May 18, 1995              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLII  No. 27

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the public galleries of the House of Assembly, twenty-four Grade VI students from Greenwood Elementary accompanied by their teacher, Mrs. Helen Day and their chaperons: Josie Brenton, Josie Lewis, Joan Lewis and Linda Murphy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

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

My question is to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

Over the past week I have asserted that Marine Atlantic has a premeditated hidden agenda to close the Newfoundland Dockyard.

Can the minister confirm today, that yesterday, while we were debating the Private Member's Resolution in this House, debating the survival of the Newfoundland Dockyard, that Marine Atlantic asked all of its management staff to take their holidays until further notice?

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I say to the hon. member, I cannot confirm what the member is saying now. This is the first time I have heard that.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister another question then. Can he confirm that the bidding, contracting department, all personnel in that department at the Newfoundland Dockyard have also been told by Marine Atlantic, directions from its head office in Moncton, to take their holidays until further notice?

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

MR. MURPHY: No. I have not, Mr. Speaker, and I can say to the hon. member perhaps those who did know, had they informed me, I might have been able to make some enquiries and ask some questions, but what the hon. member is saying is totally news to me.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is becoming clearer of what Marine Atlantic's intentions are for the Newfoundland Dockyard. First, they disallowed the Dockyard to bid on international work; second, they disallowed the Dockyard to bid on national work in other provinces in Atlantic Canada. I can tell the minister for sure that as of yesterday while we were debating the private member's resolution 95 per cent of the management staff were told to take their holidays; in effect, a lay off notice. The contract and bidding department was also told to take their holidays; in effect a lay off notice.

Do we have the time and luxury, Mr. Minister, to wait for Mr. Morrison to come back from his trip to Europe? Will you now phone Brian Tobin today and request an emergency meeting between himself as the minister for Newfoundland and Labrador in the federal Cabinet and the Minister of Transport to discuss today - not next week, not next month - the survival of the Newfoundland Dockyard?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me say to the hon. member that this government has been in touch with the ministers in the federal government who would assist this government in underlining exactly what we've already said, I say to the member. This government's position is that we are not - and I say it again, not - supporting the closure of the Dockyard. Absolutely not. The member should know, and other hon. members opposite know, that there is a system in which to do this and do it properly. This government has taken on that responsibility. We will continue to meet with those who we need to sit down with. I've told the member - I said it yesterday - that we will bring a proposal to Marine Atlantic to put in place a task force to report back in ninety days, which would include all the main principals. This government is not going to stand idly by and watch the Dockyard close. We are going to do everything we possibly can to keep the Dockyard open. So let the member understand that and relax on the grandstanding.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Premier. Will the Premier admit that his economic development record has been a dismal failure, in large part because he made a stupendous strategic mistake in neglecting traditional industries for which Newfoundland has a natural advantage? Why has the Premier edged the St. John's Dockyard out of provincial government priority attention, the repair and service facility that has a tremendous natural advantage of a geographic location thrust into the northwest Atlantic shipping lanes, two steaming days away from the competing facility in Halifax? Why have the Premier and his Minister of ITT and his guru Doug House been so dazzled by businesses that employ two people and ten people, and why have they been so docile, dormant, and dismal by contrast when it comes to the St. John's Dockyard which has employed 700 people?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am not sure where the Leader of the Opposition has been for the last three years. In the last year, in particular, Mr. Speaker, government has been showered with accolades about its Economic Development Policy, and well-deserved, too.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: There is great jealously expressed in other parts of Canada because of the course this government is taking, great commendation coming from both labour and management sides of the economy about the tremendous development that is taking place, so the comments that the Leader of the Opposition prefaced her variety of questions with are totally without merit, Mr. Speaker, and I felt that should be said.

There was such a barrage of questions that I could not keep track of them, but I think the gist of it is, why have we not taken the Government of Canada by the throat and throttled it a little bit over the St. John's Dockyard?

Mr. Speaker, we simply don't operate that way. The St. John's Dockyard, like Marystown Shipyard, has to be able to function on its own, and function effectively. Governments cannot continue to subsidize it forever and we would no more ask the Government of Canada to arbitrarily subsidize the St. John's Dockyard interminably than we would agree to arbitrarily subsidize Marystown Shipyard, if it were not producing, and costing the tens of millions of dollars as it has in the past. But the difference the government's policy in relation to Marystown Shipyard and the Federal Government's policy with respect to the St. John's Dockyard is marked.

We have put a lot of money and a lot of effort into recapitalizing and restructuring the Marystown Shipyard to give it the best possible chance we could give it at being economically successful.

AN HON. MEMBER: Would you ask (inaudible) the same for the St. John's Dockyard?

PREMIER WELLS: If the hon. member wanted to put a question, I am sure his leader would have asked him. She asked me the question and I think he ought to have the courtesy of letting me answer it, Mr. Speaker.

On the contrary, as I view the St. John's Dockyard, the former Federal Government and the present Federal Government, have both failed to restructure that dockyard and recapitalize it, and provide it with the up-to-date and modern equipment that it needed to be efficient and effective. They seem to have let it run down to where it can't compete and then decided because it can't compete, it ought to be sold or closed. I feel they have an obligation, Mr. Speaker, to give it every possible chance by recapitalizing and improving the physical plant and facility so that it will have a fair chance at competing. Then, if it can't compete on its own, I don't ask them to subsidize it forever.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary for the Premier.

The Premier asked where do we think he has been for the last three years? We know he was nowhere near the St. John's Dockyard. I ask the Premier, Why have you given up on the St. John's Dockyard? Why are you aiding and abetting the Federal Government in closing the St. John's Dockyard? Don't you value the natural advantage that ship repair and service facility has because of its geographic location? Don't you realize that if the St. John's Dockyard goes down, jobs will be lost from this Province to the mainland?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, not one single one of the premises that underlay her question is truthful or accurate. So all I can say is there is no question to answer.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier why he is assisting the Chrétien Government in scuttling the St. John's Dockyard? Is it because the Premier has now decided to retire from politics and is courting Mr. Chrétien for a lucrative Federal Government ambassadorial or judicial appointment? Is the Premier putting his own personal career -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I mentioned to the hon. member on another occasion that it is fair to ask questions on issues and facts but the hon. member can't impute unworthy motives to another member of the House of this sort. So the question cannot be asked in the House in those terms.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, if she has another question.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Premier: Why he is not representing the interests of the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is supposed to represent? Why is he not protecting the jobs and the services at the St. John's dockyard in the interest of the people of this Province he is supposed to be serving?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, quite apart from the offensive diatribe that preceded the question. Again, the underlying supposition is totally without foundation. So I cannot answer a question as to why I am abandoning the interests of the people of the Province because I am not. So the underlying supposition is totally without foundation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is for the Minister of Environment.

Mr. Speaker, in February of 1989, Albright & Wilson made an announcement that they were going to close. They finished production in August of that year. It will soon be six years, and after two EIS studies, numerous interventions by companies, towns, unions, etc., I am asking the minister today: When will his department let us know the decision on the cleanup of Long Harbour, please?

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the question from the member. I know he is concerned about the future of Long Harbour, as is the government.

This has been a process that started out in 1989. It has been a very involved process which has required a lot of consulting work to be done to figure out what the proper solutions are for the cleanup of the industrial site. It is and has been quite a problem over the past number of years, and what we are trying to do is ensure that we get the right solution, and that we do it right and make sure that when we do make the decision for Long Harbour it is one where they are able to move ahead and they are able to develop their community locally.

There has been a lot of work done. We believe, in the next few weeks, we will have a recommendation for government to consider. But we want to make the right decision, and we want to make sure we have all the information, and that is all the process. That has been part of the problem. It has taken some time to get that information all put together and finalized, but we are just about there, and I can assure the member that the decision that will be made will be one that I think will be to the benefit of the people of Long Harbour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the minister saying he is prepared to make the right decision. I can trust him; the others in Cabinet I am not too keen on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: I didn't say I didn't like you, I said I'm not too keen on you - there is a difference.

The minister knows that the submissions have been made by the town. Other attitudes and things have been put forward by the company - the town is fairly well in the middle - and the union has asked lots of questions and made a number of suggestions.

One of the big concerns is what the company's people had said, that the groundwater would not - some of the contaminants in the soil would only move a few metres. There are questions, now, whether it has moved some ninety metres in the groundwater which comes to bringing it about fifty metres from the original shoreline. Some people have expressed a lot of concerns. I want to remind the House that I didn't work there and there is lots of stuff that I'm not familiar with down in Long Harbour, but there are a lot of expressions of concern about contaminants in the groundwater. Would the minister be able to address that subject please?

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

MR. AYLWARD: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The information that the member is talking about is part of the information base that the consultants have been reviewing, that our environmental assessment officials have been reviewing. All that information is going into the final report that will be given to my office shortly and for government to consider. It is very important that we have the right scientific information so that government can make the final decisions for the future. This is a big project. It is a project where the company involved has already spent approximately $20 million in cleaning up the site, and there is going to be a lot more money spent in the future in the cleanup of this site.

In order for us to make the right decisions our environmental assessment officials have gotten and have put together the scientific information from the best that you can get. Government will have that information shortly with recommendations so that we can make an appropriate decision. We are more than concerned about the site and the future of the site and the proper procedures that are going to be used in the cleanup of the site. We are going to make a decision very soon. It is one that has taken some time but it has only taken time because we are trying to do the right thing for the people of Long Harbour.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Some time ago Tenneco, the parent company, sold off Albright and Wilson. I would like to ask the minister whether Tenneco has assumed promise of a liability for what has happened down there and if that liability is going to be in the form of money to be set aside. That the parent company is going to put their money where their mouth is. Thank you.

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

MR. AYLWARD: Yes, Mr. Speaker. That is another important question which the government is dealing with. Discussions have been ongoing with the company and they have committed themselves to the cleanup of this site and the liability for it. The final paperwork in the final agreement is being worked on and we hope that will be finalized in the next few weeks also, at that same time, basically, as a decision is made.

The company has always indicated its commitment to the cleanup of the site. We expect them to maintain that commitment strongly and when a decision is made we hope to have all the decisions around the whole project finalized. They haven't indicated anything otherwise and we believe their commitment is strong. They've been in discussions with our government over the past number of months to ensure that question will be settled before or after or as soon as the decision is made on this project. Like I've said, over the past few years they have spent a lot of money. We know they will have to spend more. That question will be answered in due course.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture. I'm sure the minister is aware that the community of Charlottetown in the District of Eagle River in Labrador has a process ongoing where it is attempting to get an industry for their community. I understand there is a private fish company that is willing to go in and construct a multi-species fish plant there to do some processing and create some employment. Is the minister aware of this process and application and could he inform the House of the status of the application, and if his department has made a final decision?

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

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I am aware of the application and the proponent and what they have suggested for the Charlottetown area. One of the decisions was easy to make, and that is with regard to the transfer of certain licences. There will be no transfer of licences to the Charlottetown plant, but other aspects of their proposal are still being looked at.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Could the minister inform the House what other part of the application is being looked at? My understanding is that there is a request to establish a plant with private dollars. There are as I understand it five harvesting licences there for crab. They want to get into some other species. Could the minister inform the House what other aspects of the application, of the proposal, are still under consideration?

