May 11, 1995               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLII  No. 22

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, much has been said recently about the decision by Cabinet to award a contract to Trans City Holdings for the building of three health care centres in Burgeo, Port Saunders and St. Lawrence. Because of a letter that I received from the hon. Member for St. John's Centre, in which he asked for answers that I could not readily provide at the time I asked the Government House Leader and the Assistant Clerk of Cabinet, to address each of the questions raised so that I could report back to the hon. member, who was a member of Cabinet at the time the decision was taken to award the contract to Trans City.

The attention this matter has received, and the practice of the Opposition to repeat totally unfounded allegations, make it desirable that I not only convey this information to the former minister who asked for it, but in addition make it public, and I do so today.

The assessment and record of the Cabinet decision make several things clear:

1. This build lease proposal approach did not become into being for the health care centres, as popular comment would have you believe. It was being implemented to speed up governmental capital works at the onset of the recession in order to generate economic activity and to achieve more suitable public buildings at lower cost, and was not in any manner focused on health care centres. I am not even sure they were part of the first consideration.

2. The proposal call for the three health care centres was ineptly handled by government in that confusion was created by failing to give adequate direction at the time of calling for proposals and by using the word "tender" in some instances and "proposal" in others.

3. The decision to award the contract to Trans City was made solely on the basis of the best deal for the taxpayer in terms of both cost and benefit and for no other reason.

4. All Cabinet ministers had all the information available at the time of making the decision and nothing was withheld from anybody.

5. The additional appendix, that has been so much the topic of conversation, appears to be an opinion drafted by a civil servant, that was probably intended to be a suggested position for the committee but which the members of the committee state categorically did not reflect their views, and which in any event contained no information that was not already available to and discussed in Cabinet.

6. In the end the people of this Province benefited by getting the best durable quality facilities at the best overall cost.

Mr. Speaker, it will be clear to anyone who takes the time to read the report that in taking the decision it did, government acted appropriately and that all who were involved in making the decision had access to all of the information available enabling them to make a decision that was in the best interest of the people of this Province. That, Mr. Speaker, was and is the main concern of any decision taken by this government.

If there is anything for which the government should apologize it would be for the degree of ineptness with which the proposal call aspect of the process was handled. That was recognized in October, 1991 and direction was given to ensure avoiding such results in future proposal calls. I am totally satisfied, Mr. Speaker, that it is only that aspect of the entire matter about which I have any regrets whatsoever.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are many things for which this Premier should apologize starting with breaking the law as has been found by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland. The Premier should apologize for incurring an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers of this Province, for absolutely no benefit for unemployed workers or patients of many millions of dollars including the $3 million ordered by the Supreme Court the government pay to the unsuccessful bidders and, Mr. Speaker, what a farce. The Premier today presents as an investigative report a document produced by the suspended Minister of Justice, who holds his office at the pleasure of the Premier and a civil servant holding his position at the pleasure of the Premier.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier says he should simply apologize for ineptly handling this affair. Well, I suggest he apologize for corruptly handling this affair.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is not allowed to accuse another member of corruption and I ask her to withdraw the remark.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I withdraw any language which contravenes the rules of parliamentary debate.

Mr. Speaker, to continue: The Premier, essentially in this document, trumped up by the suspended Minister of Justice, is accusing the Member for St. John's Centre and other former Cabinet ministers -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MS. VERGE: - of lying.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have questions for the Premier about his preposterous conspiracy theory about the Cabinet paper signed by the Minister of Finance dated October 31, 1991. I would like to begin by asking the Premier if he got his idea for the conspiracy theory from the O.J. Simpson trial? Yesterday, the Premier began to advance the theory that he and the Minister of Finance were framed by some poor unknown civil servant, the way O.J. Simpson's lawyers are claiming that poor O.J. was framed by the police. Mr. Speaker, the Premier is trying to say that some civil servant fabricated the Cabinet paper, that some civil servant tricked the Minister of Finance into signing it, that some civil servant then imprinted the document with an official stamp purloined from the Executive Council office and then, that this amazing civil servant planted the incriminating document - planted it - in three places; in the Cabinet files of the Premier himself, which the Premier disclosed for the first time yesterday and then in the Cabinet files of Treasury Board and Works, Services and Transportation. Now, I ask the Premier, how did this superhuman unnamed civil servant possibly manage to get a judgement out of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland ruling that the government broke the Public Tender Act?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I know it won't make any difference to the Leader of the Opposition because she is going to say what she thinks will further her position on it in any event but the simple fact is, not only did I not put forward a conspiracy theory, I specifically denied it. I have no basis whatsoever for suggesting any such thing and I said so yesterday.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the Premier to admit that there is a simple and logical explanation for the existence of that Cabinet paper, namely, that the Minister of Finance wrote it or had a senior official write it under his direction, that the Minister of Finance signed it, and that the Minister of Finance was simply summarizing the advice and warnings of John Cummings and other senior public servants and was simply giving the only sensible recommendation, namely, that the contracts be re-tendered. Won't the Premier admit that the paper's warnings came true and its conclusions were validated in the Supreme Court decision? Won't the Premier confess that that paper, if anything, understated the legal problems? The paper said proceeding to give the projects to Trans City would violate the spirit of the Public Tender Act and would run the risk of legal challenge when the court in fact ruled that the Trans City deal violated the letter of the law? Won't the Premier admit to all that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, of course not. It is all preposterous wishful thinking on the part of the Leader of the Opposition. I know that the Opposition has nothing to offer to the people of this Province by way of substance so they have to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Once that becomes clear to the people of the Province they have to try to make up for it, and this is the way the Leader has chosen to do it. That comes as no surprise to me.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has told me that what was in that document was not his opinion; he never ever gave any direction to write it; he never ever gave any direction to anybody to write it. The other members of the Committee to whom I have spoken have indicated to me they never saw it; it was not their opinion, it didn't reflect the view. And I know from reading, myself, that document and the opinion of Mr. Cummings that it is not a summary of Mr. Cummings' opinion. It is directly the opposite of Mr. Cummings' opinion. So, clearly, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board could not have given a direction to write it as a summary of Mr. Cummings' opinion.

I can only ask the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to state for himself what his view of it was. I can't speak for it, but I can say to you that he has told me these things, and I can tell this House and the entire Province one thing, I have absolute and total confidence in every word that hon. member has said to me. I've known him for a great many years and I've never known him to be anything other than totally and completely honest, totally and completely frank, and totally and completely dedicated. I accept without question every word he said.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask the Premier: Isn't the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board dedicated in a consistent effort to cover up for you?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Starting, I guess, back in 1992 when these questions were asked, again last Fall when the court case was on, many questions asked, the former Leader of the Opposition also asked the same questions, and the answers have always been the same.

Everybody understands what process we went through. It was a logical process, different from some processes that had been used previously, and we recognize that there were problems with the process. In the final analysis, we got the best financial deal for this Province, and we also said that if we were to take that route again, we would change the early stages of the process to avoid the problems that we ran into in terms of analysis, and that is a sensible process to take.

Mr. Speaker, that was always my attitude. My advice was always that we should proceed with this process. The only consideration, aside from the fact that we did a public call for proposals, and an analysis was done, my greatest consideration at that point was that we get a deal that was the best financial deal for the Province, and we did that and we have these three hospitals.

I would like to remind members opposite that this great concern for the Public Tender Act comes rather late to the Leader of the Opposition, who sat in Cabinet, who authorized an expenditure of $24 million without public tender, simply gave the contract to somebody, no advertising, no nothing, and we end up with a hole in the ground and no jobs. Her concern comes rather late.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier.

How can the Premier say with a straight face and expect anyone in this Province to believe him when he says that the Trans City deal was the best for the people of this Province, when the Supreme Court has ruled that in giving the contract to Trans City the government broke the law, and the court has ordered the government to pay about $3 million of scarce taxpayers' money in damages to the unsuccessful bidders?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the court has not ordered the government to pay $3 million in damages. There is a claim for damages. The court has not ordered the government to pay $3 million, in damages. The whole matter is on appeal before the court, and I will let the court aspect of it rest there until the appeal is completed.

Let me also say, Mr. Speaker, it is entirely financially possible that even if we did have to pay $3 million or $13 million, it could still be the best of the alternatives available, so the two have no relationship whatsoever.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, more fairy stories from the Premier - yesterday the story about the alien civil servant planting the documents, today the preposterous claim of saving the taxpayers money.

I have a question for the Government House Leader, the suspended Minister of Justice. It is a question about his personal role in manipulating the electoral boundary revision process. Now the government appointed a five-member independent electoral boundaries commission Chaired by Mr. Justice John Mahoney of the Newfoundland Supreme Court, Court of Appeal. The government spent some $400,000 of taxpayers' money for the Mahoney Commission to do its work. After the government got the Mahoney Commission's report - this document here - calling for forty-four districts, and suggesting the House of Assembly make amendments to allow for a maximum total of forty-five districts, did the Government House Leader, did the suspended Minister of Justice, ask Mr. Justice Mahoney to come up with yet another proposal for a greater number of districts, more than forty-five? And did Mr. Justice Mahoney refuse?


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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me first of all simply note for the record that the alien - the hon. lady has obviously been watching either too much O. J. Simpson or too much soap opera - but the alien who raised this conspiracy theory was one of her fellow members over there during Question Period yesterday; I just wanted to say that. The hon. lady obviously subscribes to the school of political thought that says if you tell a big enough lie often enough, people will believe it is the truth.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think it applies to both sides of the court; I don't think the hon. Government House Leader can accuse the hon. member of belonging to any school that propagates lies, so I would ask the hon. member to withdraw it.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I did not accuse the hon. member of telling a lie.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has to withdraw. I ask the hon. member, if your intent was to infer that the hon. -


MR. SPEAKER: What I heard, and I stand to be corrected, was that you said the hon. member belonged to a school of -

MR. TOBIN: Of thought.

MR. SPEAKER: Of thought - thank you - the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West. But it struck me as being unparliamentary and I would ask the hon. member to withdraw it.

MR. ROBERTS: If Your Honour judges it unparliamentary, of course I withdraw it, no question at all.

Now, as I was saying, the question of the electoral boundaries thing, the hon. lady, when she got through her pejorative and accusatory comments, asked if I had asked Mr. Justice Mahoney to recommend an increased House of Assembly? Her question was as convoluted as the logic, and as twisted as the thinking that underlay that logic. I have not asked Mr. Justice Mahoney to do anything by means of increasing or decreasing anything. Mr. Justice Mahoney and his fellow commissioners produced -

AN HON. MEMBER: No wonder you are in trouble; tell the truth.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we hear hon. members opposite saying: Tell the truth. I am. I wish they had the courage to stand in the House and make these remarks, given Your Honour - and I am looking right at the gentleman from Baie Verte - White Bay, who feels that if he makes a nuisance of himself often enough he will gain some attention.

Now, Your Honour, let me come back. Mr. Justice Mahoney and his fellow commissioners produced a proposal. That is not required by the legislation, but it is quite consistent with the way in which the two predecessor commissions have approached their work. The Cabinet requested me, on behalf of the Ministry, to make a presentation to the commission with respect to that proposal, and I did so. It was a written presentation, so we know precisely what was to be said. The commission then produced their report, and the report was tabled here in the House.

The government moved to implement that report, and will debate this at some length, I would hope, in the next little while, but the implementation of that report required a House of at least forty-eight seats. Now I cannot demonstrate that during Question Period because I do not have time enough, but when the time comes I will demonstrate even to the satisfaction of the hon. lady, assuming she can get her numbers right for once. We know she has trouble getting her numbers right, but with the help of the gentleman for Ferryland perhaps she will. Now, if she has some specific question, Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to try to answer it.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will be very clear and I would caution the suspended Minister of Justice to be very clear and precise in his answer. When the government got this report of the Mahoney commission, this report calling for forty-four districts and suggesting House of Assembly amendments to allow for a maximum total of forty-five districts, did the suspended Minister of Justice go to Mr. Justice Mahoney and ask that judge to come up with another proposal calling for a number of districts greater than forty-five, and did Mr. Justice Mahoney say no? Did the minister then go judge-shopping until he found a judge to do his bidding?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. lady may be referring - may be, I don't know. She has a bit of tavern gossip. Let me try to set her straight. After we got the commission's report, the one which she is holding there, and after we tabled it I took lunch with Judge Mahoney -


MR. ROBERTS: I don't see what is wrong with that. I took lunch with Judge Mahoney. In fact, the public chest paid for lunch with Judge Mahoney, his lunch and mine. I said something like this: John - I called him John. He and I have known each other for thirty years. He calls me Ed, I call him John. I said: John, we want to implement this report. The problem is the report is two reports. It says a House of forty-four, and then it says plus Labrador plus a number of other seats which are well beyond the 10 per cent tolerance. I said: I have to come to grips with this. Would you be prepared to help us? He thought about it a bit and he said no. There is no more mystery than that. What is the mystery with that?

