June 7, 1994                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLII  No. 57

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure today to inform the House that the hon. John Crosbie has accepted my invitation to serve as Chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: In accepting the appointment, John Crosbie has yet again agreed to serve the people of this Province in the same tireless manner in which he has served, not only this Province but this country, for more than a quarter of a century. Mr. Crosbie's efforts on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and indeed the people of Canada, are well known, and while any elaboration of them at this time isn't necessary, for information purposes I do so briefly for the record.

After having served briefly on the St. John's City Council, Mr. Crosbie was first elected to this House in 1966, the same time that I was, and where I had the pleasure of working closely with him for five years. He served as a minister in the Cabinets of both Mr. Smallwood and Mr. Moores.

In 1976 he was elected to the House of Commons and served as a minister in various portfolios in the administrations of Prime Ministers Clark and Mulroney. On June 25, 1993, he decided to leave public life when the next general election was called, having completed by then twenty-eight years of public service.

Mr. Crosbie's earlier education included studies in St. John's, Newfoundland; Aurora, Ontario; and at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, where he graduated with first-class honours in political science and economics, winning the University Medal in political science.

He studied law at Dalhousie Law School - `the' law school, in some judgements, anyway - graduating in 1956 as the University Medallist in Law. He was awarded the Viscount Bennett Scholarship by the Canadian Bar Association as the outstanding law student for that year. During 1956-1957 he undertook postgraduate studies at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London and the London School of Economics. He was called to the Newfoundland Bar in 1957, and was awarded an honourary Doctor of Laws Degree by Dalhousie University in May of 1984.

Mr. Speaker, the role of Chancellor is to keep and preserve the statutes, liberties, customs, rights and privileges of the University and to promote its well-being and that of its members.

The Chancellor is a member of the Board of Regents and the Senate, and serves as chairman of convocation. All degrees are conferred by the Chancellor, or at least, in the name of the Chancellor.

Mr. Speaker, anyone knowing John Crosbie's history could only agree that this eminent Newfoundlander is well-suited for the role of Chancellor of Memorial University, and I am grateful to him for accepting the invitation to serve in that capacity.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I'm very tempted to accuse the government of one of the most blatant political patronage appointments they ever made. A former Liberal member, a former Liberal Cabinet minister. But I shall restrain myself from that because I know that isn't the case.

It would, however, be interesting to see - I would like to be a fly on the wall when the Minister of Education has his first meeting with the Chancellor, if he ever gets a chance to have it. That would be interesting to see. Or with his - I gather the President of the University is the Vice-Chancellor, if I recollect. Is that true?


MR. SIMMS: I believe Mr. May used to be the Deputy Minister of Fisheries when Mr. Crosbie became the federal Minister of Fisheries, if I'm not mistaken.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Federally.


PREMIER WELLS: An earlier time.

MR. SIMMS: Anyway, aside from all of those asides, let me commend the government on their choice. All of us, of course, most of us on this side, for sure, know Mr. Crosbie fairly well. I certainly had some occasions over the last few years as Leader of the party to deal with him. I think this is a very deserved recognition of a considerable amount of dedicated public service. I think that is number one, and the first thing that probably has to be recognized. As the Premier said in his statement, of course, he has agreed to once again serve the people of this Province in a very prestigious manner. And, knowing John Crosbie as I do, I assure the government and the Premier that he will work, as the Premier says, in a tireless effort to improve the lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians through his new role of Chancellor at Memorial University. We, on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, I can assure the Premier, are most supportive, and commend the government for this particular appointment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: 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 rise and join in congratulating the government on the appointment of Mr. Crosbie as Chancellor of Memorial University. Mr. Crosbie and I may have disagreed over the years on policy issues and these types of political differences, but Mr. Crosbie has, to bring to this position, a great deal of energy, ability and international and national contacts which are so important to the role of the Chancellor.

As many people know, one of the sub-texts of the role of the Chancellor is to promote the University internationally and also financially, and perhaps increase the contributions to the University by other bodies, other companies, by international donations, by increasing the prestige of the University, and I am sure, Mr. Crosbie's prodigious energy and talent and ability will be brought to this task as he has brought it to every other task that he has undertaken, and I think that is a very good appointment.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank You.

Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Health but I would like to put a question on a separate topic to the Premier, just a short question.

From discussions the House Leaders have had, I am now advised, it appears as if the sitting of the House is going to conclude in the next couple of days; we will probably be settling most of the business that government needs to deal with and the House will then close for the summer recess. Now that that has been made clear, with only a couple of days left, I presume now the Premier has his decision made with respect to Bill 1, Hydro privatization, so I would like to ask him now a straightforward question - a fairly straightforward question: Will he tell the House and the people of the Province, does he intend now to call Bill 1 before the House closes in the next couple of days?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: In the circumstances outlined by the Leader of the Opposition, which I understand has come about as a result of discussions between the two House Leaders, that they are looking at possibly cluing up some other matters that need to be dealt with on a more urgent basis and probably closing by Thursday or Friday of this week, in those circumstances, no, Mr. Speaker, the Hydro bill wouldn't be called for this sitting; when it will be dealt with, will be for government to decide in the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a new topic and I would like to direct my questions to the Minister of Health.

One of the ways that hospitals in this Province have been trying to deal with the financial restraint imposed upon them by the government, in particular through budgetary cuts, has been to replace permanent employees with casual employees. In fact, in some cases, Mr. Speaker, it seems that permanent employees have been laid off, and then they have been re-hired as casuals in some instances, I am told, even though most of those people will still work the full complement required each week; indeed, I am told, by the way, that some employees have worked as many as 100 hours a week during this past year - nurses.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker - and I hope the minister is aware of this - it has come to my attention now that over one quarter of the nurses employed in this Province are now listed as casual employees. I would like to ask the minister: Does government support this shift, this movement, towards casual employees as a way to save money in employee benefits? Is that something you are advocating?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, there are a fair number of casuals in the system now, and the reason for that is, when people are needed they are called to work, and having a permanent person who comes on regular shifts when not necessary is often not an appropriate way to handle the situation that develops from time to time. In some areas we do have casuals and we, in general, support where casuals are.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition on a supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister there are a lot of changes going on in the health care system that I think are driven primarily by fiscal restraint, and many people in this Province, including myself, are concerned that very little, or no consideration, in fact, has been given to the impact on health care. Let me offer another example to the minister to see if he is aware of this one.

After last year's budgetary cuts, there was a period of several months when the intensive care unit in Twillingate didn't have one permanent nurse on staff, and yet that is where you have the most critically ill patients. In Twillingate their primary care depended on casual employees who were called in on short notice, and in my view, Mr. Speaker, that is very dangerous.

I want to ask the minister this: Has his department done an assessment of the impact of the use of casual employees on the delivery of health care in this Province, and presuming that he has, would he table the findings in the House?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member referred to Twillingate. There is not much point in having permanent people come to a unit where there are no patients, and that is the problem.

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

MR. SIMMS: So the answer on the Twillingate issue, as the minister said, is there were no patients in the intensive care unit during those several months. Is that what he is saying? We will find out.

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, it isn't what I am - you just said it, but I am going to find out if that is accurate, and if it is not accurate I will be asking the minister tomorrow to withdraw those comments and apologize to the House for misleading it.

Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister a final question. I am talking about casual employees, and this is a concern that a lot of people have. We all know, and I am sure the minister understands, that casual employment is not a very attractive career option for people, because they can't get loans, they can't get mortgages, they can't get credit for other major expenditures and so on because of the very nature, lack of security with casual jobs. With those kinds of prospects facing them, my concern is that the nursing profession in this Province is going to find it very, very difficult in recruiting new recruits if this is the trend towards casual employees. I'm sure the minister understands that and I'm sure he must have concerns about it.

I want to ask him: Is this a trend that the government is encouraging for jobs in the health care system in this Province? Is that what he'd like to see done?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, it's not so much a trend. Where certain procedures are not taken, or where a ward or part of a hospital is not highly used or where there are only a few patients, there's not much point in having a full staff in that particular area; and that's what has been happening in some parts of the Province. Rather than having a full crew on, what you do is you have some on, if you need them, permanently and then you call in people as the demand increases. That seems to be a perfectly reasonable way to operate health care.

The health care system doesn't operate primarily to provide permanent jobs to any one profession. It's there to take care of the sick in the best way possible using the funds that we have. That's the problem and that's what we're trying to do. So, it's good to have casuals where casuals are appropriate, and in some cases casuals are appropriate.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the President of Treasury Board. Yesterday the Minister of Education gave several reasons for cancelling public exams this year. One of the reasons was that there was no guarantee that exams would be marked. Now let me ask the President of Treasury Board, if the minister's statement indicates that the government doesn't expect, nor do they want, a settlement to the strike before the end of the school year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we have been working diligently and are still working towards achieving a negotiated settlement in terms of the collective bargaining with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association. We will continue to pursue that course and I hope that we're successful. Mr. Speaker, that is the prudent course to follow at this point in time.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, if schools don't reopen this year, the government will save approximately $80 to $100 million over this school year in operating the educational system. Now a lot of people think that you and the government will find this cash, this windfall, if you'd like to call it that, as irresistible. Now hopefully you can convince us, the people of this Province, that that is not true. What new initiatives have you taken to get an agreement with the NLTA?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, without getting into the details, the numbers the hon. gentleman are using are totally incorrect, and I could perhaps at some point in time sit down with him and go over the numbers, but they are totally incorrect.

Mr. Speaker, it is my fondest wish that before the school year ends that we have a negotiated settlement to the teachers' strike and that they are back in the classrooms before the end of the year. That is my objective and I am not going to comment on the speculation as to what happens if we don't get an agreement three weeks, six weeks or two years down the road. It's pure speculation, Mr. Speaker, and it would be pure folly for me to respond in that way.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago the minister spoke optimistically about the better than expected performance of the provincial economy during this first quarter. Now since the teachers' strike will undoubtedly have a negative impact on our provincial economy and consumer spending - I am sure the minister is aware of that - have you taken into account what effect this will have on the performance of the economy in the second and third quarter?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are taking that into account.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have some questions for the Minister of Education. Yesterday the minister announced the cancellation of the public examinations. Many students whose records of achievement may be classified as borderline have concerns about their final evaluation and how it will be calculated. Will the minister be issuing precise guidelines for the tabulation of student marks; how will borderline students be assured of fair treatment; and will there be an appeal procedure readily available to students?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I made clear yesterday that in due course all of these things will be revealed. We have to put a process in place to make sure that no student is treated unfairly.

The disadvantage that the borderline student will have is that he is not going to be able to solve all of his past problems in one fell swoop, as sometimes would be the case if there were a public exam. I expressed concern yesterday that the one particular group that might indeed be impacted on a bit negatively in this would be the student who is depending on that final mark in the public to pull himself or herself out of a bad year. That is a little bit difficult one to handle.

As far as an appeal process, the same appeal process will be there as would have been there in any other year, and every effort will be made... The results, the marks, will ultimately end up in the department, and it is the Department of Education which will be awarding a diploma based on these marks just as soon as we can get them.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that there are approximately 115 to 120 different courses in the senior high school curriculum, and that only eighteen of these courses were scheduled to be evaluated by way of public examinations. Does the minister, therefore, intend to proceed with the balance of the evaluations without the use of teacher in-school marks, and if he does intend to get the in-school marks, what procedure is he going to put in place to ensure that they become available?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, in a normal year there would be at least three different components used to give a final mark. It would be the in-school marks; it would be, for the eighteen or twenty courses which are in the publics, the public exam; and it would also be the teacher's evaluation of the student. You try to mesh these three, and then you would come up with a fair evaluation of what the student did.

Now, this year we are sure one component will not be there; that is the public exams. We are not sure as to whether or not the teaching component will be there. Who knows, maybe tomorrow or the next day we might have a negotiated settlement with the teachers. If we don't have that negotiated settlement then we are going to have to go on simply one component, which is the in-school marks, the results of the quizzes and tests.

Now the vast majority of cases where the tests were written are available at the board offices, especially boards that are computerized, that has been fed through the school system and it actually stays in the board office. In the vast majority of schools in the Province students did receive written reports. I say, the vast majority, because there are schools which don't give that, so there are always exceptions.

If we have to we will try to base the mark on the in-school exams, but to try to compensate for the other two components we will be using the computer system in the department to go back three years - in the case of Grade XII - or two years or whatever, because it has pretty well been determined that a student's performance in future years - not 100 per cent, it is not totally accurate - but generally speaking, you can track a student from Grades X, XI, XII to get some indication as to where he or she is.

Before the hon. member gets up and says so, I will have to say that there are always exceptions. There are exceptions to every rule. But generally speaking, educators, as the hon. member, being one, will know, using that as a part of the overall system - you wouldn't take one item alone - but bringing it together, I am confident that if the teachers don't go back, we can give a diploma which will be accepted by the universities in the Atlantic region and yes, it will be accepted in Ontario and British Columbia, anywhere in the world. Because it will be a diploma exactly like the diploma that students have received for the last twenty-five or fifty years, but it will be based on certain criteria which are educationally sound, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Finance. We are now into the third month of this fiscal year. As the minister knows, in compiling his Budget he looks at the economic performance up to the end of the calendar year of 1993 - that would have been the latest quarterly report that he had available to him, with some updating of any data that might be available. Can the minister tell us now, really, six months since that data was compiled, does he see any appreciable change? We've had some indication that the economy may be performing a little bit better than we had predicted. Would the minister like to give us an update on that now?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member is certainly right; he understands the budgeting process. When our Budget was put together, we were looking at real numbers up to the end of the last calendar year, and beyond that it was simply projections. Since that time, a number of things have happened.

