make in it. What we are basically doing under Item 1, is to extend the Labrador Stores by putting in a loan guarantee of $2.5 million dollars, which is due to expire February 28, 1995, and in Clause 2, what we are proposing to do is to increase the amount of money of the guarantee to Newfoundland Ocean Enterprises Limited, the company that operates Marystown Shipyard from $23 million to $26.5 million; and then Clause 3, we are decreasing the amount of the loan guarantee to Smith Seafoods Limited from $175,000 to $125,000, as that company's balance sheet improves; and we are also putting in the "Date of Issue" and the "Expiry Date" to Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Just a few words on this bill, Mr. Chairman, the loan guarantee is of course straightforward, it is after the fact. The question though, and I would say the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, was here a moment ago and I am sorry he seems to have stepped out but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. ROBERTS: I could send word and ask him to come back (inaudible) -

MR. WINDSOR: He was just there.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) Newfoundland and Labrador stores item if you have a question.

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, I am just curious about the Labrador stores if we are going to be putting in a $2.5 million loan guarantee to guaranteeing a loan to a Crown corporation. It is a little -

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: By all means, if the minister (inaudible).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Well, Mr. Chairman, the point is well-taken. What has happened is, these stores which were hitherto run as a division of, latterly the Industry, Trade and Technology department, have now been spun out on their own as a Crown corporation, and we are trying to get a divestiture process underway with somewhat mixed results as my friend from Mount Pearl would understand. These are not exactly the most profitable Crown corporations which we have in the Province.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I take his point that perhaps they have not been the best run, he will agree that's not a criticism of the people who have been running them, it is a criticism really of the system. It is difficult to run a commercial operation in Labrador in accordance with the system that has to grow up in government, that's one of the reasons why we have spun them out into a Crown Corporation, which answers through ENL and Harold Marshall in Labrador is sort of the point man, he is the vice-president for Labrador, and on top of that, many of the people who worked in the old division are still there, Ben Ludlow and those people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Now this company needed a line of credit to enable it to stock it`s shelves and what not and this is the $2.5 million. I don't know why it is $2.5 as opposed to $2.6 or $2.4 or whatever, it's an ongoing, revolving line of credit to enable the corporation to get its stock in and get it`s supplies up and carry on its business; it is no more than that but it is unusual for us to guarantee a Crown corporation, however this one, I think the hon. gentleman would acknowledge is not likely to get a loan at the bank without the Minister of Finance going on the back of the note, so that is what we have done.

MR. WINDSOR: I thank the minister for that. Let me say to the minister, though, that the Public Accounts Committee took the time last year to visit Goose Bay, and had all of the managers and the administrative staff from Goose Bay appear before the committee at a very, very worthwhile day's hearings, I might say. I have to say to the minister, the conclusion we came to is that your managerial staff are very, very weak. They do not even understand the very basics of retailing and of accounting, and cost accounting.

MR. ROBERTS: That is what we are working on now. (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Well, I say to the minister, this too: The minister needs to look - we had a discussion last night about the Public Tender Act. I am a great advocate of the Public Tender Act, but I am also an advocate of the fact that the Public Tender Act can be utilized the way it should be and not broken. There are many cases where goods and services were broken in there, and that you probably look in these books that I referred to last night and it would be an emergency basis - emergency only because nobody did the proper planning to ensure that the goods were brought in before the ice came down. So now, instead of being able to get them in by ship, they had to be flown in or something, and the cost is extremely high.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, these sorts of things, by all means you are going to have to fly those in all winter if the people of Labrador are going to enjoy those commodities. I don't have an argument with that, but when we are flying in cans of tin milk in the middle of the wintertime, that tell`s me that somebody - unless somebody has gone one step further and considered the cost of shipping versus the cost of maintaining that inventory on the shelf. I doubt very much if that will work out that way, so I say to the minister that kind of very simple, basic management appears to be lacking very, very badly.

Cost accounting, inventory control, is negligible. I think we recommended, as a committee, in fact, a computerized system be put in place, at some cost, but at least a computer then does the work, and as long as we can teach somebody to pass a tin of beans in front of the computer, the computer will tell you that somebody owes this amount of money, and that this tin of beans was sold and that we need another one ordered. That kind of very basic retail management needs to be put in place up there to deal with that.

There are many other areas that were extremely weak with that operation. Again, unfortunately, I say to the minister, all the Public Accounts Committee can do is report that this is what we found. We have no teeth, and I will get back to the minister again now very shortly when the House closes and perhaps we can get together and discuss potential legislation for the Public Accounts Committee so that we can deal with those issues, with those things, directly, on behalf of the House of Assembly.

The second one, the Marystown Shipyard, is a $3.5 million increase in the guarantee. I assume that is for the work that is proceeding on the Cow Head, and if so it is very worthwhile and I don't have a problem with that. One of the problems I had with the Marystown Shipyard is the problem that we have always had, that it is undercapitalized. In fact, when I first took the portfolio in 1980, I think the first paper that I brought to Cabinet was an injection of funds, I think, of $8 million in the Marystown Shipyard, by way of a grant, put it in there.

MR. ROBERTS: It has never really been capitalized, has it?

MR. WINDSOR: It was never properly capitalized, no. When I first went in the portfolio - it was not my doing - the officials had a paper in the system; they brought it to me and I said yes, it is logical. How the heck can you operate a company on 85 per cent or 90 per cent debt? It couldn't possibly operate, so we had a choice of either injecting some equity into it, capital by way of equity, or paying the interest every year, which we were bound to do. It made all kinds of sense, and we had a few good years when we built supply vessels on spec. We didn't have markets for them. We built them on spec, and we had to pay - we guaranteed the interest after a twelve month period. The shipyard -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Thirty-three and thirty-four, and I think thirty-five as well, the last one I think we did. Now before thirty-five was finished, it was picked up by the Coast Guard. We sold all of them, as it turned out. It was a risk, but it was something we had to do at that point in time in order to keep the shipyard operating, in order to ensure that the expertise that was available at Marystown, and on the Burin Peninsula generally, stayed there at a time when the Hibernia development was pending. So it was a good investment, I believe, and I think we got our monies back out of it many times over. It is the sort of thing that you have to do; you have to gamble.