Your Honour, I don't like revealing a private conversation. I will call Judge Mahoney and explain what happened. Asked a direct question by the hon. lady I have no trouble making a direct answer. There is nothing dishonourable, dishonest, or reprehensible.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, hon. gentleman opposite should learn that if they open their minds and close their mouths they will learn more than if they go the other way around, which is what they are doing. When we come to debate this matter in the House, as I hope we will shortly, I would be delighted to go through this in whatever detail the rules will permit so as to help to lay out the full story. I don't expect to convince hon. members opposite, I don't expect too, but I do say that any fair-minded person looking -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the member has gone a bit beyond the question.

MR. ROBERTS: So soon. Thank you, Your Honour.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. member has a supplementary I will....

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Lately the Newfoundland Dockyard - and by lately I mean within the last year - has been going through difficult times, mainly because of the private hidden agenda of Marine Atlantic to scrap that yard and throw hundreds of Newfoundlanders in this region of the Province out of work. My question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is this. What representations have your department or government made on behalf of the Newfoundland Dockyard and on behalf of the hundreds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are employed at that Dockyard?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, this is something of great concern to the government. We have an investment, as the hon. member knows, the previous government has an $8 million investment there. I know that the member for the area has met on at least one occasion with the federal minister. I've met with the MP for the area on this matter as well. I've also met with the union on this matter.

MR. TOBIN: Who is the MP?

MR. FUREY: The hon. Member for St. John's West, Ms. Payne. I've met with her. She is very concerned, as are many people concerned about it. The hon. member knows that this is a federal government Crown corporation. It is not something that the Province has a direct involvement in. However, we are looking at other areas - in fact, I had a meeting this morning - looking at other areas and other opportunities for the Dockyard. I'm not at liberty to make those public at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The federal government is intentionally, through its Crown corporation Marine Atlantic, about to scuttle the Newfoundland Dockyard. Mark it down. Last year they scuttled the contract, a bidding process that the Newfoundland Dockyard was positioned to win in Peru; recently on the radio, the CEO of Marine Atlantic indicated that Newfoundland Dockyard is not allowed to bid on contracts in Ontario, not allowed to bid on contracts in Quebec and is only allowed to bid on contracts in Atlantic Canada.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the direct involvement that this government should be taking is to stand up for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and I ask the minister: when will he do that, when will you stand up and make representations and hold the federal government accountable for what they are doing to the Newfoundland Dockyard and the hundreds of workers who will be thrown out of their place of employment within the next few months?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of what the hon. member said. There is no question that the federal government has a responsibility through Marine Atlantic to direct as much work as possible into the dockyard. There is no question as well that the equipment in that yard is antiquated, it is thirty and forty years old and it ought to be recapitalized if in fact, Mr. Speaker, the agenda is to continue with the dockyard and give it a chance.

What I am told is that they want to move towards privatization; they have tried this a number of times, we have tried it at the Marystown Shipyard. There are no takers of substance I am told. I think the hon. member makes a good point. The federal government should be very clear with the people of the dockyard; either put the money in it, recapitalize it and direct the work from the Marine Atlantic into the yard or be honest enough to close it.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what is very clear to me is that this government is not standing up to the federal government in whatever happens in this Province, the dockyard is only one example and that is what is very clear to me.

Now let me ask the minister this: Is he aware of the statements made by Mr. Morrison, the President of the Newfoundland Dockyard, where he was asked specifically: is there a possibility that this dockyard will be dismantled? Yes, there is he said, and in the same breath he was asked: are you bidding on any other work?... well, we are trying to bid on some Hibernia work. Is he aware of that, and how does a dockyard on one hand, go after work and bid for work when the CEO of the company at the same time is saying, there is a distinct possibility of dismantling it? Is he aware of that and, what is he, as Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology going to do about it on behalf of the hundreds of people in this Province who will be thrown out on their backsides?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of some statements, I am not aware of every statement that the CEO makes on behalf of Marine Atlantic or any of its subsidiaries. My statement is quite clear; they should be very clear to the people, to the workforce and to the dockyard generally. Either recapitalize it, get rid of the antiquated equipment, put it in a position where it is first class state of the art, and they can bid on contracts around the world or be honest enough to tell people, we can't privatize it, there are no takers and we are going to move to divest and close it.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will direct my question to the Minister of Health.

Since 1992, we have seen a drastic decline in government's commitment to provide dental services for children twelve years old and under, and since that time we have seen a drop in government's commitment from $7.1 million down to $4.8 million, a 32 per cent decrease since 1992.

Now this year alone, your department has slashed another half-million dollars from the dental services budget. Will the minister tell this House where the cuts are going to occur in the program this year?

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

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

Some of the figures that the hon. member quotes are not quite accurate. The factual information is that at this year's level there will still be $5.2 million going into the Child's Dental Health Program. There has been some reduction over the past number of years in terms of the funding we have put into the direct dental services if you will, in the dentist's office, but I should also remind the hon. member that we have taken some other initiatives that we anticipate will more than offset any negative impact that that will have.

One of the things we have started this year is a fluoride mouth-rinse program into the schools such that we will be able to catch, hopefully, some of the negative aspects of dental health caused by improper eating and that sort of thing and things that normally happen with young children, catch it at an earlier stage, so that they won't have to go to the dentist. So while we take money from one aspect of the dental program we put money into another aspect of prevention, and health care today as the hon. member would probably know is, more and more being focused toward the wellness model of health, not the illness model.

We talk more these days in terms of prevention and education and that sort of thing as opposed to trying to cure something that in the first instance, if we didn't get ourselves involved in it, we wouldn't have to deal with it. We have illnesses that we cannot cure but in the first instance we can prevent if we do the proper things, and education and prevention is the way to go and education and prevention is one of the aspects of the Child Dental Health Program.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister didn't answer my question. I asked him: where they are going to make the cuts in the program this year from the 5.3 down to 4.8? There are regular check-ups every six months. Is the minister going to have them now every twelve months? Is that going to improve the dental health of children in this Province? I asked the minister for an answer but he didn't give it. He avoided that. I am sure the minister is aware that MCP only pays a portion of the regular fee for many procedures. For example, an extraction is $41 and MCP only reimburses the dentist for $24.00 out of that fee and the dentist must collect the rest from the parents or not collect it all.

Now, many practices are operating on overheads of 50 or 60 per cent and higher. That is only equivalent to what MCP pays. I ask the minister: Is it his intention, and his department's now, to completely eliminate a dental program for children in the future?

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

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

It is not our intention to eliminate the child dental health program. If that were our intention there would not be $5.2 million in the Budget for it this year, so I think the answer to the question is quite evident in the Budget.

To answer the other aspect of the question, one of the areas that we are dialoguing with and collaborating on with the Newfoundland Dental Association is just the question of where they think it is most appropriate to make adjustments in the program. The hon. member wants to talk about things we are cutting out. We are not cutting out. We are making appropriate adjustments in certain services so that we can dedicate resources in a more appropriate way in other areas, so as we talk to the Newfoundland Dental Association about these things their input is very much valued and very much a part or the process.

I would remind him also that he is right, the program never did cover the full cost of getting a filling or that type of thing. Dentists have the right and the ability to top up and they have been doing it regularly for many years. That is nothing new and it is no different from what has been going on for many, many years in the child dental program, and in the dental program generally.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If we are going to follow the minister's logic we have gone from over $7 million now down to about $5 million, if that is going to improve the dental health of children in this Province I guess the minister will eliminate it, and immensely improve the dental health if that is his logic.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I can't see how stripping a program is going to improve dental health. Now, over the years, this program has been very successful, not only in improving the oral health of children in this Province but also in the recruitment and the retention of dentists in rural practices in this Province.

Now, I ask the minister: Is he concerned that this erosion in this program over the past three years is going to have a detrimental effect on the` future oral health of children in this Province and is going to be a severe hinderance to the retention of dentists in rural and less populated areas of this Province?

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

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

The effect that it might have on dentists' practices and on children's health is somewhat two different things, but let me remind the hon. member - let me inform the hon. member, and this House, of some of the good things that preventative actions taken by this government have caused to happen. As a result of the program we have had in place for so many years we no longer need exactly the same level of service, and the same thing applies to other things. That is why, when I visited a hospital in Northern Newfoundland last fall I was told by the medical director that twenty years ago we always had two wards filled up with children with whooping cough and measles in the fall. He commenced to say that thanks to government's immunization programs we hardly ever see a child for these reasons in hospitals now.

What has happened in the health care sector is that as a result of smart spending of scarce resources by this government we have brought in immunization and preventive programs that have required less necessity for a larger global budget for programs per se.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, my question is to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, most of us last Saturday learned through The Evening Telegram that Argentia was dropped from the pre-qualifying list at Hibernia. The matter was addressed here briefly on Tuesday. I am asking the Premier today, Mr. Speaker, did he meet last week with the Hibernia officials and agree to the dropping of Argentia from the pre-qualifying list? And if he did agree to Argentia being dropped, did it not weaken the letter that went from officials of ITT this week asking for a full review of the pre-qualifying tenders?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I didn't meet but it is not enough to say that. That is a truthful and complete answer. I have received a telephone call from Mr. Ken Hull of -


PREMIER WELLS: If the members are interested in knowing the full explanation I am quite prepared to do it but if they just want to natter on, I am quite prepared to sit down, too, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I had a phone call from Mr. Hull - and I have forgotten when it was, it was probably Thursday or Friday. I have forgotten when it was - and he said to me: I wanted to advise you that we are now prepared to - we are now going to make public tomorrow, I thought he said when he called me. So I received the telephone advice whatever was the day before.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Alright, whatever it was. He said, We will be making a statement tomorrow indicating that we have considered all eight applicants and I have to tell you that we are proceeding with four. We have qualified four of the applicants. I asked: Would you tell me what four were accepted for consideration and what four were not? He told me - I think there were three separate proposals in St. John's Harbour and one in Bay Bulls that was pre-qualified to make proposals. Then he said - there was another one I think in St. John's Harbour, another one or two, one at least in St. John's Harbour, Argentia and there might have been - Bull Arm and I think the other one may have been St. John's Harbour, too. So I think there were two in St. John's Harbour, one in Argentia, one in Bull Arm that were rejected. I asked: Would you mind telling me why they were rejected? He said, `No, and he went over all of them and explained why they felt they could not propose. I said: I appreciate your calling and telling me in advance. I give no approval or rejection. I simply thanked him for calling me and advising me in advance.

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

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible) audited financial statements of Memorial University Pension Plan ended March 31, 1994. (Inaudible).


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a petition signed by 194 residents of Green Bay district. The prayer of the petition is as follows; A petition to the House of Assembly:

Whereas our communities have been in Green Bay district for many years; and whereas a recent government proposal would see some of our communities assigned to Baie Verte district;, therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the hon. House of Assembly not to entertain or approve any proposal that would see our communities removed from Green Bay district.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Wells Government tabled its fourth proposal to change the Province's electoral boundaries. First it set up an independent commission which came back with a forty-seat proposal. The Liberal caucus did not like that so the government sent the commission on the road again. The commission then made a forty-four seat proposal but the Liberals did not like that one either. Then, just before Christmas, Mr. Speaker, a government official briefed us on a forty-eight seat House of Assembly which would have seen Green Bay changed to the district of Green Bay - Buchans. This meant losing Sheppardville, King's Point, Rattling Brook, Harry's Harbour, Jackson's Cove, Little Bay and Beachside, in the Baie Verte district and picking up Badger, Buchans and a small chunk of what was the former town of Windsor.

Then, Mr. Speaker, after Christmas Judge Noel was given a mandate to draw up the boundaries for a forty-eight seat House of Assembly. I expected his proposal would be reflective of the briefing that we received before Christmas. However, in my case, this latest fourth proposal sees the creation of a new district, Windsor - Springdale. Except for Sheppardville, the same communities are dropped from the current Green Bay district and almost all of the former town of Windsor is added. This time, Badger and Buchans are lumped in with Grand Falls in a new district called Grand Falls - Buchans.

Mr. Speaker, this petition is from residents of Green Bay who don't want to be put in with Baie Verte and other residents who don't want their friends and neighbours to be put in with Baie Verte. The communities in the King's Point to Harry's Harbour area and in the Little Bay - Beachside area have been in Green Bay for as long as I can remember. They have a community of interest whose largest local service centre is Springdale, not Baie Verte. They have nothing against Baie Verte, but to get there you have to go out to the Trans-Canada Highway, drive west for twenty minutes, and then turn off onto the Baie Verte Peninsula highway. Simply put, Baie Verte is a separate political and economic unit. It even occupies its own peninsula on the map of Newfoundland.

Similarly, while I yet haven't heard from people in the former town of Windsor, I'm sure many of them are not keen on being put in with Green Bay, a coastal seat. This is especially so in light of the time and money spent to amalgamate Windsor and Grand Falls as one municipality. Therefore, I would ask the Liberal Government to consider carefully what they are going to do. This makes four times they have treated the voters like pawns in the drawing and re-drawing of the political map. If this government goes ahead with this proposal, then the only thing I can advise people in Green Bay who are being dropped, or the people in Grand Falls - Windsor who are being split up again, is that they vote against the Liberal Party in the next election.