First of all, in the first quarter of this calendar year there have been some improvements beyond what we expected in the economy. There have been more full-time jobs created in the private sector than we had estimated. There is better spending activity than we had predicted. So the first quarter of the calendar year turned out to be a little better than we had estimated; therefore, we changed our growth projections that were in our Budget recently, upwards, more in line with the Conference Board of Canada and their projections.

Since then we've also had extra information from this fiscal year beyond the first three months of the calendar year which also seems to indicate that things are getting better and government revenues perhaps will be better than we had estimated in the Budget. I would like to tell the hon. member that the final numbers for April were significantly better than we had expected on just about all fronts. I'm hoping that May, when it is put together - early indications are that it is good - but when it is put together in the next two or three weeks we will see a continuation of that positive trend.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, that is certainly encouraging news from the minister. We are pleased to see that. Would the minister tell us, though, what does he see as the implications of the ongoing strike of the NTA, and I guess the insecurity of other public servants in view of the ongoing negotiations, prolonged negotiations, with other public sector bargaining units? Obviously, there is a lack of consumer confidence as it relates to public servants and teachers who are a little concerned about spending, and that relates itself into a lack of corporate confidence of businesses that don't want to invest and move forward.

Can he give us something to look forward to? Can he tell us that this situation is not going to overall affect us in the long-term? Does he predict that we will see real growth? The predicted 0.6 per cent for this year - I think he just indicated that would go up. Can he give us a guess, as well, I know he is not going to give us a real number; he answered the question the other day - our deficit was predicted at $24.6 million. Where does he see that now?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, there is an awful lot of substance to the question and I am not sure if I can answer all of it. First of all, we have put our projections up to 1 per cent rather than .06 per cent in terms of growth, and that will be looked at again once we get more numbers from this current fiscal year. I would suggest to him that the main point at which we would reassess would be perhaps October, when we have the mid-year results, when we have a longer trend to look at, and further adjustments at that time being made.

I would like to point out to him that a lot of what's happened, and I am sure he knows this, has revolved around a matter of trust rather than reality, and when things started to get really bad about three, three-and-a-half, four years ago, we went through a very rough time with our public sector unions and our approach was that in the fall we would sit down with them, go over the numbers and say look: our numbers are much worse than we had projected. What is the solution to this? And the hon. member knows what we have gone through on that, and obviously, this could not happen year after year. There would have to come a point when things don't continually get worse but you have to come to a year when things start to get better. I believe this is the year that things have started to get better and I hope that people in the Province would develop some kind of confidence from that turnaround.

In our negotiations with the public sector unions, we have gone through that scenario with them, that if, in the Fall, when we become confident of our numbers, when we become confident that this is really happening and the amount, and we could actually change our numbers, then we perhaps may not want that about 2.5 per cent from them that we have been talking about, so some decisions would be delayed until then, anyway, in that process. Obviously, as the situation improves - our $24.5 million deficit on current account was based on the supposition that we would get $50 million from total compensation so, as our revenues improve, we will keep to that target of $24.5 million, but not take as much from the public sector unions. If it reaches that level where we have the $50 million or $60 million improvement in revenues, then you will see our current account deficit dropping, so I could give him an accurate answer probably at the end of September.


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

If members would stop talking across the House. We had a very well-conceived question and a wonderful answer, but I don't think all the members heard it, and I would like to give the hon. gentleman, the Member for Mount Pearl, and the minister the due attention they deserve.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a very quick question and a very brief answer, Mr. Speaker.

The minister partially answered it I think, and if I understand him correctly, he said that if conditions improve, then he will be asking for less from public sector, leaving the deficit as was projected, which I think is imminently sensible. Let me ask the minister: Are there any short-term programs to deal with the unemployment situation; we can't wait until October to find out if we are in good financial position. Does the minister, does the government, have any plans to deal with the unemployment problem in the short term?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes - a short answer.


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

MR. BAKER: It didn't work.

Mr. Speaker, at this point in time, no; at this point in time, we have seen an increase in the number of jobs in the private sector in the Province, I am hopeful that will continue throughout the year. If, a little later, we see the necessity for an emergency program, then I am sure the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations will be coming to Treasury Board with his urgent request and I am sure it will be looked upon in the normal way that we look at those things in Treasury Board, but what we are hoping is that as the job-creation in the private sector improves and increases as it seems to be doing, and if that continues, hopefully there will be no need for an emergency job-creation program this year. I would like to add that there are other things happening in terms of other programs, federal programs and so on that may, later on in the year have some impact on that decision, but we have to wait and see what that impact is.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I'd like to ask a question of the acting Minister of Tourism and Culture - the acting, acting minister. I ask the minister if the Department of Tourism and Culture has any plans to carry out much needed work, such as exterior painting and roof repairs, to the historic sites in the Province, and especially, the Cape Bonavista Light House this year?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The detail of that particular question, I don't know, but I certainly will undertake to get the answer as soon as possible.

MR. SIMMS: That's the best answer you ever gave.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I've have a couple of more questions here, maybe I could just read them into the record and if the minister would be kind enough to get back the answers to me before the closing of the House or I can table them -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Okay. Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the historic sites at Bonavista will not open until July 1. Since the tourism shoulder season has proven successful in the past, I ask the minister, why the delay in opening those tourist attractions this year? Also, Mr. Speaker, several bus tours have already passed through the town of Bonavista and they have been refused admission to the tourist attractions there. I ask the minister why this is allowed to happen when your department has a full-time tour guide supervisor on staff, who is willing to open the historic sites but has not received permission from your department? I ask the minister, would he check into this and provide us with some answers before the House adjourns?

MR. SIMMS: A good question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, if he wishes to reply at this time.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, just so that the record in Hansard shows, we will give the undertaking to try to get the answers later today, if at all possible, but certainly as soon as possible.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My first question is to the Premier. The Province has had the Argentia re-use study since last Fall, you've had applicable departments input. The Argentia Development Corporation and others home have been waiting since mid-March because they were given to understand that by mid-March they would get a letter from your office stating the Province's philosophy about the redevelopment, management and other intentions concerning Argentia. When can we hope to receive your government's paper, Sir, on their position?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: All of the correspondence has been answered in full. Not only has the correspondence been answered, in fact, when anything has been done and when the government has taken other actions, for the most part - I can't say that it has happened every time, but for the most part - we have either sent copies of the correspondence to the Argentia committee or we've written them to explain what's been happening. Frankly, the committee in Argentia has been kept pretty well up to date, to the best of my knowledge. They certainly have for anything that I've been involved in. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is taking a particular responsibility for this problem. He isn't here today, he's at meetings in Fredericton, I think.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, he will be here tomorrow.

PREMIER WELLS: He will be here tomorrow so if he wants to ask the minister at that time, where the matter now stands, I'm sure the minister can inform him.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was a positional paper that they were waiting for from the Province.

My next question is to the Minister of Finance. The pension division in the Department of Finance has had correspondence with the US Navy concerning registration of the pension plan for civilian employees at Argentia. The pension division claims the plan must be registered under Newfoundland law while the US Navy says it is not subject to provincial laws. Have you accepted the position of the US Navy on this matter or are you still insisting that the plan be registered?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I don't have the answer to that question right now but I'll look into it and get back to the hon. gentleman.

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

MR. CAREEN: While employees at the Argentia facility are very concerned that the Americans may find a way to provide minimum pension benefits after the base closes, I was wondering if the Province - are they pursuing a matter - when the minister finds out - on a purely legal technicality? Do they think it is necessary in order to adequately protect the pension plan? Is there anything the Province can do on its own, or jointly with the federal government, to prevent the Americans from cheaply discharging their responsibilities to the Newfoundland civilians in Argentia?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I can only tell the member that I think he is off base on the pension thing. My recollection, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

PREMIER WELLS: The base proposes to shut down in October.

My recollection, Mr. Speaker, is that under the ordinary rules there are some 100 at Argentia that wouldn't qualify for pensions. The American authorities have, in fact, agreed to extend the severence benefits. The pension issue, I know, is being dealt with. The federal government has been involved and so has the provincial government.

To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Speaker, the Americans are living up to the existing legal obligations. As the minister says, we can take the convoluted question as notice and provide an answer tomorrow.

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

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

My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, dealing with some proposed changes to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal he announced yesterday at a press conference.

The minister knows full well that employers' councils, employers' groups, employees themselves, injured workers and employee associations like the Federation of Labour, have been lobbying the minister for some time to make changes to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. The changes that all of those groups have suggested to the minister have been these: That they hire a full-time employer rep, a full-time employee rep, and a neutral chairperson. Did the minister consider the stakeholders who were involved in the tribunal? Did he consider those recommendations from the industry, and from the stakeholders?

The second part of the question, Mr. Speaker, is: Based upon the new proposals made by the minister, is the minister or government considering having the review commissioners that he has proposed to bring in - he has suggested by Cabinet - hired by the Public Service Commission?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the couple of questions and will try to provide brief answers.

As was indicated yesterday in the press conference, where we announced these significant changes, and as will be spelled out as we debate this particular issue, it is clear that the view I presented yesterday on behalf of government was that we feel very strongly that we did listen to the representation, and we understood the basis whereby all of those interested parties would have preferred, their stated preference would have been, that there be a full-time tribunal.

The review of it on our part, in comparing it with other similar types of review panels and adjudication procedures, is that there is no reason that we can understand why there needs to be a three person decision making process at the review stage. If the representatives of workers and employers really want to have a real impact into what kinds of decisions are made with respect to workers' compensation and entitlement for individual claimants, they need to put their efforts into making sure that the appropriate policies are developed at the commission itself, because those policies form the basis of the decisions that are rendered.


There is, by virtue of legislation, a role on that board, the Workers' Compensation Commission Board itself, for both employers' representatives and employees' representatives in equal numbers, so that they can have the input there that they should. In our view they should continue to increase their efforts to try to make sure that they really influence the regulations and the policies that provide the framework for the decisions in the first instance, rather than be concerned about the review of less than 5 per cent of the decisions that ever get appealed. We are concerned about all the decisions, but that is the view that we will put to those people, and so on.

With respect to the commissioners, Mr. Speaker: It is true that we are interested in looking at some mechanism to find, where there is an expression of interest, what types of people are there, other than the normal pool of lawyers who would sit in this review commissioner role. We will find an appropriate position, but these positions, just as ADMs within government, deputy ministers, and so on, are not public service positions. They are review commissioners appointed by Cabinet. We will find an appropriate way to find an expression of interest to make sure that we do appoint people who will be acceptable to everybody in the system on the basis of qualification and demonstrated impartiality, which is the real ingredient for making these decisions.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will, on tomorrow, ask leave to introduce the following bills:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act."

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Department of Works, Services and Transportation Act."

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Tendering Act."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune - Hermitage.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition on behalf of 205 people from the Town of Gaultois, and I want to read the petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, in Parliament assembled;

WHEREAS we, the undersigned affected residents who depend on ferry services, who are petitioners, who are citizens of Canada;

WHEREAS the electors of Fortune - Hermitage, residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, residents of the Town of Gaultois, draw attention to the House of Assembly to the following: That the affected residents who depend on ferry services will suffer the consequences with the downgrading of ferry services or operations;

THEREFORE your petitioners pray that the House of Assembly will take such action as it deems advisable to upgrade and maintain the present level of ferry services.

Mr. Speaker, the reason for the particular petition that we have in front of us today is that some time ago Marine Atlantic, in conjunction with Works, Services and Transportation, went to the south coast to present a number of options to the people in the isolated communities whereby they might be able to improve the service to the people along the coast.

After the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, officials from his department and people from Marine Atlantic met, the residents of Gaultois met and they felt that they did not want any downgrading of the ferry service. The minister has assured them, and assured them in the meeting that was attended by the councillor as well, that there would not be any downgrading of the service. In fact, we have a great service to the Town of Gaultois, and over the last number of years, since we have had the new ferry in service, we have had no complaints. That is basically what the people are asking for, that the service be maintained.

Not only did the minister agree to maintain the services, but he also issued a challenge to the people that were there, to give him a proposal whereby the people of Gaultois might be able to avail of or use the recreational facility that is in Harbour Breton over the winter months. I understand that the committee is already working on that proposal, to do that so that the young people from the school and the young teenagers from Gaultois, can at least on two nights a week be able to attend the festivities and the sports that go on in the Connaigre Arena on the Connaigre Peninsula.

I want to commend the minister for suggesting that to the people of Gaultois without their even prompting him to it.

The people of Gaultois also understand that the residents of McCallum on the south coast, and the residents of Rencontre East, and up into the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir's district, in Grey River and François, that these people have terrible service along the coast. It is the intention of Marine Atlantic, in conjunction with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to improve services to these people so that they will at least have ferry service once a day.