I don't want to get into the Hydro debate here now, but when we talk about Crown corporations, and the ones that we should sell, the Marystown Shipyard is one of them. You shouldn't be injecting that kind of money into Marystown Shipyard except for the reasons that I just gave. Except for those reasons, you do that in difficult times to maintain that industry, to maintain the expertise, get it put on a solid footing hopefully and then turn them over to private enterprise.

I'm pleased to hear from Port aux Basques a major announcement last week, $316 million in steel construction work. Three or four years work out there for 300 or 400 people I would think, in that. You know that's a tremendous initiative that was started back as part of the offshore development fund, as was the Cow Head and which now - has nothing to do with the offshore but because the facility is there designed to construct these kinds of major steel structures, that the ability was there now to bid and with the help I'm sure of some ERDA funding or whatever else an agreement was but in place. $316 million coming into this Province from outside, that's new money. Now a large chunk of that will be machinery and equipment that will go outside but maybe there's $100 million that will be left in this Province. More than that? I'd be surprised if it's more than that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) $130 in labour.

MR. WINDSOR: $130 in labour? Well that's an excellent project for an area such as the Port aux Basques area which depended largely on the fishing industry. Other than the railway, which has died over the years, they've had an economic downturn over the last ten or fifteen years. They need that kind of injection and it's a great sort of thing. That's the kind of use for which loan guarantees are for and I guess that's really what I wanted to say.

I know back in '89 the Premier said when we get in we'll get rid of all these loan guarantees that don't make any sense. He soon changed his tune when he found that you cannot operate without providing this kind of assistance to business and industry in certain circumstances and indeed you lose a couple of them. A few will fail and the Province will have to make good on its guarantee but in many cases they do not fail and it doesn't cost the Province anything. It's a contingent liability and let me compare that contingent liability to the Hydro contingent liability which is totally self sufficient and guaranteed by the revenues generated by Hydro. There's a big difference. Here there is no guarantee that the Labrador stores will work. In fact, most likely they won't. There's no guarantee that Marystown Shipyard will work. It could some day go broke and we might have to pay out the $26.5 million now that went into the Marystown Shipyard.

Now the next one is Smith's Seafoods. There are numerous, there's hundreds of fish companies in this Province that have loan guarantees from the Province and they couldn't survive without them, Mr. Chairman. They couldn't survive without them because the banks have put a noose around the necks of fish companies all around this Province, have pulled in on their lines of credits and will now no longer give fish companies any borrowing without a government guarantee. Once again I take the opportunity to say, without taking a great deal of time, it's time that the government dealt with the banks. If we are going to take the responsibilities as taxpayers, if we are going to take the risk by guaranteeing the borrowing of the fish companies then the banks should be taking a smaller percentage of interest as a result of it.

I hope we get a very significant guarantee fee for the incredible risk that we take in guaranteeing loans to fish plants around this Province but I'm concerned about Smiths Seafoods in that it's decreased from $175,000 to $125,000. Now I don't know if that's because they're in the good position, fortunate position of being able to pay back $50,000 or whether the government is just saying we're decreasing your loan. This plant is in Mr. Chairman's district, I assume is it? The plant is in Mr. Chairman's district. Mr. Chairman is nodding that yes it's because they're able to pay back $50,000.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Well you do it either as the bank does. If you have a line of credit from the bank of $100,000 and all of a sudden you make some good sales and you deposit $25,000. They may well take that $25,000 and apply it against your line of credit and say we've now reduced your line of credit.

MR. ROBERTS: That's not what happened here because all that does is deprive the company of cash flow.

MR. WINDSOR: Okay. I was asking that question, is that what's happening? The minister has said no and I accept that and that's good.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Yes. If they don't need that money any more, if they've had that $50,000 to pay - the bank don't need that guarantee then that's excellent. I don't have a problem with it and again it emphasizes the importance of what these loans are meant to be. What they do and what they can do for the private sector.

Now the final one is Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. I assume this totally relates to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, it simply puts in there a date of issue and an expiry date, since the financing for Computer Services, being a wholly-owned corporation of the Province, now is probably an open-ended guarantee, simply almost like a line of credit, an ongoing line of credit. That in order to privatize you need these dates in there. I assume that is the explanation, or maybe the minister can enlarge on that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 13 just for a few minutes. I'm sorry I missed the introduction of the bill. I understand that the Government House Leader spoke. I'm not sure if he clarified everything concerning the so-called Labrador stores, but anyway I would just like to have a few things clarified. Maybe he could answer them.

In reference to clause 4, which is - I will start off probably right there. I am to assume that this particular clause in this bill is to facilitate the privatization.

MR. ROBERTS: Your colleague just said that (inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: I'm assuming that is what this is in there for, is to facilitate the privatization of NLCS, Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. Which, Mr. Chairman, there has been a lot of discussion over the last several months in this Province concerning the privatization issue itself. I guess most commonly the one that has been discussed has been the Hydro issue. I'm sure that we don't want to get into that particular discussion today while we are discussing this Bill No. 13, but just to set the record straight as an individual, as a member of the House of Assembly, I can see where I as an individual, as a member of the House, and as an individual, and a member of this party, can see that while I have some concerns about certain aspects of the privatization of NLCS I am generally in favour of it, and I would support the privatization of NLCS.

Because I believe in the principle basically of privatization. Albeit I don't think we have to wholesale the whole Province as some members have suggested on the other side. They are willing to sell anything that can be operated by the private sector. I think that is silly. Having said that, I can see where the privatization of NLCS can be of benefit to the industry, to the employees, and to the people of this Province. If this bill will facilitate that privatization I can support that aspect of the bill.