For my part, I regret losing a number of towns that I previously served. Gaining Windsor is something that I can only regard as a political challenge. I've got a lot of new doors to knock on, starting this summer, in all likelihood. To any citizen who doesn't like the idea of the district of Windsor - Springdale, I can only say: Send me your petitions and I will present them here in this House of Assembly. As I stated earlier, if this doesn't stop the Liberal government you still have the option of voting them out in the next election. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to stand and support the petition presented by my colleague, the Member for Green Bay. The request of the petition that has been brought to the House today by the Member for Green Bay on behalf of his constituents, I think speaks volumes.

The government put in place in this Province a system. It put in place Mr. Justice Mahoney and other members, I believe a five-person committee, to go across this Province and to seek out and ask for input, to have public input, as to what they think or what they believe the changes should be. That process was put in place and that process worked quite well, I might say. That process was doing quite well.

MS. VERGE: How much did it cost?

MR. TOBIN: That is right. At a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, if not in the millions by the time it is all brought back. The government came in here with this big announcement as to how it was going to reduce it back to forty seats, wanted the public to know of all the money it was going to save by reducing it back to forty seats. Mr. Speaker, it went to a vote in this Assembly and the forty-seat proposal was what was voted upon. So in the midst of all that, and the public hearings and people having input, the government decided they didn't like what was taking place, so they got the Minister of Justice and packed his suitcase and sent him off to Clarenville to make a proposal to change it then to forty-four seats.

When all of that took place -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) directed (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Directive, Mr. Speaker, a directive. I would suspect that all the copies weren't shredded. I would suspect there are still some copies of the Cabinet paper around. They probably weren't all shredded. What happened then when they didn't get their way? After the public input and government didn't get its way in what it wanted, it decided it was going to change it again. They wanted forty-eight seats.

Today, in this House, we had a shameful admission from the Government House Leader that he again tried to get Mr. Justice Mahoney to participate in basically what was a scam. Mr. Mahoney said: No, I'm not having anything else to do with it. You've given me a mandate, I went out and lived up to the mandate, I brought back the recommendations, and no. Mr. Justice Mahoney, Mr. Speaker, of the Supreme Court was not about to be used further by this minister, I would suspect. So I hope all the members opposite -

MR. SULLIVAN: Even though he called him John.

MR. TOBIN: Pardon?

MR. SULLIVAN: Even though he called him John.

MR. TOBIN: Well, I wouldn't expect him to call him `Loyola' if his name is John.

Mr. Speaker, what is happening here is that the minister has decided to participate fully and to involve the government and the Cabinet fully into one of the greatest gerrymandering systems we have every seen in this Province; that's what has happened.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: The Member for Green Bay - his constituents, who had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Justice Mahoney's commission, had the opportunity to make their calls, were totally ignored because all of that was basically thrown away. Then they go to a retired judge, a fine gentleman - I don't know him, I understand he is a fine gentleman - a retired judge who is also doing work for the government in other areas -

MR. SULLIVAN: Who is that?

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Justice Noel.

MR. SULLIVAN: But he asked someone else before that, you know. They said no, too; didn't you know that?

MR. TOBIN: He shopped around, judge shopping.

Mr. Speaker, what we have here - and I hope the members from the districts that are going to be affected, like the Members for Fortune - Hermitage and Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir, like the Members for Fogo and Twillingate, and Stephenville, and Port au Port, and St. George's, like the Members for Carbonear and Harbour Grace -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I support the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, if there was either truth or substance in anything said by my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, I would reply to it, but as there was not, I won't.

What I would say to my friend, the Member for Green Bay is that I think I can understand the concerns he enunciated on behalf of his constituents. I would be delighted to address those during what I suspect will be a very long and perhaps a very heated debate if indeed the government decides to proceed with an electoral boundaries bill during this session of the House. Whether or not we do is a matter that has not yet been decided, but I say to my friend, the Member for Green Bay that he and I can discuss the issue then at the appropriate time in an appropriate way.

I say to my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West that I enjoy his theatre; I enjoy his theatrics. I enjoy his comical theatrics, and I would encourage him to do more of them, because given the calibre of most of the speeches on his side, his are one significant improvement; so I encourage him to go at it again, and I look forward to the next one.

Thank you, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West have leave of the House?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, of course not.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, it is not leave of the House he needs; it is leave of the senses he has.

Your Honour, would you be good enough, please, to call motion No. 1, the Budget Debate. My friend, the Member for Grand Bank was flaying us hip and thigh when we adjourned, and I assume he will carry on flaying us as before, and we look forward to that with pleasure. I say to him, if I leave it is not because of his speech. I have to attend a meeting for a little while, but I shall be back and I look forward to reading his remarks because they are always witty and to the point.

Motion No. 1, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1, the Budget Debate. The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I want to say from the outset to the Government House Leader that he can leave with comfort, that he will not be viciously attacked.

MR. ROBERTS: And I won't be missed.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, you will; in some ways you will be missed, but I will keep things under control while you are gone, as I usually do, and hopefully, before the end of the day we will make some progress.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few remarks in the Budget Debate. I was into a few preliminary remarks the other day which were very wide-ranging, a lot in response to the speech given by the Member for Eagle River. I see the member looking. I say that most of what I said when I adjourned debate on Tuesday was in reaction to what the hon. member had said, and how he went out and had, in essence, called a press scrum himself to break the news from Spain about the arrest of the Spanish vessel by the Canadian Government. He went out and tipped the news himself. Thank God, there was only one news outlet that bought into the hon. member's story of this great arrest on the Nose and Tail of the Banks, and taking the vessel back to Spain, and the Spanish Government stripped the licences. It was unbelievable what he did.

MR. SULLIVAN: Just temporarily suspended the licences.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, you know; and I haven't heard a sound about it since. The only thing I heard about it was the hon. member on NTV making the big announcement, and then NTV called me out for a reaction, of which I wasn't sure I really should react to it because I wasn't sure how authentic it was - because you always have to wonder about the Member for Eagle River, when you look at his performance with the Saltfish Corporation.

MR. SULLIVAN: The big press conference, the news conference they had. Do you remember the news conference they had on that?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The news conference - and how he behaved with the former federal fisheries minister, Mr. Crosbie, what he used to do to him, how he fabricated stories; and how he now supports Trans City and the scandal. On and on it goes with this member, so you have to be very cautious.

MR. SULLIVAN: Does he agree with free trade now, and all that?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, you have to be careful. And then, there is the novel that will be written soon on how Danny threatened Harry. That is going to be the next chapter in the book, how Danny threatened Harry, Mr. Speaker.

I want to have a few remarks to the Minister of Health concerning the questions raised today by my colleague, the Member for Ferryland about the children's dental program - a very serious matter, I say. I see the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture looking over here, a man who prides himself on his knowledge and his concern for nutrition, and the well-being of all of us, and here he sits as part of a government that is now cutting the children's dental program in the Province. A budget item, a budget matter.

I don't know really what is government's intention when it comes to the children's dental program. It makes you wonder if the government really believes that our children should have teeth. Sometimes I wonder, I say to the Minister of Health - he is talking to the Member for Lewisporte. I'm wondering if the minister sincerely believes that our children, Newfoundland children, should have healthy teeth, or does he believe that they should have no teeth. Does the Minister of Health support the philosophy that they should be soaking their bread in their saucers, in the tea, gumming their pap. Is that what the minister is all about? Soaking their bread so it is not too hard on their gums. Is that what he is up to doing in this Province?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: I know people who (inaudible) soak bread in their saucer.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes. Even with good teeth, I say to the minister, there are still people in the Province who soak their bread in their saucer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, but seriously, it is a serious matter, I say to the minister, to cut a couple of million dollars from the children's dental program.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Your what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) school milk program.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Your school milk program. The two of them should be connected, it should be connected. There is no good in your promoting a school milk program and then have the Minister of Health chop up the dental program so that we don't have proper hygiene and care of teeth amongst our children, I say to the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

It is a major concern, and it is a concern out and about by parents of small children. It is a very serious concern of the dental community. It is. I know that. I have a daughter who works in a dental business and I know it is a very serious concern. I say to the minister, he should have a serious look at this and look at reinstating that funding. In 1995 we shouldn't be going backward the way we are.

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the Budget. We are into a budget debate. We look at lay-offs in some of our departments in the public service, lay offs of which the effects are not yet known, I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. Every now and then, every second day, we hear of a few more being laid off here, a few more jobs going to be lost there. The full effect won't be known yet I would suspect until five or six months' time, just what the fall-out of this latest Budget will be, how many jobs will be lost again in the public service.

All of this happens while the government in its lack of wisdom has given contracts to Trans City Holdings to build those hospital health facilities around our Province, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars more than they should have cost, millions of dollars more and yet we cut the children's dental program. We lay off people who are providing essential services for the people of our Province; we see chauffeur-driven cars still in this Province. It has been confirmed that there are two chauffeurs being paid by the public purse.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Just one now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: One now, says the Minister of Health; they have laid off one chauffeur since the Budget Speech was given in the House by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board because since that, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation confirmed for us in this House that there were indeed two chauffeurs, I say to the Minister of Health. Now he is telling me that one has been terminated since then? Is that what he is telling us?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) check (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That I should check? You shouldn't make statements across the House that you cannot substantiate, I say to the Minister of Health. You shouldn't make statements that you can't substantiate.

So there are two chauffeurs, two chauffeurs. The Premier has his garden cut and groomed by public employees; his flower garden, his grass cut that taxpayers pay for; $20,000 entertainment allowance for running his home for food and whatever, but yet, in addition to all that he charges hundreds of thousands of dollars off to departments such as Industry, Trade and Technology and others. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board shakes his head, but I want to remind the Minster of Finance and Treasury Board -

MR. BAKER: I was listening so far (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, we know he has a problem with remembering at times, we witnessed that in the court when he forgot about certain documents on Trans City and I can forgive him for that. I can understand why he would lose his memory on some of those issues. But just to refresh his memory on this one, a few short weeks ago, in debate here, we were asking the question when the Premier was absent, Where are these various trips, who pays the transportation costs and hotel costs, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology being as forthcoming as he usually is, verified for the House that indeed a number of the Premier's trips, world jaunts, were paid for by the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Hundreds of thousands, I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, so a few days after the Premier came back and the debate was ongoing. Of course, the Premier denied any such thing. He said: all my travel, all my entertainment and all my hotel bills are covered under the appropriate subhead of the Premier's Office. That's what he said, and of course, not knowing that a few days before, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology had told us the difference. So the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology had to inform the Premier of what he had said two or three days before; so my point is, all of this is going on in very difficult times.

We have a Premier who travels worldwide, staying in $500 and $600 a night hotels, chauffeurs, flower garden looked out to, $20,000 for supposedly entertaining at his house.

AN HON. MEMBER: No airplanes (inaudible) furniture.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No airplanes that carry furniture, the Minister of Health says. Now, I don't know what the minister refers to but I can assure you, I say to the Minister of Health, that I have never flown any furniture by airplane; I have flown a few times myself, but furniture, I don't know what the minister is getting at. I know a few ministers opposite who have flown their spouses in and out on airplanes, flown them in and out from certain locations when they were coming in to the city I say to him, but I won't get into that because the minister I am talking about is not present and you shouldn't talk about a member who is not here so I will leave that for another day, but furniture, I don't know what he is talking about.

If some member or minister over there has flown furniture into the city, I say to the Minister of Health, we will find out who it is, there is no doubt, as a result of today, we will find out which minister over there has flown furniture into the city; but, Mr. Speaker, all of this is going on in very difficult times.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible) won't be here much longer.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, the Member for Eagle River says I won't be here much longer, he may be right; he may be correct; I may not be here for very much longer.

MR. DUMARESQUE: You should have resigned a long time ago.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, I should have resigned, yes. Perhaps I should have resigned ten years ago, I say to the Member for Eagle River, perhaps I would have been a lot better off, but I didn't. In my wisdom or lack thereof, I didn't resign.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to the Member for Eagle River, that is not how I do things, I am not like him. I don't make threats, I say to the Member for Eagle River. I am not like him. When he could not get appointed to Cabinet, the Premier said he was juvenile and immature he could not appoint him to the Cabinet. Then when all the months of speculation about a Cabinet shuffle was going rampant throughout the Province the Member for Eagle River was so afraid he would not get a promotion.

They all were invited to the Premier's house for a Christmas reception and poor old Harry the Premier's dog was there, poor old Harry the dog, and the Member for Eagle River went as far as to threaten the dog. He threaten the dog and to harm the dog and then blamed it on the Member for St. John's South who he thought would get into Cabinet before he would. Yes, can you imagine? So the Member for Eagle River now should just sit -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, the Member for Eagle River should be careful of who he tells his stories to. He should not even think those things today because when you are a government in trouble, I say to the Member for Eagle River, when you are a government in trouble two or three things happen. When you are a government on the run and a government in trouble, two or three things happen. First of all, Mr. Speaker, all they do is revert to the past. They reflect on the past and they bring up to the Opposition Party things that happened so many years ago. That is their first defence. Their first defence is to talk about the past, talk about how bad we were when we were in government, how bad we were, how awful we were. That is the first sign of a government in trouble when they do that, the first sign. I want to say to members opposite the people of the Province dealt with us in 1989. They rendered a verdict, I say to the Member for Eagle River, they rendered a verdict. They were not pleased with us.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, could I ask the Member for Eagle River when he is recognized to get up, but he has not been recognized yet only by me and that does not give him the right to speak. That does not give him the right to speak because I recognize him.