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

DR. HULAN: Indeed the application does call for the establishment of a processing plant in the Charlottetown area and until we are in a position to make some serious decisions with regard to their realignment of the processing sector of this Province, vis-à-vis their resource availability, there will be no move on that application at this time.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, if I may.

I understand Minister, that the community of Charlottetown has received notification from your department that they will not be receiving any capital works funding this year to carry on with a water system as I understand it; phase one is completed, they have been denied further funding for future capital works funding because the community does not have an industry or any employment.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is getting advice there now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I know the minister was interrupted there by the member.

The community does not have an industry or any employment is what I have been told, they have been denied funding or will be denied funding because of that. Can the minister confirm whether that's true or not?

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

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I can't confirm that. I can only say, Mr. Speaker, that there is no community in the Province, not that I know of, certainly not under my signature have they been notified that they will or will not receive any capital funding this year. It will take some time for the final decision to be made on the infrastructure program. We are spending $25 million on the capital works program, and I think most people in the Province know who can qualify for that so I have to plead ignorance here as I don't know what the hon. gentleman is talking about. There are, absolutely, no letters gone out to any communities saying that you will not receive any funding this year. If Charlottetown has applied, they will be considered like everyone else but other than that, I don't remember that particular request so I am lost to the hon. member's question.

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

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

I note the minister said there has been no letter gone out to the community.

I wonder if the minister is aware if any official of his department has informed officials on the community council of Charlottetown, whether or not their application and their needs will be put very low on a priority list because they do not have an industry and because there is no employment in their community? I guess the real question to the minister and to the government is: here you are as a government, denying them an opportunity to establish an industry which will employ fifty to 100 people, and on the other hand you are telling them you can't have any capital works to get essential services because you don't have any employment. So the question to the minister and the government is: what are you saying to the people of Charlottetown and people in other rural communities in Labrador and the Island portion of this Province, do they have to languish in poverty and unemployment and do without essential services or get out? Is that really the message this government is giving to rural Newfoundland?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, that was quite a plea I guess, on behalf of rural communities in the Province of Newfoundland and I commend the member and I totally agree with everything that he says with regards to rural Newfoundland and he knows where I stand and where this government stands with regards to rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, he had me sort of confused to begin with, but when he said Charlottetown, I am assuming that Charlottetown was under the Labrador agreement, which is not under infrastructure or not under capital works. Charlottetown applies each year under the Labrador agreement, which is a special agreement, Mr. Speaker, with which I am sure a lot of members in the House are familiar; there is a Native agreement and a Labrador agreement which is funded by the federal government in conjunction with the provincial government, and there is an independent committee made up of representatives from Charlottetown and members of councils and groups of people up and down Labrador, who make decisions every year for the federal government and send their recommendations to me and then I make them to the federal government where money should be spent.

I have been in this position now for over two years, there has been, I think three Labrador agreements handled since I have been in the position and, Mr. Speaker, without any hesitation, I have not once interferred with where the money should go and I don't have any authority to say whether Charlottetown or Nain in regards to the Native agreement or any other community on the Labrador Coast has or should get money, and I am being honest here today and say to you that if Charlottetown qualifies under that Labrador agreement, I am certainly sure that Charlottetown will get their money.

I do say though, Mr. Speaker, quite honestly, that this government, as well as the Member for Grand Bank, is concerned about rural Newfoundland and we will continue as a government to be concerned about rural Newfoundland, with Charlottetown included.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

It was public knowledge in 1993 that the groundfish moratorium would be extended beyond May 15, 1994. Now, on April 19, 1994, ministers Axworthy and Tobin announced a new TAGS program at Hotel Newfoundland. Details were established for applying, and an appeals process was announced six days later. Now, more than a year later, there are still thousands of people awaiting appeals at different levels of the process. In fact, almost 200 people still have not had their appeals heard at the first stage, which is Level I. Now, does the minister feel that it is unfair that more than a year after a program is announced people's files still have not been picked up by HRD people?

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

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I suppose anyone would have to be concerned if their question or concern was not dealt with in a year, but I am not so sure the problem is exactly as the hon. member puts it, but I can assure you that both federal ministers are aware of the problem, and the issue has been addressed recently with a new appeal process being put in place. I am convinced and quite satisfied that the federal officials are going to be looking after the problem in due course.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question was, the Level I process that is in place since the program began, almost 200 people - 175, I was told yesterday - have not been picked up for initial examination, and the program started back in May of 1994. That is what I asked the minister.

Now I will get to the Level II process. The Level II process began in November of 1994, and the ten Level II appeals offices around this Province have dealt with between 1,000 and 2,000 cases. One individual, in particular I know, has dealt with over 1,700. Now, almost all of these cases were denied by HRD, and they are now going to go on to the third level, which only started hearings this week, I say to the minister. In fact, positive recommendations from Level II will be dealt with by Level III first, and then negative recommendations will be dealt with later. It will be 1996, I say to the minister, before many people will know if they are eligible or not.

It is unfair, I say, to have families without income, and turning to social assistance, and leaving this Province because of two years of bureaucratic red tape when he knew the program was being continued.

Will the minister do the honourable thing, take up the fight with his federal counterparts, and go to bat for the people of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. HULAN: I am not quite sure that there is a question here. I congratulate the hon. member on a great speech; it was quite something else during Question Period.

I think, if the hon. member will recall, back some weeks ago I led a delegation to Ottawa to discuss this very issue with both federal ministers and, as a result of that, the third level of appeal was put in place. As I said before, I am convinced that the whole process is on track and is working, and will be dealt with in due course.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On April 25, 1994, HRD and DFO conducted a technical media briefing on the TAGS program at the White Hills dealing with aspects such as eligibility criteria, extenuating circumstances, and duration of benefits. It was stated, and circulated here - and I have a copy; I was there - that fishers and plant workers may drop one year of attachment from their five-year reference period without penalty. Furthermore, it went on to say, in designated areas of catch failure, fishers and plant workers may be able to drop two years of attachment without penalty.

Now, HRD and DFO are falling back on their commitment. They are not living up to the commitment that they gave. I ask the minister: Will he address it with his federal counterparts and ask them why they are eliminating people from this program when they indicated that duration of benefits one year could be exempt and the other four years averaged? They are falling back on their word, and will the minister do something about it to ensure that they keep their promise?

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

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can inform this House that hopefully as early as next week I will be in Ottawa and I will be meeting with both federal ministers on this very issue once again. The concerns raised by the hon. member indeed will be addressed without question. The hon. member is quite well aware that there has been some difficulties with the interpretation with regard to catch failure and some other issues. Those issues were addressed when we had the earlier meeting in Ottawa on this very issue and the issues will again be addressed next week. I will be very happy, Mr. Speaker, to take with me the comments and concerns raised by the hon. member because I am equally concerned with the process and I appreciate the hon. member raising it in the House today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to table the report from the Internal Audit Division of Treasury Board into the payments to review commissioners at Workers' Compensation Review Division. I would like to point out, I have only two copies available right now. There are some others being taken off and as soon as the rest of them are available I will provide them to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having trouble hearing the hon. minister. I don't know if the House heard the latter part of the hon. minister's remarks.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act to Amend the City of St. John's Act." (Bill No. 19)

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Pensions Benefits Act." (Bill No. 18)

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act and The Mineral Holdings Impost Act." (Bill No. 21)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Judicature Act."

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, a couple of days ago the Member for Waterford - Kenmount asked some questions with respect to the growth of the budget for our Human Resources Division in the Department of Education and Training. I had the matters checked out. I should tell the hon. member that there is no growth in the total salary or the operating budget of the department except for some extra money for the implementation of the Royal Commission. But the hon. member was concerned with the Human Resources Division and he pointed out that under salaries, we have gone from $256,000 in this years budget or last years budget to $289,000 in next years budget. Now, Mr. Speaker, there was a reorganization in the department where three different divisions were changed into two, it went from three to two. As a result of that we were able to cut out a position in management, however we ended up having to put back in a union position. So the increase there, the explanation of that, there is a union position which drives that from $256,000 to $289,000 but if the hon. member will look across the page to the administrative support he will see that salaries under administrative support went from $321,000 down to $240,000. So that is one of the problems right there.

The other section that the hon. member had problems with was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the decorum in this House has gone down since the leadership changed over there. You can hardly get a word out but you are interrupted or you are jeered, Mr. Speaker. I think we are going to have to talk to the new leader and see if she can control her members over there.

The other area that the hon. member had concerns with, Mr. Speaker, was under purchase services which went from $9,000 to $86,000 and that indeed does seem like quite a jump. This is explained that all the staff training which used to be done - each division would pay for some staff training. That was all brought together under purchase services, Mr. Speaker, so that now instead of each division providing training for its staff, it will be all done through this vote of $86,000.00. In actual fact, I think you will find a substantial savings by streamlining our department. I thank the hon. member for bringing these things to my attention. I will have them checked out and I trust he is satisfied.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland on a point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education and Training is trying to give the impression that administrative support - actually $273,000 was the expenditure last year and it is down to $241,000 not $321,000 trying to give the impression that they saved $80,000 when it is only $33,000.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have a point of order? I take it there is no point of order.


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again today to present another petition on behalf of my constituents with regard to the electoral boundaries issue. This petition is signed by seventy-three residents of Green Bay, from Springdale, Harry's Harbour, Jackson's Cove, Silverdale, and Robert's Arm.

The prayer of the petition is as follows:

WHEREAS our communities have been in Green Bay for many years, and

WHEREAS a recent government proposal would see some of our communities assigned to the 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 the Green Bay district.

Mr. Speaker, this makes several times over the last number of days that I have presented concerns of my constituents through petitions in the House, from communities in Green Bay that do not want to be assigned to another district, and from other communities who do not want to see their friends and neighbours assigned to another district, Mr. Speaker. The petitions came as a result of actions on the part of the joint councils of Green Bay, and on behalf of the Green Bay Economic Development Association. Both organizations have an interest in seeing the existing district boundaries maintained and the existing community of interest maintained as well.

I also received in the mail yesterday, relevant to this issue, a copy of a letter to the Premier from the Mayor of the town of Grand Falls-Windsor protesting the electoral boundaries report and the effects it would have on the newly amalgamated town of Grand Falls - Windsor. The mayor states: " This division perpetrates the old division we have been trying so hard to remove." He says as well that the use of the names Windsor - Springdale and Grand Falls - Buchans, ignore a fact of history.

Mr. Speaker, you have communities in my district that do not want to see Green Bay district split and have a number of communities assigned to the Baie Verte Peninsula. You have communities in Central Newfoundland, especially the community of Grand Falls-Windsor, a newly amalgamated town, amalgamated at much expense, and debate, does not wish to see itself split again along the old borderline of the railway track, between the old towns of Grand Falls and Windsor.

Mr. Speaker, very few people in Central Northeast are happy with the outcome of the electoral boundaries procedure. They have not had an opportunity to have a comment on this. The House Leader on the government side has asked why I am bringing these petitions forward all the time. The fact of the matter is this is one method whereby the people in my district can bring their concerns before this assembly because they were denied the ability to have a say in this matter in the most recent electoral boundaries report.

