April 11, 1995               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLII  No. 17

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly six scouts from the 1st Torbay Scouts B Troop, and their leaders, John Wheeler and Marion Charron.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. I have been advised that the minister has been heard on radio, during a radio interview, talking about his attempts, or his department's attempts, to ensure that the Federal Government, or whatever agency is responsible, doesn't eliminate as an option in a spray program, the use of fenitrothion in any government spray program that it might undertake this year. Is that an accurate report? If not, can he tell me what is accurate?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, right now there are only two insecticides approved by the Federal Government for spray against, I think it's the hemlock looper, and I think there may be more than two for the budworm.

I have taken the position that I would like to keep our options open until we make our decisions, based on the need to protect our forests. I have certainly made that position clear.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe the minister hardly made it clear then, I can tell him. He said there were two insecticides approved by the Federal Government - the regulatory agency, I presume, of the Federal Government - for spray against the hemlock looper and the spruce budworm; is that correct? Is that what he just said?

AN HON. MEMBER: Two against the hemlock looper.

MR. SIMMS: Two only against the hemlock looper, okay, which is the problem that we are facing. Can he tell me what two insecticides have been approved?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, there are two. One is Bt, and one is fenitrothion. These are the only two that are approved at this time for use against the hemlock looper.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on a supplementary, we know this government's history and record in the past, of opposition to the use of fenitrothion, blatant, vociferous opposition by certain members opposite, particularly when they were on the Opposition side, the former biology teachers, and people like that, and the former Minister of Forest Resources and Lands who sits in the front bench, and the Member for Fogo who has spoken out about it many, many times - and we have all the clips from Hansard and so on. Why is the minister now holding out hope that maybe the government might want to use fenitrothion? I thought this government and this party stood for the use of Bt only. What has happened to change their philosophy?

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

DR. GIBBONS: We have never changed any philosophies, Mr. Speaker. We have said that we want to maintain our options. In the past five years, we have not had a severe infestation that needed consideration of anything except Bt; back in '89 a very small area was covered with Bt and each year, since that time, a small area has been sprayed with Bt and even at that time when we decided to go with Bt, we did not say that we would never ever consider the use of other alternatives if they were necessary; and all I have said to the federal minister is that I like to maintain our options open in case there is a need, and that's the situation.

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

MR. SIMMS: I think, the last time fenitrothion was used, I was the Minister of Forest Resources and Lands, so I say to the Minister of Natural Resources well, I am pleased to hear that response.


MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, in light of the negative howls from the government benches, may I ask the Minister of Natural Resources now, to tell this House, does the government support the use of fenitrothion in the spray program against the hemlock looper? Does the government support the use of fenitrothion?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Excuse me, does the government support the use of fenitrothion or does it not?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I will tell the hon. member tomorrow what we are going to use in our spray program this year. I have a draft copy of my statement that I intend to make tomorrow before Question Period and we will tell you then, what we will do this year.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, may I ask the minister this: What is going to change from today to tomorrow that he can't tell the House and the people in the Province now, what their intention is? I mean, why doesn't he tell the House today what he intends to do? You have it there in front of you. Why are you going to hold it off until tomorrow? Announce it today, don't wait until the last day the House is open so that there can't be any questions about it afterwards. Why doesn't the minister announce it today?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SIMMS: No, he doesn't need leave. We will give him leave under Statements by Ministers after Question Period is over, of course to make his statement. Would he be prepared to do that then, after Question Period?

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


MR. SIMMS: I want him to give the answer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think we have the question. I will wait for the minister to give the answer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

I think we have the question. I will wait for the minister to give the answer.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, if hon. members so desire, I will be glad to do my statement after Question Period today. I have a draft that wasn't finalized so I did not have it ready to go to my critic today. Otherwise, I can deal with the draft, but I don't have a copy that I can table.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we are quite happy for the minister to make his statement afterwards. I'm asking him a question. Is the government going to spray with fenitrothion or is it going to spray with Bt? Can he answer that question?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Wait for my statement, I say to the hon. member, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: That isn't good enough, is it? I'm asking a simple question. Is the government intending to undertake a - if members opposite would be quiet, they would hear the question - it is pretty straightforward.

MR. LUSH: Three times.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, three times, exactly, in a different way, I say to the former Speaker. The former Speaker ruled perfectly. Does the government intend to undertake a spray program against the hemlock looper, and will it be using Bt or fenitrothion? a simple question.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, if you will give me the time, I would like to put this in the context of my statement, so I will do my statement now.

I would like at this time to inform the House about the 1995 -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The minister can't read a statement in Question Period.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. The minister knows that there have been quite a few reports lately from many districts around the Province that were not able to find enough people to fit the criteria in order to qualify for the emergency job creation program. Can the minister now tell the House, as time has passed now, how much of the funding was left over, and how many weeks were not used? Can the minister at least give us some numbers on those now?

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

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

Let me say to the hon. member as I said before, this program was a new program. We feel that there is a lot to be learned in this program. No, we don't have all the numbers in yet. We are going to do a comprehensive look at the whole program. We are going to ask all those who participated, which, I might add, I say to the member, was quite a few groups around the Province - quite a few in his district, I might add. When we have the thing completed, I will bring that report to my colleagues and we will have a look and make sure that everybody understands.

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

MR. SHELLEY: I agree with the minister's first statement, it wasn't much of a program. I realize you don't have all the exact numbers, but I'm sure by now that the minister must have some idea, a ball park figure, at least, as to how much funding was left over. So, I will ask the minister again when he rises to answer that particular question and also the rationale and sole purpose behind this program was to give people an opportunity to work and receive enough insurable weeks to qualify for unemployment insurance. Now can the minister tell us if that was truly the intent of this program?

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

MR. MURPHY: I think, Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say that the program had many intentions. I guess the prime intent was to try and provide meaningful employment throughout the communities, throughout the Province within the communities, to do things that were meaningful. I think we satisfied ourselves that those applications were meaningful and yes, we did hire people on and I think just about all of them have found themselves in a position to apply for UI. I suppose in retrospect we may have directed the funding in a different sense but again, as I said, it was a new program, I think a very objective program with a new approach. I think the member will find in time, as will the people in the Province, that it was exceptionally meaningful. It got a lot of good things done and a lot of people benefit from the program.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. I will say to the minister that I agree that there were some meaningful projects there, there is no doubt about it but it certainly came short of adequate.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in particular, in the St. John's area for example they were able to find, I say to the minister, people to avail of the program, which was good. Also the unemployment rate decreased in the St. John's area which was good but, Mr. Speaker, as a direct result the number of qualifying weeks in St. John's rose from twelve to thirteen. I just confirmed that with the unemployment office just an hour ago, therefore these people will find themselves one week short of qualifying for UI benefits. Now, Mr. Speaker, what does the minister plan to do to help these people cross that finish line and of course avail of the unemployment insurance program?

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Let me say to the hon. member that prior to the conclusion of the program, the department and the officials and I became aware of the fact that the qualifying period for the St. John's area had gone from twelve to thirteen weeks.

We went back to those groups that had availed of the program and identified some individuals, not all, because some of the individuals had nine, ten, and eleven weeks work and only needed two or three weeks work, we found ourselves making an adjustment. I would suggest to the member that we have qualified all of those people in St. John's with an extra week, as I understand, which was really worthwhile. Some projects were not totally finished, and to put that extra week on gave them the opportunity to complete the work.

I know there were some libraries that were updated, new shelving put in, books and those kind of things, within the city and in rural Newfoundland. Recreation centres were modified and put in better condition. To my knowledge for most of the people in the city, where thirteen weeks were required, we fulfilled that obligation.

MR. SIMMS: Since last week?

MR. MURPHY: No, not since last week, I say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition, but prior. If the member had done his homework he would have found out that we were notified a month ago that the twelve went to thirteen in the City of St. John's. It was not something that happened within the last week.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. With the recent uproar from the people of François regarding that announcement of a boat to service them to Burgeo, I ask the minister if he had representation from the people of François before the tender for the service was called?

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

MR. EFFORD: No, Mr. Speaker, I did not have representation from François by a committee. I had visited the community myself, and two officials from my department, where we held a public meeting in the community. Just about everybody, I suspect, from the community attended that public meeting and we gave them the size of the boat and the type of vessel we would be calling, and until yesterday there was nobody who came to my office asking for a meeting, or attended a meeting.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

For many, many months we heard the minister say he had been consulting with the people of the South Coast, and that before a final decision was made on the South Coast it would be again brought back to the people up there. That is a forty mile run. It is hazardous at the best of times, and in the wintertime it is worse than anything, and I have been there, Sir; I sailed the South Coast. They wanted a specific service. Why would the tender, Sir, be delivered the way it was? Why would the tender, when it came out, be so open-ended? The tender itself, when it was called, was an open-ended tender designed for the specifics, and the length of the ship was designed for the comfort of the people who had to travel on it and use it.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the tenders that were called for all the runs on the South Coast were designed for the people living in all of those isolated communities. I might add that the concerns expressed to me yesterday by the committee were not backed up by the majority of the people from François.

A news media had called a number of people this morning to go on an open line show early this morning and discuss the issue, and the people said no, they did not want to get involved in it; they were quite happy with the service; it was a vastly improved service over what they had been used to in the past, and they saw no reason to be criticizing what they did not already yet have in place.

The boat is down by the waterfront. There is a lot of work that has to be done on the boat. The boat does not have to be ready until June 15, and the owner of that vessel, like the owners of all the other vessels operating on the South Coast, will do the modifications necessary to put that boat in the condition required by the specs of the tender, to provide the service to the people on the South Coast.

I might also add, to the hon. member: I, too, have sailed over a lot of water, and I know what the requirements are.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Probably with some lily-pad, on a lily pond.

I say to the minister, up in the gallery we have Boy Scouts represented here today. The Boy Scouts motto always was, and still is, `Be Prepared'. Is the minister prepared, or is the Ministry prepared? What they should be prepared for is to make sure that the people of this area, François to Grey River to François, have a good service, and would the minister commit himself and his department to make sure that those people get a good service?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: I repeat again, Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member, and members opposite who didn't hear what I just said, that an open line show this morning had called a number of people in François to go on and comment about the negativity that was expressed. They said: We have no problem with the service. We know it's a six day a week service. We know the boat, and we are quite happy with it, and are not going to get involved in any criticism. Now that is the majority of people in François. I am not going to get into a debate with the hon. member opposite over four or five individuals. They expressed some concerns to me in a meeting. They expressed some concerns to me yesterday. We have met today, myself and my officials, with the owner of the vessel. He assured them that he would address every one of those concerns. Now I can't do any more than that except cancel the tender. I have no reason to cancel it. They will meet the tender requirements, and the service will be provided to the people on the South Coast to the same satisfaction and the same requirements as all other tenders that we've publicly called for all of the isolated communities on the South Coast.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Today I was called by a woman whose problem was that she had twelve weeks of work and needed one week to qualify for UI. She called the minister's office and was told that his department didn't handle that, that she should talk to the MHA. I wonder, are those the minister's instructions to his department? That the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations doesn't concern itself with those issues and that somehow the MHAs can solve these problems without a program from the minister?

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

MR. MURPHY: No, Mr. Speaker. First of all, it is the first that I've heard of the member's comment. He didn't raise it with me. Second, no, I have not given any instructions to departmental officials to say any such thing. Had the member known and I had known earlier within the program time frame we may have very well been able to help the individual.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to hear those are not the minister's instructions to his staff, and that we will pass that information along to the staff who provided that. So I ask the minister, if this is brought to his personal attention, whether or not he can see if there is a possibility of fitting this particular individual or others into existing programs.

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

MR. MURPHY: As the member may or may not be aware, we do have a program, a bridges program, which is designed specifically for women. Even though our employment creation program has now come to a conclusion after March 31, I say to the member I would be happy to receive from him the individual's name. If there is anything we can do under the structure of the bridges program we would be more than happy to do so.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and housing. I understand from the minister's office that government has approved a request from the St. John's City Council to have the City of St. John's act amended to increase from $100 to $5,000 the maximum fine imposed for a violation of the act, thereby enabling council to crack down on landlords and others whose property doesn't meet appropriate standards. Since this requires a minor amendment to the City of St. John's act, and since the matter is of the utmost urgency, will the minister give the appropriate notice of motion before the House recesses for Easter?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. REID: I'm feeling my heart, Mr. Speaker, because it started to race a little bit there when the hon. member finally got to his point. In fact, I'm thinking the hon. member was probably eavesdropping yesterday when I spoke to the House Leader and asked him that very question here yesterday afternoon. I don't think he was because I don't think he was in his seat at that particular point in time. Yes, it is. Right after the Easter break we should have the legislation ready to present. At that time, hopefully with the concurrence from our friends opposite, this particular piece of legislation will be dealt with.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: Not from you. This particular piece of legislation will be dealt with as soon as we possibly can after Easter, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's Centre.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, on a very closely related matter. The Estimates for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing contain several million dollars for constructing condominia and stand-alone residences at Marble Mountain. I understand that despite heavy advertising by the Corporation and the minister, very few people have indicated any interest in the venture. Will the minister now consider redirecting this money from Marble Mountain, where obviously it is not needed, to downtown St. John's and other parts of the Province where desperate needs exist for social housing and housing for working people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, at the Estimates Committee I think basically that same question was asked me. We have not, as Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, put aside dollars for expenditures at Marble Mountain this year. The money that will be spent or expended at Marble Mountain this year will come from - by the way, I would like to make this publicly known, over forty applications, serious deposits have been made in relationship to the Marble Mountain base development. We have had a tremendous response. The article that was written, and I am not sure which one of the papers it was in, but it was totally incorrect. It was the opposite of what was said in the paper. We are quite satisfied that up until last, I think, Tuesday there were forty serious inquiries, even deposits made. So we are going to proceed immediately now to contract out to the private sector the construction of these particular units based on the amount of money that individual people around the Province, in Canada, the United States and as far away as Norway have already invested into their condominiums and will invest as the project proceeds.