So the first sign is you go back to the past and you knock the Opposition Party for being such a terrible government when they were there. In 1989 the people of the Province rendered a verdict on the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and said: We don't want you to govern us any more now out you go, get!

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am learning from you, you are the political scientist I hear. You are the great political scientist over there and make no wonder they are in trouble, make no wonder Clyde Wells is about ready to go, make no wonder Ed Roberts is ready to go with him and make no wonder that the Minister of Finance is ready to go behind him, if they are taking advise from the political scientist, the Member for Eagle River.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is the first sign. The first sign is going back to the past. The second sign of a government in trouble is when there are no secrets. There are no secrets at all that the government can keep. Cabinet papers get leaked, they don't know who put Cabinet papers in certain files. I think the Premier referred to them as moles was it back in - remember when someone gave information back a few years ago and he publicly threatened the mole, if he could find out who it was, remember? But imagine how many moles there are now, I say to members opposite? Now that they know the government is in a nose dive, a tailspin with the three top officers of the Gestapo about ready to exit. The three top members, the Premier, the Government House Leader and the Minister of Finance, the three top honchos now ready to go through the door whenever they can but they really cannot go when they want to go now because they are sort of in a corner, Mr. Speaker. Things are so hot and so tight that they have to be careful now of when they go and how they go. Mr. Speaker, that is the problem.

So the second sign of a government in trouble, Mr. Speaker, is when there are no secrets. Before the Cabinet meeting is finished now there are people in the Province who know the contents of the Cabinet papers, that is what is happening. I can attest to that, I experienced it myself. Before we finished a Cabinet meeting the Sunday Express would be printing the contents of the Cabinet papers. Now that is the truth. Mike Harris went out in the Sunday Express before we finished the Cabinet meeting. The same thing is happening now with this government, and very justifiable I say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) leak.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Not quite as many leaks as the government now has I say to the Minister of Health. That is what is happening over there.

MR. TOBIN: Who is your contact over there?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: For what?

MR. TOBIN: The Sunday Express.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: My contact, I never had one, but, oh, how the wheels turn I say to members opposite. That is what is happening over there. She is falling apart. The Premier cannot govern the Province anymore because there is so much dissent in his own caucus.

When you listened to the Government House Leader a few minutes ago talking about the electoral boundaries report did you notice what he said, that very important word `if', if the government brings forward the report to be dealt with in the House, `if', not that it is going to be dealt with, `if'. Not that it is going to be dealt with, `if', the electoral boundaries report that was tabled yesterday, and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation will be so relieved if it is not dealt with. A sigh of relief from the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: With this report? Absolutely, not. You cannot because you have interfered in the process too much. You had his nibs there, the Government House Leader up today blowing off how proud he was to call the judge, John. He said, I call him John. It is like my colleague for Ferryland said, well, you did not expect to call him Chuck. His name happens to be John. He was so proud to tell us that he had lunch with John, imagine, at taxpayer's expense on top of the $400,000 or $500,000 that you wasted in the process, and to try and get a report that would satisfy the majority of the Liberal caucus and they are still not satisfied on the fourth attempt. This is the fourth attempt. Forty seats or fifty-two seats I say to the Minister of Finance. Forty seats or leave us alone.

MR. DUMARESQUE: You are against saving money.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am in favour of saving money I say to the Member for Eagle River, but a reduction of four seats is going to save us nothing. Let us not be hypocritical about this. The cost of running this House is going to be the same whether it is forty-eight or fifty-two, so what are we talking about. Four salaries we are taking for members and four secretaries.

MR. DUMARESQUE: What about travel and all this stuff?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if we could do away with one member, the Member for Eagle River, we would save more on travel than ten other members in this House. He is the most expensive member in this House, and at every second meeting of the Internal Economy Commission there is a letter from the Member for Eagle River, can I do this? Can we do this?

Seriously, if we are serious about saving money by reducing the number of members in this House, if we just do not want to put up a front to the people and say, yes, we are reducing the number of seats and saving money, let us do what the first Judge Mahoney report recommended, forty seats. Do away with twelve. Let us have forty seats. Knock it back by twelve and then we will save the taxpayers of this Province money.

That was an independent report, and that is what they wanted to do I say to the Minister of Finance who asked the question, but it is no longer an independent report. It has been tampered with so much, and, of course, the Government House Leader admitted -

AN HON. MEMBER: Would you support the forty?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Of course. I would support twenty.

AN HON. MEMBER: If you supported twenty you would never get back again anyway.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That could be. Perhaps I won't be back here, but there will be someone else back in my place and you would still have to pay their salary. There maybe someone back to whom you would be paying a bigger salary than you are paying now.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Lynn is going to flick you right back over here.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't care where Lynn flicks me, I say to the Member for Eagle River. I am not like him. I am not beholding to anyone. I don't have to threaten Lynn's dog like you threatened Clyde's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't, so the Member for Eagle River now should be quiet. I have beaten him into the ground enough. He should just stop. He should stop while he is ahead.

I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, whose Budget I am debating, who has wasted all this money on this electoral boundaries restructuring mess, if you are serious about saving money, let's not just put up a front about saving money on the number of members in this House. Let's be serious. If you are serious about it... Of course, what do we expect from this government?

AN HON. MEMBER: You wouldn't save as much (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Now, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, who I respect -

MR. TOBIN: Until now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I have always respected him. He has now just agreed with what I was saying about cutting the number of seats by four. He says we won't save that much now if we cut twelve, so why did we initiate a process here - which we were required to do after the election, after every ten years I think it is - and pretend -

AN HON. MEMBER: Public relations.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Precisely - want to be able to say: I cut the number of seats in the House - and save nothing.

I told the commission, back when I appeared before them down in the District of Grand Bank, that what we have to be careful of here, if we reduce the number of seats to forty, or forty-two or forty-three, we are going to place greater workloads on a lot of members. A lot of members are going to have more work, not the urban members. The urban members are not going to get any more work. You can give them another 5,000 or 6,000, but what we find here is that we have the Member for Mount Pearl and others whose seats have been cut by 5,000 to 6,000 people. They have been cut by 5,000 or 6,000 people, but the rural members, you are increasing the size of their seats and they are going to have more work.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What do you know? I remember asking a former Member for St. John's North: I suppose you are busy. He said: Yes, I had one phone call this year. So it is not apples and apples; there is a big difference.

What I said to the commission is: If we cut the number of seats, let's say to forty members, then twenty-five or so of them will have a greater workload. There is no doubt about that, they will have a greater workload. If you give me another ten communities, I am going to have a greater workload. I am going to have to do more travel, have more phone calls, more letters; and you know what is going to come one of those days from those forty members who are left? Mark it down; we are going to need more staff. We are going to need an assistant. I only have my secretary now and the two of us can't keep it going, so I am going to need an assistant now, or a junior secretary.

AN HON. MEMBER: Danny will be the first.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Precisely. Who will be the first to want it? The Member for Eagle River. And what will we end up with? We will have cut the number of seats, the members in this House, by four or twelve, whatever we decide, and we will end up with another forty people on the payroll. Mark my words what is going to happen here in the disguise of saving the taxpayers money. That is what we are going to do, and I told the commission that. I felt very strongly about it. That is what we are going to end up with. So if we are serious about saving money, let's be serious. Let's not be hypocritical about it.

Those are my worst fears about all this, but we will deal with that another day. I didn't mean to get sidetracked on that, because that is a debate we may have, I say to the Leader of the Opposition. I don't know if you listened to what the Government House Leader said.

MS. VERGE: No, I didn't.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The big word was `if' - `if' we deal with it.

MR. TOBIN: If, indeed, we decide to deal with it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: If, indeed, we decide to deal with the report. So that sort of tells me a lot about this whole process, and I don't know if the government has enough support in its benches to pass it. I think that is the big worry and that is why the big `if' is there.

Mr. Speaker, I will get back to the Government House Leader, the suspended Minister of Justice, my colleague, the Opposition Leader says. I was just looking at the letter, the report that he gave the Premier. I don't know what it is. What I see looks like Elizabeth R, it is a lot like it, he signs it somewhat with Roman numerals after; that's what it looks like, it looks a little royal, the signature and the Roman numerals after it, E R R the 4th. But in his report, Mr. Speaker - I told him I wasn't going to attack him while he was gone but I am sure he is listening out there - on page 2, can you imagine now, the Premier asking him first of all to investigate it? I mean, what I find funny, Mr. Speaker, -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

By leave.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What I find absolutely amusing is that the Premier would ask the Government House Leader to investigate this matter, a man who is under investigation himself by the Premier, I don't know, but whatever agency there is, Mr. Speaker. He is under investigation, isn't he? His companies are under investigation. But he says on page 2, in reference to the Member for St. John's Centre, Dr. Kitchen, he says: the only rational conclusion that one can reasonably draw from the review of all the available evidence is that Dr. Kitchen's concerns are unfounded and without substance. That is what the Government House Leader said in his letter to the Premier, that is what he said, that Dr. Kitchen's concerns are unfounded. Now I doubt very much if the Member for St. John's Centre wrote a letter such as he did -

MR. SULLIVAN: He was wrong about -


MR. SULLIVAN: Dr. Kitchen.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but I don't think he is wrong about this. He was wrong about the tax formula too when he said we weren't the highest taxed people in Canada and then when he was pressured by the media he said he didn't understand the formula, but I think with this matter here he knows what information he was provided with and what he wasn't, I really believe that; but seriously, this is very serious stuff here, the government, there is no doubt, this government -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No. He is always viciously attacking me. I can't go to sleep at night unless the Member for Eagle River has attacked me some time between two and five o'clock; I can't. I just don't feel right about it all, Mr. Speaker, but, Mr. Speaker, the signs are there for members opposite.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Fish? You want to call another press conference and say there are more Spanish vessels arrested?

MR. DUMARESQUE: You are going to be embarrassed again.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, I wasn't embarrassed. I found it a little difficult I have to admit to the Member for Eagle River to say that I thought this was wonderful. It took a lot out of me, I have to be honest, Mr. Speaker. When the interviewer poked the mike in my face and said: Mr. Matthews, what do you think of this? I must say I was a little - I haven't verified the story yet, I say to the Member for Eagle River; I haven't verified that story yet. Has anyone else heard of it? It is the story that he broke about the Spanish vessel. Did anyone else hear of it, that the Spanish arrested one of their own vessels and took it back to Spain and stripped it. Did you hear it somewhere?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Was the source of the news story, him?

MR. DUMARESQUE: Oh, no, no. The Spanish Government released it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But no, I have not seen it anywhere in the newspapers, did you see anything?


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Where? Will you provide me with copies of it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Would you, seriously? No, no. The member is stretching it now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh that does not surprise me. He was on CBC from New York. He is on CBC from the waterfront St. John's, looking up at the Coast Guard vessels with the tears in his eyes for the captain and the crew, crying and the Premier behind him with the box of tissues saying: Here Brian, have a tissue, have a Kleenex, it is not nice for the tears to be running down your face because I went through that once myself Brian, when I returned home from Meech Lake, at the airport I broke down and I cried and we all thought he was crying for joy at that time because the crowd was there to welcome him but we all know now why he cried, Mr. Speaker; he felt so badly for what he had done. His nerves got bad and he almost had a nervous breakdown.

Crab fishery, dockside monitoring programs, that is another farce, I suppose.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I say to the Minister of Education, now, there is only going to be one of the corporal's guard left in the front bench. The Premier is going soon. The Government House Leader will go out on the tail of his coat, right behind him. The Minister of Finance is finished; he is going, too. I don't believe the Minister of Education when he told me yesterday he was going to run again. I think he is trying a little diversionary tactic; I don't believe he is going to be there. So the only one left from five is going to be the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, who I expect is going to move up two seats. By next year this time we will be calling him Premier Furey. The Minister of Health is all geared up, went down to Florida and got his suntan. He thought it was going to be called now. The Minister of Health was a little premature. He is going to have to go back to Florida again next Easter. He will just come back in time, then, to get into the race.

AN HON. MEMBER: Premier Bud (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I don't think so. I don't think the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture will seek the leadership of the party; no, I don't believe so, but the Minister of Health will have six more suntans by the time the leadership is called, I say to him. You were premature in going down there, so don't go down too often and end up with skin cancer or something. Use lots of Panama Jack, lots of screen.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that a plus or a minus, though?


AN HON. MEMBER: Getting a tan.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, in my district it would not be a plus. In your district it may be a plus. The nice suntan and the Jaguar just might be a plus in St. John's North but, I will guarantee you, if I was seeking the leadership of any party I wouldn't be driving around Grand Bank District with a suntan and a Jaguar or a Cadillac.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: No. I would put it away that long before that they would forgot I even owned it, I say to the minister.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has it going over there - he has the wheels turning - but I have a word of warning for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not to go flying around in a helicopter.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I don't mind that. That is fine as long as he doesn't pull the trick that the Minister of Education, when he was Minister of Health, pulled in St. Lawrence. He kept the old props going, and the dust was coming up from the helicopter, and he ran into the hospital and ran out, and they don't know who landed down there yet. He said: Keep her running; I am into hostile territory. He darted in and out, and off he went.