It has come over my desk recently, and I guess other members from the south coast as well, where Marine Atlantic has already indicated that it is going to introduce a modified service along the coast this year, where the boat will go from Hermitage to Bay L'Argent, and then from Hermitage up to Port aux Basques. So Hermitage becomes the port of call, so to speak, and the service centre for the south coast, the Bay d'Espoir area. I am pleased with that; however, I am looking forward to even a more improved service, and that is what the minister and Marine Atlantic are ensuring.

A note in passing: When we met with the people from Rencontre East, they said to the minister: - I think there was one person in particular - There was one time last year when we were waiting eight days to get a letter and to be able to get mail in and out of the community. Obviously these people deserve a better service than that, and they will in conjunction with Marine Atlantic and the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I support the petition. I also want to say, in doing so, that the people of Gaultois do not have to fear a downgrading of the service. At least we will maintain what we have here with the hopes of improving an already viable ferry service to the Town of Gaultois.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad to rise today to support the member opposite in the prayer of the petition for the people of Gaultois, that their service will not be downgraded any more than it is.

The minister, a number of weeks ago, told me they had met with the people up on the coast, and before any decision was going to be made by the provincial government, they would again get back to those people in their communities, which is fair. Those people up on the South Coast have been subjected to Marine Atlantic's attitude over the decades. I've seen it, I was there myself. CN Marine or East Coast Marine and Ferry Services, or whatever they were called - the people on the South Coast were subjected lots of time to strange schedules, but that was the only way they were able to get out. Marine Atlantic over the years has taken a narrow-minded view, and I hope with the minister's input, the people will be able to avail of services, as they should be, at this point in the 20th century.

I remind the member opposite that there used to be an old saying: There are three ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way and the railway. I hope that doesn't prevail. I hope the minister will be able to put forward the best needs of the people, and I'm sure he will.

Marine Atlantic has a narrow-minded view. They are that narrow minded they can look through a keyhole using both eyes. Thank you.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to say that working with the people on the South Coast, working with Marine Atlantic, and the officials of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, it is our goal to improve the service along the South Coast; not only working with the people of Gaultois, but all the other communities there, and keeping in mind the needs of every community, not putting one community in front of another community. We are taking in the concerns of all the people along the South Coast.

I understand the reasons why some of the people of Gaultois would be concerned. Because when you go to a community and you present the options, as we did, to all the councils and the groups of individuals in all of those communities, naturally the fear from people outside of those meetings would be: If there are changes going to come possibly we could lose some of our service. That is not the intention of the department. The intention is to work towards improving the service along the South Coast.

Now, when you see and talk to some of the people up there on the South Coast, in Rencontre East, getting the ferry service only two to three days a week, and sometimes not that, depending on the weather conditions, putting a piece of mail in the post office and going back a week later and that same piece of mail is still there because the services haven't been there to take it out of the communities, it is time in 1994 that we take the concerns of the people with great interest and move towards improving that services.

I want to say very clearly that the people at Marine Atlantic - the hon. member opposite spoke about the negative attitude. I have not seen that. The people of Marine Atlantic, the people of all those communities, and the people of my department are now working towards, and have already implemented, some of the new services.

I look forward to working with the people of Gaultois in the next year - the children of that community want to get out for the recreational purposes - putting the extra services on so they can avail of the services as we do, people who don't live in isolated areas. We experience and take for granted that we can get aboard our vehicle anytime that we want to, and move about in any mode of transportation. All we are saying is that we want to be able to provide to the people on the South Coast, as close as we possibly can, a service that is equal to what we have, the service that we take for granted.

The hon. member can be assured that as minister of this department I will do everything in my power to ensure that they do not get a downgrading but they get an improvement of services.

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding to Orders of the Day, I wish to point out that the hon. Member for St. John's East has two private motions on the Order Paper. That is not permitted. That is contrary to our Order 38(c). I would ask the hon. member to clarify his position with respect to the two motions. One I believe was on St. John's busing, the other on the Newfoundland pony.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I understand that it is up to me to indicate which one should be deleted from the Order Paper. I would delete the one that is now standing and substitute the one that I gave notice of yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave to withdraw the motion concerning busing?

All in favour, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Leave given. The one on the Newfoundland pony will stand.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before we actually get into the business of the afternoon, the House might want to know what the House Leaders have cooked up as the menu for today, if that's not mixing the metaphor.

I am going to ask the House to deal first with Motion 1, which I understand will be dealt with quickly with a minimum of debate, then we will go on to Order 18 which is Bill 28, The Literacy Council bill. My friend, the Member for the Strait of Belle Isle district will be the minister responsible for that, and then, if we get through that, as I hope we will, we will go on to deal with the NLCS bill which is Order 15, Bill 24, that stands in the name of my friend, the Member for Gander, the Minister of Finance, and if we are still going strong at that stage, I will ask that we deal with Committee and third reading on Orders 3 and 4, that is, the two bills that we dealt with yesterday at second reading.

Now, I understand that once the debate gets going, the House Leaders and perhaps my friend, the Member for St. John's East, could join us; we will meet behind the Chair to discuss the business for tomorrow and thence on in. That's the schedule we plan to ask the House to address, so with that said, I ask Your Honour to call Motion 1, Mr. Speaker, which stands in my name.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, I didn't hear which you wished to have called after this motion, which was the second matter you wanted to move to after this motion? The first order of business -

MR. ROBERTS: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, Motion 1, then after Motion 1?

MR. ROBERTS: Order 18, Bill 28.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 18 would be the second one.

It is moved and seconded that a Select Committee be appointed pursuant to Motion 1.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I don't need to say very much at all on this motion except to make the point that the Commissioner of Members' Interests, Mr. Mitchell, filed a report, I guess his first annual report, with the House on April 25, and in that, he raised a number of issues that, in his opinion, ought to be addressed by the members of the House, by the Legislature, so this motion is designed to set up a mechanism whereby these issues can be examined by a Select Committee which, as always, will represent both sides of the House; the Committee will bring in whatever recommendations they wish, the matter will come back to the House and the House will then decide what further action is to be taken; so with that said, I move the motion, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Anybody else on the motion?

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make one comment. Ordinarily, a Select Committee motion would include the names of the Committee members. Given that we are dealing here with issues involving members' interests and we have had representation from all three parties in considering these matters from previous occasions, I just would want to have some indication as to how it is proposed that the - you know, how many members the Committee would have, how they are to be chosen, etc., and perhaps this should be part of the motion unless there is some private understanding of which I haven't been made aware, and I would want to have that matter clarified, Mr. Speaker, before voting on the motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Anything further?

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, just very briefly, Mr. Speaker. As I understood it, the government wanted to appoint a Select Committee to address the concerns raised in the report of the Commissioner; we agreed, we thought it was a good idea, we were asked to supply some nominees from our party to sit on the Committee, we have done so and it is not my recollection that a motion like this when it is moved has the names included in the motion.

MR. ROBERTS: No, sometimes not.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, but most often, as I recollect, they are appointed after the motion is passed and the Committee is appointed, but anyway, it doesn't -

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my friend, the Leader of the Opposition and I for once are reading from the same text. It is my understanding of the rules and practices of the House that a motion to name a Select Committee does not have to have the names in it although it may if the mover so wishes. In the event it doesn't, as is the case here, the Speaker will name the Committee on the advice of - I guess me, but I consult, obviously, with others in the House. I have consulted with my friend, the Member for Grand Bank and, Mr. Speaker, if the House wishes, I would give the names of those I propose to send forward; we would ask the Member for Fortune - Hermitage to chair the Committee, the Member for Bonavista South, the Member for Eagle River, the Member for Fogo, the Member for Humber East, the Member for Humber Valley and the Member for Terra Nova; that is four from those who sit to Your Honour's left and three from those who sit to Your Honour's right, which is the normal representation that we followed in dealing with that. Of course, any member of the House may take part in debates of a Select Committee and make points, ask questions, what have you, except the restriction is that only members of the Committee may actually vote on the report of the Committee.

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

MR. SPEAKER: In response, I don't know that there is a requirement in our rules, subject to correction, that the motion itself must name the committee, so in the absence of an express order, I don't think there is any difficulty with the motion as such. I presume from the debate, the House is ready for the question.

All in favour of the motion, `aye'.


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

Motion carried.

MR. SIMMS: Usually move the member (inaudible) also.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. Do the members wish to - well, there is no motion before the House to appoint the Committee at this stage.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the members whose names I just read out be appointed to be the members of the Committee. I would add, the only reason they are not in the motion is that I had not completed consultations with my hon. friend opposite when at the time the motion was put down. It is no more mysterious than that, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. The motion is that the Member for Fortune - Hermitage be appointed the Chairman and that the Committee be constituted of other members, including the Members for Bonavista South, Eagle River, Fogo, Humber East, Humber Valley and Terra Nova.

All in favour of the motion, `aye'.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder would the House Leader agree to amend his motion to appoint the Member for Humber East as the Vice-Chairman? I think that was our indication. At least -

MR. ROBERTS: I have no problem. I understood committees named their own Vice-Chair,but if it is appropriate - I mean, certainly, the Vice-Chair would come from the Opposition side of the House.

MR. SIMMS: Well, we can move it anyway, so -

MR. ROBERTS: I would think it is normally left to the Committee, Mr. Speaker, in my understanding, but whatever is appropriate. We certainly have no difficulty with the hon. member being the Vice- Chair.

MR. SIMMS: It's just as well to move it now (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is to appoint a chairperson with six committee members.

MR. SIMMS: And I amended it (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: So we will -

AN HON. MEMBER: The motion is amended.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion as amended would have the same membership with the Member for Humber East being appointed the Vice-Chairperson.

All in favour of the amendment, `aye'.


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

Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The Committee is appointed with the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson as indicated.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough to call Order 18, Bill 28, the Literacy Council bill, for my friend, the Minister of Education.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Literacy Development Council Of Newfoundland And Labrador". (Bill No. 28)

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, before introducing second reading, I would like to pay tribute to the hon. the Member for Bellevue, who played a significant role in having this legislation prepared and presented to this House of Assembly. The Member for Bellevue had a substantial amount of discussion with myself and the Premier and other members of government over the past months and tried to encourage us and tell us that this was the right way to go to attempt to deal with some of the literacy problems in the Province. I would certainly want to pay tribute to the hon. member for all the work he has done.

This bill would create the Literacy Development Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is our intention that the Council would operate at arm's length from government. If hon. members were to look at clause 3, and I will just touch on some of the objects of the Council when it is place. "The objects of the council" - and I won't go through all of them - would be, in 3((b): "to assess and respond to the literacy needs of the people of the province as those needs are perceived by community committees, local organizations, private citizens or other groups and to ensure that quality literacy programming and services are provided."

One of the problems we have with the literacy programs that are being presented today in the Province is a lack of co-ordination. It seems like there are a lot of dedicated, well-meaning groups of people, including government, who are trying to attack the literacy problems. There seems to be a lack of co-ordination, Mr. Speaker. An observer would almost get the impression that we're all going off in a dozen different directions. So one of the duties of this council would be to co-ordinate literacy programs and services in the Province through the promotion and fostering of co-operation among agencies and organizations providing literacy programs, services and interdepartmental co-operation. If you were to look at government, you would find that in the Department of Education there is a substantial amount of money being spent on literacy. You will also find that in the Department of Social Services there's a considerable amount of money being spent on literacy, in Justice and in all the departments of government but there is not as much co-ordination as we would like to see there. So this council will foster co-operation among different agencies and also will foster interdepartmental co-operation.

The powers of the council are listed out on page 4 of the act. The powers of the council would include the power to institute a strategic provincial plan for the provision of literacy programs and services and the utilization of technology for deliverance of those literacy programs and services.

Mr. Speaker, we can no longer rely on just a teacher in the classroom. We have to get into all the new technology and there are a lot of programs. One of the programs which is being used substantially by the Fishermen's Union is the Plato program, which hon. members are aware of, and the use of computers and other technology in literacy programs is becoming more and more prevalent all the time. The distance education -

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Yes, my friend, the Member for St. John's South, referred me to the Labourers International and their mobile unit, where again, they're using technology in the teaching of literacy and we have barely scraped the surface on what can be done with literacy through distance education, Mr. Speaker. So the powers of the council would be to institute a strategic provincial plan whereby we could utilize technology in delivery of literacy programs.

This council has the authority to enter into agreements with government, a government department or an agency of government and this would include both Federal and Provincial Governments,of course, Mr. Speaker. The council could enter into an agreement with persons who carry on a trade, a business or commercial activity or any other commercial business or industry.

The council could enter into agreements with the educational institutions or community groups, any group or organization which is promoting literacy in the Province. The council would be able to provide facilities and grants, enter into agreements for research, conduct research related to all aspects of literacy and prescribe terms and conditions under which research may be conducted by or on behalf of the council. The council will be empowered to accept and disperse grants and gifts and bequests to the council - and to fix, receive and collect payments for services and research, Mr. Speaker.

