October 23, 1995            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLII  No. 40

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to address a question to the hon. the Minister of Health. In July of this year I learned that your department was capping the Enrich Needs program to approximately $2100 per person, resulting in a maximum of about eight hours per day of home care. Now, as a minister you confirmed that there was a cap placed on the funding. I ask the minister if his department has been enforcing that cap on an individual basis, and if not is it your intention to do so?

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

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

The Enrich Needs program that before April 1 was administered through the Department of Social Services came to the Department of Health with a reduced budget allocation in funding this year. That is correct. It was reduced from about $27 million down to about $20 million. To put that in context, Mr. Speaker, I should inform the House and let them know that that budget started at $300,000 about seven years ago and grew from $300,000 to $27 million over the short period of about six or seven years.

Obviously, the reasons for that growth were to some extent driven by real need, however there are other factors that caused that to grow disproportionate with the need and inconsistent with how other programs have grown in health and government generally. So, in that sense we have put that global $20 million budget in place and as a result of that we have had to implement some measures to live within that budget and at the same time deliver the appropriate level of services to people in their homes who need a certain amount of support for daily living.

The program was never intended to make the home, a person's residence, an institution, and unfortunately that is what has happened, not only in Newfoundland in some cases but right across the country. So, in the context of what the program was designed to do versus where it went we are putting in place a ceiling of $2100 that will be the maximum we can offer to support an individual living in their home for home maker purposes, if you like.

It is a program separate from the home care which is the medical side. It does not include the nursing and the early discharge things. These things go on outside of that program in another program, but we believe we are operating and acting consistent with what is good management, and consistent with what the taxpayers of the Province can afford in that type of a program.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What the minister has told us was actually in the March Budget, the $27 down to $20 million. I asked him was there a cap on an individual basis to - in all instances, maybe he can elaborate a little more when he gets up on a supplementary.

Now recently there has been many cutbacks in hours that individuals are receiving. Now in some cases there is justification but in many cases there is a distinct need. Now some of these people either have no family members to care for them or their sons or daughters are working. The elderly people cannot afford to pay for that service themselves, they are on a fixed income. These people cannot get into nursing homes because there are hundreds of people on the waiting list to get into nursing homes. I ask the minister, how can a person with alzheimer's or some other serious problem, who cannot get into nursing homes, how can they be left alone in their homes? What solution is the department pursuing in those types of matters?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, to the original question, the implementation is proceeding in an orderly fashion. There are three populations served by that program. It is not only the seniors but it is the mentally and the physically challenged and we have not moved yet to put in place limitations or revised policies with respect to the other two groups. So at the moment, as we speak, the Enriched Needs Program is being ministered partly by the Department of Health officials and partly by officials from the Department of Social Services because the resources have not been transferred over, part of that reason being because all of the community health boards did not come into existence at the same time, hence the single entry system, hence the new delivery mechanism for the program.

To the other question, if an individual is unable to find an appropriate place, be it a personal care home or a nursing home and they need that level of service, we will not see that individual left in their home at a level of service that is not sufficient to meet their need or inconsistent with their demand. We will work with the client to ensure that we can live within the $2,100 cap to ensure that the families of that person - if they have families - are offering the highest level of support they can. We will ensure that nobody's life is in danger, nobody's health is negatively affected and nobody's social condition will deteriorate as a result of that government policy.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now many people have appealed the cutbacks in service that they have been recently given in the reduction in the number of hours. Now the Enriched Needs Program was administered, as you indicated, by the Department of Social Services prior to April 1 and they could have their appeals heard by an appeals division of the Social Service Department, an independent appeal. Now since April 1 the Department of Health now has the responsibility for the Enriched Needs Program and after seven months, with the responsibility for this program, there is still no external appeal procedure set up for these people to appeal their individual cutbacks. Now many families can't cope physically, mentally or financially with those cutbacks, and I ask the minister: when is your department going to set up an appeal process so these people can put forth their cases?

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

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

I indicated earlier or I thought I did, that we are implementing this change over, this new capping in an orderly fashion. We started actually as of mid-October to do two things. No. 1, not to bring on new recipients above the $2,100-level and No. 2, work with people who are already on the program to ensure that they can have the appropriate services within the $2,100-level. One of the reasons why, is -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: One of the reasons why -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a disgrace (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: There are other disgraces in the world that I won't name at the moment, they are close at hand.


MR. L. MATTHEWS: - and some of them are in the House, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: One of the reasons why we could not fully implement the policy on April 1st, was, we had to work out details such as mechanisms for appeals and the hon. member is correct, the appeals mechanism in the Department of Social Services was not appropriate by virtue of the legal advice that they obtained to hear appeals from the Department of Health.

As a result of that, I have moved within the last two weeks to ask my officials to put in place the appropriate appeals mechanism. There has been nobody denied right of access to an appeals mechanism as a result of the switch to the program to the Department of Health because it is only now, the middle of October, that we are starting to implement it; we are working with individuals on a client by client basis and the mechanism is being put in place as we speak, to ensure that appeals can be dealt with if they come forward and that they can be heard in a timely and in a reasonable fashion.

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

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

My question today is for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

Many times in this House, over the last two years, the minister has stood and talked eloquently about the role and the positive impact rural development associations have had on this Province. He is also aware, Mr. Speaker, that the task force that his government implemented releasing the document, community matters, was fully participated, with rural development councils fully participated in that process.

My question for the minister then, Mr. Speaker, is this: Why has he denied a request from the rural development council for interim funding, until the zones recommended in the task force are in a position to assume control over the request from the subregional boards?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, just to back up for a little history. The Change in Challenge Report was released in June of '92. At that particular point in time, the Province, as I recall was divided into seventeen economic zones; coming out of that a conference was held at Memorial University called Learning From Ourselves, which was a jointly sponsored conference of the Federation of Municipalities and the Rural Development Council. Coming out of that conference, Mr. Speaker, came three requests from the Rural Development Council.

The first - and I will cite it for the hon. member; it is on page 21 of the task force report - was to set up immediately an independent non-partisan commission, to look at ways that community economic development could be more efficiently delivered throughout the regions of the Province. That was recommendation one. We accepted it and set up this task force that the hon. member is quoting from. If he looks at the first section of the report he will see that it was signed off by the central v.p. of Rural Development, the then-president of Rural Development, and two former co-ordinators.

The second thing they asked for in this particular task force -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Name them! Name them!

MR. FUREY: - was to take all unencumbered funds at that time, redirect any project funding into administrative funding. That was the second recommendation, Mr. Speaker, and I'm proud to say that we agreed with that recommendation. The third recommendation was to set up an extraordinary membership meeting of the NLRDC sometime in January of 1994, and that was set up as well.

When the hon. member asks me why I wouldn't extend to the Tural Development Associations the $36,500 funding that they receive under the old rural development agreements, I should tell him that in June 1994 we extended the agreement to the tune of $1.4 million. That took them to March 31 1995. From March 1995 to September 30 of this year I extended it again for $1.3 million. At the end of September this year to November 30 I extended it again, for $400,000, all the while covering the administrative burden for the Rural Development Council for another $1.2 million, for a total of $4.3 million in extensions since back when they asked for this report.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Now, Mr. Speaker, I understand -


MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker -

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

I ask the hon. minister to draw his answer to a conclusion.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I fully understand, and the government fully understands, the apprehension that is out there amongst Rural Development Associations. I have said consistently and the government says consistently: We support the rural development movement. We think they have done extremely good work over the last number of years. We are living in difficult times, with shrinking transfers, shrinking co-operation agreements -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: - and we are trying to find ways to deliver to the communities in the most effective way possible.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology gave an excellent history lesson for those of us who have not read the report. I have, I say to the minister, and this is Question Period, I would like to remind him.

Let me ask the minister this: He must admit - or will he admit - that the task force itself... If he wants to quote from the task force, let me quote something for him that the task force said itself, recommended, that while phase one was being introduced that funding be provided to the economic development boards, to rural development councils, to Community Futures Association, until phase one was completed.

Now, will the minister admit that the task force itself seriously underestimated the time it would take to implement its own recommendations; and will the minister admit that the provisional boards are operating under a six-month time frame, and that the permanent boards have up to one year to develop their plans, thus creating a situation whereby economic development initiatives throughout the Province by Rural Development Associations, will be placed in jeopardy today?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of pictures in this report; I would ask the hon. member to read the words on page 63 of the report.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: This report did not come from us, from the government down; it came from the people up. It was a series of consultations across the Province, and the hon. member may not like it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Let me read this to him: Where local organizations require support for administration or staffing, we, the reporters of this report, propose that these allocations be made by the regional economic development boards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I will read that for the hon. member, too, in a second.

Mr. Speaker, it goes on to say: The regional economic development boards should be the sole - sole - source of government funds for the core operational expenses of community development organizations. So, when he says that somehow we have abandoned the rural development movement, I say, that's utter nonsense. What we are doing is streamlining.

Now, I should also say to the hon. member, of the nineteen zones, there are seventeen provisional boards up and running, and they have been up and running for the last three or four months. Thirteen of the seventeen budgets are approved; four more will be approved this current week. The two that are not developed right now, I will just say to the hon. member, is zone one, which is Northern Labrador, for geographic reasons. It has been difficult to corral and bring all of the people together. So I've asked Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador to deal with that concern on the Coast of Labrador.

The second zone, Mr. Speaker, zone eighteen - the hon. member shouted across about zone eighteen. I understand the problems there and we are having that matter addressed. I think there have been a few meetings so far with Dr. House and Mr. Slade and we will wait for those recommendations.

With respect to the hon. member's question -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.


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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that he is playing around with a very serious situation. He is also aware that the Rural Development Council fully participated and supports the recommendation emanating from this report. If he wants to quote from the report, let me quote him this. On page 70 the report says: "It is important that the umbrella organizations of the various regional development stakeholders play a co-ordinating role during this transitional period." And this is the period that we are talking about, Minister. "The NLRDC, which is currently funded by government, should have its funding continued during this period." That's what we are talking about.

The minister must recognize that government's own actions in this regard in refusing interim funding for a process that they put in place, for a process to let it naturally evolve, for a process supported by the Rural Development Council of this Province - he must admit that his department and his government are putting in jeopardy the process that they put in place themselves, thus, Mr. Speaker, alienating the very people they say they are trying to help.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, this government is on record as supporting and commending the rural development movement, make no question about it. The rural development movement had a substantial role to play in this particular report. In fact, the government appointed the then-president of the rural development movement, the then-central vice-president, and two people who were former co-ordinators. I say to the hon. member, we have put an extension in place from June 4 1994 to March 3 1995 of $1.4 million. They weren't prepared or ready to move forward at that time. I accept that. This is a major piece of re-shifting and redirecting what will happen in the rural economies. So we added an extra six months to take us to September 30; that was another $1.3 million. On top of that, we put together $1.2 million for the administration of the umbrella group that he talks about. The transition was still going forward and lots of boards still weren't in place, so we put an additional $400,000 on the table to take us to November 30.

Let me say this to you, Mr. Speaker. I am going to meet with the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Rural Development Council on Wednesday. If there are some compelling and overwhelming arguments that I have failed to see to date and he can make the case, yes, I would be glad to bring it back to my colleagues in Cabinet.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to follow up, if I could, from questions on Thursday to the Premier. In the Premier's speech on Tuesday he commented on the spending on educational services in our Province compared to other provinces in Canada. If I could quote: "Our total education expenditure per capita, which is another significant figure to look at, the total amount we spend per person, is higher than New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Saskatchewan." We all know that per capita means every man, woman and child in the Province.

I ask the Premier: Would he put forward the figure that we spend per student in this Province, which I would think would be more important than per capita. Isn't it considerably less than any other province in Canada except Prince Edward Island?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: When you look at the amount of money spent per student as a per cent of our GDP it is higher than any other province of Canada. Now, if you look at it -


PREMIER WELLS: Okay. If you look at it in terms of the ability of somebody who earns $100,000 to spend $10,000, that is one thing. That is one ability. If you look at it in terms of somebody who earns $20,000 to spend $10,000, it is quite something else. So you look at it on that basis. I will get the figure on a pure per student basis and see what that figure is.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, on a supplementary.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, according to documentation put forward by the government, a Catholic school may be established by a school board if enough people come forward and make a formal request; also, a Catholic school may be established if it does not adversely affect the viability of the common school. Now, I want to give the Premier an example.

In my hometown of St. Bride's, there is at present a Catholic school, Fatima Academy, and if I understand the government plans correctly, that school, after Term 17 becomes law, will be known as a common school. This is the only school on the Cape Shore that is 100 per cent Catholic and in order for that school to be re-established Catholic, enough people will have to come forward to make the request. Furthermore, it must not adversely affect the viability of the common school.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier what constitutes enough? Is the common school being referred to, the present school, the Catholic school? Who, then, will make the decision whether or not the common school is adversely affected?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There are two things that I think are necessary to answer that question. First, I am not quite sure what he means by a common school. The term isn't used. It is his term, not mine. I have never used the term.

MR. MANNING: Multi-denominational.

PREMIER WELLS: A multi-denominational school, is that what he means by it, one of the general denominational schools?

MR. MANNING: After Term 17 becomes law, what will that school be called then?

PREMIER WELLS: It is a school, a denominational school.