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't even shut her off.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He didn't even shut her off. I know all about it. He got down close to the ground so the prop wouldn't hit him, and he went in for about thirty seconds and back he came, and up she went and they said: Who was here? Who was in St. Lawrence? We saw the helicopter. You know what it's like in small communities when they see a helicopter, most of them rushed to the site.

Getting back to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I have a warning for you. I know you are ambitious. I know you think you should be Premier. You think you are the best person in this Province to be Premier.

MR. EFFORD: I know it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You know it? Conceit doesn't run in your family; it gallops.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Conceit doesn't run in the minister's family; it gallops, Mr. Speaker.

I have a warning for you. You have been lured into a false sense of security by some of your colleagues. They go to lunch. I have seen them; I have watched them operate. They are at his table, and they are nice to him, and he thinks he has the support of some of those colleagues. I stand back and watch.

AN HON. MEMBER: No delegate selection (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No delegate selection for what? For you? You mean you won't get any?

Seriously, I say to the minister, be careful. In some cases it is like sleeping with the enemy. They are there picking your brains, yet they are all huddled up with somebody else, I say to the minister, so be careful. I have watched them.

AN HON. MEMBER: One has my head, another has my heart.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is not how it goes. No, you are thinking about the song -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, he is all mixed up. You are thinking about the song about the one who has my heart will also have my name; I think that is what he is talking about. He is mixed up. He is confused.

Who else over there - the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is sneaking out now. He should come back. You are on the list too. You are on the short list for the leadership. Where it is that you are off in secluded places with influential people.

AN HON. MEMBER: Does Loyola have any money left over that you can give us?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no I have to tell you, poor old Loyola did not have any money left over. I made sure of that. One thing that I made sure of is that he would not have any money left.

MR. EFFORD: He probably don't owe any money (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well we won't get into that either but the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs won't be owing any if he keeps up his contacts, his secluded meetings and his little get togethers with certain people. So he is in the race. I can name his fund-raising chairman, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. The network is already -

MR. EFFORD: I don't need a fund-raiser.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, not you. I am not saying you do. I know, you are going to sell your Rolls-Royce shares.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much is it going to cost anyhow?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well I would say a good run -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, Sir, I would say there will be some sales out there in the next six months to get the cash flow.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) we don't have a cap.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You don't have a cap on yours. Well then you better be prepared for $250,000, I say to the Minister of Health if he does not have a cap, $250,000 if you don't have a cap.

MR. DECKER: More than that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well more than that says the Minister of Education. Now word is this morning that he was going to seek - I said not a chance, he will never seek the leadership, for a number of reasons. There is only one person over there who would get less votes than the Minister of Education and that is the Government House Leader and the Government House Leader, knowing him, if he ran for leadership he would probably spoil his own ballot. So the only person over there who would get less votes than the Government House Leader is the Minister of Education.

MR. SULLIVAN: You can guarantee that, the Government House Leader will be voting for himself, you can guarantee that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, he would vote for himself. He would not be a gentleman.

AN HON. MEMBER: He would probably be the only write in ballot anyway.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, he would want to put his name on it, Mr. Speaker. The Government House Leader would be so anxious to tell himself that he voted for himself he would probably write his name on the ballot and spoil it. Who else have we got over there? Oh, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the front runner as somebody said. The touted front runner amongst the Caucus.

AN HON. MEMBER: The pretty face.

MR. SULLIVAN: He was up to several months ago but I think he is after coming down a few notches.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, he has been set back a bit. Of course his campaign manager has been away now for awhile, the Member for St. John's South. He has been absent -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) that vote is not going to help him.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, and then the old golf club trick where he had to take the keys of the blazer from him. All of that stuff will come back to haunt him. All that stuff will come back to haunt the member -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who would make the best leader over there?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The best leader, no doubt over there, is the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology in my view. He would be the best leader, the best Premier - for a short while of course, you have to remember that. It is not hard to be a good Premier for a short while and then the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture jumped to his feet. He does not want to be left - and turned his pockets inside out. I tell you it is shaping up though. It is shaping up over there. The Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture might run to position himself to hopefully be a king maker. He might want to be a king maker but I don't know. I don't think he would garner enough support to be a king maker. You wake up a king or queen or you wake up a pauper, I say to him in a two person race.

AN HON. MEMBER: Two of them would wake up paupers.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, that is a good point, two would wake up paupers. That is what I said, both would wake up paupers. But the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation over there, look at him now, look at where he is now, just look where he is, trying to sew up the southwest corner. I don't know where the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is but I am sure he is somewhere in the Province trying to sew up another section of delegates for his brother-in-law is it?

Now who else? I thought for awhile that the Minister of Finance was going to end up as the interim leader when the Premier left, which he is going to do now any day. There he comes, he comes back in the House now when he hears his name, he rushes back in. He is not going to seek the leadership. He did that once, he is not doing it again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, but the Minister of Finance I figured was going to be sitting in that seat over there for awhile which I would have been so pleased with. I might have been so pleased that I might have even went over with him. I would have seriously considered going over with him and spending a few months with him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) is the Leader kicking you out?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, it does not do with that. It is just that we are friends, we go back a long time, we taught school together and all that stuff. I thought for a while he was going to end up in that chair for six to ten months, interim premier. Not acting premier.

MS. VERGE: Not deputy premier.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Not deputy premier. Parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party, interim premier. We could have said `Premier Baker.' It would have been nice for him, he deserves it. Any man who would take the flak that that man has taken for the Premier deserves to be in that chair for a while. He has run the Province the last three or four years, with all due respect to him. I compliment him. He has run this Province. That man has run this Province.

The only thing he has done wrong, I say to the Minister of Health, and I can't understand why he continues to do it, is to take the blame for the Premier on Trans City. Why has he done it? Again today, the man didn't want to get to his feet. Clyde was there nodding at him: Winston, get up, Wins. He didn't want to get up. The poor man, he finally got up. The two of them looked so bad. I don't mind the Premier looking bad but I feel bad when the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board looks bad because he doesn't deserve it.

AN HON. MEMBER: When he becomes premier you are definitely coming over.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I didn't say that, now. You are jumping to conclusions. Don't jump to conclusions. I'm not going to feel that bad for him. I know he needs all the help he can get if he ends up in that chair. He hasn't got much hope over there, so I know he will be calling me, saying: Bill, come over and see if we can keep it together for another six months or ten months. Come over, let's try to keep it together, you know I haven't got much to work with. I will say: No, you haven't. We will agree on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: You made your commitment, now, you can't get out of it. Hansard has it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, if I made the commitment - I always keep my commitments, I assure you. I keep my commitments. So I'm disappointed. First I thought he was going to be in the race. Then I said: No, he is not in the race, he is going to be an interim premier for awhile. Now he is not even going to be that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, there is no doubt. My money is on Furey. Yes sir.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Where would I get money to buy shares in Voisey Bay, Art? Think about it. I mean, the love of God. What are they today, $53?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Sorry? More credit to him. Anyone who has shares, more credit to him, but where would a poor pauper like me get money to buy shares in Voisey Bay at $50-some a share? I suppose I could buy four or five. My good friend for Menihek got excited this morning. See, he was talking yesterday about -

AN HON. MEMBER: I bet he has a million bucks in there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: If I had a million dollars. If that is all he had. But what I have to tell is the story this morning. Yesterday we were talking about of course the hype about Voisey and all the other companies, the junior companies, and who is going to strike and who is not. Of course, the names were being tossed around as a result of the Board of Trade luncheon or whatever it was. Of course, His Nibs was down there with a few others.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, what are they called?

MR. A. SNOW: No, you don't have to say the name, you shouldn't say the name.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Okay. There was this one that he strongly recommended, you see. Of course I said: I'm going to buy a few shares in that, you know.

AN HON. MEMBER: Castle Rock.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I'm not going to say who it was. I don't want them to buy it and to be rich. We don't want all the House rich. There is Furey and there is you and there is Rick Woodford and there is Jack Harris, there is John Efford, there is Lloyd Matthews. We have enough rich ones in here now. Ed Roberts. All of us don't want to be rich.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: See, the thing was this morning when I came in he asked: Did you buy, Bill? I said: Yes, I bought 15,000 shares, right? He was down at the end of the table with my good friend for Burin - Placentia West with The Globe and Mail and the stock market, the (inaudible). He started to laugh. He laughed and he laughed and he laughed. He interrupted the meeting. Then he finally comes up and he had it underlined. He calculated that between last night when I told him I had bought and this morning I had lost $750. I've never seen anybody so happy that somebody lost money as this man. He was so happy that I lost money. Of course, the final joke was on him. I didn't buy it. He was the one who lost the money.

Anyway, I'm sidetracked a bit. Well, yes, there is a message here for the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. Maybe I could give him a little advice. Because he has his good friend there, the Minister of Natural Resources. I think a geologist by nature, are you, by profession?

AN HON. MEMBER: By nature.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, both. He likes rocks. He likes digging rocks and knocking and hammering and all that stuff. I'm sure he is privy to information that a lot of us are not privy to. I'm sure he can hedge a bet now on what junior company - looking at where it is staked out down there - is going to hit it. I bet you he can.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, you wouldn't tell me lunchtime when I called you, but anyway.

MR. SULLIVAN: He told me.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He told you. Perhaps you should talk to the Minister of Natural Resources -

AN HON. MEMBER: He won't talk to me.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But you would think he would. Perhaps you could invest a few million dollars into one of the companies, or buy some shares, and maybe you could put the Province on the track to recovery financially. If one of those companies would only strike big. What do you think? You don't kind of buy into that.

MR. SULLIVAN: They haven't got enough confidence in us to do that, see. They would sooner give it to someone outside the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I see. It is an interesting thought to raise - you could make a few dollars for the Province so we don't have to cut the children's dental health program as the Minister of Health has done. The last person in the world I thought would do that is this Minister of Health, you know -

MR. SULLIVAN: No, he has no compassion.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - who is so concerned about hygiene and appearance.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Perhaps the minister has a point. Perhaps all the teeth are up to par, all the children's teeth are up to par now.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Prevention pays off.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: There is no doubt that the minister is right, and I know that. There is no doubt that public awareness of any kind of health situation, prevention, awareness is good. There is a message here for the Minister of Health that I talked about before and I want to say again, and I want to say it to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation because the two are tied in.

The man who could have more affect on health in this Province than any other minister is the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. He can have a greater effect and impact on the health care budget of this Province than any other. If only the Minister of Finance would put some money into his budget for sport, recreation and fitness development and awareness in this Province, you will save this Province millions upon millions of dollars in the future.

It is hard to get the message through at the Cabinet table. I know. They say: what are you coming up here looking for that for? We have this and we got that. We have too many people lined up over there for heart surgery, but no one ever makes the connection that the reason they are over there on the waiting list for heart surgery is because Roger does not have enough money in his budget to promote sport, recreation, and fitness so we would have a healthier population and there would be no lineup for heart surgery. Do you know what I am saying?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) active living for pre-teens.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Active living for what?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: For pre-teens.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Good. I am glad. I am a great promoter and supporter of that. I say it to the ministers but it will not sink in.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Of course. The Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture could give you all a lecture on it. I think, as a matter of fact, that he should give you all a lecture on it. Seriously, it is unbelievable the impact it would have, and the reduction in our health care costs that would occur if only we could get that mentality developed amongst the leaders of the Province and the decision-makers in the Province which are you people the Cabinet ministers. But it is some battle to go up there and scrap for a few dollars. I know.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I would. I would make a good minister of anything.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: I do not know if you will live that long.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I do not know if I will live that long either. I may not be healthy enough to be minister by that time.

MR. SULLIVAN: You overspent the dental budget by $60,000 last year and the federal government gave an extra $50,000 over what you budgeted so you were still $10,000 over. You spent everything and more besides.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: So there are going to be problems with cuts to that program, obviously? You can see how seriously people take it. The Minister of Health is listening, and also the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, because you are interested. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation was interested because his department has that Recreation, Sport and Fitness Division, but the rest could not care less. It is so low down on the priority list it is not even funny.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are gone off the screen.


The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation points to himself. Do you support those ministers when they are looking for money for prevention, healthier lifestyles, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation? Yes, you do, eh?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, you pay lip service to it is the point I am making. Everyone nods when you talk about it, but when it gets to the decision-making process, and the point in time where you have to make a decision on where you are going to put your dollars, it is obvious where the priorities are because there is not enough money in prevention, either for the Minister of Health or the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, to develop healthier lifestyles amongst our people. It is just not there.

You see, we can't afford to do that, but in the final analysis you can't afford not to do it because our health care budgets are gone through the ceiling - That's the problem. Investing a few million dollars now in promoting healthier lifestyles will save us millions and millions and millions in the future.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: You must be reading my speech over there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It's not me reading your speech - I would say you took a few notes out of mine; but that is true.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: We will have a weekly exchange, `Bill', just leave the last name out of it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, I do get calls for you, and I am sure you get them for me. I just had a note come in a little while ago that I thought must have been for you but it was for me.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It was what?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) bald head.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: There is a lady who needed some help with her vision, obviously; she got you and me mixed up - speaking of health care and other things.