On page 6 of the act, in clause 5, it points out that the council shall apply to be a registered charity for the purpose of the Income Tax Act. At one time we thought about having a separate foundation but after discussing it with the legal people we discovered that we could accomplish the same purpose without going with a separate foundation. If we had had a separate foundation we would have had to put in place trustees and there would have been a substantial amount of administration involved with that, so the council, itself, will be able to accept donations.

I should point out, Mr. Speaker, that one very practical thing, which we'll see in the not-too-distant future, is the Peter Gzowski Golf Tournament. They have been making a substantial contribution to literacy in this Province. They have their annual event every year. But where the old literacy coalition has disappeared there is no council or organization now which can receive these monies, no group which has a charitable organization status. So this new council will be able to accept donations from anyone who wishes to make a donation to the cause of literacy, and one of the sources for such a contribution, I would suggest, would be the Peter Gzowski Golf Tournament.

As the membership on the council now, we want to make this council operate arm's length from government. One reason is because we are so fair in everything we do, but I tell hon. members, that is not the only reason we want to make it arm's length. If it is not arm's length from government, it will not be able to take advantage of many of the grants and much of the assistance which would be made available from other levels of government, for example, the Federal Government. If this council were not arm's length from government, there are a lot of grants that it would not be able to accept from the Federal Government; however, the first council shall be appointed by the minister and shall consist of a chairperson, and not less than seven and not more than eighteen voting members - that is the first council - however, vacancies on the first council and subsequent councils shall be filled from the membership of various agents represented on the council. It shall consist of three members who shall be advisory, non-voting, and one of them shall represent the Department of Education; another shall represent the Social Policy Committee of the Executive Council, and there shall be another member who is an employee of the Government of Canada, with literacy and training responsibilities, and who shall be appointed by the Government of Canada.

So the Provincial Government will appoint two non-voting members; that is the subsequent councils, after the first one. Four members shall be appointed to the council who shall represent business, industry, labour, and shall be appointed by the respective organizations and associations. There shall be one member-at-large, appointed by the council itself, and that member shall represent the general public. There shall be a member who is a member of the Council of Colleges, an institution of presidents, which will be appointed by that organization, and there will be four members who shall represent the volunteer community-based literacy delivery agencies, and who shall be appointed by the respective organizations - organizations such as the Laubach and different organizations make a tremendous contribution to literacy in this Province, and they will have the right to appoint people.

The executive director of the council, who shall be an advisory and non-voting executive director member - the executive director will be a member of the council, of course, he will not be able to vote.

The first chairperson of the council, again, shall be appointed by the minister; however, subsequently, the chairperson shall be appointed by a 75 per cent majority of the voting members of the council, and where no nominee for chairperson is supported by a 75 per cent majority of the voting members of the council - where we don't get the 75 per cent - then the minister would have the right to appoint one of the two candidates who received the highest number of votes on the council. It is highly unlikely that will ever happen, but in the event there is a deadlock, then the minister would break the deadlock. Then the act goes on to explain the terms, the length of service and all of that.

I believe, in introducing this piece of legislation, it will probably go down in history as certainly one of the better things that has been done by the Department of Education in the last few years. Illiteracy in this Province has been a substantial problem. We have been trying for the last 100 years to address it. We have tried a lot of things. I believe that this will involve all the different agencies out there, agencies of government and non-government. It will evolve into an organized attack on illiteracy. I certainly believe that this will be a council that will be around for a good many years, and I hope that this council will work itself out of a job as quickly as it possibly can.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I want to offer a few comments on the bill that is before the House, Bill 28, "An Act Respecting The Literacy Development Council of Newfoundland and Labrador".

Mr. Speaker, the objective of this bill is quite commendable. In fact, as the minister has just said, it is a bill that will, if it is implemented in the way it is written, and the program is carried forward with the intend that the minister has said, has the potential to do great service for so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who today suffer the problems associated with illiteracy.

Mr. Speaker, the legislation attempts to respond to, and to assess, the literacy needs of the people of the Province, and it seeks to advice and support if the communities, community agencies, private citizens, and corporations in an attempt to assure that quality literacy programs are developed, that they are implemented, evaluated for effectiveness, and appropriately co-ordinated with all other educational agencies.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister in his opening comments drew reference to the co-ordination. It is correct to say that there are a number of government departments that are concerned with the literacy needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Certainly, his department is, and so is the Department of social services, but other departments are concerned as well; the Department of Justice as it effects the penal system, for example. There is a great challenge in our penal system with problems associated with illiteracy. If you look at the educational standards of those people, the majority in penal institutions are people who have great literacy needs and for whom opportunities aren't always available.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say that we support any attempts by the ministry to implement interdepartmental co-operation. It says in Section 4, that they are going to implement and institute a strategic provincial plan. Now, Mr. Speaker, this is something that is good to hear. This is a good strategy, it certainly is commendable and it is something that is somewhat overdue.

Mr. Speaker, the bill recognizes the need for governments of all levels to promote and foster an understanding of the literacy needs of the citizens and to implement strategic steps towards the development of a provincial plan.

I was also noting, and want to comment on, Section 4 (a), the last part of it where it says that they are going to utilize the use of technology. We have to recognize, that in this Province today the difficulties with literacy often are not solely associated with communities that are a distance from urban centres. There are a lot of literacy problems in all communities and at all age levels. However, we have to compliment the government on the use of their distant education programs. I understand that there are sixty-six centres now in this Province which have distance education and these centres are having a dramatic impact on making programs available that might not otherwise be available, and having them made available with the use of instruction that would be available in all of the larger centres.

Today with technology we can make available to citizens and community groups throughout this Province the programs that are developed by the Department of Education in association with other departments, programs that will try to address the need for improvement in the quality of education, and programs that will address the types of educational services that are needed by so many people in our population.

I am pleased to say that this program recognizes that the computer age is here. It recognizes the use of audio and visual techniques. It is along the right line of thinking as far as I am concerned, and as far as my experience would lead me to believe; and I have read somewhat on technology education. Certainly this is one of the programs - I said to the minister before, distance education is a great idea and it is working well.

Now, there is still a lot more we could do. We haven't finished the mandate, you might say. There is a lot more we could do, a lot of different programs we can offer. But, Mr. Speaker, these are steps in the right direction.

I also say to the minister, in saying that, that we should also be looking at using some of the schools to offer these programs here for the community. We haven't done enough in this Province yet in community use of schools. We are way behind other provinces in the community use of schools. Now, I say that because many school boards and many principals and teachers still have the idea that schools are for 9:00 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m or 5:00 p.m. That is passé; that is out if date. We have to use the schools as a community base for education every hour today that we can possibly use it, on weekends. We have the resources there. They are owned by the people of this Province.

It has always been a sore point with me as an educator, when I find that schools are not being used on a Saturday, or when I find that a gymnasium could be used for a program dealing with adult education, or a program dealing with some community use. I certainly believe that schools have to become more integrated into the total community. We can't have the Department of Education out in some community looking for a place to operate when the taxpayers of this Province already own a facility. It doesn't make any sense.

Therefore I say to the Minister of Education, in developing these programs and trying to get them across the Province, that we have to integrate it as well with our concept of what education is in its totality. We can't just say we have the day school system, then the building closes down and we then close the doors, lock it up, teachers go home, and then we say: Nothing happens here until tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. I say to the minister, do all he can to make these programs accessible to people, but let's make sure as well that the buildings are made accessible to people.

I say to the minister that when I was the principal of a school in Mount Pearl, I think it was the most extensively used school probably in the region when it comes to community use of the school. I support it because I think that the school buildings belong to all the taxpayers and they should have access to them. The day school students first, but let's use it for other community uses after that.

I also want to comment a little bit on some of the percentages you hear sometimes. It bothers me sometimes when I hear people talk about how 44 per cent of the people of this Province are functionally illiterate. That concerns me, because what they have done is they have taken Grade IX as the bench mark. They've said: If you have a formal education that is less than Grade IX then you fall into the category of being functionally illiterate. If you have more than that then you are not. That is a very simplistic approach. It doesn't acknowledge informal education, it doesn't acknowledge many of the people who were our parents. To say to some of our parents that they were illiterate would be a tremendous insult. To say, for example, to my father, who is eighty-seven years old that he is illiterate, well, he would find that to be quite insulting, although his formal education is Grade III. He ran a business all his life, did quite well, and had a high priority on education both for himself and for his children. So, sometimes we have to be very careful with numbers.

My main point really is to say that when we use these kinds of statistics we often have them interpreted to be somewhat negative to the school system. While we know that the percentage is indeed 44 per cent - that is not being disputed; its interpretation is being disputed - we also have to remember that if you take the age group of fifty-five years and older, people who finished their schooling, shall we say, in the early fifties, these people for the most part, did not finish a high school education; so therefore they would be categorized as functionally illiterate. However, in the school system today most students do finish a Grade IX standard of education. That is not to say that all students who graduate from our school system - I wish I didn't have to say this, but there are students who graduate from our high school system who are not sufficiently functional in a literacy sense. It is sad, but that does occur, in spite of the programs that we have in place for students who are having learning difficulties.

Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to section 5, and that is the part that calls for the council to be registered as a charity for the purpose of the Income Tax Act. That is indeed commendable, because this will mean that people like you and I who might want to make a contribution to the literacy development program of this Province would be able to do so, and we would be able to get some benefit for ourselves, if that is what we want to do. So the possibility is there. It will tremendously help fund-raising efforts, and if we can get people to contribute on that basis then we should encourage it. It is commendable to have it there, and I trust that when they apply for registration that they won't have any difficulty. I know that the minister and others will be supporting that initiative.

I do have some difficulties with section 6, dealing with the membership. I subscribe to the premise that eighteen members is an unwieldy council. Somewhere between seven and eighteen would be a more functional number. I know the minister has the number put up high, probably to take care of circumstances, but I would encourage the minister not to appoint eighteen people. To appoint eighteen people to any kind of a governing body very often will mean that you have eight or ten who really, really work at it. So I say to the minister, appoint the eight or ten who are really going to make it work, and get on with the job. It is better to have eight or ten dedicated volunteers working diligently to fulfil the mandate than it is to have eighteen who are not going to have the same kind of commitment. I would like to see the number less than eighteen because that number doesn't function well, in my experience.

I also have some comments regarding what I don't see here. I see representation from the Department of Education, the Social Policy Committee of the Executive Council, a representative from the Government of Canada, and four members from business, industry, labour, a member at large from the public, and the President of Colleges, but I don't see a guarantee here of some representation from the real stakeholders, the people who are working with this kind of a problem from day-to-day. I would like to see, in the council, some of the people who we are trying to help, in other words, the stakeholders themselves, some of the people who are functionally illiterate in this Province, some guarantee that they are going to have some representation on this council.

I say to the minister, in his closing comments, I would like for him to see if he could address that difficulty. Because if learn anything, then we have to learn that a made-in-Confederation-Building council or proposal to attack the illiteracy problem is not necessarily going to be the one that is going to work. There has to be a sense of ownership. If we could learn from our years of not talking to the fishermen of Newfoundland about fisheries management in the Province, or what has happened to the way in which we address the needs of our native communities, then we would have learned that you can't expect to have a good functioning council dealing with illiteracy unless you're going to have a guarantee that the people who you're trying to work with indeed have some say and some vehicle. They shouldn't have to feel intimated by a bunch of Ph.Ds, teachers, college presidents or whatever. We should make this literacy council for the people and make it be developed by the people so that we can address their needs, not what we perceive their needs to be.

So I'd like to suggest to the government, that you look at the representation and include in Section 6 some guarantee that the people who we're trying to help indeed have some voice in developing the policies that will be brought forward.

The other point I want to make has to deal with subsection (5) of section 6. This is the requirement of 75 per cent to elect a chairperson. Mr. Speaker, I know of no other body where it would take 75 per cent of the membership to decide on a chairperson. I've heard tell of two-thirds of the members and I've heard tell of 60 per cent. What this means is if there are ten members on the council, eight members have to agree on who the chairperson is going to be, or if there are eighteen members fifteen of them have to agree. Now, Mr. Speaker, the probability of that happening is not very good.

So I'd like the minister to think again about this. When I read it first I said there must be a typo error here. This must be 55 per cent, 50 per cent or whatever. Most places just require a very simple majority or an absolute majority in some cases. In other words, plurality or an absolute majority. I ask the minister to think about that because again we want to do this piece of legislation right. These are technical things but it certainly is going to have an impact on how it's going to function.

A couple of final comments. I want to look at section 8, subsection (2). In section 8, subsection (2) it says - after saying in section 1 that the council shall hold at least four meetings in any given year - it says: The chairperson may call a meeting of the council at any time. Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest to the minister that he should have had an expression in there, `with due notice', because I wouldn't want a situation to arise where a few people would get control over the council, they would call meetings without due notice or call meetings at inappropriate times. I've seen that happen in municipalities before the act is changed to guarantee that the mayor could not call meetings without due notice.

There were some instances where meetings were called and a group got together and said: We've got a majority here now. Let's convene a meeting and go and make some decisions. Well that's not good enough. Everybody in a council should have a minimum of so many days notice; however, recognizing that in certain circumstances there has to be provision for emergency action and emergency responses if things happen that need to be decided in some haste.