MR. MANNING: Is it (inaudible)?

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I don't know, that will depend upon what is put in place, and this is the second part of it.


PREMIER WELLS: Don't get too excited. Just stop and be a bit rational.

We have talked to the churches about meeting with us to discuss how this might be implemented, how this might be achieved. So far, I think, some of the churches have indicated they want to meet and others have not indicated their willingness at this stage to meet. That position has not, as far as I know, been finalized but the Minister of Education can provide the member with a better answer than I can.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, on a supplementary.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up with another question to the Premier if I could. During his speech on Tuesday, Mr. Speaker, the Premier touched on two main reasons for the changes and they concerned cost and student achievement. I say to the Premier that as of today, the government has total control over teacher accreditation in this Province, total control over student evaluation, the length of the school day, the length of the school year, all these things which play a part in student achievement in this Province. You have control over every part of the curriculum in the schools except religious education. I ask the Premier, would he please try to tell the House today, what changes does he see coming that would affect student achievement beyond what he already has the power to do now?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows, and he will have to admit, that at no time did this government blame the churches for the achievement level in this Province. Hon members know that the problem with the system is that we have four separate systems. Now, those four separate systems translate throughout the 479 schools in the Province and you will find that the problem lies with the small school.

Now, the hon. member is going to give me an exception. There are always exceptions, but generally speaking all literature will back up, that in general the performance in the small school is not on par with the larger school. As a result of the four systems in the Province there are about 115 schools that are small which should not be small. Now, if we leave the present system in place, and as long as the churches -

MR. TOBIN: Boy, I tell you something (inaudible) Pentecostal so important and now you are taking it (inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Pay attention to the Speaker.

MR. DECKER: No wonder they remain in ignorance, Mr. Speaker, they won't listen to the answer. As long as the churches have control of the governance of the system their policy, especially the Pentecostal and the Roman Catholic policy, is to integrate within the denomination before they go across denominational boundaries. So the Pentecostals, for example, are busing all the way from Seal Cove into St. John's past eight or ten perfectly viable schools. They have indeed integrated within the Pentecostal denomination and this leads to a whole lot of unnecessary busing. The Roman Catholic's have the same policy and they will integrate within the denomination causing unnecessary busing. When government gets control over governance and are allowed to put in place viability guidelines, based on educational criteria, then the incentive will be there for schools to amalgamate across denominational lines so that we can deal with the problem of the small school, Mr. Speaker.

Now, there will always be small schools in isolated regions. I have no problem in going to my colleagues in government and asking for extra funds to deal with the Conche's, the Red Bay's and the Harbour Deep's which are small because it is geography but I do have a problem, Mr. Speaker, asking my colleagues in government to give me extra money under the small schools allocation for the Pentecostal school in Deer Lake. There are two other substantial schools in Deer Lake but yet, by the same time, we provide four additional teachers to the Deer Lake Pentecostal school on a small school basis. I don't think the rest of the taxpayers should be required to put in these extra services. So the short answer to the hon. member's question is, it is the small school and we will deal with the small school in a much more effective way. To leave the present system in place we will only seek increased busing where children are bused past perfectly viable schools.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is about education as well. Recently I attended a parents night at the Seventh-Day Adventist School in St. John's, a school which has been in existence for more than 100 years and which has educated five generations of Seventh-Day Adventists. The present building was built and paid for in about four years without one copper of government funds -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. KITCHEN: - by church members, some of whom added 5 per cent to their usual tithes and some of whom were able to add just 2 per cent. This is a good elementary school with a lively Christian ambience. It shares guidance, speech therapy and other services with other denominations. Last week, in a conversation with the Premier, he indicated to me that he hoped some way could be found for that school to continue. My question is this, can the Seventh-Day Adventist people in this area be assured that their school can continue should this constitutional amendment and related legislation be passed by this House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I recall the conversation to which the hon. member is referring and we have indicated all along that in larger communities, larger school areas where there can be more than one school, if enough parents want to send their children to a school, that it can be a viable school and not adversely affect the viability of any other school, it is very simple -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask hon. members to allow the Premier to answer the question.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, to start again, I indicated to the hon. member that the government's position has been made clear all along, we want the schools in this Province to be clearly viable schools and standards of viability have been discussed. They have been discussed with people from the churches too, not agreed upon admittedly but they have been discussed. They know, generally speaking, what the government has in mind and the reasonable standards established on educational basis only and only on the basis of quality of education.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if in accordance with the viability standards that are applicable to all schools - it does not matter, not differentiating between uni-denominational schools or multi-denominational schools, if on the basis of those principles, generally applicable to all, any school, whatever its denomination, can come forward and say: we've got the number of people, the number of rooms, 482 students or 316 or whatever the standard of viability is, if it is francophone, aboriginal or whatever it may be, if they can establish that we can run a viable school the government will have no difficulty accepting that. We have never had any other position then that. So I say to my hon. friend from St. John's Centre, if the Seventh Day Adventist come forward with a proposal: look we've got 384 or 516 or 282 students and here are the rooms, here is the breakdown that meets all of the general principles of viability, we would like to continue to run this as a Seventh-Day Adventist School, then upon that being established, the government will have no quarrel with that denomination running it. The same applies to the Pentecostal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, United Church, Salvation Army, Presbyterian, Moravian or, those five acting together as a single. Those are the rights that will remain and the government will accept that proposition from anyone.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hereby table six copies of a Special Warrant. It relates to the operations of the Committee of looking into no fault insurance in the amount of $160,500.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the rural development movement in Newfoundland and Labrador has played a lead role in social and economic development in this Province for almost thirty years; and

WHEREAS the fifty-nine regional development associations making up this movement, provide an unique mechanism for rural people to help determine and shape their own economic destiny; and

WHEREAS many similar communities rely almost entirely on their own local development associations as a forum and a focus for issues of concern to them; and

WHEREAS the recommendations of the task force on Community Economic Development, as presently being implemented, could lead to seriously jeopardise the opportunity for increased co-operation among all community development organizations at the regional and provincial levels; and

WHEREAS effective community economic development depends on the involvement and participation of a strong and committed volunteer sector,

BE IT RESOLVED that this House of Assembly unanimously agree to provide administrative support for development associations and their volunteer members until such time as zonal boards are in a position to provide such administrative support and assistance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition from the communities of Port Anson and Miles Cove, in my District of Green Bay, signed by 178 people in those two communities. Those two communities constitute the people on what is known as Sunday Cove Island in Green Bay, the island on which I was born, incidentally, and the prayer of the petition is as follows:

We, the people, request to have the trees and shrubs cut from the highway for the safety of the travelling public and the school bus.

Mr. Speaker, this petition came in in the interim period while the House of Assembly was closed; it came in in August. I indicated to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that I had the petition, and I wrote him a note on it. He came back in a general way to that note, indicating some hope that something could be done in the upcoming year or whatever, but in this particular case we have a situation where there is bussing going on. We have trees and alder bushes, et cetera, growing very close to the highways. It has become an extremely common problem, certainly in many areas of Central and Northeast Newfoundland.

Moose, being the way they are, have a tendency to step out into the road with little or no warning, and in the last few years there has been very little done in terms of a maintenance program in terms of keeping the sides of the roads open. Now when we see major new construction along the Trans-Canada, we see considerable clearing of the brush well back from the shoulders of the road, but unfortunately in a matter of a few years - and this is especially the case with alder bushes; they have a tendency to spring up very, very quickly - and there is nothing unusual within a few years to have six to ten feet high underbrush growth leading right out to the edge of the pavement nearly, and this is providing a tremendous hazard to traffic.

One of the ways that this could have been handled, had this provincial government acted in co-ordination with the federal government as regards the TAGS program, we have many people, middle-aged and a bit older, who are forced to go to school, who are normally outdoors people, who would much rather be doing something with their hands in the open environment than being stuck in a classroom against their will. These kinds of people could have been put to work on brush clearing projects, to the public good, over the last few years since the NCARP and TAGS programs came into being.

The Department of Social Services could also put some of its clients to work at a wage above what they would normally get on social assistance, a wage large enough to provide a decent incentive for working. These are the kinds of things that the government could be doing to help people retain a degree of dignity in terms of work, and also at the same time provide a level of public service.

I sincerely hope that in the upcoming budget year government will see fit to take some action in this regard before we have some serious accidents, especially as regards moose and car accidents.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of St. Mary's - The Capes, and the prayer of the petition is as follows:

To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador,

WHEREAS the Janeway Child Health Centre has served the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and their children for more than twenty-five years as the only acute care children's hospital; and

WHEREAS the people of Newfoundland and Labrador show their support for the Janeway by contributing millions of dollars every year to enhance the services provided by the children's hospital,

WE, the undersigned, support the continuation of a stand-alone children's hospital to provide quality health care for the children of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, this petition was brought forward to me over the past couple of weeks because the people of my district, as many other districts in the Province, are concerned about the government's plan to shift the Janeway Child Care Centre next to the Health Sciences Centre. Basically, what they are planning to do, is to close the children's hospital as we know it today, the Janeway Hospital as we know it on a stand-alone basis, and this is a concern of the people in my district because many people, Mr. Speaker, with whom I talk on a day-to-day basis. have had reason over the past few years to visit the Janeway Hospital with their children.

I am no stranger to that myself; both my children have had to be rushed to the Janeway Hospital in the first couple of months of their lives for health care that was desperately needed and I have to say, that as soon as I walked inside the doors of the hospital -as a matter of fact, one was at two o'clock in the morning after travelling from St. Bride's - Mr. Speaker, as soon as you walk into the hospital you felt like you were home, I say to the hon. minister who is listening.

There was a feeling in the Janeway Hospital, Mr. Speaker, that it was for children and children only and the feeling there was that, you were at home, and I have to say that my concern lies with the people in my district, the fact that the children's centre is now going to be moved and that, that feeling of home that you have when you walk into the Janeway, will not be there in the years to come and that is certainly a concern that the people of my district are bringing forward through this petition today.

Mr. Speaker, the level of care at the Janeway over the years has been second to none; the dollars that are raised throughout the Province and the Janeway telethon and many dollars coming from my own District of St. Mary's - The Capes, have people who believe in the children's hospital and people who believe in the fact that we have a hospital here in this Province of which we can be proud; it is on a stand-alone basis that people can associate with children, and my concern is, when this hospital is moved next to the Health Sciences Centre that, children's concern may be lost in the shuffle, and I believe that is the major concern the people throughout this Province are feeling and I ask the minister to look at it.

I know he is under restraints and the government is trying to save dollars but, I don't think we could put a dollar on the lives of these children, Mr. Speaker, and I have to say that my own experience with the Janeway have led me to believe that the Janeway should be on a stand-alone basis and definitely should remain as part of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, the Janeway Hospital is not a St. John's hospital, it is not a hospital for the Avalon Peninsula, it is indeed a provincial hospital. When I was at the Janeway with my little boy a few years ago, I spoke with people from Labrador, I spoke to people from the Straits of Belle Isle, I spoke to people from Gander, they were all there, throughout the ward, people who had to bring in their children and have had fond memories of the Janeway and the care that they received at the Janeway and I think that the stand-alone hospital that we have there now, Mr. Speaker, speaks for itself.

The history of that hospital, without a doubt is second to none and I believe that the government is on a wrong course of action. I believe in restructuring, I believe in saving dollars where we can, but I believe that a stand-alone children's hospital in this Province is definitely something that should remain.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support my colleague from St. Mary's - The Capes regarding the Janeway Hospital as a stand-alone hospital. I think it is important that here in this Province we have a hospital dedicated to paediatric medicine. It raises a lot of concerns and a lot of unanswered questions with the recent announcements, just this past few months about the consolidation of hospitals in the St. John's region.

Now, I am certainly in favour of any consolidation that is going to show more efficiencies in administration without taking away from the level of services that are provided. There have been some remarks made in public and stated I think, by the minister in the House last week, that raised some concerns to me about the viability of this proposal and the ability to maintain the services that are currently provided. Now the minister made some reference to having a shared operating space.

Now, in this city today, there are only about twenty-four operating rooms in use in this city; there are operations cancelled because there are no operating rooms. To eliminate six operating rooms at the Grace Hospital, to eliminate the four operating rooms at the Janeway Hospital and to have to share space, Sister Elizabeth Davis, stated three weeks ago in public, that one of the problems they have with heart surgeries and other surgeries, is the availability of operating space, and if we are going to take and reduce the operating space in this city by 40 per cent, what type of service are we going to have in the future? We are going to have longer waiting lists and I have a list of people who are waiting for surgery. There are about 180 people waiting to have heart surgery in this Province and if they have to compete for the same space as young children from the paediatric hospital in the Janeway, somebody is going to suffer as a result.

I think it is incumbent upon government to show what the proposed costs are going to be, to lay out a cost analysis, to show what an extension would cost. The one that they are talking about now to me is the option ten, the new one added by government, that shows a cost of over $300 million. If it is only going to cost $100 million let's look at the cost of adding on this new extension to have a separate hospital. It is my understanding now that the power plant in there - now the central heating system supplies the M.U.N. campus and Health Sciences. There could be additional expensive cost to increase this. My understanding - emergency power system supplies the University and the Health Sciences of other cost. There are very expensive alterations which may be needed in the capital cost to such a point that the capital expenditure, if they are up to $300 million, that extra financing of that alone, about $30 million a year, could be greater than the efficiencies achieved in administration by closing the Janeway Hospital.