The Minister of Finance sits there with his hand under his chin. How concerned is he about prevention and reducing his health care budgets? Seriously.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

MR. BAKER: I am concerned about all of it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You are concerned about all of it. Do you know what impact it would have on future budgets of this Province if you gave these departments more money for prevention and healthier lifestyles? Do you know what effect it would have on your health care -

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) Soccer Association.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) grant for the Soccer Association.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, not for the Soccer Association.

MR. BAKER: It is a great sport.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It is a great sport. It is the best sport in the world. There are more countries playing soccer than any other sport. It is the national sport of more countries than any other sport. It has the greatest participation of any sport in the world.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You should sit down and listen. I am trying to get you more money, but you don't care. The golf courses are not open yet, are they? He is just back from Myrtle Beach now and he has to go up to Pippy Park and bang around a few balls. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is going to be very healthy. He will be the healthiest minister over there, but he doesn't care about how healthy the rest of the population is. That is the problem we have, you see, short-sighted vision.

MR. ROBERTS: Short-term pain for long-term gain.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't know if you said that right or not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Who? No one else will speak. I am trying to get them up. I am going to sit down. I have made enough remarks for one day. Who is due next?

AN HON. MEMBER: `Roger'. `Roger', are you ready to go?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: If your father was here he would be proud (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: If my father were here, he would say - I'm not sure what he would say. I guess, like he said one time when I went home from the university, he said: Bill, my son, you should come home out of it, because I thought I sent you in there to get educated but I believe every month you are in there you are getting more foolish.

I don't know what change he would see in me since I have been in politics.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) at least you have a job.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't know what he really thinks of this. I do believe one thing about my father; he thinks it is time I came home out of it. With that, I will finish my remarks.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I could sit here all day, I say to the Member for Bellevue, and listen to the Member for Grand Bank, and that is why nobody was in any rush to get up. Because it was a learning experience and everybody sat in awe over there listening to him because the words that he was saying, Mr. Speaker, were true words. They were gospel and he touched a lot of nerves over there because he spoke the truth and a lot of people listened. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board takes great advice from the hon. the Opposition House Leader because when he gets up to speak he opens a lots of eyes and people open their ears because it is a learning experience; people tap into the knowledge that he has and then the wisdom, the great wisdom that he brings to this House.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to take part in the Budget Debate or I should say the `juggle' of figures that the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has put forward and showed a balanced Budget. In fact, there was a surplus, Mr. Speaker, a surplus in the Budget that if we were not experiencing cutbacks in such vital areas as health care, Works, Services and Transportation, not laying off people, Mr. Speaker, education - if we were experiencing good times in those areas, in those departments, we would all be up rejoicing with the wonderful Budget that was brought forward by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. There are many needs out there in rural Newfoundland today.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: I am not surprised that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is so testy and shouting across the House - that doesn't surprise me. We took him down to my district a couple of weeks ago and he came in - the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation came in a helicopter, afraid to drive over the roads; had him to a public meeting there and his opening statement, because he could see that the people were riled up, he could see that they were mad with the type of road they had to drive over, he could see that they were mad about the waste of government money in hiring helicopters, he could see all that, and his opening statement, Mr. Speaker, was: Ladies and gentlemen, you will get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. In other words, treat me right -

MR. EFFORD: Exactly. And don't vote Tory!

MR. FITZGERALD: Don't give me a hard time, don't go asking questions about what I am doing with my money or the money I am spending in my own district, treat me nice, allow me to get out of here, don't upset the helicopter, allow me to get out of here and I may give you something.

Promise them, he did. What was he going to do? He was going to do a study on what it would cost to upgrade Route 235 - another study, Mr. Speaker. Route 235 and every other route and every other problem we have in Newfoundland has been studied to death, I tell the minister, and he knows that when he looks across here with that evil smile on his face. He knows, Mr. Speaker.

MR. EFFORD: You (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Minister, you are not giving it to me, I say. It is not going into my pocket, it is not going into my family's pocket, it is going in to the district of Bonavista South, proud Newfoundland people who will get up in the morning and drive to work and the least the deserve is a good road to drive over. That is what we are asking for. This government got elected on the platform of fairness and balance, but the minister continues to ask: Which district are you from? If it is a Tory district you don't get anything; if it is a Liberal district, maybe I will consider it. Well, that isn't the way it should be.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) for seventeen years.

MR. FITZGERALD: You didn't put up with me for seventeen years, I say to the minister. Mr. Speaker, this is the sign of a government that is hoarding all the money in their own districts because they know that it is short-lived; they know they have to get what they can now because in a couple years time, they will be flicked out there just the same as the Tories were back in 1989 when they catered to themselves and didn't listen. So I call on the minister to respond to those people and make a beginning. We don't expect that route which extends from Southern Bay all the way down to Bonavista to be upgraded and repaved overnight, but if you never start you never finish and what the people at that particular meeting were looking for was a commitment from the minister that he would make a beginning on upgrading that road.

I think the life of any roadway is about twenty or twenty-two years, twenty-five years before it needs maintenance and repair again but this particular roadway, Mr. Speaker, that I am referring to, was constructed well in excess of twenty years and there has been very little work done on it since that time. When you look at the price that we are paying for gasoline taxes, and when you look at the price we are paying for motor vehicle registration and licences, I think we deserve a sensible road to drive over. If we are ever going to create an atmosphere, if we are ever going to allow people to come to our rural areas to invest money and to create economic activity, then one of the first things we have to provide to them is a decent road to drive over. That is certainly not existing in our Province today.

What does the minister do now to save money but to go out and announce more lay-offs in his department, another couple of hundred lay-offs - going to take away the second occupant on a flier that goes out at nighttime in the worst of conditions and clears snow, the man who operates the side plough. Those people are out when everybody else is home. This is the first vehicle that travels up and over our highways. What happens when the operator has a problem, has to get out and do some work? If anything happens to that operator - I fear if an accident happens he will be there probably until the next morning, until somebody finds him.

I tell you what is going to happen - you may as well take the wings off the salt trucks and just operate the front plough, because they would be fools to try to do both jobs with just one individual.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, they would never wing it by themselves.

MR. FITZGERALD: They would never wing it by themselves is right, Mr. Speaker. Here we are again taking away the safety of the operation of those vehicles, no regard for safety, doing away with motor vehicle inspection - we don't need it anymore because somebody was carrying around a book in his pocket for writing out inspection certificates; write out an inspection certificate and it cost them $15. The minister said: Well, we should do away with the whole thing, we don't need it anymore.

Mr. Speaker, what we have to do is deal with the people who are causing the problems. Somebody gets caught drinking and driving, do we bring back Prohibition, do we outlaw alcohol in the Province? No. We deal with the culprits, we deal with the people who are causing the problems, and we allow safety to run its course and allow our garages and our drivers to occupy their vehicles in the most safe manner on our highways.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just want to announce the questions for the Late Show. Today we have just two questions.

The first one is to the Minister of Health and it is presented by the hon. the Member for Ferryland: I am dissatisfied with the answer on dental services.

The other is also from the Member for Ferryland and it is to the Minister of Health: I am dissatisfied with the minister's answer on the procurement and retention of physicians in rural Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the third one?

MR. SPEAKER: There are only two questions for the Late Show.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there has been no capital funding for municipalities this year, only infrastructure money. The minister, when he comes forward and says: We may not be introducing a capital program for municipalities this year other than the infrastructure program. In the same sentence it says that this infrastructure funding will only be directed to municipalities who can afford to pay back 100 per cent. Well, I say to the minister how about the municipalities who are trying? How about the municipalities out there who are making an honest effort? How about the municipalities out there who have raised their taxes, lived up to their commitment to the minister and are trying to collect taxes? There is a great need out there for municipal funds but the minister turns his back on them and says we will give you no credit for effort. Unless you can come forward today with a cheque to pay in full the money you owe to Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Financing you will not be considered for funding.

Mr. Speaker, that is not the way it should be. I do not know how he can expect volunteers to come forward and offer themselves today for municipal councils, and for fire departments and the like. I do not know how we can expect them. I was a volunteer all my life. All my adult life I was a volunteer in my community, always, because I believed in my community and I believed that I could have some input into making it a better place to live and to raise our children.

Mr. Speaker, at that time there was always a little bit of money to encourage you, whether you were involved in the fire department, whether you were involved in the council, or whether it was a recreational association or whatever. That is the only reason why volunteers get involved. They do not get involved to be accused of catering to their own people. They do not get involved in doing municipal work or doing volunteer work to be accused of feathering their own pockets. Mr. Speaker, they get involved because they see a need and they respond to it.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reason why they get involved and I think the minister realizes that. He was a volunteer himself. He was a very active community minded person, and I know how happy he must have been when he came in here and the government of the day allowed him some money to spend in his municipality. The reason why he got involved was because he saw a need, he wanted to respond to it, and wanted to contribute, but today we have everything turned off. We do not respect volunteers, we do not give them any encouragement, but still we talk about the wonderful things the Department of Municipal Affairs is doing and how needed they are in our government today.

When I speak of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs I, of course, have to think about the Department of Health and the Department of Environment. In the town of Bonavista today, the seventh biggest town in Newfoundland and Labrador - and I have brought this to the House of Assembly many, many times before. I stood up here and presented petitions on it, and I finally got the minister's attention.

MR. REID: What did you say was the seventh largest town in Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. FITZGERALD: Bonavista I say to the minister.

MR. REID: Well, you had better go back and check.

MR. FITZGERALD: You had better go back and check.

I say to the minister that I finally got his attention about the problem with this sewer treatment plant in Bonavista.

MR. TOBIN: The seventh largest.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I finally got his attention on the water treatment plant. He must have confided with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. He did a study, a $45,000 study to see what was happening there.

Now, when this water treatment plant was put in place the ideal situation was that all the affluent from the water treatment plant would flow out in this pond. They made a water reservoir, they made a water right-of-way out to the ocean. Now, under ideal conditions the water would rise and flush out the pond and all the affluent would go out into the ocean. It was a good idea, Mr. Speaker, but it never worked. This water treatment plant designed about twenty years ago has now gotten much too small, and does not have the capacity to look after a growing town like Bonavista. Now what happens when we have a rainfall the tank overflows and all the sewer and all the waste water goes out over the top of the sewer treatment plant and out into this pond, untreated. Then, of course, with no top on this particular sewer treatment plant sludge forms.

There are students, there are children in their own homes adjacent to this water treatment plant that have had to go to the hospital, sick, Mr. Speaker, because of the smell and the odour coming from this particular tank. Also, when the wind blows it takes the sludge, this foam and blows it onto the windows of the surrounding houses. Now you can imagine what a wonderful place that those people are living in. What a wonderful place with all the sludge and foam coming from this water treatment plant being blown over on the children as they walk to school, on residents cars and onto the windows of their houses, Mr. Speaker, and we stand here, the government stands here and says what a wonderful government we are because we brought in a balanced budget, we showed a surplus. Mr. Speaker, those are the needs that cannot wait to be attended to. They have to be attended to immediately before there is some kind of an epidemic started there.

I have seen it for myself. We went down there and one resident took a ten foot pole and poked down into the pond, nothing but raw sewer coming from this particular pond. When the water subsides all out around the perimeter of the pond, Mr. Speaker, it is all contaminated. This is where the children go sometimes to play not knowing any different. This is where their pets go and congregate and then back into the house. Doctors in the area have raised concern, the Department of Health have raised concern, the town have raised concern and I have. I brought it to the Minister of Environment and Lands attention. I believe that the Minister of Environment and Lands does have a feeling for it, Mr. Speaker, and I hope in consultation with the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs that they will see fit to provide some funding for this problem before, as I say, it becomes an epidemic and we have sickness on our hands or we have some greater concerns than I am expressing here today.

Hibernia, Mr. Speaker, a mega project operating here on the northeast coast of the Province. The Hibernia Project is hiring between 6,000 and 7,000 people. I don't know what we would do today if such a project -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: - a good Tory project, I say to the Member for Burin - Placentia West, you are right. I don't know what we would do, Mr. Speaker, if this project was not active today. To begin with, we were not ready for the project. We did not have enough of our people trained and we had years to do that. Everybody said yes, we will be ready. We will be ready when it comes. We are going to train some iron workers, we are going to train some labourers, we are going to train some electricians. Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is that we are not ready and most of the high paying jobs are coming in from other provinces and other countries. It is true, yes it is true. It is a union shop and the unions have to do the hiring there but they do not do the firing. Many, many times we see our own Newfoundlanders sent home, laid off, Mr. Speaker, and we see people from other union jurisdictions, from other countries and from other provinces continuing there to work.

Mr. Speaker, I have worked around myself. I have worked pretty well in at least eight provinces of this country. I have worked in at least eight provinces of this country, travelled around as a union member. In each place where I went to work when work became scarce, Mr. Speaker, we were the people who were sent home, the people who were known as travellers, the people who were there on work cards. We were sent home and the people from that particular province, especially from that particular jurisdiction, were allowed to stay. Mr. Speaker, that is not happening here. It seems like the travellers and the people from other areas are the people who are getting preferential treatment and our own Newfoundlanders many times are sent home to draw unemployment insurance.