Mr. Speaker, I agree with section 11, the one dealing with the inclusion of all the employees under the Public Service Pensions Act. The rest of the sections here are pretty standard provisions. Also I agree with the manner in which the financial statements will be prepared and the way in which it would operate at arms length from the ministry.

Mr. Speaker, in concluding, I just want to say that the challenge of an industry in this Province is tremendous. Regardless of whether we talk about the stats, whether it's 44 per cent or whether it's 28 per cent, whether the great majority of the people who are having difficulties are in the forty-year and over range or whether they are in the age group that would be younger than that, regardless of what it is, we recognize that the challenge to the Ministry is to put into place those mechanisms that will help us address the problem, to coordinate the approach.

The only comment I would have is that back in section 3(c) where it says, "to coordinate literacy programs and services in the province, through the promotion and fostering of" - come down to (ii) - "interdepartmental cooperation..." Then if you take the word "and" and you go back to your first clause it says you are going to promote and foster austerity. I just wanted to point out that I don't want the Ministry to understand that this is a mechanism whereby we can save money, but a mechanism whereby we can coordinate the use of money. We can get better and more education for our dollar, which is what we are talking about, I trust, and a better coordinated approach. So, we are going to get better opportunities for our citizens on a continuous basis. I hope that ten years from now we will look back to this day and say that this was the approach that we were following and it was the right approach.

I commend the Member for Bellevue who I know was very helpful to the Ministry in developing this piece of legislation. He has a great deal of experience in adult education and in learning programs for adult learners; very knowledgeable. I want to commend the minister for instituting this particular piece of legislation and devising the programs that are here.

With these comments and with the suggestions I've made, I'm happy to be able to support this piece of legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a great pleasure for me to stand in this hon. House this afternoon and speak to this legislation. I guess since I was elected to this House five years ago there have been a few occasions when I've felt very, very proud to be a member of the House of Assembly.

I remember the first Speech from the Throne of this government back five years ago. To have a paragraph in the Speech from the Throne talking about the literacy problem and that this government was committed to implementing a plan for literacy in this Province, was a very proud moment for me. The second time was in a Budget speech where we had earmarked specific money for literacy in this Province.

That is something I spent eighteen years trying to accomplish as a public servant in this Province and got very little recognition. I found that if you didn't specifically set out monies for literacy, that it normally wasn't spent. There had to be money set aside specifically for literacy programs.

I'm also very, very proud that this legislation has been brought before the House. In my understanding, it is the first legislation to be brought to any House of Assembly anywhere in this country. I think the Minister of Education should be very, very proud this afternoon to speak to this legislation. We've had various kinds of legislation but we've never had this kind of legislation brought to any House of Assembly anywhere in this country.

I think we also need to give credit to a number of people. Some time ago there was a committee appointed of our caucus to look at the whole issue of literacy. I had the distinct pleasure of chairing this committee, but the committee was made up of the hon. Member for Fortune - Hermitage, the hon. Member for Stephenville, and the former Member for St. George's.

First the committee wrote a discussion paper outlining some of the problems, some of the needs, and the future directions that we thought literacy programming should take in this Province. Then we consulted with all the stakeholders, which is very important. We sat down with all the people who were involved in literacy programs in this Province and we got the feedback. I and give some credit to the hon. the Member for Kilbride who I think, used to be, I don't know if he still is, the Vice-President of the Literacy Coalition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: Used to be. And we consulted extensively with the Literacy Coalition, Bob Evans, who was the Chairperson at the time, and Bill Barry, who was the Executive Director. We did a lot of consultation with this particular group because this group represented most of the literacy groups that were in the Province.

I am sure that there are people in this Province today who are very, very proud of this legislation. There are a lot of people over the years who have put in a lot of time; I think of a Mrs. Day in Garnish, Newfoundland who was a volunteer with the Laubach literacy movement for many, many years. As a matter of fact, I got her involved in literacy education some ten years ago and I am sure that she is very, very proud of this legislation.

There are people who work with the Division of Adult Education who committed their lives to the promotion and delivery of adult education in this Province, and who spent a lot of time promoting literacy. It was only sixteen years ago that you could have a meeting on Merrymeeting Road in a telephone booth. We have come a long, long way, I can tell you that. There were only two or three people in this Province crying in the wilderness and, as a matter of fact, every time the topic was mentioned - and the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount makes a good point - every time it was mentioned, it was always the statistics that were attacked and I never did dwell on the statistics. But if you travel around this Province as much as I did - and I had the distinct advantage of probably being in 99 per cent of the communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, and I think that was a great honour and a great privilege. But when you travel around and you meet people in this Province and you come across people who had difficulty with reading and writing - I couldn't care about statistics, as long as there was one, it was important that we have programs. So forget about the statistics, because the statistics are not reliable and every time you bring it up, there is always a scapegoat not to do something and I never did dwell on that.

When I think of other people, as a matter of fact, the son of a former Speaker of this House of Assembly, his picture is on the wall next to Mr. Clarke - John R. Courage, `Jack' Courage who was involved with the Division of Adult Education, he is retired now, after having spent practically all of his lifetime promoting adult literacy in this Province and did a lot of literacy training, particularly with the disabled community.

I also think of Roy Batstone from Corner Brook, who later retired but went on and became the National President of the Laubach Literacy of Canada, not only made his mark in terms of Newfoundland, but also in terms of the rest of Canada.

I also think of Bill Shallow, who used to be the Director of the Division of Adult and Continuing Education; Bill has practically devoted his life to the promotion of this cause. I also like to think that if there were one individual - and I am not being political here today, I wouldn't dare be political.

MS. VERGE: Don't get nasty about former ministers.

MR. BARRETT: No, I am going to praise the former minister and it is not the Member for Humber East, I say to the member. Actually, there have been some great ministers and one minister that I have to always say was a great Minister of Education, and who later was a Speaker of this House, and is now a Senator representing Newfoundland, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, one of the true adult educators in this Province, a man who had a vision, a man who knew where he was going and knew how to get there. And we did have some discussions when he was the Minister of Education about this type of legislation, and I am sure that if he had stayed on as the Minister of Education, he probably would have implemented it years ago. As a matter of fact, he used to be the Director of Adult Continuing Education for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and, of course, I refer to a man whom all of us, I guess, at some time or other now, even, look towards for his wisdom and his expertise; and he is, of course, Senator Gerry Ottenheimer. We made great inroads in adult education in this Province when he was Minister of Education. I am sure if he had stayed on there, he would have implemented this kind of legislation.

I agree with the Member for Waterford - Kenmount in terms of the representation on the board, or on the council. I think it is very, very important that we have representatives of the people, the learners themselves. As a matter of fact, this Province was renowned for the involvement of the learners in the educational process. Back years and years ago, I don't know how many years ago, but we had the first learners' conference in this Province. We had it at the school over near St. Clare's and we had one hundred and some learners from around the Province who attended the conference. They told their story about what it was like not to be able to read or write, or to be under-educated, and out of that came great leadership, great people who became leaders in terms of advocacy in this Province.

And there are all kinds of people - I remember at one time going into a community in this Province, walking into a school and meeting a gentleman I knew. I asked him what he was doing there. I said, `You are teaching a business course, are you?' He said, `no'. I said, Well, you are doing a business course? He said, `no'. I said, `Well, you are doing adult basic education?' He said, `no'. He said, `I am here learning how to read and write.' This was a famous businessman who had made millions of dollars. He never did learn how to read and write but always had people around him who fulfilled that function. He was retired from his business, and he said, `I am only back here now so that I can spend my leisure time in learning how to read and write.'

I can stand here and tell you stories of hundreds and hundreds of people, people who didn't want to let anybody know they were unable to read and write, for whom we arranged private tutors and people to assist them. From the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland to just about every part of this Province, I had the experience of working with people, and I can assure you of the satisfaction you get from what these people are able to accomplish. If you visit another country and you don't speak their language, you know the difficulty you have, and these people have the same kinds of difficulties trying to live in the society that we live in.

A lot of these people are community leaders. Believe it or not, a lot of these people are very articulate, very vocal people involved in fisheries committees and all kinds of committees in their communities. I often wonder what would have happened if these people had had a little bit of education. Just imagine the things they could have done with their lives if they were able just to read and write. The things they accomplished with the handicap they had, and then to overcome it and to make fantastic contributions to their communities and to the Province.

I think the most important part of this legislation is in Clause 4, subsection (a), to institute a strategic provincial plan for the Province for literacy programs. I am sure the hon. the Member for Kilbride, when he speaks, will agree with me, that we have a lot of fantastic programs going on in this Province, and I don't think there is anybody in this Province today who can tell you the number of programs and where they are taking place. There are very few people in this Province who are aware of the kind of programs available.

There is also a lack of co-ordination of those programs. A lot of expertise has been lost. I know of one individual with the Central Newfoundland Community College, Mr. MacDonald, who has developed a lot of programs, a lot of materials and expertise in that particular area, and there is no mechanism for sharing that sort of expertise with the rest of the Province. There is a lot of money being spent and I think the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount pointed out that it is not the intention of this legislation to cut back on expenditures in literacy, but I think the intention of this legislation is to make sure that the money we are spending right now is spent in the right way. There is a lot of money coming in from the Federal Government now to the fisheries, the NCARP and all the various programs that are available. They are all going off on their own tangent, developing their own programs, when the expertise is already available and it is not necessary to develop programs all over again.

One of the problems - and the Federal Government, some years ago -and I have to compliment the Mulroney government. I guess it was seven or eight years ago they brought in a new agency of government, the Literacy Secretariat, that did a lot of tremendous work across this country and provided a lot of money for literacy - not (inaudible). One of the problems of getting the Federal Government involved in any kind of a program is that - and I've sat in meetings in Toronto and across this country where representatives from the various provinces got together - and you always hear Ontario and Quebec saying: Hands off, we don't want anything to do - we don't want the Federal Government involved at all. If you are going to be involved, it is going to be in terms of a national organization, but we don't want you involved in the delivery of programs, because that is a provincial responsibility.

As a result, the money that was allocated for the Literacy Secretariat, a lot of it went for research, a lot of it was duplication of research that was done in the provinces, and the money wasn't well spent. I would like to see an agreement, and I think that this council can work with the Federal Government, to ensure that the money that is coming into the Province is spent wisely. I have to compliment and pay tribute to the Mulroney government in terms of the things that they did and for taking the initiative. I'm not one of those politicians who, the only time I get up, is to criticize. I think we have to recognize the positive things that are happening around us.

I don't think this piece of legislation will make the CBC news this afternoon. It is too bad. There is probably not even anybody in the media section right now. There are a lot of things that happen in this House that are not very newsworthy that is of very negative form, but I tell you, this piece of legislation is probably one of the biggest - we said that the Hydro bill and the power utility bill was one of the best, most important pieces of legislation. In my mind, this piece of legislation is probably the most important legislation that will be passed by this House of Assembly this session, and probably the most important one since Confederation.

Because we are talking about something that will affect the lives of a great number of people. We are also talking about people who are not out protesting, they are not out marching on Confederation Building looking for programs. All these sectors of society, if we are talking about teachers or talking about all the organizations, they are well organized. They are well organized in terms of representing their views to government and they normally get action in terms of the types of programs they want, but these people are not the people who are banging on the doors. I think we should pay tribute to the Minister of Education this afternoon.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: If he does something wrong, I'm the first one to criticize him, as he knows. I think that this was an idea for a long, long time. One thing about this Minister of Education, no one will ever criticize him for not taking action.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) not being flexible.

MR. BARRETT: He is very flexible, but there is one thing about it - if he decides to do something, he runs with it and he will do it.

The other person I would like to pay tribute to in terms of this legislation, a person who has made it his personal mission since he got involved in politics a second time around and, of course, I speak of the Premier. Without his support - and one of the reasons I ran for the Liberal Party, you probably could say that was my reason for getting involved in politics. When I met with the Leader of the Opposition at that time and decided I was going to run for the Liberal Party,we had talked about these general policies and this kind of legislation. That is one of the reasons I ran for the Liberal Party. I'm very proud to stand here this afternoon and support this great, fantastic Liberal legislation. Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to have a few words to say on this legislation, and I was listening with interest to the Member for Bellevue discuss, for the most part in a non-partisan way, his views on literacy and his commitment to it. He ended it off in a rather partisan way in calling it Liberal legislation. This legislation is attempting to promote something that has been a serious flaw in governmental action in this Province since the time of Confederation. And I say it was a flaw of the Liberal administration from day one, after Confederation; to not take on, as a part of the social revolution that was taking place with Confederation, with the availability for the first time of significant amounts of monies by way of transfer payments to allow new approaches to programs; to not adopt, as part of its strategy from day one, a commitment to eradicate illiteracy in the Province of Newfoundland, the empowerment of each individual by knowledge of the word and the ability to read and use the word in written language, in written form - as a part of the empowerment of people to participate fully in our Province and in the new country of which we became a part.

I say that because whenever there have been popular revolutions, if you want to call it that, whether they be in South America or in Cuba, or in China, the old order is changed, democracy takes hold, in one form or another, there is always a major effort undertaken by the new empowered people's government - Nicaragua is a very good example in recent years - to empower the people through literacy. This wasn't done by the Smallwood regime, after Confederation.