The government treatment of this issue, and the fact that it continues to waffle on the issue, and not bring forward a clear position as to what it is going to do with regard to electoral boundaries is simply not good enough, and it is time some people on the other side had the guts to stand up and speak their mind on this issue as well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise today to make a few comments on behalf of my colleague and support his petition. I have had a chance to talk to some of my colleague's constituents about this particular matter because, of course, it relates to both of us as it being the district that is being split. Right now, to explain a little of the geography of it, if the change does go ahead as proposed for the forty-eight seats, I will take in eleven or twelve communities from the Green Bay side. The geography part of that, Mr. Speaker, is driving to the Trans-Canada and then driving over and down through Springdale again.

Now, there is no comparison really when I talk about the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, who I heard in the media talk about how he would have to fly to Gander and then fly to Stephenville down to the western part of his district. The more I heard about it, the more I speak to people, and the more people try to get the logic out of it, the more ridiculous it sounds. Also, a comment that is made, and is starting to be made more frequently than ever, is the whole process, the process in which we finally arrived at the stage we are now with the proposal that we see before us with forty-eight seats. Any member here in this House of Assembly and the Premier included would say that there was a public perception there and the public knowledge that people would like to see a reduced number of MHAS, a trimming down of government in this Province. I think we all agree with that, and nobody has a problem with that. What people would say then is that: Fair enough, if that is what the people want in the Province that is what they should get. Let's do it independently and let's take it from there. That is not where it stopped and that is not how this unfolded.

What has happened here is a process that was tampered with and intervened. That is as simple as it was. It started with the forty-four seats - actually, with forty seats first, and then into forty-four, and independent. Now the Premier makes the argument of one person, one vote. Fair enough, democracy and that type of thing, except for Labrador. So one for one, one for all. That is what I say.

There are two other considerations in this rock, this Island part of Newfoundland and Labrador, that should be taken into consideration. The most obvious and blatant one that jumps out at you is the geography of the Province and the geography of the different regions, so that each region is represented fairly by their member. Myself as well as my other colleagues, and I know members on both sides of the House, travel their districts a lot by road. I do. With twenty-one communities now to branch onto to with the poor road conditions on top of that it is very difficult. I like to get into the smaller towns as well as the bigger towns, especially in the summertime. My colleague for Bonavista South will have thirty-five communities.

Besides the geography part let's just take a quick comparison to, say for example, my colleague for Kilbride. He can drive around his district in twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes. It will take me eight hours to ten hours to drive around my district. Also, the next consideration, the logical one on top of that, is that I have to deal with the twenty-one councils, the fifteen fire departments, the five development associations. These are not exaggerations. These are just simple, straightforward facts. That is what I deal with as compared to an urban MHA. I think any of the members will agree.

There is a difference and it should have been taken into consideration. Now what I will end up with is thirty-three communities or thirty-two communities, I think it is, separated where I have to travel to the Trans-Canada and down another trunk road and then branch out again. It just does not give you the chance and opportunity to deal with a district which I deal with now. I will try my best and if the changes go through I will work as hard as I can for the people who I will gain out of the Green Bay District.

The point I'm making is the process that was started should have stayed independent and not tampered with, and touch on any political lines, and second of all the geography and the number of communities should have been a high priority and a high consideration in making the boundaries. That is the problem. We are not saying the reduction of seats is the problem. We've all rationalized that, and if that is what the people of the Province want, a leaner, trimmer government with lesser seats - but in all fairness, how can we say that it is anything significant to go from fifty-two to forty eight?

From what I can understand, the amount of money we've spent on commissions will take up the four salaries of MHAs. Really, there is no rationale or purpose to it. All it is is the perception. It is a perception that was tampered with and fooled with through the process. If it is going to change let's take the independent one that started from the beginning, stick with that, and we will all suck in and do what we can when we have to change our boundaries. But we are not going to support something that started out legitimate, as far as I'm concerned, and fair and done independently, and now take up a cause where it has been tinkered with and bambled around because of different arguments that came up from all different members.

It is hard to get all fifty-two members of course to agree on that because we are all going to be affected in some way. But when it comes to the geography point of this I can certainly see the Member for Fortune - Hermitage standing in his place and saying: My God, this is almost impossible -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you. By leave, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. SHELLEY: No leave from the House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further speakers on the petition?

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, no further petitions? I'm sorry, I thought I heard Orders of the Day.

MR. SPEAKER: No, I asked if there were any speakers on this petition and no one rose. Then I asked if there were further petitions.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you Your Honour. I'm sorry, I thought I heard you say that before. Would you be good enough to call the Budget speech which is Motion No. 1 on today's Order Paper. I think my friend for Placentia was enlightening us. We look forward to phase two.

MR. SPEAKER: The Budget speech, Motion No. 1.

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will try to continue where I left off the other day. I told people here before, that I'm delighted to be able to speak on the Budget. I would just like to let people know that the Government House Leader does have a heart. That is contrary -

MR. ROBERTS: It is well hidden.

MR. CAREEN: Yes, well hidden, but every now and again I see it. I keep telling the man that he should be using it more often.

Anyway, to continue on with the litany of broken dreams and promises of this Administration. The other day I was up and mentioned about the Social Services cutbacks. People have been regulated who never before had to draw on social assistance.

Social services - I see where their investigators are doing well. If someone is deliberately gypping the system, yes, catch them, but how many of these people who are being caught and ostracized are just poor managers? As I said to the Minister of Social Services a few weeks ago about cutting out not paying the light bills, if someone is gypping the system that is one thing; if a person is a poor manager and they fall behind on light and power, they should be taken on an individual basis, but no, what we see is cart blanche by this government, throwing other poor devils to the wolves.

We heard the other day about the crab fishermen. There are crab fishermen in the district of Placentia as well, and they want the best prices they can get. Not all of it can be harvested here, and if it is an advantage for the crab fishery and the people, or something that will benefit the economy of this Province as well as the people who are catching the crab, that is the right and fair thing to do. We all know that with NAFTA, progressively, as the years go by, we are going to be able to get more finished product into the United States. We have not reached that plateau yet, but it is a plateau that we should be working toward.

This year, Fitzgerald Park was opened shortly after the first phase-down in Argentia started to take place in 1968-'69. Because of blow-downs in a storm over a month ago, Fitzgerald Park will not be open for the May 24th weekend. They have brought in a couple of extra people from other parks to try to do the cleanup.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a Woodford Park? There is no Woodford Park, is there?

MR. CAREEN: No, not yet, but there is a Fitzgerald Park, called after the Member for Bonavista South.

A number of people from the Placentia area, Trinity area, points east and west, use that park, and they are disappointed that it is not going to be open for the May 24th weekend, which is a very big weekend for people to get away, the first long weekend of the Spring. A bit more planning should have been done when they ran into that sleet storm that knocked down those trees. There could have been something done with the seniors, under supervision. If they wanted wood, they could have been supervised. You can't leave it open to everybody to come in and take wood, because someone would say, `This fellow got this, and some other fellow got that', but if they had picked a segment of society they could have had that place cleaned and done. The reason why it is not being opened now is because the fallen trees pose a safety hazard, and nobody wants their safety jeopardized.

For members here, if you are not aware, the Federal Government is chewing into more things. I suppose you are all aware that in the regular student programs, federally, half the money is being cut out. Are you aware that in section 25 they are taking the material money out of it? that all your people, private businesses, non-profit organizations within your districts will not get one more cent of material money, the money that is very important to add a piece on or do another phase of what people in your districts intended to do and had been doing for years? The projects as they now stand are mostly good for private businesses, but we had numerous, thousands, across this Province of non-profit organizations that built infrastructure and added on to that infrastructure and did other phases of projects, but the private businesses never did, and I say, changed, will never do, and now they find themselves going to have a harder time. They always were cash strapped, and section 25 could help them over the hump, but that is not there anymore. What is there is just the labour money for section 25.

We see what TAGS is doing to the people of this Province ever since its announcement last year. We saw originally, the Northern cod - DFO having it, and it took them a good while to get a lot of the bugs out of the system, then we saw it going to HRD, passed from DFO because the new minister didn't want to be saddled with all the negative problems in this Province, so he didn't keep it within DFO when he got there, it went to the hon. Lloyd Axworthy in his department and there, ran into more bugs, more glitches on their machines, their computers, and more people falling through the cracks. We also see in places in this Province, on the Burin Peninsula now and on the Northern Peninsula, where they are passing it over to the Fishermen's Union for those on pilot projects and I wonder, will they have to go through the same mistakes that DFO and HRD went through, thereby frustrating the people who need the money worse, frustrating them even further.

We heard a while ago about the fire-fighters and the law suit going on in Bell Island and the Member for Humber Valley, up asking questions: What is this going to mean to the volunteer fire-fighters all over this Province? a very, very important question; very, very important. These people serve every nook and cranny of this Province and they need protection. They will hardly volunteer to go and put out a fire if they have a chance of being lawsuited, and while the judge is now making up his mind on what was presented to him, is this government moving to put anything into the legislation that will safeguard the volunteer fire brigades of this Province when they are doing their volunteer duty?

We see the Caboto group flying all over God's farm; the Caboto group who is not accountable, the `come fly with me' group, the group that sent six or seven people some time ago to Genoa to see where John Cabot was born. But they became a bit disturbed when the Member for Bonavista South and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes dared asked questions about some of the elite of this Province. Heaven forbid that we should ask questions! Well, some of those people in some of those high places have to be reminded that we are still in a democracy. They might not act like it but we have to. They are no more than the rest of us.

We note that Memorial University still doesn't have to be accountable. We are not wanting to get into the classrooms to see what they are spending their money on and what they are teaching but we certainly should know where they are spending their money. Somewhere around $125-$130 million a year - and we don't have to know. Well, I say that this House, we who represent the people of this Province, should know.

The electoral boundaries, now that is another dandy.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Absolutely, for a couple of minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: A few minutes.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you.

The electoral boundaries issue, it seems like someone took a gallon of paint and spread it over a map of this Province. I have seen what some members are going to propose to do. Like the Member for Fortune- Hermitage - he has to travel by car, plane and boat, wear out a couple of pairs of boots to get into parts of his district which is ludicrous! They are making exceptions for a couple of places on the Labrador. Now, I don't begrudge them that, but the Member for Fortune - Hermitage has a very, very distinct problem up in his district as well.


MR. CAREEN: If you had been here you would have heard why. You read Hansard or get someone to read it to you, I say to the minister. The man from Port de Grave has more problems than that; now he won't have to travel very far, he is going to travel very far. He is going to see what Santa Anna got at Santa Jacinta.


MR. CAREEN: You are going to come up against someone who is waiting for you.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, no, well you didn't - you turned your back on them and they are just waiting for a chance to get back at you, tit for tat.

AN HON. MEMBER: From Upper Island Cove.

MR. CAREEN: Upper Island Cove, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are going to do the job on him.

MR. CAREEN: UIC - Upper Island Cove.