Mr. Speaker, I had a call one day from I think it was the employment corporation in Clarenville and they asked me if I was aware - because I worked on the Hibernia Project for two winters myself and they knew I had some knowledge of what was happening there - they called and they asked me if I knew of any disabled people who had found a job at Hibernia. I decided to do some investigation. I knew that most of the accommodations there were equipped to handle wheelchair people and people with other challenges, but do you know something? There wasn't one disabled person, not one person with a physical disability, who could be identified working on the Hibernia project.

Then we talk about an equal rights employer and equal opportunities. I don't think it would be demeaning or wrong for somebody who had a physical disability to be able to go to work there in the cafeteria or in the office. I don't think that would be demeaning. I think that the Hibernia project should be brought to task by this government to make sure that some of those people were hired and their needs were looked after.

When you bring up the project here and you talk about the people who are out there working sixty hours, seventy hours a week, thirty days, thirty-five days without a day off, double-time for everything after forty hours, when you bring that topic up the first thing the minister shouts out about is: What are you talking about? We have 6,000 people or 7,000 people working out there. Sure we have 6,000 people or 7,000 people, but what is wrong with having another couple of thousand working out there? What is wrong with the government saying that you can't work any more than forty hours a week as long as you have people who are capable of doing the same job and are unemployed today? What is so wrong about that?

I think this is what we are going to have to do if we are going to be able to get our people back to work again and contributing to the economy of this Province. This is what is going to have to happen. But we need a government with a will, we need a government that will go out and fight for the people. We need a premier who will fight to keep the jobs and the economic activity that we have here in this Province, keep that at home first. Instead we have the Premier going around talking about the wonderful legislation known as EDGE, and we are going to bring new industry into the Province, we are going to bring in new people to create investment. What about the people who we already have here? What is so wrong with helping those people? What is so wrong with giving John Doe down the street if he creates a job a $2,000 tax break? Why does he have to create twenty, why does he have to create ten? Give everybody a little bit of initiative and let's treat our own people just as fairly as we treat somebody else.

I suppose that can be taken back to the way that our federal minister took on Spain and the Estai when he brought her into port and the Member for Eagle River was so proud to be a Newfoundlander and so proud to be a Liberal and this sort of thing. Was he proud when he saw the boat sail out of the Harbour? Was he proud when he saw that boat sail out after several infractions were identified and take the product with it, and no cost whatsoever? Only a couple of years ago we were out arresting our own boats out fishing in 3NO, bringing them ashore because they weren't allowed to be there. Taking their boats, tying them up in the Harbour, taking their catch in, auctioning it off. Our own Newfoundlanders. What I say to the government is let's look after our own people first and worry about other people after.

Health care. The Minister of Health, it is too bad that he is not here. Because I had an occasion the other night - and sometimes we can come in here in this House and we can all very quickly forget what is happening on the outside out there. We get all wrapped up in our own personal little affairs here. We have our own office to go to, we can make telephone calls to our constituents, we can accept calls, we have fax machines, we have a car to drive. All healthy.

The other night I had to take my wife to the emergency ward of the Health Science Complex. About two weeks ago now. I phoned her doctor looking for some pain-killers. That is what she had requested so she could go to bed and sleep that night as she had a bad back. She had visited the doctor a couple of days earlier and the doctor said: What I think I will do is send her out to the Health Sciences Complex, put her in through Emergency, that way she may get to see the specialist much sooner than June month, which was the way the appointment was set up for at the time. So he said: I will send up the ambulance now so she can go down. I said: No, doctor, that is alright; I can drive her down. There is no need to send the ambulance up... Okay, he said, if you are sure.

So we went to the Health Sciences Complex, drove in through Emergency, and my wife was only there probably about two minutes before she saw the lady who was doing the admission there and taking the information. She took the information and said: We don't have a bed for you to lie in, so we are going to have to ask you to go out and sit and wait for the doctor to give you a call. That was alright; she came out and sat down. She was there two hours, and finally I started to strike up a conversation with some people around me.

I found out that one lady was there with a cut on her leg about six inches long, with her leg up on a chair, had been there six hours waiting to see a doctor. Just imagine, somebody going in to the Emergency ward of one of our most modern hospitals in the Province, waiting six hours, and up until that time had not seen a doctor. I said: Is it because the doctor is not in? She said: No, I was told that all the beds in Emergency are filled, I am waiting to be moved upstairs, but there are no beds vacant upstairs. They have nowhere to go. All we can tell you to do is to raise your foot up, somebody will attend to you. We will put a Band-Aid on it for now. When the doctor can see you, then he will come out and call you in. I said: That is ridiculous. I don't know how many people are aware of this happening. She said: That is nothing; today, during the six hours that I was here, one patient has now gone back to Clarenville, who was sent in here for an emergency, and it must have been fairly bad, although I didn't inquire as to what it was, because there is a hospital in Clarenville. She said: She was here for eight hours, sitting in the Emergency ward of the Health Sciences Complex. Now, should that give any government members over there reason to be jubilant about this Budget, and stand up and say: What a wonderful thing we have done in order to accomplish surplus on budget.

Mr. Speaker, I take no pride in it, and I would take no pride if I was sitting on the other side, because what I tell you today are true facts and I think people who have had to go to some of those hospitals, and people who have had to try to avail of some of the services, or talked to people in their districts, will know that what I am saying is true.

Since the minister just came in, if he hasn't been here, I would like to relate this story to him, not now but again in private, because I think it is something that should be attended to.

Mr. Speaker, another problem that I have, another problem that is quite evident, and a way that the government can probably save some money, is to subsidize senior citizens' homes across this Province. I will never understand why government will say: We are going to subsidize this home, but we will not subsidize this one.

I refer again, Mr. Minister, and I think you are aware of the home that I talk about, a cadillac of a home down in Catalina, Shirley's Haven, a beautiful home, capable of taking thirty-two residents there. I have gone into the home and toured it myself, all the amenities there. I think anybody would be proud to have their parents or their loved ones be able to go there and be able to occupy such a facility, and receive the care that home is providing. I have every reason to believe that.

Mr. Speaker, this gentleman is operating today - when I was there he had thirteen residents; he may have seventeen now. Lots of people in the area would want to go there. Lots of people in the area have inquired about going there. They come there and say: How do I get to be a resident? But when they find out that they have to come up with an extra $200 or $300 or $150 per month, their funds will not allow it.

Now in this particular home, this non-subsidized home - I went to the trouble the other day of calling the home care over in the Department of Health and I asked them if they would fax me down some of the things I would get as a subsidized patient, if I were a resident of a subsidized home in this Province. They faxed me down forty-two items that I would receive from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador if I were a resident in a subsidized home. This gentleman, Mr. Speaker, not only would supply those forty-two items free of charge but he also would charge less than the Department of Health is now paying for people in other subsidized homes in the area; and I will take that a step further. Not only would he provide those extra services but he would also provide security which the Department of Health would not have to pay for. I think in a subsidized home today, the Department of Health pays for one security member for every ten beds, Mr. Minister or every five?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: It has to be over five.

MR. FITZGERALD: It has to be over five, and once it goes over ten there is another one. So here is an individual who would assume the responsibility for the forty-two personal care items, here is an individual who is charging less per month than a subsidized home, here is an individual who will provide security free of charge, not charge government a cent but still the government of the day - he showed me where it would probably cost $500 less per resident if he was considered a subsidized home and with the services that he would provide.

I know the minister is interested in saving money; I know he is cutting back on expenses but I plead with the minister to look into this situation and not leave things they way they are and don't be afraid to change if it is a positive thing. I know that the minister is aware of this home and I don't think he will rise in his place when I am finished and say that what I am saying is wrong because it is true, Mr. Speaker, and those are the things that have to be changed today.

Mr. Speaker, the Cabot 500 Corporation, what a bloody farce, the Cabot 500 Corporation. This exclusive club that we have put together, spending I think last year, we as a Province put 1.475 million forward, to allow those people to spend taxpayers dollars without any accountability whatsoever. Nobody asks them to submit returns or bills for going anywhere; it is an exclusive club flying back and forth to Bristol England. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Chief Executive Officer has done that much flying back and forth now, I think it must be Air Nova or something, that he is part of their commercial!

AN HON. MEMBER: Their biggest customer.

MR. FITZGERALD: Their biggest customer, Joe Bennett, and I am not afraid to say his name, Joe Bennett.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: The minister shouts: who is he? He knows who he is because I would say that you put him there, minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: I wouldn't count on that.

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, he came there on your -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he didn't.

MR. FITZGERALD: He didn't?

AN HON. MEMBER: Six months ahead of me I (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Okay. Well, you should have done the honourable thing and kicked him to hell out of there.

Mr. Speaker, the former Minister of Health stood in his place yesterday and put forward a motion, a Private Member's Motion to respond to the need of row housing and dilapidated housing in the City of St. John's, in St. John's Centre. Now I can assure the hon. member that that problem goes much farther than St. John's Centre and I commend the member for bringing it forward; I commend him because it was a good Private Member's Motion and the only thing that I regret is that I didn't have a chance to respond to it.

The member talked about going up to Ottawa and approaching the hon. Jean Chretién to see if he could cancel the Outer Ring Road so that he could direct money into this type of a project, I suppose, this type of a make work project where people in need would receive great benefits. I fully concur with him, Mr. Speaker, but I can show him where he can save $500,000 a year, $5 million over the next ten years without making a trip to Ottawa - go up to the eighth floor, Mr. Speaker, talk to his own leader. In that big brick house down there on Military Road lay off the seamstress, lay off the gardener number one and the gardener number two, Mr. Speaker, lay off the secretary number one, the private secretary and the other secretary, lay off the seamstress and direct $500,000 to people who need the money. We cannot afford this pomp and ceremony any more.

MR. SULLIVAN: Put the $500,000 back into the teeth of the young children in the Province.

MR. FITZGERALD: There are lots of needs, I say to the member, there are lots of needs. You know where I stand with the monarchy, I don't have to repeat that. The surprising thing about it is, when Peter Gullage called me to see if I would go on the morning show to debate my stand on the monarchy, he called back three days later and he said: Boy I am having an awful problem to find someone who does not agree with you. Finally he found somebody, he was a Liberal looking for an appointment to be the next Lieutenant Governor -

AN HON. MEMBER: The senile Mayor of St. John's.

MR. FITZGERALD: The Mayor of St. John's, his worship the mayor. I thought I did a good job. I received several calls after from some very prominent people who told me I did a good job because they have their hearts in the right places. They can see that there is a greater need out there today rather than pumping $500,000 a year into this big brick house down there on Military Road. Let's use it for something else. Let's use it for our archives, our museum or our art gallery. There are lots of uses, Mr. Speaker, that we can do with that house. We don't have to do like the mayor suggested, board up the windows and provide security.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I wish I could. If we are so in tune with the monarchy, if we have so many monarchists around here, like the House Leader, if we have so many monarchists around let's move the Lieutenant Governor -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave for one minute, Mr. Speaker, we have to switch to the Late Show.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I know.

MR. FITZGERALD: Let's move the Lieutenant Governor into a suite of offices up here. By the way, I am not so sure that the Premier does not agree with me. In fact, he made a comment when I walked by his desk one day and I know that it is not up to us. We as one Province cannot get rid of the monarchy. I know that but the people over in England have already started that, all we will have to do is fall in line. When you look at the Province of Ontario, when you look at the Province of Alberta, much richer provinces than ours, much richer provinces and they saw fit to do away with the Lieutenant Governor's residence, provide them with an office. What is so demeaning about that? There are some good members over on that side and we are excellent members over here and I don't think we are slighted one bit by coming here and going to work in the morning. I don't think we are slighted one bit.

MR. SULLIVAN: There is something wrong when England is trying to get rid of it and we are fighting to keep it.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, well I can understand England trying to keep it because it is a tourist attraction.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up and -

MR. FITZGERALD: Here comes the monarchist himself right now, Edward R. the old monarchist himself. Mr. Speaker, just to clue up, I say -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is 4:30, according to our rules it is 4:30 p.m. and we are to start the -

Order, please!

Does the hon. member adjourn the debate?

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I adjourn debate, yes.

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

MR. SPEAKER: We will now start the adjournment debate and my understanding is that the Member for Ferryland is the first speaker.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This morning I asked the Minister of Health some questions regarding the childs -

MR. L. MATTHEWS: This afternoon?

MR. SULLIVAN: This afternoon - it seems so long ago. `Roger's' speech was so interesting it entertained me all day long and I didn't realize the time. I asked questions regarding the cutbacks, the drastic cutbacks that this government has put on the children's dental programs here in this Province.

Since 1992, we have seen a 32 per cent reduction in a commitment by this government to looking after the oral health of twelve-year-olds and under in this Province. If you get young kids into the practice, at an early age, of caring for their teeth and setting healthy standards, it is sure to follow in subsequent years. I think that is the most important area in which to start.

