May 31, 1995              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLII  No. 35

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Does the Member for St. John's East Extern have leave to address the House?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is just a letter of congratulations to a high school.

MR. ROBERTS: We really would prefer not.

MS. VERGE: That's not fair, we gave you leave yesterday to send a message of congratulations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is up to the House. Without unanimous leave, it can't be given.

MS. VERGE: It's a national award - (inaudible) a gold medal - best in all Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to notify this hon. House that today marks the beginning of Tourism Awareness Week which will run from May 31 to June 10.

This year is the 9th Anniversary of Tourism Awareness Week in Newfoundland and Labrador. This initiative, which was created in this Province by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, is now a national program.

Throughout the next ten days, industry is recognizing individuals' and organizations' outstanding contributions to the Province's tourism industry with the Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador's Ambassador Award.

I would like, on behalf of the minister, to extend an invitation to all Members of the House of Assembly, as well as those persons in the press gallery to attend a reception this evening at 5:00 p.m. in the Conference Area of West Block to launch Tourism Awareness Week.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister or the acting minister for sending over his statement to me earlier. Due to the fact that we have a major downturn in our fishing industry in the Province many people have turned to the tourism industry for a viable alternative to try to create some jobs. As we drive around rural Newfoundland and travel we can see many people trying to put some infrastructure in place to promote our tourism industry. I would just like to add that during the month of June the new interpretation centre at Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve in my district will be having an opening -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. MANNING: I invite everybody to take the opportunity to come out during the summer, and I wish the tourism people involved in the tourism industry in the Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MANNING: - a very worthwhile 1995. Thank you.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to inform the hon. members of the House of Assembly the details of a three-year pilot project on breast cancer screening.

The Avalon Peninsula and Central East Newfoundland have been identified as the catchment areas for the pilot project which will be implemented this Fall. The combined female population over the age of fifteen for these regions is approximately 124,000. The three-year pilot project is a comprehensive breast screening program intended to reduce mortality from breast cancer through early detection measures. The project involves standardizing both educational programs for breast health and screening methods for breast cancer.

Mr. Speaker, this project involves four key elements: breast health education both for the public and for health professionals; teaching of breast self-examination for all females over the age of fifteen; promotion of annual clinical breast tests; and mammograms every two years for asymptomatic women between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine.

For the pilot project, the dedicated mammography screening sites for the identified regions will be the existing facilities located at the Grace General Hospital in St. John's and the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander.

There will be an ongoing evaluation process tied into this pilot project so that the eventual diffusion of a comprehensive breast screening program to all regions of the Province will be faster and more effective. A pilot project will afford us the opportunity to develop the experience and the expertise to conduct a province-wide breast screening program.

Mr. Speaker, breast cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in women after skin cancer. Over their entire lifetime, about one in nine women will develop breast cancer. It is estimated that 260 new cases of breast cancer and ninety deaths will probably be reported in the Province in 1995.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the various health agencies and organizations, community agencies, officials from the Department of Health, educational and professional organizations, and the survivors of breast cancer, for their collaborative effort in planning and organizing this project.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is commendable that an effort is being made to improve early detection in breast cancer. It has been clearly established that when it is found in the early stages it is almost 100 per cent curable. In fact, if it is confined to the breast and it is less than a half centimetre, it is estimated that there is a 95 per cent cure rate in breast cancer. So this detection process is highly recommendable because early detection and treatment has been know to be effective regardless of a person's age in the recovery of that particular person from breast cancer where they can live a normal healthy life afterwards.

The American Cancer Society has estimated that about 15 to 20 per cent of women over the age of fifty have never had a mammogram and it is in a very high risk area. It has been established that, certainly breast examination by a doctor and mammograms are the two most effective methods of diagnosing, dealing with, and reducing the risk of dying from breast cancer. The minister today has indicated that every two years it would certainly be encouraged, if possible, to expand that, because there is well established evidence to indicate that it does determine early detection and therefore enables people to live a healthy life afterwards in a type of cancer that is highly curable.

I compliment the minister on taking some action to get the ball rolling in this area.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin Placentia West on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, just before you asked for Statements by Ministers my colleague for St. John's East Extern stood in this House to do what has been done traditionally for the past fourteen years or so that I have been here, where people stand to pay tribute to various groups. The hon. member stood up to pay tribute to a school in his district, I believe, that won two gold medals in a national competition in this country and the Government House Leader denied him the right to bring the recognition of these young students to the floor of the Assembly.

Now, there has been a lot less than that brought to the floor of this Assembly in the past, and whether government agrees with it or not there are no rules in this House to allow you to do one thing and not do another. The fact of the matter is we have done it traditionally. I have been around here, not as long as the Government House Leader, but longer than most and I have never seen children who have participated and won gold medals in a national competition being refused to be recognized in this Assembly, and I would like to ask the Government House Leader if he would reconsider and let the Member for St. John's East make his announcement?

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

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Let me say that Your Honour asked for leave and members on the other side know about refusing leave because they regularly refuse leave to the gentleman from St. John's East when he asks to be heard on Ministerial Statements. They regularly refuse to give him leave and they have the right to refuse to give him leave. The reason I am not prepared to give leave to my friend for St. John's East Extern is one we have had up many times in the House. If he had given me the courtesy, or done his House Leader the courtesy, to ask for it, it would have been granted routinely.

I am quite prepared to see a letter of congratulations go to the band, what I am not prepared to do is see a situation where any member will stand and seek leave and expect to get it automatically. We have not done that on this side -

MR. TOBIN: You have always done it.

MR. ROBERTS: We have not done that and we shall not. I mentioned it to my friend, the House Leader. He is not here at the moment, but I mentioned it to him. If my friend from St. John's East Extern had done us the courtesy of saying that, fine, but when one asks leave to interrupt the regular business of the House then I stand by -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We have said that repeatedly.

Now my friends opposite know full well about refusing leave. They regularly refuse leave to my friend from St. John's East when we grant it. Now I am quite prepared, as one member, to see an appropriate letter go to the young people at this school; we should all glory in their achievements.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I will hear one more member. The hon. the Member for Ferryland, briefly.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Government House Leader is confusing the issue here, and I would like to clarify it. We have denied leave, yes, and I have done it personally, too, to the Member for St. John's East on Ministerial Statements, and that was addressed before in this House. The Member for St. John's East has no more authority than any other member here on this side of the House to stand up and address Ministerial Statements. The electorate determines that, the Official Opposition.

We have given leave on short notice and without any notice on occasions. We have wasted more time in this House now talking about it than we would have done in the thirty seconds to get up and do it, so I say let's get it done and let's get it out of the way. We ask leave for the member to stand up for thirty seconds and congratulate those people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I will rule on the point of order.

As hon. members well know, there is no provision in our rules for statements by members, which may only be given with unanimous consent of the House, so there is no point of order as such, and it takes leave to allow that to occur.

AN HON. MEMBER: Point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, that is my ruling on the point of order.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I would just like once again to ask for leave to ask for a letter of congratulations to be sent to the Holy Trinity High School Bands.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we will give leave now that the hon. member has made his request.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is done now.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, I want to say a few words about it.

Mr. Speaker, the Holy Trinity Senior Concert Band and Jazz Band, under the instruction of Mr. Douglas Vaughan, competed at MusicFest Canada on May 17 in Calgary, Alberta, the only band from Newfoundland and only one of five groups in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

A total of 120 concert bands and 70 jazz bands competed, with a total of 8,800 students. Both bands from Holy Trinity High received Gold awards, the highest award given by MusicFest Canada. Two students, Melissa Tucker and Renée Ryan received Honour nominations.

Mr. Speaker, could you send a letter of congratulations on behalf of yourself and the Members of the House of Assembly?

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we on this side wish to be associated with it. It is a matter in which every Newfoundlander and every Labradorian should take pride, and we do, and we ask that the appropriate congratulatory letter be sent to the teachers and to the principal and to the children of the school.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I didn't speak to the point of order but I say to the Member for Ferryland, I was elected Leader of my party -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - and that may make me a little different from other ordinary members in this House, but I would like to join with the Member for St. John's East Extern and the Government House Leader and others in commending the Holy Trinity High School Senior Concert Band and Jazz Band on their great achievement, and I would endorse the sending of a letter by the Speaker to this group for their commendable effort.

Oral Questions

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the Premier about Health.

The government, the Premier's government, is closing hospitals beds and causing interruptions and downgrading of services for the sick and injured throughout the Province. Patients and their relatives everywhere, in urban and rural areas especially are becoming increasingly alarmed.

Will the Premier acknowledge that the present health services have deteriorated and the outlook for the coming month is even worse, and what is the government going to do to reverse the decline and provide adequate health services?

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

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

I guess there has been no other aspect of the public services that government provides over the years, that has gone through more change than probably the health care sector, but that should not be confused with any effort intentionally or otherwise to downgrade services.

What has been happening in the health care sector is that points of delivery have been changing, methods of providing surgery have been changing; new technologies have emerged that have caused things to be done differently, new medications and drugs have been developed that aid in treatments and in post-op procedures. All of these things have contributed to a redirecting and reallocating and refocussing of the way things are done in health care. We are not closing beds in the health care system. We are simply, in some instances, reallocating resources that were in place to support beds, to do things in day surgery and the like that is appropriate in response to what the public is demanding and in response to what new medical technology is enabling us to do in the system.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister of Health: Where is the Minister of Health redirecting pregnant women, injured people, and the sick from the Baie Verte Peninsula? Is he redirecting them to Grand Falls? Why is he closing beds in Grand Falls? Is he redirecting people from the Baie Verte Peninsula further afield to Gander, or is he redirecting them to Corner Brook? What is the minister going to do to ensure that the Baie Verte health centre has their quota of six doctors next year when administrators have already determined, after contacting ninety doctors, that there is only one committed to return next year?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I trust the hon. member will give me reasonable time to answer the multiplicity of questions that were rolled into that one question.

We are not closing hospital beds per se. We have in the Province at the moment as low as a 39 per cent occupancy rate in some of our hospitals. The highest occupancy rates we have are in the major tertiary care institutes in St. John's and to some extent in Corner Brook, where the occupancy rates are up around 80 per cent to 85 per cent. That is really considered to be full occupancy, because you have to have a cushion there of course to provide for emergencies. But in the instances, and in Grand Falls - Windsor in particular, we have an occupancy rate there in hospitals at a level low enough to allow the new regional health care board there to reallocate some of the resources that were supporting beds to do other things that need to be done on a more appropriate basis.

With respect to whether or not there will be six full-time doctors in the centre at Baie Verte next year, I don't know for twelve months, 365 days, there will be six doctors there. If that is their complement it is certainly our intention and our hope and our best wish that that can be accomplished. But I can tell the hon. minister that - or the hon. member who wishes she was a minister, I'm sorry - that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Not in your lifetime, sir. I can tell the hon. Leader of the Opposition that the new regional health care board has the full support of government and has received an appropriate allocation of funds from government in this year's Budget to provide the appropriate level of medical care services on the Burin Peninsula and elsewhere in the Province.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister didn't answer the questions about how he is going to ensure that the Baie Verte health centre has its quota of six doctors next year. Will the minister admit that his government's proposal or plan to provide adequate doctors to rural areas has failed and that a bad situation has become worse? Will the minister admit that it is time for a new approach to ensure a sufficient number of doctors for rural areas, and in particular to ensure a sufficient number of physicians for the Baie Verte Peninsula and the Burin Peninsula?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I'm not sure whether the hon. member hears well or listens well. I don't know what her problem is. I answered the question specifically. Her question was: What are we doing to ensure that six doctors can be maintained as required in the Baie Verte area next year, or this year. I told her that we have done all that we can possibly do, in that we have provided the financial resources to the health care board in that area such that they have the capacity to recruit and retain hopefully doctors in rural Newfoundland.

