November 21, 1994          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLII  No. 65

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to provide hon. members with an update on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's financial position for the 1994-95 fiscal year.

Real economic growth of 3.4 per cent is now expected in Newfoundland this year, instead of the 0.6 projected in the Budget. This improvement, which is mainly attributable to higher than expected levels of activity in the Province and related Hibernia project work, is having a positive impact on our financial position for 1994-95. A more dominant factor, however, is the continuing growth in the national economy.

The total budgetary requirement, that is the amount we are spending in excess of our revenues, is now expected to be $151.1 million, a reduction of $45.6 million from the original estimate of $196.7 million. On current account, we now anticipate a surplus of $13.7 million, instead of the $24.6 million deficit.

Current account revenues are expected to be $67.3 million above Budget, due to higher current and prior years federal fiscal transfer entitlements, as well as higher sales tax revenues. These improvements are partially offset by increased expenditures of $29 million.

Mr. Speaker, while it is encouraging to see the improved fiscal performance this year, we must recognize that our economy and our financial position will continue to be strained in the short term. The groundfish crisis will continue to impose economic and fiscal constraints, as will increased federal restraint on social, economic and fiscal transfer programs. Sound fiscal management is essential if we are to strengthen both our long-term economic prospects and our ability to provide a sustainable level of public service.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, we are certainly pleased to see that the Province's financial position has improved and that there is some real growth in the economy; obviously, as the minister points out the real growth is due to Hibernia rather than any effort on the part of this government to stimulate economic development in the Province, but regardless of that, we are certainly pleased to see that the position has improved.

I note however, that the position has improved primarily because of increases in transfer payments from the Government of Canada. There was only a $10 million increase in retail sales tax and I think, $1.7 million in other provincial revenues, and on the retail sales tax less than half of one per cent of the overall revenue from that source. That is not a tremendous increase; it shows some increase, primarily again, due to the strengthening of the economy due to Hibernia, so, Mr. Speaker, you know, our real concern here is that it shows a strengthening of the government's position, it does not show the real position of the people of this Province. The people of this Province are still suffering -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. WINDSOR: - under severe economic constraints, Mr. Speaker, is the minister going to use or (inaudible) the deficit has been decreased -

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

The hon. member's time has expired (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: - eliminated. Is the minister going to use some of this surplus to create some jobs in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Premier. I am sure the Premier is aware by now that there has been a strong, negative reaction all over this Province to the cancellation of mandatory inspections for private motor vehicles. People, under normal circumstances like to save money, but in this particular case they are genuinely concerned that the cancellation of these inspections will result in more accidents, more injury and possible death on the highways.

Now the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation either refuses or is unable to refute these particular concerns. I would like to ask the Premier, would he ask the Cabinet to suspend the cancellation of inspections and undertake a review of this decision himself?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have to tell the House that when the matter first came before Cabinet some time ago, I think most members of Cabinet had essentially a similar reaction. What? Why would you do that? Then the minister came forward with irrefutable logic. Irrefutable logic, from the minister. Our immediate reaction was with scepticism, the same as anybody who can make the case if they do not look at the real merit of it.

The Leader of the Opposition talks about reaction around the Province. The only significant level of reaction - there may be some reaction from a variety but the only significant level of reaction appears to have come from garage owners and people who have been involved in the inspection certificates and doing work.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, that is what I am hearing as a significant level of reaction. That is not to say there isn't some in other quarters, there may well be. But the minister satisfied Cabinet - a sceptical Cabinet to start with - that in fact all the inspection is really doing is causing some people to pay more money than they should otherwise pay in motor vehicle repairs that were, largely speaking, unnecessary.

MR. TOBIN: Based on his own experience, he said, in Marystown.

PREMIER WELLS: Well, maybe, based on his own experience, but the minister went further and produced the record of performance from other provinces - and I have forgotten how many now, the minister can give the detail - other provinces where exactly the same course had been followed and there has been no level of deterioration in the safety level, no increase in the number of accidents and people involved saved a significant sum of money that appeared to be unnecessary. On that basis, Cabinet approved it, so I see no reason to suspend the proposal in any way or do any further review at this stage.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier used a similar approach and similar words in defense of his Hydro obsession trying to explain it away but I can assure him that the concern that has been expressed doesn't just come from the dealers and service station operators. The general public has a deep concern about this particular issue and that is what is so interesting about it.

Now, we have also heard, Mr. Speaker, that the decision to cancel the vehicle inspections was made without thorough consultation with the Safety Council, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary or any reputable authorities on highway safety. I want to ask the Premier, shouldn't any matter that involves public safety be subjected to the most thorough scrutiny by experts? Doesn't the public - don't the people of the Province have a right to know from the experts that their safety has not been placed in jeopardy by a decision such as this one? Doesn't the Premier believe that?

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is not correct when he is presenting the information to this House that proper consultation was not made. Full consultation was made with people concerned about the safety of vehicles and safety traffic. We also checked, Mr. Speaker, with seven other provinces in Canada who have the same regulations as we do now here in this Province: The Province of Ontario, the Province of Alberta, the Province of British Columbia, the Province of New Brunswick, presently looking at it, the Province of P.E.I. presently looking at it, so we are quite satisfied. The decision is made and we are quite satisfied, with full consultation with the necessary groups across this Province and across this country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is to the Premier, the leader of the government, on this particular issue because the minister didn't answer the question. He evaded specifically the concerns that I expressed in my last supplementary question.

We also understand that the government not only didn't consult with the safety experts that I talked about, the RNC and the Safety Council, it didn't even ask the insurance industry if there would be any impact on premiums for automobile insurance. A spokesman for that industry, Mr. Nolan, has publicly said - and he is the spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada - he has already said that auto insurance is likely to go up, not only because of the potential for accidents; now, we hear that the mere fact that the rules have changed from mandatory to voluntary inspections could be enough to drive up the rates.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier once more: Will he suspend this decision, the cancellation of inspections, until the full impact on insurance rates can be fully documented and explained to the public?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the answer is the same as it was when he asked the question the first time. There is no change in the meantime.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what we have to say or do to convince the Premier that there is a real concern out there that this decision will reduce safety on our roads and highways and will drive up insurance premiums.

The other point is this: This is a regulatory change. This matter will not even be subject to debate in this Legislature, in the people's House. Could I ask the Premier this: Would he consult with the minister with a view to asking the minister to hold public hearings so that the public will know if there is any basis for their fears before he proceeds?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I see no reason to do that. Based on the evidence and information that the minister brought before what I tell you was a very sceptical Cabinet when the proposal was first broached, the information that was put -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: If the member wants to answer the question, she can do so, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Minister of Justice about the documents he tabled on Friday on Hiland Insurance.

Ten months ago, on 18 January, the minister received a written report from his Superintendent of Insurance containing alarming information about Hiland. The minister got the report after several individuals had communicated to him grave concerns about Hiland. His supervisor's report substantiated those concerns by pointing out the following: Number one, Hiland had operated for the first eighteen days of the new year without adequate reinsurance and still didn't have adequate reinsurance; number two, during 1993 Hiland took on more than double the liability projected in its business plan on which the Department of Justice licence was based; and number three, continued operations might result in the company's capital being reduced below the required $1 million minimum.

I would like to ask the minister: When you got this devastating report from your superintendent, why didn't you immediately suspend Hiland's licence and alert policyholders? Isn't that what any prudent regulator would have done?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to get into the kind of rhetorical claptrap that the hon. lady specializes in but let me try to answer the question.

First of all, she said when I had heard from several individuals about concerns. The only individual I heard from, and the documents make it clear, is Mr. Hutchings at Metro General Insurance Corporation who wrote to me, and the letter was tabled, on 14 December. I acknowledged his letter on 15 December. On 15 December, I asked the superintendent for a report which I received on 4 January. I subsequently sent that report with one sentence changed - and both versions are here, and the reason for the deletion of the sentence is here - I sent that to Mr. Hutchings on 14 January and I concluded by saying - I said: Here is what the superintendent tells me about Hiland. Now, I'm talking about the reports from outside, to deal with that part of the hon. lady's question first.

I concluded by saying: Here is what I'm told. I said: I've reread your letter in the light of Mr. Tapper's minute and I can see no cause for further action on my part, as Mr. Tapper, in my judgement, has answered your concerns fully. I see nothing untoward - and I'm leaving out reference with other company; I will go on - in the licencing or supervision of Hyland Insurance Company - interesting that I misspelled Hiland. Nobody picked that up. I would be glad to discuss either of these matters further if you wish to do so. Please let me know. I would be happy to hear from you again if I can be of further assistance with any other matter.

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman responded, addressing the letter to Robert M. Roberts. I'm not the only one who makes mistakes of sorts. He says: With regards to the -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. lady wishes to ask a question, she should. If she wishes to answer it, she will have to get elected to sit on Your Honour's left.

MR. WINDSOR: She will shortly.

MR. ROBERTS: We will see about that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: The difference is the hon. lady was there and got slung out on her butt.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would like for the hon. gentleman to get to the answer.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me go on. Here is the answer that Mr. Hutchings made to me on February 2: With regard to the Hiland Insurance we will have to agree or disagree. I think he probably meant to say agree to disagree.

I was not aware, Mr. Speaker, at that stage of a letter which he had sent to the superintendent, interestingly enough, and the letter to the superintendent was also tabled and in that letter -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member for a supplementary.

MR. ROBERTS: Let me finish, my answer, if I may?

MR. SPEAKER: I think the hon. member has had ample time to answer.

MR. ROBERTS: I only wanted to point out that in that letter Mr. Hutchings said: Thank you. The only information that I have is hearsay. That is how strong the information was that came to me.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister that Mr. Hutchings' letter wasn,t the only warning he got about Hiland because his own superintendent in a report dated January 18 said concerns about Hiland have also been expressed to you by other individuals in the insurance industry. I would like to ask the minister about the ten month gap in the documentation he tabled in the House on Friday. After the scathing January 18 report from the superintendent there is no further report until the very sketchy memo from the superintendent to the minister dated last Friday, which obviously was prepared because of Opposition questions in the House. Why the gap, minister? Were you asleep at the switch for ten months, or were you protecting the interests of Mr. Gillingham and his backers?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, that is a despicable suggestion and I reject it out of hand. It is a despicable suggestion and there is not a shred of evidence to support it.

Now, let me deal with the hon. lady's question. She asked, what did I do with the January 18 memorandum? I responded to it on the 21st: Thank you for your minute about the situation with Hiland Insurance limited. I share your concerns. My instructions are simple and straightforward, please do whatever is necessary to ensure that the interests of those who placed business with Hiland are protected properly and fully. The company must maintain an adequate capital base and it must secure adequate reinsurance. We shall have no choice except to suspend its operations at once should it fail to meet both requirements. Please keep me informed of the developments as they occur.

I heard nothing further from Mr. Tapper and I have no cause to go back to Mr. Tapper. In the second paragraph on Page 1 of his January 18 memorandum he says: Concerns about Hiland have been expressed to you by other individuals. I have no record of what those were. I have no recollection, and I say now, as I have said publicly, anybody who raised concerns about Hiland please come publicly and say so. The only one that we have any record of are the letters from Mr. Hutchings. There was a letter from another insurance company in St. John's complaining about the suggestion that we raise the $1 million capital requirement to $3 million, but I say now if the hon. lady has any information let her bring it out and we will deal with it.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I note the minister never did answer for the ten month gap.

I now have a question for the Premier. I want to ask the Premier a question on behalf of the thousands and thousands of insurance policy holders throughout the Province. Will the Premier, if not the Minister of Justice, immediately order a full independent enquiry into his provincial administration's insurance regulatory system to determine what went wrong, it is obvious it has been a colossal failure, and to improve consumer protection in the future?

I say to the Premier that a full enquiry is absolutely necessary now, and can proceed without conflicting with any police investigations into Hiland.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have already told the House, on behalf of the government, that we shall order a public enquiry should it be necessary to do so.

MS. VERGE: It is obvious that it is necessary.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, what is obvious to the hon. lady is not obvious to a wide variety of other people, including the law officers of the Crown on the criminal side. We cannot order an enquiry or take any steps with respect to this matter until the police have completed -

MS. VERGE: Yes, you can.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will take the advice of my criminal law officers against the hon. lady's advice on any legal issue one million times to one, and I will be right.

PREMIER WELLS: With a great deal more confidence.

MR. ROBERTS: With a great deal more confidence. When it comes to lawyering, the hon. lady should perhaps look at being a seamstress or a politician, but not a lawyer.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, let me say again -


MR. ROBERTS: She can be a seamster if she wishes. I can't speak for her on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, the point I make is that we cannot, and therefore we shall not, order any public inquiry until the police investigations have taken their course. When the police have come to a conclusion on this, they will come to their judgement. They will decide whether charges will be laid or not. If charges are laid, fine. If they are not laid, that is the police decision. We will then decide whether any other form of inquiry is necessary.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, dealing with the situation regarding Sual Fisheries, Frenchman's Cove, on the west coast. The Premier is aware there is a lot of concern coming out of that community, demonstrations out on the west coast today about the situation. I am wondering if the minister could inform the House whether or not he is reconsidering his department's decision not to issue a processing licence to Sual Fisheries of Frenchman's Cove?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. HULAN: I suppose I could give a very short answer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. HULAN: Yes, I hope you have your dog leashed in the proper place.

Mr. Speaker and members of the House, considering the serious problem we have in this Province with regard to the processing sector, there will be no change of mind with regard to issuing a new primary processing licence at this time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I say to the minister that it is time for him to deal with the processing sector now and put that to rest. It is his responsibility and he should deal with that, but in light of the fact that there is a new resource, sea urchin resource off the west coast, Mr. Tobin, the federal minister, has issued harvesting licences. There is a plant prepared to process this new specie, with private money. There is a workforce; it will create from 75 to 100 jobs. Won't the minister take this matter under serious consideration and provide this employment opportunity for the residents of Frenchman's Cove? Will he not do that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: It is under serious consideration, it has always been, as far as the issue with regard to the processing sector. But I am a bit amazed that I should get a question from the other side on this issue, considering the fact that during the eighties the licences were given out helter-skelter, with no consideration to the resource availability. That is why we have it today; that is why we have the problem we have today, and therefore I would ask this hon. House to let me take my time and do it properly, and not make the mistakes that we did in the eighties.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where the minister is coming from, or where he is going. I am really not sure. This government has given out twenty-seven new, additional, retail processing licences since you came to office in 1989, I say to the minister.