So it is not a question of taking dollars that were labelled for Marble Mountain and moving it into St. John's because that money is not scheduled in our budget for that particular reason and I thank the hon. member for giving me a chance to stand in the House and explain the misconception that was out there for some days in regards to Marble Mountain.

Let me finish, Mr. Speaker, by saying this, that even though I am from Conception Bay North I feel that Marble Mountain has a great future that will offer people in Newfoundland and the rest of Canada a great opportunity to come and visit and see what we've got to offer in Newfoundland and Labrador. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that thanks to the hon. member, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and all the other people who worked so hard in the last three or four years to put together the development, we can finally see what we have long been waiting to see.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is a question to the Minister of Finance. During the committee on the finance estimates I asked the minister a question on a company that I had been advised had had some taxes owing written off. There was a lien that had been attached to that company and 50 per cent of that lien had been written off or lifted in order that the company could be sold. I didn't use the name but the ministers staff knew the name of the company and the minster had undertaken to get back to me in writing with the details. Can he tell me when he is going to do that and perhaps then I will ask him a supplementary question?

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

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the officials were at the meeting and they indicated they would do a write-up on it and get back to me. I have not received that yet and I thank the hon. member for reminding me. I can guarantee him that after Question Period I shall be going back and asking where it is. I think in terms of the question, the Department of Finance has the authority to write off taxes in certain instances, neither of which is simply to allow the company to be sold. It has to go through a bankruptcy procedure or something similar. However, the details I will see if I can get before the afternoon is over.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I have not and I do not intend to use the name of the company but my understanding is that the lien was lifted so that the company could be sold but that the company was sold to an associate or a family member and is still operating. I want to ask the minister if he would just clarify his position, like he just said, on the policy of writing off bad debt? Will the minister confirm that it is not the policy of government to write off taxes owing for a company so that they can be sold, particularly to a family member or to another business associate? In other words, not at arms length. If its saving a business that is one thing but if it is simply being transferred that is another.

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

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I believe the hon. member knows the policy. There are certain instances where monies can be written off, one relates to time, another relates to bankruptcies, bankruptcy proceedings and disposal of assets and so on. In these instances these things can be written off.

I believe that there is a certain amount of leeway the Department of Finance has in terms of writing off interest that is more than three years old but even then, under very specific circumstances, so there is a certain amount of leeway the Department of Finance has. Anything else, really has to go to Cabinet for decisions so that's all I can point out to the hon. member. No, under the circumstances he describes, we do not have the leeway to write it off.

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

MR. WINDSOR: A final supplementary.

When the minister is investigating this matter, will he confirm for me that Cabinet did indeed, approve such a write off?

Would he also tell me: Is it the policy of government to insure, in specific circumstances such as this, that if that debt is being written off in order to allow that company to survive, in other words to save an industry and to save jobs in the Province, that that is not giving an unfair advantage to that company which is in competition with other companies in the Province? In other words, that this whole deal is simply a manipulation to eliminate some debts so that this company is in an unfair competitive advantage with other similar companies?

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

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would like to simply confirm that the thrust of the hon. gentleman's question is exactly correct.

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

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

I had a question today for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology but he is not in his seat so I would like to direct my question to the Premier.

Mr. Premier, there are briefing sessions tonight with respect to the public hearings on the economic zones. Do you know if the minister has received requests from individuals - or the people in his department - that this meeting tonight be rescheduled or postponed?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I saw the notices in the paper scheduling the meeting but I am not aware that there is any request that it be postponed. I am unaware of it, I don't know whether anybody in the minister's department has been aware but I can check and let the hon. member know, if he wishes.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

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

The public notice of tonight's meeting was in the April 8, paper this past weekend and was a very short notice especially to the people who made presentations at the public hearings. These people were informed that a report of the public hearings would be sent to them, but they have not received the report up until today or the weekend even though it was completed in February, so would the Premier ask the minister to either reschedule those meetings to give the people the proper time to review the reports and have proper input to those public meetings?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I think the cure might be worse than the problem if we attempted at this late stage in the proceedings to cancel the meeting tonight. I would suggest that the meeting would continue and if, as a result of the way the meeting goes, it becomes very clear that there wasn't adequate notice and more people want to make a presentation, then I am sure the minister could consider rescheduling another meeting later on, but I don't think that cancelling the meeting proposed for tonight on such short notice would be an appropriate course to follow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

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

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

MR. BAKER: I believe we would revert to Statements by Ministers after Question Period.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the House agree to revert to Statements by Ministers? Does the hon. minister have leave to address the House?


MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to inform the House about the 1995 hemlock looper control program. I apologize to members of the House that I don't have copies of my statement. I have only a draft marked up version.

Outbreaks of the hemlock looper in Newfoundland have been recognized since 1912 but losses were not recorded until 1947. During two outbreaks which occurred between 1944 and 1963, it was estimated that about 2.7 million cubic meters of wood were destroyed. In the next outbreak between 1966 and 1972, another 12 million cubic meters of merchantable wood were estimated to have been destroyed with less than 20 per cent being able to be salvaged.

This outbreak, however, resulted in the first large scale aerial chemical spray program being conducted in Newfoundland in 1968 and 1969. It was estimated that these protection programs saved about 24 million cubic meters of merchantable timber. Evidence suggests that hemlock looper outbreaks of varying intensity prior to 1970 have been cyclical, lasting from five to seven years with three to four years in between. Outbreaks tend to develop in about two years, especially during warm, dry periods. High population levels seldom persist for more than two years in any particular stand and declines are usually associated with cool, wet weather, starvation and disease.

Mr. Speaker, the looper populations are on the rise again this year. Since the looper can kill trees in one year, and two at the most, as compared to four to five years in the case of the budworm we are very concerned about the increased infestation and are determined that we must have a spray program. The forecast for 1995 indicates that a total of 209,372 hectares will be defoliated by the looper, with 119,093 hectares in the moderate and severe categories.

The main areas of forecasted infestation are located in Central and Western Newfoundland, from Noel Paul's Brook in the east to Stephenville in the west, from Codroy Valley to Gros Morne National Park up the West Coast. In addition,there are scattered pockets in various districts throughout other parts of the Island. Numerous locations have very high egg counts which indicate severe defoliation is likely during 1995. Moderate to severe forecasts for last year was only 26,340 hectares compared to the 209,372 hectares in total for this year.

The looper is the only insect infestation at a level to cause concern for this Province now. The spruce budworm is basically at a negligible level. The problem in 1995 will be a very significant one with an increase in both size and extent of the infestation. A control program to combat the looper is necessary. While the total volume of wood affected by the infestation could be 6.5 million cubic meters,this could result in a mortality this year of 2.3 million cubic meters if we do not have a control program.

It is estimated that a program which could range up to 75,000 hectares will be required in the moderate and severe areas. Spray blocks will be mainly in the moderate to severe defoliation forecast categories with some light forecast areas that are silviculture thinnings. It should be noted that last year's program consisted of only 10,719 hectares compared to the more than 75,000 we are forecasting for this year. Last year's program was treated with Bt.

Mr. Speaker, two insecticide types are currently registered for the looper. The chemical, fenitrothion and the biological insecticide, Bt. The department has only utilized Bt for the looper since 1988 due to the relatively small programs required. As the looper population is increasing and the area of infestation is significantly larger, there was a need this year to consider the use of chemical insecticide as well.

Although chemical insecticides are viewed as less than desirable, fenitrothion is the only such chemical insecticide presently registered by the Federal Government against the looper. Its registration status has recently come under special review within Agriculture Canada as a result of concerns raised by Environment Canada, Atlantic Region.

Bt is environmentally more acceptable. Its effectiveness has improved over the years, and it can be equally effective if applied under the right weather conditions. Last year, for example, we had good results with Bt. In a larger program, and with increasing insect population, extra measures would be required to ensure timely delivery of Bt for it to be fully effective.

Mr. Speaker, after analyzing all factors, government has decided to use Bt for this year's forest protection program against the looper.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: A spray program over 75,000 hectares will cost the government and industry in the order of $3.1 million to $3.6 million. At least two bases of operation will be necessary, probably Buchans and Deer Lake, with one or two teams of aircraft at each location. Additional aircraft and bases may be required, and this will be determined after the proposed spray blocks are finalized. Once final block size and locations are known, tenders will be invited for the supply of spray aircraft and support services. As in past years, specifications will be stipulated to ensure that bidders meet minimum standards in terms of hardware, personnel, experience and availability.

Mr. Speaker, in consultation with my department and the two pulp and paper companies, the Canadian Forest Service has proposed several small experimental trials this year involving a new growth regulator called Mimic and testing two new Bt products in an attempt to add additional tools to combat the looper. These insecticides are approved by the Federal Government for experimental use this year. The proposed program has been submitted to the Department of Environment for review. Modification and licensing will take place through the established procedures within that department. Also, any other special environmental concerns will be addressed in co-operation with the Department of Environment.

My Department of Natural Resources will make allowances for any buffer zones around water intakes in communities as applicable and as required by federal regulations. Further consultation with the Department of Environment will take place to identify any further special cases.

My officials and company personnel will provide to the public, and to any communities affected, the nature and location of spray operations on request, and will answer any questions or concerns which may arise.

Mr. Speaker, given the critical nature of the Province's wood supply for the existing industry, we cannot afford to lose more wood to the insects. All efforts will be made to deliver an effective forest protection program this year.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, to say that this is a critical time for the forestry industry in the Province, a statement made by the minister, is an understatement. If I am not mistaken, some time ago - I don't know if it was the minister or some officials in his department, made a statement that if there were ten looper eggs found per leaf, that would be considered a very serious problem to the forestry industry in this Province. My understanding this year is that in most of the tests that have been done it is up to as high as 300 eggs per leaf - 300 eggs per leaf - thirty times what would be considered serious or critical in the forest industry or by forestry staff. Now that, to me, although the minister said there would be 6.5 - 209,000 hectares affected this year, right in the heart of timber country, right on down through the Humber Valley, the Northern Peninsula, I believe, up the Buchans area as well, all out through the Stephenville area, right in the heart of timber country, one of the worst infestations we have ever had.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the ten eggs per leaf that would be considered critical or serious, versus the 300, as far as I'm concerned it is just as well for us to have a spray program this summer using Black Flag, Right Guard and probably Raid. It is the same thing. We have Abitibi-Price out there crying for wood. We had from 1966-1972, 12 million cubic metres, out of which we salvaged 20 per cent - 2.4 million cubic metres of wood salvaged out of a possible 12 million cubic metres destroyed by the looper from 1966-1972.

Haven't we learned our lesson? We have Abitibi out there crying for wood, screaming for wood. I had a delegation in last week to see me. They have none to cut, no access. Kruger has most of it over on the West Coast of the Province. Even the forestry report said six to seven years at most for Abitibi-Price. And now we can stand by and watch this just because - what is going to come first? What are we going to do? The forestry, are we going to watch that die like we did the fishery and other things? This is a serious problem in this Province.

Last year, we saw the price of newsprint go up 40 per cent. The newsprint industry this year is enjoying one of the best years they ever had. The forest industry, with regard to sawmilling, is enjoying the best year it ever had - the best lumber prices in Canada. Last year, 57 million board feet of lumber was produced in this Province, and a good amount of it was exported out of the Province. So now is a time for action.

I say to the minister and members opposite that time will tell. This is very critical to the forestry industry in this Province. It will probably be too late. And if you don't get the Bt on - you need good weather conditions for Bt.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. WOODFORD: You need prime weather conditions for Bt, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. WOODFORD: - and I say to the minister, they had better take another look at this and make sure something is done to save the forestry industry in this Province.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

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

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Before you get into Answers to Questions - Mr. Speaker, the Member for Kilbride was asking questions of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board in the last few days. He asked if the minister was going to tell us who was responsible for the authorization of double billing at Workers' Compensation. The minister pledged to get that information before the House closed for Easter. I wonder is he going to table it today, or has he forgotten about it?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As hon. members know, we are into the Concurrence Debates, and there is a time that they can take. We could go today until 5:47 p.m., so because of that, I would like to make the usual motion that the House not adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m. All in favour of the motion, `aye.'


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

Motion carried.

The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Order No. 3(a).

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 3(a), a Concurrence Motion for Government Services Committee.


MR. SPEAKER: 3(a) or 3(b)? I'm sorry. Just to be clear, I believe 3(a) was the motion that the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board wanted called, the Government Services Committee, Concurrence?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: Social Services Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I'm sorry, yes, Social Services Committee.