They started off with the electoral boundaries, the announcement, then Judge Mahoney and Judge Mahoney again, then the Government House Leader, then Mr. Jones and now Judge Nat Noel who is trying to keep up with the Jones. The representation - and the money they have spent to date has been one waste of money. Rural Newfoundland is losing some six seats and St. John's is picking up two. With the exception of a couple of members who are in here from St. John's, particularly a man from St. John's South, I say gets a number of calls. I say you do, Sir - now, I might be guessing but I am probably guessing right. I say the Member for Kilbride who has urban/rural gets a number of calls and the Member for St. John's East Extern might get a number of calls but there are a number of them here who might get two or three calls a week while the rural members, no matter what side they are on, are getting twenty-five, thirty-five, forty-five calls a day. If anything is happening in your district, when some contactor or other is starting work you might get sixty or seventy calls a day. Now, with all of these changes coming in, what do you expect - to get 100 calls a day and frustrate people even further? I say, Mr. Speaker, to err is human but to really foul things needs the influence of this government. Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to join in the debate on the Budget Speech and pass on a few remarks concerning the overall approach that the government has taken, and the news, I suppose, that was announced to the people of this Province, that `We've balanced the Budget.'

`We've balanced the Budget,' and that is designed to send thrills down the spines of the people of this Province, but really it only pleases some people. It only pleases the bondholders, it only pleases the international financial markets, but it doesn't please the people of this Province who are without employment. It doesn't please the people of this Province who are receiving social assistance and have not seen an increase in rates for social assistance, and the overall general rate of social assistance, since this government came in in 1989. The only thing that has happened is that there has been an addition of $50 a month in the winter months for those requiring a heat supplement and an additional $50 a month for a single parent. Those are the only increases in the rate of social assistance since this government came in.

What is happening is that this government have turned their backs on the people who need help from government in order to be able to survive. There is continuously - and my friend, the Member for Placentia talks about calls that members receive from constituents about problems. The kinds of calls that are received are, more and more, calls about people who can't make it on what they are receiving in social assistance, who can't get proper housing, who are unable to get by on what they are being provided by the Department of Social Services - constant complaints about the inability to survive in rental accommodations because the rent is too high and there is no accommodation available from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing.

I had a letter recently from a woman who is receiving a total of $628 per month from Social Services and who lives in an apartment where she has to pay $475 a month rent. I passed the complaint along to the Minister of Social Services expecting the minister to try to find a solution for the problem that this woman had. The solution of the Minister of Social Services was to write me back and say that the reason that this woman had no money was because she was paying too much for housing, that she was only allocated $149 a month for housing with an additional $61 supplement, for a total of $210. As a result, this woman, according to the Minister of Social Services, was taking money away from her regular assistance to use towards rent. The advice of the Minister of Social Services was that this woman should find accommodations in keeping with her budget so that she would have sufficient money to be able to live.

This is a fifty-eight year old woman who has already raised children and is now unable to support herself - she has no means of support. And that is the answer of the Minister of Social Services and of this government for people who are in need. Mr. Speaker, the people in need in this Province are not only those who are on social assistance. I had a call the other night from a family where there is a husband, wife, and three children. The husband is working full-time for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation and yet, even though working full-time, this family has to go to a food bank to get sufficient food to be able to properly feed their children, and that only happened after some family members noticed that the wife of this couple had lost some twenty or thirty pounds, Mr. Speaker, and was underweight through malnutrition. The family member said, you had better go to the food bank, because you can't allow yourself and your health to deteriorate.

Now, this was a family where not only was the husband, the man of the house, as it were, working full-time, but this family was in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing paying subsidized rent and the man still had to go to a food bank in order to feed himself and his family. Those are the kinds of conditions that are going on.

MR. ROBERTS: They are not paying attention to you.

MR. HARRIS: The Government House Leader says that the Opposition are not paying attention to me. I think the Member for Bonavista South is paying attention because he is a person who is very interested in those issues of social assistance. I see the Member for Ferryland, although he is writing, has his earphone in and is listening to every word. Perhaps he is writing it all down, taking notes, so I say to the Government House Leader that perhaps he is wrong when he says they are not paying enough attention. The Member for Ferryland is actually taking notes on what I am saying.

MR. ROBERTS: He is taking notes of the hon. gentleman's speech.

MR. HARRIS: He has his earphone in and he is taking notes, and well he might, Mr. Speaker, pay attention,because this is a very serious issue.

We have, in this Province, a large number of people who are poor, and when I talk about people who are poor I want to refer hon. members to the Statistics Canada low income cutoff. Now, there has been a lot of talk about that. In fact,I heard the Member for LaPoile say - he either said it in the House or on television one time, that this Statistics Canada low income and poverty rate was so cockeyed that even a member of this House who had two or three children would be below the poverty line.

Well, Mr. Speaker, let me disabuse the Member for LaPoile and any other members who think so, of that notion. The Statistics Canada low income cutoff for 1993 for a family of four is $20,000 for rural areas, and would be most of the communities in this Province, because there is a separate category for communities of less than 30,000. But for rural areas the low income cutoff for a family of four is $20,800 and for a family of six, which would be four children - where the Member for LaPoile lives, in Port aux Basques, the low income cutoff for a family of six would be $24,749.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many children the Member for LaPoile has, but if he has four children then the low income cutoff for a family with four children, a family of six, would be $24,749. I think I get paid the same amount of money as the Member for LaPoile gets paid and let me tell you that the low income cutoff of $24,000 is nowhere near -


MR. HARRIS: He probably gets a lot more because he picks up travel allowances similar to what the Member for St. John's South picks up for travelling back and forth to his district.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who does?

MR. HARRIS: The Member for LaPoile. So he may actually get about the same as the Member for St. John's South. But we are not talking about that, we are talking about basic MHAs' salaries, and there is no comparison between the low income cutoff and the MHAs' salaries of which we speak.

What we see is that in this Province - and we are not unique and I don't think we have to go around saying that Newfoundland has more poor people than any other place; we don't. We have a significant number of people below the poverty line. In Newfoundland, sixteen percent of families are below the poverty line, the low income cutoff, and that is down a little bit from 1992, but it is up considerably from 1989 when it was at 12 per cent. So when this government came into office, 12.9 per cent of Newfoundland families were living in poverty, and in 1993, the last year for which stats are available, 16 per cent of Newfoundland families were living in poverty.

When we look at the unattached persons, unattached individuals, single men, single women, older people, who may not be living in a family unit, 41 per cent of unattached individuals in this Province live below the low income poverty line, and that is not very much money. The low income cutoff for a single individual in rural areas of Newfoundland is $10,500, and the reality is that unattached individuals - 40 per cent of all unattached individuals in this Province - have less than $10,000 on which to try to live and support themselves.

Now, that low income cutoff goes up if you move into a larger community. If you move into a community of between 30,000 and 99,000 people, the low income cutoff is increased to $13,200, and in a community of between 100,000 and 500,000 it is $13,572. In either case, it is not very much money. In fact, the low income cutoff for an unattached individual is not much more than what the minimum wage would get someone at forty hours a week for fifty weeks of the year. So there is a great disparity of income between those who are below the poverty line, whether they are in families or are unattached persons, and the average income of a Newfoundland family, and we have to do more - government has to do more for people who do not have the basic needs for their families and society met.

I have a letter here from a woman who lives with her ten-year-old daughter. She lives in a private home where accommodations are also rented to bedsitters. She has a very small apartment with no toilet facilities, and she and her daughter have to share bathroom facilities with strangers who occupy bedsitting rooms in the same house. This woman is on social assistance, and she is trying to get an apartment where she doesn't have to live in those conditions. She can't get one, Mr. Speaker. She has her name in for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing but she can't get a house because one is not available for her.

It is wrong, Mr. Speaker, that people have to live in those conditions when we have the possibility of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing redirecting their priorities so that people who have social housing needs are paid attention to over and above people who want to have ski chalets out in Corner Brook.

MR. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I'm listening to the minister. I know what the minister is going to say. The minister is going to get up and say at some point: Look, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is going to recoup every cent that it puts into the ground out in Corner Brook, and I'm sure they will.

MR. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: This is amazing! The minister says they are not spending any money in Corner Brook. I don't know how the minister can say that Newfoundland and Labrador Housing is not spending any money. Who does he think is paying for all the ads that are in the newspapers asking people to apply for housing? They are not spending any money. They are not spending any money in Steady Brook. They are not spending any money at all developing the project, not spending any person-hours of time of the officials of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing. Nobody at Newfoundland and Labrador Housing has anything to do with it. They don't spend any of their time involved with that development. I find that hard to believe, Mr. Speaker. Maybe the minister -

MR. REID: Aren't you competing with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing? How many houses do you own in the city of St. John's? How many apartments do you own in the city of St. John's?

MR. HARRIS: There is nobody competing with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing who can meet the social housing needs of the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker. The people who need housing are people who can't afford to pay the market rent for housing in this city.

The Minister of Social Services told a woman who wrote to me that she should get out of her $475-a-month apartment and find something within her budget. The Minister of Social Services said that this woman should find accommodations suitable to her budget, and her budget, according to the Minister of Social Services, had an allotment of $210 for rent.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now if the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations wants to get up and give us a list of the apartments available in St. John's that are fit to live in for $210 a month I would be very happy -


MR. HARRIS: None, the minister says. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in St. John's, I say to the minister, is $475. That is the average rent. If the Ministers of Social Services and Employment and Labour Relations think that the answer for individuals who have housing needs and who can't afford to rent at the market rent is to go somewhere else, or find accommodations suitable to their needs - the answer is that Newfoundland and Labrador Housing should be paying more attention to social housing than it is paying to the development of Marble Mountain.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: If the minister of wood stoves has a point to make, he should get on his feet and tell us all about wood stoves and how many wood stoves it takes to make a million dollars. Tell me how many wood stoves it takes to make a million dollars and how many applications have you got to send off to CHIP or CHAP or whatever they were -


MR. HARRIS: CHIP, was it? Okay. He is going to get up and tell us how many wood stoves it takes to make a million dollars, and he can make his speech when his time comes.

I'm talking about a very serious issue here and that is, the need for housing amongst my constituents who are calling me trying to get into Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and are being told - and I am not being lied to - they have been told there is a very long waiting list, so I suggest that perhaps the minister can ask his officials to concentrate a little bit more on that area.

I know they have some houses that are rented at market rates. I know Elizabeth Towers and housing down in Pleasantville and some housing in Churchill Square are rented at market rates, and I am assuming that the incomes from those houses are used to cross-subsidize some of the other programs and that's a good thing and may be an argument against selling off some of these premises, but it is a good thing that at least, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing has some income with which to help offset and provide a subsidy for some of the social housing and meet some of the social housing needs.

While I am on my feet, I want to compliment Newfoundland and Labrador Housing -


MR. HARRIS: Well, anybody who has driven around Buckmaster's Circle in the last year or so, around Ricketts Road and Buckmaster's Circle and Livingstone Street, and I drive around that area practically every day, they have done a marvellous job on refurbishing those apartments and those houses there. They look 150 per cent better that they did before; they look like homes as opposed to what might have been called, five years ago, run-down tenements. They look like homes, they are very attractive looking and I know that the people who live in them are feeling an awful lot better about their living accommodations, and have much more pride in themselves in living in a place that looks attractive and decent and reasonable instead of looking the way they had in the past in terms of being run down, and I would suggest that anybody who is interested in social housing and infill housing and those kinds of programs should go and have a look.