I think it is incumbent upon government to lay out this cost and to show us what the new costs are going to be, what the savings in administration. Because what is going to happen I fear is that there is going to be a scaled down number of beds in hospitals, scaled down operating rooms, scaled down emergency departments, and you can't move as many people through the system today. The kids in this Province are going to be hurt as a result of being gobbled up by a larger Health Sciences complex where there is going to be sharing of laboratory facilities, there is an admission there is going to be a sharing of operating space, x-rays and other services.

It is not going to be a stand-alone, separate Janeway Hospital in light of statements made by the new executive director. The minister's statement raises concerns. I feel that it is going to be detrimental to the continuation of proper paediatric service to people in this Province there, and I call upon the minister and his government to lay out the cost analysis, to let's see where the savings are going to be. Don't go making a fly-by-night, hoping things are going to change. Because the reason they aren't producing one is it is not there. We are going to have a scaled down service with less people availing of it and longer waiting lists. That is going to be the final result. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think I should respond to some of the comments made by the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, and also my critic the Member for Ferryland.

I have to agree first of all with the comments of the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. Yes, the Janeway Hospital is a provincial hospital, no question about that. It is a hospital that has provided care for children for paediatric services for a goodly number of years and they have provided it at the highest level of competence with the highest quality of care being delivered from that site.

I think anyone would also agree with his suggestion that the people who work at the Janeway - the doctors, the nurses, and all of the other health care givers - are providing an exemplary service, a high-quality service, and a service that we cannot afford to lose in this Province. Let me assure the hon. members both again, that this government has no intention of allowing the service of the Janeway to diminish, decrease or to be lost to the health care continuum of care in this Province.

If the hon. member wants assurance that there is going to be a stand-alone facility, as long as he understands that "stand-alone" doesn't mean that it can't be attached to another building or another premises, yes, it will be a stand-alone operation in the sense that it will be a dedicated service.

I mentioned a couple of days in the House that all we have to do is look at the magnificent new facilities that have been provided through the Bliss Murphy Cancer Clinic at the Health Sciences complex. Is that a stand-alone service in the member's mind? Yes, it is a stand-alone service. It is a dedicated amount of space with dedicated and specific programs, dedicated and specific clinics run to deliver cancer care and cancer treatment. So on the basis that that is a stand-alone clinic, or a stand-alone facility, the Janeway will be a stand-alone facility. That doesn't mean that it can't be attached to another building for certain other shared service purposes. That is what we are committed to providing at the Janeway.

Now, the question was raised as to whether or not we can replace the Janeway, over at the Health Sciences, dedicate a space for $100 million? Well, I need to again - because the message has to get out there - it is not only the Janeway services that will be put in this new space or moved over to that site, if you like. We will also be moving over the obstetrics and the gynaecological services that are provided at the Grace, so as to be able to provide a full continuum of care at that new site for babies from the date they are born, mothers who have given birth, sick babies and also the services that are delivered to children at a later stage in their life at the Janeway. So the cost we are talking about being associated with this move involves far more than just the Janeway as a facility. It also involves the moving of the other services that should correctly and properly be associated with and contiguous to and integrated with the services of paediatrics. So that whole continuum of care will be provided in new space over there.

We are not going forward on the basis of not knowing what we are doing. What we have done is set a direction in terms of reorganization of health care and the direction that we set on June 29 was to provide for two acute care sites from which we would deliver acute care services in the future. The direction has been set, the detailed planning as to what programs will be moved where and when, as to what capital needs to be spent to put the facilities and the infrastructure in place and as to when that will be done, will be laid out in full and complete detail, not only to the members of the House but it will also be laid out to the people of the Province so that everybody will clearly understand how it is we are proceeding and how it is we intend to get the job done within the reasonable resources. I agree that it is an unreasonable proposition to spend $30 million or $40 million extra if you are only going to save $20 million or $30 million and not provide as good a service. That is not a reasonable proposition and government won't be doing something as foolish as that. The people of the Province understand that we won't do anything that foolish.

As to the question of whether or not there will be enough OR space -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Well, let me conclude by saying as to the proposition that there won't be enough OR or out-patient space -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member doesn't have leave.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we resume the debate on Motion 4, that is the Term 17 Resolution, and I believe my friend, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay had the floor.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am sorry, I say to my friend, I apologize to both of them for confusing one with the other. It is really unforgivable to confuse either of them with the other.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't know why the hon. House Leader would throw an insult at me after my lending him a hand a couple of days ago; I won't say what the event was for, but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I can't tell the event, but I was very good to the member, I say to him, and would do it again - I gave him a hand.

Mr. Speaker, I think I do have a few minutes left on the education debate here today and I would like to just refer back to - I think, when I closed debate on Thursday, that I was about to speak very briefly on what the Minister of Education said when he responded to a petition that I had presented earlier that day. He talked about if he had to put forward $50,000 or $60,000 to construct a road up around Anthony Paddon Elementary to allow students to enter and exit buses that it would mean giving another 37 per cent to another school board, another 7 per cent to another school board. Mr. Speaker, that is wrong and it should be changed. There will be no argument from anybody here or from anybody anywhere else in this Province. That that system doesn't work anymore and should never be a part of the education system as we know it today. But, Mr. Speaker, I don't think there is any need of a referendum, and I stress that, because a referendum is very divisive and, as we have seen, very expensive.

If we look at much of the duplication this government continues to speak about, I can read you a few items here which will show you that much of this duplication has already been eliminated, and I think the government was using it to their own advantage and fearmongering when they put the cost of duplication forward. Much of the duplication has been eliminated from the system, and any excess in the system is continually being removed, the way it should be removed, up until now, through co-operation.

Today, there are schools in 293 communities in this Province and in Labrador. In 1967, there were schools in 800 communities. Today, there are fewer than 480 schools in the entire Province. In 1967, there were more than 1,046 schools. Today, 260 communities, or 89 per cent of all the communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, have a single school system. Today, thirty-three communities, or 11 per cent, have more than one school system. Today there are twenty-seven school boards. In 1967 there were 270 school boards. There are thirty formal joint service agreements. These agreements have resulted in consolidation of seventy-seven schools.

Mr. Speaker, that just goes to show that there have been many changes brought about within the school system today as it exists. There have been many agreements reached with the churches and other players in this whole process. Contrary to what government says, I believe there could be a lot more changes brought about, and brought about much more quickly than we are going to see as this process unfolds and is allowed to go on the national stage, and bring in other players from outside this Province. Things will slow down and we will not see any co-operation whatsoever between the churches and the government, and I fear it is going to be a long time before we see any changes or anything positive happening in this Province as it relates to school.

The question itself, as it was put forward in the referendum, consisted of two parts - two parts which should have been answered in two ways, not just one answer. Yes, everybody wanted reform; no, I don't think a lot of people wanted to change the constitution in order to bring about that reform. They didn't want people's rights trampled on, people's rights taken from them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, just a second to clue up.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a sentence or two, Mr. Speaker. I stand here today and I can assure the House of Assembly that I will support the 57 per cent who came out in my district and voted `no' to the referendum. I will be counted here in this House, and I will be one among the many who stand up and vote `no'.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I find it strange for me to have to stand in this House to announce that I will be voting against this measure. It is the first time that I voted against the government for twenty-five years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: I want to explain why I am doing it, because it is a very important issue.

I want to go back before the last election, to all these discussions that we had. I remember presenting petitions in this House from my district. From all around this Province there were 45,000 Roman Catholic petitioners who begged this House to continue their rights in education - 45,000 people from whom petitions were presented in this House. Fifteen thousand letters were written by Pentecostal people, representing 85 per cent of the Pentecostal adults in this Province, letters signed with addresses and phone numbers attached, asking government to continue the rights which had been granted to them just six years previously. We had 12,000 cards that were delivered, and I have these now - I didn't have the 12,000 but that is roughly what was delivered - I had several thousand, and I have them now, and when I look down at the names that are on that, they are great people, the finest kind of people who - `I believe,' this person says, and so do the rest, `that Catholic people have the right to continue to choose to send their children to Catholic schools which are fully funded by the Provincial Government.' Looking down the list you see solid citizen after solid citizen after solid citizen, people who worked for me in my campaign, people who didn't work for me in my campaign, all sorts of people, who signed these cards and the 45,000 who signed the petition. And Mr. Speaker, as a result of all this discussion in the House of Assembly, an agreement was made with the church leaders, and we were part of that. On behalf of this side of the House, I remember our leader made a statement in the House, in the full context of - and the church leaders were in the galleries and we were all so happy to hear that statement. I was very happy and everybody else was happy.

Now, let me read it, just to refresh your memory as to what that said. `Mr. Speaker, in response to the church leaders' concerns that implementing certain recommendations of the Royal Commission Report would jeopardize their traditional rights, government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking change to the Constitution that would remove the constitutionally-protected rights of classes of people specifically provided for.' And he goes on, `It was recognized by all at the meeting that if after the conclusion of these discussions there is consensus amongst the leaders and the government that some adjustment or changes to the Constitution are necessary or desirable then they could be pursued.'

Now, that is what was said in the House of Assembly on March 12, 1993 by my leader. And I was very happy, and so was everybody else on this side very happy with that. I think they were. It was all sides, everybody was very content because we thought it was under control, and as a result, shortly after that an election was called and I offered myself for re-election. In my brochure - you can have a copy if you like, because I won't be using it in the next election anyway, it says this, `A vote for Kitchen means a commitment to preserve educational rights presently guaranteed under the Constitution of Canada while supporting co-operation among churches and education.'

Now, I went with that because of the statement that was made in the House a very short time before, and as a result of that I got re-elected by a majority greater than before. Had that commitment not been made, I would not be in this House today, and I tell you something else, the member in front of me would not be in the House today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: And other members on this side would not be in the House today, we would not be the government today - that is my judgement. Now, as far as the Opposition is concerned, because there is some waffling over there, let me say this - I am reading from a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition on December 15. This is prior to the election. `Our party's position on this issue, basically a two-part position, has been in effect for a long time. It is in writing and it has been sent to many people around this Province. That position is that the government should not act unilaterally to change any of the constitutional rights that adherents to certain religious denominations have in relation to denominational schools. We should respect constitutional rights and not change them without the consent of the people who hold these rights.' Both sides are committed to that. So the question comes up: How can anybody on either side of the House go against these promises before the election?

When I was a child and somebody got hold of your arm and started to twist it, and asked: Will you promise to do so and so, you would probably say, yes, but after it was all over you would say, Ha, Ha, I got my fingers crossed, and if you had your fingers crossed, it did not count. Now, I forgot to cross my fingers, but I wonder did other people have their fingers crossed? Who had their fingers crossed because you can't make a commitment? I can't see how you can make a promise before an election and go back on it afterwards.

Now, of course, the referendum was called, and the referendum, I suppose, if it gets the wishes of the people, could very well be looked upon as excusing you from a pre-election promise. Can it, I wonder? But the question again is: did we have the right to go with that referendum when we had already made the commitment? Now, that's the question. I find it very hard to come to grips with this one. Then I wonder. Right after that election we were back at it again. Did we just park the churches while we were taking on the teachers? Is that what happened? I don't say that, but it is a question in my mind. What happened? Why didn't we go into the election, if we had that in our minds, and say: Boys, when we get out we are going to remove the power of the churches in education and take our chances with the people. That would have been the right way to do it, I suppose. But it is hard thing to do when you are taking on teachers and so on.

Now then, I want to look at minority rights in education. Let me say this: that just as this government wouldn't have been re-elected without that commitment, so would there have been no Canada. There would have been no Canada unless Term 93 had been written in that constitution. That is well-known historically. Because the Protestants in Quebec wanted a guarantee of having their minority schools, just as the Catholics in what became Ontario wanted the same thing. But it was basically the Protestants in Quebec who wanted that guarantee to have their schools. Without that there would have been no Canada. That is one of the fundamental principles underlying Canada in 1867.

Certainly there would have been no union of Newfoundland with Canada in 1949 unless we had Term 17. It was hard enough for Joe Smallwood and Greg Power and Bill Keough to fight Archbishop Roach and all - you know how it went on. We all know what went on with the Orange and so on. But there were a lot of Catholics who voted for Confederation. Greg Power in Placentia area and Bill Keough and all the rest were re-elected because they could reassure the people that education rights were there. And that was a very powerful reason - without that we would not be part of Canada today. It was a fundamental right. A fundamental part of the union which brings us to Canada, which brought Canada together, is denominational rights. In 1987, the previous governments in Ottawa and here enabled the Pentecostal Assemblies to have the same rights as other denominations had - ten years ago. Can we give someone constitutional rights in 1987 and take them away eight years later? It seems very strange.

Mr. Speaker, Ontario and B.C. have recently increased the rights of denominations. When Confederation occurred, Catholic schools in Ontario were elementary schools and they weren't funded at the high school level. They weren't funded until quite recently when the Ontario Government increased and gave funds to fund all separate schools right up to the end of high school. British Columbia, which didn't have denominational schools except as private schools, began to fund, and now they are funded to the extent of 50 per cent. So the trend in Canada, if you can call it a trend, is to give more denominational rights rather than fewer.