The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OLDFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to stand today and introduce the Concurrence motion relative to the Social Services Estimates

I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Committee for their work; the Vice-Chair, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount; the jovial Member for Placentia; the Member for St. John's East and, on this side, my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South; the Member for Fortune - Hermitage and the Member for Bellevue district.

Mr. Speaker, as we reported, we passed the Estimates of the five departments that were under consideration and we did that without amendment. The departments under the social sector were: Social Services, Justice, Health, Education and Training, and Environment.

Mr. Speaker, I assume the members opposite will want to get further into the debate, so I will just take a few minutes of time today to first of all, summarize the gross government expenditures in the departments that we were considering.

For instance, the Department of Social Services will receive 10.2 per cent of the total budgetary expenditure during the 1995-'96 fiscal year; 26.4 per cent of the budgetary expenditure will go for the Department of Health; 3.2 per cent for Justice; Education and Training will get 21.6 per cent; Environment, .2 per cent. Mr. Speaker, these five departments make up 61.6 per cent of our total budgetary requirements and if you lump Health, Social Services and Education and Training together, they comprise 58.2 per cent of the Budget, or in excess of $1.9 billion.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when you take into consideration that this committee has examined the estimates of those departments which received more than 60 per cent of the total budgetary expenditures, I feel that the time of the Committee was well spent. Of course, I want to commend the ministers and their officials, too. They did an admirable job defending the estimates of their respective departments and the members, in turn, of course, also asked some very meaningful and constructive questions.

Mr. Speaker, some of the highlights of the Committee meetings - I was delighted with the comments made by the Member for Green Bay, who had been substituting for one of the other members. The Member for Green Bay was so impressed with the Budget, Mr. Speaker, that he told us he considered it to be an election Budget. Mr. Speaker, that, in my opinion, is certainly an endorsement of the government's Budget if I ever heard one.

I must say, our Committee worked well together, our meetings ran rather smoothly and without too much controversy. Of course, there was no press present for our meetings, so I guess that helped. As a matter of fact, there were times when things went so well that I wondered sometimes if some of the Opposition members hadn't crossed the floor. There was somewhat of a love-in between the Vice-Chair and the Member for Waterford - Kenmount and the Minister of Education and Training, the same was true for the Member for Bonavista South and the Minister of Social Services.

Of course, the Member for St. John's East and our Government House Leader, the Minister of Justice, were their usual cordial selves and it wouldn't surprise me, after these two gentlemen retire, if you don't see a new law firm on Duckworth Street, Harris and Roberts or Roberts and Harris, I am not sure which. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, things went well and I want to once again, thank the members of the Committee, and with these observations, I move adoption of the Committee's report and leave the floor to those members opposite who may have a burning desire to continue with the debate on the estimates of the departments covered under the social sector.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the House would know, most of the issues that are being raised here today, of course, have already been raised at the Estimates Committee meetings, referred to by my colleague a few moments ago. However, there are some matters that we would like to bring forward and I would like to start off this afternoon commenting about some of the issues relative to the Department of Health. To put that in focus, I want to read from the Campaign '89 Liberal Policy Manual. In 1989, the Liberal Party running for election made the following statement in their policy manual: `Liberal health policy dictates that as long as the demand exists, hospital beds must be kept open, institutions must not be understaffed and compassion must always take precedence over business administration.' Continuing on it reads, `If we cannot adequately care for the sick, the disabled and the aged among us, we have failed as a society and we can take cold comfort in cutting costs and improving balance sheets.' Now, Mr. Speaker, that statement comes directly from the Liberal Policy Manual put forward going into the 1989 election.

Mr. Speaker, what we have seen since then is a substantive deviation from that particular policy. We have seen a situation where hospital beds have been closed on a repeated basis, and each year there seems to be more and more closures; institutions are under-staffed. All you have to do to talk about under-staffing is visit any of our hospitals. I am sure that hon. members opposite have talked to members of the nursing staff at hospitals, they have talked to our personal care homes and you will find out that the situation is that many people who are in desperate need of long-term and constant care are not always cared for as they should be. Why? Because this government which in 1989 said that they would practice compassion, now has a total focus on balancing the budget. While that might be admirable, we have to ask ourselves, at whose expense? When we hear about cases involving seniors who are placed in institutions where there is inadequate nursing staff because of cut-backs, then we have to ask ourselves where our priorities really rest. I repeat what was said in the policy manual of Campaign '89: `If we cannot adequately care for the sick, the disabled and the aged among us, then we have failed as a society and we take cold comfort in cutting costs and improving the balance sheets.' Well, certainly, the present Administration must now take comfort in improving balance sheets, because they certainly have been cutting costs.

Mr. Speaker, we know that the proposal to, for example, change the transfer of personal care homes from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health has caused great concern. I have in my possession here a letter from Geraldine Ruby, President of the Longside Club which, of course, is a club which advocates for the disabled. In this particular letter, the President writes -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I am sorry to catch you by surprise, Mr. Speaker, but the Opposition House Leader has asked the hon. member to yield so that I can provide an answer. I was just on my way out and the answer was given to me to the question that the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern asked. Here is the information I got: Tonight's meeting is an information session for Zone 19 which includes the St. John's, Northeast Avalon and CBS region. Purpose: to discuss the twenty-nine recommendations as outlined in the Task Force report: Community Matters - the New Regional Economic Development. Non-governmental people have chaired a number of these types of meetings, and Ms. Barb Genge is supposed to chair tonight's meeting. There will be further meetings held by various stakeholders to discuss setting up the provisional boards and appointing representatives for such boards.

I hope that alleviates the concerns, and I am told there has been no request for a postponement of the meeting, none at all, so the meeting will go ahead and I am sure, if there is need for it, further meetings will be held.

I thank the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I was addressing the issue of the transfer of personal care homes from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health and I was referring to a letter from Geraldine Ruby, in which she expresses concern on behalf of persons with disabilities, about the decision to transfer responsibility. She said, `I am astonished that government could announce such a change without consultation with persons with disabilities and the organization which represents them.' She continues to say that these persons with disabilities are always vulnerable and she feels that this sudden change in the way in which they receive support and services in order to continue to be full participants in the community may serve to increase their vulnerability.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the government that before we implement the full change, we should assure that persons who have disabilities are adequately informed and that their concerns are adequately addressed. One of the initiatives that I give this government credit for is they seem to have recognized the need to adopt, what I would call, a healthy public policy. They are at the initial stages of that and certainly there is a lot of research done nationally and internationally that says that all aspects of government should be reviewed in terms of the impact on public health.

I refer to the initiatives that were undertaken by the Member for St. John's Centre when he was Minister of Health, relative to the smoking in public places policy. That policy is certainly recognized as being a positive policy, and while there might be people who might question some of the implementation strategies, I don't think anybody would disagree with the intent of the policy and with the statement which indicates that there is overwhelming public support for that particular initiative.

However, I do have some concerns that the government has not been more pro-active on things like bicycle helmets, the need for safety equipment for skateboarders, and other types of recreational activities, because one child in the Janeway for any length of time would cost more than a very sound public relations policy to inform parents of the dangers and to become more pro-active in prevention.

I say to the government that we are still spending too many taxpayers' dollars after events have happened, instead of spending dollars to try to prevent accidents, and to prevent injuries that people might be less susceptible to if we had a more positive prevention policy.

MR. EFFORD: I say you are even starting to sound like (inaudible).

MR. HODDER: I say to the hon. minister that a positive public health policy, and a healthy public policy, are the very same thing. Instead of having 90 per cent of our dollars spent making people better, we should be spending 20 per cent of our dollars, at least, on prevention, because all the research indicates that is where we have the long-term positive impact on people's health, not to say anything at all about the quality of life that people would enjoy as a consequence of it.

Mr. Speaker, the medical school - in the estimates we find that there continues to be a very high proportion of the department's budget allocated to the medical school. We view with concern, the fact that the Province of New Brunswick, which has been allocated ten seats at the medical school, has informed the government that it does not intend to access those seats in the future. Mr. Speaker, this means, of course, that the cost of running the medical school will continue to be the same as it always was; however, the money coming from the Province of New Brunswick will cease to exist as of the end of this particular year. I understand from the Minister of Health that he intends to market those positions in the United States or elsewhere on a full cost recovery basis.

I also want to comment on the fact that the medical school continues to be under the Department of Health. However, this must cause some concern to the Minister of Education and Training to find out that the medical school does not operate under his direction. I do believe that this is probably the only province where a medical school operates directly under the Department of Health. In all other provinces, it operates under the Department of Education and not under the Department of Health.

We view with concern, the lack of psychiatric services in many parts of our Province. We are aware that it is difficult to recruit medical specialists in various parts of Newfoundland and Labrador - not just to what we would call the more rural parts of the Province, in some cases, it is difficult to recruit specialists to go to places like Grand Falls or Gander or Corner Brook, and even in some specialties, to St. John's itself. We want to draw attention particularly to the difficulties that we have with attracting to this Province, psychiatrists. The Minister of Health, in his presentations to the Estimates Committee, indicated some of the frustrations that are experienced by the department; of course, it results in long waiting lists, it results in people having to endure long periods of anxiety before their needs can be adequately addressed by professional services.

We also want to look at general recruitment of medical personnel in rural Newfoundland. We were surprised to find out that it is still very difficult to entice Newfoundland and Labrador high school graduates to enter the medical school under a sponsorship program. In fact, last year, the minister told us that all of the bursaries, or all of the agreements that the department was prepared to enter into with prospective candidates, weren't even taken up. As members may know, Newfoundland students are offered a subsidy of I think it is $12,000 a year to assist in their medical school training. Last year, there were offered ten positions in that category. Only seven or eight were actually availed of by Newfoundland students. Even in these cases, we find that when these students graduate they do not want to serve the rural Newfoundland communities.

While there are sociological and lifestyle difficulties associated with getting doctors to serve in rural Newfoundland, we recognize that the need is there, and that it is a difficulty the minister has identified, in fact, so much so that we continue to recruit medical personnel in South Africa, in Europe. In fact, there are today in Newfoundland 112 doctors who do not meet the exact criteria as set out by the Newfoundland licencing authority, and therefore, are not fully licensed, but are permitted to practice in Newfoundland with temporary permits.

Mr. Speaker, one of the initiatives that have been undertaken in the public health area is the initiative of having public health nurses assigned to specific schools and, of course, in the St. John's area there have been some programs set up whereby the public health nurses are included as part of the school staff. That varies from the older policy whereby the public health nurses dropped by on a regular basis but they weren't considered part of the school staff.

In the bigger schools in the St. John's area now, we do find that public health nurses are assigned to a particular school. They keep the same hours and the same holiday schedule as the schools themselves. This has resulted in having public health information available directly on an hourly basis to the students. It has helped tremendously in communicating information on public health matters to junior and senior high school students in particular and, of course, this helps, as well, in the health courses that are offered in the school, and in particular in talking about public health issues, including AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a moment about what has been said here about the regional health boards. One of the things that I think we should consider as a Province is making sure that regional health boards are open to the public. We believe that the public business needs to be done in a public place, and whether it is the local town council, or city council, or community council, we believe that regional health boards need to be conducting their business in a public forum. Thus, people who live in particular regions will be able to know what is going on, what times the meetings are scheduled. They will be able to know whether their community representatives are doing the job for which they have been appointed, and they will be open to the public. All these meetings should be open to the public and open to the media, and this would ensure that there is some measure of accountability built into the process.

If we are going to make the regional health boards work, they have to be seen as accountable to the public. There is no better way to make people accountable to the public than to simply say that regional health boards should be open forums. This will, I am sure, be looked upon by the public as being a sensible decision, if the government should take it. It would help ensure a greater sense of ownership over the public health care system in our Province, and it would assist the boards, as well, to have feedback from their constituents, the members of the public. It would help to build a sense of responsibility as we meet the challenging health care needs in the latter part of this century, leading into the next one. In other words, what I am saying is that in matters of health, the public have a right to have their voices heard, and that all meetings of the public health boards should be open forums.

Mr. Speaker, some time ago, I became aware of a particular syndrome that is now being researched across the country, called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In particular, I became aware of it for its impact and implications for education. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a syndrome which has been identified as affecting children whose mothers consumed alcohol during their pregnancy, and the research is now indicating that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a prominent issue in learning disabilities, and we want to say to the government that research in Newfoundland and Labrador needs to be given encouragement. I am told by the Department of Health officials that they are sharing in the research, and that is commendable, but we want to identify for the general public the nature of this particular research. There appears to be a direct connection between foetal alcohol syndrome and learning disabilities in children. Therefore this is an issue again of what we call a healthy public policy. Have the research done and then have it adequately communicated. Because if we can do anything that will help us be more pro-active in preventing learning disabilities then we should be doing it rather aggressively. The research done in Western Canada in particular indicates that we might be able, not to cure what has happened, but certainly to help prevent further difficulties if we become a little more pro-active and if we let this information be shared with the public.