The Member for St. John's South I am sure, has had a look at the Buckmaster's Circle refurbishing that Newfoundland and Labrador Housing has done. Livingstone Street and Ricketts Road and McKay Street, a marvellous job; they look really good and I am sure it makes a big difference to the people who are living in them that they have a place that's better looking and more conducive to a sense of pride in the place where you live and obviously has a better atmosphere all around for families and children to grow up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It is a job to keep them up, says the member. Well, I say to the member, if a job like that is done it is certainly a big incentive to have them kept up and I would also say to the member that some of the best kept public housing in this Province is in the member's District of St. John's South on Shea Heights, some of the best kept public housing in this whole Province is on Shea Heights. I worked up there, Mr. Speaker, a lot of it is public housing but the people who live in those houses have a great deal of pride in their homes and I have been in many of them and can testify and I dare say the Member for St. John's South has probably been in as many or probably more than I have, and they do have a special pride of ownership, a pride of living space because they don't own them obviously but they certainly have shown their appreciation for the most part. I mean obviously, there are a few exceptions but for the most part the public housing stock is very well appreciated and well kept up in the Shea Heights area.

We do see, Mr. Speaker, a real lack in this Budget of feeling, for the needs of ordinary folks trying to struggle by without a proper income, without any income from employment. We don't see any responsibility being taken to provide employment programs that are going to meet the needs that exist; we do see a little bit here, a little bit there. I see the Minister for Natural Resources making more notes about how many trees he is going to plant this year but that is a drop in the bucket, in terms of the needs that this Province has for employment and employment programs.

We cannot go on, Mr. Speaker, seeing our industries laid waste. The Premier, according to his speech today in response to questions from the Leader of the Opposition, seems to be prepared to see the dockyard go the way of the Great Auk, Mr. Speaker, if it has to be subsidized, if it cannot meet its obligations, if it cannot be profitable on a year to year basis. The Premier seems to be prepared to see the Newfoundland Dockyard go the way of the Dodo. Does that make sense, Mr. Speaker?

We heard the stats read yesterday. The Member for Kilbride presented us with some valuable information about the financing of the dockyard and the payroll of the dockyard and the obvious common sense answer is that if the dockyard needs to be subsidized to the tune of $3 million a year to be able to have a $28 million payroll, well sobeit. Let's do it because we are going to get $8 million in taxes between the federal and provincial governments in income tax. All the money they spent is going to be GST paid to the federal government and PST paid to the provincial government. So if it takes $3 million a year to keep the dockyard open, sobeit.

Is that cockeyed financing, Mr. Speaker? Is that cockeyed financing to say that the dockyard, at a $3 million subsidy should be kept going because it benefits 800 people with employment and their families, the houses that they build and the money that they spend? Is it cockeyed economics to say that a $3 million subsidy to produce a $28 million payroll for 800 people, providing them with an income and a return in taxes about three or four times the subsidy, all told when you add it all up? Is that cockeyed financing or is the cockeyed financing the one that says it is losing $3 million, shut it down? That is the cockeyed financing that the Premier is promoting here today. He said today that if it cannot make a profit, if it cannot make a go of it, if it has to be continued to be subsidized well then it might have to go. I don't think, Mr. Speaker, that the people of this Province can afford to have this Provinces industries laid waste like that by the attitude that was expressed today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) it needs capital.

MR. HARRIS: We all know it needs capital. It does need capital but there should be no excuse, Mr. Speaker, for that dockyard to close. If it needs $3 million a year to stay open then the money should be provided. If it needs capital well then surely that capital can be financed over a period of time, paid for over a period of time and reap benefits to this Province in the meantime. So I hope that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is going to get beyond Rod Morrison and get to the real decision makers in Ottawa to ensure that the dockyard does not get laid waste by the federal government as they are trying to lay waste CN, as they are trying to lay waste Marine Atlantic.

They have already conned the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, sure they already conned him on the South Coast. Where is the $60 million? Where is the perpetual fund that the minister promised the people of the south coast? Where is the $60 million fund that the minister promised the people of the south coast that he was going to have, that he was to bring down and he was going to put it in the bank? It was going to be a solid trust. It was going to be a trust. The interest alone was going to provide a subsidy. In perpetuity he said, in perpetuity and what happened? What happened to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation? He has egg all over his face because the Minister of Finance took that $60 million and claimed to have a balanced budget with his $60 million fund, his trust fund which was supposed to be the perpetual motion machine for the South Coast ferry service.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Eagle River wants to dump the Labrador coastal ferries too I suppose. Is that going to happen with the assistance and support of the Member for Eagle River? Is the Member for Eagle River going to support getting rid of the coastal ferries in Labrador? I understand the Member for Eagle River wants to join Svend in Ottawa. I understand the Member for Eagle River is planning to go to Ottawa to join Svend in the Parliament of Canada. He is just waiting for Uncle Bill to be appointed to the Senate and then the Member for Eagle River will be off to Ottawa to join Svend Robinson and the other MPs in Ottawa. I do not know what he is going to do when he is there.


MR. HARRIS: Well, I think we will have to see whether or not the people of Labrador would be interested in having the Member for Eagle River go to Ottawa. I say they would have their doubts about him now. He has been back and forth to Ottawa a lot. He probably spends more time in Ottawa now, rending cars in Hull, renting cars every week, more time there now than he spends in Blanc Sablon, and more time than he spends in his own district. He is busy going back and forth to Ottawa at the behest of the Minister of Fisheries.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, the Premier.

MR. HARRIS: Oh, the Premier. Does he take the Minister of Fisheries with him?


MR. HARRIS: So, we have two, we have a Minister of Fisheries and we have an emissary. We have the emissary to Ottawa in the form of the Member for Eagle River.

But, Mr. Speaker, I have been diverted from my concerns about the devastation being wreaked on services in this Province by the Government of Canada, with the willing co-operation of the Liberal government of Newfoundland and Labrador. They did it with Marine Atlantic on the South Coast and there seems to be other plans afoot about the Lewisporte service. They even have this great idea that during the great influx of tourists in 1997, and the Member for Placentia, I am sure, is interested in this, they want to take the ferry away from Argentia for 1997 so they can bring more people to Port aux Basques. I do not know whose idea that was. Perhaps the Member for LaPoile was behind that one, to see if he can get more people to come through LaPoile and through Port aux Basques and nobody go to Argentia. That is one of the great ideas of Marine Atlantic, to devastate the coastal service in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to see, and the people of Newfoundland do not want to see, the kind of willing co-operation and understanding they are getting from members opposite for their plans to cut back once again on their services. We have seen the kind of cockeyed economics, and cockeyed accounting that allows Marine Atlantic to regard the Newfoundland Dockyard as a waste of money, a waste of subsidy, and a waste of time.

MR. CRANE: (Inaudible)

MR. HARRIS: Well, I say to the Member for Harbour Grace that the dockyard accounting seems to be a particular brand of accounting all its own, the cockeyed dockyard accounting. Rod Morrison's salary is probably included as part of the dockyard's expenses. I would say that a portion of Rod Morrison's salary is included in the expenses of the dockyard, and maybe it should be, but the question then becomes, what happens to Rod Morrision's salary if the dockyard is closed? Does that then make the rest of Marine Atlantic even less viable?

They had a subsidy of $94 million last year. If you applied their version of economics to that, and said, well, we have to look at a stand-alone-enterprise they should shut the whole thing down and have no services, have no coastal service in Newfoundland, no ferry services in the Gulf, nothing anywhere. Perhaps all they should do is have a big enough subsidy to subsidize the head office in Moncton. Have the head office there, the senior executives paid, and have no services provided, and they will cut their subsidy down to about $3 million. All they would have then is a $3 million subsidy, no services, and they would be saving themselves $95 million. That is the kind of cockeyed economics that you can get into if you start looking at the way that Marine Atlantic is looking at the Newfoundland Dockyard.

I think what has to happen, Mr. Speaker - and the Member for St. John's Centre, he seems to have gotten wiser since he left the Cabinet, for some reason, said yesterday in his speech that there should be an effective and honest cost-benefit analysis of the Dockyard to this Province and to the community of St. John's before anything is done. Before the federal government is allowed to put to an end this great industry in St. John's that has provided not only work but also training and skills development for thousands of workers down through the years.

The Newfoundland Dockyard can do a lot of other things. There was someone on the radio the other day - I didn't agree with everything he said - but he had a few things to say about diversification. That the Newfoundland Dockyard with the skills and with some new equipment could be engaged in other areas of manufacture, as has been done in other dockyards in Europe. What we are really talking about is a heavy industrial fabricating plant. It is a heavy industry fabricating plant with skills and a skilled workforce which is probably its biggest and largest asset. The greatest asset of the Newfoundland Dockyard is the skill of its workforce. Working together in teams which showed their effectiveness last year in building the cement barge, the batch plant, for the Hibernia project.

We all know, we are being reminded all the time, what great standards they have at HMDC. The highest standards in all of industry. They demand near-perfection, if not perfection itself. They were singing the praises of the project to produce the batch plant ahead of time and meeting the exacting quality standards HMDC has placed on its work and on its workforce.

So we know from our own experience in the last six months that the Dockyard workforce and management have the capability of doing superior work when given an opportunity and a chance to do so. We look forward to a great campaign by this government, and by members on both sides of the House, to ensure that that workforce is allowed to do what it is trained to do, is allowed to continue to operate within an industrial base which is well positioned -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker, for a few minutes to finish up?

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to conclude my remarks and go back to the general theme.

The Dockyard is one example of where the people of this Province have the ability, the skills, the training, and the desire to be productive and be engaged in modern, world-class, if you want to use the old cliché, activity that they've demonstrated their capability of being a part of. Yet the government which owns the operation is not prepared to give them that chance. The Government of Newfoundland, which doesn't own it, they have a far closer public trust for the people of this Province, they have an obligation to ensure that this industrial opportunity is not laid waste.

We need more than just a sit back approach and hope that things will happen. You know, we have the Strategic Economic Plan and the EDGE corporation. Some of those can be effective in offering certain incentives to allow things to happen, but there are other areas where the government has to make things happen, and the dockyard is one of them, and if we don't have that kind of proactive stance from the government we are going to see the further devastation of our workforce, and further deterioration of our unemployment rate, and further pain and suffering, and more expenses, and more cost to the public treasury, to support the people who are therefore unable to be productive members of society, and that is crime if that is allowed to happen.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before I get into an analysis of the Budget in a major way, I would like to draw to the attention of members a news release issued by the Premier earlier this afternoon. It is quite astounding. The Premier is saying that all five former Cabinet ministers to whom some representatives of the media attributed concern about the decision by Cabinet to award a contract to build three health care centres to Trans City Holdings have expressed to him their confidence that Cabinet made the decision that was in the best interest of the public.