I do acknowledge that there are difficulties in retaining doctors in rural Newfoundland. There are a number of reasons for it. Dollars and cents is a part of the problem, lifestyle is another part of the problem, the amount of time that they have to be on call is another problem, the ability to get back into urban settings to practice after is another part of the problem. We are taking a number of initiatives as I outlined to the people from the Burin Peninsula the other day, and as was readily admitted to being appropriate by the members who were there, that we are doing a number of things to address rural physician problems. We will continue to be vigilant and to do what is right and what is appropriate, given the resources that we have and the magnitude of the thing, to do what is right to make sure we have doctors available in all areas of the Province.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the minister that he and his government are not giving the Baie Verte health care centre or other rural hospital administrators sufficient means to successfully recruit doctors. I would like to ask him, with respect to an urban centre, will the minister confirm that Western Memorial Regional Hospital at Corner Brook is going to have to close more than twenty acute care medical beds this year? Will the minister indicate his departments responsibility for that looming closure?

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

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

I had the good fortune and the pleasure in January I believe it was or no, since then, when I attended the School of Nursing Graduation in Corner Brook. I had an hour to spare so I went to the Western Memorial Hospital and I was given a very detailed tour of that facility. One of the highlights of the tour - as far as the people who were showing me through the facility - was this, they were showing me a part of the hospital that had newly been renovated so that they could provide an adequate, an up to date and an appropriate day surgery service in that facility and not by my asking but by them telling me. They readily told me that they were pleased I guess in a way to be able to indicate that as a result of the redevelopment of this space and as a result of being able to put in place day surgery services - that they would now be able to provide - that they were going to be able to take away some of the resources that were in place supporting beds that were inappropriately being used or not being used and put into day surgery. That is the type of redevelopment and redirection that is happening out there and in health care generally. The hon. member knows that just as well as I do, if she does not I would be glad to further inform her if she wants more information on what is happening really.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the minister, yes or no, is the government, is the Western Memorial Regional Hospital about to close more then twenty acute care medical beds at the hospital in Corner Brook?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm with exact precision how many beds will be affected as a result of the gradual move, I would say, to more day surgery at Western Memorial. I can check and see what the ultimate result of that initiative will be but beds and plenty and in sufficient numbers will be available at Western Memorial Hospital such that we can deliver the appropriate program from beds out there if they are needed. We will do the other things that are required to be done, that people are asking to be done and that medically is now appropriate to do in terms of delivering health care at Western Memorial. The hon. member, for what it is worth, should understand that it is in good hands.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health as well.

Yesterday in the House I raised the issue of the lack of health care on the Burin Peninsula. I brought to the attention of the minister problems being experienced by patients scheduled for surgery which had to be cancelled because no anaesthetist had been available. Today, Mr. Speaker, I have spoken with physicians on the Burin Peninsula and I have been informed that the two remaining surgeons at the Burin Peninsula Hospital are about to resign, have indicated to the administration of their resignation. Mr. Speaker, within two or three weeks they will be gone. I ask the minister, will he do whatever is necessary to ensure that other specialists are put in place to replace these immediately?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that this government is always vigilant about these things. We will do whatever we can to ensure appropriate physician resources are available on the Burin Peninsula to meet the need down there and that applies not only to the Burin Peninsula but to every other part of the Province that is of equal importance to us in terms of health care.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the response is very interesting, I say to the minister, that when you consider last year there were eleven specialists in the hospital on the Burin Peninsula. Mr. Speaker, in two to three weeks time there will be one specialist left on the Burin Peninsula and that will be a radiologist, I say to the minister. So if he is going to act so fast on this, will he now commit, Mr. Speaker, to act as fast on the rest of the specialists and put them in place as well? Will he put in place whatever is necessary to attract these eleven specialists who have left Burin in the past year?

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

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

The hon. member knows that many, many years ago the government directly got out of the direct engaging, hiring and deployment of physicians. That was back under the old cottage hospital days. Many years ago we gave that responsibility basically to the regional health care boards or in the case of Burin Peninsula at that time and as we speak actually, the Burin Peninsula Health Care Board. In the meeting that we had the other night with representatives from that board, with the mayors of the peninsula and with the members, everybody generally agreed, specifically agreed I would say, that the Burin Peninsula Health Care Board is doing everything within reason to ensure that doctors are being retained and recruited where necessary for the Burin Peninsula, and I can assure the hon. member, as I did then, that the government, through the Department of Health, has made and will continue to make appropriate resources available so that the board down there can do the recruiting, and try to do the retaining of doctors to the greatest extent possible. These things happen sometimes. It is unfortunate. It is not the wish of the government to have gaps in service anywhere. I can assure the hon. member that the importance of the Burin Peninsula health care system is of urgency to us, and we will do all we can to alleviate the situation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, there is someone not doing their job. The minister tries to hide behind the board. Well, if the board is not doing their job, fire the board and replace them.

Ten specialists left Burin in the past year and have not been replaced, I say to the minister, and that is serious. A woman cannot give birth to a child anymore on the Burin Peninsula. You cannot have surgery anymore on the Burin Peninsula, and the list continues to go on, so how can the minister say all is well?

The fact of the matter is, and I would ask this minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Is the real reason why the minister has chosen to do nothing, has supported the downgrading of specialists on the Burin Peninsula to put us back to where we were even before the old cottage hospital days, is because he had a hidden agenda to downgrade it to a clinical service?

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

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

I am surprised that the hon. member would cause such an affront to his constituents down there, having said in front of them that they were doing a good job, now to say they should probably be fired. It is totally inappropriate.

MR. TOBIN: If what you said is true, they should be fired!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: People should not have to suffer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask for order in the House so the minister -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Members are always concerned about time in Question Period. I would like the House to come to order, and ask the minister to give his relatively brief answer.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: To answer his question as specifically as I can, there is no plan by government, as he well knows, to downgrade health care services or cause any difficulty on the Burin Peninsula.

I am, and this government is, as concerned as he is and anybody else about any time that physicians are not available to provide appropriate services, and I can assure him that we will do everything within our power to ensure that the need is met there and everywhere else.

I believe he understands that, and I am sure that he will take that as being a commitment of this government, as he knows it is already in place in any event.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Health.

Would the minister tell the House how many of the approximately 1,400 beds in nursing homes in this city are occupied by people who only require Level I care?

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

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

Yes, I can tell him with close approximation. There are about 280 Level I beds in the six nursing homes in the St. John's area. There are Levels I, II and III. These beds mainly concentrated, however, in just two homes, namely Saint Luke's, and I think it is the Glenbrook Lodge, and about 50 per cent of these beds are now being occupied by Level I people who are not inappropriately occupying the beds because they are really only suitable at the moment for Level I occupants. But there are about 140 or 150 beds in those two homes, and that is about the bulk of them, that are of Level I types at the moment.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The average cost of operating a bedding and nursing home is about $35,000 a year, not including an extra $25,000 a year capital cost to operate that nursing home bed, for a total of $60,000 a year. Now, the minister stated, and he stated it on CBC television on Saturday, that there is an 11 per cent vacancy rate in personal care homes, so I ask the minister: Why does he permit those who require Level I care to remain in a nursing home at a cost of $60,000 per year when they can be in a personal care home at an average cost to this Province of $2,400 a year?

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

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

The cost of nursing home care beds has been bandied around a bit in the press lately and I have to make the point of correcting some of the information to put it in context. Our long-term care beds, including capital cost, range anywhere from a low of about $2,700 a month to a maximum of much less than $5,000 in the most expensive, most modern, newest facility we have, and that extra cost is, of course, in the newer homes, because we have recently built them and there is capitalized money there that has to be paid back, mortgage money if you like. The figures that are being used are high, exorbitant, and exaggerated.

There is a higher than an 11 per cent vacancy rate, however, in personal care homes. In subsidized beds, beds that government attach some sort of commitment to, there is even in those beds an 11 per cent vacancy rate provincially in the personal care homes. In the unsubsidized beds there is a 30 per cent vacancy rate and this is why today in the Province we have personal care home operators who have more than a passing interest in coming to government and saying, can we now be licensed to accommodate Level 2 or Level 3 residents because of the fact that they have these spaces. We have licensed too many spaces, probably, in personal care home and government is not in any sense directly or indirectly causing people to stay in or to be in higher cost beds as opposed to lower cost beds.

The new single entry system that is now up and running will, over a short period of time, seek to cause this to be organized in a better fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I will give the hon. the Member for Ferryland a final supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I tell the minister that I obtained those costs from Question Period in the House from the former Minister of Health, and here in this House during Estimate Committee by Your Deputy Minister and his staff, and a former minister in this House who told me that it cost $25,000 a year capital, and this $35,000 operating can be found in this Budget by taking the number of beds and dividing it into the total cost of long-term care. That is where the figures came from and they are accurate.

The minister is avoiding the question. I asked him why does he not fill the 11 per cent vacancy in subsidized homes and take the 280 people who are in personal care homes now and put them in there where it is only costing $2,400 a year? Now, the minister avoided answering that question.

I have another question for the minister, too, on costs. There are presently many people in the Waterford, the Miller Centre, and other hospitals around this city on the waiting list who are waiting to get transferred to nursing homes. The minister stated we do not have a shortage of nursing homes beds. He stated that in the media this past week. I ask the minister if he would tell me how many people are in this category, waiting in hospitals for transfers into nursing homes? They are not on the priority list, by the way. And I ask him: Why are you spending $300 a day, bottom-line, up to $500 a day or about $120,000 a year on the low end of the scale, to keep those in hospitals when you can put them into nursing homes for $60,000 a year? It doesn't make economic sense.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I did not say in the media, nor in the House, that we do not have need for some extra beds, probably in the long-term care sector nursing homes. He knows very well that the present assessed list is somewhere between 130 to 150. What the House should understand is that three months ago there was a perception that there were thousands of names on waiting lists in the St. John's area, and in fact there were. They were accumulated in February for processing into the single entry system and there were 3,000-plus names, but as a result of purging down to get the duplication out, and as a result of writing people and asking them - the names that were left, how many people were interested in nursing homes, the system attracted less than 600 responses and of the 600 responses we still only have 150 assessed.

What I am saying to the public and what I am saying to members of the House is if you will allow the single entry system to work for the next three or four months we will have some very tight and firm numbers that we can address in terms of need, if in fact there is an identified need for more beds in the system at that time. But we can't run ahead of what we are doing. The single entry system is identifying and working exactly as it is intended to, to try to get a firm handle on what we need in terms of long-term care beds in the system in the St. John's area and in the Province.

I am assured we will get that under control, if it is in fact not quite that way, very, very quickly.

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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would like to hear the question from the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Training.

For the past months, the negotiations between the government and the church leaders on future governance of the educational system have been shrouded in secrecy.

About three months ago, the minister announced that a consensus had been reached on three aspects of reform; the number and composition of school boards, new transportation policy for students, a Province-wide, single board for school construction.