I find it strange that we are giving people rights on the basis of language in this Province. The french-speaking people want their own school board and they haven't been denied it as yet. They want their own board. But the fundamental right in Canada is not for language in schools, it is for religion in schools. That is the fundamental Confederation right. This other right on language is a more recent one.

Aboriginals want their own school boards. So, in my view, they should have them. But just listen: the schools that came to Newfoundland came from the English and the Irish. There were no aboriginal schools a hundred years ago. There were none - that isn't part of the culture. Schools, they weren't - not part of the traditional culture, even though I agree that there should be some control over aboriginal schools by aboriginals. But it is the religious right. I can't understand some people who believe in aboriginal schools but they don't believe in Catholic schools or Pentecostal schools or Integrated schools. I can't understand their reasoning.

The prior right is the right of religion in this country on that issue and then we are also giving rights - we have private schools governed separately. We have several private schools in this Province, and we are going to give rights to private schools? We are going to give rights, we are going to take away rights of others? Mr. Speaker, I respect the right of the minority. I respect the right of the minority. Catholics in this Province are in a minority. There are more Protestants than there are Catholics; Pentecostals are in the minority.

I am going back to the Harbour Grace affray. I am going back to it because my grandfather was involved in that affray. He was involved in it - he was an Orangeman. The Orangemen decided they were going to parade on Boxing Day in 1883. They were going to parade up through Riverhead. My grandfather, who had been to the ice with Skipper Shea of Riverhead, said: `Boys, let's not go up Pippy's Lane, that's a private lane, let's not go up there, let's make our parade and turn around and come back.' `No, boy, we are going up, to heck with it,' and as a result of that - and if you want to read Fred Rowe's book; and I will put it out here, because Fred indicates, here it is, he says: `The proposed route took the marchers through the most Catholic Riverhead section of Harbour Grace. A confrontation occurred, some of the men on both sides, and guns and shots were fired. Four Orangemen and one Catholic were killed and fifteen or more men were wounded.' And as a result of that, the government, the Whiteway Government was overturned, and interdenominational relations in this country, in this Province, were set back for many, many years.

Mr. Speaker, I don't like this business of saying that Catholics are not in the minority. They are in a minority. The Anglicans, the United Church comprise about 55 per cent of the population and I believe the recent vote in the referendum was largely along religious lines but not entirely; there were a number of Catholics who voted `yes', most of them voted `no' and we can look by the statistics within the districts and so on to prove that pretty well, although a fair number of Roman Catholics did vote `yes', because they told me. Some very prominent Roman Catholics voted `yes' and they have good reasons for doing so and I respect their reasons; and some very prominent and other Anglicans, United Church voted `no' and I respect their judgement as well. But the point is, that the Protestants in this Province outnumber the other Protestants, the Anglicans, the United et cetera, outnumber the Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and the Seventh-Day Adventists so that the majority, in my view, is taking away the rights of the minority under this referendum. And you also have to realize that fewer, if you look at it, only 50-odd per cent voted in that referendum, so there is really no clear mandate to change our promises prior to that election.

Article 26, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: `Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that should be given to their children.' Article 2, Protocol No. 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights reads: `In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to Education and Teaching, the State shall respect the rights of parents, to ensure such eduction and teaching are in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.' That's Europe - the first one was the Declaration of Human Rights.

Now, sometimes I believe it is impossible to keep an election promise, sometimes it is impossible; you do the best you can but you can't keep it, that happens. In 1989, we were elected on the expectation that we would be able to create jobs. We all tried to create jobs and this government has worked very hard in that respect, very, very hard; we give credit to all the people who tried, we tried hard. We haven't been nearly as successful as we had hoped but we tried, we tried. Now then, in a sense, what people expected was not fully delivered; I can understand that, because people tried. But I don't believe it is necessary for us to go forward with this amendment, and I will tell you why.

From my discussions with the Denominational Education Committee representatives and others, I believe, almost all that we want to achieve can be achieved. I believe that before the end of this week, the Minister of Education could announce the new school construction board, could ask the denominations to name their three, government names its three chairmen to put in place and then they divide up whatever money government is prepared to give them for school construction on a needs basis. That has been agreed, I say to them -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: - because this is what has been told to me. But you will only agree if the whole package is put in place. And they say: `Nonsense - that is not true. We were prepared to go with that.'

Now, that has to be clarified. Are the denominations prepared to go ahead tomorrow with the school construction board or are they not? I believe they will. They tell me they are. Other people tell me they are not. This has to be clarified.

I believe that the number of school boards can be reduced to ten - ten common school boards. It can be done within a week or two. The election for those boards can be called this week, and the election can take place in the appropriate time. That can be done. In fact, the denominations wanted to go down to nine and the figure of ten is the government's, as I understand. So that is not a problem, and we can take a lot of excess cash out of the system by reducing the number of boards and reducing the number of supernumerary executives who are operating those boards.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about doing away with DECs?

DR. KITCHEN: Similarly, the hon. member says, what about the DECs? The DECs have agreed to a reduction in what goes on there, a substantial reduction, to have committees but with somebody responsible for religious rights - somebody, but not as elaborate a structure as is there now. That has already been agreed.

I believe the transportation problems can be worked out very quickly, not as easily, but they can be worked out very quickly and an agreement can be in place.

Mr. Speaker, a number of us on this side had been hearing that the denominations would not co-operate with government. We had been hearing privately that the denominations would co-operate with government. Presented to us was a statement of denominations' position. Government presented us, the Department of Education presented us, with the denominations' position on a number of issues. We went to the DECs, the three executive directors, and said, `Look, here is what government is saying. Is that right?' We went down over it, and we were dumbfounded by what they told us. What we were being told and what they told us was very different. Let me indicate.

We wrote a letter, then, to our Premier, and I am going to read part of that letter. The letter is signed by me, by Graham Flight, Walter Carter, Walter Noel, Beaton Tulk, Doug Oldford and Melvin Penney. We wrote this letter to the Premier:

`Dear Premier, for some time now we have been concerned that statements made in caucus, Cabinet, and elsewhere by the Minister of Education, and to some extent by yourself, concerning the positions and attitude of the churches toward educational reform were not matching what we have been hearing privately from them and from other sources. This was especially evident in the presentation to caucus on October 28. On November 1, seven members of caucus - I just named them - met with the three executive directors of the DECs and confronted them with government's statement of the churches' positions. We were all dumbfounded by what they said, and how different their statement of their churches' positions on various issues were from those portrayed as theirs by government. Subsequently, we studied the correspondence and all other documents available to us, including the Williams Report, and held conversations with a number of people. Attached to this letter is a list of what appear to be inaccurate statements by government. We regard these as extremely serious and, if accurate, unacceptable. We believe this matter to be of the utmost urgency and look forward to your taking appropriate action within the next week.'

We have yet to receive a response to that letter.

AN HON. MEMBER: What? When was that written?

DR. KITCHEN: That was written November 15, 1994.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are in some rush, aren't they?

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, that attachment lists twelve inaccuracies, and if any member wants a copy I will gladly provide it, because the time has come to let it hang out, I think, on this issue.

I don't know what the problem is. I believe that the churches are prepared to negotiate with government, and that government can get almost everything they want from the churches, particularly after the thrust of the referendum, which was in the government's favour.

I remember negotiating the amalgamation of the hospital boards in St. John's, and that wasn't an easy job; I don't mind telling you. I can remember the meetings we had with various individuals there, meeting after meeting, and they were quite hot and heavy. But we were able to negotiate with those boards. The one that we had the most interesting negotiation with was with the Sisters of Mercy about St. Clare's. Because basically it is their hospital. They built it there just like the Salvation Army built the Grace, pretty well. We negotiated, we went back and forth. They had a position, we had a position. We put it all down on the table and we were able to bring about a meeting of the minds where they are happy, we are happy, it is done.

I will tell you the basic ingredient to that. The Premier was involved, I was involved, the Sisters of Mercy were involved, the chairman of the board, various people were involved. But I will tell you why we were able to come to grips with that problem and resolve it successfully. It was because we were bargaining in good faith.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: I believe we have to bargain in good faith on the education issue. I don't know what the problem is. I honestly don't know what the problem is. I'm perplexed. I don't want to vote against the government. I am a Liberal, I don't want to vote against the government. I've been twenty-five years trying to get us in power and to keep us in power. I don't want to vote against us. But I do want this thing resolved because it is very important.

Now, what is the problem? Is the problem the official who is doing the negotiating, Dr. Crocker? If he is the problem, well, you can transfer him to some other part of the hierarchy. Is it the Minister of Education? Well, he can be exchanged. I don't know who it is. Is it the Premier? I don't know, I don't know.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: I question. I don't know. I don't think so. I don't know what the problem is. Maybe the problem is on the other side. Maybe the problem is with the churches. I don't know what the problem is, but I do believe, from what everyone is telling me, that this can be resolved without putting us through the misery of a constitutional amendment.

Is there another agenda? Do some people want to get the churches out of education completely? I don't know what the agenda is. People have been asking questions. I have to ask questions, too, because I am concerned.

I believe that most members of this House would wish this thing to be negotiated and done quickly. I am going to appeal to all the members, both sides of this House, to vote against this amendment and let's get down and negotiate, and get it done and, if necessary, put the proper team in place to do it. It is no good. You know, for the last generation it isn't enough to say: I'm just carrying out orders, I'm a foot-soldier in the army. You can't plead that anymore. Every individual has to answer for what he or she does. You can't say: I'm just a foot-soldier, I'm just a back bencher, I'm just a lowly member of the Cabinet. One has to take the responsibility oneself for what one does.

Another point I want to make. The fundamental question that we have to answer is: Is there a role for churches in education? Some people believe their time has come to go. Very sincerely, I believe that there is a role for churches in education. At one time in my life I thought churches had far too much power and I believe they did, but that is far from the truth now. In fact, I don't think that churches perhaps have enough to say about the issues that are facing people. I am concerned about values and morals in this society in which we live. I am concerned with the number of children who come from broken homes. I am concerned, as you are, with all this heartlessness that seems to be emanating from governments across Canada and the world, the Ralph Kleins and this fellow Harris up there - Jack's brother, is it? - up there in Ontario...the heartlessness which blames the problems of the nation on the poor and are trying to balance the Budget on the backs of poor people.

This is un-Christian. We need the Catholic church in education, we need the Pentecostal Church, we need all the churches in education to tell us that you have to be good to your neighbour. When a guy or woman is down you have to help them out because there is far to much of the other side of the coin. If they are down give them a shot, give them a kick and that is what we are up to. I believe we have to have - and I think the churches - there is no other institution in this society which has, as its formal responsibility, the protection of morals and values. You cannot leave it to the law - can you?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: - you cannot leave it to the judges. This is a role of the church and it is through the schools that the church has their biggest influence. It is very difficult these days to operate in any other fashion.

Let me read a letter that I got the other day from the Chairperson of the Parish Council of St. Pius X. The St. Pius X parish is in the district of St. John's Centre. I will read part of it. I had a delegation in from Pius X the other day, the parish, the PTA and the alliance. They came in, we sat down and had a good chat about what they were doing and I had not fully realized how much the parish contributes to the school. Anyway I won't read it all: At this time we wish to provide you with some examples of the tremendously positive impact our parish has on the education of our children in our parish schools - this is the parish, not the school board and not the PTA - St. Pius X parish has provided its parish hall for use as a gymnasium for the St. Pius X Elementary School children. This hall is also used by the school for parent meetings, school assemblies, inter-murals and parent-teacher association functions.

The recent renovations to this parish hall was a direct benefit for the school. With the school board the parish also shared the cost of the recent exterior painting of the elementary school and parish hall. The church itself has been made available to the school for school concerts. The original elementary school was built by the Roman Catholic Church in 1955. During the 1960s the people of this parish made it their priority to provide the financing to build extensions to that school and also to build another new school, now the junior high school, in 1967. The parishioners carried those debts for many years before they paid them off. There has also been substantial funding by the Society of Jesus for the operation of Gonzaga High School. Numerous other financial contributions have been made and continue to be made to the schools.

The school lunch program received a start up funding in 1993 and it continues to receive money from the parish. Our ATTN, attention to the neighbourhood committee donates $1,000 annually to provide transportation for students to participate in after school activities and to help fund the school lunch program. The parish council has provided $1,000 this year to purchase material for a volunteer reading program which strengthens the reading skills for poor readers. Many non-monetary contributions have been made by the parish. We have a sacramental preparation program which coordinates the efforts of the religious programs in the schools with the parish programs of instruction.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

DR. KITCHEN: I will finish up this letter and then I will sit down.

Pastoral visits are made in the schools by the parish priests. Pastoral youth groups; Brownies, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts serve the school population and use school and parish facilities.

Our Tragic Events Team combines school, school board and parish personnel as well as parent community volunteers. In 1993 this team responded quickly to support our children when one of their classmates was killed by a drunk driver. The emotional and spiritual support offered by this team helped the children cope with this horrific event. In some ways the school and parish community emerged even stronger as a result of the well prepared intervention of the Tragic Events Team. This team was the logical outgrowth of the caring culture developed among the school, parish and community over the years. This parish feels it has the responsibility for the education of the whole child, shared with the school. Sometimes the influence of school and parish are so closely intertwined that it is difficult to see where one ends and the other begin. The benefit to these children is so obviously positive.