I remember, my first involvement in the issue of literacy in a public way, was back in 1976 when I was, at a time, a freelance journalist doing commentaries on education in Newfoundland. I decided to take a look at the issue of literacy, and I have to say to the Minister of Education, there was nobody in government or in university who could tell me, so I could talk about it, what the literacy rate in Newfoundland was. There was no discussion about it. I phoned various government officials, the Department of Education, went to the university, and had to come up with a definition of illiteracy, try and apply that to what other education statistics people knew about at the time, to be able to come up with a figure as to what percentage you could use. This is a benchmark, really, for the rate of functional illiteracy in the Province of Newfoundland. That was 1976.

We have progressed from there to today, and I commend the minister for bringing forth the legislation. It is a culmination of an awful lot of people's efforts, as has been mentioned by previous speakers. I remember, in the year or so after I first spoke about the issue on radio, it was left pretty well to the voluntary sector to get involved and to take action. I remember Teachers on Wheels was one of the first voluntary groups that got involved in providing, I guess it was sort of more or less a peer-type assistance in reading. They weren't professionally trained, the teachers of literacy. They didn't have education degrees or specialities of any kind, but they had a lot of advocacy skills. They had a lot of commitment and a lot of interest, and I think, over the years, all sorts of individuals have gotten involved.

Frontier College is another organization that, I guess from the very early days, played a great role in bringing literacy to working people in construction camps across the country, railway camps. Frontier College had trained a lot of people in community development skills and abilities as well. All of these organizations played their role in putting together what became known in this Province as a literacy movement almost, the Coalition for Literacy, all sorts of groups, whether they be the adult education groups which are officially involved in the process, individual community groups such as the Rabbittown learners group, which was community-based and did a tremendous job in bringing mostly women, I say, but women and men, in a particular area of St. John's, bringing together people around issues of literacy. They did a lot of other things as well, but they had tremendous success in empowering people to not only learn to read and write but to, by that process, start taking some control over their own lives and having other opportunities available to them, whether through education, employment or even the involvement in creating their own community organization.

So there has been a tremendous amount of effort made over the years. I had the pleasure of attending out in Grand Falls last year a provincial meeting of the Literacy Coalition at the Max Simms camp, where all the literacy groups from around the Province were involved in a two- or three-day conference. It was a pleasure to see so many different groups and so much enthusiasm and advocacy for the idea of literacy and helping others in the community to learn these skills.

I'm glad to see that all of this effort has coalesced into a piece of legislation which I hope will be able to continue to further the commitment to literacy by so many groups and individuals, and now by government. I recognize that over the last couple of years the government's commitment has been reiterated on each year, I would say, coming forward to this point.

I do have a couple of concerns and I will voice them for the record and for the minister. Existing programs that are there through the community college system, the adult basic education system that is there, they have highly qualified, highly trained, specialized individuals who have skills that ought to be - we ought to not lose them. We ought to make sure that those people are included and continue to provide the services that they are so capable of providing. There is a great deal of enthusiasm and interest and a lot to be gained by some of the peer learning exercises that go on, the community advocacy work that goes on. I think that has contributed to what has been called a movement. I think we must not forget that there are also professionals who are already on the staff of community college institutions who are providing the service, who have dedicated their adult careers to developing these skills and making sure they are available to people. I would not want to see government's commitment to literacy be watered down by merely providing a level of funding to an organization like this.

When the minister started his speech he indicated that he was creating an arm's length council, organization, to take charge of the activity. My concern would be that there is a tendency, and perhaps an invitation sometimes, to pass on the responsibility as well from government to this arm's length agency and to give the responsibility to them and take it away from government. I wouldn't want to see that happen. I think that the right combination is to harness the advocacy groups, the skills and the interests and the enthusiasm of all of the advocacy groups, provide a vehicle to bring together the resources from foundations and contributors and other financial sources, as well as government. I think that is a good thing. I think the fundamental responsibility to ensure that our people have an adequate level of literacy skills available to them still rests with government.

The thing we have to remember is that the people we're talking about here, who fall into the category of being illiterate, are quite often the result of the failure of the education system itself to meet the needs of those people. Sometimes it's the failure of the economic system to meet the needs of those people and to give them the opportunity to obtain the literacy skills that they need to participate fully in life around them. Sometimes they are people with learning disabilities who have been unrecognized by the system on the way through. The system has failed to take into account the particular needs of some individuals and only in latter years, when they're older, when they're adults, do they come to realize that what has held them back is not a lack of intelligence, not a lack of initiative, not a lack of commitment, but in fact some sort of learning disability recognized by science and by educational specialist.

So I think we have to recognize that the responsibility ultimately does rest with government, and I wouldn't want the creation of an arm's length body to be an excuse for government to default from that responsibility and say: Well we've given them a certain number of dollars, let them deal with the problem.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, in supporting, in principle, the legislation, I have some quarrel with a number of the sections here. I think some of them can be resolved by the council itself. Perhaps if the council is up and running for a little while and they have concerns about the structure, about the way it's working, the minister, if he is as flexible as his backbenchers claim he is, I'm sure he would be willing to consider making amendments to the legislation.

I do see in clause 6, certainly the opportunity for any number of learners or participants to be involved in the council through sub-clause 6.4, "additional members, in accordance with the same terms, may be appointed by the council." Certainly the advocacy groups that are on the council would very likely be the ones to promote the involvement of the learners in the council and the councils activities. I would in fact prefer that approach to then having the minister, from his distance, trying to appoint learners in the system when the advocacy groups, the unions or the agencies that are community based and volunteer based, would very likely have closer access to people who may well be suitable members from the learner group to participate in the council.

So I welcome the governments effort here, but I have to put forth these notes of caution. Hopefully the minister, when he closes debate, will address some of them and make it clear that this is not intended, and is not going to happen, while he's minister, that the responsibility is going to be sloughed off on somebody else and government is going to back away from it.

I look forward to seeing how well the council is able to accept a mandate here and to work with the various groups to engage the problem and try and get as close as we can to complete and full literacy in the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education. If he speaks now he will conclude the debate.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank hon. members who took part in this debate. There have been some excellent suggestions made. There has been a lot of credit and praise which I certainly welcome. There have been also some notes of caution expressed which I will attempt to deal with in a - I don't want to prolong this too much.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount made reference to a use of distance education, and I certainly would accept his thoughts on that; they were excellent. Reality is, Mr Speaker, we could put a school on the moon for one student. It can be a viable school, it would be expensive but it can be done. If we can put a school on the moon we can certainly put a school on the Grey Islands and we could put a school in the rest of this Province.

The hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount spoke about the community use of schools, and that's an excellent point. He will know that this administration has been trying to push that. Now I almost get the impression that in the last years we have almost stepped backward.

I remember when I was a boy growing up that the schools seemed to be used an awful lot more for -

MR. TOBIN: Did you grow up?

MR. DECKER: When I was a boy. I can delete the growing up if that is causing a problem.

MR. ROBERTS: Chris, you're doing well, just quit while you are ahead.

MR. DECKER: When I was a boy, Mr. Speaker, I remember the school was used for community purposes a lot more than it is now or that is the way it seemed to me; maybe I am wrong. The hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount is quite right when he talks about that.

In keeping with that community use, I have to take issue with the Member for St. John's East - and I want to do this as kindly as I can - when he suggests that just after Confederation there was not much attention paid to the illiteracy problem. I don't know if the hon. member is that much younger than myself or not, but I can tell him that just after Confederation there was a substantial attack on illiteracy.

The Adult Education Program was quite prevalent in the '50s, again when I was a boy. I won't say when I grew up, I will say when I was a boy. I remember Dr. Florence O'Neil, who was an institute on adult education in this Province and she had a very active program going which reached all over the Province.

I remember the hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount spoke about his father. My father went from Grade V to Grade XI under the program which was put in place which Dr. Florence O'Neil administered. So there was a substantial attack on adult illiteracy. The hon. member would have to recognize that we did make some substantial attacks on illiteracy in this Province starting with the Memorial University on Parade Street into which the Smallwood administration poured millions and millions and millions of dollars. I can remember the program to build schools throughout this Province which the government had.

So I don't think it is right to just brush it off and say just after Confederation that we totally ignored illiteracy. The attack that was put on illiteracy in this Province by the Smallwood adminstration was unsurpassed in the Dominion of Canada, probably unsurpassed in the whole of North America. The attack was there and I don't think we can write it off that easily.

The Member for Waterford - Kenmount makes the point about the 75 per cent requirement for the council. Now remember the people who serve on this council are going to be from all different organizations, and we thought that the chairperson of that council would have to have the full support of all members. That's why we put it at seventy-five, but I am quite prepared to consider sixty-six or whatever, but we want to make sure that the chairperson does have support. In my experience, with any committee or board on which I have served, usually when a person is elected as chairman, the loser or the runner-up will move that it be made unanimous. So more often that not it is 100 per cent as opposed to just 60 per cent. My mind is open on that, but the intent was to make sure that the person who is there is not hamstrung, but that he or she has full support -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: We don't intend to appoint. We would only interfere if there were a problem, and that certainly would not be done.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) you don't get 75 per cent.

MR. DECKER: Yes, if there was a deadlock and someone didn't have 75 per cent, then the minister would have the right to break the deadlock. I would like the hon. member to think about it before we start any amendments on this because it is extremely important that the person have full support of the membership of that council.

The Member for St. John's East also spoke about the existing programs in the community colleges and so on. We don't intend to in any way abolish these programs. We recognize that there is a place for community colleges, there is a place for the professional teacher, and this legislation is not in any way interfering with that.

The arm's length from government: The hon. member is concerned because we are going to be shrugging our responsibility off to an arm's length committee. I would suggest, had we not made it arm's length, the hon. member probably would have been up complaining because there is too much government interference. So where do you draw the line?

The hon. member will know, I think it is on page 10 of the bill, clause 20: `The council shall, not later than June 30 in each calendar year, submit to the minister a report concerning the work, an audited financial statement, management letters, and the financial statements referred to shall be signed by the chairperson.' Even though it is at arm's length, the government is ultimately responsible for it. So we are trying to strike a balance there where we can take advantage of people who want to contribute, other levels of government that want to contribute. We are trying to strike a balance without having the nose of government stuck into everything, and at the same time have an operation which we do have some control over.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount made some points about the 40 per cent functionally illiterate, and I would certainly agree on that. It is a moving target. It used to be Grade VI and now it is up to Grade IX. But if we are going to talk about the informal education, I would have to agree with the hon. member that our people are most likely second to none in this country, and in most cases they are illiterate, especially the older people, because they did not have the opportunity. That doesn't explain the functional illiteracy we find with people who are coming out of Grade XII today, but that is a totally different problem.

With these few comments, Mr. Speaker, I would move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Literacy Development Council Of Newfoundland And Labrador," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 28)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough, please, to call Order 15, Bill No. 24.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited". (Bill No. 24)

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a bill to facilitate the sale of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. This process should be finished before the House comes back in session in the fall. As a matter of fact, we would like to see a successful conclusion before the end of June, but it may, in fact, go into July. This is a very necessary bill with regard to that privatization.

What it does is clean up the legislation to allow the privatization to take place, in other words, by deleting references to Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services from a number of acts. I will just go through them very briefly: The Conflict of Interest Act, we want reference to that company deleted; the Freedom of Information Act; the Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, because after privatization they will have their own pension plan; the Provincial Preference Act, they will be a private company operating in a private environment; the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act, because they presumably will have their own mechanism and they will no longer be a public service; the Public Tender Act; the Public Sector Restraint Act, and the Reciprocal Taxation Agreement. These are deletions that we want.

Clause number 10 deals with the fact that no matter which consortium we reached agreement with in terms of our discussions, we would have to make some kind of commitment for awhile to continue to use that company to provide services to government and some of government's agencies. So what we are saying is that in terms of this sale, and the agreement that comes out of this sale, the Public Tender Act would not apply to the acquisition of these goods and services, because that is an integral part of the privatization, that that company would continue to provide certain services to government and government agencies, because that is what the company consists of anyway. That is all the company is. Without that, there is no company. So clause number 10 is a very important part of it.

Clause number 11, Mr. Speaker, allows this particular bill to be proclaimed at a time indefinite in the future by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, and this is to ensure that in the interim NLCS is still covered by all those acts, but at the point where the sale takes place an Order in Cabinet can then carry out the intent of this bill, so that this would happen concurrent with the sale, or whatever happens in terms of the privatization.

Mr. Speaker, I commend this bill to members of the House of Assembly and hope that it receives swift passage.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker.

MR. A. SNOW: By leave.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to make a declaration under the conflict of interest sections of the House of Assembly act. I think it is well known but let me place it on the record anyway.

I, some years ago, bought a number of shares in NEWTEL Inc., I think it is called. Anyway, NEWTEL whatever it is, the listed company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Those shares were still owned by me when they were put into a blind trust several months ago, eight or nine months ago, whenever. I don't know if they are there or not because I have no knowledge of my holdings, but I know that they went into the trust. Accordingly I have at each stage throughout the process - Treasury Board, Priorities and Planning, Cabinet - declared an interest and absented myself from any discussions, because as my friend the Minister of Finance has said NEWTEL is part of the consortium with which the government is dealing.