That leads into another part of this bill which would be the so-called Labrador stores guarantee of some $2.5 million, which is a substantial amount of money. I'm led to understand that this $2.5 million loan guarantee really is to help these Labrador stores, to give them more of a cash flow.

MR. ROBERTS: To give them a cash flow.

MR. A. SNOW: To give them a cash flow.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: But the nature of the business that they operate, and where they operate, and the size of the community that they have to serve, or deliver a service to, is one of the reasons this is there.

In the one concerning Labrador stores, I'm assuming that the government is still continuing along with the principle that they would like to someday see these turned over to somebody other than the government to operate and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, thank you.

MR. ROBERTS: If only someone would come along and buy them.

MR. A. SNOW: No, thank you. I would suggest to the government that they would encourage as much as possible cooperatives in this area. I think that it is a very good principle. I believe that there is an education process necessary in order for this to be acceptable to the people who utilize this service. I believe that before we foist upon them, so to speak, it is necessary to have an education process explaining the merits and the advantages and the pitfalls.

We all know that there are success stories out there with cooperatives. We all recognize that there is a tremendous amount of service associated with the delivery or the operation of the Labrador stores. I don't think there is a member in this House who doesn't recognize the necessity of somebody operating - and I guess right now it is the government - operating the Labrador stores to provide this service. Most of the communities down on the Labrador Coast would not have a large enough base, if you will, to operate the type of service that is necessary for individuals who reside in the area to have the opportunity of being able to purchase the things that you and I take for granted as a service, where we just have to run over to a convenience store, which would not be available if it weren't for the operation of the Labrador stores by government. Now, it may be available, but it would be at an exorbitant cost, whether that be toothpaste, fuel oil, or ordinary everyday groceries, Mr. Chairman.

It is necessary then for government to be there. There is a public policy function for this particular organization, and they are performing a very good public policy purpose. That is why government should continue to operate those stores and not just cast them aside to anybody who wants to operate them, and ultimately this service would not be available to the residents of the Labrador Coast, in the five towns in which they operate.

These people deserve the right to have these services that all people in other parts of the Province take so much for granted, the ordinary purchase of common household goods and groceries, which we here in St. John's take so much for granted, in Labrador City, in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, or wherever. In most cases, you can just pop out and run down to the grocery store, or whatever, and buy the commodities, but they wouldn't be available at a reasonable cost if these stores weren't open and weren't being operated.

If the aim of this administration is to sometime have these stores either operated by the community or by the private sector, I believe the one avenue that has to be explored is co-operative stores, the co-operative agencies method, and the success of that is going to have to be done through education. I would expect somebody on the other side will rise and answer my question as to whether or not they have proceeded with an education process to explain co-operatives, to invite - the Newfoundland Co-operative Society, I believe it is, to invite them down to go into those communities and use our school system, use our community councils, the combined councils of Labrador, to explain and develop an acceptance of co-operatives, and encourage co-operatives to operate. We should also be considering that there may be opportunities, if some inducement were supplied, where the private sector would be able to operate a couple of those stores, or some other agency would be able to do it.

Mr. Chairman, Clause 4 of this bill talks about the date of issue and the expiry date to a loan guarantee given to Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited. Am I to assume from this, that in this particular privatization, there would not be any loan guarantees to NLCS? This is Bill 13.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I am not involved in the privatization of NLCS because I have declared a conflict situation. My friend, the Member for St. Barbe can do that. But if you go back, the Committee will note that the amendment actually amends the schedule of the act as it was enacted by the 1993 Guarantee Act. And if you look up the 1993 act, which I happen to have before me, there was a guarantee approved for NLCS of $1.544 million. There was no start date and no finish date given for it. Now, that was not unusual, given that at that stage, NLCS was a wholly-owned Crown corporation, so there was no particular significance to the fact there was no start date and no end date.

But, with the prospect of privatization of NLCS, the issue suddenly became a different one. So, all that clause 4 of the bill will do, if it is adopted by the Committee, is provide a start date, December 21, 1993, and that is four days after the act was assented to back in December 1993, and puts in an end date, an expiry date, November 3, 1997, which is roughly four years. I assume it was a four year loan. That is all it does. It is not an increase in the guarantee. It just grows out of privatization. It is a loose end, I gather, to be tidied up. I hope that addresses the hon. gentleman's concerns.

MR. A. SNOW: (Inaudible) what I'm saying is after privatization -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I need to recognize the hon. the Member for Menihek. Hansard has a problem when hon. members speak without being identified and we are causing havoc with the Hansard. I suggest in future that hon. members rise and wait to be recognized.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Sometimes you just get carried away with back and forth which is probably a better way to have it. Maybe if we removed some of the restrictions there might be a better flow in the House altogether.

Anyway, it is $1.594 million?

MR. CHAIRMAN: In response to that -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is $l.544 million.

MR. A. SNOW: It's $1.544 million; and it is to facilitate the privatization of NLCS, this $1.544 million. It is a loan guarantee and you are putting in - it is not new monies added. It is a loan guarantee that the government has there today. When the privatization of NLCS is completed, will this loan guarantee be removed at the end of the guarantee or when NLCS is privatized?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr Chairman, I'm not sure I can answer that. What I would say to my hon. friend is there is a bill to come before the House which we, I hope, will deal with later this week or next week that specifically deals with the NLCS privatization proposal. I will undertake - my friend, the Minister of Finance, is not in the House; he is the minister responsible for dealing with it - I will undertake and we will get him the answer to his question at that time. I just don't know the answer and I confess in preparing to deal with this bill this afternoon, I didn't anticipate that question. I did anticipate the question of is it new money and why are you putting the dates in. I will get him the answer.

My guess - and it is no more than a guess - is that when we sell NLCS, all of the contingent liabilities go with it, but one can take off contingent liabilities a number of ways, as my hon. friend knows. I realize I haven't answered his question fully. I will undertake we will have the answer by the time the NLCS bill comes into the House for debate.