The St. Pius X School score among the best in the Province, in national and provincial standardized testing. I might add and this is me not - that 30 per cent of the children attending Pius X are from families below the poverty line, even though the school itself is in a fairly elite area. This result of the testing is due in no small measure to the parish support, both financial and otherwise. This support allows the teachers and the school administration to pay more attention to the task of teaching. Here is the crucial question. Could the financial community and moral support given by this parish continue, or would it be welcome if our Catholic schools become common schools without the strong ties that presently bind them to our parish community?

St. Pius X parish has developed a sustaining relationship with our schools and that relationship will be irrevocably altered if the Catholic nature of our parish schools is lost. The cultural value of the spiritual learning that takes place in our schools is as authentic and worthy of respect and preservation as the traditions held sacred by the brothers and sisters of our first nations, and on they go. This is signed by Mary Kearsey, Chairperson of the Pius X Parish Council.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks now, and perhaps I will get another chance later on.

Thank you, very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Today I cannot say I am pleased to rise in my place and speak on the resolution Term 17 put forth by the Premier because I do not think it is necessary that this resolution be before the House today. I would like to compliment the Member for St. John's Centre for getting up and speaking his mind. I can honesty say that I do not think there is one thing he said that I can disagree with.

Mr. Speaker, Term 17 guarantees denominational schools in this Province. This amendment, regardless of what the Premier says, is open to interpretation by the courts. If this resolution passes both houses the courts will decide what will happen, or what will not happen, with the schools in this Province. I voted, no, on September 5 for different reasons and I will give you some of them now.

I believed at the time that changes and progress in education in this Province is happening, and I can elaborate on that after. I believed that changes required could be done with the existing Term 17. I believed that a referendum would be divisive, is divisive. In 1949 we saw what happened with respect to religions in this Province when we were trying to join Confederation. If we had not had Term 17 we would not today be part of Canada. With respect to being divisive. I come from a large family of twelve brothers and sister and we had members of my family voting yes, and members of my family voting, no, getting pressure from both sides to vote, yes, to vote, no. That is how divisive it can be, and possibly will be in the future.

I honestly believe that why I voted, no, is because this resolution would actually delay education reform in this Province and I say that because I think once this goes through the House of Commons, if and when we approve it here, I believe the Premier would not have brought it to the House of Assembly if he did not have the numbers to force it through, but I believe once it goes through the House of Commons there will be actual delays and we will have the bigger provinces, such as Ontario, etc., and the MPs of Parliament, taking a very serious look at this when it is applicable to themselves, Mr. Speaker.

Also, from what I can gather, normally amendments to the Constitution are introduced simultaneously in both Houses and the wording is bilaterally agreed upon, but this has not been the case with respect to this resolution. I vote, no, because 90 per cent, from what I can gather, of the changes that were wanted by government could have been actually agreed upon, so that only left 10 per cent. I believe that this resolution, and the result of this resolution, boils down to a matter of trust, trust with respect to the Premier of this Province, and the Member for St. John's Centre alluded to that from my perspective. This government, led by the Premier, and he is not here now to hear these words, but hopefully he will hear them in due course, has a very poor record when it comes to trust. On March 12, 1993 a number of people spoke on this, weeks before the election call, the Premier stood in this House and gave his word that there would be no unilateral constitutional amendments by this government. He went back on his word. The Hydro debate, which was against the wishes of the people in this Province, he forged ahead with that, knowing full well that 80 per cent or 90 per cent of the people of this Province didn't want it. He said he wouldn't go against the wishes of the people. Only when members of his own caucus this last summer had a meeting and put it to him point blank, back off on Hydro, did he decide to back off on Hydro. I firmly believe that.

With respect to the regional fire fighting. Why I'm making these points is I want to show the history of the mistrust that I have for this Premier and this government. I attended a meeting on regional fire fighting, myself and three other mayors, and the minister at the time, who was Eric Gullage, and the Premier. We made a number of points. The Premier looked at me when I was mayor at the time of a small town and said: Tell me why this isn't fair. I looked at him and I said: Listen, and I told him the whole reason why. He turned right to the minister at the time, Eric Gullage, and these are his exact words, almost word for word, he said: Minister, tell Mayor Duff if she believes that there is going to be a policy put in place based on assessed value only, tell her it is not going to happen. What do we have today? We have the Minister of Provincial and Municipal Affairs washing his hands of that and now we have a policy in place, or formerly in place, based on assessed value only and nothing else.

We had the Meech Lake situation. This is where I first began to mistrust the Premier. Three times, as Peter in the Bible, he went back on his word. I can't say it word for word but I know that he certainly led the people to believe that: first, if there was only one province that was going to stop Meech Lake he couldn't see our Province of 500,000 people doing that, and he just could not allow that to happen. He changed his mind. He said the least he could do was go to the people on a referendum. He didn't do that. Third, the least he said it could happen was a vote in the House of Assembly. What happened? Last minute, no, he didn't have a vote in the House of Assembly. I was an ordinary citizen out there looking at the situation and it appeared to me that he was going back on his word and I completely mistrusted the man. Now we have the situation we are looking at next Monday with respect to the Quebec referendum. This Premier may be going down in history as the architect of the destruction of this country. That is more to be talked about later on.

He campaigned on hospital beds opening up when he first got elected in 1989. What have we seen since? Nothing but hospital bed closures in hospitals. Last week, it just goes to signify the mistrust I have with this situation, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes asked a question to the Premier, a very basic question. It dealt with denominational or uni-denominational schools and the viability. The Premier couldn't answer the question. If he couldn't answer the question that tells me he doesn't have a plan; if he wouldn't answer the question that tells me he isn't being upfront with the people of this Province once again.

The question, and I have it here from Hansard, that the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes asked was this:

"My first question has to deal with the future of the present denominational schools. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier: Will a Catholic school that is located in a [Catholic] community or an area that is entirely of the Catholic faith automatically remain a Catholic school after the amended Term 17 becomes law, or will that school take on a new status and, if so, what will that status be?"

The Premier says this. Now, the Premier who is leading the charge on this education reform. The Premier says: "The minister is better qualified to answer this than I am, because he is dealing with it on a constant basis." Further he says: "We suggested that there should be parental choice, but you have to bear in mind that if you have sort of a breakdown of one-third Salvation Army, one-third Pentecostal, and one-third Roman Catholic, you cannot have it one -", Mr. Speaker.

He goes on to say: "If it is a situation where there are five or ten students who are, say, not of the Roman Catholic faith, as the hon. member refers to, and there are 200 who are Roman Catholic, I cannot imagine that it would not be a uni-denominational... school. My expectation is that it would be...." Not that it would be or it definitely will be, but: "My expectations" and "I cannot imagine."

He goes on to say: "Now, the basis or the precise manner in which that is done I do not know for the moment, but I did mention at the outset, at the start of this question...." He goes on. Obviously he definitely has no plan with respect to this situation. Just come up with the brain wave and do it.

Mr. Speaker, I have to go on with respect to some of these questions that were asked last week by the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, who said: I have been over this time and time again and I cannot recall seeing anything that puts forth any criteria. I would like to know, Mr. Premier, what is the answer to it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education and Training.

The Minister of Education and Training answers, not the Premier: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should understand that assuming we get the permission of this House, the Commons and the Senate, to change the constitution, that the next day there is nothing - will be a total change.

Now, leading up to September 5 the Premier led people to believe that this would be through the House of Commons this fall, and he is after saying here in the House already that it may not go through this fall.

He goes on to say: Now in a case where there is room for two viable schools, there will be no major problem because we will use a registration process whereby ten, twenty, fifty, sixty, or 100 parents in a given area will register in a Pentecostal, Roman Catholic or uni-denominational school.

Ten, twenty, fifty, sixty, what is it? He does not know. He did not answer the question, because I honestly believe he is hiding something. The question was on viability criteria, the impact negatively on another school. He would not refer to that. How far are we going to go with that? Can a school in St. Bride's be impacted upon by a school in Torbay? Can it be impacted upon when they are preparing the budget? What is the definition for criteria and viability? I believe that there will be no uni-denominational schools, and I believe the Premier's trickery and manipulation tactics are at work again. When the minister got up to answer the question, he bluffed it; he did not answer the question.

On September 5, after the referendum results came in and the Premier was interviewed on television, you could actually see the disappointment; he was visibly upset. Before the referendum he was expecting - and the polls probably showed him - that he would get a 70 per cent result, and that is what he was really expecting. He was hoping to get something where he could look in good favour to the public again, because he had fallen behind with respect to the hydro and other issues. He expected a high turnout, and what did he get? A 52 per cent turnout, with a 54 per cent majority. I accept the results, but a 52 per cent turnout of the people of this Province... From what I can gather, and from what people tell me, normally in a referendum situation, 60 per cent in other jurisdictions is what is normally accepted, a minimum of 60 per cent. Obviously this referendum was not clearly decisive.

Now some people compare an election to a referendum, but if a person is elected today - if I am elected, or the Member for St. John's Centre, or whatever the case may be - in four years time, or three years time, when an election is called, I can get the boot, the Member for St. John's Centre can get the boot, or any member can get the boot, but in a referendum situation, once an amendment is made and a constitutional amendment is done, it is no easy task to change that amendment. So you cannot make that comparison, in all fairness.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Premier may have a legal right to go ahead with the constitutional amendment, but I have to question the moral rights there. We have not seen the new Schools Act legislation. I have to ask the question, `Why?' The no side were putting forth the new Schools Act legislation. The people of this Province should see it all and know what they were voting on. They have worked on that for years, from what I can gather, and there is no Schools Act put in place yet, and it begs the question, `Why?' At least the members of this House should certainly see the new schools legislation before you ask to pass this resolution.

What will we see under the new Schools Act? When will we see the new Schools Act? My concern is, what will we see? With respect to the history of this government and this Premier, as I have stated earlier, there is no trust there from my perspective. The wording on the referendum versus the bill itself. When it goes through the House of Commons, and the Members of Parliament have a look at it and decide to make amendments, it will have to come back here for possible amendments or rewording. All this over again; I have to ask the question, `Why?' when it is not necessary.

The Member for St. John's Centre, was asking: Why are we not getting the co-operation? Who is the problem? What is the problem? I think it comes back here, one saying this will end up in having more delays and more delays. Personally, I support education reform, I always have and I think everybody in this House of Assembly supports education reform. Obviously, the people in the Province support education reform. But, when you are talking about trying to compare students' achievements with the national average, and what have you, I would have to look at the curriculum and what is being taught in schools.

I have been in business and private business for a number of years; I have had people coming out of school who worked for me and I would have to question what they have been taught in school compared to what we learned. Now, when I am up speaking, Mr. Speaker, or any of us, we have the Newfoundland dialect and we have our own way of saying things but when we put it on paper we know what to say and the correct form, paragraph, sentence and structure and what have you. But I would have to look at the curriculum, Mr. Speaker, and what is being taught in the schools.

During the referendum debate, I don't think there was much talk about the students themselves, how they should be number one. The Premier, as I have said, and the Minister of Education, referred to them a number of times actually, as being substandard. Mr. Speaker, after the referendum, after the amendment goes through, we would have the same teachers, we would have the same curriculum. So I would say, it is not the fault of denominational education, that if - and it hasn't been proven to me from my perspective, that there are substandard students in our Province.

Now, during the Premier's speech, in introducing the resolution, I believe he is actually manipulating figures again, as he normally does, and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes referred to this, too, with respect to spending in other provinces. He talked on a per capita basis. The Member for St. Mary's - The Capes asked him a question on that today. He should have been referring to a per student basis and today, he tried to skate around it again. The Premier tried to skate around that point today. But my information tells me that we are actually spending $1,500 per student, per year, less than say, an average for Ontario or some of the other provinces.

Now, you take a small school like St. Francis in Outer Cove with say, 200 students and you take $1,500 per student per year, that will be an extra $300,000 a year, Mr. Speaker. Can you imagine what a small school in this Province could accomplish with an extra $300,000 a year? They could have extra teachers, they could have extra equipment, Mr. Speaker, and the money to go along with the equipment they would need.

In May of 1993, when I was first elected to this House, within weeks I had parents from the St. Agnes school PTA in Pouch Cove contact me, Mr. Speaker. Flatrock lost its school in 1988. Now, I am giving you this little story so you can understand where I am coming from, because I am going to be asking the Premier for something now in a minute. Students of St. Agnes in Pouch Cove decided that they would come together with the Pouch Cove Elementary. I would say education reform is happening and this is a prime example, Mr. Speaker.

Education reform is happening for a number of reasons: one, the numbers of enrolment in the smaller schools; the money available to schools is lessening, and common sense will dictate that we would have a natural evolution of education reform in this Province. Mr. Speaker, education reform is being forced by the Premier of this Province for some hidden reason. I don't know what it is. All of us should have the interests of the students at heart, all of us agree on reform. But we know that something else is driving the Premier. We know something else is driving him but we don't know what it is. I am going to give a situation now where I will ask the Premier to back up what he is saying.