Now, this is a new opportunity, a new specie. We are not saying that you should not be concerned and sensitive to processing capacity that is in the Province. We know that, and it has to be dealt with, and you should deal with it - not anyone else; you should deal with it - but in light that there is a new opportunity, a new fishery, won't the minister seriously consider this application, or reconsider it, so that those people can be employed and this new venture can go on and hopefully be prosperous?

With the new resource that has been identified, harvesting licences issued, a plant established by private money that will provide employment opportunities, why wouldn't you allow this venture to proceed, I say to the minister? It is new. It is the way we should be going, I say to the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: I will repeat that considering the problems that we have in the processing sector that have to be addressed yet, I refuse to add to the problems that were caused by the members of the opposite side in the early 1980s to give us the problem that we have today.

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

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A final supplementary to the minister. Will the minister give this House an undertaking today that we will not see this opportunity taken from the people of Frenchman's Cove and established somewhere else in this Province? In particular, the minister's district, which there has been high suspicion about, that the real reason why there has been a delay here is that the minister has been trying to encourage this opportunity away from the people of Frenchman's Cove and located in his own District of St. George's. Will he undertake to the House that that won't happen?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, I really don't like to be insulted that way because there was never any suggestion that the licence should go to the District of St. George's. If the hon. member wants to carry on with innuendos like came out of that meeting and I've addressed before, then I welcome him to do it. But please remember your hon. position.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier regarding the situation in Marystown. The Premier in a letter of October 25 to Mr. Ken Hull from HMDC said: "[The] people cannot see the logic in moving the contract to Saint John. I cannot explain it to them because, as I indicated to you in our last meeting, I do not understand it either." Let me ask the Premier if he understands it now.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is a pretty simple question. It doesn't have much merit but it is fairly simple so I should try and give a simple answer.

MR. TOBIN: You wrote it, I didn't.

PREMIER WELLS: I didn't write the question, the question is the hon. member's.

Mr. Speaker, I've seen nothing or heard nothing that has changed my view. I still believe that the work can be done at Marystown but HMDC doesn't. What the hon. member doesn't seem to be able to grasp, or at least doesn't seem to want to grasp, is that there is a difference in whether or not Marystown can do the work or the question of judgement of whether or not Marystown can do the work, and the question of who has responsibility for the ultimate decision of agreeing to let Marystown finish the work or diverting it somewhere else. That rests solely with HMDC and the government is not prepared to do anything that will interfere with that or cause them to displace their judgement and so have the government end up with responsibility for the consequences of that decision. We want to make sure that we build a solid future so that we can get jobs in the future. We don't want to destroy Marystown's prospects for future development and future work by having the government seek to intervene, whether it would be successful or not.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the Premier, I can grasp who has ultimate responsibility for the people of this Province, and I can also grasp the fact that we want jobs in the present as well as jobs in the future.

HMDC has taken an action that has not been challenged by the Premier of this Province. There is total confusion and outright refusal to accept the reasons given by the Premier from the people of the Burin Peninsula to the extent that the mayor of Marystown has now gone into the council chambers on a hunger strike to try to get some response, some answers. In a letter today to the minister the mayor asked that an all-party legislative committee be struck to revisit the decision made by HMDC and government to remove the drill modules from Vinland to Saint John, New Brunswick.

Let me ask the Premier if he will, as the government, put this to a select committee of the House, giving them full authority to subpoena individuals, have them sworn before the committee, and hopefully then we can get the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier says no. Let me ask you, Mr. Premier. There is only one conclusion that one can come to with your outright refusal, and that is, sir, you've something to hide. Let me ask you now: What are you hiding?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Nothing, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Social Services. On November 2 the minister held a press conference at the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre in Whitbourne regarding a serious incident that happened at that institution and the many allegations that were brought forward.

The minister stated that all those concerns were simply rumours and innuendoes. She stated that no action was necessary. I would like to ask the minister if she has changed her mind about that, and if there is an in-house investigation presently underway?

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

MS. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I would like to say to the hon. member that I have met with the union which represents the staff at the Whitbourne Youth Centre, and we have agreed that at this point in time, there is no need for an investigation. We are quite pleased with the progress we have made regarding the issues that have been brought to us; I met with some of the workers last week and they say they are quite pleased.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, that is not the impression I got when I talked with the President of NAPE today, I was of the understanding, Mr. Speaker, that there was something going on out there and there was an investigation being carried out; he was not sure how involved it was or who was involved, so I would like to ask the minister, if she has not already started an investigation, if she would start an investigation and have it done by an independent assessment, and make the people aware, those who will be taking part in that investigation, Mr. Speaker, that there will be no repercussions for coming forward and stating their positions and they will not be faced with a dismissal charge like we have just witnessed in the past?

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

MS. YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, there is no need at this time for an investigation and if the need arises for one, I will certainly consider it, and as for people being dismissed for speaking out, I think that is a lot of hogwash from the member on the opposite side and he knows that.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, earlier today, gave us a statement which is somewhat encouraging, in that he showed the financial state of the Province has improved somewhat as I indicated in my response to him that says nothing about the state of the economy as it relates to private individuals.

We have something close now to a 21 per cent unemployment rate in this Province, in spite of the fact that we have lost something like 19,000 jobs or there are actually less people in the workforce today and in fact, if those who are on the fisheries compensation package were included, we would probably be talking a real unemployment rate of about 30 per cent. Will the minister tell us and as a result of the improvement in the financial position, is the minister proposing to do anything? Is he proposing to work together with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations for example, to create some short-term jobs? We are pleased to see that the long-term position is starting to improve somewhat, but what are we going to do about those who have no food to put on their tables tomorrow?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that there are some tremendous difficulties in this Province, primarily at this point in time due to what happened to our groundfishery and we are trying to address these problems jointly with the federal government in terms of what to do with a lot of people who, seemingly at this point in time have no future in an occupation that had been carried out in their families for generations. There is a serious problem, Mr. Speaker, and we are trying to deal with it in a sustained manner and not simply using a Band-Aid approach as the hon. member suggests. I would also like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that we do not have a pot of money at this point in time, we are still spending this year $151.1 million more than we are taking in.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have done that for twenty years, debt has accumulated and, Mr. Speaker, we must get to the position where debt no longer accumulates. We are still seriously in the hole and going deeper and deeper and deeper each year. We must stop that because that is the only way to provide security, long-term security for the people in this Province, is to get out of this mess that we are into.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.


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

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of 1,069 residents of the District of Port au Port and the prayer of the petition:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland in parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the District of Port au Port humbly swearth;

WHEREAS the Blue Beach Road provides access to the best harbour on the Port au Port Peninsula;

AND WHEREAS many fisherpersons from the District of Port au Port travel to this area each fishing season to pursue the fishery;

AND WHEREAS this road provides access to a large track of excellent agricultural land;

AND WHEREAS this area has much potential for the tourist trade since it was an integral part of the early french history of this area;

AND WHEREAS this road is in such poor condition that it is virtually impassable for certain periods of every year;

WHEREFORE we respectfully request that the Department of Works, Services and Transportation assume responsibility for this road from the Department of Fisheries;

AND FURTHER that the Department of Works, Services and Transportation undertake, at the earliest possible date, a major upgrading of the Blue Beach Road and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the road in this particular area of my district - at one time that area did contain a number of people who lived there year round. The settlement itself disappeared during the '60s under the infamous resettlement program at that time.

In recent years a harbour was developed down in that area. Anyone who is familiar with the District of Port au Port will realize that we were not blessed with natural harbours and the only harbour that exists in the district is one that was created down in the Blue Beach area by opening up a salt water pond.

In years, when the fishery was really going well, there would be in excess of 100 people engaged in the fishery there during the peak part of the season. The big problem is that in the spring of the year and this time of the year, you almost need a helicopter to get down to the harbour itself the road is in such poor condition.

It is interesting to note - I visited the area just yesterday or on Saturday when I was in the district - presently there is in excess of $150,000 being spent on harbour repairs. Dredging was completed there just recently so there is a fair amount of money still being spent towards the ongoing development of the site but until such time as we do and are able to make some major improvements to the road we will not be able to fully realize the potential of this area.

The stretch of road in question is some 10 kilometres in length, it could be done at a reasonable cost. All the people of the area are talking about is a year round gravel road. I certainly call upon the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to take a hard look at this. The Department of Fisheries have been very generous, in the short time that I have been here, in making money available from the very limited budget that they have to go towards ongoing repairs. Unfortunately, the difficulty is that in the fisheries, the budget for fisheries access roads, there are insufficient funds to undertake the kind of upgrading that is required there. In my opinion and in the opinion of these 1,000-plus residents of the District of Port au Port, the only way that the matter can be resolved is if there is an agreement whereby the Department of Works, Services and Transportation agrees to assume responsibility for the stretch of road and very shortly tries to find money to engage in a major upgrading. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: I am always allowed to speak, it is you who is not allowed to speak.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CAREEN: You should not be allowed to speak but this is a democracy, Mr. Speaker, and I will defend your right to speak.

Now, I fully support the petition put forward by the Member for Port au Port who is seeking to help people in his district in an area that quiet conceivably could have the best harbour in his district - a petition signed by 1,000 people for a ten-kilometre stretch that could be accessible year-round. The member mentioned earlier about the budget not being there in the fisheries department, and he is asking Works, Services and Transportation if they would accept that responsibility.

The area has a lot of tourist potential. It is steeped in history from an old French culture. I know about the - we had the French in our way, too; over 300 years ago they were present. I tell you, the agricultural property up in that area of the Port au Port is good land and it should be accessible the more we utilize our properties. Because it is not all a windswept rock, as some romantics would have it said. I congratulate the member for bringing this forward today, and I fully support the people of that area getting an access road year-round. Thank you.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The responsibility of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation is not only to maintain the roads in the Province but to build new roads. There are about 9,860 kilometres of road in the Province. I recently had the opportunity to discuss this with the officials around the Province and to ask them to give me a full report on the needs that are out there. I have had that submitted to the department and it would cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if you had it at your disposal, to build and maintain the roads, because of the geography of the Province and the scattered population.

I had the opportunity to visit this particular area, with my friend and colleague, the Member for Port au Port, and to have a look at the road in question. And it is quite correct, it is the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture. Realizing that the Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture now does not have the money within its budget to maintain this road, I've asked officials to take a look at the cost, firstly. Secondly, it has to be considered under next year's capital works budget.

Until the Minister of Finance comes forward with his Budget I will not know what monies I will have in the capital program next year. In the meantime, we will do a full investigation and hopefully next year we will be able to address some of the concerns, at least the top priority concerns, that we have in the Province. I assure the hon. member that we will give every consideration to this piece of road as we will all other priorities around the Province.

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

MR. SHELLEY: I rise to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Baie Verte - White Bay. I will read the prayer.

We, the undersigned residents of the district of Baie Verte - White Bay, do hereby petition the House of Assembly to direct the Department of Employment and Labour Relations to immediately implement an emergency employment program. With the economic conditions which exist, we find ourselves in a desperate situation. We ask the minister and his government to show compassion and understanding in this urgent matter.

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday of last week I presented a first petition on behalf of constituents in my district. We have asked questions in the House of the minister and of the Premier on this particular matter. Since then, and over the weekend, the list has grown, the number of phone calls has grown, and I should mention, too, that I also had calls after the press release went out, from other districts in the Province represented on both sides of this House of Assembly. I can tell you that it was not a fabrication when I said that there are people all around this Province in desperate need.

I listened to a few comments made by the Premier this morning on Open Line, and people talking about an emergency response program, and basically the indication was, there would be no immediate response to such a program, they were waiting on the Federal Government to assist and get in on the game. Well, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, many people in this Province didn't take very much comfort in that statement by the Premier. The grim reality is this, that right now as we speak today on 21 November, and tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday, there are more and more people who cannot feed their families, and if you think that is a fabrication, I think some members on both sides of this House will be getting calls soon, because I am asking anybody in this Province to get in contact with their MHAs so that members on both sides of this House will press the government, press this minister and this Premier, to act immediately.

We have a situation in this Province that is crucial and if there was ever a time when this word, emergency response, the word is `emergency', Mr. Speaker. The quote that echoes that same sound, the one quote I have that lingers with me still, is the man saying: `I realize as the Premier says, this is not the answer to our long-terms solutions, but it is an answer for my supper table tonight.'

Mr. Speaker, there are people in this Province who are having great difficulty in finally accepting that in two or three days, and that is how close it is, two, three, or four days, they will have to go to the Department of Social Services and request welfare for the first time in their lives. They are proud people who have served with dignity, and to feed their families, have managed - I know we don't like to use the words, but they managed to get their twelve stamps. Well, Mr. Speaker, they can't get them today.

I have a list here of 250, and that is only a small portion. I have had a list since, but the first list I had from the development association in my district was a list of 250 people who need two, three, or four insurable weeks to qualify for UI this year. It's not TAGS - we are not talking about the fishery response program which some people referred to earlier. I am talking about the construction worker, the person who works in forestry, who have eight or nine stamps this year but can't get the eleventh and twelfth, the agricultural industry - we are talking about all these people - the seasonal workers, Mr. Speaker, who fed their families with a bit of dignity, but they are finding this year, for the first time in their lives, that they will have to put their hand out for welfare.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking all members of this House of Assembly to realize the situation we find ourselves in today. The situation is, these people don't want to turn to welfare, and if they do, that is another strain on this government's Finance Department. That is not the answer either, Mr. Speaker, I say to the Premier, to turn them into welfare recipients. What they would like to do, and we don't expect it to be the long-term solution that we still have to work on, yes, we realize that, and there will be long debates on social reform in this country.

We all know and understand that, but we do need the support of every member in this House of Assembly, every member of that Cabinet, and especially the support of the Premier to realize and to show some compassion to the average Newfoundlander out there who has never turned to welfare before, who has gone around the Province and tried to work. I have people in my district who go to PEI to cut wood. For the first time they went all the way to PEI and got five weeks work but they are still two insurable weeks short. What does he do now, Mr. Speaker? This is the person who has tried. He has tried to feed his family and tried to keep his dignity.

I am glad that the former Minister of Fisheries, the Member for Twillingate, supports me in this - he has in public. I ask every hon. member over there. He knows, as I know, Mr. Speaker, it is true that in rural Newfoundland we are really feeling the pinch right now, more than I have ever seen, and I believe it is more than a lot of members here in this House of Assembly have seen in years.