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

MR. A. SNOW: In the same vein, I asked several questions earlier with regard to the Labrador stores, and I don't know if the introduction of the bill - or if you made note of the questions that I did ask concerning the Labrador stores.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology was going -

MR. A. SNOW: `ITT' has gone. Anyway, the questions that I did ask were related to privatization again. I agree with the principle of privatization. I also recognize the function of Crown corporations performing a public policy purpose or a function for the people of this Province, or in particular zones of this Province, and in point of case, this being the Labrador Coast, the five communities that these stores service, and the importance of these stores being able to continue to operate in a good fashion, if you will, so that people can make use of the services that ordinary communities within this Province have and take for granted.

Being able to go and buy a tube of toothpaste at a reasonable cost in a store that is reasonably well furnished and that type of thing is something we all take for granted in other communities, but probably that wouldn't be available if it weren't for this Crown corporation.

Having said that, I also recognize that the government has looked for bids for other groups of people to operate, and I am wondering if they have decided, if they have attempted, to use a co-operative method, the co-op method of operating these stores, and encouraging the communities to take over the stores themselves. It is one of the methods that they should look at. It is just not necessarily privatization, but to allow the communities, themselves to take it over through a co-operative, and if they have looked at it, what indeed you have done as a government to encourage this type of operation of this particular service that the government now provides to people in these five communities in Labrador, because I think that quite often a lot of the people in this House don't recognize the dilemma that these communities find themselves in, and it is completely different from what we normally see in this Province. These are very isolated communities that don't see the type of service such as roads that we take for granted. They use a coastal boat in the summer and, of course, they have airport service year-round, but that is very, very expensive, and again that is one of the problems with operation of these stores. So I am wondering if the minister could answer those particular questions.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, there is a very short answer to this. The divestiture program that was put in place was looked after by Deloitte & Touche, which is a local accounting company, or at least a local branch. There were terms of references set out and, as I recall, there were eleven proposals. I am just trying to reflect back now. It was some time ago since I have seen it. There were eleven proposals, I believe, brought forward, and many of them, if not all of them, sought substantial government input, and that just wasn't on, so we asked the groups, led by the vice-president of Enterprise Newfoundland, through Labrador division, Mr. Harold Marshall, to conduct, through his good offices, some discussions with both the Innu nation and the LIA - is it called the LIA or the LIDC? LIDC, I guess -

MR. ROBERTS: I think the LIDC (inaudible) their sister organization.

MR. FUREY: - to see whether in fact a community co-operative model could be set up using the services of the Labrador Community College, as well, so those discussion are under way. Will they lead anywhere? I don't know, but the propositions that were put forward, as I recall, by the private sector, many of them, if not all of them, sought substantial government help or guarantees of various sorts, and that just wasn't on; that wasn't part of the divestiture package.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, I just want to point out to hon. members that for Hansard we need to identify the member, because the hon. the Member for Menihek just asked a question of the minister which will probably not go on the record of Hansard.

You need to rise in your place and be identified by the Chair to ask the question and then I will, in turn, identify the minister, but reports back from Hansard is that they are having real difficulty in this session, in identifying speakers, and you won't get on the official record of the House.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

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

I apologize for making your job so worrisome.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, it's not my job. If the hon. member wants to get on the official record he has to be identified.

MR. A. SNOW: What happened, just to clarify it, what occurred was that I had asked a series of questions, and the hon. the Government House Leader was going to answer them. Then - I was going to say ITT arrived in his seat - the minister responsible for Industry, Trade and Technology arrived, and he proceeded, but I am sure he just inadvertently failed to respond to the question concerning the responses with regard to the divestiture of the so-called Labrador stores, and with regard to, in particular, how many of the stores, or what type of interest was expressed by the private sector.

Now, I think the private sector could do a very good job on a couple of the stores. I think it would be very, very difficult for all the stores, but a co-op method, I think, with a proper education program delivered to the communities first - and I think that is very important - that the co-ops can do a very, very good job of operating these stores and continue to provide the people on the Labrador Coast with the good service these stores now normally provide.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I don't doubt what the hon. members says is true, that the private sector could probably make a profit in some of the stores - I am just trying to remember which ones are in relatively good shape. But we try to divest as a package, first of all, and some propositions came forward, one or two, seeking all five, but as I recall, most of the eleven sought bits and pieces - in other words, I will take this store and that store but not the other three stores. There were expressions of interest from the private sector and from the communities, depending upon how you define the private sector. I think the hon. member can read between the lines what I am saying there. However, were there any of substance, real meat and potato substance here, we will purchase these stores for their X,Y,Z? I cannot recall that there were any. There may be one or two, but even those were tied to, if we can't make a go of it, can it revert, and will you pay us our losses and that kind of thing, and that just was not on, that wasn't the purpose of divesture.

But I share your view that those stores could make a profit. In fact, when they were in the Department of Development, you recall, your colleague, the Member for Torngat, at that time, Mr. Warren, argued vociferously to take the bindings off his hands to allow them to escape the Public Tender Act, to allow proper purchasing when at point of sale they could pick up on deals at sales. In fact, they did it and tabled it under the book that my friend, the Member for Mount Pearl quoted so eloquently from last night, the exemptions from the Labrador stores. If you go back and look at them, they were numerous, so by taking the bindings off and setting it free as a Crown they can conduct business. I think they have saved in the order of $400,000 in the last twenty-four months, as I recall, as a result of taking it out from underneath the line department and having to operate under line department, the paper work the approval, all the way up through the system, all the way to Labrador.