Mr. Speaker, I want to have a couple of comments relative to the Department of Education and Training. A great deal of discussion of course has gone on relative to the royal commission implementation. The minister informed the Committee that about 50 per cent of the recommendations in the Williams Royal Commission has already been acted upon by the department. The governance issue unfortunately has taken a great deal of public attention, and that is to be expected. The difficulty with the governance issue is that there appears to be a great deal of mistrust on both sides: mistrust by the government of the churches and their willingness to accept reforms, and certainly a great deal of mistrust on the part of the churches on the government's real intentions. Of course, that was not made any better by the Minister of Education and Training who a year and a half ago said that what he had put forward required only a few dotting of the `i's and the crossing of the `t's. Therefore the churches got their backs up very quickly.

One of the great issues that we have to look at in this Province in education is accessibility to quality education. When we realize that there is a school in this Province that has three students - the smallest school in this Province is in Monkstown in Placentia Bay. It has three students. There are two students in Grade VIII and one student in Grade III. When we think of access to quality education we have to think of schools like Monkstown. I commend the government for its distance education initiatives; however, these are largely in high school courses. We want to say to the minister that we have to bridge the gap between the availability of an education in the larger areas and the availability of an education to a primary-elementary school child in the smaller communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Last spring there was a great deal of discussion about a small schools policy. We begged the government in question period to look at having a small schools policy. The minister at the time said: Let's get through this collective bargaining process and then we will adopt a small schools policy. We haven't had a great deal of initiative from the government. As a matter of fact, the truth is that the ministry just sent out their instructions to the school boards of the Province, and now we have notice of more and more cutbacks in teaching staff among schools in rural Newfoundland. Therefore last year the complaint was: Let's get through the collective bargaining process and then we will implement a small schools policy. They got through the collective bargaining process and they cut back on the availability of teachers in rural Newfoundland.

Certainly I want to say to the minister I haven't seen much yet that really addresses the issues of the accessibility and availability of a quality education to all students of this Province, particularly those in the smaller communities in rural Newfoundland.

We want to speak as well about research that has occurred into learning disabilities and the identification of these disabilities at a very young age. We find that this Province of course does not have much by way of early identification of learning disabilities. While the Province of Ontario is talking about pre-kindergarten and talking about an educational policy that affects children as young as age three, this Province is not in that particular mode of education at all. In fact, the Department of Education has very little research, very little information or very little concern about pre-school. This government does not really have an educational policy for pre-schoolers at all. So therefore if you are not aged five the Department of Education does not view that it has a mandate for your concerns whatsoever. While Ontario recognizes that the Department of Education assumes responsibility for educational matters for children as young as age three, in this Province we don't assume that mandate until a child gets to be age five. So therefore, early identification of learning disabilities has to wait until a child is in kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2 or Grade 3 and then very little is done about it.

In this Province not only do we need greater attention to early identification of learning difficulties, we have to do something about it. We should be allocating more and more resources to the identification of the learning difficulties and then to their solutions. We spend a great deal of public money on initiatives of keeping people in school. We spend it all at the end of the school and we should be looking at a long term approach and saying: Should we spend some of that money at the front end? While we talk about primary education, and we mean kindergarten to Grade 3, in many, many places primary doesn't mean cheap it simply means the beginning. We believe, as educators, that primary education is where we should have the greatest focus. Unfortunately, that is often an area that gets neglected and gets overlooked because the voices of young children are often not heard in the educational dialogue.

We certainly would like to draw attention to the fact that we are not doing very much about the recommendation of the Royal Commission relative to the length of the school year. There is talk about it -

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't say `we.'

MR. HODDER: When I say we, I should refer to the government and I say we in terms of a Province but the government has to take that initiative.

We have not done much about lengthening the school day. While all of these things are contained in the Royal Commission Report there is not a great deal of work being done on it. Time on Task; time on task is basically a senior high school, junior high school problem, primarily. Mr. Speaker, the Royal Commission says that as many as thirty-nine to fifty-one days, I think it is, may be lost in a school year on activities that are not directly related to academic achievement. We haven't taken the kinds of initiatives in that area that were promised by the minister a year or so ago.

One area where we are taking initiatives or the Province is taking initiatives, is in the area of parent councils. Mr. Speaker, there is a direct connection between the way in which parents view education, the parents policies relative to participation in educational processes and school achievement.

We have seen some initiatives by the Province. There are a number of experiments going on. They are not unlike initiatives in other Provinces, but we are still lagging behind, and if we want to improve the levels of achievement of our students, we have to view education as being more than a responsibility of the parent and the child and the school. Education is the responsibility of all society, and we want to say to the government that we have to give more empowerment to parents. Studies are numerous in this Province, and numerous across the country, which show a direct connection between the participation of parents -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HODDER: - a direct connection between the participation of parents in the school system, and the level of achievement. We say to the government, give all of the parent councils of this Province encouragement, because that is where we can make real progress and a significant impact on the standard of education in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Before recognizing the hon. member, I want to take this opportunity to welcome to the gallery, on behalf of all hon. members, fifteen students from the Secretarial Science Program at Keyin Technical College in Renews. Accompanying these students is their teacher, Ms. Valerie Lake.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am happy to rise today and take part in the Concurrence debate regarding the Social Services Committee of the House of Assembly. I had occasion to attend one meeting, which was Social Services, and I must say that it was a good time once again to ask the minister some questions, and to take part in debate and find out information on what was happening in that particular department. I didn't have a chance to attend and ask questions on some of the other departments, and some of those departments I would like to touch on here today. One is the Department of Health.

I can never understand, and it is too bad the minister is not here, because I intend to approach him to find out exactly how this process works, and I think of subsidized and non-subsidized homes, personal care homes, in the Province. We continue to talk about saving money, and cutting back on expenditure, and looking after our seniors, and giving them the proper care that they need, but somewhere along the line I think we are missing something, and I have to refer to a personal care home that the Member for Trinity North probably knows very well; the home is in his district. I have had occasion to go to the home and speak with the owners. In fact, I went on a tour of the home there. It is a new home. You might call it a Cadillac of a senior citizens rest home.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, and it is located in Catalina as well. The home is located in Catalina, and operated by Ross and Shirley Barney. It has a capacity for thirty-two seniors, and I think they are operating right now with seventeen, if I recall. The day that I was there, which was a couple of months ago, they had thirteen. This big, new, beautiful home, a need in the area, we find that seniors are unable to go and become residents in this home because government, in their wisdom, failed to call it a subsidized home. Now, let's look at the difference between a subsidized home and an non-subsidized home.

From what I understand, you go into a subsidized home, when it is built it has to reach certain requirements the government puts forward, and when the residents go in there, the owner receives $856 per month. Some times the residents can't afford to pay the $856 and, as a result of that, it is subsidized as the name states, it is subsidized by government. I thought it was, in most cases, subsidized by the Department of Social Services but I found out, no, it is subsidized by the Department of Health.

The resident in turn, gets back $110 a month; the $110 a month go for their personal needs, if somebody smokes or if they like a special kind of soap or something; clothes I guess and what have you, the personal needs of the residents there, so that in addition to the $856, they get $110. Also, the Department of Health pays their drugs, pays for their special needs like creams and lotions and other things that they need. I understand also, that the subsidized homes are compensated for security that is going to be looking after the homes during the off-hours, during nighttime, and I think the makeup on that and the structure is, that there are two security workers for each ten people who are residents at the home. I think there are two security workers for each ten.

Let us look at a non-subsidized home; let us look at the Barney's Home down in Catalina, Mr. Speaker, one of the most modern homes, in fact, I would say it is probably the most modern home in Newfoundland. It is not subsidized and that's probably the reason why the gentleman and lady are down here today with the home half filled to capacity. Their rate of charge is $840 a month and all the personal needs of those seventeen residents who are there are looked after. Their drugs are looked after by their $840 a month; their special needs are looked after; security is looked after, all those needs are looked after by that one outlay of $840 a month.

You look at the subsidized homes and you will find that each resident in a subsidized home is costing this government $500 a month as compared to what the Barney Home would charge in Catalina, and, Mr. Speaker, if we are going to look at saving money and if we are going to look at giving attention and care to our seniors and if we can give them the same amount of care and attention, then why designate a subsidized home from a non-subsidized home? Let's treat everybody alike, let's treat everybody fairly, I say to the minister and forget about we will subsidize this home but we won't subsidize this one.

Let us look at treating everybody fairly; let's let private enterprise go out and build those homes if they see a need for it, if there is a feasibility study done to show there is a need, if the seniors in the area are willing to go and occupy those homes and let us save some money while we are doing it. I don't know what is so bad about that, Mr. Speaker, but up until now, this particular individual as I said, has invested his lifetime savings, a beautiful home down there, all the most modern amenities there and sitting there with the home half-full and seniors in their homes needing care, crying out for care but because they can't pay the few extra dollars themselves, then the government of the day is saying: no, we won't help you; yes, we will leave you in your own home and we will leave the other home, we will leave the Barney Home, we will leave Shirley's Haven there half-full. Half-full still they can respond to the need and would give the care and comfort to our seniors which they deserve and which we should do as christians.

Mr. Speaker, still I suppose with the Department of Health, I would like to touch on the ten beds at the Golden Heights Manor. I asked some questions here in the House a few days ago, and I fail to understand, we will never understand how government would go out and spend $1.4 million to renovate and refurbish a Level 111 chronic care unit in the Town of Bonavista, to open up ten ambulatory Level 111 chronic care beds and leave them vacant. Ten beds, ten rooms gathering dust; spent $1.4 million to change the home around to accommodate ten extra people because there is a need there but when the will comes to fill those beds they are saying we can't do it we have to balance our budget because we have to show a surplus on our current account. Then in any questions to the minister wondering when those beds are going to be filled, in his wisdom he gives you an answer like it is up to the new health care board that has been appointed in the area, if they can find the money to open them they can open them.

Now, where is the money going to come from if it cannot come from government? Where is the new health care board going to get the money? Are they going to go out selling tickets, Mr. Speaker, or take part in a Bingo? Let us be realistic here and let us respond to the need that is out there. If there were no need for those ten beds then why spend the $1.4 million to refurbish the hospital and create the ten beds in the first place? Then, the minister in his wisdom, his department, appointed a hospital board, the end all and the answer all to all our problems on the Bonavista Peninsula and on the Burin Peninsula.

According to legislation the board can consist of eighteen appointees, on any particular board. The minister made up the board and he appointed seventeen people, eight from the Burin Peninsula, seven from the Clarenville area, and two from the Bonavista area.

MR. OLDFORD: What a member.

MR. HODDER: The Member for Trinity North says, what a member, but the Member for Trinity North should remember that his district also takes in Catalina, Port Union, Melrose, Port Rexton, and all the old and new Bonaventures, and the area surrounding the Bonavista hospital and the Bonavista health care facility, so they need equal representation as well, I say to the member. He should keep those areas in mind and not forget them.

Here we have again in Bonavista, Mr. Speaker, with those ten extra beds in excess of 100 beds, taking into consideration the ten acute care beds and the chronic care beds at the Golden Heights Manor. In excess of 100 beds, and what do we get, in excess of 30,000 people, I might add as well, the closest senior's home for Level 3 chronic care, I think, is to the northeast, probably Gander and coming the other way is probably out in, maybe the district of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. That would probably be the next closest home, out in South River there.

Mr. Speaker, the minister in his wisdom appoints two people to represent this whole area, 12 per cent of the board representing the Bonavista area. Then he comes out and says it is fair representation. Well, I beg to differ with that because I do not think it is fair representation, and I pleaded with the minister to appoint another person from that particular area. Then at least there would be three, and hopefully, one or two of those three people will also be able to serve on the executive of that health care board that takes in the Burin, Bonavista, and the Clarenville area.

Up until now the home care program, and I think last year it cost in the vicinity of $27 million to administer, was looked after by the Department of Social Services. It was administered by the Department of Social Services and if there was a need for people requiring home care, where people would come in and look after seniors in their own homes, or other people that could not look after themselves, the Department of Social Services would handle that through their local offices.

The department, in its wisdom, this year decided to transfer the home care program from the Department of Social Services over to the Department of Health. I know in my district I had one couple and we were almost there. All the assessments were done, the applications were completed, and it was just a matter of signing on the dotted line. This senior couple, I think the lady was on oxygen and could not work, and the gentleman had one or two open heart surgeries, were having a real hard time, and they also had a mentally challenged daughter.

We were almost there in getting them home care. We had people identified to go in there. The couple had even purchased some new utensils, a new washer, so that the people when they moved in would have some degree of satisfaction in looking after them and being able to do their work. I called the local office, Mr. Speaker, and was told that it was not their responsibility any more. Yesterday it was, today it is not. Now they have to wait for the Department of Health to put the full structure in place so those people now might be looked after.

Knowing that this was going to happen, the first thing I did was pick up the phone and call the Department of Health and try to relate to them the problem. Their comments were: We can't assume the full home care program. We are willing to take on the responsibility of what already has been put in place, but we can't take on anything new until the new board is structured. The new board goes in operation in June of this year. The Budget came down in April. It was changed from March 31 to April 1. The change took place. Now you have another two months of waiting for those people with those basic needs out there to be able to avail of a service that was always there for them.