So it seems as though the Premier has either browbeaten the five former ministers into submission by threatening expulsion from the caucus, or by other negative or positive inducements, or else he has issued this statement without their knowledge and consent.

What is astounding is that the five Liberal members would not be speaking for themselves. Here we have the Premier presuming to speak for the Member for Twillingate, and the Member for St. John's Centre, and the three other former members.

AN HON. MEMBER: The five mouseketeers.

MS. VERGE: The five mouseketeers have either retreated into their mouse holes, or else the Premier has pulled a fast one on them. It will be interesting to see how they react over the next few days.

Mr. Speaker, regardless of what those former ministers and the others who took part in the 1991-'92 decision to do the deal with Tom Hickman, Bill Case and Joe Butler, regardless of what they are saying now, the fact of the matter is that none of them should have been part of making that deal. It is obvious it was wrong. It has been judged by the Supreme Court to have been a violation of the Public Tender Act, and it is not only going to amount to an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers of the $3 million in court order damages; it is going to tally a much higher total of waste of scarce taxpayers' money.

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the government cannot back up its preposterous claim that the deal was in the best interest of the taxpayers because they are not prepared to subject it to an independent analysis, and they have never produced any statistics or calculations showing that it was less expensive than the alternatives that were available to the government.

This statement by the Premier is absolutely scandalous. Make no wonder none of the five former ministers is in his seat now. I would suggest either the five of them are hiding their heads in shame, if they know about this statement; if they don't know about it, perhaps the Premier sneaked it out while they were absent, but we will find out in the next day or so because those five members will be called to account.

It will be interesting to see if the Member for St. John's Centre really has recanted, or whether he has the courage to continue to make the assertions he made in his news release a couple of weeks ago.

Mr. Speaker, the Budget that is before us for debate is one that amounts to a very great distortion of the fiscal reality. This document is extremely misleading in attempting to show a bottom line current account surplus for the last fiscal year of some $25 million, and in claiming a projected current account surplus for the new fiscal year of about $130 million.

Mr. Speaker, these figures are not real, they are illusionary. They were concocted by the taking into current account one-time transfers by the federal government for the downloading from the feds to the Province of the South Coast and White Bay ferry services, transfers that the minister responsible earlier said would be invested with the interest earned being used for the ongoing annual ferry operations.

Mr. Speaker, the block payment by the feds to the Province for the future operation of the ferry has been spent. $31 million received last year was already consumed by daily needs last year, that's gone, and some $13 million that will come in this fiscal year as a second instalment from the federal government for the ferry operations, has been taken, according to these projections, for meeting the current requirements this year. So, Mr. Speaker, the provincial government has distorted the budgetary facts by taking those transfers that were intended for investment for ongoing ferry operations, and using them for daily requirements last year and this year.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the government has taken substantial amounts that were earlier invested in a sinking fund to retire debt for current requirements last year and much more substantially this year. Now, Mr. Speaker, what the government has done is misleading; they have basically attempted to trick the public into believing that they have been fiscally responsible. They have falsely made the claim that the Budget was better than balanced last year with a small surplus and that it will amount to a fairly hefty current account surplus this year.

Why the government is making such a distorted claim is difficult to understand. The only explanation is that they are interested in short-term political advantage and they are somehow willing to forego presenting to the public an accurate and complete Budget picture so, Mr. Speaker, the first comment about this Budget is that it is not for real, it is illusionary. There is trickery involved in concocting rosy bottom lines when the fiscal reality is something else.

The federal government payment for the ferries should be invested and the revenue used for the ongoing ferry operations. The investment made earlier in the sinking fund should be used for the purpose intended, namely retiring debt. In addition, Mr. Speaker, the government has attempted to exaggerate the bottom line of this year's Budget by projection one-time gains from sale of assets as coming into current account. On an individual basis, Mr. Speaker, each one of us could be cash rich and asset poor if we sell our house and for a year or so spend the net proceeds on groceries and entertainment but that won't last very long, so we have to ask what's the government, in a couple of years going to do, what are we going to do after we win the next election.

We will not inherit as fiscally sound an operation as this present administration is attempting to make the voters believe, but, Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province are beginning to catch on to the techniques of the Premier and his adminstration. Granted, this is a government that has employed with some short-term success, a cadre of public relations specialists. With the help of these PR experts they've been able to manipulate the facts and massage the figures to create an illusion that did impress people for a short time. That effect is wearing off.

It began to wear off last year when the Premier launched his effort to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Hydro privatization was an initiative that most people in the Province opposed at a gut level. People might not have been able to explain all the reasons why they felt selling Hydro was wrong, but they knew deep in their beings that it would be disadvantageous for the Province. People rose up, people spoke up individually and organized themselves into a variety of citizens groups with coalitions of diverse interest coinciding to pressure the government to back off.

Mr. Speaker, there was Hydro, then there was Trans City. Thanks to the court case last fall the accusations that had been made by the Official Opposition and the unsuccessful bidders at the time back in the fall of 1991 were revealed to have been true. Through the court proceeding the people of the Province were made privy to a series of confidential Cabinet documents and testimony of senior public servants which indicated that the Premier and the `Gang of Four,' the Cabinet committee chaired by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, along with the current Minister of Education and Training, the current Minister of ITT and the current Speaker, knew full well that doing the deal with Trans City was wrong.

They knew full well that they were running afoul of the public tender act. They were warned by the government's senior lawyer that the Trans City arrangement would at the very least violate the spirit of the public tender act, and would almost certainly lead to a legal challenge by the unsuccessful bidders. The Premier and the `Gang of Four' knew from the senior officials of the Department of Finance that there were cheaper alternatives available to the government to get those three health care facilities. Self-financing would have been substantially less expensive.

The Premier and the `Gang of Four' knew from the senior officials of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation responsible for the tendering process that the original tender call was unfair because it was so vague and misleading. Those politicians headed by the Premier, orchestrated by the Premier, knew that the original Trans City bid didn't even meet the program requirements of the Department of Health. But in the face of all that information and analysis, against all that expert advice by the senior public servants in four government departments - Justice, Finance, Works, Services and Transportation, and Health - the Premier gave the orders that his buddy Tom Hickman was going to get those contracts regardless.

It is common knowledge around St. John's, in the St. John's business community, that after the tenders were in and the public service analysis ruled out Trans City on all the grounds that I mentioned - ruled it out on legal grounds, ruled it out on financial grounds, ruled it out on health program grounds - that Tom Hickman, vacationing in Florida, got word of what was up and flew back in a rage, vowing that after all he had contributed to the Premier's salary supplement when the Premier was Leader of the Opposition that he was getting not one of those contracts, not two of those contracts, but all three of those contracts. Tom Hickman flew back from Florida and he got the three contracts, and he bragged about it afterwards.

The people of the Province understand now that that deal was corrupt. The people of the Province are seeing now that the government is slickly, slyly, manipulating the electoral boundary change process. The people of the Province are being told about the government's interference with a legitimate commission, the Mahoney Commission, about Commissioner Mahoney's refusal to do the bidding of the deposed Minister of Justice, about the minister's judge-shopping and now the government's attempt to rig or gerrymander forty-eight districts to suit their own partisan needs.

So, Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province, after the experience of the last couple of years, aren't nearly as inclined as they might have been earlier to swallow the Budget presentation. The Budget was packaged slickly with the assistance of the core of public relations specialists. The initial presentation was very positive - a current account surplus of $25 million for the last fiscal year, a projection of a surplus of $130 million in the new year. Mr. Speaker, if that were true, most people in the Province would be quite pleased, but what the Budget didn't indicate is that those bottom line numbers were concocted by taking into current account amounts that didn't belong in the daily operating budget, that the bottom lines had, built into them, substantial amounts from Ottawa for the ongoing operation of the ferries for last year and much moreso this year, very large amounts that were earlier set aside to go against the debt, to pay down the debt.

MR. SPEAKER: I hate to interrupt the hon. member, but under the standing rules it is 4:00 p.m. and I have to announce the questions for the adjournment debate at 4:30 p.m.

The first question is to the Minister of Natural Resources, re: claim staking, and that is from the hon. the Member for Green Bay. The second question is to the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, re: fishing industry processing capacity reduction, and that is from the Member for Grand Bank. The third question is to the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture on the TAGS program and it is from the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So I made the point that the Budget is misleading in putting forward rosy bottom line, current account surpluses, when the reality is something else - when large amounts that don't belong in current account were inserted, when large payments that belong elsewhere, in debt retirement or in an investment for ongoing ferry operations have been squandered for daily requirements.

Mr. Speaker, the Budget also was calculated to deceive people when the minister and other members of the government made the claim that there were no job cuts. What has happened, of course, is that the budget provision for block funding for institutions such as municipalities, Memorial University, colleges, school boards and hospitals, were short-changed to the point that they had to reduce their workforce by substantial numbers and cut their programs. So the job loss contained in the Budget was not put forward on Budget Day in the Budget document presented by the Minister of Finance in this House of Assembly. That bad news was passed down to the agencies depending on the government for funding. So it is only recently, that we have heard that municipalities are harder hit than they were formerly. It is only lately we are hearing that the university is having to cut personnel and programs. It was only last week that we heard about the community colleges having to gut Adult Basic Education, and we are only now getting the news about hospital personnel reductions and bed closures. So, Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the government tried to represent in the Budget, the effect of the figures contained in the Budget is a substantial reduction in public service employment in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, the Budget was also painted in such a way as to make people believe that there would be no tax increase. There certainly is a tax increase in other names. One of the major provisions that will lead to a substantial cost in consumer spending is the $20 million hit on Hydro. Hydro has been a favourite target of this government. In their first year in office the government began to phase out the $30-million-a-year subsidy to the power distribution district, the subsidy provided for rural areas such as that represented by the loudmouth from Eagle River.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, that $30 million a year is now all gone. It was phased out, $10 million in the first year, $20 million in the second year, all $30 million in the third year. That is $30 million that the Provincial Government used to provide Hydro to help out the cost of electricity for rural residents. That was taken away.

Then, in the first year of its administration, the government started charging Hydro a $10 million annual loan guarantee fee, so there is the $30 million the government took away, the $10 million the government loaded on; that is $40 million.

Then, the government started demanding that the Upper Churchill royalties of about $5 million a year be paid by Hydro to the government, so we have the $30 million, the $10 million and the $5 million - that is $45 million - and now we have a $20 million hit. That is $65 million a year this government has taken from Hydro, which Hydro has no choice but to pass on eventually to electricity consumers. Hydro has to go to the Public Utilities Board to seek rate increases to make up for that $65 million loss.

Mr. Speaker, $65 million a year, each year, every year, thanks to this government, with the devious means of taking it, will be coming out of the pockets of the voters and citizens of this Province. That is $65 million each year, every year. Now, the $65 million won't show up in any tax bill, but it will be on the light bill - it will be on the bill from Newfoundland Power - and it won't be because of Newfoundland Power's operations that it will show up there; it won't be because of Hydro's operations that it will be there; it will be because of decisions made at the Cabinet table of this Administration, a Cabinet which started in at the electricity consumer in its first year in office, and to date has added to the burden so that it now totals $65 million a year. That is a whopping tax increase, a tax increase by another name. It is an electricity rate increase imposed by the policy decisions of this government.