In fact, we are going to move our purchasing agents. We are creating four jobs, shifting four jobs, as I recall, to Labrador because we think the purchases should be made from Labrador for the Coast of Labrador rather than from St. John's.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I want to make a brief comment to the minister, particularly the Minister of Development, who is involved with this piece of legislation as it relates to the loan guarantees for Newfoundland Ocean Enterprises Limited, the holding company for the Marystown Shipyard. I think they have increased their loan guarantee from $23 million to $26.5 million. I just want to ask the minister to explain to the House what that is for. And I'm convinced - he doesn't have to convince me. I say the minister doesn't have to convince me, Mr. Chairman, that it is for all the right reasons. I can say that as a result of the loan guarantees and other things that have been happening, there is a significant amount of work taking place at the Marystown Shipyard and the Cow Head facilities in the last little while.

There are areas of concern, Mr. Chairman, one that I have raised with the minister today and he and I are going to discuss it further. There is a bit of a problem in terms of the work at the Marystown Shipyard. Basically there is one trade that is receiving most of the benefits and that is the welding trade. Not only have we exhausted all the journeymen welders on the Burin Peninsula but we have exhausted basically all the journeymen welders in Newfoundland, and as of this week, the Marystown Shipyard is now hiring from Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, people who are up to scratch.

I have a bit of concern with that because there are a lot of apprenticeship welders in this Province, on the Burin Peninsula and elsewhere in this Province, who I believe, should be given some consideration. If they can't take them all in there, well, take some, put some in there.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I can tell the Member for Eagle River that I have never been shy. I have always been forthright in commending and thanking the Minister of Development for his commitment to the Marystown Shipyard. I have never been shy in doing that. As a matter of fact, I have thrown more accolades in the direction of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology than most members opposite, and I can also say to the Member for Eagle River, if he wants to get nasty about it, that he should take a bit of example from the Minister of Development, because if you had the same interest in Newfoundland and Labrador as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, you wouldn't be renting cars with government money from Quebec. Having said that, if I were the Member for Eagle River, I would stay quiet, because I have never been shy in commending -

MR. DUMARESQUE: I am shaking over here.

MR. TOBIN: I have never been shy in commending the Member for Eagle River. Now, Mr. Chairman, the point that I was making, I have raised it with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology about the situation regarding the apprenticeship welders, and do you know, I say to the Member for Eagle River, the minister agrees that he is going to try to do something, see if something can be done, he is committed to seeing if something can be done. One thing I have to say, and that is, the Ministers of Development, past and present - I look at the Member for Mount Pearl, Mr. Chairman, they have never been shy in their commitment to the Marystown Shipyard.

I remember when the Member for Mount Pearl came down to Marystown before I was involved in politics, in 1982 and announced the first vessel to be built on speculation, the supply vessel -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He was trying to get you interested, that's why he came down.

MR. TOBIN: That is what enticed me. No, I must say that when they decided to approach me, the Member for Mount Pearl was very fair; he was very fair to me in terms of the situation I was in; he didn't put undue pressure, he was fair and he was always fair to the Marystown Shipyard, because he is the person, I guess, who started the ball rolling in Marystown in terms of vessels on speculation. I believe it was six or seven supply vessels that were built at the Marystown Shipyard under speculation when the Member for Mount Pearl was the Minister of Development.

The Province-wide ferry service started while the Member for Mount Pearl was Minister of Development. The bankers -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You will take care of him when you become Minister of Development.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Sir, I tell you right now that if Marystown Shipyard wants a CEO, even if he is not available, I will go and look for him.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) a couple months ago.

MR. TOBIN: Pardon?

MR. WINDSOR: I hired one a couple months ago.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, but we will look after that. If you're available and I am Minister of Development, I don't care who is there!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: But, Mr. Chairman, at the same time, I have to be fair to my colleague, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, in saying that he has been very, very supportive of Marystown Shipyard, the Cow Head facility.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What's that? He won a lottery. Well, I must say he hasn't been very forthright with the lottery winnings. We haven't seen much evidence of that on the Burin Peninsula, he doesn't buy any clothes down there, Mr. Chairman. I don't know if my colleague, the Member for Grand Bank, can tell me if the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology spends any of his lottery money on the Burin Peninsula. He has been very good in terms of the government money, but I don't know if he purchased anything from my colleague.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No. He doesn't purchase from me, (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: But I want to be fair to that minister as well, he has been very supportive of the Marystown Shipyard and I have said it and I have never been shy in saying it and I won't be; when someone defends and stands up for and supports anything in my district, I will be there to support them, but I throw that out to the minister and probably he can explain why the loan guarantee has increased.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I must tell the hon. member that I concur with all his comments, with the exception of the last Minister of Development who let the side down, he didn't travel much. Do you know who the last Minster of Development was? But I concur, the Member for Mount Pearl I can tell you -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: He was the man (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: That's right -

MR. ROBERTS: Who, Hal Barrett?

MR. FUREY: No, the last Minister of Development, was the Member for Grand Falls, but the former minister, the Member for Mount Pearl, brought some innovative programs to Development and we are still using a lot of them, MAPD and a couple of others, and I can only concur that he did a very good job.

There is a slight increase in our loan guarantee to carry some of the up front cost that we have. As you know, the order books are pretty full in Marystown, The Access Tower, a $12-million contract, the M-71, 72, 73, $40 million; the fisheries conversion vessel was $30-odd million and the supply boats which could rise up to as high as $100 million. So it is a great complaint to have, that your journeymen welders are all employed on the Burin Peninsula, I can tell you.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Yes it is. There were some problems with respect to - as I recall, `Ed' - guarantees on the supply vessels?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, but I think it has all been -

MR. FUREY: It's all ironed out. In fact, we have signed off on the two, possibly three, so it could go from $65 million up to $100 million. Your point on the journeymen welders is well taken. They are all looked after. Every journeyman welder in the entire area in Newfoundland is working and that's why we reach outside. You raised the issue of trying to get apprentice, younger people in there. We'll certainly look at that and I'll speak to the president about it, no problem.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Now that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is here, I want to get back to the Labrador stores before he runs away.

MR. FUREY: I'm listening.

MR. WINDSOR: You're not going to run away again.

MR. FUREY: I'll go behind the curtains.