Can the minister today inform the House on the status of the negotiations, and explain what other aspects of educational reform have prevented an acceptable resolution to negotiations to the church leaders?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the Planning and Priorities Committee of Cabinet is meeting with the churches tomorrow.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, twice in the past eighteen months, in December of '93 and in June of '94, I asked the minister to table in the House his proposed legislative amendments - and I know that they were written some time ago - these amendments were to give effect to the government's educational reform agenda. I ask the minister, is it his intention, particularly since the House is going to close over the next day or so, to table the legislation prior to the summer recess or will we have some way of communicating it in the next week or so?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I expect the House will close today or tomorrow so we would not be tabling it in the House either today or tomorrow or Friday, but I would like the hon. member though, to take an opportunity to let us know where his party stands now, because there has been a change in leadership over there. I do know personally the hon. member has been suggesting that we should move quicker. I do know where the Leader of the Opposition used to come from at one time but I think it is now time for them to stand up and say exactly what they want government to do, instead of hiding behind a smoke screen, Mr. Speaker, trying to pretend that (inaudible)

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that his government has been in office for six years. It has been three years since you received the Report of the Royal Commission; you have had a mandate so you say, from the people of the Province for two years, and substantive consolidation and amalgamation and streamlining have occurred at the school board level.

Mr. Speaker, school boards are now leading the reform process. The public is losing patience with the minister I say, after six years of talking, when will the minister change from his talk mode to an action mode?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: I agree with a lot of the statements the hon. member made. It has been too long. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we realize that. We have been trying to reach a consensus with the churches, we left no stone unturned; we have bent over backwards, all the cliches you want to use.

We have compromised to the extent, Mr. Speaker, where we are getting a lot of criticism but I would tell the hon. member that government's job and the job of the concerned educators in the Province, would be made a lot easier if the hon. member would stop playing politics with this issue and get up today and tell us exactly where that party stands, because they have not made their position public since they have had a new leader in place.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I will hear from the hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, in my mail I got a letter from the Mayor of the Town of Grand Falls - Windsor with regard to the status of the HRD office for Central Newfoundland that is currently in Grand Falls - Windsor. I am given to understand that there are major cutbacks coming both in the Springdale office which I directly represent and some significant cutbacks, if not a consolidation, of all Central Newfoundland functions in probably Gander. I would wonder if the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations can bring us up to date on what are the federal government's plans with regard to HRD offices in Central Newfoundland.

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have already had an opportunity to talk to the minister responsible for HRD, Minister Axworthy. As I said the other day to the Member for Burin - Placentia West, to my colleague for Stephenville, and I say now to the Member for Green Bay, on Friday afternoon we have a meeting with Mr. Axworthy. I can assure the member that that particular problem raised by the member will be discussed with Mr. Axworthy, because this is not a fait accompli yet as such..

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to address a question to the Premier as Minister responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs. I would like to have an update on how the compensation package that the civilian workforce out of Argentia were denied compared to Canadian civilians who were working on Canadian bases were given. There is a big difference and I'm wondering, Mr. Speaker, how the negotiations are going with the Canadian government.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I know of the hon. member's concern. I would say there are not many more issues that - I guess there are probably one or two more issues I've spent more time on than that, but I've written a lot to a lot of people, including the senior officials in Washington, the U.S. ambassador to Canada on numerous occasions - I've met with him on several occasions -, Mr. Dingwall, who has a responsibility in the area. I've spoken and written to the Prime Minister about it, I've written numerous letters to Mr. Tobin about it. We've been constantly trying to ensure that the former employees at Argentia get the full and fair treatment that they deserve.

However, the ability to move the monolithic United States government off a pretty fixed position once it takes it is quite difficult. The Prime Minister I know has raised the issue directly with the President and raised other issues in relation to it, particularly in relation to environmental clean up which we've done at the same time, and spent a good deal of time on that.

I can only say to the hon. member that the effort is ongoing. As late as last week I had a discussion, and I have another discussion planned for this coming Saturday with a senior federal minister that will deal with that issue, amongst others. So the matter is ongoing but I don't see any immediate success in sight.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. At this time I would like to present to the House the Occupational Health and Safety Division's report of the Labrador West Dust Study 1982, and subsequent follow-up report.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand today and present a petition on behalf of fifty residents of my district, the majority coming from the community of St. Shotts. The prayer of the petition is as follows:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland in parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer: We the undersigned do hereby request the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to provide funding to generate desperately needed employment in our communities, as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, once again a petition is coming forward from this side of the House to bring forward the concerns and the issues that are facing many of our rural communities. Not only is this topic for rural Newfoundland but indeed, I'm sure, for many parts of urban Newfoundland also. The reason for bringing it forward today, Mr. Speaker, I guess relates to the problems that we have experienced in our communities over the past couple of years in relation to the downturn in our fishery. The crisis, Mr. Speaker, I say without any hesitation, the crisis that it has caused in the small communities in my district as it relates to people who are looking for work or some type of work. Mr. Speaker, the people in the communities are not looking for some short term assistance. They are looking for some long term viable types of programs that can not only give them the opportunity to partake in the workforce but indeed to be able to live and to stay in rural Newfoundland where they have made their homes.

Mr. Speaker, the problem that we find in our communities is that over the past couple of years, due to the cod moratorium, many people have been successful in being able to obtain the TAGS program and for some reason or other we have many people that were indirectly involved in the fishery but for some reason or other they fell through the cracks of these programs. They have not been able to partake in some of the training programs that have been coming forward or in relation to the green projects or whatever the case may be. It was those people who were indirectly involved in the fishery or because of some reason, Mr. Speaker, they did not make it to the TAGS program or the NCARP program at the time, were being left out.

I receive continuous calls to my office and letters, Mr. Speaker, from people who are trying to partake in some type of training program that has been offered by some of the private colleges or the public institutions here in the Province. Mr. Speaker, these people who are tying to better themselves through adult basic education or some type of a program such as home care, nursing assistant or whatever the case may be, these people are trying to further themselves, to give themselves the opportunity to at leave find some other type of employment, especially like I said before with the downturn in our fishery.

So, Mr. Speaker, these types of employment programs, whether they be part training and part work are desperately needed in the communities in my district as I am sure they are desperately needed in the communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. I ask that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations look towards the funding that he has for his department. Try to offer some type of program, some type of training program for these people who are left outside the TAGS program. Try to find some type of work training related program that will give the people the opportunity and more so then anything else, Mr. Speaker, I say with all sincerity, the dignity to have the opportunity to work and to live in Newfoundland. I think when you look around the District of St. Mary's - The Capes, Mr. Speaker, and I would not hasten to guess when you look around any district in the Province, that people's loss of dignity in being able to go out and go to work each morning, whether it was in the fishing industry or if it was in something related to the fishing industry, with the loss of that dignity it is certainly not creating a very good atmosphere throughout the Province and because of this I am pleased today to bring forward this petition on behalf of forty-seven persons from the community of St. Shott's and three from the community of Trepassey.

Mr. Speaker, everybody is fully aware of the situation in the Trepassey area as it relates to the former FPI plant and the devastation that it has caused in that area since that plant was shut down in September of 1990. I hope that the minister takes these petitions that I am bringing forward on behalf of those people seriously, Mr. Speaker, because it is a very serious situation. Most of these people who have signed this petition and others that I have brought forward are people who are indirectly involved in the fishing industry, people who were working at the restaurants, working as truck drivers, working as babysitters or whatever the case may be, indirectly involved in the fishing industry. These are the people now that the government, for some reason or other, have turned their backs on. They are not giving the opportunity for those people to go to work and in most cases, most importantly over the past few weeks I have learned that many of those people are not even getting the opportunity to partake in the many, many training programs that are being offered now through the TAGS program or any other type of program that the provincial government offers.

So, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to present this petition and hope that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations takes these petitions very seriously and does something about them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to stand and support the petition presented by my friend and colleague from St. Mary's - The Capes as it relates to the community of St. Shotts.

Mr. Speaker, I find it somewhat irritating, to say the least, that a member would stand in this House and present a petition on behalf of his constituents seeking alternate employment and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations would turn back on to him and ignore the comments and the wishes of these people from the community of St. Shotts. Now the minister may not know where St. Shotts is. I do not know if the minister knows where St. Shotts is or not, but I can tell him that St. Shotts -

AN HON. MEMBER: He lived on the Southern Shore.

MR. TOBIN: When? When did he live on the Southern Shore, John?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I am not sure if the minister knows when he lives on the Southern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, the people of St. Shotts - and I happen to know St. Shotts well - are a hard-working, dedicated, committed group of individuals who have given their whole lives to nothing except hard work and providing for their families.

What is happening here is that because of the downturn in the fishery St. Shotts, like a lot of other communities in rural Newfoundland, find themselves in a situation whereby they have to depend upon the TAGS program, but the people of St. Shotts do not want to depend upon the TAGS program. They are looking to government to do something, to provide some sort of alternative, to provide an incentive where they can go out and become meaningfully and gainfully employed in the economy of this Province, and to contribute to the economy of this Province. They want to be a meaningful community, diversifying themselves and presenting opportunities which they can avail of to become gainfully employed.

Now this government has to do something. It is all fine and dandy to blame it all on the federal government. You have the Minister of Health today blaming all the problems on the Burin Peninsula on the health care board as he skirted his responsibility, ran like a rat, and let the people of the Burin Peninsula go down there without any health care service for the past year, since you became the minister. Eleven specialists in the Burin hospital a year ago, and now there are ten, and the minister stands and says there is no problem!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I can say to the minister that it is nothing but negativism when you let the health care system fall from eleven specialists to ten, and any minister worth his salt would do something about it -

MR. SULLIVAN: Down to two specialists.

MR. TOBIN: Down to two? No, one. A radiologist is the only one going to be left there in two weeks time, and this minister says there is no problem?

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe he should go to work on you.


MR. TOBIN: Maybe someone should go to work on you. I can say to the minister, the psychiatrist has left down there as well, so there is no one there to go to work on you.

What is happening is that you have this minister come in who is nothing but a bluff and is prepared to sell out the health care system of the people of the Burin Peninsula and throughout rural Newfoundland. It is time for you, Sir, to stand up and do what you have been put in that seat to do, and that is to protect the health care interests of the people of this Province. That is what you should do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: I can say to the minister that when people call me -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, and you are dumb.

When people call me, concerned about their mother who has been put in the hospital to have a breast removed for cancer, and a few hours before she was going to the surgery room the surgery was cancelled because there was no specialist there to administer the anaesthetic that was necessary for that woman to have her surgery, that concerns me, Minister. It might not concern you, but I can tell you that it concerns me, and it concerns me immensely.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have no corner on compassion or concern (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, I do not. I say to the minister that I really do not, and there are thousands out there like me, but I wish you would join us, Sir.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I would say to the Minister of Health that it is very easy to get carried away, and I apologize to the House for getting carried away from the petition, but when I see you persecuting people in this Province, denying them the right to adequate and fair health service, then, Sir, I get carried away.

Getting back to the petition, I would encourage the minister to look to the needs of the people of St. Shotts as they are relayed in that petition, to do what needs to be done, and to put some jobs in place.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. MURPHY: Let me say to the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes that I share his concern. It is tough for the Myricks and some of the other people from St. Shotts. I know St. Shotts well. It is a great area of our Province, like all of our Province.