With that said I declare an interest. I shall take no part in this discussion or debate. My understanding is I'm not required to leave the Chamber and so I won't, but if there is a recorded vote for any reason I shall leave the Chamber, and of course I will not speak on the merits of the bill.

I thank my hon. friend for Menihek for allowing me to make that declaration.

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

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

Basically, I would like for the Minister of Finance or the President of Treasury Board, to, if he could, just - I have a few queries, a few questions, that I would like to have some answers to. If we could do it in that fashion I think we could facilitate the debate in this, make it a lot simpler, rather than me speaking for an hour. I'm sure -

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

MR. MURPHY: Don't be in conflict.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't be in conflict.

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for St. John's South suggested I should not be in conflict, and indeed I am not. The previous speaker, the hon. the Government House Leader, spoke of his conflict of interest. I don't think anybody else in the House has any conflict of interest, at least that I'm aware of, and I know I don't.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have any shares in NEWTEL?

MR. A. SNOW: No, I don't have shares in NEWTEL or -

AN HON. MEMBER: Bell Canada?

MR. A. SNOW: No, I don't have any shares in any of those.

Anyway, I have a few queries. If one were to look at this, I suppose just look at the sale or the privatization or divestiture of NLCS to the private sector, you would think that on the surface you would have to support it, especially being a Conservative such as myself. You would have to support it being a Conservative because I do believe in the private sector. I believe in having a good, strong private sector. I think it is healthy, it is what built the country that we are living in today.

Mr. Speaker, what I don't want to do is give the government a blank bill of sale for this Crown corporation. Because we must remember, when this Crown corporation was started the primary purpose of it, the public policy function, if you want to call it that - it was very necessary at the time - was to provide this expertise to the government because it could not be provided at the time through the private sector. So, a Crown corporation was created to do it, and it did do that job and it did it well. This is back in the late 1960s, early 1970s, I believe.

Mr. Speaker, having performed this function over the last number of years, now we see that this new trend, the new buzzword, is private sector development. The private sector is going to do this, and the private sector is going to do that. Now we are going to sell this Crown corporation. That is well and fine if this privatization is indeed going to facilitate this company being able to do more work. Now, on the surface you would think that would occur, that the sale of it and the fact it is a Crown corporation could possibly restrict its opportunity to do more business. Because it is a Crown corporation it would not be fair for this Crown corporation to be out competing in the private sector for work in other areas, and that is what I guess is behind the divesture of this company. Am I correct there, that is the whole purpose of selling it? The idea is that it should hopefully have the ability of doing more work in its association with this new company, this new NLCS, we will call it, the new NLCS that is associated with Bell Sigma and Anderson Consulting. They should be able to facilitate the opportunity to bid on more work in this new NLCS.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if there is any guarantee? Do the people of this Province have any type of guarantee that this is indeed going to occur? You would think that associating with these two new companies we indeed are going to have a new access to the expertise in that industry. We should. Anderson Consulting and Bell Sigma are, I suppose, the top in North America in information transmission technology. You would think that this should allow this new NLCS a transfer of new technology, probably give it a greater critical mass so that it could afford itself to be able to bid on larger types of work, and thus that then should facilitate this new NLCS, being a better company, creating more opportunities to do more work, thus creating more employment and more wealth within this Province. That is the principle.

Mr. Speaker, are we really doing this? That is what really bothers me. I want to know what type of guarantee we have as the present owners? The taxpayers of this Province own it now - that this is not just a method of this new private company, that is what they are going to be, that they can get the government work guaranteed.

They can just take that work, I do not know what that is worth, $8 or $10 million worth of work a year, I suppose. Who knows? I don't know. Would you be able to answer how much work? There must be some estimates available, that the minister has, as to how much the government work is worth?

AN HON. MEMBER: Eleven million.

MR. A. SNOW: Eleven million worth of work. Would this new company just be taking this over and doing this work and that is why they are coming in here? So, really, there is not going to be any expansion because with clause 10, we are guaranteeing - is there a time limit in clause 10? Is there a time limit there as to how long they are going to be guaranteed government work before they will have to bid against other information technology companies, or information transferred technology companies on a competitive basis and they may lose it, or are they guaranteed forever and a day to be doing this government work? We have to be wary of that, that they are just not coming in here and paying us - I don't know how much they are going to pay.

I would like for the minister to tell us how much he hopes the taxpayers of this Province and the government, are going to get, a ballpark figure of how much money is going to go into the Public Treasury. We know there are a lot of dollars there in fixed assets. We know the building is worth money. You and I wouldn't sell a building for nothing. We would like to know how much you expect to get. There are some fixed assets in a building. I guess the computer main frame is a fixed asset and that is worth money; Mr. Speaker, this aspect of buying $10 million or $12 million-worth of work, that they are going to be guaranteed for how long?

Now, I can support the legislation in principle. I can support that because I believe that is the type of thing we should be doing, selling this particular type of Crown corporation, because the ingredients are there for this particular Crown corporation to grow and do more business, to create more wealth, create more opportunities for employment, and that's what we need. But we must be cognizant of the fact that if we give them a blank bill of sale, which is what this particular piece of legislation is doing - because we are saying: We can just take this now; here you are, just fill in the numbers and we will sell it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, the contracts are very important here. I am told that the Minister of Finance suggested they are worth about $10 million or $11 million worth of work that NLCS does for the government, so maybe if I were to sit down for a minute he would answer those few questions, and won't close debate on it; I just want him to answer a few of those questions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: You want to close debate, do you? No?

MR. BAKER: I am jotting down the questions.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, those are the few questions that we have.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we are not just giving the government a blank bill of sale, and thus they are going to sell this off and there is not going to be any transfer of technology. There will be a slight transfer of technology maybe, but there is not going to be any improvement in the employment and the wealth of this Province, because that is what we have to really be cognizant of and aware of, that is what should occur, and it should occur with selling this Crown corporation off to the private sector. It has the ingredients to allow this new company, new NLCS, to do more business, because they should be able to do it, but we have to be very wary that we just don't become the branch plant, and the only amount of work we are going to be doing down here in this part of the country in information technology, the transfer of information, is going to be the information that is going to be guaranteed by the government. And I want to know for how long they are going to be doing this and how much we are going to be paid for it, because we are selling the fixed assets plus we are selling this contract for I don't know how long.

It is wide open there now. And I don't want the minister to divulge how many years they are going to give it up for now. I can understand the negotiations, but we want to know whereabouts it is. We want to really understand, the people want to know, and we in the Legislature have a right to know so that people can assess it. Because the minister knows what occurs when there are no facts out there. He knows what the people of this Province decided when they heard the facts about the privatization of another Crown corporation. When they heard the facts about that, they said: No, thumbs down on it.

Mr. Speaker, the minister should be aware that we shouldn't be trying to do the same thing again, come to the House, ask for the blank bill of sale, don't give any information, and then expect that we all have to approve it just because it sounds nice in the beginning. We all know the mess that this Province got into by not having ample discussion, not having proper information put out back in the 1960s when we did the Upper Churchill deal, because that was the real problem with that, that we didn't discuss it as a people. A bunch of the boys sat around the Legislature and the Cabinet and cooked up the deal, and nobody out in the street had a clue what was going on, not a clue what was happening. We did it for the primary purpose of creating a few jobs in the immediate few months, or a couple of years down the road. There was no consideration whatsoever given to the long-term economic factors associated with the development of the Upper Churchill.

Now, I recognize that this is not going to be that size of a deal, but it is a substantial amount of money we are talking about. We are talking about a large company by our standards in this Province, NLCS is.

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty-one million dollars a year.

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Big business.

MR. A. SNOW: What are they doing, $20 million?

AN HON. MEMBER: $21 million.

MR. A. SNOW: Doing $21 million worth of work - it is a fair sized company, 200 employees, I think it is.

MR. WOODFORD: It is going to get bigger.

MR. A. SNOW: Hopefully, it will get bigger, and it is not just a rearrangement of a few employees with NewTel and the Paragon group, it's not just a few arrangements like that. What we want to see is this company being created, this new NLCS being created and having the opportunity and bidding on work outside this Province. That's what we need, outside, because then, if we're bidding on work outside this Province it means that we're going to be creating new wealth.

MR. WOODFORD: They should get a rap on the knuckles.

MR. SULLIVAN: We're not going to need another speaker now. We won't need another speaker now.

MR. A. SNOW: This would be creating new wealth, new opportunities for investment and new opportunities for employment. So, Mr. Speaker, that's what we have to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's some hard for him to get five minutes out of it, `Loyola'.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, it is, it's tough.

But otherwise, if this is only going to become the branch plant down in Newfoundland and we're going to be satisfied with doing the work for the Newfoundland Government and a couple of the other Crown corporations; Newfoundland Tel and Paragon and that's all that we're going to be satisfied with, there's no new wealth there. There's absolutely no new wealth there. We've rearranged it, that's all we've done. We've changed the shape of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Shuffled the decks that's all.

MR. A. SNOW: Shuffling the deck, that's all they did. Mr. Speaker, in this card game, we know they're shuffling the deck if they're doing it like that. That's the possibility and we don't want to see the jokers pulled in.

MR. SULLIVAN: Let's hope they're playing with a full deck.

MR. A. SNOW: Now, the Member for Ferryland wants me to get down into the debate and talk about and I won't be making those comments - but, Mr. Speaker, with those few comments and few questions that I hope the minister will ask - because he has to answer those questions. I'm telling him up front that the people of this Province want to be treated fairly, squarely and honestly and they want the facts. Because the minister knows that's what caused this government to get into trouble with the Hydro privatization, that they did not divulge the facts. All I'm asking, all the Opposition want and the people of this Province want is the facts with regard to the privatization. What types of guarantees we have as a people, how long this contract will be for, how much money we expect to get? These are just a few of the questions.

Mr. Speaker, with those few remarks, I'll sit down and listen to the next member.

MR. TOBIN: No, more. We want to hear more.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a few moments on this piece of legislation now before us, An Act Respecting Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited, commonly known throughout the Province as NLCS.

I'm opposed to this bill, Mr. Speaker. When I first heard of the talk of the privatization of NLCS and I heard the comments of the local computer industry and the technology association - I forget the exact acronym for the organization, Newfoundland Technological Industries - they made very strong arguments in favour of privatization. The arguments went something like this: That NLCS was formed to provide a high level of computer services to the government when there were not significant abilities in the private sector in Newfoundland to put together the brains, the talents, the organization, and to locally develop the software needs to meet the Province's need for information technology for government departments, for MCP and for all of these other organizations; that now, with the maturation, if you want to call it that, of the local industry, that there was lots of talent around, there was lots of interest in developing the high tech-end of information systems, there was an awful lot of - there are quite a few small companies around Newfoundland who are leaders in their sphere in technology.

I notice in publication today that a couple of local companies are participating in a program to develop navigational aids, basically computerize charts, electronic charts for world-wide transportation, a very innovative idea, and hopefully it will be a very successful program and project of that company.

I know that a number of individuals have very sophisticated abilities in computer technology. I know of a couple who are travelling around the world on major contracts with companies in the United States, Germany and other parts of the world, using their brains and their abilities at the service of high technology firms in other countries.

I know we have those talents here, Mr. Speaker, and the argument that was made, was that by privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, the local talent and the local industry would have an opportunity, by the volume that would come with this kind of business, to create and to generate a larger scale enterprise that would have the capability of participating in international technology contracts, in participating in bidding world-wide, using the local talent to build that industry here in this Province and bring us into the so-called information age and all those other cliches that we hear from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology from time to time, some of which is rhetoric and other parts of which are based on substantial efforts by individuals and groups to, in fact, bring about the hi-tech industries and knowledge-based industries to this Province.

So I was prepared to say that this looks like a good opportunity to let those entrepreneurs, those highly skilled and highly intelligent individuals who have ideas to put to use, here is an opportunity to let them take over a vehicle that would have a lot of incentive and initiative to bring to this, and if they can do that and provide the services to government, and at the same time be a pool of talent and ability and innovativeness to develop this industry in Newfoundland, well, let's give them a chance, let's let them do it.

But what I heard from the minister in his comments to the House the other day, was that the government is considering essentially a take-over by some of the largest corporations and capital pools, a take-over of this business, and when I say this business, I mean the $21 million of operating revenue that was generated at the year ending March 31, 1993 - $21 million in operating revenue with a net income for the year, after depreciation and amortization and all of that - a net income for the year on that $21 million of revenue of $3.4 million - nearly $3.5 million annual revenue based on the 1993 year, and what I see, are three huge corporations, Anderson Consulting, Bell Sigma, Bell Canada, some offshoot of Bell Canada Enterprises and NewTel Enterprises, the holding company, if you want to call it that, of which Newfoundland Tel is the cash cow, the same way that Newfoundland Light and Power is the cash cow for Fortis. NewTel Enterprises, Bell Canada through one of its subsidiaries, and one of the largest computer companies in the world, Anderson Computing, essentially using their economic resources to take over this bit of business; come in here, take over the $21 million-worth of business, generate whatever profit they can, and take it back where they came from.