MR. WINDSOR: As it relates to the Labrador stores, I said some time ago, there's a great deal of inefficiency in the stores. I would like to see them privatized because I think it makes a lot of sense.

One of the problems we have up there is that government has tried to stay away from competing with what private enterprise may be there. There are some businesses up there now that are moving into the more lucrative areas and every time they do, the government stores are basically told: don't compete with private enterprise. So if somebody is selling videos, renting out videos, then the government stores are not supposed to rent out videos. For everything that became profitable, private enterprise took over. So the stores are now being left with the non-profitable part. I say, Mr. Chairman, that I know we can't unfairly compete with private enterprise but we should not unfairly subsidize the government operation either to try to boost up a private sector there that may not be totally efficient. I think there's tremendous room for improvement.

The minister talks about the Public Tender Act and some of the things that I mentioned last night. I said earlier, while he wasn't here, and I want to say it again particularly for his benefit, that the Public Tender Act is one thing and there are cases where it costs you more to comply with the Public Tender Act - it does, and we know that. We knew when that legislation was introduced that there would be times, some situations when it was less efficient and less effective to do that and where we probably wouldn't get as low a price as you could out on a spot market and pick up the sales.

MR. FUREY: Quality is a problem.

MR. WINDSOR: Quality is a problem only for fresh fruits and vegetables, these sorts of things.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: I also said earlier, he gets into the minister's comment here, Mr. Chairman, that when the Public Accounts Committee went up there a year ago and went through the exercise with all of the managers that we certainly found - and all you have to do is look at these books tabled by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the exemptions, the Public Tender Act and its pressing emergency, you had to get this stuff flown in, but it's canned goods - the minister is going to tell me that shelf life is not great, I disagree. I don't think there's anything that's produced in a can that won't last at least a year.

MR. FUREY: I'm not saying that I disagree. I'm simply saying that as a government ordering through a line department, we weren't treated very well by some of the suppliers. They sent us stuff that was in their warehouse for months and months. The shelf life on a can of Carnation milk or whatever it happens to be, it says good for twelve months, but we were discovering stuff that was on the shelves that we bought in 1990 that had dates 1989 and 1988.

MR. WINDSOR: That may be part of it. Part of it is that I suspect the managers don't even know the basics of rotating stock. That there's stuff in the back of the warehouse that's been there for five years and eventually when it comes out it is no good. There are basic management techniques - that in our view, from what we saw - are not being applied out there. I'm not going to be overly critical of these operations, but when you talk about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in an operation, then I think it's incumbent on government, on the minister and on his department to ensure that basic administrative tools are in place. The Public Accounts Committee recommend an expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars to put in a computerized cash register system, which is the only way you will ever control the inventory up there. I strongly suspect that a tremendous amount of inventory is being pilfered or is being taken out. Credit is being given up there when you know that person really should not be extended credit. In an operation like that they shouldn't be given credit anyway, but it is being done on good will between the managers and the individuals who are coming in there, I think we were told, so there are many areas where it needs to be looked at very, very carefully, and I believe that a tremendous amount of loss can be eliminated, but the ultimate has to be to privatize it, but you are not going to privatize it until you put it on a sound footing, so go ahead and invest the money it takes to put in that computerized cash register system, which automatically gives you your inventory control.

You know if you have sold fifteen cases of beans and you only had twenty in inventory it is time to order another fifteen cases of beans, but part of the problem up there, I say to the minister, a large amount of the expenditure was in flying in goods in the wintertime. Why are we flying in canned beans in the wintertime? These are the sorts of products that should be shipped up during the summer months. By all means, you have to fly in vegetables and fruit, perhaps some fresh meats from time to time, but these types of commodities, that is simply management. It is simply knowing what your market is, what you are going to sell, and having enough of it there.

Now we didn't have enough information to know whether or not there are 400 tins of milk sitting in the warehouse when you are only going to sell fifty over a period of time, which is common, I say to the minister, one of the problems we have in smaller businesses right throughout the Province. This is not specific to Labrador stores. You go to any small convenience store and you will find a lot of dead inventory that has been sitting there on the shelf for whole periods of time. These people don't realize that it is costing them money that they have in purchasing that stock in the first place. They are financing that, and that is chewing into their interest. The same applies to Labrador stores. It is costing the Labrador stores money to have a lot of dead stock on the shelves that they are probably not going to sell for ten years, if ever at all, and the answer to that is to clear it out. Sell it; have a sale. If you have 400 cases of beans, sell 350 of them if fifty is all that you need to have in stock at any one time.

There are lots of things that can be done. They are pretty basic retailing techniques, pretty basic stuff. I am not a retailer. It is almost common sense but, from what we saw, these kinds of things are not being done in Labrador stores and as a result there are two impacts. One is the cost to the store; the other is that the consumer is getting less than a quality product in many cases, because the stuff is being bought in incorrect volumes and is being held on shelves far too long. So there are many things that need to be looked at as it relates to the Labrador stores.

I suspect that service could be improved for the people. My friend from Torngat will know far better than I, but I suspect there are weaknesses in the service provided to the people there as well, and we have to realize that is the ultimate objective in operating those stores, because it appears that private enterprise was not prepared to go in there. In order to make those goods and services available to the people of these communities in Labrador, the government has to be involved in it. The sooner we can have it privatized, the better.

We should not be continuously putting subsidies into Labrador stores unless it is absolutely necessary. If we must, we must; I don't have a problem with that. If there is a level of subsidy that will always be required, I don't have a problem with that, but as long as there are inefficiencies in those stores, then I have a problem with it and we have to deal with it, and it is not an easy problem. It hasn't appeared in the last three or four years. It has been around for a long time, but it is high time, I think, that it were dealt with and that we use every mechanism available to us to try to change those operations around to something that will be profitable, and that will be marketable to the private sector, and if we are allowing now the private sector to go in certain communities and to compete with those stores, and every time the private sector finds a commodity that is profitable to them, then the government store is supposed not to carry that product. In other words, we are retaining those products that we lose on, and letting the private sector, or whatever it may be in a particular community, take over the profitable commodities.