Traditionally, I say to the member, the people in St. Shotts worked in Trepassey at the FPI plant, or were fishermen, and so forth and so on, and of course he knows the impact the loss of the groundfish has had on the people of St. Shotts. We have done some things recently that have helped some of the people in St. Shotts, with assistance from ACOA and Mr. Crosbie and what have you with the sod farming and those kinds of things.

But the member is totally right that we have to continue to concern ourselves with the inability of people to find long-term gainful employment. We are continuing to develop, negotiate with our federal counterparts. The member can be assured that this government will do everything it can to help the people of St. Shotts as we are trying to help people throughout the Province, both in Labrador and on the Island portion. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is the Opposition's right to choose a subject for today. I understand they wish to debate the bill which stands as Bill No. 100, a nice round number, Order No. 14, so perhaps if you would call that.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food". (Bill No. 100)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm very happy to stand here today and introduce Bill No. 100, a bill which reads An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food. Otherwise known in other provinces as the Good Samaritan bill.

The Explanatory Note for this particular bill I will read: "This Bill would provide that a person who donates food or who distributes donated food is not liable for injuries or death resulting from the consumption of the donated food unless the person intended to injure the recipient of the food or acted recklessly in donating or distributing the food."

First of all, I would like to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank all members of the House of Assembly here for allowing this bill to reach this stage in the House, for giving me leave to introduce it in the beginning, and now allowing it to reach second reading. I would particularly like to thank the Government House Leader for assigning it a number and bringing it forward as a bill. It is not something that I'm doing for political reasons; it is something that is very close to me and something that I believe in.

You might ask why a private member's bill, why not a private member's resolution. My experience has been, and being a novice to this House and seeing the way that Private Members' Day transpires, that I'm not so sure that private members' resolutions have great effect. It seems as though private members' bring forward their resolutions and we get up on both sides of the House, debate them and put forward our views, but that is where it ends, that is where it dies. It doesn't seem to be taken anywhere further.

Although I stand to be corrected, I understand in some jurisdictions private members' days, instead of being used for resolutions, are being brought forward as private members' bills in other jurisdictions. This is a way that private members usually take part in debate in the House. They bring forward their own bills, and if the bill has merit it is voted on and brought forward as legislation and becomes the law of the land. That is the reason why I choose to bring forward this particular piece of legislation in a bill form rather than in a resolution form.

I've talked privately with the Government House Leader and he indicated that he had probably some concerns with the reading of the bill, in that there may be some legitimate concerns there with the legality of some of the words. I assured him that I was wide open for some small changes in that, and he being a lawyer, if he could change the wording around where it would be more satisfactory to him, then I would certainly go along with that, as well, but having said that, I would like to say that this particular bill is written almost identical to Bill 170, that was produced by Mr. Donald McGetty, the Member of Parliament for Ottawa South in the Ontario Provincial Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, you might ask, why the need for legislation - why the need for such particular legislation? I have done a fair amount of research on this bill, made a lot of phone calls, talked to a lot of people, and I understand that some people here in this Province who ordinarily would donate food, have probably the same concerns as they have in other provinces, like the Province I just referred to, the Province of Ontario, where many people, Mr. Speaker, many corporations are a little hesitant to donate food because of the repercussions, because they may be involved in a liability suit. And you know as well as I do, if you have a business, whether it is a grocery business or a restaurant business or what have you, and if it is brought forward that you have donated food or you have been accused of distributing food that has been unfit for human consumption, then you won't be in business very long, Mr. Speaker. You won't be in business very long; whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally, Mr. Speaker, the perception will still be the same.

Many people, rather than take the chance of making donations, Mr. Speaker, and rather than take the chance of a liability suit, many times direct this food another way, and instead of it being consumed by the needy in our provinces, it is directed towards a landfill site or towards a dump, where nobody, absolutely nobody gets benefit from food that can be consumed and it is food that is quite edible, quite healthy but for those reasons, it goes to a waste disposal site.

Mr. Speaker, identical legislation has been passed in five other provinces of this country, namely: Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec, and I might add, similar legislation has been brought forward, passed, made the rule of the land in all fifty states in the United States. So it is nothing new, Mr. Speaker, it is nothing earth-shattering, it is just a simple bill that would help many, many people in our Province here today.

For information, Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many people are aware of it, but there is something to the tune of 45,000 people here in this Province who make use of food banks - 45,000 people, and a rule of thumb is that 40 per cent of all people who use food banks are children; that is, in excess of 20,000 people right here in this Province today who are using food banks on a regular basis.

I have had some experience with food banks myself, in that I was part of an organization that tried to set up a food bank in my own area, seeing a need that was there; in fact, my daughter was a volunteer, and volunteered there on a regular basis, and for reasons I think, which probably this bill would go forward in correcting, that particular food bank was one of many which probably had to close because of insufficient supplies. I remember the food bank being open five days a week; five evenings a week, then it was down to three and then down to two and finally it had to close altogether, not because the need wasn't there, Mr. Speaker, but because there wasn't enough food to be distributed.

This bill is much the same, as I have stated, as Bill 170, put forward in the Province of Ontario, and even though their numbers are much greater because of the difference in population, certainly, and the people who use the food banks, but the need here in this Province is just as great and just as pressing. In this Province, today, I understand there is something like fifty-four active food banks, of which thirty-one are located here on the Avalon Peninsula, in St. John's, Mount Pearl and Conception Bay South. I understand also that the Community Food Sharing Association here in St. John's probably gets the bulk of the food and distributes it around to the thirty-one food banks in the immediate area.

In conversation with Mr. Egbert Walters, Chairman of the Community Food Sharing Association, a person who has been very knowledgeable, and very close to this particular idea, to this piece of legislation - in conversation with him, he has informed me that he would be very eager to see this legislation passed through the House as quickly as possible, because he feels, as I do, that you will see, maybe not many more participants, but you may see greater quality, a greater quantity in the donations brought forward. Mr. Speaker, there is a severe shortage in our food banks today, and I think this bill will probably go a long way towards seeing some of that shortage is met.

Earlier, I distributed a fair amount of information, I distributed a copy of the bill to all members of the House, and I also attached to that some comments from people in other provinces, and in other states in the United States who have experienced going to food banks and have been part of food banks prior to the passing of such legislation, and being part of it after similar legislation became effective. I might add, they were all very, very positive upbeat remarks and encouraging remarks, that we should proceed in the same direction.

Food banks, Mr. Speaker, whether we like them or not, are part of every-day reality, are part of the economic conditions we find ourselves in today, and the people who use them, I can guarantee you, are not people who are too lazy to go to work, or people who have no desire to go to work. Many, many people today who are using food banks are people who would ordinarily be found in the workforce and would ordinarily be working, but because of the downturn in the economy, because of layoffs and because of lack of opportunity, many of our own Newfoundlanders have no other choice but to go and line up to take part in receiving food that is put forward in a food bank because of the lack of funding in order to go out to the local stores to buy and bring home such food.

You may ask: what type of food we are talking about when I introduced this bill. Somebody might say, well, if you talk about directing food to the city dump, you might be talking about food that is unfit for human consumption. Mr. Speaker, that is not the intent whatsoever. Human nature has it that when we go into a store to buy groceries, to buy food today, the first thing we look at is the `best before' date. That is on most of our produce, it is on most of our canned goods, our perishable items, and meats. Just about everything we buy has a `best before' date on it.

When we see a particular item that has the `best before' date close to the day we shop, we kind of push that aside and reach to the back to look for something where the expiry date extends far beyond the next one or two days. Now, a lot of this food, I am sure, in some of those grocery stores, in some of those distributing stores, could come off the shelf days before it does, if the operators knew that this food could be directed towards a common cause, where people could take the food and enjoy the benefits of it, instead of sending it to a garbage dump.

This is the type of food I am talking about. I am talking about food that is close to the `best before' date, the expiry date. I am talking about canned goods, dented cans, maybe cans that have been labelled incorrectly, as long as we know what is inside of them, maybe, Mr. Speaker, foods such as turkey, chicken, meats that have been packaged and there have been a few pinholes in the wrappings, some small freezer burns, Mr. Speaker. This has been shown - and the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture looks over because I'm sure that he is very much aware of some of the things that I'm talking about. But in conversation with people prior to today they tell me that such small defects do not adulterate the food, they don't make it unfit for human consumption. If this food could be caught in time, directed towards a food bank, have it distributed and consumed within the next forty-eight or so hours, there is no reason why such particular donations cannot be consumed and cannot provide some of the nutrition that we are looking for in our population today.

This legislation will do two things, as I see it. It will increase the supply of donations to our food banks and to other areas if they may not be called food banks. Maybe it is some other supply of food which our churches regularly provide, or other concerned associations and participants supply. It will protect an existing supply of donations. It will do both of those things and I would think it would increase greatly the amount of food that is being brought forward.

The other thing about this particular legislation is it doesn't cost government one cent, not a cent. In fact, when the Minister of Education in debate here a couple of days ago with the critic for education over here - one of the things that they talked about was the need for our students to be provided with a suitable breakfast before they go and attend a full day in school. Many of our young people today - and I think we both agree on each side of this House - many of our young people today -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - don't have that opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


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

By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I will just use a couple of more seconds here to clue up, because I will have another opportunity to respond after.

If we could provide a greater quantity of food, then we would see the 45,000 people plus - or I guess taking into consideration that 20,000 of those are children, this would also supply a need, fill a great void in the need that is out there today, and many of our younger people when they go to school would go with a full stomach rather than going looking for breakfast when they get at school, or else being unable to compete and unable to excel because of hunger.

Mr. Speaker, I will have a few more things to say when I move this bill at the end. I would certainly welcome participation. Thank you very much.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to say a few words with respect to the bill moved by my friend for Bonavista South. Let me say first of all that we are quite convinced that the subject of this bill is one that should be addressed. That is why we went through the parliamentary measures necessary to bring it to the stage where it could be debated.

I think my friend for Bonavista South will agree that his decision to introduce a bill as opposed to a motion put him in a difficult position procedurally, because under the rules of the House a bill to be passed must see the adoption of three separate motions - first, second and third readings. Each of those, if one had insisted on the letter of the rules, would in theory constitute a full day. Without any hesitation, and not a matter of looking for Brownie points, we agreed to let this move forward, but I must say that we would be wary of seeing very many bills moved on Private Members' Day. We think that Wednesdays should be a matter of motions where the House can express a point of view on a topic and could be debated. I will deal with that in a little different context in a moment or two.

I want to say as well that we don't take issue with the general approach of the bill. It is not unique to this situation. My friend for Bonavista South asked me some time ago about what we call the Good Samaritan act which if I remember correctly I had a hand in enacting in a previous life, maybe twenty years or thirty years ago when I came into the House for the first time. I had a note of it here. It is called the emergency medical aid act, which appears as Chapter E-9 of the Consolidated Statutes, 1990. Again, I will make a reference to that in a moment.

The subject is not a new one, the topic is not a new one, but I must advise the House that in my opinion the bill as it stands is badly drafted in that it does not express legal concepts clearly and unambiguously, and we are not prepared to ask the House to vote for it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why not?

MR. ROBERTS: The reason why not, I say to my friend from Grand Bank, is that the bill - I will give my reasons; I only have fifteen minutes, but I will deal with it as briefly as I can. We have what I believe is a constructive solution to put forward, which I shall put forward, and the House will deal with it.