So, Mr. Speaker, this Budget is grossly misleading by putting forward current account surpluses which are illusionary, which are based on tricky accounting. It is misleading because it hides the job cuts that it forces. It requires the agencies depending for their operations on government grants to give the bad news to people.

The bad news was dictated by the Premier and the Cabinet sitting around the Cabinet table, but instead of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board being up front with people on Budget Day and saying that the Budget would lead to hundreds of public sector jobs being lost, it is only now that the municipalities, Memorial, the colleges, the school boards and the hospitals, coming to grips with their reduced funding from the government, are making the decisions to lay off personnel and to cut programs.

Mr. Speaker, similarly, the Budget involved trickery because it was represented in such a way as to hold the line on taxes when in fact there is a whopping electricity bill increase just waiting to come with the extra burden being loaded onto Hydro, which, as we all know, eventually has to be recouped by Hydro from Newfoundland Power, who, in turn, will put it on the light bills of all the people around the Province.

This Budget fails to come to grips with major challenges facing the Province. One challenge which has been identified by the government is the under-funding of the public sector pension plans. The problem has been described, it has been calculated, but there is nothing in this Budget which shows that the government has seriously started to address the problem.

There has been a massive cut in federal funding to the Province. The projected drop in federal funding for the Provincial Government in federal transfers to the Province for the next fiscal year, for 1996-1997, is $110 million. That is a very substantial amount of money. There is nothing in this Budget indicating preparation for that sharp drop in federal revenue. The bad news is waiting to be fully revealed. The politicians who will have to make provincial budgets over the next couple of years are going to have an extremely difficult job which has been compounded by the actions of this government.

In the next couple of years - of course, it won't be possible for, well, next year, let alone in two years time, it won't be possible for the government to trump up current account by spending transfers from the Federal Government for ferry operations, unless they have in mind accepting responsibility for more ferry operations. Some of my colleagues are suspicious about what the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation may be up to. We can only sell Newfoundland Hardwoods once, we can only sell the Holiday Inns once. Those proceeds are slated to go into current account and be spent on daily requirements this year. What of investments in sinking funds to retire the debt? At some stage don't we have to deal with the debt problem? Aren't we simply postponing for later years, perhaps for other politicians, for a later generation of taxpayers, the real problems?

Mr. Speaker, real challenges are not addressed in this Budget. Now, the Budget is the product of considerable waste of money. Last year the government and Hydro, funded by the government, or an agency for which the government is responsible, squandered about $10 million in a misguided, irresponsible attempt to privatize Hydro. Now, think of what that $10 million could have provided if it had been invested to pay for future ferry operations, to pay for future health and education services. That was $10 million squandered, $10 million mostly spent on mainland professional firms, $10 million that went in part to the Rothschilds, that went in another part to investment dealers, that went in another part to a big downtown Toronto law firm, $10 million that mostly went out of the Province, $10 million that went, in some measure, to members of the board of Hydro who, I would suggest, were in a conflict of interest position and never should have been paid to do work associated with selling the corporation that they should have been trying to protect, as members of the board.

Mr. Speaker, last year we revealed the substantial payments made to the board chairperson, Jim Chalker, and also to Roly Martin, who lives in Halifax. So $10 million that was squandered last year out of the public purse, whether paid for by Hydro or the government, could have been used for other purposes, to meet current accounts, or it could have been invested, and if that $10 million had been invested, we would be earning revenue from it that would improve our current position for years to come.

The Budget is totally inadequate on the economic front. We still have the government paying money for the foolish Economic Recovery Commission and Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador. Well, ever since the Recovery Commission was set up the economy has been getting worse. Some of us objected to the word `recovery' at the time. Little did we think five years ago that not only would the commission not improve the economy, but would actually operate hand in hand with economic decline.

Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador is an agency that the government has poured a substantial amount of money in. There was a recent exposé done by CBC Television indicating the inadequate controls at ENL and the amount of money that was recklessly loaned out and subsequently written off because debtors did not repay their loans.

At the same time as the government went gaga over Doug House and the new economy, and there may be some opportunities cited by those gurus that are certainly worth pursuing, the government has grossly neglected our basic, traditional, resource-based industries, industries for which we have a natural advantage, and I am talking about the fishery, and I am talking about the forestry.

There is nothing in this Budget that is calculated to make a thrust by the provincial government in the fishery. The government has been hiding from the fishery, even to the extent of burying the name `fishery' from the name of the department. We have this pathetic name now of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, FFA. Similarly in forestry, we no longer see the word `forestry' in the name of a department. Who in the Province knows today the name of the provincial Minister of Fisheries? Who in the Province today knows the name of the provincial Minister of Forestry? I would suggest there are people in this House of Assembly who don't know, so how can we expect people outside to know?

Mr. Speaker, this Budget is economically inadequate. On the social front it is quite insensitive. We have a social assistance caseload that has been growing and growing. When the Liberals came to power in May of 1989 the social assistance caseload was under 20,000. The number of family units, the number of individuals getting welfare at the time, was under 20,000. Now that number has continued to rise. It has risen steadily year after year after year, until now it is about double what it was six years ago - six short years ago.

Despite the constant, steady growth in dependence on social assistance, the government has continually underestimated the social assistance requirement. For the new fiscal year the government is projecting spending less on social assistance than last year.

Now, Mr. Speaker, either the government is going to have to supplement that amount later in the Budget year, as it has frequently in the past, or it is going to seriously shortchange people in this Province who have no means of a livelihood, no means of buying groceries, or meeting basic living requirements other than getting welfare. Social assistance, as those familiar with the rates know, is very meagre. People living only on social assistance are barely scraping by and it is difficult for people depending on social assistance to have a nutritious diet, so how the government can expect to operate this year with a $10 million reduction on social assistance payments is beyond most of us. I would suggest they themselves do not seriously expect to keep to that Budget projection.

Mr. Speaker, while I am talking about social assistance I have to once again make a point that I began to make when a very regressive change was made by the current Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. It is extremely important for social support programs, for income support programs to have built into their design an incentive for people to help themselves, to do whatever they can that leads to income generation on their own part. Today a large percentage of people on social assistance are used to working, have worked in the past, and want to work now. The reason that we have twice the social assistant caseload currently than we did six years ago is because of the terrible economic situation in the Province, because of UI changes, and people coming off TAGS.

Most of the additional social assistance caseloads, most of the 20,000 family units who have been added to the rolls involve people who are able to work and who can work, so it is very important that we build into the regulations incentives for people to help themselves and do the best they can. The regressive change I am referring to that runs contrary to a positive incentive for people to help themselves is one made by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation when he autocratically decreed that income from court-ordered maintenance and child support, instead of being allowable would be non-allowable.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that killed the incentive for social assistance recipients entitled to court-order maintenance, and most of them are single mothers, to even try to get a court order for child support. The meaning of making maintenance non-allowable is that every dollar coming into a household in the form of court-ordered maintenance is subtracted from the social assistance entitlement. The reality is that social assistance recipients are worse off now than they were six or seven years ago.

MR. EFFORD: That is not correct.

MS. VERGE: Six or seven years ago court ordered maintenance did not return very much money to dependent families because there was no effective mechanism to collect it, but one of the good decision I made when I was in Cabinet, along with the Peckford administration, was setting up the Support Enforcement Agency which is a division of the Department of Justice dedicated to enforcing court orders for maintenance, and collecting the payments, and forwarding them to the family members entitled to them.

Now, it was just a few months after the Support Enforcement Agency was up and running, and producing good results for dependent families that the minister took away the benefit from the families which needed the extra income the most. Those families depending on social assistance.

Now, Mr. Speaker, under the former regulations that categorize maintenance as allowable, the net gain to the social assistance dependent families was only $115 a month. Now $115 a month is probably not very much to somebody who owns shares in Rolls Royce but I assure you for a single mother with three children getting only $400 or $500 a month from social assistance, $115 a month is very significant. So, Mr. Speaker, the point I am making is that that change took away the incentive for dependent families on social assistance to even try to get a court order for maintenance. Now with the change, even though by now both the Department of Justice is computerized and a sophisticated computer set-up was provided for the support enforcement agency when it started and the Department of Social Services has caught up with the computer age and is now computerized but somehow the two are not synchronized.

What happens to dependents when the maintenance payments are late is that they have a cash flow crisis. The social assistance cheques are now calculated counting on regular on time receipt of maintenance payments through the Support Enforcement Agency but when they are not received regularly and on time then obviously the dependent family is short cash; cash needed for groceries, cash needed for the basics. So there is a disincentive. Families on social assistance now are actually better off if there is no court order for maintenance. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot I could say about what is wrong with this budget. In short, it is fiscally misleading and irresponsible. It is economically inadequate and it is socially insensitive.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I am debating the motion before us which is a motion that the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board moved that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider the raising of Supply. I wish to move an amendment that all of the words after the word, `that' be struck and replaced with the following quote, `that this House condemn the government for its failure to accurately represent the true state of the economy of the Province and the governments consequential failure to take appropriate budgetary action to deal with the real problems.' That amendment motion, Mr. Speaker, is seconded by the Member for Waterford - Kenmount who is sitting patiently in his seat. Mr. Speaker, in plain language that is a non-confidence motion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: That is a motion made on behalf of thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, that we have lost confidence in this government!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: It is a motion that the 'real change' promised by the Liberals when they campaigned for election in 1989 was indeed a change but it was a change for the worse. It is not the change that the Liberals promised. It is not the change that involved bringing every mother's son home from the mainland. It is not the change that involved five new universities being opened. It is not the change that involved opening more hospital beds. Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province are sadly disillusioned by this government. They no longer trust the government. They no longer consider that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: I am just trying to help the Leader of the Opposition get something clear. She has now moved the amendment, is that right? Has Your Honour ruled that the amendment is in order and so on?

MR. SPEAKER: No, the Chair -

MR. BAKER: I just want to get clear on what she is speaking to now. I am assuming that she is now speaking to the amendment. So I was wondering - we need some kind of a decision whether it is in order or not so we can then proceed properly.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has not seen a copy of the amendment. So if I could have a copy of the amendment?

MS. VERGE: I will gladly provide a written copy.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure if the Clerk has seen it. I think this is the standard type of amendment which has been accepted in the past, so I rule that the amendment is in order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS. VERGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Not only is the motion in order I would submit, but it is very apt and it reflects the feelings of most of the people in this Province. People have lost confidence in this government and people will have a chance to demonstrate their loss of confidence in the next election.

Mr. Speaker, I have two minutes to go before the Late Show and I trust, Your Honour, will tell me when my time for today is up; I will gladly continue in the morning, I say to the smiling Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

By the way, I wonder when the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is going to tell the full story of his participation in the Trans City deal, and I wonder if the Premier will be issuing a news release after he speaks, saying that the minister has recanted, the way the Premier today issued a release respecting the Member for St. John's Centre and Twillingate and Windsor - Buchans, a release -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Oh yes. Hot off the wire, Premier Clyde Wells said today that all five former Cabinet ministers, to whom some representatives of the media attributed concern about the decision to do the deal with Trans City, have expressed to him their confidence that Cabinet made the decision that was in the best interest of the public.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What a bunch of wimps.