Within the next two to three weeks, if we can get the statistics on it, we will show that there will be more people turning to welfare in this Province for the first time - not the second, third, or fourth time - for the first time in their lives having to turn that way. Mr. Speaker, the calls I received this weekend since this release has gone out, and, or course, before that, these people -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SHELLEY: It is a cry that I hope this government will respond to, and respond quickly.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I just came back from a weekend visit to my district and having talked to a large number of people who find themselves in a similar situation as that described by my friend, the Member for the district of Baie Verte - White Bay, I think I would be remiss in my duty and responsibility to them if I were to allow this opportunity to pass without making further representation on their behalf.

I have written the minister pointing out the problems. I have made public statements and I am taking advantage of this petition today to again bring to the attention of my colleagues on this side the need for some kind of program. Mr. Speaker, the situation in my district, and having talked to a large number of my colleagues, I don't think Twillingate is alone in that respect, I can tell you that in my district things are desperate. In many respect things are desperate.

A large number of our people in Twillingate district are receiving TAGS or some kind of government assistance. But, Mr. Speaker, there are in Twillingate district, and I suspect the same can be said for all or most of the rural districts in the Province, hundreds of people who have literally fallen through the cracks. They are not eligible for any kind of assistance, unemployment insurance, TAGS or anything else and now, in many cases, for the first time in their lives, they are forced to accept social assistance. Mr. Speaker, the people that I represent, a large number of them who are in that position, do not want to accept social assistance. They want an opportunity to be able to work for what they get.

For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I join my friends opposite, and I know, my colleagues on this side of the House, a lot of them feel as I do, in asking that some kind of program be put in place - and we don't have very much time. In fact, it is getting quite late now to undertake certain types of work that no doubt would be incorporated in any kind of a program. But, Mr. Speaker, I can only tell you again, Sir, that there is an urgent need for action, immediate action, on the part of government.

Now, I know the minister has indicated publicly that he is going to be talking to his federal counterpart but, Mr. Speaker, I do not -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: - quite frankly, I couldn't care less.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CARTER: Yes, if we can manage to get a cost-sharing arrangement with the Federal Government, great, that is a bonus. But I can only tell you, Mr. Speaker, that if that does not happen, and I suspect it will not, then I believe it is incumbent on this House and on the government to come up with a program that will at least, in the short term, fit the needs of these people. Because I can tell you, in a great many respects in my district, children are doing without, parents are doing without and, Mr. Speaker, in many cases, it is going to be a very bleak Christmas.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to support the petition presented by the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay and also to respond to some of the comments made by the hon. the Member for Twillingate. Mr. Speaker, Twillingate, Bonavista South, Baie Verte - White Bay is no different from Bonavista North, Terra Nova, Trinity North, Harbour Grace or anywhere else out there in rural Newfoundland. People out there, Mr. Speaker, today are hurting, and hurting like they have never hurt before. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that the minister is aware of it. I have contacted the minister myself -


MR. FITZGERALD: The minister is aware of it, Mr. Speaker. In fact, I think I believe him when he told me his concerns were brought to Cabinet. I am not so sure the people in Cabinet realize it, or else, want to make the decision that is needed out there today to support rural Newfoundlanders, Mr. Speaker, in being able to hold their dignity and go out and support their families.

Mr. Speaker, two years ago, $12 million was put in place through an emergency make-work program. Last year, half of that amount was put in place, $6 million. Today, with more unemployed than we have ever seen before, Mr. Speaker, not one penny has been brought forward. It amazes me to see the members on the opposite side get up and tap their desks. We are happy over here when we hear the Minister of Finance get up in his place and say, `We are doing very well, we have more revenue coming in then we ever expected.' Well, Mr. Speaker, now is the time to show some compassion and put this money out in rural Newfoundland to help the unemployed, help the people out there to maintain their dignity and put bread and butter on the table.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about people moving away to other places, lots of work in Alberta or lots of work in British Columbia, but, Mr. Speaker, when somebody calls me complaining about not being able to find work, I, for one, cannot find it in my heart to tell them there is work in British Columbia. That is not an option for everybody out there. Mr. Speaker, not everybody can go and afford the $2,000 to go up there looking, on speculation, to find a job. Many people out there, who have been involved in some of the make-work programs, I suppose, over the year and have been allowed to work and get their unemployment insurance to feed their families, many of them have never been outside this Province, and I don't think it is reasonable to expect them to go now. I think we should be more responsible than that.

I call on the minister - because I am sure he is getting calls from his district as well - I call on him to continue to go back to Cabinet, don't wait for the Federal Government to respond, Mr. Speaker. We have seven members in Ottawa and I am sure they are hearing the same messages as we are hearing. The message they are getting is no different from what the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is hearing, and no different from what I am hearing. They want funding put in place so that we can get those people to do something to support their families, to go to work in the morning - have a reason to go to bed and have a reason to get up in the morning.

Mr. Speaker, the member shouts out across the floor and says the member's time is up. Maybe he doesn't wait to hear this, maybe he doesn't want to hear those kinds of things. But, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you, when we come here and gather as fifty-two representatives from around Newfoundland and Labrador, and talk about some of the issues that this minister brought forward as their priority legislation and see what the people are going through in rural Newfoundland and Labrador today by being unemployed, unable to find work, it questions the integrity of the whole process.

Mr. Speaker, the people we hear from are not people who want to go to the Social Services offices; they are not people who want to move away; they are people who want to get up in the morning and go to work and do something productive. Maybe it is a situation where many people on the other side don't know what it is to be without; maybe they have never experienced that; maybe it was always a situation where they were very well looked after. They could get up in the morning: `Here is the money for your recess and here is the money for your Reebok joggers, here is the money for your new suit,' but I can assure you that not all of us came from those roots.

Many of us, Mr. Speaker, have experienced the struggles that those people are going through in rural Newfoundland today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. FITZGERALD: It is very easy to come in here and forget, forget the people we represent, but I call on the people on the opposite side, I call on Cabinet -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. FITZGERALD: - to be responsible and act, and respond to the needs.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. the Member for Placentia have a petition?


MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: You have heard it, you will hear it, and you will continue to hear it, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who, only a few months ago, last year, pretended he was interested in the fishermen but when he got back into Cabinet he threw them all out the window. Now, you listen about people.

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to be able to stand here on a petition put forward by residents in the district of Placentia. The petition reads:

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland, in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer: We the undersigned do hereby request of the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to immediately provide emergency funding to generate desperately-needed employment in our communities.

This small petition I have here, of fifty-four names, was in a small store in Dunville - just the community of Dunville alone - one store has another petition circulating throughout the district - two-and-a-half days, a small store, fifty-four names. The calls I get, the conversations - people stop me about the need for work. Other members have said, and I was glad that the Member for Twillingate had the courage to stand here today. I dealt with that man before when he was the Member for St. John's West, a man who found a place to stand - found it and stood there, and the members over here so far. And to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, you have my support, Sir.

Now, the other Cabinet Ministers won't listen to the likes of me but hopefully they will, to the likes of you, when you continue to plug at some of these Cabinet Ministers, and the Premier, those people who don't have to scratch for a living. Other members have said they know people who, never having been on social assistance before, are winding up there. There are people other than TAGS - what about me? They all have a right to eat. They are not eating adequately, minister; they are quite hungry, quite frustrated and quite frightened. They are frightened, Sir. There are a lot of pressures out there in our communities, our rural communities, our urban communities. Grandparents, some of their old age pensions, in lots of cases, are being utilized to help their offspring and their grandchildren get over the hump. Time is of the essence, and every day counts. Why wait until the new year? Is it another form of resettlement? Is it another way of getting people out of this Province, in a desperate and frightening way? I say it is wrong, that people should be so treated, and there should be an emergency response put in as soon as possible for the people of this Province.

The welfare office in Placentia, Social Services, needs a revolving door. In the Placentia area alone, and that doesn't include Long Harbour or the other end of the district to Southern Harbour, Fair Haven or Little Harbour, but in the Placentia area alone unemployment is hovering at 70 per cent. Now,that isn't an exaggeration, I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; that is a fact. So people, indeed, are worried.

In St. John's, I heard the other night, a taxi driver of Jiffy Cabs, in consultation and work with other groups in St. John's, are getting coats delivered around the city for adults, so they will have something warm on their backs when they spend their bit of money for their children. It is a sad commentary on it all when this government, over this past year, spent $10 million to rid ourselves of Hydro when there is not one cent being put in for an emergency response for people. Your priorities are wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few comments, because I understand exactly what hon. members opposite are saying, and hon. members on this side, and I understand what the hon. the Member for Twillingate is saying. I know full well what is taking place at my office from all over the Province, from Labrador and from the Island portion of the Province, that there is a tremendous number of people out there who are looking for some kind of an emergency response program to honestly top up and get their twelve weeks so they can draw UI, as we have historically done, not through any fault of our own, but we have historically done it for the last dozens of years - a dozen years, anyway. But let me say that in other years there wasn't the type of attitude towards addressing the horrendous amount of deficit in Ottawa.

We have to remember that, and I say to hon. members, we are still in the process of negotiations.

MR. HEWLETT: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: We are still trying to do something, I say to the Member for Green Bay, if he would give me a chance. There is no sense in shouting out. We both have the same problem, I say to the member - your constituents, my constituents - all hon. members. We are facing a situation where the Federal Government are looking at Newfoundland and saying to us: You pay in $1 and you take back $3.58. We have to go to Ottawa, and I am, as the minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations, going before the end of this week to sit down with federal Cabinet Ministers to identify the need of the seasonal workforce in this Province.

Now, I say to the hon. member, we are prepared to set an example. We are prepared to set an example, but don't take out of our hands the ability to sit with the people who respond to UI, and that is the Federal Government.

I know it is late, I understand all of that, but at least give this minister and this government an opportunity to talk to our friends and colleagues in Ottawa - and I say that because let's hope they are our friends and colleagues in Ottawa - so that we can come together and find something as soon as possible to address the problem.

If hon. members want to stand up and make heart-throb explanations, that's fine. It is their right to do it, and their responsibility to do it. I only say to you, in all honesty, that we are addressing this problem from the best approach possible that this government can. So give us an opportunity to talk to our friends in Ottawa, as I said. Let's put our position on the table, let's hear back from them, and let's dialogue this situation, and hopefully, within a week or so, we will have some kind of solution to the problem. If not, you heard the Minister of Finance today when he talked about the improving economy. He didn't say this was wine and roses but he said the economy is improving. He talked about current account, but in the same breath, he talked about $150-plus million on capital account.

Let's not fool ourselves here. Let's try to do our best for the people of the Province - that's what we are here to do. I will do that. Hopefully, this time next week, I will have some idea as to what will transpire, and I will be more than happy to tell all members and all the people of the Province.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to support my colleague, the Member for Placentia on the petition seeking emergency employment for people who are in dire need.

I'm sure the minister and this government realize that there are 12,000 fewer people in the workforce today and 19,000 more unemployed people than there were four years ago. When you average out statistics for this year, up to the end of October, the most recent statistics, it shows that 20.5 per cent is the average unemployment rate in this Province, the highest it has ever been in recent years and maybe in all history. And that is not counting the people who are on TAGS program and the other fishery programs prior to that, prior to May 15. That amount factored in, add those people who are receiving UI there, add this to the total, and we would have an unemployment rate in excess of 30 per cent in this Province. That is the highest unemployment rate we have ever seen in this Province.

The government doesn't see the need. Maybe the minister couldn't sell it to his Cabinet, the need for assistance, I don't know. If he couldn't sell it to his Cabinet I don't see how he is going to sell it to Brian Tobin and Ottawa who are looking to strip out the social security system and the social safety net in this country. It is just not going to work.

The minister stated in the House last Thursday: This government at this particular time is not prepared to have a stand-alone emergency response program. In other words, we won't do it if Ottawa doesn't do it. He went on to say: I am not going to take any approach, I say to the members, that is going to impact upon and/or negatively affect the Federal Government's negotiation with this Province in addressing the whole social program.

MR. TOBIN: Who said that?

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. I think that is pathetic, that he is not going to do anything that the Federal Government doesn't want him to do. He should be up fighting to make the Federal Government recognize the needs of unemployed people in this Province, due to no fault of their own, but because of failure of this government to respond in creating employment in this Province.

We have less employment in this Province today than we had when that government took power back in 1989. They have reduced the workforce in this Province, they have increased the unemployed, they have failed to put in place programs to meet the needs of people in this Province. They failed on the Hibernia one. They've indicated they weren't ready, they weren't prepared, to have trained people there in this Province. They said: We don't have enough employed people here with the skills necessary to do the job. They failed in training people for Hibernia. They didn't react to the future employment needs that we would have in this Province and now we have seen heading off to Saint John, New Brunswick, jobs that could be performed here in this Province. The skilled labour wasn't there, is what the minister indicated.

We have, in addition to this government's failure to meet needs - and people's needs now are not those that are looking for projects every single year. I'm sure members realize, the majority of people out there today that couldn't qualify for UI are people who were never in the situation before. There are people who were laid off with ten and eleven weeks work, mostly because the federal government increased the requirements to meet the UI benefits. Not only that - and this hasn't surfaced either; most members don't know this, and I want to make this point because most people are not aware - if you file up now on twelve weeks unemployment insurance, the commission could disqualify you for up to eight weeks even though you meet the requirements. These are regulations that came in on April 1, and people are not realizing it now because they haven't filed up for UI.

AN HON. MEMBER: Could you say that again?

MR. SULLIVAN: I will repeat it again. People who file up on UI, with the minimum required weeks of twelve, who may have had ten last year, maybe ten the year before, they now go back for 104 weeks, and you have a weak employment history, they tell you, and even though you qualify for UI, you are not going to be able to receive it now; you could be disqualified for up to eight weeks because the unemployment situation is so atrocious in our area they are going to nail you again for another eight weeks and disqualify a person from receiving benefits.

This hasn't even been circulated to the public; the public doesn't even know it. I found it out a few weeks ago, accidentally, and kept inquiring and kept getting bits of information, along with the cutthroat regulations that stripped it last year. If there were employment opportunities in this area, I would say, sure, reduce it; but there are none, and you cannot treat Newfoundland the same as Alberta and British Columbia, Ontario and other more prosperous parts of the country. If the government is not going to recognize the disparities and the high unemployment rates in different regions of the country, there is no sense in being as a country to try to promote equality and so on, and eliminate those.