I heard the minister make some comments in the House, and he said all the right things, and how we want to make sure that these companies are going to be increasing employment, and all of that sort of stuff. We didn't hear any numbers or any figures, didn't hear any information, didn't hear what other alternatives were available, didn't hear anything about the local entrepreneurs. NewTel Enterprises is hardly a local entrepreneur. Granted, it is a local capital pool, there is no doubt about that, a local capital pool investing in some hi-tech industries, and I give them credit for that. But why are we talking about essentially turning over another large chunk of business to one significant asset company tied in with Bell Canada, tied in with Anderson Consulting, who essentially, unless there is some evidence to the contrary - and I haven't heard it yet - are using their superior economic power to grab up a bit of business?

What interest would Anderson Consulting have, if they have interests in England, Europe, the United States and Canada, what is the incentive for them to get involved in this project? More business for themselves, more consulting work, more contracting work for them, more activity for them; why would that necessarily result in this NLCS becoming a centre for their international activity? I see no reason inherent in a proposal involving Bell Canada Enterprises, one of the largest Canadian corporations, Anderson Consulting, being involved in this, other than to have a vehicle for more work for themselves, more work for this company, more work for their own experts, more work for their own people who are already involved in England or the United States, or in other parts of Canada or Europe.

What we are being asked in this legislation is basically to give government a carte blanche, an open book. Luckily, on the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro we had some facts and figures, we had some promises by the government as to what they hoped to gain and what they thought they might lose. At least we had the means for a debate before the House of Assembly before we were being asked to pass on legislation. Here we have nothing other than a carte blanche to the government to go ahead and negotiate whatever deal they want, and by the time we come back here in September, or October, or November, whenever they chose to open the House, NLCS will be gone, whatever deal the government makes will be made, and public input would be zero.

Now, I have no doubt that the minister will hold a press conference and say we have just signed a deal, this is what we are going to do, and here are what the terms of the deal are. We just signed it. We had the power to sign it. The Legislature already passed it. We do not have to bother with these little details of democracy anymore, because we already have a carte blanche from the Legislature in the last couple of days of the spring session of the House.

We got rid of the Conflict of Interest Act. We got rid of the Freedom of Information Act. We got rid of obligations under the Government Money Purchase Plan. The Provincial Preference Act will no longer apply to Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. The Public Service Collective Bargaining Act is out, and I assume that the employees will have to scramble very quickly to try and get themselves acknowledged under the Labour Relations Act. The Public Tendering Act would be gone and the other legislation, the Public Protector Restraint Act and the Reciprocal Taxation Act - well those two are perhaps not of major concern. They will be all gone, yet government will have had a free hand under Clause 10 of the bill to negotiate whatever specific long-term agreement, outside of the Public Tendering Act, with this company to sweeten the pot in whatever way government decides it is going to do so.

I think, Mr. Speaker, to have this kind of legislation sort of slip quietly through the House in the last couple of days of the session, without any facts and figures on the table, without any knowledge of what the structure of the deal is going to be, without any knowledge of what commitments there are going to be for investment by this company - I do not see anything in this legislation which commits this consortium, whoever they are, to a series of investment or new investment, other than the investment that would be required to buy out the $9 million worth of assets.

Looking at the financial statement of March 31, 1993, the total assets of the company are listed. The book value I guess, is $9.3 million, but we're talking about a company with the capacity, even on the 1993 years, at its current level of business, of generating $3.4 million per year. Not bad on $9 million worth of assets, to be able to generate $3.4 million in one year, with the book value of those assets.

What kind of price range are they anticipating getting? What kind of multiples of the annual income is the government expecting to get from the sale of NLCS? How much are they expecting to return to the treasury for giving up revenues of $3.4 million per year, I say to the Minister of Finance? These are government revenues.

The whole of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro returned to the government only $10 million a year and little NLCS returned $3.4 million worth of net income for 1993. Granted, this is on government expenditures. We're talking about government expenditures here for services for the most part, but operating revenues of $21 million. Maybe the minister can tell us when he closes debate, how much of that $21 million actually comes from the government. I imagine some of it comes from other agencies and things like that; perhaps the university. I'm not sure but I'm going by the Public Accounts Committee report which shows an operating revenue for 1993 of $21 million. Maybe some of that comes from the university, maybe some of that comes from MCP if that's considered separately.

That money is all spent, Mr. Speaker, and no doubt will continue to be spent. No doubt the government costs in the next year and the next year and the next year, when the government agencies are now buying service from NLCS, will also continue to be $21 million in the next several years, generating a profit instead of for the people of Newfoundland of $3.4 million, a profit for whatever consortium, of that much or more.

If that's happening, Mr. Speaker, if we're going to be passing that over to the private sector, what we want to know is: What are the people of Newfoundland getting in return? What are we getting in return? Are we getting $9 million? Are we getting some multiple of the $3.4 million? That's a pretty significant cash flow, Mr. Speaker.

We haven't heard any commitments to capital investment. We haven't heard any commitments for new jobs. We've have heard vague talk of plans and ideas, but we haven't heard very much else.

I am not opposed to the privatization of each and every service now performed by government, but I am opposed to giving the government carte blanche, knowing their record, knowing their lack of commitment to public consultation, and knowing their unwillingness to demand that government have the kinds of requirements such as a commitment to new investment, a commitment to new jobs, a commitment to more jobs and some program that can be - some conditions that could be placed on it, some conditions that perhaps might be placed in paragraph 10 in any agreement that would be signed. That is what we think the members of this House would require before agreeing to pass such legislation.

I hope the minister has some answers for the public and for the House at this time. If not, what I suggest is that the government let this bill go, give it the same fate as the Hydro bill, and when they have a deal, something that they think is worthy of public scrutiny, and the scrutiny of the House, then bring it back to the Legislature sometime in August or September or October, or whenever they think they have a deal that can meet the test of public opinion, that can meet the criticisms that might be levelled in this House once the people have had an opportunity to look at what is being sold.

We are being asked to approve the sale of a bill of goods when we don't know what's in the deal, we don't know what the return is going to be for the people of this Province. I am opposed to it, and I urge all hon. members to vote against it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance, if he now speaks, will conclude debate.

MR. BAKER: Could we stop the clock, Mr. Speaker, at 5:00 p.m.? I need to answer -

MR. SPEAKER: It is agreed that the clock be stopped at 5:00 p.m.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, let me comment on the speech by my colleague, the Member for St. John's East, my socialist friend. He said pretty well what I expected him to say. First of all, his attitude is that we should stay away from any business that is successful, that creates jobs. We should stay away from them because they are suspect, and he used all of the socialist catch-phrases - `cash cow' and all this kind of stuff. Anybody who makes a profit or who is successful or creates jobs, he wants us to stay away from. I can understand that because he has expressed that opinion in the House many times before.

As a matter of fact, his solution, Mr. Speaker, is for government to take over everything, put everybody to work, and then go off and borrow a couple of billion dollars a year to keep it going. He has put forward this solution to this House many times in the past. Borrowing doesn't matter, let's go off and borrow all the money we want. Let's take over all of it ourselves and then everybody will be happy. Everybody will have holes in their socks and he will figure that is a great way to be.

In light of that, he said exactly what I expected him to say, and I don't pay too much attention to that type of rhetoric. He is worried about this, he is concerned about this, he is concerned that this might be a successful company that make a profit. He is concerned that this company might create extra jobs. He doesn't know about any guarantees of extra jobs, and he wishes that we would keep that company ourselves and not let it grow and not let it expand, just keep the company ourselves, and perhaps go off and take over all the other companies that are in existence in the Province. I understand where he is coming from and I don't accept his opinion.

I'm kind of disappointed in the Tories. They got into the privatization debate rather late. When they saw the way the Hydro thing was going they thought they saw a parade and they were going to jump in front of it - always with the protestation that they weren't against privatization. Heavens forbid, no! We are not against privatization, we are in favour of privatization - but it is this one we are against. How many times did they make that point?

Now, we find that that posturing was not correct, that the Tory of Tories, the Member for Menihek stands up and starts now spreading the doubts. He even mentioned Hydro and the suspicion that there was some hidden agenda. He referred to this a couple of times in his speech, the hidden agenda, that maybe there was some other reason why we wanted to privatize NLCS. I can see the same thing happening over again as happened with Hydro. They are not really serious, they are not in favour of privatization, Mr. Speaker, at all. That's what that goes to show.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: So, Mr. Speaker, I was very disappointed in the tone that was coming from the Tory of Tories, the Member for Menihek, the man who has made his millions in business; I am very disappointed with that general attitude. However, Mr. Speaker, he did have some good questions, unlike our colleague, the Member for St. John's East, who simply spouted rhetoric. He wanted to know several things; first of all, how much money were we going to get from this deal?

Now, Mr. Speaker, we are going to get some money from this deal if it is consummated, there is no doubt about that, we are going to get some money, and there is a book value for the building, but part of the discussion centres around the building. For instance, do we simply sell that building? It is sitting in Pippy Park, there are all kinds of other buildings in Pippy Park, there are the residences that are across the street as part of the university, there are all kinds of buildings, do we simply sell buildings in Pippy Park and allow them to be used for whatever function? That is a very important decision that had to be made, so in the course of negotiations, we are talking about long-term leases.

We are talking about long-term leases rather than selling the building, so the point I want to make is that we will get money but don't necessarily assume that we are going to sell that building because there is one point of view that that's probably the worst thing that could happen, to actually sell the building and then down the road it could be open for all kinds of uses and it is sitting in a very beautiful area of the city that is controlled and so on. And if we sell that building, why don't we sell, for instance, Coughlan College and Queen's College, and open up the whole thing to all kinds of activities. We can't do that. So the deal we are discussing is more complex than simply how much money you are going to get.

I don't want to get into the details because discussions are still ongoing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: So how much money -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: All I can say to the hon. gentleman is that we will know when the negotiations are finished. If they are satisfactory to government and we conclude them, then everybody will know how much money but there is money, there is no doubt about it, there is money.

The second point is, any guarantee of extra business. Will this just get government business and is this - and this is the fear that is being cast, is this just a big company coming in to take over government business?

All I can tell the hon. gentleman is that I can assure him that is not what it is. But the extent of and the guarantees and so on that are going to be in place have to be part of the negotiating process and if we are not satisfied with the one consortium we are negotiating with, there are other groups we can go to.

So, Mr. Speaker, there will be new business as part of this deal. There will be an arrangement for us to do business with this new company for a period of time. There will be protection for local computer companies. There will be guarantees that the computer industry in this Province, the IT industry, the smaller companies, will not only survive, but do better because of the existence of the privatized NLCS.

All of these things are going to be in the agreement that we hopefully will eventually sign.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to privatize the liquor corporation?

MR. BAKER: The hon. gentleman asked if we were going to privatize the liquor corporation. The answer to that is, not now, Mr. Speaker. However, NLCS will be privatized.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to my Tory of Tories friend from Menihek that he need not worry about the hidden agendas. The only hidden agenda is to create more jobs and more work. He need not worry about the money we are going to get. We are going to get the money and he will be satisfied when he finds out how much.

Are they doing it just to get government business? No, Mr. Speaker, they are not. We are doing this to get more business into the Province from outside, and we will get that business. There will be extra jobs associated with this. There will be an expansion on that building over there, very quickly, to ensure that there is enough space for the extra people who are going to be employed and so on.

This is a good deal for the Province, and I move second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole on tomorrow. (Bill No. 24)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if, to finish our afternoon's work, we could go into Committee and deal with two quite short bills, Orders 3 and 4 which are at committee stage? Then we will go home.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Bills No. 10 and 19, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

Committee of the Whole

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

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the following bills without amendment, carried:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act". (Bill No. 10)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act". (Bill No. 19)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report having passed Bill Nos. 10 and 19 without amendments, and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted. Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

On motion, the following bills read a third time, ordered passed and their titles be as on the Order Paper.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act." (Bill No. 10)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act." (Bill No. 19)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank hon. members for their perseverance and forbearance. Tomorrow is normally a day given over of course to private member's notice but there have been some consultations behind your Chair, Your Honour.

The proposal which we shall put forward, which will require the consent of each member, is that we shall begin the day, when we get on to Orders of the Day, with the motion about ponies that stands in the name of my friend for St. John's East. Somebody said it would be the first time the House has ever dealt with an entire horse.

The arrangement, as I understand it, will be that there will be not more than one speaker from each of the three groups in the House, and that each will confine himself or herself to five or ten minutes, to quite a brief speech.

When that is done, Mr. Speaker, we shall, by leave, proceed to deal with Bill No. 27, An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act (No. 2). That is the proposal.

I would ask if Your Honour could seek assent from members that we can proceed on that basis tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Are members in favour of varying the procedure tomorrow from Private Members' Day, to shorten it and to move on to consider the bill? Does anybody object to the procedure as outlined by the Government House Leader?


MR. SPEAKER: No. So done.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, I thank members. We shall now adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. I move the House do now adjourn.

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