November 1, 1995            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLII  No. 47

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (L. Snow): Order, please!

The Chair would like to welcome to the gallery on behalf of all members thirty-four students and representatives from the Council of the Student Union from Memorial University.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before we get to the routine proceedings the Chair would like to deal with the matter raised yesterday during Question Period on a Point of Order with regards to comments made by the hon. Member for Mount Pearl.

I want to draw hon. members attention to Beauchesne Page 143, Section 486 (1), it says; "It is impossible to lay down any specific rules in regard to injurious reflections uttered in debate against particular Members, or to declare beforehand what expressions are or are not contrary to order; much depends upon the tone and manner, and intention, of the person speaking." Paragraph (2) says, "An expression which is deemed to be unparliamentary today does not necessarily have to be deemed unparliamentary next week. (3) There are few words that have been judged to be unparliamentary consistently, and any list of unparliamentary words is only a compilation of words that at some time have been found to cause disorder in the House." However, Beauchesne is very clear and specific about the acceptance of the words of a member.

Page 151, Paragraph 494, "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by Members as being contrary to the facts; but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissable."

Yesterday the Premier was responding to a question from the hon. Member from Grand Bank and there was interjection by the Member for Mount Pearl and the Chair had reserved the ruling so that I could check the Hansard. I refer to page 1594 of Hansard and 1595.

The Premier, in answering the question said: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to tell you that the Member for Pleasantville came to me this morning with the proposal for the resolution, it did not originate with me at all; and the last paragraph, he says: The suggestion out of Ottawa, was that I should move the resolution, not that I should not but that I should. I disagreed and the Member for Pleasantville proposed it.

At that point, the hon. Member for Mount Pearl said: Who do you think believes that beside yourself? If that is not blatant, I do not know what is. You know that is not true, and then further he says: You know that it is not true.

Clearly, what the hon. member said, was that, not only was the Premier's statement not true, but the Premier knew that it wasn't true. This is clearly out of order and I ask the hon. member to withdraw the remarks.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, out of respect to yourself, I will withdraw those remarks however, I must comment, Your Honour, -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no debate on the Speaker's ruling. The hon. member withdrew the remarks and that's the end of the matter.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, I withdraw the remarks but I must comment that the words that I used-

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

MR. WINDSOR: - are quite commonly used across this House and have been for the last twenty years that I have been here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is out of order.

MR. TOBIN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I noticed - and I don't expect the Premier to be here all the time - but I noticed when you got up to rule on the point of order that there was a contingent of Cabinet ministers who were not present and, you know, we do plan our Question Period, we do come to the House prepared for Question Period and when we come in, Mr. Speaker, and I don't expect it to happen, but I think that ministers have a responsibility and their schedules should be adjusted as such to be in the House for Question Period.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order, the presence or absence of a member in the House is not a point of order.

Oral Questions

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the Premier about Quebec and Canadian unity.

Monday night's Quebec referendum result gives us a reprieve, perhaps only a short reprieve. Many people believe they have one last chance to address Quebecers desire for recognition of their distinct society, and for reforms in the Canadian Federation, if we are to prevent the country from splitting apart.

Does the Premier recognize the gravity and the urgency of the situation? Does the Premier accept that he and his government as well as other governments in the country, have to move quickly to recognize Quebec's distinct society and to make a new proposal for a workable federation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have been working for some time. In the last couple of days I have been dealing extensively with these issues. I will not participate in a debate in this House, in this kind of give and take in this House, in a way that adversely impacts on the situation. It is too grave, too important, to all our futures for us to engage in that, and most of the Premiers and political leaders across the country have said essentially the same as I have said, and have taken essentially the same position as I have taken on it, and I intend to continue along that course of action.