Mr. Speaker, my friend from Grand Bank says it is taken from another jurisdiction. I heard my friend from Bonavista South say it is virtually the same as some bill in Ontario. I have not looked at the Ontario bill, but I have had those who deal with these matters on our behalf look at this, and they have given me their advice and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I agree with my friend from St. John's East that just because it is in Ontario does not make it good. This bill, in my judgement, is not a good piece of draughtsmanship and I do not say that in any unkind way. I think my friend from Bonavista South would acknowledge that he did not draft it, nor did he seek legal advice from some member of this Bar here, or one of the drafters in drafting it, and I do not blame him for that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) legal advice from the leader.

MR. ROBERTS: He may have gotten legal advice from his leader, but I want to get...

Mr. Speaker, let me just explain why, in my opinion, as a member of this House, and as one with some limited experience in law and in matters of statute, the bill is badly drafted.

First of all, Section II would make a person liable in negligence only if, number one, the food was adulterated, rotten or otherwise unfit for human consumption and, number two, the person had a degree of intent that the learned members of the House, the lawyer's in the House would agree is almost tantamount to the criminal level of intent, almost tantamount to Mensrea. That is a very long step to take.

Secondly, the bill in 2.2 - I am sorry; let me come back to 2.1 still. The first part, 2.1(a) which says that you are not liable unless the food was adulterated, rotten or otherwise, that is a state of fact. Who decides? Is there a duty of inquiry on the person who gives out the food? Or can he or she simply say: Well, there it is. I don't want it for whatever reason. I am going to flick it out and somebody will take it and maybe be glad to have it, and if they get sick, too bad. Is there a duty of inquiry or is there not a duty of inquiry?

I am not raising these issues to be devilish or troublesome. I am raising them because these are issues which will have to be addressed in the course of administering this kind of law.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) ands.

MR. ROBERTS: My learned friend from St. John's East is quite right. These are all ands and accumulative. It would be all but impossible, under 2.1 as drafted, ever to affix civil liability. We are not talking criminal liability; we are talking civil liability for the negligent distribution of food.

Mr. Speaker, Part B, as I said, all but imparts the criminal standard, and that is a very far way to go. The criminal standard of responsibility is a very onerous one, and one that we should be wary of bringing into what should be matters of civil liability.

Next, the bill is not limited to food banks. My friend has spoken of food banks, and I understand that to be his primary motivating concern and I share that concern. Many people look to food banks for food assistance, and we must do what we properly can to help them, but this bill is not limited to food banks. It would apply to me giving a round of cheese over the back fence to my neighbour next door. That may be going too far, no duty of inquiry -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: All donations (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: And a donation is simply a fifty-one cent word for gift. It is from the latin donatio, or the verb is dono, donare, donati, donatum if I remember my Grade VIII Latin correctly. That is simply a fancy word for gift. It is not even a donatio mortis causa, I say to my friend from St. John's East.

My friend from Bonavista can find out what a donatio mortis causa is and he can have a look at it but, Mr. Speaker, it would apply to everybody and we are not sure that it should. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, it applies to corporations because the word, `person' in 2.1 by definition is not an individual, that is a person-in-law which includes a corporation. So we would have a situation where a corporation would be under no duty to make inquiry and unless the corporation gave away food that was rotten or adulterated and with no duty of inquiry and they intended to poison, one would never be able to affix liability. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that the House wants to go that far. I can say that as one member of the House and speaking for the government, fourteen of us in this House, we are not prepared to go that far until we know where we are going and why. This legislation simply does not pass the test that it must pass.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the issue quite simply is whether we wish, the House wishes to leave any person, natural or corporate, who gives away food from any obligation of any sort and I am not sure that we want to go that far. I am certainly sure that we do not want to go that far until we have looked before we leap. If my friend from Grand Bank looked before he leapt he would not be where he is today, I say to him. We don't know, Mr. Speaker, we are not sure that we should go so far as to exonerate a level of conduct, any level of conduct, any level of any type of conduct below the criminal standard.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me conclude this portion of my remarks by simply reading the last paragraph of a minute to me by one of the legislative council, I will not name him or her, `From a drafting point of view the language employed in the proposed act is frequently ambiguous. Further study would be warranted before one could endorse it as it stands.' Now, Mr. Speaker, compare that if you wish to the Good Samaritan Act that we have on our books which is the Emergency Medical Aid Act, that act has been on the books since 1971. Well it was done in a previous incarnation. I guess I was probably the minister who sponsored it twenty-four or twenty-three years ago at the end of the Smallwood years. That act, which has stood the test of time and has met the need, exempts conduct below gross negligence but that is all it exempts. It says that the physician, registered nurse or other person is not liable for damages, for injuries to or the death of the person alleged to have been caused by an act or omission on his/her part and rendering the medical services of first aid unless it is established that the injury or death was caused by gross negligence on his/her part.

So, Mr. Speaker, where we would be if we adopted this bill without any change is that in giving away food one could escape consequences unless there was what amounts to criminal conduct or as against that, a person who renders medical aid in an emergency -surely a situation that commands a higher duty - a person who renders medical aid is exempted unless he/she was grossly negligent. Now there is just no comparison between the two.

Mr. Speaker, let me then see if we could try to move our way out of this. Let me make a point as well, we have not heard, the government has not heard and I have spoken with a number of my colleagues who checked with their officials, who have not heard from the food banks. Now there is no law saying the food banks have to speak to us. They can speak to whom they want but I find it very interesting that if this perceived need is out there, nobody has ever raised the matter with us. That does not mean it is right, that does not mean it's wrong, it is just a state of fact.

So, Mr. Speaker, we are not prepared accordingly to ask our friends in the House to vote for this bill at second reading but I am prepared to address the issues on their merits. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I will move the following amendment - now remember the motion before the House, Sir, as I understand it, is that this bill be now read a second time. I move that the motion be amended so that it would read: That the House request the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Social Services to determine the legislative measures best suited to resolve the issues addressed by the bill and to report thereon to the House at an early time.

Perhaps Your Honour could have a look and tell me if that's in order.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That is a second reading amendment, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I do.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has just received a copy of this so I am going to recess the House briefly to have a look at the amendment.

MR. ROBERTS: Of course, sir.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On the amendment put forth by the hon. Government House Leader the Chair has consulted and reviewed the regulations and the forms of the amendments at second reading and finds that this amendment is in order.

The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I shall be very brief, because other members no doubt want to speak. I ask my friends on this side of the House to support the amendment, and I hope members on both sides will support it because I suggest, with all respect, that it is a means of addressing this important issue.

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

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not in any way challenging the Speaker's decision but we did not have an opportunity to make a submission to the Speaker.

MR. ROBERTS: That is challenging the decision.

MR. SULLIVAN: I only said I did not have an opportunity to make a submission. That is not challenging anybody. We did have a particular concern and I certainly respect that. Under the three options, for our information, if possible, Mr. Speaker, if we could, the basis it is under, for future information, that we would be able to know what is within the scope of the proceedings of the House, whether it is under a hoist, a reasoned amendment, or referral as subject matter to a committee that would enlighten us and be able to expedite business on this matter in the future.

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

MR. ROBERTS: It is my submission that there is no point of order. Your Honour made a ruling. Your Honour adjourned the House to consider the matter and no hon. member, including my friend from Ferryland, stood and said he wished to be heard.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I let my friend for Ferryland speak without interruption and perhaps he might do me the same courtesy.

Your Honour clearly said, I shall adjourn to ponder this matter to make a ruling and nobody asked to be heard. Now, the ruling has been made. If His Honour wishes to add to it fine, but I am not sure one can require him to. In fact I do not think one can, but I say in respect to the point of order, that my friend for Ferryland cannot do indirectly that which he cannot do directly. He cannot challenge Your Honour's ruling except by the state of procedure, and if he wishes to follow that procedure we on this part shall oblige him by following the procedure and dealing with it. Your Honour has made a ruling and in my submission there is no point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: I accept the Speaker's ruling. I have no doubt about that whatsoever and I am not questioning that. To make the House more knowledgeable on proceedings I would like to know for my personal information and to expedite business in the future, it would be interesting to know the reasoning behind the ruling so that it could prevent such decisions from coming up in the future, and being able to deal with matters more expeditiously. That is all I am requesting. I am in no way challenging it. I accept it, move forward, and leave it at that. I would like to know for my information.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Really, there is no point of order. The hon. member is not raising a point of order. There is no standing order or no particular section of Beauchesne that he has quoted that would require that to be a point of order, so really there is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I need only a sentence or two to conclude what I wish to say with respect to the matter. I shall ask my friends to vote for this amendment and I hope that members on both sides will vote for it because as I was saying a moment or two ago when my friend raised his point of order this is a means whereby we can address what I acknowledge to be and what the government acknowledges to be a valid and relevant issue, and one which should be addressed by this House.

Our concern is simply with the legislative manner in which we do so. We have a responsibility, as long as we are the government, to bring our best judgement to bear, having taken advice from those who advise us, to bring our best judgement to bear on the form and substance in which statutes are cast. I have explained the reasons why; the advice I have is to the effect that the draft bill as it was put forward by my friend, while it is not offensive in any way and, in fact, much of it we find acceptable, does raise issues which, in our view, should be addressed and resolved.

I have spoken with each of my colleagues, in fact, all three, well, two of them are here in the House; my friend, the Minister of Health was here a moment or two ago. I have their assurance - all three of the ministers, Mr. Speaker, are in the House, and not that I need their assurance, but all three have assured me that they will deal with this matter on its merits and expeditiously, and when the House meets early in the Fall, a report will be brought forward and either legislation, or we will have to deal with the policy issue. But if the policy issue works out, as we anticipate may be the case, I think it will be reasonable to expect that legislation will then be introduced. We have no difficulty in dealing with the matter, we do have difficulty in dealing with it in this form. With that said, Sir, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today to stand and support the bill brought forward by my colleague, the Member for Bonavista South, and I am pleased to say at the outset that I fully support the bill and I would like to congratulate the member for bringing it forward and addressing this concern that we have in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and I would allow, in many parts of this great country of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I represent the fishery district of St. Mary's - The Capes, which has been dependent on the fishery for a number of years, a fishery that has provided full and plenty, I say, to many of the families in my district. And we have never been in a crisis situation such as we have found ourselves in over the past couple of years. I would just like to start off my few remarks by touching on that. In relation to the fishery shut-down, much pain and concern have been caused the people of the communities in my district not only in relation to food supplement, Mr. Speaker, but in relation to the economic benefits derived from the fishery. These economic benefits, as I said earlier, provided full and plenty for everybody, and due to the fishery shut-down now, we have found ourselves having some major problems in being able to provide for our families, being able to provide for our communities. Indeed, I have been receiving several phone calls, every day, Mr. Speaker, and some of them, to tell you the truth, it is gut-wrenching to hear the stories, as it is in dropping by homes in my district that have small children - which I will touch on later - but to drop by homes in my community where they really don't have the proper amount of food, not only for their youngsters but for themselves.

I would think, for the first time in many, many years, certain families in my district have had to rely on Social Services because of the problems that have been associated with the crisis in our fishery. These people, Mr. Speaker, have I guess, their dignity and their pride, too, which have come to bear on the problems they are facing. This is a very serious issue - and the fact of food banks themselves, Mr. Speaker, for the first time, I would think, many people in the district have had to either go to the local church or the local school or wherever, to find some assistance, whether it be through cash or goods to provide for their families. And I know personally, Mr. Speaker, cases where this has caused major stress on people, the fact of having to do that because of the situation they have found themselves in.