Because government in its wisdom decided to change it from one department to another it is now being left with probably another three or four months by the time that the board gets up and running and decides how it is going to put the system back in place and the changes it is going to make. You will probably see those people another three or four or probably even five months dealing with the same problems that they've tried and they thought they had answers to in the past. That is shameful. It is no credit to the government to allow those things to happen.

The other concern I have, last year this same program cost the Department of Social Services $27 million, and this year, with the program being transferred from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health, there was $20 million transferred in the Budget. I suppose there is going to be a $7 million shortfall there, and that is a shame. Because here again it is our seniors, the people who can least afford it, the people who need help most. It is the seniors who are going to take the hurt because of those cutbacks.

The Department of Social Services. This year we witnessed some unpleasant events out at the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre out in Whitbourne. The minister in her wisdom said that there was nothing wrong out there, everything was alright, everything is copacetic. Everything is wonderful, no need to raise an alarm. Everything wasn't alright. Even though it was never admitted by government there were problems there and things needed fixing, there were a lot of things that were fixed. That is to the credit of the minister, even though it was never admitted. I went out there myself and I think I had a six-hour tour of the establishment. The front-line workers there and the staff pointed out the things that were wrong and the things that were now being fixed, and the things that were being looked after. They've come a long way in making some changes. That is a credit to the department, credit to the minister, but there are still a lot of concerns out there.

One of the concerns that was raised to me is recent, and I brought it to the minister's attention at the Estimates meeting that we had here on Social Services, where they've recently hired fourteen new staff there. Those fourteen staff are supposed to get three weeks of training, three weeks to be trained in the new role that they've taken on. Where they go to work and - you know, there are a lot of things to be learnt. I suppose there is a procedure. In order to make themselves aware of the rules and regulations and the procedures that must be in force there is a three-week training program. Some of those people came to work and within six days of training - not the fifteen that they were supposed to get - they were working on a ward, on a unit. I think that can lead to all kinds of repercussions when you have people there not fully trained and not fully cognizant of the job that they are performing.

Another fear was raised even by the casual part-time people. Because it is a situation where there is a fair list there of casuals who are called in as need be. When somebody is sick or when somebody books off on annual leave, or whatever, somebody is called in. They maintain a regular list for this. It could be a situation that the person who is called in - it could be two people called in, two people looking after a complete unit. Sometimes it happens that those two people may be called in, and it may be that they haven't worked there for the last two months, the last three months, and maybe the ten residents of that particular unit, it might be the first time they have seen them. Those people come in and there is no transfer of information. They come in and go to work at eight o'clock, or whatever time the shift changes, not knowing who they are looking after, not knowing what the residents are there for, not knowing the crime they committed, not knowing anything about the ten people they will be in charge of. To me, that's wrong.

I think people should be briefed much more than that, and I think those workers should be informed of the people they are dealing with, and the people they will be looking after, and the people they will be responsible for, because some of those people are there in excess of twenty years old, and some more of them are there much, much, much younger than that, and they are not all there just for petty crimes, I can assure you. Some of them have committed crimes that are adult crimes, and the people who are looking after them, and responsible for them, need to know why they are there, and should know what to expect. So those are some of the things that concern me about that place.

Another issue that I brought to the minister's attention is that some of the casual workers there who work - and listen to this one; this is a good one - some of the casual workers there work twelve hour shifts when they go into those homes, and they go there and work twelve hours at the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre, go to work 8:00 p.m., get off 8:00 a.m., and then they go over to the Lakeside Home in Whitbourne and work another twelve hours. Then, it is not unheard of to go back and work again, until their three or four days are up. Now, who is providing who with protection?

I say yes to the Member for Fogo that this is happening, and it is a grave concern of the people there as regular employees, and it would be a concern of mine if my son or daughter, or I had a relative out there, number one, and it would also be a concern of mine if I was a co-worker, and working with somebody who was working all those hours. Where is he or she sleeping?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, I guess they work the regular shift. If it is three days a week - I don't know how the shifts are structured, but usually when you see a twelve hour shift you see people work three days one week and four days the next on a twelve hour basis. That is what you usually see. So somebody is sleeping somewhere, and somebody is getting their rest somewhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do they work that amount of time in both of them?

MR. FITZGERALD: They work the full twelve hours in both of them, I say to the member, working the full twelve hours in both of them, and being paid by the Department of Social Services.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Whatever it takes. If he is working three shifts at the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre, he is probably coming off, and as soon as the shift is over he is going on in the same twenty-four hour period and working the other twelve hours at the Lakeside Home in Whitbourne, and some of them - not only at the Lakeside Home - are doing the same thing out in Topsail, in the home out there.

This is something that was brought to my attention, and I think it is something very serious. I brought it to the minister's attention. It is happening. It was brought to my attention when I did the six hour tour there a few months ago, and in a follow-up to it the night before we had our meeting, which I think was last Wednesday night, I called some people there and they said: Yes, it is happening, and yes, it is a concern of ours, but nobody seems to want to interfere with it.

Mr. Speaker, I am not afraid to bring it up, because I think it is a problem, and I think it is something that should be addressed because, as I say, let me work twelve hours, and if I am working then I know what I want to do when the twelve hours is up. I don't think I want to go and work another twelve hours, and keep going that way until I get another three days off, and this is what is happening. Those are some of the things that are happening.

Mr. Speaker, I think it was shameful of the Department of Social Services when they did away with paying hydro bills. Now you may want to say: No, I pay my hydro bill; you should be expected to pay yours, and you should be expected to pay yours, and there is some credence to those statements and concerns as well, but this was a policy brought about by the Department of Social Services. It was something that continued to happen over the years. I said to the minister, why can't we bring this thing in gradually?

Number one, say yes we are going to do away with paying hydro bills if those people are not getting enough money to be able to pay for that particular bill in the amount of funding they are getting from Social Services. If they are, well then let's agree that we are going to help them get rid of the arrears by bringing it in gradually. Let's pay the arrears for them and take it off their regular social assistance checks over the summer months - budget plan. There is a budget plan with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, I say to the Member for Fogo but why couldn't we - since it was brought about as a surprise to people and it was brought about abruptly, why couldn't we have absorbed the cost and have taken it back from their checks over the summer months when they would not have had those high electricity bills? Most of them that assume those bills and were responsible for them, I would suggest probably were using electric heat so they would have been able to pay those bills over the summer months and after that let's not pay anymore if that is what government deemed to be necessary. Let's not pay anymore but that is something, Mr. Speaker, I think that there should have been a little more thought went into and a little bit more help provided.

Another heading, Mr. Speaker, under the Social Services was education. A big issue, Mr. Speaker, out in my district but not for one part of the district, down in Bonavista. I think Bonavista probably has one of the better schools in all Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, it is probably a flagship of a school, where you have the new high school there attached to the Eastern College. We find that many of the people in Level I, II and III go over to the Eastern College and take part in some industrial activities there I suppose or industrial arts programs and they tie them both in very well.

They have an excellent school there with an excellent staff but up in the other end of my district, Mr. Speaker, where people travel from Sweet Bay, Charleston, Southern Bay and Princeton, they travel up to the elementary school known as L. R. Ash in Lethbridge and at the high school in Musgravetown, the Musgravetown High School. That school was constructed back in, I think about 1959. It was the late '50s and it was probably one of the last schools that was built a wooden structure rather than concrete and steel. Today the school is showing its wear and tear and the people there, I can assure you, are not very happy with the type of structure that they have to go to every morning and the teachers themselves now are speaking out.

There has been a group of concerned parents who have formed an association to try and lobby government to have a new school built. I don't know how much headway they are making but I know that they are a very active group. I certainly support them 100 per cent and I know the Member for Terra Nova has been supporting them all the way as well and hopefully government in its wisdom, will see the need for that new school and respond to the need because I doubt if there are many worst on the island right now. Give those people in Terra Nova district and from the upper part of Bonavista South an opportunity to attend a school that most people take for granted here in Newfoundland and Labrador today. I won't get into all the individual problems with the school because the minister has been made aware of them and I have raised the issue here before but I can assure you that the list is long and the need is great. I would encourage government, if they have any money to put towards new school construction in this year or within the very near future then that is one school that should be addressed and one school that should be replaced.

The L.R. Ash school in Lethbridge, another wooden structured school, is not much different. I would think that government in its wisdom will have to very seriously look at either spending massive amounts of money on this particular school in order to attend to the structural problems there, the roof problems and other deficiencies that have been pointed out, they will have to seriously look at their money and see if it makes sense to repair or replace. I have a funny feeling that replacement might be the answer, Mr. Speaker.

Environment is another heading in the Social Services Committee's headings, Mr. Speaker. When I think of the environment the first thing that comes to my mind is the sewer treatment plant in Bonavista. This was a plant that was constructed about twenty-two years ago. It was supposed to work very well in that the sewer and the waste water from the town would go into this big reservoir and from the reservoir it would go out into a pond known as O'Dea's Pond and a channel was cut leading to the salt water. Under ideal conditions, the tide would rise, and every time the tide rose it would come in and would flush out this pond, clean the pond out - everything looked after. But, Mr. Speaker, it doesn't work that way and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, I say to the minister, and I might add that I fully concur with everybody over on this side what a wonderful minister he has been and what a great fellow and what compassion he has brought to the job. He is aware of it. The minister is aware of it, and he has promised to look after the problem. He lent me a sympathetic ear when I met with him, just a week ago, I think, Mr. Minister, and made him aware of this problem. But it is a situation where this treatment plant now has outlived its usefulness and is to the point where it is not capable of looking after a town that was growing and vibrant until the fishery closed. And it is, I might add, one of the biggest towns, the seventh largest town in Newfoundland - Bonavista, the seventh largest town in Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. FITZGERALD: Just to clue up, if I am allowed, Mr. Speaker.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: I would like to make the minister aware of this: I know it's a real problem - it isn't very nice when you go out in the summertime and see those big flies flying around in the particular area where this pond is located; the smell, people can't raise their windows in the summertime because of the smell, kids can't go out and play, pets are not allowed to stray in the area and I suppose, to make matters worse, now it's at the point where the sludge forms on the top, the sludge forms on this particular tank, and when the wind blows, the wind takes the sludge, takes the foam and the next thing you know, the people living around the area have this - you know what it is, on their windows and on their cars. In fact, kids have come home crying, with it on their clothes, Mr. Speaker. It is not a very nice thing to have to put up with, and I plead with the minister to try to accommodate the request from the residents in the area and if there is anything he can do to rectify this problem, then he would be helping a lot people and he would be certainly attending to a problem for which he is responsible and which has been, I suppose, a nuisance for the past number of years.

Mr. Minister, I thank you very much for the leave that you granted me.

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

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you - I will give leave if you wish?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for St. John's Centre want to speak?

MR. J. BYRNE: I will give you leave, no problem.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a few points I would like to raise about some of the department's estimates, one, having to do with the Department of Health, first of all. I noticed in the Estimates, on page 234, if anyone wants to follow along - under Dental Services, last year we had a $5.7 million grant in there and it has been cut back by half-a-million dollars to $5.2 million.

Now, this is the children's dental health program which operates throughout the Province and it provides a variety of services to young children in dental services. As we all know, we have always had a problem with dental care in Newfoundland, a problem which persists, and to cut half-a-million dollars off that is a pretty serious thing.

What has to happen now is that the Dental Association, the dentists, have to get together with the department and try to figure out what services will be cut, whether they are going to not take out the `eye' teeth anymore or just fill the molars, or what, or whatever services, because some services are going to have to be cut back in order to -

Now, what surprises me though - and the other thing I want to say is, this program has steadily been eroded over the years. And one of the strong points about the program is that it provides money so that dentists will stay in rural areas, and without this program, without this money that would subsidize dental care for rural people basically, dentists would not go into these places because the take would be too little. So that is a fairly serious cost, I believe, but I can see the problem. We have to balance the Budget and we have to cut here and there - that is one of the costs of the Budget.

On the other hand, I notice that exactly the same amount was put to increase the salaries of physicians to entice them to go into rural areas. So you took it from the dental program and you added it to the physicians' salaries. And I am a bit concerned. I want to raise this concern because it is one that has bothered me for some time. I am concerned that many professions are now stressing the amount of cash they can get from their profession and not stressing service. I remember years - you remember Dr. Grenfell and how he served. I don't think money, the take, was what was in his mind when he went and did service in Northern Newfoundland. I don't think Dr. Olds was motivated by the money he was getting. I don't think Dr. Paddon was motivated by money. I don't think Dr. Cron, in Harbour Grace, was motivated by money alone. Every place has its traditional type of doctor you can point to who was there to serve the community, and they also lived reasonably well.

Nowadays, when I see young doctors coming out - not all, but a substantial number of them are interested only in one thing: How much can I get? And if I can't get enough here I'm going down to the States. It is not only doctors, I remember teachers who were dedicated, who were concerned only with their pupils, and in recent years the dollar has become much important to teachers. I don't want to condemn anybody, I'm just saying it is the trend.

The same way with clergy; people used to enter monasteries and they would join, become nuns, and take perpetual vows of poverty, because that was the thing to do, to serve the people. That whole question of service seems to me now to be gone. I'm wondering if it is really necessary to keep increasing the Medicare budget when doctors probably are the best paid profession, next to lawyers, in the Province. Someone said: `Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.' I think we have to stress that thing more than we have. That is enough on the Department of Health. I just wanted to raise that issue so that it wouldn't be forgotten.