That is the kind of thing that we were told, the Public Accounts Committee, which was a very interesting debate. My friend from Eagle River will remember that. We had various comments, but we recommended highly that money be put in there to put in place a computerized cash register system for accounting and cost control purposes, for inventory control, which could far more easily then be monitored by the management people who are sitting in Goose Bay.

I have to say also that I don't know why we needed, and I don't have the numbers so I stand to be corrected but there were four or five people I think, involved in purchasing?


MR. WINDSOR: Three people in Goose Bay to purchase goods for five stores. What's that again?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: They were here and we transferred them to Goose Bay some years ago. Goose Bay is the right place I suppose although the purchasing is probably done in Montreal or St. John's but I'm not sure why we need three people to purchase goods for five little stores. Well not little stores, they're substantial stores but nevertheless if you're buying for one store you should be able to buy for five stores. I think we were somewhat concerned that perhaps we're a little bit heavy in that area, in the management and administration in Goose Bay. Perhaps what was needed was some of those people who perhaps have higher qualifications to be moving out to the communities more often. To be of assistance at the local level to the managers of the stores themselves. To contribute in that way and that may have been of some benefit. So there were a lot of things that we found in the Public Accounts Committee, Mr. Chairman, that we had some concerns about and many areas that were very evident where improvements could be made to make these stores more profitable. I'd be interested in hearing my friend from Torngat comment on this. He, probably more than anybody else here, is familiar with the operations and perhaps some of the information that I have is incorrect. I'd love to hear his comments on what I've said.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I'll be very brief because I think we're probably going over the same well tilled ground.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair hasn't recognized the hon. member.

MR. ROBERTS: I think my hon. friend from Mount Pearl made a -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair hasn't recognized the hon. member yet.

MR. ROBERTS: When the Chair is ready, if I'm recognized, I'll speak.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, some of us are too quick off the uptake.

MS. VERGE: Your colleague wanted to speak.

MR. ROBERTS: If my colleague wants to speak, he has every opportunity to speak. I didn't see him stand. If he wanted to speak he had every opportunity to speak.

Mr. Chairman, there was a great deal of sense in what my hon. friend from Mount Pearl said and a great deal of merit in the suggestions he put forward. I can tell him that all of these points are being pursued. That's one of the reasons why the government moved the operation out from under a civil service, a public service department into a corporation that initially had a mandate to get rid of these stores, to privatize them and now it appears will have to continue to operate them. It's been run by - but Harold Marshall who is the vice-president of ENL for Labrador, as members of the committee may know, comes with a private sector background and very much understands and appreciates - and in my discussions with him, concurs in the sorts of suggestions made by my friend from Mount Pearl.

Let me conclude with just two or three points which I think may be worth making or I wouldn't try to make them. First, as I say to my friend from Mount Pearl, the kinds of ideas he puts forward show the value of bringing market discipline into these operations. The Northern Labrador store operation is essentially a commercial operation. The only reason the government got into it is because in 1944 the Hudson's Bay Company, which had provided these facilities over the years, simply threw them down and walked away and said: we can no longer make a profit or an adequate profit, took its investment and went elsewhere. The government of the day, Commission of Government, took over the operation. Now it's been carried on ever since by the Commission of Government, then latterly by the Province and now by a Crown corporation.

Secondly, the real way to change the operation is through the mind set of those involved. My friend from Mount Pearl made a number of comments about inventory control and getting rid of dead inventory - things which to a retailer and I'm not one but I've had some experience in working with people who are - to a retailer these are second nature. One of the reasons we moved out from under the Public Tender Act is they'd go out for a case of peas and they had to take the cheapest case of peas on offer, even though that might not be the case of peas that people wanted to buy. Since at the end of the day this is not a charge on the public, at least in theory, but is a self financing operation, the government acceded to the request from the minister that we move these out from under the Public Tender Act. Let them operate on commercial considerations and if -

MR. WINDSOR: I won't name the brand, but if you want brand A tea, you call tenders for Brand A tea.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, but the problem with brand A tea, if it is available from one supplier and then the becomes meaningless.

MR. WINDSOR: You mean the wholesaler is the problem?

MR. ROBERTS: You have to let the stores run as a commercial operation I think we are both saying. Let me make two other points. The first is that in the areas in which these stores have a monopoly, and if memory serves me, four of the five communities have a monopoly, not in Nain but in Hopedale, Makkovik -

MR. WINDSOR: Makkovik, Cartwright.

MR. ROBERTS: - Postville, they are not in Cartwright, The Bay is in Cartwright or whatever The Bay is now, the Northern it is called; there is competition in Nain, is there competition in Davis? My friend from Torngat Mountains would know. The private store in Davis closed up, they sold out and moved on.

The monopoly brings with it good and bad if you wish. Good in a sense that you have to buy at our store but bad in the sense that there is a duty to carry a pretty comprehensive range of whatever in these stores. My friend I know has been in them, (inaudible) are really general stores and they have to have a little of everything because if you can't buy at the government store, the NL or whatever it is called, the Northern NLSD store, you can't buy it nowhere within the community, you have to go to Goose Bay and that's not always easy and it's certainly awfully expensive, and the other point to be made is the obvious one that my friend made, geography.

These are the most remote communities within the Province, that the end of a very long supply line which for several months of the year is only by air, there is no land supply line possible to a number of those stores so that's a difficulty but with all, I would say the thrust of his remarks is one which we on this side would very much endorse; we are trying to move them forward on a commercial basis; it's a matter of inculcating a mind-set in the men and women running them who are good people, they are working within a system they have known for many years, it is a matter of trying to change that; we haven't had a lot of success in privatizing, it was my friend, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has said, we had a number of bids but at the end of the day none of them was even remotely financially acceptable.