MS. VERGE: What a bunch of wimps indeed, but the five politicians-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - the five politicians are no longer even speaking for themselves.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up and we are moving into the Late Show.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, just for today. She adjourned the debate and we will continue that when it's called again but we are now into the Late Show.

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The first question: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to express my dissatisfaction with the response from the Minister of Natural Resources with regard to the change in policy for claim staking on the Island of Newfoundland.

The minister confirmed in Question Period that the general practice of staking claims on the ground for the Island of Newfoundland has been discontinued and is to be replaced with a map staking process currently in use in Labrador.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister was in Green Bay and spoke to the local Chamber of Commerce there a couple of weeks ago and was generally well-received by people who, for the most part were relatively well familiar with him in his former capacity as a civil servant in the Mines and Energy department. Many people involved in the mineral industry had the opportunity to renew an acquaintance with an old friend from the mineral industry. The minister at that time did not indicate to local people that there was going to be a significant change in the claim staking mechanism in the Province, that is to say, claims would no longer be required to be staked on the ground on the Island of Newfoundland but rather from a map as is the case in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, in the case of my particular district there are a number of small companies who owe their very existence to the trade of claim staking, and in any given summer one or all of these companies may well hire a dozen or two dozen people, even in a slack year, this policy change could cost my district fifty jobs in a given summer.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister indicates that there are going to be 1,500 to 2,000 jobs involved in mineral exploration in Labrador this summer mainly as a result of the Voisey Bay discovery and I don't dispute that, but those are jobs that would have occurred in Labrador regardless because of the activity and the intense international concentration on the mineral discovery in that area but, Mr. Speaker, in comparing the Labrador situation with the Island situation, it is somewhat like comparing apples and oranges.

The minister indicated in his response there are 145,000 claims at stake in Labrador versus something in the order of 5,000 here on the Island of Newfoundland, so you are not comparing two situations that are at all alike and, Mr. Speaker, there is no reason under the sun that the two systems have to be changed or brought in line with each other just for the sake of consistency alone. It's one thing to be nice and neat in a bureaucratic sense but in this particular case that's going to cost my district a good fifty or more jobs depending on the activity in any given summer.

Mr. Speaker, we have the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology going around boasting about every time a new company is designated an EDGE company and creates ten or fifteen or twenty jobs. Some time ago I raised with the minister in Question Period that while he is away bringing in an occasional EDGE company with a dozen jobs or so there are fifty and 100 jobs slipping out the back door. We saw several hundred jobs being booted out the back door by the federal Liberal government in the last twenty-four hours in the situation regarding the St. John's dry dock.

I'm very pleased there are going to be 1,500 to 2,000 jobs in mineral exploration on the Labrador Peninsula this summer, but that is no reason under the sun to eliminate fifty desperately needed jobs in the District of Green Bay. Consistency in claim staking policy is one thing, but let's not worship the god of consistency if it costs jobs where I come from. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, personally I don't believe for an instant that it is going to cost jobs. Not for an instant. Not for one micro-second do I believe that it is going to cost jobs. The claim staking activity itself was never any more than an ancillary activity for most people, was just one of the things that was done, putting fences around claims. Most of the activity done in the field by people who go out and get involved in mineral exploration is cutting lines and carrying out the various surveys that are done, not putting the fences around claims. The jobs are not going to be lost because we brought in this policy.

As a matter of fact, my expectation from this with changing to map staking on the Island is that instead of having about 5,000 claims staked on the Island this year, as we had last year, we will probably have double that number on the Island, if not more. It is going to be the work on these claims that is going to give people work. Work putting money into the ground searching for minerals, not work putting up fences.

As for the extra work that is available to every one of these people, I would say every one of these people if they are really aggressively looking for work, right now we have 145,000 new claims in Labrador, in addition to the claims on the Island. Before this year is out, before this field season starts, there will probably be many more thousands. Right now as I speak the claims that are in good standing in this Province are going to require $30 million worth of exploration work. Last year we had $12,000 worth of exploration work in total. Now don't tell me that the people who are involved in exploration are not going to go out and get some of that work!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: I'm already aware that one of the companies that the hon. member is talking about has already set up a subsidiary in Goose Bay to get access to the jobs in Labrador. I wish them well. I hope he has to take at least fifty or 100 people to Labrador to work this year because there are going to be jobs available in field work all over this Province, more than ever before. Based on the present claims alone, our estimate right now is that in the next five years we will see a minimum of $200 million spent on mineral exploration. A minimum. Last year we had twelve, the year before we had eight, a total of twenty in two years. Now I'm looking at $200 million in the next five years. If these people who have done this type of work in the past putting fences up around claims want further work, let them go and look for that work.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday I asked some questions of the invisible Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, the transparent minister, about the reduction in the processing sector of the fishing industry. The minister had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, couldn't tell me Newfoundland and Labrador's representative on the industry renewal boards. As a matter of fact he went on to say - he told me about the federal appointments - and he went on to say: The provincial government appointee I think has already been made public, and if it has not then I will table that information tomorrow.

So our Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture told me everything in his answer about how much he knew about the reduction in the processing sector, the fishing industry. He knew absolutely nothing. He couldn't tell me who the provincial appointee was. I don't know who is going to respond to this, but I hope whoever responds will have more information and more knowledge of the issue than the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

My concerns were: why was he satisfied with the minister's answer? He said, I wanted to know if indeed there was a minimum percentage of capacity reduction, a mandate given to the board, as was given for harvesting. In the harvesting capacity reduction there was a minimum of a 50 per cent reduction applied in the mandate to that board. The question I asked the minister: was there a minimum percentage again applied to processing? Did they have to reduce the processing capacity by a minimum of 50 per cent, or 60 per cent, or 10 per cent? The minister could not answer that so I am hoping whoever responds today will be able to tell me if they are operating on a minimum reduction?

As well I wanted to know if the affected communities out and about the Province, where we have fish processing facilities located, whether the people in those communities will have an opportunity to make representation to the board before final decisions are made? Again, the minister was not sure. To me it is a very serious situation, and there have been people out and about this Province the last couple of years who have been very concerned about their future, wondering if their fish plant might even open again, knowing full well that it is now closed because of the resource shortage, but they were wondering if indeed their plant may open again.

Now, this board is suppose to shed some light on that concern for them, and I think it is only fair, Mr. Speaker, that those people who will be directly affected will have an opportunity to make representation to that board in one form or another, whether by appearing in person, or whether by written submission. I feel in all fairness to those people they should be permitted to make some kind of representation to the board before decisions are made to eliminate fish plants in this Province.

That is what I asked the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture. He was unable to answer any of my questions, so quite naturally I took advantage of this afternoon to register that dissatisfaction, and hopefully whoever stands in their place over there now, whether it is the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier -

MR. BAKER: Really, you were satisfied.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to the Minister of Finance. I am a hard man to satisfy I say to the Minister of Finance. He knows that, but I am wondering if the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier who has been sent to Ottawa now on two occasions since the Minister of Fisheries led the delegation, twice he has been back since undermining the Minister of Fisheries, cut the legs out from under him at the Premier's direction, upped and tried to deal with all those issues.

Perhaps he is going to rise in his place today, or maybe the Minister of Natural Resources is acting Minister of Fisheries, I believe. Hopefully when the minister rises he can at least alleviate the fears I have in those areas, of the minimum reduction. Will communities have a chance to make representation, who are the Newfoundland appointees on the board, and has that board been given a time frame in which to deliver a verdict?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not have these details either so I will just take the member's question under advisement for the minister.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I asked some questions of the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.


MR. SULLIVAN: I was going to pay a compliment to the Member for Eagle River. The Minister of Fisheries went up to Ottawa. He was going to solve the problems I asked about this morning with reference to TAGS. He went up there and the Premier had to send the Member for Eagle River up twice to rectify the damage that was done by the Minister of Fisheries.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: In fact there is so much damage being done by inept ministers that there is going to be a new ministry, the ministry of damage control, and the Member for Eagle River will probably get that appointment.

AN HON. MEMBER: We hope.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, if he does not do any more assassination of dogs. There would be no other person here more appropriate to take that ministry than the Member for Eagle River, I can assure you. He is well versed on damage. I asked the Minister of Fisheries, why, after thirteen months, after a program was announced on TAGS, after two years of an NCARP program, can't a person who applies for the program get his appeal picked up at a Level I assessment? The file hasn't been touched - with almost 170 cases, as of yesterday I was told - they have not even picked up their file to assess whether they are going to meet the eligibility of this program, the program that was announced on April 19, 1994.

Now, it is unfair, I said to the minister this morning, to their families. Some of these people have left the Province; their appeals have not gotten to Level I, and they have left this Province. I could name fifty very quickly from my district who have left this Province because they were terminated benefits on December 31, and their families have left this Province in some cases because they could not even get to Level I.

I ask the minister: Is he aware that under the second level - that was the only other level in effect until February when there was representation made and they did come down with Level III - but under Level II, I say to the minister, there are numerous cases. If there are 170 cases that haven't reached past the Level I stage and have not been assessed, there must be hundreds waiting to get to the Level II stage. I know that one appeals officer has heard 170 cases at Level II, and I attended fifty-some of them myself, representing constituents, and over 200 under the NCARP I attended in person, so I am very familiar with that particular process and the problems that are out there.

There are ten appeals offices in the Province. If you just multiply that by what this person heard, we would have about 2,000 cases under Level II that have been heard. Now, these have all gone to HRD. I hope the minister reads and finds out and follows up on this. I gave him a letter I sent to the federal ministers with some of the problems concerned, and all of those cases that went to Level II, over 90 per cent were rejected, I say to the acting minister, rejected by HRD. Every single one of those several hundreds, in the thousands, that were rejected at Level II, are going to come up now to Level III. Every single one has to go to Level III. It is going to be 1996 - maybe the summer of 1996...

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Member for Eagle River, it was announced back two months ago, that board went under training in early May. They started their first case on the fifteenth of this month. This week was the first time that this board met - Level III. The board indicated that they can do a maximum of twenty per day, and maybe as low as ten per day, based -

AN HON. MEMBER: Two panels.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know; I am aware of that. I will get to that in a second, I say to the member - two panels.

They should be able to do, on the average, because some cases are lengthier; the files are very thick in some of these cases, a lot of junk in the files, but they are very thick; if they do twenty per week between the two - let's use the low end of the scale - because there are holidays -

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty per week?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am sorry, per day, that is 100 per week. There are about 1,700 heard under the system, that is seventeen weeks. This is May, June, July, August, September and October assuming -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) from now is October?

MR. SULLIVAN: Seventeen weeks and -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: A couple of minutes because we have a bit of time?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave? No leave?

MR. SULLIVAN: That's because I am talking fact.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No leave. The hon. member doesn't have leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: I was just going to correct the Member for Eagle River if I had a minute.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member does not have leave.

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture unfortunately had to leave the city for business outside of the city in Western Newfoundland and he will be back in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, so he will have some time to get the details.

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