Now, the minister said they have not cut back money. Well, if they haven't, when he rises in his place, I would like for him to point out where in this Budget they haven't cut it back. I haven't found it, I say to the minister, and I went back to 1990 and before that. The cuts started occurring, for the minister's information - things were on an even keel until 1992 when there was a dramatic slash of over $2 million all in the one year.

Now, what is happening in the Province is that young kids - in rural and urban areas, but especially in rural areas where unemployment is so much higher, where most parents are unemployed and receiving low incomes, they can't really afford to take these kids out to a dentist. So, I will tell the minister what is happening in rural areas of the Province, and I will use as an example an extraction. When a child in rural areas goes into a dentist's office, MCP reimburses the dentist $24 out of that $41. The dentists in many rural areas are absorbing the rest - they are not charging the parent or the child.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, that is happening. I talked to dentists in the last day or two, and they are not charging anything of that $17.00. They are giving a service to kids in this Province that is equivalent to their break-even point. Now, most dental operations are operating with approximately 60 per cent overhead. Now, 60 per cent of $41 is only $24 and MCP is only paying the overhead cost of that dentist in his operation, and they are providing that service at no charge.

Now, in urban areas, most are charging that fee and recovering it. I have talked to dentists in urban areas of the Province, too, and they are recovering it. If it is a social assistance recipient, the co-pay fee of $5 is covered by government for that amount, but with respect to the people who are not on social assistance, the dentists are absorbing in many cases. I see what is happening. I know that when a family has a limited income, they are unemployed, the downturn in the fisheries, 20,000 fewer people employed in this Province this year, dental care is not going to be a priority if somebody is sick with some other medical problem, or if they need to put food on the table. It is not going to be a priority.

I think it is important. We have 109,000 kids in this Province in that category and many, because of this, are going to be denied this particular service because of the cutbacks there. The minister might not think it is significant but $500,000 is a 10 per cent cut in the Budget that is there. There is a 32 per cent cut in two years. That is very drastic, and my biggest fear - we fought for years to lure dentists out to rural areas of the Province. In my district we never had a dentist until a few years back, about ten or twelve years ago.

The dentist out in our area now is only getting enough work - he can't even work for three days. It is going to be cut back. It is getting to the point now where dentists cannot run a viable dental practice, so they are going to abandon rural Newfoundland for a place where it is viable to make a living. So this program is going to have a major impact on the ability of rural Newfoundland kids to be able to obtain proper dental care. That is the biggest drawback in the program. It is not just the impact by the gradual number of kids who are not going to be able to avail of the program.

So, I say to the minister, that is not proper. I think something should be done by the department because it is a serious problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: It is going to have a very negative impact, I say to the minister, on dental care for kids in this Province. I ask the minister to reconsider that and to reinstate that $500,000 to give kids a basic program that is needed to maintain a certain level of care.

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

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) question?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I am not sure there was a question but on the assumption that there was an intended question, I will attempt to respond to it.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).


MR. L. MATTHEWS: No, well, it is The Late Show, whatever that means. The hon. member makes some valid points with respect to the value of dental health care, there is no question about that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I wonder if the hon. members to my left could keep their conversion down; I am having difficulty hearing the Minister of Health.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: The hon. member makes some valid points with respect to the value of dental care for children, there is no question about that. Prevention is better than having to perform maintenance; prevention is better than having to spend money on replacing teeth or fillings and that type of thing. But there are some other things that the hon. member didn't bring to light, some things that he didn't mention that shouldn't go unnoticed.

I mentioned when I answered his question in the House earlier today that we have directed some of the money that we would normally spend on the dental program to a fluoride mouth-rinse program that will be expanded over the next number of years into the -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

MR. EFFORD: Is that only in one area of the Province?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: It started this year in one area of the Province but it will be expanded hopefully, into all the Province over the next few years and it is a rinse program that basically will be applied three or four times a year during the school year for the kids, and this is a form of dental prevention as opposed to having to spend money on fillings and that sort of thing.

The other thing that the hon. member didn't recognize is this - while we have had a 9 per cent cut in the Budget this year for this program, the hon. member should also recognize that fifteen years ago we had 167,000 children in our schools; he mentioned that this year we are down to a certain figure, school population is 123,000 and within the next five years we are going to be down to about 97,000 so obviously there are less children in the Province who need the resources that this program provides, and I think you have to recognize that in recognizing or examining how much money we have in the Budget.

There are fewer children being born, Mr. Speaker, fewer children out there who need any type of paediatric or child services, and so the cut in the Budget is not only a straight fiscal reduction without consideration given to other factors which had to be taken into account. But having said all that, I wouldn't deny also that because of the financial constraints that are upon us we had to make budgetary decisions about programs that necessitated making some downward adjustments in what we could afford to spend. This is not the only area where we have had to look at spending a little less money. There are a lot of programs in government that we will yet have a difficult time maintaining if we are to maintain balanced budgets and, in the same context, deal with fewer tax dollars and less revenue to be spent.

We will attempt to provide health care, we will attempt to provide dental care at a level that will be acceptable to the people of the Province given their knowledge and understanding of the financial capacity that the Province has to do any better.

One other thing that the member mentioned was the aspect of, in effect, subsidizing a dentist practice. Well, obviously, this program did help to subsidize, in some way, indirectly, the supporting of dentists in rural Newfoundland, and we are not unappreciative of the fact that we need dentists in rural Newfoundland and we want to do all we can to help dentists and doctors stay in rural Newfoundland so that they can provide a basic service to our people. But this should not be talked about and discussed in the context of trying to use it as a subsidization program for dentists, as such. It is a program to provide basic services of a preventative nature for the care of the children's dental health needs.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland, the second debate.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am also not satisfied with the response earlier this week on Tuesday with reference to my questions pertaining to doctors in the Province, in particular, I asked the minister on Tuesday, in the House, what specific concrete plans is the minister taking to implement the four initiatives that he announced on March 30? Now, I have some questions and he is not even going to listen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, these are very, very important issues as they pertain to medical services in rural Newfoundland, and I take it very seriously, to be honest with you. I take it quite seriously. I think it is having a detrimental impact on the service that is being provided, and while I compliment the minister on the four initiatives, and admit it is a start, we haven't seen anything since to know how it is going to be implemented.

Now, I didn't ask the basic background of what it involves, from a theoretical or a philosophical point of view. How are you going to implement the mechanics of this in the Province? That is what I asked the minister in Question Period, and I didn't get an answer to that. What is happening around the Province, too, it is just not the $5,000 or the $7,500 or the $10,000 that doctors are going to receive. It goes far beyond the monetary aspect.

I have a letter here that is nine pages long, actually, from a doctor. I will just give you an indication of what doctors in rural Newfoundland in particular have to go through. This person was told, before he came to the Province, he would receive a $90,000 salary as an internist, and when he arrived he found out that under the provisional licence he wouldn't receive $90,000 at all - he didn't state the figure, maybe $70,000 or $80,000 would be more like it. That doctor was told that there would be two others working with him; he would work on call on alternate weekends; the workload was light; he would have excellent time off, excellent family life, and that would compensate for the geographic isolation. Now, that doctor was on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for continuous periods of three months at a time, without any form of compensation whatsoever. In fact - and he goes on to talk about some other things that I won't get into, that are not really highly pertinent to the particular question here - there are numerous things, and I have letters from numerous doctors, addressing problems that have been encountered with trying to live and carry on a practice and provide a service. They becomes slaves, a lot of salaried doctors in rural parts of this Province, with no free time whatsoever.

The problem is not money. A several tiered approach is needed to address the problems. There have to be areas other than money - there must be quality of life, opportunity for them to be able to send their kids to schools in the Province here, at least get a decent education, reasonable access to health care, and reasonable access to some privacy, or time away from call duty. That has not happened, and initiatives by this government are not going to address these. They will make a start, I will admit - there will be some improvements and some changes - but it is not going to address the overall problems that are there.

I know there are ongoing problems arising, not just in those areas. We have a critical problem, not just in rural Newfoundland. We have a critical problem in certain speciality areas in getting doctors in urban areas of this Province. We cannot keep some of our top doctors here in St. John's; they are leaving. Psychiatrists are leaving the Province. The Chief of Psychiatry left one of the hospitals just in the past year, and other doctors are leaving.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: Just one minute to finish, if I could, because it is the last one, I think, for the day.

We have areas of this Province where we cannot find specialists. They are leaving, gynaecologists -

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


MR. SULLIVAN: - in the Burin Peninsula and numerous other areas of the Province who are lacking in the proper medical service, having a reasonable level of service. If anybody thinks that health care in this Province has improved over the past three or four years, they are drastically mistaken. It has not. There has been a tremendous, severe deterioration of medical service, an increased waiting list in specialty areas and others in this Province. I am hearing it every day in speaking with specialists and other doctors in the Province. I am speaking with ordinary people, and I can tell you how long they are on waiting lists and so on, and what is happening there, so we have seen a decline in health care. I know the problems need to be addressed. We can't address them all, but at least there are certain areas where we can move a little rapidly, a little more aggressively to address some of the critical areas there first, at least.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I suppose it is only appropriate to acknowledge that for once the majority of the Tory caucus over there were right, but they did not get their way, because it is pretty obvious that the person they should have elected as leader is the person who has been my critic for the last few months.

As I mentioned to him yesterday in a private conversation, not to worry, there is still a distance between now and the next election and I think the performance that the new leader might display, what she has displayed so far, I think, bodes very well for him having another run at it in the very short order.


MR. L. MATTHEWS: J.O. Verge.

MR. SULLIVAN: That has nothing to do with health care now.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Well, I have a feeling that you have a genuine concern for health issues. Mr. Speaker, the basic question that was asked, was how we were going to implement the four initiatives that were taken in the rural retention package that we introduced about a month and a half ago. I will just speak to them as briefly as I can but as succinctly as possible. The bonusing that we put in place for rural physicians is a three-tiered bonus system. It starts at $5000 and goes to $7500 and then there is a package there of $10,000 bonuses. It depends on the area or the severity, I guess, of rurality, where the person is practising.

We have broken the Province into three groups of isolated areas and some are more isolated than others. The method of implementing that is simply that the clock started running at April 1, and if and when a physician stays the two years he will collect a bonus at that point in time, based on wherever he is working. So, the money is there in the program for them if they stay in the rural setting for that length of time, and then, of course, it continues to roll for years that follow, every two years, basically.

One of the other parts of that initiative was levelling up, bringing that is the starting position, the starting salary of provisionally licensees, or offshore doctors, if you like, foreign graduates we call them, bringing them when they start to the same level as though they had a full licensure. At the moment I think there is either a $1500 or a $3000 differential between a provisionally licensed doctor and a fully licensed doctor who starts in a rural practice, and we have sought to eliminate that differential in the package that was announced.

The other element of the package that had some significance was the ability to recognize extra workload. By that we mean this. That in a situation where there may be one or two doctors short in a certain hospital and the doctors who remain there have to work longer hours or more nights and provide more coverage, the health care board has the ability to take some of the salary allocation, if you like, for that fourth person - if there are only three there - take part of that salary and use it - not all of it, but take part of it - and use it on a proportionate basis to the extra hours that are being worked by the physicians who have to do the extra coverage at night and that sort of thing.

Really what it means is that we've made a provision so that the salary that is allocated but can't be used for the people who we can't recruit at that point in time, part of that can be taken and paid to the physicians who are there giving the extra service and the extra coverage.

As the member has said, these initiatives were very positively received by the rural physician group within the NLMA specifically, and they were well-received and positively commented on by the NLMA as an organization representing all their doctors.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I appreciate hearing the member say that we are moving in the right direction. We will get there as fast as we can with additional initiatives, but financial constraints are realities -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: - and I'm sure we all recognize that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my hon. friend for Ferryland for going forward, Mr. Speaker, going before as did John the Baptist. But I would say to him, be careful if he is asked to a dance. Asked either to a dance or a chicken supper. Be very careful.

Your Honour -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry? My friend for Burin - Placentia West who is with his intellectual soul mate, the gentleman for St. John's East....

Your Honour, there were only -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I don't know why it is I get up to make a few innocuous remarks and they are at me from my own side as well as the other side.

MR. SULLIVAN: Because it is your nature to (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, I will leave it to my friend for Ferryland to decide for himself why I am what I am, but I look to him to tell us why he is what he is.

Your Honour, I keep trying to say that there were only two questions. They've now been dealt with. Although it is only 4:50 p.m. I don't have the heart to call the Budget debate again. Tomorrow morning we will meet at 9:00 -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Burin - Placentia West is familiar with half-hearted efforts. He makes them frequently. I watch him being half-hearted. Every day I see him being half-hearted here in the House when his Leader gets up to speak and he is there thumping. If ever I saw a half-hearted effort it is my friend for Burin - Placentia West in those situations.

Your Honour, we will meet at 9:00 in the morning. After we get through to the Orders of the Day we will be asking the House to deal with the advanced health care legislation. I would not anticipate a lengthy debate but I may or may not be correct in that anticipation. Once we have dealt with that or assuming we have dealt with it, we will then carry on with the speech on the Budget. With that said Your Honour, I move the house do now adjourn.

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