I believe we are now working with the LIA or the LIDC in an effort to try to develop some operation that might be suitable, but it is difficult at this stage from what I see, to envisage a situation where we will be out of the store business in Northern Labrador for some time to come.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


I would like to make a few comments regarding not only government store operations in the District of Torngat Mountains but government operations in general, in the District of Torngat Mountains, however, the first part of my comments will yes, be with respect to the government store operations in the communities of Makkovik, Postville, Hopedale, Davis Inlet and Nain.

Mr. Chairman, up until recently, yes, the government stores had a monopoly. I guess the Town of Nain, as the fastest growing town in the district has had the opportunity of other businesses coming up in the community, retail businesses, hardware, foods; however the comments made by the hon. Member for Mount Pearl, there is some truth in them but the fact is, no one I don't think in the District of Torngat Mountains can really operate a profitable business.

I was talking to some constituents just last week who had the privilege of buying fresh milk in the Town of Nain and they were paying for fresh milk, $4.97 a litre.

AN HON. MEMBER: A litre?

MR. WILLIAM ANDERSEN III: A litre, and about $5.00 a head for lettuce and that is the cost we look at of flying it into the district. Mr. Chairman, unfortunately with the District of Torngat Mountains, unlike other districts in Labrador, the District of Torngat Mountains does not get the provincial air freight subsidy, so the freight we fly to Nain for example, from Goose Bay, is at ninety-two cents per pound, regardless of what it is; that is what businesses pay to fly in their goods and services.

Mr. Chairman, government stores, I think, have taken a huge change in direction in that they are no longer a public service oriented shop but rather a privately operated orientation. In fact they have changed their name to Labrador Stores Incorporated whereby each manager has been given the authority to supply the stores.

The hon. Member for Mount Pearl earlier stated that the three buyers in Goose Bay were the responsible buyers for all of those store operations. That now has been changed to the managers being responsible for all the purchasing. As well the managers are responsible for determining whether items go on sale or not. There have been changes which are positive.

I do agree in privatizing the government stores but again that is going to take some time due to the fact that whoever takes them over, it does not matter if it is a business from the Island, the LIDC or the LIA, they are going to have to look at ways and means of not having to operate on subsidies, and that does not become a simple matter in the District of Torngat Mountains regardless of what you try and do in the district.

One of the examples, Mr. Chairman, is that businesses operating in the district have the most difficult time getting insurance. For example there are only three insurance companies who will insure anything in the District of Torngat Mountains north of 53 degrees parallel. An example of that, Mr. Chairman, I bought a boat last year and I have yet to find an insurance firm in Newfoundland and Labrador who will insure it in Nain, Labrador because it is north of 53 degrees parallel.

That is the kind of uphill battle businesses and individuals have in the district that a lot of residents from the rest of the Province do not realize we have to face. Privatization of the government stores certainly is a priority as far as I am concerned as representative of the area, but the approach to privatization is going to have to take into account all areas of expenses that are going to make an operator have to look at whether or not it is a viable operation or not. Take a little community like Postville, Labrador, less than 300 residents. It would be most difficult. These are the kinds of things that whoever proposes to take over the government stores is going to have to take into consideration.

Mr. Chairman, privatization. I'm a little bit surprised that the Opposition should support the privatization of the government stores in Labrador, which probably is a more difficult proposition than privatizing Hydro. Certainly I'm all for privatization of all aspects of operations in this Province for the benefit of the people in each and every district, including my own in the Torngat Mountains District, which I believe is the most expensive to live in. No two ways about it.

I work very closely with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and along with the residents of the communities as well as the LIA and LIDC. The other problem we face with privatization of government stores in Labrador is the constituents themselves. Constituents want the service, but on the other hand constituents are afraid that they would face another 1944, where once the government stores are privatized the operator would just close up and pull out and leave the constituents holding the bag, if you will. This is something that has to be taken into consideration.

Therefore I believe at the present, with Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Marshall has taken a very good approach at this point in operating those stores as private entities. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Just very briefly, Mr. Chairman, if I could. I believe there was a question asked about why we would put in dates and so on, and was that a change in dates and so on.

What happened there was this is a guarantee that had to do with the purchase of computers, so it was a computer purchase. At the time when the bill was done we did not know the dates of issue and so on, so this is just actually filling in the blanks in terms of the last loan guarantee act. We simply didn't know the exact dates when we did the loan guarantee and we are just putting in the correct dates. It is not doing something retroactively. It is nothing associated with privatization or anything else. It is a simple purchase of computers.


That it is expedient to bring in a measure further to amend The Loan and Guarantee Act, 1957, to provide for the advance of loans to and the guarantee of the repayment of bonds or debentures issued by or loans advanced to certain corporations.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, could we rise the Committee, please?

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole on Supply has considered the matters to it referred and has directed me to report that it has passed certain resolutions and ask that bills be introduced to give effect to same, and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, resolutions read a first and second time.

On motion, the following bills, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act" and "An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957," read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and their titles be as on the Order Paper.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I'm in the hands of the House. We've done a reasonably good afternoon's work. We are beginning to hit our stride as legislators here. If the House were so minded we could call the grand concourse bill. I'm prepared to suggest that if members would carry on till about, my guess, 5:30 p.m. I think my friend for St. John's East wants to speak. The minister will be no more than five minutes introducing it. I know my friend for Mount Scio - Bell Island wants to say a word or two on it, I believe.

AN HON. MEMBER: We have a couple (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry? I suspect there are members on the other side. I'm in the House's hands. We are going to have to deal with the bill now or later as the House prefers. If hon. members wish we could carry on say till 5:30 p.m. and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 5:00 p.m.

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry, I hear one 5:00 p.m.. Do I...?


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I'm overwhelmed by the underwhelming response to my offer. I will move the House adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: I say `Bring back Baker' would be the slogan we would really want. We will be dealing tomorrow with the motion which stands in the name of my friend for St. John's North. I will move the House do now adjourn, Sir.

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