People are not happy, Mr. Speaker, when they have to go to a food bank or when they have to go, like I said, to the local church or school or whatever organizations in that community that are helping; people don't want that, but the problem is, in today's world, in today's economy and in Newfoundland's economy, people are finding they have to do these things in order to survive. And it is sad that we have to stand and talk about such things in a Province where a fair number of us, including most of the people in this hon. House, I say, have full and plenty.

I don't have to go too far from my own doorstep, Mr. Speaker, to find people who are a lot less fortunate than I am, and I thank God that I have had the opportunity through the years I have been in this world to have what I would consider to be full and plenty; but that doesn't take away my feelings or my concerns for not only the people in my district, Mr. Speaker, not only the people in my own community but indeed, the people throughout the Province. And just the fact that we are up discussing this issue today, just the fact that we are up bringing it forward in this House so that every member would have an opportunity to say a few words if they would like, I think is important in itself.

Mr. Speaker, we talk in this House about people being hungry, and we talk about children who are going to school hungry. The hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount brought forward some questions last week and gave some Canadian statistics showing that children are definitely going to school hungry.

We are not like they are over in Biafra or somewhere. We are not out on the streets, we are not out falling down and starving to death, There are not those stories that you look around and we drive down in our rural communities or in the urban parts of the Province and see people falling down on the streets with hunger. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about the basic necessities of good nutrition, the basic necessities of the proper food for children. When we stand up and talk about people being hungry and people starving, the old cliché of `starving to death' is used in the heat of debate sometimes. I used it myself here last Fall on several occasions, to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations as we brought forward some petitions in relation to work. Often you will find when you are up speaking that you get a bit excited and you say: People are out there starving to death. Then somebody jumps up and says: Nobody is starving to death.

No, maybe there is nobody on the street falling down and starving to death, but there definitely is a need to address the concern of the lack of food for people, the lack of proper nutrition. I am very pleased today that this bill is being brought forward, a bill that will address this concern in an indirect way, I guess, but will definitely bring forward the concern of the hungry. Because there are people, there are children, who don't live too far from where I am, who are definitely hungry.

The performance in the schools, the family problems that become associated with this, the stress that is caused to mothers and fathers who can't provide the necessities of life, all those things need to be addressed. I'm sure almost every department of government is addressing this concern in some way or other. Those children who are going to school hungry - those who are not able to participate in phys. ed., who are not able to participate in some of the extracurricular activities because of simple pains in their stomachs, or because of headaches, if the real root cause of the problem were found, it would be proven that those children are basically hungry.

This, as I said, causes a lot of stress to mothers and fathers. I talk to mothers and fathers on a daily basis who are not able now to provide the basic necessities and this is causing family problems. There is a host of problems associated with people who are really not able to provide the basic necessities.

When we talk about food banks - to tell you truth, I wasn't even familiar with them until a few years ago. It was something that we didn't have to address or be concerned with, food banks out in my area. Again, as I said, we have been very lucky over the years. But I found, over the past few years, having been involved with the parish council in my hometown or my home area, that at Christmastime and Easter and those times when we used to put together some packages to bring around to certain families in the communities, often we had to do it in the dark of night because some people just didn't want to see a member of the parish council coming with a box of groceries during the daytime.

They tell us: We really need this but we don't want you coming here in the middle of the day because the next-door neighbour will see you coming in with a box of groceries or a turkey for Christmas or Easter and so on. We always did it in a discreet manner because the people who were asking for those hampers - I was looking for the word; I have it now - the people who were looking for those hampers, as I said earlier in the few words I started, there was a level of dignity there. People had to be dealt with carefully when we were delivering those hampers to the families. I found that Christmastime was one of the hardest times in any dealings I had with this, when on December 23 or 24 you would have to go knocking on somebody's door with a food hamper. You would go into that house and the parents would say that their main concentration was on food and not on toys under the tree. For some people there may be a level of disbelief but I have seen it with my own eyes on several occasions, and I am very pleased that we now have in place food banks that are dealing with this situation on a daily basis, that are hopefully spreading their wings out to the rural parts of the Province. Because the need for hampers and the need for some sort of assistance from food banks and church organizations, or whatever, is certainly on the increase in our Province.

It is good to see that we are bringing forward a bill today that hopefully, if everything goes well, will certainly, without a doubt, protect those people who volunteer their time and energy to these food banks. Basically, that is the purpose of this bill, to offer protection to those people who are volunteers. We have many, many volunteers in our communities across this Province who are participating in food banks and in church organizations that involve distributing hampers or helping the needy.

Everybody is concerned now about the way the things are going. You are afraid you are going to be sued for this, or be sued for that, and everybody is constantly feeling that they would like to help, but what if something happens? This bill today, hopefully, if it passes through this House of Assembly, will address the concerns that some people have in relation to being able to volunteer their time and energy to, what I think, is the very important task of helping out food banks or assisting in any way the needy people of the Province.

Hopefully, this bill that has been brought forward will help more effectively in the distribution and the collection of food, Mr. Speaker. I come from a family business myself, we have a store, and there are things left on the shelf for months and months sometimes. When the personnel from the Department of Health, or whoever comes, and the dates are wrong, you have to dump it out in the garbage; but often that food is still good. Many times it is in a can which is sealed and there is no problem with the food.

I remember years ago there was a fire out home and we had a great load of canned foods that had labels and because of the fire all the labels were burnt off but the food was the best kind and it was up to date. We had to pass around the food which had no labels on the cans, and it was like Lotto 649. You didn't know what you were going to get but you hoped there would be something in the can that was worth eating. Everybody wanted to grab a few cans to bring home and at least hoped they were going to get something. Whether there was a label on it or not, I guess relates to people themselves, it is not what's on the outside that matters, it is what's inside, I say to members opposite and members on this side of the House.

The story relates that people were not really wondering or concerned about the labels, they were concerned about what was in the cans and the fact that they needed some assistance. I remember that with fondness, it was kind of a joke at the time, that we didn't know exactly what was coming out of the can but it didn't really matter. It served the purpose, I say to all hon. members, it served the purpose.

This bill also, along with protecting the volunteers that have given hours of time and energy -

MR. FUREY: You are wasting your time.

MR. MANNING: I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology that it may be wasting my time, but you are not worried about food banks. You are only worried about one bank, and I say that is where it is all put.

AN HON. MEMBER: Scotia Bank.

MR. ROBERTS: Scotia Bank, I say to the Minister of ITT.

I tried my best today not to get involved with shouting back and forth because I consider this a very serious matter. I say to the Minister of ITT that if all the people in the Province had what you have in the bank they would not be worried about food banks.


MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: I say the Leader is going out preparing her plans for the opposite side of the House. It is sad to hear the shouts from the opposite side of the House because we are trying to talk about a serious matter I say to the Minister of ITT. I repeat what I said earlier, the only bank you are worried about is the Scotia Bank.

Getting back to what I said, this bill that the Member for Bonavista South brings forward today is not only to deal with the volunteers, and I will talk about the volunteers in a few moments, it also has to deal with individuals, business people, corporations, anybody who donates to the food banks on a continuous basis and would like to continue doing so in the future. With the liabilities that come sometimes, with the liabilities that are involved with businesses, we have to deal with those people and make sure that those people are protected as they lay out their hand and try to bring forward and give to the food banks, and give to the people of the Province, that they are protected also, Mr. Speaker, and I feel very pleased to have the opportunity to stand and support it.

Today's bill is definitely a step forward in addressing the concerns of the food banks, the concerns of the people who work, and the concerns of the people who support those. I think that government should also be taking the initiative on educating our young people in playing an important role.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, go on `boy.'

MR. MANNING: I thank the hon. Government House Leader for giving me a few minutes to finish up. I really appreciate it.

AN HON. MEMBER: I thought you were finished.

MR. MANNING: I think it is a concern that we should try to address, and educate our young people, and that government should be bringing in some type of programs, to go out in the schools and educate our young people in proper nutrition, proper diets, because it plays an important role in all aspects of our life.

We have programs such as the breakfast program that is in other parts of the country and that I feel certainly should be tried out in some schools in our Province on a trial basis, and that seems to be producing very good results in other parts of the country. There are lunch programs that we have here within our own Province and I think all those things are good and positive, and address the concerns that we have to deal with today.

I would like to close off my remarks by encouraging the people to give to the food banks, encourage the people to donate to the needy, to encourage these people to continue to work. It is definitely needed and it goes beyond saying that it is needed more in this Province today than it was ever needed before. I believe there is a great concern out there among our people, and especially among our young people.

If I could say a few words about the volunteers that are involved in those organizations, who go out and knock on doors, who go out and stand up in halls and accept the food, and then go out and distribute this food to the needy. Those people deserve all the praise and thanks that can be bestowed on them for the great work they do in our communities. I think that only by encouraging those people and supporting those people from our aspect here in the House of Assembly to all parts of this Province, only by encouraging them can we help to address the concerns that we have in feeding the people of the Province, definitely feeding the needy, and taking care of the children of this Province.

I would like once again to congratulate the Member for Bonavista South for bringing forward this bill, and I hope that members opposite will take it as seriously as I do, and hope that the ministers or whoever are involved in bringing forth legislation to deal with this very important problem we have, are serious about the concerns and that they address those concerns as quickly as possible.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak on the bill.

Thank you, very much.

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

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to say a few words on this resolution, or bill. First of all I would like to commend the Member for Bonavista South for bringing the issue forward, and I say that in all sincerity. I first of all say it as a professional nutritionist with a great deal of interest, as most hon. members know, with regard to the nutrition of not only people in general in this Province but especially the school children, and the youth of the Province.

I also want to make a few comments on some of the comments raised by the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. I do sympathize with the predicament that he is describing. Because I also hear the gut-wrenching stories around the Province today with regard to some of the difficulties that people have in making ends meet and in feeding their families. Of course, that is largely due to the terrible devastation and down turn in the groundfishery of the Province.

The Member for St. Mary's - The Capes also made another astute observation, and that is there are different forms of malnutrition. Indeed, we don't see people like in Biafra falling down on the streets from malnutrition or even in our countryside dying from malnutrition as is happening elsewhere in the world. That doesn't mean that it is not happening in a different form. We have a great deal of chronic malnutrition in this Province and that has to be addressed. There is no question about it. The bill that we are considering here today, hon. members, focuses of course on one of the chief essentials of life, and that is food. Because of that one could consider it basically a motherhood issue, if you want to look at it in one form.

There is however in general, and the general thrust of the bill indicates that there are many issues that go much beyond the motherhood issue. I want to also state at this point that it is quite apropos that this particular issue come up in this hon. House because some of you may remember that last May I introduced to the House, which received unanimous support on both sides of the Chamber, a resolution calling on the establishment of a public policy on food and nutrition in the Province. I can tell you that now the Ministry for which I am responsible has food highlighted. As part of its mandate, work is currently under way to establish that very issue and policy on food and nutrition for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am very proud to say that we probably will be one of the first provinces in Canada to establish such a policy. The very fact that we have food banks amidst us means that there is a need for them. Regardless if we want to believe that or not, or accept that or not, those are the facts.