In the summer of 1993, I met with the parents of St. Agnes school in Pouch Cove with the intention of getting a new school in Pouch Cove and I fully supported it then. St. Michael's in Flatrock was amalgamated with Pouch Cove in 1988 - St. Agnes and Pouch Cove. St. Agnes has an old building down there, they have no gym. cafeteria, no playground, the parking lot is very small and there are other problems with respect to leakage and the structure of the building. They have no band, glee club or sports teams because of numbers in the school. Other problems, St. Agnes has Kindergarten to Grade VI; Grades VII and VIII have to go to Torbay, Holy Trinity, and then, two years later, they have to go to high school.

The students of St. Agnes, as I said, go from Kindergarten to Grade VI, VII to VII, Holy Trinity, IX to XII, too many changes, Mr. Speaker, for young students coming up through the system today. In 1988, as I said, St. Michael's in Flatrock closed. The Roman Catholic School Board at that time, recognized that they - and committed to a new school. They recognized that a new school was needed in the Flatrock and Pouch Cove area to service Pouch Cove, Flatrock and Bauline. Pouch Cove Elementary, with less then 200 students, is experiencing downgrading. They are into a multi-grading situation, and the building itself requires upgrading.

I had meetings with the Roman Catholic School Board and I had meetings with the PTA of the different committees. I have had public meetings with both St. Agnes and Pouch Cove Elementary. I have had meetings with the Avalon Consolidated representatives and parents this past winter, and the Pouch Cove Elementary, which is part of the Avalon Consolidated School Board, voted at that meeting to form a joint service school. Now, the RC School Board has listed this as a number one priority, Mr. Speaker. The RC School Board and the Avalon Consolidated School Board - basically the two biggest boards on the Island - formerly agreed to a joint service agreement. A committee was struck, a tender has been put out for design and site location this past few weeks and it is going to be awarded in the very near future. So, to me, this shows co-operation between the boards, between the parents, students and what have you, PTAs. So, actually, education reform is happening within this Province where it is required.

Parents and teachers of both schools are proud of their accomplishments, Mr. Speaker. So, on behalf of the parents, teachers, boards and students, most importantly students, I would like to ask the Premier - and he is not here now - if he would back up what he has been saying and back up what he has been preaching, get the $3 million to $4 million that is required for that school in Pouch Cove and show that what he is talking about works and can work. Obviously it can work - mutual co-operation between the boards, parents and schools themselves, Mr. Speaker. I personally supported the concept, as I said, and met with all involved. I believe education reform is happening.

Now, with respect to the district itself, in St. John's East Extern, there was a 67 per cent voter turnout, Mr. Speaker, 55 per cent said `yes' and 45 per cent said, `no.' There was a very high turn out. I believe it was probably the third highest in the Province. Now, the Premier has actually stated in the media and in this House - talk about laughable! The minister has actually stated that all the `no's' turned out and anybody who didn't turn out to vote were `yes'. Now, can you believe that, Mr. Speaker?

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier is rationalizing again why he should go ahead with further action on amending the Constitution. When I was going around my district, a number of people told me that they were not going to vote and they were refusing to vote for a number of reasons. The main reason was that they didn't understand the question. They thought the question was too vague and they didn't know what the end result would be. Now, I believe that this is a good reason to sit down with the churches and renegotiate.

Since the referendum and this education debate came up, I have thought a lot about it, because it has weighed heavily on my mind. I have analyzed the results of the referendum, I listened to the Premier's speech and I studied the resolution. Now, most people who know me personally know that I am a pretty decisive individual. In any given situation I weigh the pros and cons on an issue and I make a decision and I am usually satisfied with my decision. I have had reason in the past number of years to make some very serious decisions with respect to my health. Let me tell you, I give less thought and consideration to that than I give to this issue. The bottom line for me is trust, as I started out in my few words, Mr. Speaker, it boils down to trust. We have seen changes already, we have seen the Premier not answering questions, Mr. Speaker, and I have to ask the question: why? Does he know the answer or does he not know the answer? I don't believe that he has been up front with the public.

I believe that changes in education reform could have been implemented in the past few years since he got the Williams' Commission Report - over the past three years - and nothing was done. Why, Mr. Speaker? because of an attitude? The Member for St. John's Centre was asking why or who? It is because of an attitude, that is why we have not seen education reform in this Province, an `all or nothing' attitude, Mr. Speaker. I honestly believe that education reform could be and should be well under way in this Province this very day, and it isn't. I, personally, would like to ask the government and the churches to sit down for at least one last try. Let's negotiate reform, 90 per cent of the way now, Mr. Speaker. The referendum results were so close that I think the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve no less. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you voting now?

MR. J. BYRNE: Wait and find out.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted today to rise and speak on one of the most important resolutions that have come before this House since Confederation with Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: This resolution will form the basis for fundamental changes in the governance of the educational system in our Province. These changes were first envisaged by Sir Robert Bond in 1908 and have been advocated at various times over the past four decades by many leading educators and community leaders, but heretofore have been viewed as too politically sensitive for legislators of any party or stripe to embrace or to endorse.

This resolution is founded solidly on the fundamental right of each child in this Province to receive the very best education possible, and to learn in an environment that facilitates his or her maximum potential. This resolution is not primarily about additional powers for the government, rather, it is about empowering parents and children, urban and rural alike, to have equal access to educational opportunities. It will facilitate the reduction of duplication and inefficiencies that serve no educational purpose and do, in fact, often compromise access by students to better educational programs.

Some members of this House, myself included, come to this debate with strong opinions that reflect our varied backgrounds and our experiences. I have deep respect for the differing opinions on this issue, including those expressed by my colleagues on both sides of the House, and those who have spoken on behalf of the churches, and others who have been advocates for an opinion that is different from mine. Mr. Speaker, I also wish to acknowledge with gratitude the decision of my party leader and my caucus to facilitate an open debate without the discipline that normally is associated with party politics.

Mr. Speaker, to some extent, my position on this resolution is grounded in the values that were passed to me by my parents. In addition, my viewpoints reflect my career as a teacher and administrator in the Salvation Army and amalgamated school systems prior to integration in 1969, and with the Avalon Consolidated School Board from 1969 until 1993. I was raised in a family with very strong commitments to education. While my siblings and I began our schooling in the Salvation Army School in Creston South, only one of seven children completed their Grade XI there. When it came to their children and educational opportunities, my parents did not feel constrained by their very active membership in the Salvation Army, even though that school was the nearest to my home. They separated their religious affiliation from the school system. Thus, while my older brother graduated from the Salvation Army school in Creston, my older sister and I completed our Grade XI at St. Michael's Anglican school, and another brother graduated from the United Church school system. We attended whatever school my parents thought had the very best teachers. Church affiliation was never a primary factor in deciding what school I should attend.

Mr. Speaker, that background leads me to one of the most fundamental principles that I hold firmly and which I would like to see reflected in the educational system of this Province, that is, the right of parents to choose the schools their children will attend. Religious affiliation should not be a factor in deciding whether or not a child is accepted into a particular school. I am firmly supportive of the neighbourhood schools concept, and the right of every parent to choose the school his, her, or their child attends.

Neighbourhood schools should operate in the same way as do the neighbourhoods themselves. To some extent, the denominational structure of our school system is an anachronism and is based on a philosophy that serves only to separate rather than to unify communities and families.

Mr. Speaker, the structure of the school system should not separate the children who live on the same streets, play in the same playgrounds, attend the same day cares, and preschools, or visit each other in their own neighbourhood homes. It is hard to explain to a four or five year old child that his or her friend cannot attend the same school as they do because that friend attends a different church on Sunday. All of God's children should be able to associate in the same school just as they associate in their own neighbourhoods, or for that matter as they associate in their own extended families.

Mr. Speaker, since I believe this resolution before the House supports the concept of neighbourhood schools, and viable schools, and places the educational needs of the child before his or her religious denomination, I am left with no alternative but to support the resolution and I do so with pride in my past, conviction in my heart, that the reforms of governance are best for the children of Newfoundland and Labrador, and with the hope that the new efficiencies and the new cost savings will be used to enhance programs for those children who need early intervention and for those with learning disabilities whose potential will not be realized without a determined and dedicated allocation of new funds. Let us not forget that real changes in education occur at the classroom level. This is where issues of child poverty have their greatest negative impact and this is where the needs for changes in curriculum are most evident, and this is where positive teacher, parent, child partnerships have the greatest potential for success.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not note that the churches have contributed greatly to the educational system of our Province. The denominational system began as an initiative of an Anglican clergyman, Reverend Henry Jones, and was supported by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. That first school was built in Bonavista in 1723. The churches operated schools in Newfoundland and Labrador for 132 years before we were granted Responsible Government in 1855.

If it had not been for the initiatives of organizations like the Benevolent Irish Society, and similar church groups, education for children in the early days of settlement would not have occurred at all. Basically, each denomination looked after the educational needs of its own children and as a consequence the denominational system evolved over time and was put into law in 1874.

Mr. Speaker, when the governments of the day assumed more responsibility for educational matters each denomination therefore was given formal rights to establish and maintain schools. The denominational system became part of our legacy and was enshrined in many pieces of legislation, like the Education Act of 1927, the Terms of Union with Canada 1949, and the Constitution of Canada itself, including amendments made in 1987 that granted rights to the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Throughout all that time, however, the churches viewed the school as an extension of their respective mandates to their adherents. In philosophy we did not move very far from that which prevailed in 1723 when the first school was build for the continued propagation of the gospel.

Mr. Speaker, while I respect the right of churches to be involved in Christian education programs, while I promote the teaching of Christian values in our schools, and while I would never want to see Christmas concerts, Easter programs, the Lord's Prayer, etc., removed from the school system, I believe strongly that the primary purpose of the school system is to educate and not to indoctrinate children.

Mr. Speaker, that is why two years ago when I was reflecting on the reactions of the church leaders to the proposed changes to governance contained in the Williams Royal Commission I stated publicly that I believed that church leaders in their negotiations with the government were more motivated by power, position in society, and protection of property than they were by a sincere desire to facilitate learning environments where each child is encouraged to reach his or her full academic, social, and physical potential.

Mr. Speaker, in short the church leaders were determined to maintain the status quo philosophy and to use the protections contained in the Terms of Union between Newfoundland and Canada as their ace card at the bargaining table.

I would have preferred, as many people in this House would have preferred - in fact, everybody in this House would have preferred, and it would have been much more practical and desirable - if a consensual agreement could have been reached between the government and the church leaders. However, after two-and-a-half years of bargaining, two-and-a-half years of concerted negotiations, it became apparent that real changes in governance could only be achieved if this Legislature were given additional powers.

The voters of Waterford - Kenmount knew exactly where I stood on the proposed amendments to Term 17 and educational reform before they went to the polls on September 5. A total of 7,256 citizens of Waterford - Kenmount voted on the referendum question. That, Mr. Speaker, was the highest number to vote in any electoral district in this Province. Of that number, 4,721 voted in favour of the resolution we have before the House today. I thank my constituents for their participation in the referendum. When the vote is called, and with all due respect to those constituents who voted against the proposed changes to Term 17, I will be supporting the resolution. To do otherwise would be an abrogation of those principles which I hold dearly and which for me are matters of conscience.

The people of Waterford - Kenmount want to see an end to duplication that sees competing schools built across the street from each other, an end to a system that sees children transported thirty miles to a school of their own denomination, even though these children pass several very viable schools along the way. While I support the right of parents to choose the school their children attend, I should also note that if parents want their children to attend schools other than the nearest and most viable school, these children should attend at their parents' expense.

On the other hand, each parent has a right to have his or her child's religious principles respected in the school system, and where numbers make instruction practical, to have religious education courses offered by teachers who are members of a child's faith, and have the necessary professional accreditations. The people of Waterford - Kenmount want to see an end to a school construction practice that is arm's length from the government and that is encumbered by petty religious jealousies and one which is often out of touch with Province-wide needs assessments.

The citizens of this Province want to see better learning opportunities for every child, especially those in rural Newfoundland. I believe reforms in the educational system are long overdue, and I ask the government to commit itself to using whatever savings accrue from the new efficiencies to the development and implementation of programs and support systems in the schools of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I noted in my earlier background my role as a teacher and an administrator. It is in that context I regret the resolution doesn't address some of my other concerns about the governance of education in this Province. I refer specifically to the conflict between the religious character of our schools and the rights of Canadians as contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom reads, and I quote: Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d), freedom of association.

Section 15 of the same Charter continues: Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, and in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Again, the Canadian Human Rights Act, part I, section 3(1) reads: For the purpose of this act, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, daily status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted, are prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Mr. Speaker, the right of denominational school boards to maintain their denominational character has been expressly recognized in Canada's constitution, and the individual rights of teachers who are employed by these school boards often comes into conflict with the group rights that denominational school boards claim they have been accorded in Section 29 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which reads: Nothing in this Charter abrogates or derogates from any rights or privileges guaranteed by or under the Constitution of Canada with respect to denominational separate or dissentient schools.

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that teachers in our Province, and teachers throughout the nation, find themselves caught in a profound conflict when the employment rules of a specific school board restricts their religious choice and private lifestyle. The courts, both in Newfoundland and other provinces, and under appeal the Supreme Court of Canada, have given priority to the rights of denominational groups to the detriment of the individual teacher. Therefore, for a teacher, failure to conform to the rules of a specific denominational code usually means dismissal. As a teacher of thirty years in the Newfoundland and Labrador school system, I find it unacceptable that a teacher may be dismissed for reasons that are not related to that teacher's ability to teach, but dismissal may occur as a result of engaging in a marriage not recognized by the church of that denomination -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: - or by making a decision to follow the tenets of a particular or a different denomination.