I want to have a few words about the Department of Justice because I think that is one department that we should be spending more time examining than we have in the past. I want to raise a question in the landlord-tenants act. I raised one the other day here about refunds and so on, but I want to raise a different point now. This concerns the - if you have a problem with a landlord you can go to the director of landlord-tenant relations and he and his staff will mediate the problem that the landlord has with the tenant or the tenant has with the landlord. If you are not satisfied there you can take this elaborate procedure and make a referral through the Trial Division of the Supreme Court back to the residential tenancies board.

But, if you happen to be living in a unit that is rented by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, you do not have the right to go to mediation, under the act, and you do not have the right to go before the residential tenancies board. That means that the people who are running Newfoundland and Labrador Housing have very powerful - they can do almost what they wish to their tenants, and that is not fair. We are hoping that the Department of Justice - we have been asking for some time - will amend that part of the act so that tenants of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing have equal rights to those of other tenants to appeal bad decisions of their landlord.

Another point I want to raise has to do with the problem of prisoners. Quite a number of people these days go to jail for one reason or another. It might be for drunken driving, or whatever the case might be, and when they pay their debt to society, they serve their time, and sometimes it is pretty hard on their families, and themselves, but anyway we are not going to quarrel with that, but when they get out and try to live a straight life it is very, very difficult, and the reason it is difficult is because the unemployment situation in this Province is very bad, but for a former prisoner it is almost impossible. No matter how hard a person tries, no matter how many doors you knock on, it is even more difficult for people who are released from the penitentiary, and from other places.

It is a very, very serious question and I know of quite a number of people who, not a lot, but a fair number of people, who have served their time and who want to straighten out and live a normal life, a good life, but they are having this problem. The other question is that the unemployment situation in this Province is driving a great many people to crime, and that is a very serious question as well. I wish they did not do it but sometimes a person gets quite desperate and it is very little that you can do. That is enough from justice for the time being. I just wanted to raise those two points.

The other department I want to have a few points raised about is the Department of Social Services. It is my contention, and it has been for some time, that the levels of social services are far too low. Let me give you an example. There is a fuel allowance that takes effect in the winter and early spring. It cuts off in April and starts in November. It is $51.00 a month. Now, $51.00 a month is not the differential between the cost of heating your house, certainly in St. John's, than it is in the summertime. That $51.00 will not come close to meeting the differential.

Many houses that I know of in St. John's were built 100 years ago and very few have R2000 insulation in them. Some of them have virtually no insulation, some do not have double windows in winter, and many people spend $300 and $400 a month to keep their apartment, or whatever they are renting, part of a house warm, and even then it is not very warm. The $51.00 will not come close to it. In some parts of the Province it may be possible for the $51.00 to be spirited along because a person can go in the woods nearby and chop down a few trees, but if you happen to live in St. John's there is not much to chop down. You could wander into Bowring Park and cut a few trees, I suppose, if you are so inclined and if you do not get caught. You can cut down some of those telephone poles. What can you do? There is very little wood that you can use in the city to supplement the heating problems so people are stuck. They cannot pay their bills, or they have to freeze, so that is the choice.

Now, the Department of Social Services in their new Budget has brought in this rule where they are not going to set up overpayments for fuel, and that is causing great inconvenience in the district I represent. I might add, too, that times have changed very much over the past few years. At one time it wasn't too hard. If you were on social assistance you could cut wood, you could get a few lobsters, you could do all sorts of things, but nowadays the regulations are such, there are so many regulations in society now, that you cannot do anything to improve your lot, or very little. You cannot catch a codfish, you cannot catch a lobster, you cannot do this, you cannot go in the woods, you have to have a permit for this and a permit for that.

At one time the fellows brought in a permit to catch a rabbit and charged the kids for doing that, but that is gone now, thank goodness. At the same time there are far too many regulations that are preventing a person from gaining a living, and that makes it very difficult, because a person in a city particularly, and perhaps elsewhere as well, but perhaps not to the same extent, it is very, very difficult for someone to supplement their social assistance with real income of a non-monetary nature.

Social workers come in two kinds. You have social workers who are very dedicated and concerned, and worry about their clients and keep in touch with them, but you have others who don't, and let me give you an illustration of the funniest thing I have ever heard, because if you are on social assistance you really don't have any money for a telephone. You can get it if you don't want to eat enough, but there is no real money put aside for a telephone. So here is a person who is desperate; he wants to get hold of a social worker. He doesn't have a phone. Lots of people on social assistance don't have phones - many, many - some do, but many don't, so what do you do? You go to the nearest pay phone and you stick a quarter in - you barely have this quarter - and as soon as you dial: I am sorry, this is John Jones. I am not in my office today. I am out doing something or other, but I am not in my office today. As soon as they say that, your quarter is gone. Now if he didn't answer his phone, you wouldn't be able to get hold of him, but at least you would save your quarter. So you keep phoning and phoning, and the social worker is never there.

The system that is in place assumes that everyone has a phone, but everyone doesn't have a phone because the money is not provided on social service to have a phone, so there is something wrong with this method of doing it. It is as bad as the federal government, where you push one, push two, push three, and then you push the whole damn works, so there is a problem with respect to this business of communicating with your social worker; and, I tell you, I have trouble communicating with some as well. It is very difficult to get hold of people - not all people, because most of the people who work for the Department of Social Services do a reasonably good job, and some are extraordinarily good.

Now I am not very much impressed with the Social Services Appeal Board either, to tell you the truth. I sometimes feel that basically what happens here is that it is just a matter of referring difficult decisions on to somebody else, and there are far too many referred. What I would like to see in the Department of Social Services, I believe, I think there has to be a total, almost a Royal Commission in social services. In the past six years we have had six Ministers of Social Services. We need, I believe, a Royal Commission, or some sort of commission, to sort out the whole caboodle, because it is very complicated.

I am not sure that the rates should be the same right across the Province, except for Labrador. I am not sure they should be, but I can't decide what they should be. I don't believe that the amount of money that people are allowed to earn, this $40 or $45 for a single person, $105, is it, for a person with a family, per month is sufficient. There should be some way of handling that, and I believe we have to look at this whole question of the amount of money that people get.

I am tired of seeing children going to school hungry. I am tired of seeing them going to school with no clothes. I am tired of visiting homes which are cold in the winter - cold - where children sometimes have their mitts on trying to do their homework, and I have been in houses where children have their mitts on doing their homework, and I am tired of...

You know, we talk about slum landlords in St. John's, but the biggest slum landlord, in a sense, is the Department of Social Services, because they do not have any control over what places people live in. They have no inspectors. If a poor person who hasn't got much clout ends up in a place that is not very good, the Department of Social Services will pay the rent automatically. The landlord has a secure amount of rent, and I believe that the department is abdicating its responsibilities - not for some people, because some people can handle it, but we have a lot of people on social services who are sick, who have mental illnesses, who have other personal problems that they can't manage very well. It is not their fault, it is just the way things are.

I believe that their premises should be inspected regularly by somebody - and that way we might be able to shake out some of the terrible practices that occur, where people are buying up these old homes, turning them into a variety of apartments. Sometimes there are six and seven - you knock on the door of a house. You will find that you go inside and it is a beautiful house, it has been there for 100 years, passed on down from one generation to the next.

You go in the next one and you will see it is all cut up into bed-sitting rooms. There may be five or six bed-sitting rooms in there. In one bed-sitting room there may be somebody sleeping on the floor on a mattress, in another there may be two or three people, and things of that nature. Some have heat and some not. My attention was brought the other day to a place where it was very cold. What the person did was he took one of the elements out of the stove and used it as a heater. Placed it in a proper place for heat so it would warm the house. Of course, this was totally against the civic regulations and somebody blew - told on him - and they had a problem.

That is the sort of problem that some people run into in this city. I don't want to exaggerate it. Not everybody has that problem, but quite a few have. The problem is heat, the problem for many people is food, and the problem is the lower levels of social services money.

It bothers me too that - I might as well - you see, the federal government's budget - I know we are not talking about that, but it has relevance here. It looks like next year we are going to be cut back even more when the federal government starts bringing in its changes in its established program financing. If we are cut back some more in order to balance the federal budget, I'm wondering if there is a better way of doing it. You see, everyone in society is paying. We are all paying. We've laid off people, we haven't increased our social services money, we haven't increased our minimum wage lately, we haven't done this, we haven't done that. Many things we haven't done, many things we have done.

There is one type that has not bitten the bullet yet. There is one group that has not bitten the bullet in the recession, one group.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that?

DR. KITCHEN: That is the investors, the savings people. If you can't spend all you make and you put a bit aside, that is one thing. If you are like the old Scotsman, putting a few cents in a sock every day, and by and by. That is not what is happening now. Some people are paid more than they can spend normally and they are putting chunks to one side. They are investing it in the form of - they get interest on their deposits, or they buy up shares, and so on. If you do that, if you put it in shares, in Canadian companies, the federal government, instead of charging the regular income tax, it gives you a break. You pay even less income tax than the fellow who earns the same amount of money through the sweat of his brow. That is the way it goes.

We can't default on our investments. That is one way of making the investors pay. I know we can't do that. What we can do, what the federal government can do if it wishes, is to put a surtax on investment income. Rather than give them a break. Now that would be fair. Why do we have to take it out of the hides of the poor? Why do we have to take it out of the ordinary Joe? Why don't we take it out of the hands of the people who don't need it? They don't need it because if they needed it they wouldn't be saving it. Alright?

I believe that the federal government has to come to grips with this if - who owns Canada? Who really owns this country? Who owns this Province? It is not the investors. It is not the investors in Switzerland, in Japan, in Britain, in Canada or down in the United States. It is the people of Newfoundland who own this Province and nobody else owns it. I was disappointed today when we can find money to put condominiums on Marble Mountain and my constituents have nowhere to live!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: That is not right! That is wrong! I don't care how many Norwegians come in here and ski on Marble Mountain. I don't care how many come in from Switzerland. I want a place for the people in my district to live where the rain will not come down on them and they can live like they should be living. There is enough money in Canada to put that in - the problem in Canada is not with the economy. The problem in Canada is largely the way we distribute our money. We are having two classes of people in Canada -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: - those who have more than they need and those who have too little to exist on and it is getting worse. When I was growing up here there were a few merchants and the rest of us were more or less the same. A few people were very poor but most of us had very little but we had something, all much the same. Now you can easily detect the two classes in St. John's, those who have more than they need and those who haven't got enough. It is very easy to see it. You can see it in other parts of Canada as well.

I believe we are going to get to the point where it will be like New York, where you have the derelicts down there. We cannot allow Canadian society to be the same as American society. We can't do it! That is not a model for Canada, that is not a model for Newfoundland! We have to have an even society like we always had here where Jack is as good as his master, more or less anyway and there has to be more of that evenness about it. That is why it bothers me about the Marble Mountains of the world. I know it is going to bring in some income but need we build condominiums? Need we do that when people need places to live? I think that is a mistake that we've made here. Now I support the government very much but I do not support that type of action. Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to give some remarks on the Social Services Concurrence Debate. I want to say that in response to the Chairman of the committees comments about the committee - first of all I should say that the Chairman - I was going to say that he ran an excellent committee but when he started making remarks about the members I wasn't so sure whether he was at the same committee hearings that I was. We did have good meetings. They were harmonious to the extent that they were well run, I say to the Member for Trinity North. He did a good job in allowing members of the Opposition the full rein to ask the questions that they liked.

In reference to his comments about the Minister of Justice. We did not have the Minister of Justice at the meeting, I say to the Member for Trinity North and the Chairman of that committee. There was a person there who took his salary from another department so we were not even able to reduce the Minister of Justice's salary because the gentleman who was there answering questions on behalf of the Department of Justice said that he did not take his salary from those estimates and that those estimates were not even being spent. So I think to dismiss that comment about the Member for St. John's East and the Minister of Justice - but to get on to serious matters and there are a couple of issues that I want to discuss here.

I was very keen to hear the Member for St. John's Centre speak in this debate and make the comments that he did, I commend him for that. It seems that the Member for St. John's Centre is - in his political life over the course of time - taking the opposite approach of many humans in their growth and development. I remember the former Premier saying at one time that men are radicals in their twenties and they become conservative as they grow older and that if you are not radical in your teens and twenties, God help you when you are forty or fifty, how conservative you might be. It seems that the Member for St. John's Centre has taken the opposite course and started off as a Tory, a PC and conservative and moved to the Liberal Party. Now it seems after retiring from Cabinet he is adopting rather a more radical approach and radical view to the state of the world. As opposed to the Member for Fogo, he seems to be getting wiser as he gets older, and I commend that view to him.

I also share, Mr. Speaker, the knowledge that he does of the conditions that people in this Province have to live in, people in his district and in mine, which adjoin each other in St. John's. We had in the Estimates Committee, and I'm sorry the Member for St. John's Centre wasn't there for the Social Services Estimates Committee, when we were being asked to approve a budget of several hundred million dollars, and the two classes of people were very evident, if you looked down through the budget Estimates and saw that we were able to find and approve a salary for a deputy minister of in excess of $100,000. At the same time, when the minister was asked what was the fastest growing caseload for social assistance in this Province, the answer is single able-bodied individuals, a growth rate year over year, 1993-1994, of 23 per cent.