The greater the need of course the more difficult it is to keep up with the contributions to these food banks and the valuable services that such contributions make to our society. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are well known right across this country as being great donators and supporters of food banks, and that is to our credit and we can be indeed very proud of that fact. That also includes, Mr. Speaker, contributions from the supermarkets, retail stores and grocery stores of all sorts. They also have a good record with regard to their contribution of food products to the needy.

I can also, as a health care professional in the field of nutrition, appreciate the concerns of the retail outlets and the large supermarkets in their reluctance sometimes to fully support the contribution of food items to food banks because of the health safety and protection issues that may arise from the contribution of such foods.

One has to remember that many times a food item may look safe and wholesome but there are such problems as botulism, which is extremely deadly, salmonella, which can also be deadly in certain forms, and listeria that contaminates many food items, including fish, that is also deadly as far as the human population is concerned. Unfortunately, because of these concerns, many times perfectly good, wholesome and nutritious food is discarded rather than being channelled toward those who need it because they cannot afford to buy it, or for some other reasons. As the minister responsible now for food, to and including the wholesale and retail level, I am indeed concerned about this problem.

I have stated in this Chamber in the past that a major problem in our society here in Newfoundland today can be corrected through preventative health care, and no better way can we provide to the populous of this Province preventative health care than through the production and distribution of wholesome and nutritious food for people to consume, and therefore end up living, in many cases, a much healthier life.

We also have the problem in this Province that is associated with lifestyle. We have a major, major problem in the Province with regard to diseases that are the result of improper lifestyle and nutrition. Some of these diseases I have referred to before, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, which is rampant in this Province, diabetes, which is in one form caused through malnutrition or improper nutrition, and some forms of cancer that are related to the food we eat, and the type and amount of food we eat. Superimposed on all of that we have the very, very big problem in this Province of obesity - obesity at all levels of society and in all ages.

Again, through a proper approach, through nutrition and education, we can greatly reduce these serious problems that are very costly to our health care system. Therefore, as we develop our public policy on food and nutrition in this Province it will involve health care professionals, educators and so on because, as the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes just referenced, one of the best areas to achieve that goal is through the education of our young people.

We know - it is a well established fact - that proper nutrition, good nutrition, has a great bearing, a significant bearing, on the ability of children to learn, the ability of children to retain information that they are given, provided in schools. This is why my department, the Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, continues, in conjunction with the dairy industry of this Province, to support the school milk program. The department's contribution to the school milk program was increased this year by $25,000 to the tune of $175,000 going into that very, very worthwhile program to provide proper nutrition in the form of milk to the younger members of our society. This then shows in a very tangible way and manner that the government of this Province is indeed committed to the promotion of good nutrition among the younger members of Newfoundland society.

I want to also draw one other point lest some people may go away from this House today suggesting that what we are proposing is the making available of food items that the more well-to-do members of our society will not buy and that we are now making available food items that would only be purchased by the poor. That is anything but the truth. Because one of our biggest problems in this Province in the area of malnutrition comes from the more well-to-do members of our society. There are many reasons for that, there are many reasons why this is the case. It is not only those who are on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder who need good direction as far as food and nutrition are concerned.

The other issue that I want to touch on is the fact that - I think it was referenced earlier - the words `best before date' and `expiration date' were used I think a little interchangeably, and they are not to be used interchangeably at all. Expiration date is a very fixed date. The best before date, Mr. Speaker, refers to products - the only reason that date is on the product is to identify those products that, according to the manufacturer, if you were to eat them before that particular day the actual perception in the mouth and so on would be a little bit better than if you ate them after that date. It has nothing to do with the quality of the product, it has nothing to do with the nutritional value of the product, and it has even less to do anything with the safety of the product. The best before date is just an indication as to whether the product might be a little better tasting the day before that date than it would be after.

Yes indeed, food and nutrition are not synonymous at all. Because we have people who actually practice over-nutrition and are very much not necessarily the healthiest members of our society. Because they indulge themselves in improper nutrition for many reasons. They become obese in many cases and therefore they allow themselves or put themselves into a position of contracting many lifestyle diseases such as I have already mentioned. So although many times we associate nutrition and food in many contexts, they are not synonymous at all.

It is a shame then that nutritious food sometimes is discarded or even given to food banks for those who cannot afford nutritional food on a sustained basis, and therefore we must encourage the use of such food products to be used through the food bank system. Because those banks indeed do give to our society, and certain members of our society, a source of good high-quality nutritious food that they would not normally and under other circumstances be able to attain.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I certainly would support the amended bill this afternoon. Thank you.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the Member for St. John's East, I'm only going to take a few moments, because we are running out of time and I know that he wanted to have a few minutes to say something.

I read a quote in the paper earlier this week that the Premier said that he didn't want to introduce any more chaos in the House of Assembly than was absolutely necessary. It is too bad he didn't have that thought in mind when he appointed the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture to the Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, there is no reason why, we, as members of this House today, could not stand up and support this legislation without amending it. If all of us in this House were committed to this principle that the Member for Bonavista has put forward, if all of us are committed to it, that the amendments that were required or that the hon. Government House Leader brought up and brought to the attention of this floor, could have been done in Committee stage, so I ask the question: Why was it amended? Why have we put off a reasonable piece of legislation that is in existence in other jurisdictions, why have we put it off to some other point in time, when we could have dealt with it easily, effectively and quickly today, I say to the member and all members of the House of Assembly?

The reality is this: The Government House Leader spoke of a couple of sections with the bill and he raised some very, very legitimate points, but again, they were points that could have been dealt with at the Committee stage. He talked about how the food banks in this area had not talked to the Department of Social Services that he was aware of, and then he talked about the perceived need out in society. The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that if we, as a government, and we as a people were doing the job that we should have been doing, and were providing adequate levels of income to people on social assistance and social services, there would not be a need for food banks, and he would be correct because the need would only be perceived but the reality is different.

There are thousands, upwards of 50,000 to 55,000 people on the Avalon Peninsula who depend upon food banks each and every day. Large grocery stores, Sobeys, Dominion, TRA, small outfits cannot take food that is still good, but cannot sustain market value because people will not buy it because it is a day old or two days old, but the nutritional content of such food is still such that it is good, it is not bad, it is not rotten, it will not cause food poisoning, they are not allowed to distribute it to food banks and mostly what we are talking about, Mr. Speaker, are non-perishable items. What we are talking about is day-old bread for example, that we cannot, by passing this legislation enable, from a practical point of view, not have some general, philosophical sort of debate, but a practical point of view, put legislation in place that provides for large food distribution centres, outlets to offer food and assistance to food banks.

Mr. Speaker, I recently attended a function at the Newfoundland Hotel that was hosted by a non-profit organization. At the end of that function, it was an hour to an hour-and-a-half long, there were cold cuts et cetera that were offered; one of the people who was attending the function with me asked the staff at the hotel where we were, could he take what food was left over? Turkey roll, ham, some cheeses, all fresh, all of it fresh. Now what the response from the hotel was, was simply this: that they could not do it, not because they did not want to, but because they could not take the chance, that if something happened, if they had given the food to a non-profit or to a food bank or to a family or association that was in need of it, that if they did, that they would be liable.

Now, Mr. Speaker, from a practical point of view which is what we should be considering here, from a practical point of view is what we should be dealing with here, that, at that function or that time, that hotel should have been able to give that food to the needy because it was needed, not because it was a perceived need, because the reality exists that there are many people out there who do not have the food that is necessary to sustain a healthy lifestyle but wish to have it.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to conclude as I do not want to take up too much time, but I compliment the Member for Bonavista South in bringing forth this piece of legislation. It is too bad that the House of Assembly does not provide more opportunity for more members to provide to bring to the floor pieces of legislation that can be debated upon its merits, because what we would see probably then, Mr. Speaker, is more credible legislation coming forward, more independent legislation that truly addresses the realities that each and every one of us faces in Newfoundland and Labrador today. Let me say finally to the Government House Leader, in his absence, to the government, that there is no way in the world that they should have passed an amendment to this piece of legislation. Had we done it reasonably, had we done it responsibly, we could have dealt with the issues, the minor technical points that the Government House Leader put forward, and had he spent half the time in dealing with what points should have been put into the points that he raised and making amendments in the Committee stage, this piece of legislation would have been passed before he left the House today.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: First of all, I want to say something about the process involved in this bill and I want to compliment the Member for Bonavista South in bringing forth a private member's motion in the form of a bill. I think it is a progressive move and I think it is one that this government ought to be encouraging amongst its own members and amongst members of the Opposition generally, and if it were adopted as a regular operation, then hon. members here on both sides of the House would have a greater opportunity to play a creative and significant role in this House, a more creative and significant role than they are able to play as private members.

I also want to say that I believe that the Member for Bonavista South is very sincere in his concern for the people of this Province who are forced to go to food banks to allow them to have a decent nutritional basis for their livelihood. I think he is sincere in bringing that forward but I want to say both of those things before I say that I am opposed to the bill.

I am opposed to the bill, Mr. Speaker, because I have a very serious, philosophical disagreement with a double standard for people who cannot afford to buy food and a different standard for people who can afford to buy food. I think that if people are going to a supermarket to buy food they deserve to have that food prepared to a standard by the people who are preparing that food and distributing that food to adhere to the standard of care not to be negligent, not to have adulterated food on their shelves, not to serve it to people in restaurants. Why should I be any different if I go to a restaurant and pay for a meal then if I go to a soup kitchen and get my meal for free? Should I be allowed to be served food that has not been properly handled in unclean dishes through an unclean kitchen because I happen to be unable to pay for my meal at a soup kitchen? If I go to a restaurant I am entitled to be ensured that my food is prepared with a standard of care that I am entitled to as a citizen.

I don't think there should be two classes of people, Mr. Speaker, one group of people who go to food banks and are entitled to a certain standard of care and level of lack of negligence by the people operating and another standard for those who are paying for their meals. Should we have two standards of care for children, Mr. Speaker? One standard of care for how well children should be looked after in their own home and another standard if they are in foster homes, another standard if they are in orphanages? Should there be a different standard of care for people who are in old age homes on the basis of whether or not they are paying for their care or they are being paid for by social services? Should we have two standards of care there as well, Mr. Speaker? I have a very serious philosophical disagreement with this approach. I say this in all sincerity and knowing full well that the Member for Bonavista South is sincere in what he has presented to this House. I know he is concerned, I know he cares.

I would like to see a bill, Mr. Speaker, that would outlaw food banks. No more food banks in this Province and ensure that the Department of Social Services provides a level of basic care for people so that they do not have to go to food banks. To ensure, whether it be in the form of a guaranteed annual income or whether it be in the form of the redistribution of wealth to the tax system, there should be no food banks in this Province. We keep bragging across this country as to how well to do we are in the world. We are the first best place, the second best place or the third best place in the world to live but why do we have food banks growing at a rate of dozens every year? Why do we need more and more food banks? Ten years ago, fifteen years ago there was not one single food bank in this Province. Now how many are there, sixty, seventy, eighty and why is that? It is because, Mr. Speaker, the standard of living of people in this Province is going down. Incomes are stagnating, there has been no increase in welfare rates in this Province in the last six years, no increase in the basic rates.