Nothing has been done by this government except increase the unemployment rate since 1989, decrease the number of the workforce in this Province since 1989, and most people, maybe, in government over there don't realize that if you don't get $50,000 of a salary, or $10,000 a month from a law firm, most people never realize, they are never in the position of need to understand the importance of depending on those few extra weeks work to be able to put food on the table and be able to buy a Christmas gift for their kids. People who were never in that situation don't understand it. This government doesn't understand it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: They have a current account surplus. They don't understand it, and that minister didn't understand it when he was there either, except to pass around a few political dollars.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has called for order, but hon. members are ignoring the call. If this persists, the Chair will have to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that there is order in this Chamber.

AN HON. MEMBER: I apologize.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to present a petition.

My petition is related to jobs, too, Mr. Speaker, not so much about the need for an emergency jobs program to help those who have absolutely no prospects at the moment, but to salvage some existing jobs in a small cottage industry, an industry that has tremendous potential for growth. The prayer of the petition is:

We, the undersigned, request that the House of Assembly instruct government to take such steps as are necessary so that moose antler can be obtained legally for use in the craft and souvenir businesses.

Mr. Speaker, I have a small business in my district, in the community of Beachside, run by the Foote family, that produces souvenirs made from cured moose antler. They were originally located in the Venture Centre in Pasadena, but have recently relocated to their home town in the Beachside area.

The problem that they are experiencing is that they have a company that was basically fostered into life by the federal and provincial governments through various assistance programs, financing programs, et cetera, over a period of the last five years, knowing full well, both levels of government basically, that the raw material used in their business was moose antler which, over the last five years or so, they have been purchasing from the general public, from hunters, from school children no less, who pick them up, shed antlers in the woods, and use them as school fund-raising projects, et cetera. The problem is that one of the principals of the company has been charged with illegally obtaining moose antler and that matter is now before the courts. I am sure the wildlife officer concerned considers that it was a legitimate charge and I have no doubt that my constituents have their views on the matter but we will leave that, Mr. Speaker, for a judge to decide in due course.

What we are talking about now is not the law as it is really, what I want addressed is the law as it can be, as it should be, as it could be, if the Wells Administration would move on this matter. Mr. Speaker, what we have is a legitimate growing business and in order to really establish themselves and to legitimately meet their market demands they have to have a credible source of raw material and right now the only way they can legally and legitimately obtain raw material is to have moose antlers donated to them by bona fide hunters.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if you are to maintain a reasonable base of raw material for a business activity you need to be able to purchase your raw materials. Certainly the business plans put forward to Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and to ACOA all had sections in them indicating the amount of money to be spent on the purchase of raw material. Seeing that we are into the antler souvenir business it does not take a great genius - for any people in the government to realize that these people have been purchasing antler for years and have built a legitimate and growing business in that regard. Now they are faced with not being able to buy their raw material. They have on hand at their local shop, nearly $20,000 worth of partly processed products made from antler which they worry would get them in further trouble with wildlife authorities. They are not really sure what to do and we have a government that basically so far, has not addressed the matter because there is a legal case pending.

One of the principals of the company put it to the Premier on the Open Line this morning, he expressed some concern and sympathy for the people. I am aware that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the minister responsible for wildlife are very much aware of the situation. I have written them on it and I have no doubt that since this morning maybe, the Premier's staff have been in contact with them as well.

What is needed, Mr. Speaker, is the political will to act, to do something either regarding a change in the law for tomorrow and the weeks after, some sort of commitment not to lay further charges until the current court case is done with. The law can be changed or some commitment not to go enforcing the law as it has not been enforced for the past five years until recently. It is not enough for this new company to basically have to exist on a wink and a nod as it has done for the last number of years. They need something a bit more solid, a bit more legitimate on which to base a business plan, a work plan. They have trade shows to attend, that sort of thing, Mr. Speaker, and they need to be able to go forward and make commitments to people who buy their product based on the sure and certain knowledge that they can obtain the raw material and obtain it legitimately and legally without facing charges under the Wildlife Act.

The Wildlife Act allows for the purchase of moose hide, the question is, why can't we have an allowance for antlers as well? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to have a few words in support of the petition presented by my colleague from Green Bay. I did not see the story, I did not it realize until now, I did not see the paper today but I have had questions put to me in the past three or four years as it pertains to the same problem. In fact, only two or three weeks ago I spoke with officials of the Department of Wildlife and so on and tourism, as it pertains to this problem and it is a real problem.

I did not realize until then, what was being done around the Province, especially with the crafts. I have gone into numerous establishments across this island, even in the past year, and you can pretty well go in anywhere and pick up something made out of a moose antler. They even got salt and pepper shakers, they got little key chains, they got book stands, there is everything. Buttons is a big one now, especially in the past couple of years. Really they did not know they were doing something illegal. It is rather stupid I suppose in a sense. You can issue a license to an individual in the Province, to go in the woods and shoot an animal, you can bring it out and use the meat, and you are supposed to leave everything else there although there is a need for it. We are always talking about underutilized species, we are always talking about secondary processing, we are always talking about waste in every other sector as it pertains to the fishery, agriculture, forestry. We are always talking about utilization.

To me the minister after today should take something to his Cabinet colleagues and get this addressed and addressed soon. I can take the moose antler, if I kill the bull today, I can give it to my buddy, no problem. The minute they put it into something, or you sell it, you get it for $5 or $10 or whatever, it is a crime. We shouldn't be in the habit of criminalizing people. That is what is happening. We are making criminals out of people who are good, law-respecting citizens and so on.

I suspect that one of the things that caused this is that a few years ago they had a real problem with the bear body parts and the bears across Canada, and all through North America, especially as it pertains to the bladder. They used to issue export licences for bladders and other bear parts to send to other parts of Canada and outside of Canada. I think it was last year the government stopped doing that. I sort of go along with what you are doing. Because I know that licences were issued in the spring of the year, the spring kill and the fall kill, primarily just to get that. As far as I'm concerned I go along with it.

I will give you an example, Mr. Speaker, and the minister. The new ski lodge in Marble Mountain. To give you an example, they wanted to use our own resource and something that would tie in with the environment and tie in with our wildlife sector and so on as it pertains to tourism and what have you. They wanted twenty-six sets of caribou antlers and twenty-six of moose. What they wanted to do - this was fifty-two sets of antlers - was to make chandeliers for the new ski lodge in Marble Mountain. When they approached certain individuals this is when we found out and got into the problem with the regulations and so on. That they were not allowed to buy.

For instance, in Labrador, where there is such a high caribou kill, there is no trouble at all to get twenty-six sets of antlers of -

AN HON. MEMBER: Mealy Mountains.

MR. WOODFORD: Especially the Mealy Mountains herd, as my colleague who sits next to me is after talking about for the last couple of years.

That is an example of money lost, chances lost for small business to take advantage of, and so on. Not only that, but as far as I'm concerned, to add to the whole Marble Mountain complex and any other tourism facility around the Province. Just because they couldn't buy them they couldn't get them. There were several individuals asked to - I don't know what would have happened if I came in and donated one to them. I don't even know, I don't think they are even allowed to have that up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: Not to sell.

MR. WOODFORD: If there is a dollar value at all attached to it.... I think, Mr. Speaker, this is a time when the minister could act and I think that everybody being reasonable about it, if he brought it to his Cabinet colleagues I'm sure that there is not a Cabinet minister over there who would not support something as rational as that, and that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A few words on this case, but few words, because it is a case before the courts and I'm not going to get into great detail on the case that is before the courts.

The law has been broken. In Newfoundland and Labrador today it is illegal to buy, it is illegal to sell, moose antlers or caribou antlers. That is illegal today. There are legal means available to obtain either the moose antler or the caribou antler but it has to be free and it has to be from a legal hunter. That can be done and has been done. I'm not going to get into the details of the history of this particular case. I have a lot of detail on the history of this particular case that goes back to the Venture Centre but I am not going to get into that detail. I do not think it is appropriate to get into the detail here, but as long as it is illegal nobody in this Province should be buying or selling moose or caribou antlers.

I want to say a few words about why this regulation is presently in place. It is presently in place because we have had a problem and it is not a problem that is unique to Newfoundland and Labrador, but a problem in the world, of the buying and selling of big game parts, and the black market in big game parts all over the world. The last time I stood in response to a question in this House I mentioned a couple of examples in this Province recently, where this fall three black bears were found south of Gander Lake, probably with nothing gone except their gall bladders because there were three full carcases. A huge bull moose was found dead south of Millertown in central Newfoundland with nothing gone except the crown, nothing gone except the antler.

Now, I will go back and give some more examples, a little more historical. Yearly for the last few years we found examples of black bears that have been killed for nothing except their gallbladders. Two years ago a truckload of moose antlers were confiscated trying to cross the gulf at Port aux Basques. Somebody was trying to carry on an illegal trade. Now, how many of these sets of antlers came from moose that were killed by poachers for no other purpose but to get the antlers and sell them? I do not know, but the reason for the regulation is that there is, and has been, an illegal trade in big game parts.

Now, to get down to the details, sure, there are ways besides what I just described for antlers, where things are done legally. For example, with moose there are restaurants that have licenses to purchase big game. Others can then sell to these establishments but they must get a permit from the wildlife office to sell their big game and it can only be done in season, or within seven days of the end of the season. That can be done and it can be done legally.

In the meantime because of all the concern about big game we have been reviewing these regulations for some months. It has nothing to do with this particular case. There may or may not in the future be some changes made, but certainly, I, as a minister am going to make sure that as long as I am responsible for it we are going to do everything to protect our big game.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I was not sure if we would ever get there. I wonder if you would be good enough to call Motions 3 and 4? We will do two first readings.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to introduce a bill, "An Act To Ratify, Confirm And Adopt An Agreement Entered Into Between The Government Of The Province And Corner Brook Pulp And Paper Mill Limited," carried. (Bill No. 42)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Pippy Park Commission Act," carried. (Bill No. 43)

On motion, Bill No 42 and Bill No. 43, read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we call Order 9, that is the adjourned debate on the Works, Services and Transportation Departmental Act?

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 9.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On Friday when I was so rudely interrupted by the noonday bell I was just starting to get into stride and talk about signage on the highways of our Province. I will not go through all that I said on Friday. Just to reiterate what I had established was that there are really two sides to the argument and there has been over the years. I will not go over all the details I went through on Friday.

There has been two sides of the argument. There has been the tourism industry versus the environmentalists, and the highway safety group, I suppose, if you want to take it from three points of view; from a highway safety point of view, you do not want to take away from public safety by erecting signs that are distractive to drivers that may in any way cause a highway accident and that is always a concern, so we must never forget, Mr. Speaker, that highway safety is paramount here and must be considered. Obviously, that is why the Department of Works, Services and Transportation has a responsibility for dictating where these signs may or may not be located and I assume that won't change.

The bill itself, Mr. Speaker, the explanatory note simply says: to allow a broader range of signs to be permitted. I am assuming that there is no change in the policies that the department has in place for designating where signs may or may not be located. The conflict here, Mr. Speaker, again, is one between the desire to have signage from two points of view; one from the tourism industry wanting to promote their product, and not only the tourism industry unfortunately, but there are many industries that would like to promote their products and on the other hand, there is the competitive aspect of it and on the other hand, there is the tourist who may be looking for information or the consumer, be it a tourist or be it a consumer of any other goods or services.

Now as I understand it, in the last couple of years the signage policy has been relaxed to the point where certain tourist related signs had been permitted. Prior to that, we essentially approved no signs whatsoever, but the issue goes back quite some time and I say to the minister that it has been an issue that has been addressed. One of the ministers suggested last week that the previous administration did nothing to address it and that is not true. You may not agree with the approach that was taken and I would readily say that there are certain aspects of it that I was not totally happy with either, but, Mr. Speaker, there was a policy put in place I would say ten or eleven years ago, where we generated the blue signs that are still in place on the highways.

Now that was not an attempt at a compromise between having a proliferation -


MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, may I have some quiet here?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: I am having a heck of a job competing here with some of my colleagues.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your own buddies.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sorry colleague, sorry.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you.

It was an attempt, Mr. Speaker, to try to deal with the request for proliferation of signs to be placed on the side of a highway and I think it was agreed at that time by everybody involved that, that was not in the best interest of the Province, so we attempted to reach a compromise by erecting these blue signs where, primarily the tourism industry, but the service industry at least could advertise their goods and services in an organized and controlled manner on signs constructed and owned by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, but you paid a fee for that, so whether you were a gas bar or a restaurant or a hospitality home or a hotel, whatever the service might be, you could purchase a small space and you could put a logo, so if it was a service station, the major oil dealership logo would be identified there and it would basically say, you know, such and such service station, one kilometre or two kilometres or whatever the case may be.

So that was a compromise to let people know that services were available, it did not meet the desires of industry, of the various companies involved to promote their products in a manner that they would want to promote it, but it did eliminate signage of promoting a lot of goods that were not, from the simple point of view of promoting a product rather than a service that is available within a particular distance, so you eliminated the great signs on the side of the highway, and I referred to it on Friday to what I call the Florida-style sign, which in the middle of nowhere advertises a product that has nothing to do with the particular location in which you happen to be. It is simply advertising for the sake of promotion rather than advertising for the sake of advising the travelling public of what goods and services may be available in the immediate area.

So that was an attempt and I think it did to some degree, serve the requirement but it does not meet the requirements of the tourism industry who want to promote their services in a little more visible manner and it probably does not meet the requirements of the tourist who wants to be led by the hand, basically, to goods and services that are available.

The information was always available and the concept of that signage policy was that the tourist would use his highway map as provided by the Province. He would go to tourist chalets and get the host of information that is available there, brochures and everything else, and that he would use some of the signboards that were erected as well on the side of the highway. We had lay-by areas on the sides of the highway, particularly the Trans-Canada Highway, where huge billboards were located, where businesses could purchase advertising space as well. I must confess, I was never a great supporter of those billboards and they are no longer with us. I've yet to see very many tourists, particularly, who were going to stop in basically what was a gravel pit on a side of the highway and read a billboard to see what services were available.

I don't think they were ever very effective and I was never a great supporter of them even back in the days when we were putting them there. It was considered to be part of the overall package, and I guess for the cost that was involved it was worthwhile attempting it, giving it a try, but they were not overly successful.