Mr. Speaker, while the church leaders have written and spoken at length about their right to preserve the denominational character of Newfoundland schools, and while they have examined carefully every comma, every word, every phrase in the resolution before this House, I regret to say they do so with absolute disregard for the individual rights of teachers. I find it difficult to understand or accept how church leaders can be advocates of rights, minority or otherwise, when they fail to recognize and follow the fundamental freedoms on which our nation is founded.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, there has been much written about religious conformity by teachers, and its inclusion as a bona fide occupational qualification. While there is much case law both in Newfoundland and other provinces that one might mention, perhaps the most important and precedent-setting case is that of Margaret Caldwell. I mention this case only because it has been used as a benchmark for many other similar cases in the nation. Mrs. Caldwell was a teacher with the Catholic School Board of Vancouver, who was dismissed from her teaching position after she married a divorced man in a civil ceremony contrary to the rules of the Catholic Church. The case was eventually appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada where in a landmark ruling in 1980 the court accepted religious conformity as a bona fide occupational qualification. Since then, using the Caldwell ruling and the concept of bona fide occupational qualification as just cause in the dismissal of teachers, the interests of the churches or denominations have continued to take precedence over the individual rights of teachers. Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to accept the fact that simply calling religious conformity a bona fide occupational qualification to be a sufficient reason to dismiss a teacher without a requirement in legislation, at a minimum, to consider the possibility of reasonable accommodation.

Mr. Speaker, there are some well-documented cases in Newfoundland where the individual rights of teachers to freedom of religious beliefs and practices has resulted in that teacher's dismissal. For example, I note the case of Richard Walsh. Mr. Walsh was hired as a special education teacher with the St. John's Roman Catholic School Board. He was dismissed from his teaching position on the grounds that he married outside the Roman Catholic faith and that he had joined the Salvation Army. The case was arbitrated by the NLTA and was heard in the Trials Division of The Newfoundland Supreme Court where the Roman Catholic School Board was successful in using the bona fide occupational qualification and Section 29 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to argue successfully.

The trials division ruled in favour of the school board and an appeal to the appeals division resulted in the same decision. An application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was refused. Similarly, Mr. Speaker, the late John Bonia, a gentleman whom I knew very well (he would become one of Newfoundland's leading music educators) lost his employment with St. Michael's High School in Grand Falls after he married outside the Roman Catholic Church.

Mr. Speaker, another teacher, Judy Collins ran into difficulties with a Pentecostal School Board when, after her marriage broke down and her divorce was finalized, she began to date again. Judy had nineteen years of teaching experience of which eleven years were at Vaters Academy and Vaters Collegiate in St. John's. She was the mother of two children and after her divorce she was primarily responsible for their care. Her teaching job was crucial to the welfare of her family and her children yet, when she began to date again, she was told, and I quote: `To stop the new relationship because it might lead to marriage'. After many months of intimidation, and what is called constructive dismissal strategies, Judy Collins resigned her position.

Mr. Speaker, there are many other similar cases where teachers have been dismissed for reasons unrelated to job performance. I know of one instance where a secretary with one of the Burin Peninsula Roman Catholic Schools was told verbally and in writing, that entering into another relationship after her marriage broke down was grounds for dismissal. This did not occur in 1975, this occurred in 1994. This matter is now being arbitrated by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago, I stated publicly that I did not believe the changes to Term 17 as contained in this resolution before the House today go far enough. I was specifically referring to the individual rights of teachers and other school board employees. This is 1995 and teachers should enjoy the protection in their jobs that all other Canadians enjoy. Mr. Speaker, while I believe there is a greater understanding and a greater willingness to adopt reasonable accommodations of these rights today than there was a few years ago, I am concerned the present resolution, particularly as it relates to uni-denominational schools further entrenches and compromises teacher rights.

Maybe, Mr. Speaker, there will come a day when teachers will be able to practise their religious beliefs in a Canadian society where freedom of religion will mean what Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada said in 1985 when adjudicating in Queen versus Big Drug Mart Limited, and I quote: "The essence of the concept of freedom of religion is the right to entertain such religious beliefs as the person chooses, the right to declare religious beliefs openly and without fear of hindrance or reprisal, and the right to manifest religious belief by worship and practice."

Mr. Speaker, teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador today do not enjoy freedom of religion as envisioned in section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms nor as contained in the Canadian Human Rights Act, neither do they enjoy freedom of religion as noted by Judge Dickson in 1985. In fact, Judge Dickson's concept of freedom of religion is still far removed from the real life situations that many teachers face on a daily basis.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is a step in the right direction. I thank the teachers and the school secretary I have noted in my address for their permission to use their stories and mention their names in my comments today.

When the vote is called in this House and on behalf of the voters of Waterford-Kenmount and on behalf of my colleagues in the teaching profession who share my viewpoints on the rights of teachers and other school board employees to practice freedom of religion without fear, without hindrance, without occupational consequence, I will cast my vote in the affirmative and gladly do so.

Thank you very much.


Mr. Speaker, in speaking in support of the amendment to Term 17 I would like to share a few of my views with this hon. House.

I see here today people talking all of a sudden becoming minorities. I don't think there is anyone in this House who knows more about being a minority than I do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAM ANDERSEN III: Mr. Speaker, each and every one I see here is a Euro-Canadian. I'm a Canadian too, and I'm proud of it. I don't think we should class ourselves as a majority or a minority based upon our religious beliefs. If you look at the history of religion, religion has always been through its history the greatest cause of social disorder in the world. Right now these religious organizations are causing a great social disorder in Northern Canada.

I can give you examples in the Northwest Territories where small communities and families are breaking up because of a religious order coming in and separating the families. It is not governments doing it, it is not the schools doing it, it is the religion. It fails me that people here would suggest that the constitutional right of a religious order should never be taken out of Term 17. I have great respect for everyone's religion. That is not to say I don't agree with what government is doing here in terms of amending the Constitution. I believe it is the right thing to do.

My experience myself in a church-run school goes something like this. I went to a church-run school in the 1950s and if I spoke my own language that religion punished me. I can recall mornings when I had to stand in the corner, face to the wall, because I spoke in my own language. I can recall having a wooden ruler broken across my face because I spoke in my own language. That wasn't the government doing it. That was denominational education. That is the way I grew up understanding denominational education. I have a great problem in anyone who wants to defend the right of any church to hold somebody else's constitutional right.

My constitutional right in Canada as I understand it is freedom of speech and religion no matter where I live in this country, including Newfoundland and Labrador. I have three children growing up. I'm a Moravian. I want them to grow up in a school respecting other children regardless of the class they are. Then they can choose when they are adults what religious order they want to follow.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAM ANDERSEN III: I will wholeheartedly support their decision.

Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues spoke of aboriginal education a little earlier in the day. He is right, there were no aboriginal schools when the Euro-Canadian settled here in Canada some 500 years ago. I will tell you one thing. I was nine years old when I entered school. I must confess that I learned far more from my father and mother out on the land than that school ever taught me. I learned far more about respect from the people living in the community than sitting in that educational denominational institution that, for the most part through its history, has worked to indoctrinate rather than to educate, is my view.

I agree with the hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount, if I seen an expert educator I would never, ever think about what religious order he might be, I would want that educator to teach my children because our children, I believe, deserve the best education -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAM ANDERSEN III: - and under the present system we have, Mr. Speaker, that has not been happening.

Another couple of examples of denominational education, which has been a great setback for my district of Torngat Mountains, is capital works, capital construction. I have a little community of Rigolet, Labrador which has been screaming for a gymnasium - they don't have a gymnasium - for seventeen years. I've gone to Brian Peckford on their behalf when the PCs were in power, I have gone to our present leader today before I came in here, when he took over and it is always, `the government cannot do anything without the churches consent.' Because of that and because our area is a minority, not only in terms of religion but as well in terms of race of people, this community has suffered the lack of a facility that is taken for granted anywhere else in the Province.

The same thing applies to Hopedale, Labrador. The school in Hopedale - and the hon. minister can testify to it - right now is cabled together to keep it from falling apart. Children have to go to that school in January in -35̊ and -40̊ temperatures and suffer the consequences of nature because there is no way in the world you can heat that school to what the expected standard might be elsewhere in the Province today. The Community of Hopedale, Mr. Speaker, has been, for fifteen years, looking for a new school. This year the denominational school boards agreed that Hopedale can get a mobile classroom. I don't know if this would be acceptable anywhere else in the Province today, other than my district but when you are in a have-not Province and you are the worst off, you take what you can get, when you can get it. Mr. Speaker, I can only see better things with respect to this amendment in terms of meeting needs. I believe that this government, the Premier and the decision makers, in the future, will make their decisions based on need rather than based on religious order and religious control.

I found, Mr. Speaker, that during the education campaign against this reform people who, when I was growing up, taught me about Christianity did the most unchristian thing any man could ever do and that is tell its people and the children that those who were chosen by the people of the promise, cannot make changes. I understand that religious ministers are ordained, they are not elected. Why should they have control over what we do with our children? I question that and I would go as far as saying, Mr. Speaker, that if this proposed amendment were saying take the churches out of schools altogether, I would support it. I travel around this Province and in Labrador and every little community has a church. What is the church for? Today, in Nain, Labrador, children who are taught religion, are taught religion in the church, not in the school, and I believe that is possible here. I don't see why we should call ourselves a minority because we are lesser in this religious faith than the other. We are all Canadians and we all have the same rights, and I think that is the basis on which we should move forward.

Mr. Speaker, I am a person of very few words and maybe it is because it is my cultural difference to this hon. House and who is in it. I can only state my full support for this amendment, and with all due respect to those who are opposed to it, I ask them to reconsider because we are talking about our future, the future of our children and the future governors of this Province, and they should be taught to do so, not under any constraint from some restrictive institution but from growing up together respecting one another and seeing each other as equals, and not because of a denominational difference.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune - Hermitage.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to rise in the Legislature and have a few words on the proposed amendment to the Constitution. I guess my history is something like that of the Member for Waterford - Kenmount. I had the opportunity to grow up in a community on the South Coast that was 100 per cent Salvation Army, and that is very unusual in Newfoundland.

After attending university, I went back to the community and taught there for four years, after which I then went to a school in Point Leamington near Botwood. When I taught at that school in Point Leamington, after teaching in a school where I taught Salvation Army kids, 100 per cent of them, I found myself in a position where I taught, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, United, Salvation Army, Jehovah's Witness, all within that one structure, and I can't remember, and I say this honestly, in the twenty years that I was at the school that I never heard one person in the school ask another: What religion are you? It didn't happen. We operated as a family and yet, in spite of the situation that we had in the community - and the record will speak for itself if you were to go back to the results of the public exams and the students themselves - that school was a good school. We had Catholics on staff. We had Anglicans on staff. We had United Church people on staff. We had Salvationers on staff, yet, every morning for the twenty years I taught at Point Leamington, there was a seventy-two passenger bus that left the community and went to Grand Falls with not more than six kids on it, and today in 1995 there is a seventy-two passenger bus that leaves Point Leamington in the morning and goes to Grand Falls. They pick up some more students in Botwood on their way through and go to Grand Falls every day to go to school when you have a community neighbourhood school where most of the other kids, apart from two or three, attend.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. LANGDON: Ah-ha, let me get back to it.

I would suggest to the hon. the Member for Kilbride that we, in this Legislature, decided by regulation to change busing routes that would ultimately to the closure of the denominational schools and that these particular churches would be back here and would challenge the government in court, and the government then would have, ultimately, to come back to this House and change Term 17. I will tell you why - in my opinion, they will never agree.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nonsense!

MR. LANGDON: No, it is not nonsense. If it were nonsense we would have had agreement among the churches. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, this. Let me tell you what we have wasted in education in this Province. Let me tell you about one community. The board that I represent spent $250,000 to refurbish their school. They refurbished their school. Then the other church built another school in the same community, and within two to three years the school that had $250,000 spent on it was closed up and there was (inaudible) on the windows and there is (inaudible) there now. In that same community, these kids from the Integrated and the Catholic systems form one system. But today, even as I speak, there is a bus leaving that community and taking kids to another community.

Let me give you another example. They are talking about joint service and how it works. I talked to a person not too long ago, about a joint service and how it works. Do you know what happens in that joint service school? Protestants go to one door and Catholics to the other. That isn't what we want. We want to be able to join together.

AN HON. MEMBER: That doesn't have to be!

MR. LANGDON: That doesn't have to be, but that is the way it is. Today, in another community, as we speak, there are students from the Catholic school and the Integrated school attend in the community. Other kids are being bused out. That's the way it is. I can go on and cite example after example about it.

Today, as we speak, we have to look at, for example, the failing birth rate. When I went to the Point Leamington system there were 253 kids in elementary school. Today there are less than fifty - the birth rate. The kids aren't there anymore, and we are trying, with a number of small schools in the community, to bring in honours math and chemistry and physics and all these particular subjects in the area. We can't do it in all schools. We need to mesh our resources together and that isn't happening. I would suggest to you and to this House - and I follow the debate, everything that is being said, and I've read the material that has come over my desk. And I honestly believe that 95 per cent or 97 per cent of the time that we have talked about it, the student has bene the person who has been left out.