Why are people going to food banks? Because they have to, Mr. Speaker, and because there is something basically wrong with the redistribution of wealth in this Province and in this country. Now we have a way of redistributing wealth. We don't have to do it through food. We are supposed to do it through the tax system. We redistribute wealth in this country by taxing those who have it and taxing those who are able to earn an income and by redistributing it through the tax system. What we need, Mr. Speaker, is an opportunity for people to live in dignity and not have to go to food banks at all. We don't need to have measures here to protect companies, protect the corporate entities. Presumably they are saying we won't give away this food unless you protect us with legislation. We won't help the people who are starving unless you protect us with legislation, unless you say that we can dump our trash food out the back door of our truck and let you eat it if you will, but as long as you can't sue us that is okay. If you don't do that we won't give you any food, we will let you starve. Is that the people who we are trying to help with this bill?

Mr. Speaker, this has been presented as a motherhood issue. I don't know whose mother had a good look at this to decide whether her children were going to be treated one way if they couldn't afford to buy food and another way if they could. I don't think it is right. This is not the kind of legislation that I want to see promoted in this House, and at the same time as saying it, I don't doubt the sincerity of the Member for Bonavista South in bringing forth this legislation. I don't care what provinces enacted it, and I don't care what the stripe is of the government that enacted it. It doesn't make any difference to me.

What I say is that this bill is philosophically wrong. We shouldn't be tinkering with the law. We should be making basic changes to the system to guarantee that people have an opportunity to work, an opportunity for dignity, and a chance to have a decent basic life without having to go to food banks. It is not just people on social assistance who are going to food banks. I had a call recently from a working family, the working poor, and who are they working for? The gentleman of the family is working for the government. He is working for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. He and his wife and three children have to go to a food bank because they are not making enough money to be able to eat. They are not making enough income to be able to afford to eat.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) Bob Rae.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is what is wrong. That is why we are sitting here and the members on this side of the House are coming up with a piece of legislation like that. They are quite happy to put down Bob Rae and put down any philosophy they don't agree with. Yet you don't see them bringing forth legislation that is going to bring about basic change to the system. You don't see them making sure there is a guarantee that this government can't force individuals to live on $89 a month. A single unemployed social assistance recipient in this Province gets $89 a month. No wonder they are at food banks. It is a wonder they are alive at all, Mr. Speaker.

Eighty-nine dollars per month for a social assistance recipient who is able-bodied, so-called, whatever that means. You wouldn't be able-bodied for very long I would say if you had to live on $89 a month. That is $3 a day. If you went back to 1930 that is probably less than six cents a day which was the dole that everybody talks about. What we need is legislation that outlaws the need for food banks and guarantees that everybody in this Province shares better in the wealth and in the incomes that we are able to create and distribute. That is what I want to see! Let's see legislation like that. But this is the kind of legislation that I can't support. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have spoken in debate but the House might wish -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to speak again?

MR. ROBERTS: I don't intend to speak again. The House might wish to be aware that His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor will be here in two or three minutes to give assent to some bills.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Either that or we are prepared to ask the House to stay a few minutes beyond 5:00 p.m. to allow my friend for Bonavista South what time he needs. Okay.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again, for the second time in this debate. I was always of an opinion, and I am of a stronger opinion now, that if you ever wanted to create chaos what you have to do is put two lawyers and two engineers together and see what comes out of it - pure, pure chaos. I say to the acting minister, the Government House Leader, that if this piece of legislation was passed in the Province of Ontario, was good enough for Eddie Greenspan, then I suggest it should be good enough for Eddie Roberts!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, this bill was brought forward in good faith, and I thought we would stand here today without the red and the blue showing through, without political affiliation, be nonpartisan, and reach out to help the people who are out there today who need help most.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's East spoke and was going to outlaw food banks. Well, I would love to live in that world too, and I would outlaw the Department of Social Services, and I would outlaw a lot of things.

AN HON. MEMBER: Government House?

MR. FITZGERALD: Government House would be gone months ago.

We are living in a real world and I say to the member of St. John's East, come back in touch with reality.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, got up and I listened to him quite intently there. He showed a lot of compassion and told a lot of stories that I could relate to, and I am sure a lot of other people here who represent rural Newfoundland districts could relate to. Certainly we do not have to relate it to rural districts only, but the urban areas as well where people have a lot of pride and they do not want people coming and having to give them something because it takes something away from them, but once again reality sets in and the need is there.

I thank the Member for Kilbride who also spoke very eloquently and showed the Government House Leader how uncaring and unforgiving he is in order to come forward and move an amendment to do away with a lot of things that could be done for the needy who are out there today.

In the Province of Ontario today there are something like 210,000 people using a food bank monthly - 210,000 people of which 85,000 people are children. This bill was brought forward, an identical bill, in the Province of Ontario, had no problem with the legal minds that existed in the Chamber there, but because of partisan reasons, because of the Government House Leader and other members he convinced and hookwinked on the other side, they are now taking this bill and putting it before a committee of the House, not even a committee of the House, but three Cabinet ministers, just, I suppose, to take a little bit of publicity away from a private member who sits in Opposition because it may take a little shine off the government.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a good attempt but I think the people out there today will see the bill for what it is. There is certainly a need out there and I would ask that when this select committee -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it is not a select committee.

MR. FITZGERALD: It is a select committee because it was selected by the Government House Leader I say. It is a committee that will bring back another government bill, and I have no problem with that. I don't care whose name goes on the bill. I don't care who gets credit for it, Mr. Speaker, as long as the need is addressed. When you look at North America today wasting one quarter of the food that it produces, and you see the need that exists in food banks and in other areas where we can respond to a need, then you see the Government House Leader saying, no, we won't respond to it. It could have been looked after in this House here today. It could have been responded to and it could have gone through Committee stage and become law here today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: The Government House Leader saw fit once again, because of his uncaring attitude, doesn't care for the people out there in areas with a need because he has never been subjected to it, has no feeling, a millionarie sitting in the opposite benches who doesn't know what I am talking about, but when I look at some of the members in the backbenches over there they know what I am referring to, and the people will judge everybody, I say, by their actions.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

On motion, amendment carried.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) put the main motion?

MR. TOBIN: The motion as amended.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion as amended. My understanding, by passing the amendment we have already -

MR. SULLIVAN: We have already put it (inaudible).


The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my submission would be that one still has to pass the motion as amended but I am, of course, in Your Honour's hands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Pass it anyway.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, to be doubly assured I will call it again: Will the motion as amended, carry?


MR. SPEAKER: Against?


Motion as amended, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, perhaps you could simply stand aside for a moment, I don't know if His Honour is in the - Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: But he will be here. Perhaps, before we do, I could draw the attention of the House while we are waiting to a circumstance that I suspect members, I hope members would want to address. It's this: Two of the Pages who have been with us, Krista Gregory and Paul Kelleher - I see Ms. Gregory in the Chamber, I don't see Mr. Kelleher at this moment, but these two young people who worked with us for - I don't remember if it is two years or two sessions - but for two sittings, will be leaving us to go on to other, and one would no doubt hope, better things, a two-year term in the House is surely covered by the section of the Charter that deals with cruel and unusual punishment, and they will be going on to other things. Perhaps other members would wish to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend, the Member for St. Barbe, he didn't even ask them to his 10th Anniversary party last week and they still cheer; but perhaps one or two members might wish to join with me in thanking this young man and this young woman for their exemplary service, for putting up with us at the best of times and the worst of times and for responding to our constant, and one would hope not always irrational demands, and carrying our messages and helping us generally, as with many situations with the staff of the House, we tend to take these people for granted, yet we could not function, assuming in fact, we do function, we could not function without the assistance of these people. Certainly, for those on this side, and the other side will speak for themselves, we wish both Ms. Gregory and Mr. Kelleher good fortune and we hope that someday they will be back in the House. I don't know if we've ever had a former Page elected to the House but I run into them from time to time.

MR. TOBIN: `Chuck' was.

MR. ROBERTS: Was my friend, the Member for St. Barbe a Page? Not in my time, he wasn't, and that goes back to his birth. One of these days we will have the pleasure of welcoming back as a member of the House a young man or a young woman who has served as a Page in the House. I would wish them well and wish them good fortune and Godspeed in the years ahead.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I want to join with the Government House Leader in his remarks to two Pages who have served us well and who will be leaving us. I want to wish them well. The Government House Leader said he hopes they return to the House at some future date, but having been here with us for this length of time, I hope we haven't discouraged them too much, I say to the Government House Leader and to them. There are those amongst us, of course, who would discourage them more than others, but we hope from this side that we have been most encouraging. We want to wish you well and thank you for your help here.

As for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology being a Page, no, he hasn't been a Page. He is a page from another book. I would say, just recognizing where the minister sat, that he will soon be turning a new page. He will be turning the most important page in his life soon, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and it won't be long before we will be calling him `Premier Furey.'

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I understand His Honour is here, but before we do, may we have agreement that the House sit beyond 5:00 p.m. for the purpose of accommodating the assent ceremony? If not, I would be prepared to move the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m., simply to accommodate the assent ceremony.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

Motion carried.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Admit His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is the wish of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor that all be seated. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her Faithful Commons in Newfoundland, to present to Your Honour a bill for the appropriation of supply granted in the present session.

A bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 1996 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service."

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: In Her Majesty's Name, I thank Her Loyal Subjects, I accept their benevolence, and I assent to this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: May It please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has at its present session passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's assent.

A bill, "An Act Respecting Advance Health Care Directives And The Appointment Of Substitute Health Care Decision Makers." (Bill No. 1)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Smoke-Free Environment Act." (Bill No. 11)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act." (Bill No. 19)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Pension Benefits Act." (Bill No. 18)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Judicature Act." (Bill No. 20)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Architects Act, The Chartered Accountants Act, The Dieticians Act, The Embalmers And Funeral Directors Act, The Engineers And Geoscientists Act, The Land Surveyors Act, 1991, The Private Investigation And Security Services Act And The Psychologists Act." (Bill No. 22)

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: In Her Majesty's name, I assent to these bills.

I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all the Members of this Honourable House an enjoyable and productive summer recess.

Thank you.


His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor leaves the Chamber.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, may I move that when the House adjourns today it stands adjourned until the call of the Chair. The Speaker, or in his absence from the Province, the Deputy Speaker, may give notice and thereupon the House shall meet at the time and date stated by the notice of the proposed sitting.

I move that this House do now adjourn, but before you put the vote, Mr. Speaker, may I advise members that we anticipate a very substantial Fall legislative session. There is no date set, but in all likelihood the House will be asked to assemble in probably the first part of October. I mention that so that members can arrange their schedules accordingly, and given what I understand to be the list of legislation, electoral boundaries and a number of other matters that will come forward, we should anticipate sitting well up on towards Christmas.

With that said, Sir, I move that the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Just a point, Mr. Speaker; I want to wish all members a safe and enjoyable summer. I hope we get good weather like last summer.

I was watching while the Government House Leader was speaking there, and the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation was nodding his head about the October date as if he had given the Government House Leader the order to be back in the first week of October after he wins the leadership of the Liberal Party.

MR. SPEAKER: If we keep this up I don't know if we will get the adjournment motion on the Order Paper (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: If I may, just one comment in the same spirit.

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

MR. ROBERTS: In the same spirit as my friend, the Member for Grand Bank made his comment, may I say that we shall be back and we hope he is back in the Fall.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I will join in most of the sentiments and wish everyone a good summer.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned at the call of the Chair.