Nevertheless then, we are down to the question now of how do we deal with the continued request from the tourist industry. I have a lot of sympathy for that particular industry because I believe they do need to advertize. I would say to the minister that - he doesn't tell us, and I don't think in his opening statement he told us a great deal about the types of signage that would be available, and as the act says, "to allow a broader range of signs... by regulation." I would like to see those regulations. Perhaps the minister would be good enough to table them for us if he has them or otherwise to give us an outline of the types of - how broad is this policy going to be? What types of signs will be advertised?

I would hate for example to see signs on the side of the highway that are advertising beer or alcoholic products or men's clothing or women's clothing or automobiles or anything of that nature, which is simply consumer advertising. But I have some sympathy for, under strictly controlled conditions, on the side of the highway allowing some advertising relating to services in the immediate area, so that the tourist is given the opportunity to choose between restaurant establishments, food service establishments, hotels, motels, bed and breakfast operations, tour operators, particular tourist attractions that are being developed in this Province, camping grounds. These types of things that the travelling public needs.

In other words, I guess what I'm saying in a nutshell is that I can support advertising that is directed at the travelling public to assist that person in knowing what is available and to assist the local area in promoting the kinds of facilities and services that are available to the travelling public. I have a problem to see advertising on the sides of our highways that is aimed simply at the consumer. It is consumer advertising, general type advertising, rather than specific to a particular area. I hope we would not see that.

I would like the minister when he closes this debate eventually if he would address the question, which again is not addressed here, of where will these sign - I talked a moment ago about the regulations that will be applied in locating these signs. Would the minister tell us: Is he proposing to put these in designated signage areas? Because we had some discussion on that for many years. In other words, there would be a section, a kilometre or two prior to a major municipal area, where signs under controls would be spaced properly. The size, the style and the content of those signs would be strictly controlled by the department. In other words, it would be an information area on a good straight stretch of the highway where signs a certain distance apart could be located so that that information is available just outside those areas.

I hope we are not going to see somewhere along Birchy Narrows a sign advertising what is available in downtown Corner Brook by way of an eating establishment, for example. Outside of Corner Brook, so that the travelling public knows: Here is what is available to me up ahead - and I guess conversely too that this service is not available for another eighty kilometres. So if you want to eat or you need gas, stop now and get it. That type of sign, I think there is room for it. If it is tastefully done I don't have a problem with the advertiser being able to compete. In other words, to promote his or her product or service in a manner that is competitive, as long as it is tasteful and carefully controlled by the department.

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted if the minister could, when he speaks, give us some real information on what will be in his regulations. The act itself I don't have a problem with. I, for one, believe we should relax the signage policy somewhat. I would be concerned if we relax it too much, I say to the minister. I hope we are not doing that, but there is nothing in the act to give us that. We really need to see the proposed regulations, knowing that they can be changed at any time, but I would like to know what government is thinking at this point in time by way of broadening the policy in these regulations. What types of signs, size, style, location? What types of controls will be on them? What products can be advertised, and by whom?

If the minister would address those questions, Mr. Speaker, I think the House and the people of the Province would perhaps have some sympathy for this particular piece of legislation. So I look forward to the minister, in his closing remarks perhaps, to addressing those questions if he would.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. If he speaks now, he will close the debate.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to close debate on this bill because I think, as hon. members opposite have pointed out very clearly, and the most recent speaker, the hon. Member for Mount Pearl, it is time to address the signage policy in this Province for a various number of reasons, from a Department of Works, Services and Transportation point of view as to directional signage and highway signage, but from a tourism and municipal point of view also.

It has become quite confusing over the years not only to the people responsible for highway signage, but for the general public as a whole, and especially the tourists coming into the Province. There has been no real system in place where there has been a clear understanding of where the highway signs are placed and who is actually responsible for them.

This piece of legislation gives me, as minister, the authority simply to be in control of the directional signage on our highways, and not the highway signage for tourism and municipal affairs. The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs will be the minister responsible for the highway signage outside of my departmental responsibility. This sets down the direction or the corridor on where the signs can be placed on the highway. There will be a separate corridor apart from the highway where the signs for tourism and municipal directions will be put on the highway, and that is the purpose of this particular change in the amendment to the department's act.

The consumer signs, as the hon. Member for Mount Pearl just mentioned, will not be on the highway. It will be strictly related toward tourism. Restaurants, takeouts, grocery stores, gasoline service stations, bars and lounges and other similar establishments will continue to be denied advertising signage along our highways, and that is right. You cannot have a highway littered up with signs of every gas station, and every convenience store, and every gas bar that is in the future.

MR. WINDSOR: Could the minister tell us what is going to be eligible?

MR. EFFORD: Pardon?

MR. WINDSOR: What will be eligible?

MR. EFFORD: Yes, I will get to that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: It would probably be the best idea, if it was to the advantage of the people of the Province.

We, as a department, in the highway signage, is taking a look at a complete review of the highway signage that we are responsible for, the directional signage and the speed limit signs on our highways.

We have the policy analysis within the department now taking a look at the national highway policy, the manual, getting the latest up-to-date manual, and every regional manager across the Province is going to go right throughout the Province and do a full study on all of the signs not only on our highways, on the Trans-Canada and the trunk roads, but throughout every community in every area in this Province.

We realize that if we are going to be able to encourage the tourists to come into this Province, and to be able to travel around the vast area of our Province with some ease, that we are going to have to make sure that all the directional signs, the route numbers of the highways according to the maps that are printed, that they can make it as easy as possible for the tourists, and the travelling public in general, to be able to get across and around the Province. They will find all of the areas that they want to go to see, to view, to visit for whatever reason, with as much ease as possible. Now that is the responsibility of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. The minister, my colleague the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs will be the minister who will dictate and give it the direction of the policy of the other -

MS. VERGE: What about the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation?

MR. EFFORD: - and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation but the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is the minister who will be fully responsible for the new signage policy.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: If the hon. Member for Humber East is not satisfied with it that is her problem but I mean there has to be some sense of control put on our highway signage. You cannot have every six feet or the whole highway cluttered up with signage at the request of an individual.

Now the hon. member asked a question, she asked the question, who will be allowed, what businesses will be allowed to put signs on the highway? There will be allowed the accommodation sector; hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds to advertise along the side of a highway in a zone previously reserved for the tourism attraction such as; golf courses, theme parks, water slides, boat tours and the like. That is to take care of the necessary information for the travelling public.

I just told the hon. member that will be for bed and breakfasts and the accommodation sectors and hotels. If an individual is going to a highway, no, I said no. I said that earlier, restaurants, take-outs, grocery stores, gasoline service stations, bars and lounges and other similar establishments will continue to be denied -


MR. EFFORD: - because you cannot have your highways littered up with a sign of every establishment that is in a community. How many restaurants are in the City of Corner Brook? So you put a sign on the highway for every restaurant, every convenience store, every take-out, every gas bar in the City of Corner Brook? You would not have enough space on the highway to put those signs, so that is the reason why it is not going to be done.

MS. VERGE: They do it everywhere else in the world.

MR. EFFORD: No they do not.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Exactly, they do not do it everywhere else and the hon. Member for Humber East is not correct on that. In fact, her colleague the Member for Mount Pearl just got up and said exactly what I am saying here, you cannot clutter up the highway for every person who has a business in any area of the Province who requests a sign to put up there. There has to be some limits.

MS. VERGE: There should be a happy medium.

MR. EFFORD: Well, we have reached the happy medium.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Well I do not think the man above would keep the hon. member happy. No matter what, she would find a reason to criticize and not to be happy with it.

MS. VERGE: There is a woman up there not a man.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: I am beginning to have second thoughts about that.

Mr. Speaker, I do not need to go into a long deliberation about this because this is simply to change the act to allow the new highway signage policy to go in place. I have said very clearly the responsibility of the department is for highway directional signs and we are going to bring in a complete new review of the Province. My hon. colleague the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is the minister responsible for -

MR. REID: He makes the rules and I have to carry them out for him.

MR. EFFORD: No, I am only the facilitator. If the hon. minister requires me to erect a sign or take it down then I will do that.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Department of Works, Services and Transportation Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 16).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we have done so very well with one amendment to the Works, Services and Transportation Act, let's try our luck with a second one, Order No. 14, it is Bill No. 31. Don't ask me why we have two, I am not sure I can answer that.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Department of Works, Services and Transportation Act (No. 2)". (Bill No. 31)

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Some more good news for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. My responsibility as minister is to improve the Department of Works, Services and Transportation in giving out this service - in the leading of services and new technology for this Province and to make things a whole lot easier for the people who require the services of this department.

The piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, I am about to introduce here is again, like I said, good news for the Province. Bill No. 31, gives me the authority as minister in making changes to the department's act and to bringing in the photo driver's licencing and photo identification cards. I cannot see - in fact, I would suspect even the hon. Member for Humber East will stand and applaud the department for this new venture into the 20th and 21st century.

Mr. Speaker, we again are on the leading edge of technology.

AN HON. MEMBER: The camera.

MR. EFFORD: The camera. Seriously, Mr. Speaker, a number of other provinces in Canada, and of course down in the United States it is quite a common thing that your driver's licence and your photo identification be all one and the same. There are a number of advantages to having this new photo driver's licence implemented.

Let's start with the travelling public. For the travelling public to travel, especially outside of Canada, one of the most difficult things is to be able to produce -


MR. EFFORD: - an identification card. Your photo driver's licence will be -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Just a few quick words, Mr. Speaker, and I will sit down and I'm sure that there will be no problem carrying this, the photo driver's licence, number one, for all the right reasons. The second part of this will be the photo identification card. Because now you have to have so many different cards in your possession for identification, and especially under the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation you get an identification card. Once this new legislation is brought in and my department gets the approval we will be the one-stop shop.

We will provide photo identification cards for all of government as well as the photo driver's licence. If an individual who doesn't have a photo driver's licence and is required to have a photo identification card, they will be able to obtain it from the department for a mere $20 fee. There will be no age restriction. Very simply, two things. The photo driver's licencing, the photo identification card, and no age restriction on the second part, the photo identification card. Any age can obtain the card.

The photo driver's licencing in the first instance will be for three years. It will be phased in over a three-year period, and then it will be good after - once it is phased in and then the requirement to have a photo driver's licence renewed will be every five years. Your photo will be taken at the beginning and every five years after that there will be a requirement to have a photo driver's licence.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the hon. members opposite have so much to say and so much interruption to make when I'm trying to bring forward an explanation as to why we are bringing this in. I will sit down and if the hon. members wish to carry this, we will be satisfied to carry it. If not, I will be satisfied to entertain any questions that they ask of me.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We've been talking about this piece of legislation this past while over here and we thought it was a good idea. Not much trouble with it. But I mean now, it is just another way for Ebenezer Scrooge to get his hands in people's pockets, that is the case.

Anyway, no, we don't see much problem with picture identifications, no problem at all. Make it easier in lots of cases for people going places other than where they live. The only other thing is what was brought in a by a federal Liberal government years ago that went strange was their Social Insurance Numbers, which was supposed to be our identification between us and the government. That is gone. You can't go anywhere without somebody asking you for your Social Insurance Number. That was supposed to be a very direct thing between government and its people.

Anyway, I don't think that - unless every one of us on our picture identification, on one side we have our own and on the opposite side I would think it would be hellish if you had the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation's picture because the only thing that would look as bad as the minister would be his picture. Anyway, we found out, while it is a good idea, the minister is awake and looking at the coppers and it is another opportunity to get money as well, but anyway, it should be much easier for the people travelling.

Thank you.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: You are up to speak now, don't be nasty.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Not nasty; I was a bit interested to hear the minister flick out his twenty-dollar bid and we need some clarification.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It is time to take another twenty dollars, weasel another twenty dollars out of the pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, you will have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), card.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I thought you had to have a card? You don't have to have it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, oh. Is that going to be part of your driver's license?

MR. EFFORD: This is a separate card (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, I am not sure now. Perhaps I did not listen closely enough to the minister. There were a lot of interruptions around me.

AN HON. MEMBER: You got that right.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: So the minister is saying now, that means when I renew my driver's license, whenever it is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, but the next time my driver's license is renewed, is the minister telling me that there will now be a photograph on my driver's license?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is a mandatory requirement?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But it won't be a part of my license?

MR. EFFORD: Yes. Let me explain it, let me explain it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Sure, go ahead.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, there are two separate things.

First of all, the photo driver's licensing, your license and a photo identification will be on the same card. That will be your new driver's license symbol. That's it. Now, if any individual, whether he is two years old or twenty years old or fifty years old, needs or wants a separate identification card, like you now have for the liquor corporation, you will be able to obtain that from the department for a fee of twenty dollars. That has nothing to do with your driver's license. That is a separate identification card if some person does not have a drivers license or below the age to have a driver's -

You see the hon. member is not listening and he is going to be confused again. - so now you understand, there are two separate cards, photo driver's license is one thing, identification card number two, if you require one for some other reason or you do not have a driver's license.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I understand that now. You see, the minister gets a little bit huffy over there now, Mr. Speaker, but I mean, the minister does such a poor job of introducing his bills, the same as he did with Bill 30, he did not know the legislation, attempted to bluff his way through -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I say to the Government House Leader, this is Bill 31. He nods agreement. - so the fee for the driver's license, minister, will remain the same as it is now, is that what you are telling me? I will pay the same when I renew my driver's license, the same fees I paid the last time or would the increases be built in, every -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, whatever it is. - but if I wanted an ID card, I would have to pay twenty bucks, if I were too young to have a driver's license or had my driver's license suspended, or too old to have a driver's license and I want an ID card, it would cost me twenty dollars for the card. How much revenue do you think you are going to get out of that? Any idea what it is going to cost to process the ID cards and what revenue you are going to gain on that, I would like to ask the minister.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, well then, how can you then decide that he is going to charge people twenty dollars, is my question?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But you must have some basis to set the twenty-dollar fee, I say to the minister.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: So you are just going to pay for the cost of the card, you are not going to generate any revenue for the government? I hope the minister does not think now that I am going to believe that, I say to him.

AN HON. MEMBER: We will do it for $20.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, we will. We will pay for the next election campaign out of it, I say to the minister, an ID card for twenty bucks. Make no wonder the minister is laughing, because he knows, and the Minister of Finance, well, he is not here, but I am sure he must be very happy about this. Of course, he has his fingers into it, for sure.