What did they receive from Social Services, what was the maximum amount approved by the minister, which the regulation says the minister has to approve, for a single individual who is so-called able-bodied? The maximum amount per month for a single individual on social assistance was $130 per month for room and board if you were living with a stranger. If you were living with a relative - any relative, brother, sister, son, daughter, cousin I suppose - $88 per month!

We always hear about the dole: How I remember the Dirty Thirties and being on the dole. The dole was six cents a day in 1930. Eighty-eight dollars per month works out to about something less than $3 a day. I'm no economist or actuary or whatever, but if you took six cents a day in 1930 and adjusted that for inflation over the last sixty years, I would question what number you would come up with. How close would you be to $88 a month if you took six cents a day in 1930, which is - six cents a day is about $1.80 a month. If you took $1.80 in 1930 dollars and extrapolated that up to 1990 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: - you would probably end up with more than $88 a day being paid in the dole days of the 1930s.

The Member for Carbonear, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, says give all your money to the poor. I would be happy to do exactly what this minister would do with his money. I would be very happy if his government was prepared to redistribute the wealth in this Province along the lines that the Member for St. John's Centre would urge upon the government. That we have in this Province two classes of people: those people who have jobs, have incomes, prospects of employment, and those people who have nothing. They have very little hope under the present economic circumstances of having something.

There is something obscene about sitting at an Estimates Committee, seeing and being asked to approve salaries for ministers, car allowances for ministers of $8,000 plus $2,000 for gas, on top of an MHA salary, regular salaries. I don't begrudge a deputy minister getting paid a decent salary. I am not opposed to that, but there is something obscene about us saying: that's okay, that's okay to pay the going rate for ministers and deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers and staff of the department and the ministers office but at the same time, to the individuals who are single, able-bodied, relief recipients being paid $88 a month.

I see the Member for St. John's South nodding and I know that the Member for St. John's South knows those people just as the Member for St. John's Centre does and just as this member does, they know that these people exist. The member referred to them as derelicts or the ones in New York as derelicts living on the street. Well I say to the Member for St. John's Centre and the Member for St. John's South: what about the people who are living in boardinghouses or kicked out of those boardinghouses at eight o'clock in the morning? Eight o'clock in the morning they have to leave the boardinghouse and they walk around all day. Walk around all day in this city because they are not allowed back into their boardinghouses until six o'clock, and they are foot weary, they are foot sore.

They get lunch wherever they can, they perhaps beg on the streets, they get in out of the weather wherever and whenever they can and then they go back to the boardinghouse at six o'clock and this government, Mr. Speaker, has nothing to offer them except $88 a month.

Now it is all very well to say we have the unemployment program and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations had a program which helped to get certain people and some people over the hump from inability to get unemployment insurance to qualifications and that may get some people through the winter, but only some, Mr. Speaker, because if it did the job, there wouldn't be a 23 per cent increase in those seeking social assistance for reasons only of unemployment on the single, able-bodied category.

The Member for St. John's Centre may be interested in knowing that the figures given to the Social Services Estimates Committee was 12,000 people. There are now 12,000 people in this Province whose only source of income is the $88 a month that they get from social services, 12,000. I find that, Mr. Speaker, to be a crime, a social crime where we ought not to rest until a solution is found for them, it has to be regarded as a crisis, a crisis of major proportions and that's also in a Province that we know is devastated by the cod moratorium, by a lack of opportunity for work and enterprise activity, and there is also a great need for the treatment of this as a crisis, in a country, the political climate of which is going against the needs of people and in favour of the needs of some international economy and international monetary policy egged on by the Reform Party whose desire it is to dismantle the protection that we have.

One of the most outstanding facts about our situation with the debt and deficit, Mr. Speaker, is that the debt was not created by social spending - not created by social spending. Now that may come as a shock to those of you who hear all the news media and the pundits and the so-called independent institutes, the C. D. Howe Institute which is a function of the big business corporations, the Fraser Institute which is another function of business corporations and the Right Wing Agenda, have everybody believing that we must dismantle the social safety net because we can't afford it.

Well, the reason we are in a deficit situation, was in fact, delved into by Statistics Canada in a report in 1992, and they showed that the responsibility for the deficit was divided up; the major two reasons for the deficits being subsidies to industry and secondly, high interest rates; high interest rates in existing debt and subsidies to industry. The social spending accounted for approximately 6 per cent; 6 per cent of the deficit was based on social spending. The bulk of the deficit, the cause of the deficit and increase in the deficit was subsidies to industry through various forms, including the tax system and the high interest rates - the unnecessarily high interest rates - which were designed to fight inflation.

Yet, when we see governments talking about the deficit, what do they do to try to control the deficit but cut out social spending. I say that this issue of the deficit is used as an excuse by governments throughout the country, including this one, as a reason not to give any more money to people who are on social assistance because they are unemployed.

Now, I know the Member for Works, Services and Transportation has no sympathy whatsoever for anybody collecting social assistance because they are able-bodied. If they are able-bodied, they should get nothing, he says. I have heard the minister say that on numerous occasions in this House, that nobody who is able-bodied should get any money, so we know the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation does not believe in giving anybody who is on social assistance for reasons only of unemployment, in other words the able-bodied, he doesn't believe in giving them anything in the way of social assistance, so we know where he stands on the issue.

We know where the Member for St. John's Centre stands on the issue. I suspect the Member for St. John's South, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, doesn't agree with that other minister, but we have serious circumstances that are not right, and it is not right for the government and the government members to perpetrate that system without regarding it as a crisis.

I want to say something in addition on the environment, another one of the set of estimates dealt with by our committee. I didn't get a chance to speak today in the House on the issue of spraying with Fenitrothion, because the PC Opposition refused to allow me to speak, and I guess with good reason. The Leader of the Opposition spent fifteen minutes asking - demanding - that the Minister of Natural Resources tell him whether he was going to spray with fenitrothion or not, never once saying whether he believed in it, or didn't believe in it, so with good reason they didn't want to hear me speak in response to the statement of the Minister of Natural Resources.

In the reply of the Official Opposition critic, he didn't say either whether he was in favour or against Fenitrothion, again with good reason, because I believe they had a little bit of a record that they weren't excited about defending.

MR. TOBIN: We supported it; I did.

MR. HARRIS: Supported fenitrothion. Well, I am glad to hear that the official position is that they support fenitrothion. They didn't really have the courage to say it today in the House, but I want to say to the minister that he has made the right decision, but I am a bit concerned because up until twenty minutes before he made his statement in the House, the minister was keeping his options open. He kept his options open until 2:45 today, even at 2:10 and 2:20 he wasn't sure what he was going to do. He is considering his option, he is considering the two -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The former Minister of Forestry, who now is more outspoken than he was as Minister of Forestry, the man who sprayed with -

AN HON. MEMBER: He sprayed with Bt.

MR. HARRIS: He sprayed with Bt, but he was considering using the stockpile that he had lined up. I know the Member for Gander wasn't considering it, because he was drawing on his experience.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: If the minister was listening, he would have heard me congratulate the minister on his decision, and he made the right decision, but what worries me, I say to the Member for Windsor - Buchans, is that up until twenty minutes before that, he was still considering his options, and in his statement itself, he was singing the praises of fenitrothion. He was saying how wonderful it was. He was saying it was licensed by the Federal Government, one of two things licensed. Well, the fact that it is licensed by the Federal Government doesn't impress me.

Most of the fish on the Grand Banks was taken by licensed vessels, I say to the Minister of Natural Resources. The fact that the Federal Government gives a license for something doesn't make it right. The minister only had his statement in draft form, but you will read it in Hansard tomorrow, I say to the Member for Fogo, the Bt for Fogo, Mr. Bt. I favour to use the Bt. Perhaps you should spray the Member for Fogo. I wonder if the minister responsible for Works, Services and Transportation would like to say a few words from that seat?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: I want to remind members on both sides of the House that this issue - and I know the Member for Fogo was very involved in it years ago, as was the former biology teacher, the Member for Gander. And the Member for Windsor - Buchans was complaining about the stock piles of fenitrothion in Millertown Junction and the fact that the then minister, Charlie Power, was about to spray it all over Central Newfoundland. Even the merest suggestion over the last few days that the Province was considering using fenitrothion brought about a flurry of protest letters, letters to the minister, to the Opposition, and to myself, trying to stop the government from even giving consideration to it.

I would have been happier with a stronger statement from the minister, instead of him singing the praises of fenitrothion, and only in the very last line indicating they were prepared only to use Bt.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I don't know if the Member for Fogo was consulted on that particular decision. Was the Member for Fogo consulted on that decision?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I suggest that the Member for Fogo read Hansard tomorrow, and he won't need to hear me; he can read about it in Hansard.

On the issue of the environment, the new Minister of Environment was at the Estimates Committee, and he received some deserved praise for changing the tone of the Cabinet, the tone of the government's approach to environmental issues, but we are still looking for the substance; we are still looking for the beef from the Minister of Environment. We are still looking for the details of what, in fact, his department is going to do to actually protect the environment and take the necessary steps to ensure that environmental protection and good environmental practices are integrated into the operations of government as a matter of policy, and not just by well-meaning volunteers who don't have the policy support of their government and department.

Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of concern in this Province over the future of health care. The future of health care in this Province, as in every Province, is under the microscope because of the changes in the commitment at the federal level to programs established as a result of the efforts over many years of convincing the Canadian public, through actions of the Saskatchewan Government, through representations in the House of Commons, and through public education, as to the importance of health care being accessible to all Canadians, regardless of their ability to pay.

The great medical care system of Canada is under threat, and it is under threat from those same forces who would seek to destroy the level of equality that we have obtained. I know the Member for St. John's Centre and myself decry the changes in our society which have the rich and the poor so far apart, and getting farther apart. One of the consequences of that, Mr. Speaker, if we are not totally vigilant, is going to be the breakdown of the health care system into a two-tier system where there is one level of services for the rich or the employed who might have access to insurance and another level of services for those who are less well off, who are unemployed, who are relying on social assistance. All of us here in this House have to commit ourselves to insuring that we don't develop in this Province a two-tier health care system.

I will be watching very carefully what members opposite say and do in their budgets and in their policies in the coming months in the issue of health care. Structural changes are inevitable, Mr. Speaker, to provide a more efficient system but let's not get caught up in structural change to make it look like something is happening and then turn around and blame those new structures for a reduction in services because they are given a reduced amount of money and expect it to do the same kind of thing. That is what we are seeing in health care today, Mr. Speaker, some action by government to pass on the responsibility to others and I can see the Minister of Finance perking up there because maybe next year or the year after - if he is still there, if the government is still there - he will be saying, `Well, the decision to reduce the health care benefits, that was made by the St. John's Health Care Corporation, not by the government. It is like the university, we give them the money and they do the job, and if they decide to cut out services, if they decide to charge certain fees, it is their decision. It is not our problem, we are only the government.'

I am watching out for that, Mr. Speaker, and I warn the Minister of Finance that my ears are perked for any suggestion of passing on the responsibility of the level of health care to health care boards, to hospitals or to service deliverers. The buck stops here, Mr. Speaker. Health is a provincial responsibility. The fact that the feds are giving up on some of their assistance does not take away the responsibility of this government to ensure that we don't have a two-tier health care system in this Province. It is starting to creep in now, the suggestions are being made. The so-called think tanks, the so-called institutes of right thinking and they are right thinking, right-wing thinking, the ones who are making suggestions about how the health care system should be rejigged. These are the ones who are representing the interests of the health care corporations, the extend-a-cares, the international corporations providing health care services, the Marriott Corporation, and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: What would you do?

MR. HARRIS: I tell the minister what I wouldn't do. I wouldn't be handing over health care to private industry to make money on it at the expense of the needs of the people. What I would do, Mr. Speaker, is join with the Member for St. John's Centre, or perhaps he would join with me. He seems to be leaning that way ever since he has left Cabinet. What was he like in Cabinet? Tell us. Was he as vociferous and as vigorous in Cabinet for the rights of the downtrodden as he is outside?

MR. BAKER: He was exactly the same.

MR. HARRIS: He must have been your only ally, I say to the Member for Gander. I am sure the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation wasn't in there fighting to increase the amount of social assistance for the able-bodied welfare recipients. I say to members that health care is one of those pillars of social security in this country. If you don't have your health and you don't have access to health care then the value of your life is diminished.

We do have other areas of health care which are not adequately looked after, and one area, I say to members, that separates the rich from the poor, or separates the employed from the unemployed, is dental care - dental care for those between the ages of twelve and twenty, or even those older than that, who have no income or low incomes. Anybody who has children or teenagers who may have poor dental records knows the cost of providing dental care when fillings are involved, or when someone has gotten to the point of requiring three or four fillings, extractions, or that type of thing.

There is a line of demarcation in the population between those who have access to good dental care and those who don't, people who have access to dental plans and people who have to provide from their own means, if they can afford it, for dental care. I would like to see something done on that line, Mr. Speaker, because that is something that also affects the overall health of people, their sense of wellbeing, their sense of self-esteem, and their ability to take full advantage of their potential in society regardless of their social origin. I think that is something that needs further consideration and attention by government.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks, I end my comments on the Social Service Estimates. Thank you very much.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to have a few words on this.