The rights of teachers. As a teacher, I know the guy, Richard Walsh, as well, whom Harvey spoke about earlier, who lost his job because he married outside the church. That isn't right. I'm telling you, the teacher should have the right to practice his religious rights and freedoms in any system; and that is what this about, and I believe it should happen.

In the district I represent there are many small schools. The community, for example, of Rencontre is very isolated. I go into Rencontre school and I see a small number of students there, and these students are taught by a number of teachers. Then, as somebody already suggested, in Deer Lake - you go to Deer Lake. The Integrated school system, one of the big schools in Deer Lake, has (inaudible) on the windows because there aren't enough students. And the Pentecostal church built a school in Deer Lake, and that is what happened to the (inaudible). In that community of Deer Lake, which is not a small community, that school was classified as a small school at the expense of Rencontre East or Gaultois or McCallum or Grey River. This type of thing can't happen, we can't allow it to happen. I believe that this is what this is about, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is the viability criteria for that right now?

MR. LANGDON: We will have the viability criteria in place. This is what we want to do, try to do it and make it happen.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we, as politicians here in this House, are responsible and elected for the people of the Province. I honestly believe -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 29 per cent in your district.

MR. LANGDON: I know there was 29 per cent on my district because the people in my district recognize - for example, the people in Harbour Breton, 97 per cent of the people voted in a referendum before that to make a joint system in the community. They recognize it. I talked to my superintendent of the board before I came in here today, who fully supports the changes that we have.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did he vote in the referendum?

MR. LANGDON: He did vote. I want to tell you that we, as legislators, we as politicians, have to be responsible to the people that we represent in the scarce number of dollars that are out there. We can take the $8 million - it does not matter if it is $8 million, $5 million or $6 million - in bussing or whatever the overlapping is and put it back into the system, it will be to the benefit of the students and that is what it is about, Mr. Speaker.

We talk about, for example, the schools losing out in religious education. I will tell you right now, from my perspective of being in the system for twenty-four years and attending university for a number, that the churches will have more to do in the schools now then they ever did before. They will have to do more pastoring, more pastoral care. They will have the right to set up the religious education programs, they will have the right to come to the schools to pastor their children in whatever faith it might be and then if they want to have a congregation where all the school can worship in a church service then they have that right to do it too. So we are not taking it out of the school. It is a governance.

We have a situation in English Harbour West and it was only this year that we got funding to build a school there. I can go to English Harbour West and I could take my hand like that and pull every window out of the school. It was there for years and years and years because we did not have a province-wide construction board to signify and build - and the Member for Torngat Mountains is in the same situation in Rigolet. If we build a school in the integrated faith, regardless if the Catholic faith or the Pentecostal faith did not need a school in priority, they would automatically be given the funding. They have had their funding in interest and so on and they have kept it to the detriment probably of other students getting new schools. So, Mr. Speaker, when we look at the situation that we have across this Province and the scarcity and the number of communities that we have then I don't see that there is any other alternative but to do it the way we are doing it. To make the system effective and to make the running of the schools more efficient and at the end of it, to give the best possible opportunity to all students, in all communities, to achieve their maximum.

To give you an example of what happened, I grew up in a small community, in a small school, as I said, in Fortune Bay. The teacher that I had could not teach me french so I had to go out into a probationary summer school for six weeks and then go back into the community to teach kindergarten with only a probationers license because I could not attend university. I did nine and ten french that year, then the following summer I went and did matriculation french and then went back to university. When I got to university then I was okay but there are many, many schools out there today - the school that is in my community, up until this year, did not have chemistry, did not have honours math, did not have any of these courses so that when they went to university they were not on a level playing field with the students that came from Wabush Colligate, Brother Rice, Gonzaga or whatever.

This is what we want to do, this is what the whole thing is about. To give these people their opportunity to, with the saving in funding that has been duplicated to put more resources into the school to bring them up. If we do that, then I believe it is Christian. I want to say of all the things that I have said or I have heard said or what any member has said, there has been one particular expression that has stuck in my mind and that was from the hon. Member from Waterford - Kenmount, and he said it again today in his speech, that is, `All of God's children should be able to go to school together.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: And that is the fundamental thing as far as I am concerned. The churches will continue to play a dominant part in education, not in the governance but in religious education to make sure that ethics, morals and values and whatever can be maintained in this Province. Mr. Speaker, if we can be successful in doing that then I believe that we, as politicians elected in this House, will have done justice to the students in this particular Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, this has been a debate that has taken many twists and turns since the release of the Williams' Royal Commission on the school system and the recommendations contained therein. I have heard many people on the government side get up and talk about what they wish a school to be and what they wish the school system could be and should be at the peril of denominational education. What we have not heard, Mr. Speaker, so much from the other side is what was agreed to in negotiated talks since the release of the royal commission, since the release of Adjusting the Course - throughout the discussion period that took place right up until the referendum. What was even more startling, Mr. Speaker, is that this was an issue government firmly believed they had the people of the Province on their side, and yet how did they behave in asking the people? The day after school closed, they chose to call a referendum for the day after school opened, not giving any time for credible debate, not giving any time for the issues to be discussed in this Legislature where they should be discussed, and what was the result? A huge portion of this Province did, in fact, not even vote, and what did vote, the 54 per cent in favour who voted, if we look at the total population of eligible voters, actually amounted to 28 per cent of the population voting in favour to take away minority rights as enshrined in the constitution, not a large majority in my mind - not a large majority - but it begs the question: Why was the referendum held, and the period of debate that was supposed to take place took place over the summer months?

If this government was so confident in its ability to bring about school reform in the way in which they have suggested it, why did this government not stand before this House at the opening of this Legislature and say to the people of the Province: Here is the resolution that we will be putting forward. Here is the resolution that we have discussed with Ottawa. Here is the resolution that collectively, bilaterally, we have drafted, and we are putting it forward to the people of the Province today to vote upon so that both Houses of Parliament, the House of Assembly here, and the Parliament of Canada, can vote on it at the same time. It doesn't seem to me like a government so confident. As a matter of fact, it is a government, in putting this referendum question before the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in the time in which they did it, in the manner in which they did it, does not suggest to me that it is a government that has confidence in what they were doing, and tried to slip it through as easily as they could, based upon their own polling. That is the reality.

The best speech, the best remarks, that I have heard in this House to date on this issue came from the Member for St. John's Centre. There have been other speakers, a colleague of mine, who talked about one of the major reasons that he is supporting this resolution is because of discrimination against teachers because they have been fired, because they have been let go from positions because of their own religious background or lack thereof. The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that this resolution will put more power into the hands of church leaders and churches when we talk about uni-denominational schools. It will put more power into how churches will hire or fire individuals. That is not a reason to vote for this resolution; but let's talk about what was negotiated, what this government failed miserably to explain to the people of the Province and, given the right time and conditions, certainly would have come out, and that is what we are about here today.

When it comes to school construction, most of the debate that has been centred around this House, and most of what has come out from the government media machine, has talked about the duplication in building schools, and I will stand here today and agree with that, that that has taken place over the last twenty years, but the reality of today is different. We are seeing more and more shared services; we are seeing more and more school boards coming together, amalgamating, because of a number of reasons. First of all, economics dictate it. The necessity of this Province and the educational system getting the greatest bang for its dollar to provide the highest quality of education for its students is becoming paramount. The role of the church in education has changed dramatically in the last five years. The power of the church in education has diminished, seriously diminished, over the last five to ten years, and that is why when negotiations were taking place that there was agreement upon one school construction board. There was sound agreement upon it, but yet the Province decided not to move forward.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier in his opening remarks in kicking off the debate on this resolution said unequivocally that two things drove the government in this direction. One was the money that could be saved and accrued, and could go back into the system, for the quality of education for the students of Newfoundland. He talked about that per capita - a good point raised by my colleague for St. Mary's - The Capes today in Question Period, that per capita we spend more than any other Province in Canada on funding of education per capita, but the Premier is a master of words and trickery, Mr. Speaker.

The reality is that this Province spends $1500 less per student than any other province in Canada with the exception of PEI. That is the reality. The problem and inefficiencies we are experiencing in our school system, in rural Newfoundland especially, are the direct result of lack of funding and not lack of qualification, not lack of quality education, but the lack of funding that we provide. There are schools in this Province that this government have used to demonstrate their point of view and have not clearly set out and told the people upfront, forthright, in a frank manner about the funding situation this government provides and this Province provides for its students.

The Minister of Education is a great example. Last year I heard him on CBC radio referring to a situation in my district, in the Goulds. He talked about the number of students having to be bussed out and empty busses coming back in, and that it would save millions of dollars, but the Minister of Education did not tell the whole story, that no matter what this resolution brings forward, if it is passed and the system is changed in accordance to the wishes of the government of the day, two years from now there still will be 400 students bussed out of my district in the Goulds because it is not a bussing issue that is at stake there. The issue is that the high school in the Goulds, St. Kevin's, is full to the rafters right now and it is a funding issue.

If the government were to provide another $1.5 million to provide an extension for that school, there would be nobody, and I repeat, nobody, bused out of the Goulds for education.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is true and you know it.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. E. BYRNE: That is true.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not true.

MR. SULLIVAN: Funding is holding up (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education will have the opportunity to stand up and talk about that in his own right, but it is true.

MR. SULLIVAN: Funding is holding up Pouch Cove, Pasadena, the Northern Peninsula capital funds. Ask him about those (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: My colleague, the Member for Ferryland just informed me that funding - and other schools in Pouch Cove, Pasadena, Northern Peninsula - is holding up the same thing. Now, that is the reality, Mr. Speaker, of the situation in St. Kevin's.

Mr. Speaker, this is the same Minister of Education who gets on the radio and says that we can save millions of dollars in school busing, and yet, his own commission reports that the maximum amount that could be saved is less than $300,000, and he says we don't know what we are talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: He doesn't know what he is talking about.

MS VERGE: He was going to Ontario to get used buses (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, this government and the Department of Education have complete control over the length of the school day, over the length of the school year, an ill that the Premier and the Minister of Education have reported and purported to say that is a result of denominational education. This Legislature has the power to lengthen the school day, it has the power to lengthen the school year, it has the power to change curriculum, it has the power to improve the ability of teachers to teach in the classroom and it has the ability to give teachers in the school system the tools that are necessary for it to compete and provide a high quality of education for the people of this Province. We have that ability here, but it is a question of political will and financial resources. As the Minister of Education has said, that is the reality of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: How are you voting?

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the question of how I am voting is not necessarily the main question. The question of how certain ministers in the provincial Cabinet are voting is a more important question than how this member is voting, but I will tell you this; I will tell the House this, Mr. Speaker, that this member will be consistent in his beliefs whether he is on this side of the House or ever on that side of the House and that's how I will be voting, with what my beliefs in consultation with - and I have to say that - in consultation with, the people of my district.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There are too many private conversations going on and there are too many interjections back and forth across the House. The Chair cannot hear what the hon. member is saying; there is only one person debating the issue right now and that's the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) your vote yet?

MR. E. BYRNE: Not yet - I will, not to worry. I say to the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, that before I sit in my seat you will know how I am voting, but before you sit in your seat, I am not so sure we will know how you are voting.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I am not convinced, and I do not believe the people of this Province are convinced, that a resolution that would change the Terms of Union and Section 17 of the Constitution is absolutely, positively, necessary to achieve the reforms that we wish to achieve, and to achieve the reforms that the government has put forward. I am not convinced. I have talked to many constituents in my district. I have held meetings since the vote in my district, and when people sit down and the situation is explained in terms of what was negotiated, what government had in their hands, people are flabbergasted. Have we really set in motion the fastest way to reform on this issue? Have we set in motion the fastest route to reform that will benefit children in the Province on this issue? No, we have not. We may have set it back.

For the record, Mr. Speaker, 52 per cent of the people in my district voted in favour; 48 per cent voted against. I believe there was a difference of 166 votes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I haven't said which way I am voting yet. There was a difference of 166 votes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Final, 202.

MR. E. BYRNE: Final, 202, was it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Not even on the recount?

But the reality - let me get back to asking more questions.

It is my belief that this government, in achieving reforms, have the right to bring reform forward; they have the right to suggest; they have the right to implement, but there is a way to do it. Could we not have debated a Schools Act where we would have been able to determine what the viability of a school was, what the viability of a school meant; what was the viability criteria?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Shall I move now?


MR. E. BYRNE: Just move adjournment?


MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I move for adjournment. I will conclude my remarks tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we will all be waiting with bated breath to hear on which side the hon. gentleman comes, but he will have his opportunity tomorrow because the government will be calling the amendment motion again when the House moves off routine orders at 2:30 p.m. or 2:45 p.m., whenever we get there.

Given the progress we are making in dealing with this matter, relatively short and very good speeches on this side, quite long and really very diffuse speeches on the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I didn't say `poor'. There were some good and there were some bad on the other side, but that is life. I don't see any need to ask the members to sit tonight, Mr. Speaker, and as long as we continue to make good progress like this there will be no need to sit tonight.

MS VERGE: You are not going to expel anyone either.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't dream of expelling the hon. lady. She is the biggest thing we have going for us in this House (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: With that said, Your Honour, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m.

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