MR. SULLIVAN: I say there is about a $2 million profit here, or $3 million. There are a couple of hundred thousand (inaudible) want these.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You didn't put the cost in the bill, I say to the minister. The cost is not in the bill. It says `A person who wishes to obtain an identification card shall apply, providing the minister with proof of identification, of age, and of other information which the minister may require, and shall pay the fee set by the minister.' So the fee is going to be $20? That is decided. Was that decided by Cabinet or by the minister?

AN HON. MEMBER: By the minister.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: So, it will be $20. Well, that is information that people need to know. That is pertinent information that people should know, that the ID card will cost them $20. Now, if we could only get some estimate from the minister and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board as to what the government is going to generate from this, that would even make the information more interesting to the public.

AN HON. MEMBER: It will never generate enough.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Of course, it never generates enough but for those paying out, it is taking another bit of money from their pocket. It ties into the debate we had today and the Question Period on employment generation. There are so many people unemployed and finding it tough that while another $20 may not mean too much to the minister, it means a lot to ordinary Newfoundlanders, especially if they are unlucky enough to be pulled over by the police, after having had a glass of wine at communion, and then having to pay $100 to get their license back.

I guess it will pay for another bit of air time for the minister to flick around the Province in his big helicopter, the great big huge helicopters I saw the other day. It frightened the life out of me the other day when I went down to Marystown and on the way home I saw this big helicopter off at the Irving Station by the lights. I said, No, that is not the Minister of Works, Services, and Transportation down here in that.

I heard that the minister was flying off Friday night down to Marystown. He flew all night; his feet hardly touched the floor, I am told.

MR. TOBIN: He was that high.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He had a good time, I heard. I am just wondering if the $20 is going to allow him to go to other places in the Province - bring in the ID card, more air time for the minister, more expense accounts. On a serious note, I say to the minister, I think it is a good idea to have an ID card, a photo ID.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Who said? He looks bored over here. (Inaudible) bored, he would be over there then. At least over here he is allowed to speak and think, but over there he is not allowed to do anything.

MR. TOBIN: Listen to `Danny'.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He hasn't opened his mouth, the old go-fer. I say that the Member for Eagle River will need a photo ID card so he will be able to know who he is himself. He has been so quiet lately, and so subdued, that he will need to take it out of his pocket every now and then and look at it to remind him who he is. He is a different man. He will need the ID - it is going to be a great benefit to the Member for Eagle River for when he goes up to Quebec and rents those cars. When he goes to Quebec to rent a car for use in his district, he will only need the one card. I don't suppose the minister could arrange to have a French card done for the Member for Eagle River, have it in French?

Basically, we don't have any problem with this, I say to the minister, but there are a couple of question that I think are pertinent and that we wanted to ask. The minister has answered them, for which I thank him.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have just a couple of minor questions which will take only a minute. The initial processing of the license is normally for three years now at $60, I believe. So with the photo on the next issuing of license, is the minister stating there is no increased cost?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: We will see when the budget comes down, I guess.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It will stay in place just for this fiscal year, depending on the budget, I would assume, if they increase it, but this aspect is not going to increase it.

I think the minister stated that $500,000 would be the cost of implementing the system.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The cost of implementing the system?

AN HON. MEMBER: $3.5 million.

MR. SULLIVAN: $3.5 million? So I would assume you are going to try to do a cost recovery on it, are you? And the $20 on cost recovery would mean that we are going to have about 175,000 people who are going to avail of this system at an extra $20.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know, but at a $3.5 million cost, and they have a cost recovery at $20, we are looking at about 175,000. In fact, I just shouted out a little while ago, I would assume a couple of hundred thousand people would avail of this system, which -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the same $3.5 million (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The cost then, to the consumer, basically is about $3.5 million extra, and that is going to be fully recovered. The minister is stating -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and the minister is stating they are going to fully recover this program. It is not going to be absorbed into the general budget, that the people will pay $3.5 million in fees over and above what they normally pay now to recover this. That is correct? Okay.

A liquor commission ID, for example, maybe you might be able to tell me what the cost of that is. Are you familiar with that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. I have that figure - I'm sorry. It is $16.05 - the member provided it. So basically this could suffice to replace that one, too, and then there will be a whole group of people who would be contributing, too. So really the net cost is $3.5 million.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. If he speaks now, he will close debate on the bill.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of things I want to explain that I didn't get the opportunity to explain in my introductory remarks. One of them was that people now who live in different areas across the Province won't have to come into St. John's, won't have to go into Corner Brook, or won't have to go into their regular office now. We will be setting up these cameras to give the people living in different areas of the Province where it is difficult to travel to and from, the main centres, to have this done, the photo taken and the driver's licence card produced, like on the Northern Peninsula and in different areas around Newfoundland. So we are going to be very easily accessible to individuals.

The other advantage it gives you is that nobody now will be able to use somebody else's driver's licence, and that is one of the most important aspects of it. Because individuals can take somebody else's driver's licence now, if they lose it through drinking and driving, or for whatever reason, and get their brother's or friend's or whatever, and just pass the name across, it is pretty difficult - that would eliminate that process.

It is going to be easier now for people to do business. They go into a business establishment and produce their identification card, their photo driver's licence. It very clearly tells you that this is the individual and the owner and operator of that licence or whatever. The same with the travelling public, it is going to make it much easier for people to be able to travel now. Instead of having everyone pulling out different cards and birth certificates and everything, social insurance numbers, a full identification process will be on your driver's licence.

There are going to be a whole lot of advantages to this. There is no fee in cost added next year, except what was put in the fee structure last year, which will take care of the recovery of the cost of doing it, a $20 charge for the identification photo card. If anybody loses that card and needs it replaced, there will be a $10 fee. So there won't be a $20 second-time charge. It will be first-time, up front, and there will be a $10 fee charged if you lose that card or need to have it replaced for some reason.

I can only give you the fees today. What my colleague, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, decides in next year's budget, I can't tell you, as the hon. member put forward. I can only say what the fee structure is today, and the department's position which was approved in last year's budget is to recover the cost of both of these new ideas, the photo driver's licence and the photo identification card.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Department of Works, Services And Transportation Act (No.2)," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 31)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Could we call Order 12, Bill 20, and should we dispose of that before the House rises, we will go on to Bill 35, which is Order 16.

Order 12, Bill No. 20.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Ratify, Confirm And Adopt An Agreement Between The Government Of Canada And The Government Of The Province Respecting Reciprocal Taxation Of These Governments And Their Agencies". (Bill No. 20)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The intent, of course, is set out in the title. Essentially, it is an agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Province to, where applicable, pay taxes to the other entity. Where applicable, the Province agrees to pay taxes to the Federal Government, where that tax is applicable to the Province. And the reverse is true, the Federal Government agrees to pay taxes to the Province where the provincial taxes are applicable to the Federal Government.

It also provides a mechanism for dispute settlement, of course, in case there is any dispute. From our point of view, and I guess, from the Federal Government's point of view, it is important that these agreements with the provinces be in place to avoid on the Federal Government double and triple taxation, and so on. From our point of view, it is important that the Federal Government agrees to pay those taxes.

That is a general explanation of what this bill is all about. If there are any questions, Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to answer them.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister would tell us whether or not the Department of Finance and Treasury Board has done an assessment of the impact of this financially, or is there a change. Are we, in fact, not doing this now. But if not, has the department done a thorough assessment of the financial impact of this? Will we pay more provincial tax to the Government of Canada than the Government of Canada will pay federal tax to the Province? Do we know? I would think that the magnitude of the purchases of the Province far exceeds the purchases of the Government of Canada in this Province, even though our rate is 12 per cent on what the Government of Canada might purchase. I think the - I might be totally wrong. I will yield for a moment. Maybe the minister would like to answer, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Just to answer that particular question, Mr. Speaker, or to attempt to. Number one, this is simply giving formal acknowledgement and ratification to the status quo. In essence, this is happening now and has been happening for some time. This is the formal agreement and gives effect to it.

I would suspect, although I haven't seen the numbers, but perhaps before the Committee stage I could ask one of the officials in Finance and Treasury Board to dig up the numbers to see what amount - the trade-off here, whether the Federal Government pays more tax to us than under this arrangement we would pay the Federal Government, or the reverse. As hon. members will remember, when we introduced the payroll tax, one of the reasons was to be able to get back some money from the Federal Government. This, of course, has been accomplished. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I can get the numbers, and I have not seen them, but this is simply a verification of the existing situation.

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate that. In the proposed act, or agreement, it refers to housing, section 5. Would the minister like to tell us - and it refers particularly as it relates to delivery of social housing by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, which is the only agency designated in schedule B. I know we can get at this in Committee, but just to deal with this now. Does this mean that the delivery of social housing, therefore, is not taxable? Because if it is, then no doubt it will cost the Province quite a bit, if we had to pay GST on the delivery of social housing. I assume what this does is treat the Housing Corporation as any other developer of housing from the point of view of constructing housing, but as it relates to delivery of social programs and social housing, it makes it a Crown corporation.

Could the minister also tell us, how does this deal with municipalities? Municipalities are not listed in schedule A and I'm not sure if it is clearly laid out in the act itself or not but are municipalities now required to pay all of these taxes and so forth? Is there any change in that, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As far as I know there is no change to the status quo. Now with regard to the GST and the payment of GST, I think there are mechanisms in place for rebates and all that kind of thing. What I will say to the hon. member is that he can list his questions and so on, I will get detailed answers from the people in finance for the committee stage where it is probably better dealt with.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to rise today and make a few comments on the financial report. First of all, Mr. Speaker, as both sides of the House said earlier, it is good that we can hear something positive coming from the financial report, Mr. Speaker. We all applaud that and we all support that. God knows, we need a bit of positive news these days.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I just wonder sometimes, when we hear this report, who the pain was inflicted upon in order that we get to this stage of a financial report where we can come in and say balance the budget. The first thing I think about, Mr. Speaker, is the health care system. The second thing I think about is the education system. On those two alone, Mr. Speaker, we talk about the downgrading in the hospitals in certain areas, closure of hospital beds and we wonder what kind of priority is put on health care. Health care has to be the number one priority to any government in any province. Education of course has to be a priority.

So, Mr. Speaker, as you hear positive news coming from a financial report such as this, you wonder now how will the government react in trying to upgrade both of these services, education and health? In my district for example, Mr. Speaker, the hospital services there have been downgraded basically to a chronic care facility. Now it is fine to say that we have to regionalize and downgrade certain hospitals so that other ones can take up the slack. That is what was said to people in my district.

Then, Mr. Speaker, what I have seen in my district just recently is that although focus has been for a chronic care facility, we find that it actually cannot handle half, maybe not even a quarter of the people who need chronic care in that particular area. So I wonder, Mr. Speaker, sometimes when I hear financial reports such as this, is that if health care is going to be giving back the buck that they gave up so far back or is education going to be giving back anything that was taking before? So I wonder, when you hear these reports, if we are actually going to see improvements in health care and in education due to a so-called balanced Budget or less borrowing for this year. So health care and education, Mr Speaker, is something that this government should consider as improvements to be done in both of those so that we get back on track, get up to some kind of a level in this Province of health care and education that we can be at least up to par with some of the other provinces of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, the other issue I wanted to raise here today and I raised it earlier in a petition and is one that is really driving home - and the calls continue to come in every day that we bring it up and that is the emergency response program. Now we talk about priorities, if there is a priority at all in this government, as of today, November 21, and if the financial outlook is looking a bit better then, Mr. Speaker, I have to implore the minister to talk to his colleagues in Cabinet and talk to the Premier. If there is any relief now for at least a little bit of a better outlook on our financial situation in this Province the priority, Mr. Speaker, as of today, not in three weeks from now, has to be an emergency response program for this Province for now, not two weeks from now, not three weeks from now, not after Christmas, now.

As we spoke earlier today and both sides of the House, I have talked to members on both sides of the House, Mr. Speaker, and I say to the Minister of Finance, I do not think I am fabricating, exaggerating or any other words that some people may use, the situation is before us right now. I know, Mr. Speaker, because I have talked to members on the other side of the House and when I described a few of the phone calls that I got, they said they had the same ones but then - I will not mention the names or mention the minister right now but maybe I should - a minister said to me across the House that you are exaggerating now.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is a simple story and I will say it here again; a lady called to say that her husband would not call because he was too proud to do it, he had to go to social assistance this week to look for social welfare for the first time; he usually had his twelve insurable weeks, he can't get it this week, she could not talk her husband into calling me to say he had to go for social assistance.

Now, Mr. Speaker, for a minister to say that I am exaggerating or making up a story, I was tempted because I have the lady's name but I certainly would not use it in the House of Assembly of course, I was tempted to give that minister the lady's phone number who said to me that she did not have groceries and this was on a Thursday, there was no cheque in sight and until she had it straightened away with the social assistance for which she could not get her husband to go ask for, she did not have groceries in the house for that week.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well maybe that is a good idea that our leader gives us, that maybe, I should get that lady to call the minister -

MR. SIMMS: The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation? Are we getting warm?

MR. SHELLEY: We are getting warm. I do not think I need to mention the minister, but I certainly want to make the point, Mr. Speaker, that I am not exaggerating. As a matter of fact, I could see people on the other side of the House and over here, look at the minister when he said it and said: no, no, he is not exaggerating.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No. The Member for Baie Verte - White Bay is not exaggerating; I could see the looks on the faces over there and they can tell you I bet you. I can bet you, Mr. Speaker, that if we really got in a room here and had a little conversation about the calls we are getting lately in those situations I just mentioned, I bet you there are members on this side of the House and on the other side who can tell you stories a lot cruder than those. I could mention a lot cruder than those. I had a man who broke down on the phone who did not want to go to social assistance for the first time so, Mr. Speaker, I was not exaggerating or fabricating or whatever the big words the minister wanted to use.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the minister's name on record.

MR. SHELLEY: The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, said across the House that I was exaggerating the story or that the Member for Placentia was exaggerating the story. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you when you see VOCM calling for coats for adults aside from coats for children, this is the reality; this is the real story in Newfoundland and Labrador and I am telling you there are communities in my district and I would like to have some of the stories come from the members opposite. There are stories in this Province that would make you shiver.

A lady called because her husband was too proud to call to tell me that he had to go to social assistance; that is reality, so, Mr. Speaker, my point in speaking on the finance bill today, is simply this: to ask the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, when he sits with his Cabinet colleagues and with the Premier of the Province, who spoke today on Open Line and said: no, we are looking at long-term solutions and I agree with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, who said we must have some time to negotiate with our federal counterparts and all of that; I hear all of them, Mr. Speaker, and I agree with the Premier when he says that. I agree with the Premier when he says: yes, we have to look for long-term solutions for this Province.