MR. REID: He only has nine minutes (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He has more than that.

MR. TOBIN: I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, I have a lot more than nine minutes. I have half-an-hour, and I may move the appropriate amendment towards -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: And I will have an hour.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that sewer system he saw over in China didn't work.

Anyway, there are a couple of issues that I want to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Is that right? I hope my people find you over there. I would have no worries about you coming back.


MR. TOBIN: My people.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Vikings?

MR. TOBIN: The Vikings, yes.

Mr. Speaker, I wish the Minister of Social Services were here, because I have a few questions that I would like to ask related to the Department of Social Services, but unlike the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who was here yesterday when she skedaddled away -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: There are some issues here, like social services, that have to be dealt with, because everyone here who represents constituents in this Province - like the Member for St. John's Centre. The Member for St. John's Centre got up here today and spoke, and I have to say that I agree with him. I don't always agree with the member, but I agreed with him today. I share the same concern for my constituents as he shares for his and that is, they should have a roof over their heads, they should be protected from the elements, it is more important than someone from the United States or Europe or anywhere else in the world getting a condominium out in Marble Mountain. I am not against Marble Mountain, I think it is good for the economy of this Province. I think it has done a great job for the economy of this Province but I think we have to look after our own people first, and the more I think about all of this and where the government's priorities are, Mr. Speaker, the more upset I get.


MR. TOBIN: The more upset I get when I think about the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, this year with a budget of $15 million -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes. We have today in the Province -

MR. EFFORD: What are you saying?

MR. TOBIN: I am saying that you couldn't deliver in Works, Services and Transportation around the Cabinet table after you tried to knife the Member for St. George's, the same as you tried to knife the Member for Twillingate when he was Minister of Fisheries, that's what I am saying. You couldn't deliver money, you have $15 million for your budget this year, Mr. Speaker, and by the time my district gets $5 million there is not much left.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).


MR. EFFORD: It makes no difference at all.

MR. TOBIN: I told the minister yesterday, Mr. Speaker, that four times I am after announcing work for my district, four times.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I don't mind the minister, Mr. Speaker, I have about $5 million worth of work going on in my district.

AN HON. MEMBER: What kind of work?

MR. TOBIN: Road work, and I haven't got enough, I need more, Mr. Speaker, I need more.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, oh! Now, Mr. Speaker, unparliamentary. Make him withdraw.

MR. TOBIN: What did he say?


MR. TOBIN: Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister lost the battle in Cabinet.

MR. EFFORD: What battle?

MR. TOBIN: What battle? The time when you were in the Cabinet, the time when he brought all the people up for the big meeting in his board room, after he went to Brian Tobin's office in Ottawa and phoned the Member for Fogo and asked him to organize a demonstration down in White Hills, then brought all the crowd back to his board room, went up to Cabinet and the Minster of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, asked the Premier in a Cabinet meeting: Who is the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, is it me or the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation?... and Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes was in his board room when - just the same as 911 - get out. The people had to leave in such a rush they couldn't take their briefcases with them, I say to the Minister of Tourism. Earle McCurdy had to find a place downtown for them to have a meeting because he got his knuckles rapped, and since he came in here in 1989 he has been trying to be the Minister of Fisheries. He would short-circuit, he knifed the Member for Twillingate every time he got a chance, trying to undermine him when he was Minister of Fisheries, and he is still trying to do it with the present minister.

Mr. Speaker, if the Premier of this Province didn't have a double standard in dealing with his ministers, he would have given him the flick on the issue, because he deserves it.


MR. TOBIN: Again, because there is no way a government can operate when you have one minister constantly trying to undermine the other minister. It cannot work, and I will predict today that the Member for Port de Grave will never be the Minister of Fisheries.

I am glad the Minister of Social Services is back, because the last time I was speaking in this House a few weeks ago we ran into a situation where a family from my district was put under the gun, was going to lose their electricity and end up with their children having to be taken from the home. Now, thank God, there was a gentleman in this city, I believe, who phoned the newspaper and put up $250 to pay the light bill, and it wasn't the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I send it out to my district every day. I have gotten requests now from Port de Grave. Dr. Paul will look after you; don't you worry.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: I'm shaking in my shoes, (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You haven't got to shake in your shoes.

MR. CAREEN: It's not Dr. Paul who will get him; it's Spaniards Bay and the people of Island Cove who are waiting for him, for what he did to them when he became minister. That is what is waiting for you. Your words and deeds will haunt you.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Tell us about the lights.

MR. TOBIN: What is that?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Tell us about the lights.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, a family down in my district was going to lose their lights, and on Thursday morning a gentleman in this city called The Evening Telegram and agreed to put up $250 so that family could stay together.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: When I was Minister of Social Services, there was nobody in this Province who had to go out and volunteer to pay a light bill for someone. The people were not hungry and since, Mr. Speaker, the people on social assistance have not even gotten an increase, that is what's going on.

MR. EFFORD: You went door to door delivering social services cheques.

MR. CAREEN: That is no different than Hogan delivering cheques in Placentia.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the Minister of Social Services that I never had to do that to get elected. No, Mr. Speaker -

MR. EFFORD: You got to deliver cheques door to door.

MR. TOBIN: When I was Minister of Social Services?

MR. EFFORD: When you were campaigning.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, I never did it, would not think on doing it, I never had to do it, I say to the Member for Port de Grave. Now, Mr. Speaker, that will tell you how warped the hon. member's mind is, to even think that people would do that. I can tell the minister, Mr. Speaker, that those who try to deliver cheques during an election campaign reap the benefit of the voters and here is living proof, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Placentia.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, I have until 5:30 p.m. and I might move an amendment and have unlimited time.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the priorities are wrong. You have the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation over there. I am not going to argue whether he is a great minister or not but I am going to tell him one thing and I say this, Mr. Speaker, in all sincerity - and I am glad Your Honour is in the Chair by the way - is that I am a bit concerned about the cutbacks to high school sport in this Province. I am very concerned about that and as an educator the former - the minister is an educator in this Province and understands what I am talking about because cutbacks in funding to high school sports in this Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. TOBIN: Where? There is hardly enough left for high school sports to even participate compared to what it used to be. This past weekend, Mr. Speaker, there were twenty teams in Marystown involved in the volleyball tournament and the team that won it was a team from Corner Brook. I am sure Your Honour might be familiar with the school in Corner Brook, I think it is called Presentation School in Corner Brook that won the All-Newfoundland Volleyball Tournament in Marystown this weekend.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, what really impressed me about this - and you don't see too much of it any more, by the way - and that is, there was a coach of the team who was, I believe, a math and a science teacher, Mr. McCormack, who came and coached the team, and did an excellent job. Super person. What impressed me the most, Mr. Speaker, was that the phys. ed. teacher, the gym teacher in that school, travelled all the way to Marystown to support his team. You don't see a lot of that any more. Not only that, the phys. ed. teacher in that school, Mr. Buckle I think is his name, is responsible for raising all of the money so that the teams can travel.

AN HON. MEMBER: This does not happen all the time.

MR. TOBIN: No, it doesn't happen all the time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: The minister is missing the point again. This is the interest the man has in the sport, he travels with his team, he raises the money. The point is that this government is not providing to high school sports in this Province any more the way that it should do. That is the point I'm raising, that is the point I'm making, Mr. Speaker.

The other thing I have to say is that I never met a finer group of children, of ball players, than that team from Corner Brook. I would say to Your Honour - I don't know if it is your district or not, the Presentation school in Corner Brook. If it is in your district you should be extremely proud because they were a credit to the City of Corner Brook. I had the opportunity to have two of them billeted at my home, and I can tell you that I will never - almost impossible - to experience billeting children like the two who we had in our home, and I'm sure that other people had. The bottom line is that the experience that we had with billets this weekend was one that would encourage people to continue to support it.

Again, the point that I'm making is that while the teachers are dedicated to coaching, while the parents are doing everything they can be doing, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, a former educator in this Province, continues to slash the budget for the high school sports in this Province. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, who is responsible I believe for that program -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there is not much left to touch, I say to the minister. It has been cut so much in six years there is nothing left to cut. When my colleague from Grand Bank was minister, he was going around to the schools with encouragement, and providing assistance to high school sports. That is what is unfortunate, and that is what is happening.

AN HON. MEMBER: Brought in athletic grants and scholarships.

MR. TOBIN: That is all gone now. What about the grants and scholarships that were brought in, I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation? Are they still in existence? No wonder we are losing some of our great athletes in high schools, who are going to universities on the mainland because of the fact they are being attracted by the scholarship program, that this government is continuing to do everything in their power to impair progress for students in this Province who want to excel in sport, or in academics as far as that goes.

I would say that it is unfortunate that people with an educational background, who are teachers, such as the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, such as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, old weeping willow, when he cried on the front steps of the building because he couldn't get more, and they were getting 4 per cent, and he cut their salary ever since - no wonder the students in this Province are upset to the extent that they are, when they are let down because teachers and students in this Province look up to the people who are involved in the educational field to support them, but you haven't done it, Minister. You have been a dismal failure to the school system in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, how come the same benefits and the same funding for high school sports, some of it that was brought in by my colleague from Grand Bank, is not in the budgets today? Why do you constantly try to attack the educational system? If it wasn't for the volunteers today, and the teachers, and the other groups who are out there trying to put together sports programs, raising money - every weekend I go home, my children are home trying to sell something for the school system. It is all over the Province. There was some of it before, I admit that, but never as bad as what it has been since you became Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: It's really good now. Yes, indeed it is really good.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: More travelling by the ministers and the Premier.

MR. TOBIN: For what it cost the Premier to make his trips to Vancouver and Montreal, that was charged out to EDGE, would send high school students from one end of this Province to the other. I have a child who is involved in sports in high school and I can tell you it is educational in itself, Mr. Speaker, to have him travel from school to school, to be down in Wesleyville playing volleyball, which is in, I think, the district of the Member for Bonavista North, to be in Grand Falls or in Gander involved in basketball or volleyball.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt about that. I do not profess to have any great athletic skills.

AN HON. MEMBER: Carried.

MR. TOBIN: Far from carried.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Speak to that. Ask him how he tore up his knees when all he ever was, was a water boy?


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Murphy. If he had played something he would have been something.

MR. TOBIN: What does that have to do with being a water boy?

Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's South, it is my understanding, was a fairly good athletic in his day.

MR. CAREEN: They used to use him for second base.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has the knees to prove it.

MR. CAREEN: They would slide into him.

MR. TOBIN: I think, and I really believe, that government should be showing more support to the youth of this Province than they have been. They are in my opinion a neglected group when it comes to priority by government. They are not considered to be very important when the Budget system in this Province is put together.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Probably she will. So what?

Mr. Speaker, I say to the Member for Port de Grave that I have been in the back benches before, and enjoyed it immensely.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: And you will enjoy it a lot more now.

MR. TOBIN: There is no doubt about that. Make no mistake about that, Mr. Speaker. Myself and the Member for St. John's Centre will have it knocked. I wonder who will get recognized the most?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: I would like to move the following amendments -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: But I would say to the Minister - the Minister of Education and Training is not here, I believe - the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation in particular, try to do something to support high school sports, greater that you are doing in this Province, try to do something for the youth, because they are, after all, very important, Mr. Speaker; they are very, very, important in our society today and I think that much more can be done than is being done. Financial means is one thing, but encouragement, encouragement, Mr. Speaker, is another issue.

For example, when a group from Corner Brook wins a provincial tournament, Mr. Speaker, why doesn't the minister responsible send them a little letter and congratulate the team members, that type of encouragement, but he doesn't even know they exist. Mr. Speaker, I do it for my own district but somebody should be doing it from some place else. Because this past weekend, in Marystown, to watch that volleyball tournament, twenty teams from around this Province, and the final championship was between two Corner Brook teams, but to see those students out there, no matter where they were from, to play the way they played, the sportsmanship they displayed, and Mr. Speaker, this government couldn't consider anything about it.

Mr. Speaker, if we only had a Baker in this House with the conscience that the Baker in the House of Commons has, we would be much better off.

MR. CAREEN: We would have more dough.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: When I - Mr. Speaker, I would be sitting down long ago if it weren't for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Don't get on him again, leave him alone boy, he is quiet over there. Look, you have him settled right down, you have the wind knocked right out of him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: How much are we over, about a million?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would say that the Budget under the headings that were introduced today, the various departments, Mr. Speaker, shows very clearly that the ministers couldn't care what goes on in Newfoundland; they are not concerned about the poor, the sick, the suffering, they are not concerned about the children and the aged, they are only concerned about travelling this globe, spending taxpayers' money, enjoying life for the few months they have left in government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Does the House wish to concur in the Estimates of the Social Services Committee? All in favour of the motion, `aye.'


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


MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.

The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to inform the House that tomorrow we will be carrying on with the Concurrence Debates of the final Committee and we look forward to rigorous debate as, of course, we have had today. I would like to point out to hon. members as well, that I think this will be the last day that the Leader of the Opposition will be in the House. I think all hon. members should be aware of that.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, and the House do now adjourn.

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