I am a young family man myself; I have two young children and, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you right now, that I do not believe that that is a solution, what we are talking about, emergency response projects, and I don't think any member of the House of Assembly here today, believes that. Nobody believes it; nobody in the public believes it. Nobody who is looking for this make-work emergency projects believes it, nobody believes it but when you ask them, Mr. Speaker, what about right now, what about this week, what about next week, they will say to you and I will quote again, my constituent who said and really summed it up to me. He said: Mr. Shelly, I agree with you, it is not the answer to the long-term solution but he said it is the answer to my supper table tonight, is the answer to feeding my family tonight and next week.

Then there is the story of the man - and there is a lot in my district by the way, Mr. Speaker, who go to Prince Edward Island every summer, every fall or to Nova Scotia to work in the forestry over there, and managed to get enough insurable weeks, then they would come back home and hopefully make it through the winter. Mr. Speaker, I head of a situation just last week of one of those people who went for the last four summers I think, four or five summers I can't remember and usually had his insurable weeks, but this year, he did not, he came back with five, he needed seven more.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is an example of a person who tried. We know that there are people who are abusing the system, we all agree with that. The abusers have said it themselves: we have abused it because the system was there, they said, but I am talking about the person who with a bit of dignity tries to feed his family, who goes to B.C., who goes to Prince Edward Island, but has a family and a home here, and he can't afford to move them all, for one thing, and he has really tried to make a living for himself, but the issue we really have to get down to, and the debate that is in the national media right now, is how we are going to reform our social safety net, how we are going to get rid of the abuses.

Mr. Speaker, I really think what the federal government and this provincial government, and every provincial government, should be focusing on is the root of the problem, which is jobs. We just went through a federal election where if I heard the word `jobs' any more I was going to get sick, they said it so often. Jobs, jobs, jobs; that was the whole thing. Now, all of a sudden, just one year after, a full 180 degree turn and they are talking about a social safety net, UI, UI, the welfare system. Where are the priorities?

Mr. Speaker, the point I want to make to the Finance Minister today, as he reports this financial statement, is to remember the focus of this provincial government, and it is incumbent upon this government, as the Member for Twillingate said, and I think we can all agree with that, it is incumbent upon this government - yes, I am going to wait for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to talk to his counterparts in Ottawa. Yes, it is going to take some time for negotiations to take part on a federal/provincial agreement, but no, we don't have the time to wait for very long, because it is incumbent upon this government to respond immediately to what we have titled as an emergency response project.

This government has to keep in mind that the word `emergency', for the first time in years, has meant so much. It is actually an emergency this time that cannot wait. It is an emergency situation that cannot wait.

I am sure that over the next few days some other hon. members in this hon. House of Assembly - the Member for Placentia had one today - I am hoping some members on the opposite side are going to have some soon, and close the party stripes on this. This is not an issue for party stripes. This is for every member of this House of Assembly to stand up and give the real story of the calls that members of this House get from their constituents, and tell the true story.

What bothers me is that we have sat in this House now for the first week, and we have been talking about Bill 30. We have been talking about inspections. We have been talking about the photograph ID for licences. Imagine, we just spent a full week on those three.

MR. ROBERTS: Who spent a full week on them?

MR. SHELLEY: We just spent a full week on three of those. That is the legislation that was brought forward by the government, I say, Mr. Speaker. The legislation I would like to see brought forward by the government in this House of Assembly for this week is the emergency response projects. That is what we should have been discussing, how we are going to handle it as a government.

There is a simple message here. If the finances are proper, if the finances are improving in this Province, before you look at anything else, it has to be a priority that we discuss emergency response projects for right now, this week, this month, so that we can respond.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I certainly want everybody looked after. I know it is a reality that they cannot be all looked after, but that is the way of the world. We all can't get jobs either. Some can and some can't. Some you can help and some you can't, but I say to the minister: Help what we can.

Remember the spin-off of all of this. If those people are put to work and they do qualify for UI this year, it also helps our economy. It helps our economy to the effect that at least they are living in dignity, for one thing, and they spend money in the economy. Second of all, they won't go in the drain on a welfare system that is already to the limit - and the Minister of Social Services can tell us that. It is at the brink. It is at the level that it is going to burst at the seams with the number of people going on welfare.

Mr. Speaker, I am very sincere when I speak on this particular subject, because I really believe it is the most crucial priority we have in this Province today, November 21. There is nothing else that I can think of, and there are other issues up. There is nothing I can think of.

What really bothers me, of course, and I know it bothers all members, is the media. The media in this have covered anything that will be dark and dirty, and I am sure some of the members on the other side will agree with me. The media covers the dark and dirty, but this is a crucial issue that should be covered right now, and it should be brought up more and more. I would really like to see it, more people, as the Member for Twillingate did, stand up, because I know you believe the same thing as I do when it comes to this. I don't think there are any lines to be crossed.

There should be a number one priority this week put on emergency response projects, before health care and even before education for this week, before anything. I know Port au Port could use it. Terra Nova could use it, Bonavista can use it, and Harbour Main. I know they are all getting calls the same as I am, and Fogo especially. These are rural Newfoundland communities that have nowhere to turn. I have even had people in these small communities say to me: even if I could get a job in Nova Scotia this year I cannot afford to go, so there is only one short-term solution that I know we do not all condone but it is reality and we have to deal with it.

The former Minister of Employment and Labour has to concur with the situation that arises right now, that last year we had $6 million and the situation wasn't so bad, but this year it is worse and we do not have anything. It is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker, that this government has not given it priority, has not put everything else down at this point and addressed the problem this week. The message is clear, yes, the financial report of the Province looks up. I am glad to hear that.

Mr. Speaker, let us get our priorities straight. Let us deal with this emergency response program immediately, support the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations when he brings it to Cabinet again because I know he has already brought it there, support it. Ask the ministers to support it, and ask the members to support it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SHELLEY: I know he has. Whether he has or he has not, the point being when it comes to us, and I know it is coming real soon, it has to be supported and given a priority. If the finances are looking up in this Province the priority must go to the emergency response program.

Mr. Speaker, the comments I wanted to make today were related specifically to the emergency response program. I could easily talk on health care. Another priority in the Province, of course, besides health care and education is road construction on which I should make a couple of comments in my own particular district. I met with the minister twice this month now and described to him in detail every single road and the situation. In my district during the last two months there were three roads blocked off by residents so their children could not go to school that morning. That is desperate, three situations in one month where parents blocked off roads so their children would not have to travel on a bus over a road that deteriorated to a deplorable state.

Mr. Speaker, priorities, that is what it is all about. If the financial situation has improved to any extent at all, and according to the Minister of Finance it has improved, priority first of all has to go to emergency response, and things like health care that have been downgraded, the education system and then, of course, we go into the different portfolios around the Province as mining, forestry, or whatever.

Mr. Speaker, we also have to remember that the people who have usually gotten work. the construction worker, the logger who is never talked about in this Province, the farmers who have been put back so far on the back burner they are hardly ever mentioned in this House of Assembly, they have to be the ones to be considered. If we see a light at the end of the tunnel the people who have paid through the nose are the people who should be considered now.

If we are ever going to have a positive outlook in this Province we have to continue to give priority to the services that we need most, and that is health care and education. I ask the Minister of Finance today, as he reports back to his caucus, and I ask the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, when you sit with your Cabinet colleagues very soon that you put to the forefront the situation that exists in this Province on November 1994, the situation where this Province is in desperate need of an emergency response project, and that we need it as a priority now.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This being a finance motion one is allowed to wander somewhat, I guess, as regards to subject matter, so I would like to have a few more words on a matter I raised in petitions this afternoon, specifically with regard to legitimizing the trade in moose antler as regards to legitimate craft and souvenir makers. Mr. Speaker, what we have here is a situation where the government after turning a collective blind eye to a situation for five or more years, while at the same time sponsoring a certain company into economic existence through financing through Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, through provincial support of financing through ACOA, specifically with assurances from the Wildlife Division of the provincial government to ACOA that there was sufficient supply of moose antler in the Province to allow this fledging company to develop and grow according to the markets it was able to obtain.

As well, the crafts division of the provincial government actively supported the company, actually took orders for the company in its trade shows around the world and went as far afield as the United Kingdom in actually soliciting and obtaining orders for this particular company and recently putting the product in a magazine put out by the crafts division. A magazine which is a high quality full colour glossy publication that it sends, I guess to all and sundry who might have an interest in local crafts, souvenirs and products of that nature. That magazine has a half page dedicated to Newfoundland souvenir manufacturing of Beachside, Newfoundland touting the moose antler souvenirs that all of a sudden have become somehow, illegitimate and illegal.

The company concerned has in excess of $20,000 worth of half processed product on site in their little factory there in Beachside. They really are not sure what to do with it insofar as they cannot get any guarantees from the wildlife people that further charges will not be laid if they finish off this product and ship it to market. They did up a sample order for the Japanese market there a little while ago, as far as I can understand based on antler that they were able to get donated by locals because that appears to be the only way that they can legitimately obtain the raw material is to have antler donated along with the appropriate hunting license for the hunter who obtained the antler.

That, Mr. Speaker, is no basis on which to establish a commercial business. If you are in a commercial business you have to have an assured supply of raw material and that can only be reasonably obtained by legitimately buying on the market, the raw material that you need. Certainly in terms of the business plan applications before both the federal and provincial lending agencies that has supported this particular enterprise, allocations were indicated in the business plans to the effect that x thousand dollars in a given year would be used to purchase raw materials.

Seeing that the company was in the business of making moose antler souvenirs, it really does not take an extraordinary leap of genius to understand that purchasing the raw material meant purchasing antler. This activity, as I say, was fostered and subsidized by both levels of government. Now all of a sudden, due to some concerns with regard to wildlife management and the trade - probably local, national and international in animal parts - the wildlife people have decided to press charges in one particular instance and to not give any comfort as to exactly what this company and several others can expect in the near and more distant future.

Mr. Speaker, there are in the order of twelve to fifteen other people, individuals who earn their living or part of their living from doing moose antler products. A lot of them are carvers. I am given to understand that the hon. the Premier actually has a moose antler carving on display in his office or at least he did at one time, supplied by one of the artisans in the Province. One has to wonder if the raw material in that particular product is also legal or illegal according to the technical requirements of the wildlife people.

Mr. Speaker, the government, at the moment, appears to be willing to stonewall on this issue.

The hon. the Minister responsible for Wildlife indicates there is a case before the court and he really doesn't want to prejudice that case and say much one way or the other. He indicates that the law is the way it is right now, and he doesn't seem to give any comfort as to whether or not we can do a small amendment to the Wildlife Act here in this House during the Fall session. He gives no indication of any commitment to change the law in, as I said, the near or distant future.

Mr. Speaker, what we have is an industry in the craft and souvenir area that does and has made use of this raw material over the last number of years, and even though in a technical sense the acquisition through purchase of the raw material is illegal, the government has basically turned a blind eye to that technicality, and let these businesses grow and, indeed, flourish.

The concern in my district - they have a small shop right now. If they get the Japanese market they are after, they could easily hire another seven or eight people and keep them going in legitimate employment in an inshore fishing community that could certainly use the diversification in the economy.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, to date this government does not see fit to move. One of the principals of the company, Mr. Foote, spoke with the hon. the Premier on Open Line this morning, and the Premier expressed some consternation and concern that something so simple and so straightforward could become so bureaucratic and difficult. I understand that someone in the Premier's staff has started rattling some chains in government to see if something can happen in that regard. But I was, I must admit, rather disappointed in the response of the Minister responsible for Wildlife in his response to the petition I presented in the House this afternoon.

All I can say to the minister and to the Premier, to the government opposite, is that I have many other sheets of similar petition. As I understand, there are others coming in from all around the Province on this issue, because there are a number of people and businesses who earn their living at this business, and they want to see their trade, their practice, legitimized and legalized so that they can get on with establishing markets based on sound commercial practices which, in this case, involves the purchase of raw materials. It is very difficult for people to base a commercial enterprise on charity of their fellow citizens in regard to obtaining the raw material. It just doesn't work; it hasn't worked; it can't work, and I think the government should take appropriate measures to make it work.

The minister went on at some length about the illegal trade in wild animal parks. He desperately tried to connect the medicinal use of parts of the black bear that have found markets in the Orient, and too, the moose, and I think it is stretching it, Mr. Speaker, to connect the two. He points out that one bull moose has been found slaughtered, presumably for its antler, and that may be the case; there is a market for antlers that are out of season as regards the hunt, antlers that still have the velvet on them, that as a market in the Far East, a similar market to the parts of the black bear but, Mr. Speaker, antler collected from fresh kills are of absolutely no use to the craft and souvenir industry in this Province; they need antler that is at least matured more than a year, dried out. So I think it is stretching it; I think it is exaggerating it to say that the thousand or so racks of antler used by the Newfoundland craft and souvenir industry in a given year is somehow a threat to our wildlife population.

I think the minister is stretching it; I think what is required here is some direction from the Premier, some direction from the Cabinet to have the political will to sort this matter out. The load of antler that was the subject of the current court case - I mean, we are not talking about a major shipload of contraband from South America worth in the millions of dollars. I don't fully understand the degree of obstinacy on the part of the Wildlife department with regard to this particular case, but as I indicated earlier, the principals of the company concerned are willing to let their case go before the court and let the outcome of that be as it may in due course. What we want is a change in the law as it currently exists.

When I had the matter on in Question Period last week, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology indicated that you know, they are into promoting business but they didn't want to promote the breaking of the law with regard to antler. Well, all I can say, Mr. Speaker, is that what we want, what the company wants, what I am asking for, what my colleague, the Member for Humber Valley referred to today in the Petition session - what we want is a change in the law so that the people concerned can legitimately and legally pursue the business they are in, develop the markets that are currently available, markets that will be available generated from the Year 1997 celebrations, markets they can avail of with regard to the Year 2,000 celebrations, markets that they can avail of with regard to the games coming to Corner Brook in a few years. These are quite legitimate markets that can be exploited to the full and it is rather unfortunate that the government, at this stage of the game, has basically gotten its head down, refusing to move.

Mr. Speaker, unless someone could give me some legitimate reason to the contrary, and I haven't heard it from the minister so far, I'm not going to move on this. I have many sheets and I'm going to stand and speak every chance I get over the next little while, while this House is open, until this government gets a bit of sense and a bit of compassion for the little guy. Because what we have here is a legitimate, struggling small company, the kind that governments generally, and this government in particular, have a tendency to pay lip service to, and in this particular case, I want them to do something real, something practical, something decent and something good.

As I said, I will close on this right now but I will come back to it again and again until I get some satisfaction or some legitimate reason why something can't be done. I'm sure, with all the brains and well-paid people we have in the employ of this government, that some technique, some mechanism, can be thought up and put in place to legitimize what is otherwise a perfectly legitimate operation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the minister that it might be a while yet before he gets this piece of legislation through. I'm sure there are many people over here on this side who at least would like to echo the thoughts of their constituents and the problems that they are hearing being expressed in their district.

It is great to see the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board stand in his place and put forward some good news. We share the good news over here just as much as the people opposite, but we don't take any pride in what is happening out there in rural Newfoundland today, to see so many people unemployed and with no hope of finding a job or providing food and shelter for their families, with the winter coming up. Well, I guess it is upon us now.

When we hear the good news that the minister puts forward, we wonder what made it possible. We wonder where this money came from. We all realize that it was a tax grab of money from the lotto machines but because -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: - there was money coming from that source, there are some other people who have been laid off because of that. We look at our health care system.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I fully realize that this hits a weak spot, hits a core with the minister, because he can't stand in his place and speak out like he used to. It hits a core for him. That's why he continues to shout out across the floor.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at our health care today, and we see the number of hospital beds that have closed down, we see hospitals that have closed, we see the lineups of people trying to get into our health care facilities for special kinds of X rays, special treatments, months and months in advance - lineups - and the minister knows what I am talking about, and I am sure that he will do something to address that, but this is what we are facing today.

Student loans, we look at people today, students today from rural Newfoundland especially, who have to come to St. John's, pay room and board, and now this government has taken away the student grant from those people, did away with the student grant and said: Let them borrow money, and let them be responsible for paying it back.

That is fine, but when you see our students today, and I think it is discrimination with people from rural Newfoundland having to travel to St. John's and pay their room and board, and when you see those people today having to come out of post-secondary institutions owing $25,000 or $35,000 or $40,000, not having a great lot of opportunity out there many times when they do come out of post-secondary institutions to find a job in paying back those loans, and then that again falls back on the parents.

Mr. Speaker, one time it was a situation where you got out of high school and you put your hands up in the air and said: Where do I go from here?... and you were always told: Continue with your education. You have laid the groundwork; now go back and go to some post-secondary institution and train yourself to be able to obtain a job.

Most of the time you could find yourself a job. That is not the case today. Many, many people we know of, our own neighbours, our own sons and daughters, who have gone forward, gotten an education, and find themselves now with student loans in excess of $15,000 or $20,000, and with the new rules and regulations brought in by this government there will be much, much more than that, and it won't be uncommon for them to come out owing $50,000 or $60,000.

Mr. Speaker, we look at labour negotiations in the past, and we look at labour unions that have given concessions, have had roll-backs, have had their contracts stripped, in order to bring forward a statement like the minister brought forward here today, and I don't think we should take any pride in that. If we got to a position now where everybody has helped, then let's help everybody else. Let's help the people, and we can start by helping the unemployed, the people who need help most.

Social services, another situation where unrealistic budgets have been brought forward in the past. Usually halfway through the term, halfway through the Budget period, Mr. Speaker, it has not been uncommon to have to put millions and millions of dollars in because it was not realistic. In fact I brought one incident to the attention of the former Minister of Social Services sometime ago where an individual had a challenged son and wanted a ramp built from his house in order to get down to the level of the road. The individual had gone forward, bought a van, equipped it with a wheelchair lift, bought a wheelchair, Mr. Speaker, a seasonal worker having exhausted all his funding in order to buy this kind of equipment so that his wife could accommodate his son by trying to get him to school because he was starting school come September, only to find out after going through the Department of Social Services - now this happened in June month - only to find out that all funding that was directed to projects such as that had exhausted themselves. There was no money left a month after the Budget was brought down. Now, how realistic are those figures?

When we see people who are trying to help themselves, trying to go out and help their families, Mr. Speaker, help their sons and daughters get into school, we have to be realistic and we have to come forward and respond to the need. The only way you can respond to some of these needs is to bring funding forward and help them. Sure, everybody is happy that the minister has a few dollars to flash around but I hope he puts them in the right direction, in places where they will help people most.

Mr. Speaker, I suppose probably the worst thing I have had said to me since I have been in politics, and sometimes you hear a lot of comments when you are talking to people and not everybody support you as everybody knows, but I think probably the thing that struck home most to me was about a month ago. I had called a social service office in rural Newfoundland and put forward a need. and what did the gentleman on the other end of the phone say but, call the Lions Club.

Now, if we have to go back to volunteer organizations to take the place of government then I fear you are going to see a lot of our volunteers and a lot of volunteer associations disappear because that is not the reason why they were put in place. They are put in place to fill a need, Mr. Speaker, but I do not think they were ever put in place to take the place of government. That is what is happening out there today.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible)!

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation shouts out, Mr. Speaker, across the floor. I will take it up with him tomorrow morning. I would now adjourn debate.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we may be gluttons for punishment but we are not gluttons enough that we will be back here tomorrow morning to hear the hon. gentleman. Tomorrow afternoon we will be. He can enlighten us with the rest of his remarks just as he has with the first part.

Wednesday is Private Members' Day. It will be a motion called by one of the members on this side of the House. We will be calling number nine on Wednesday's Order Paper. That is the aquaculture motion that stands in the name of the gentleman for Harbour Main. Tomorrow we will carry on with this immensely relevant debate. We've talked about moose antlers, we've talked about employment generation programs, we've talked about everything except the reciprocal taxation agreement, so we will give members a chance tomorrow to talk about that.

With that said, I will move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m., and that the House do now adjourn.

MR. CARTER: Point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I put the motion, the hon. the Member for Twillingate on a point of order.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is it agreed we stop the clock, members?


MR. SPEAKER: So noted.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, when the House reconvened on November 14 there were seven notices given of private members' resolutions, the first being given by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Simms, which was debated last week. The next was by the Member for Twillingate, myself, and by Dr. Kitchen, St. John's Centre, Mr. William Ramsay, Mr. Don Whelan, Mr. Beaton Tulk, and Mr. Glenn Tobin.

I don't know the basis for the hon. Government House Leader having selected the resolution presented by my friend for Harbour Main. Certainly in the order in which notices were given it would clearly indicate that the private member's resolution of which notice was given on November 14, on Monday, should be the subject of debate on Wednesday.

We all know before the new system came into being on May 30 1989, prior to that the custom was that private members wishing to present a private member's resolution, we give notice of same on opening day.

It was an asinine system, I think we all agree - members bopping up like tennis balls on opening day, and it dragged out the opening session. In fact, it became an embarrassment, I believe, for the government and others; we had dignitaries in the center of the Chamber and we had fifteen or twenty members bobbing up and down giving notices of resolution. So, to their credit, the House Leaders in 1989, decided it was time for a change in that system. I agreed with it, but when I gave my consent, Mr. Speaker - as was required, unanimous consent was sought and given - when I gave my consent, I certainly didn't give it to have the rights of private members trampled on the way they are being trampled on here today. I am a private member, as are the majority of people in this House, in fact, I suppose we are the most important people in this House. We have certain rights. Mind you, we do not have as many rights as Members of the Executive Council, but the rights that we have, Mr. Speaker, we have to protect.

Now my private member's resolution might not please the members of government, it might not please members of the Opposition, but it pleases me, as a private member, to bring it forward, and I don't think that the rights of a private member, when it comes to having his or her resolution debated in this House, should be at the whims of the Government House Leader or indeed by the Leader of the Opposition; I think that is a right that must be protected for the benefit of private members.

Now the fact that my resolution was the second one to be introduced following the one presented by my friend, the Member for Grand Falls, indicates to me that if you follow the tradition that was long established in this House, that of debating private members' resolutions as they appear on the Order Paper and as they were presented and introduced and so on, then, it must follow that my resolution should be debated on Wednesday.

Now, I have nothing against the resolution from my friend, the Member for Harbour Main, it is a good resolution, but there is nothing of an urgent nature attached to it. Now, if somebody had a resolution that dealt with an emergency, a crisis, for example, if one of my colleagues introduced a resolution dealing with the unemployment situation in Newfoundland today, I would defer to that resolution and to that member, because I believe that is a real crisis that should be dealt with. But, with all due respect to my friend, I do not believe that the subject matter of the resolution he presented is sufficiently urgent that it would take away my rights to have my resolution debated in the order in which it was introduced in this House. So I ask Your Honour to give some consideration to this and to recognize my rights as a private member, and in so doing, make it possible for my resolution, as duly introduced on the 14th, to be debated in the House on Wednesday.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I shall be very brief. I didn't hear my hon. friend, the Member for Twillingate state any authority or referred to any rules. I don't want to take issue with him simply on those grounds; we will just note that for the record, as I didn't hear him refer to any authority or any rules.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't interrupt any other hon. members. If they want to interrupt me they can, but all we will do is have the argy-bargy and they will lose again.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have been in this House for a little bit over the years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Too long.

MR. ROBERTS: That is for my constituents to decide, whether I am here too long or not, not hon. members opposite.

It was the custom before 1989 that private members' motions were called in the order of the precedence in which they appeared on the Order Paper. I don't know when it began, but it is certainly back as far as 1966, of which I can speak with some notice. My friend, the Member for Terra Nova was in the House from 1975 on, and I think he would confirm that was the practice.

We did have a charade on opening day when one would have a whole bunch of people standing, the Order Paper would be blocked. In effect, the Speaker would determine the order of debate by whom he recognized on opening day.

I was not here in 1989. My understanding is, and this is one of these areas where we are in trouble - we have talked about this before - because there is no written rule. My understanding is, it was agreed then between the House Leaders - my friend, the Member for Gander was the House Leader on this side, and I believe the Member for Grand Falls who now leads the Opposition was the House Leader on that side; Mr. Rideout was then the Leader of the Opposition - it was agreed that the two sides of the House would alternate on private members' motions, and that each side would determine which one was to be debated when its day came.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) give notice on Monday.

MR. ROBERTS: That is why we give the notice on the Monday, so that members will have a day or two to prepare themselves and line up the order of speakers and what have you.

Now,that is my understanding. I was not here, but I will say that since I have been here, and since I have been the House Leader - which has been a couple of glorious and happy years now - it has been the practice that the House Leader, or some person speaking for him on the Opposition side, indicates on the Monday which of the motions standing in the name of members of the Opposition will be called on the Wednesday, and that on alternate Mondays the House Leader on this side, or someone speaking for him, makes the choice here.

Now, I would say to my friend, the Member for Twillingate, that is my understanding. I would say as well that he has an opportunity to raise it here in the House, as he has. He also has an opportunity to raise it in another place as well if he so wishes, but I have operated on what I understand to be the understanding, there is no rule. I just checked the rules again, the Standing Orders, and there is no rule. Beauchesne won't help us because they follow a lottery system, in fact, in Ottawa, and a very different system on private members' bills.

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. members opposite want to debate the resolution standing in the name of the Member for Twillingate, next Wednesday will be their day; they can call it. On this side we have chosen, at this stage, to debate aquaculture, which we believe to be an important subject, and we want to give the House an opportunity to debate it.

In any event, I have acted on the understanding of the rules as I have it, Sir. I must tell you, that as far as I can determine, there is no precedent, there is no Standing Order, there is no binding authority, except the custom of the last five years, Sir.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I guess part of what both gentlemen have said is correct. The Government House Leader is correct about the arrangement that was entered into in 1989. I think the overriding situation or priority here has to be to the concern of the private member. In this case, the Member for Twillingate. What other protection do private members have other than - I mean, you can have a private member's resolution on the Order Paper forever if the Government House Leader does not see fit to call it. I think that's where the problem is.

We on this side do not have that problem. We do it in consultation with each other. If there are a number of private members' resolutions on the Order Paper, we discuss it and consider it and we decide - not I, not the Leader - we, all of us, including the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology who comes into caucus on occasion and advises us what we should debate.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) to each side of the House (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Exactly. No, I think the Member for Twillingate has a very legitimate point, Mr. Speaker, that he has raised here. Private members can be stymied, which I don't think we should allow to happen in this House. It is Private Members' Day, it is private members' resolutions. What other protection do private members have that they can debate an item that they saw important enough to give notice of on the Order Paper? They surely didn't just give it so that notice would be given and it would stay on the Order Paper for months or for years.

I think that is the real problem here and I think it has to be addressed, I say to the Government House Leader. I don't think it is good enough that private members would be denied the opportunity to debate -

AN HON. MEMBER: Stifled.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Stifle their resolution - matters that are not only of district concerns but of provincial concerns, which in the case of the Member for Twillingate certainly is a very big concern in this Province, importation of garbage. It is a very big concern with the people of this Province - an excellent resolution. I think he should be afforded the opportunity to debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Member for Fogo has one, too (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Member for Fogo, I'm sure, finds himself in a similar position over there, where he wonders if he will ever see the light of day to debate his resolution. We hope he does, as we do with all hon. members. We know we won't be here long enough before Christmas to allow all private members' resolutions to be debated.

I support the Member for Twillingate in the case that he has presented. There has to be some protection for him and others like him in this House. If it is to call them in the order of notice of which they were given, then I guess that is the only protection they can be afforded. Because otherwise, the Government House Leader will call what he wants and the Members for Twillingate and Fogo and others will never be called.

MR. ROBERTS: That hasn't been the practice since 1989. Am I correct?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What is that?

MR. ROBERTS: That the call (inaudible) has not been the practice.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: To be very honest with you, I know what we have done, I say to the Government House Leader. I don't know what the former Government House Leader did but there certainly was not a problem as we have now.

MR. ROBERTS: No, Len Simms was one of the first ones (inaudible) Order Paper last Wednesday.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, but we give leave too, that (inaudible) our side.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, what I'm saying is we do it in concert.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, we consult, we talk, we discuss.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I'm going to need some time to consider it. I will rule tomorrow, unless people want to come back later tonight when I've finally made up my mind. It could be rather late.

MR. ROBERTS: I suspect, Your Honour, that may be an invitation one could refuse. Perhaps we could put the adjournment motion now, if it is in order.

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