The matter is being dealt with. I know some Premiers are dealing with it and I know of the circumstances in which they are attempting to deal with it. I have had a discussion and I can only say that all of the Premiers, to the best of my knowledge, are very sensitive to that, and most of the Leaders of the Opposition are very sensitive to the seriousness of the situation and are avoiding taking positions that would tend to inflame it, and I ask the hon. member to do the same.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can assure the Premier that there is nothing inflammatory about my simple, straightforward questions. I would suggest that if the Premier is concerned about inflaming a worrisome situation, he must be thinking about his unspoken answers. Yesterday, I asked the Premier straightforward questions about an overture to him from the Prime Minister, or other representatives of the Federal Government about a federal package along the lines of the Meech Lake Accord. I specifically asked the Premier about proposals for devolution of powers to the provinces, about veto power over certain constitutional amendments, and about recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, and these are the hard issues.

I ask the Premier now a very simple question: Will he tell this House of Assembly and the people he represents where he stands on these issues, these issues that have been outstanding for many years, and these issues that are now being raised with him by the Prime Minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I have not spoken with the Prime Minister since Monday. I spoke with him on Monday before the vote was taken and I have not spoken with him since Monday. On Tuesday night and yesterday morning, speaking to the media on eight or ten occasions, I took the position, on behalf of the Government of this Province that we would wait for the Prime Minister to put a process in place to deal with the issue. We would not engage in a public debate of the components or the different aspects of it until such time as the Prime Minister had put in place a process for dealing with it. I do not intend now to carry on this kind of a debate on individual aspects of it that might well inflame positions and views. I would again plead with the Leader of the Opposition to put the interests of the country and the Province first.

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

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker, in the past - I'm simply stating a fact - the Premier has been an obstacle to national reconciliation, and today, he is seen by many people in Canada as an impediment to maintaining Canadian unity. Is the Premier willing to change now in response to Canadians' desire for change?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the total invalidity to that comment is seen very clearly from the fact that on behalf of the Government of this Province, I participated with all of the other premiers, the territorial leaders, the aboriginal leaders and the Prime Minister, to try to achieve a basis for reconciliation that would be acceptable in all parts of the country. I struggled with great difficulty to try to achieve that, carried on a campaign from one end of this country to another to try to persuade Canadians in all parts of the country to accept the Charlottetown proposal. It wasn't what I would write if I had the right to write something that would be ideal for the country, but it was a compromise that I believed, and most of the premiers - or all of the premiers of the country at the time - believed might well be an approach that could be acceptable.

I carried on a campaign in this Province to try to get the proposal accepted. I take some measure of gratification from the fact that the majority of the people of this Province voted in support of it and said this Legislature ought to implement a proposal that reflected the Charlottetown Accord. Only New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and by the very narrowest of margins Ontario, voted in favour of it. All of the other provinces, including the Province of Quebec, voted against it.

Mr. Speaker, for the Leader of the Opposition to make that kind of outlandish statement that she just made is really unforgivable. For her to use this circumstance to try to inflame public opinion in this way is a totally unacceptable approach in these difficult circumstances.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier and concerns unemployment insurance. I would like to remind the Premier and others of the fact that changes in the unemployment insurance program over the last several years will have the result of having less than half the people who are unemployed in Canada qualify for UI, and that for those who do qualify, benefits could be reduced by up to one-half. This is down from 87 per cent of unemployed qualifying in 1990.

Will the Premier acknowledge that his government has, by its own policies, including the income support program proposed, undermined government commitment to unemployment insurance and, in effect, sent a signal to Ottawa that they would not object to a major remodelling of the UI program to the detriment of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, including fishermen and seasonal workers?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know whether the hon. member has read today's Order Paper or not. He will see that the Member for Eagle River, I believe, has a resolution on the Order Paper and the issue, no doubt, will receive extensive debate during that time.

I have to say that the proposition the hon. member put is not accurate. The government of this Province has been endeavouring to maintain the maximum possible level of support that we can for the unemployment insurance income that our people need, particularly our people who have part-time employment. We are very concerned about the impact on them because so many people in this Province work to the maximum extent that work is available to them, and we cannot support changes in the unemployment insurance system that would adversely affect them, so the hon. member's proposition, I suggest Mr. Speaker, is without merit.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a supplementary.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is the first time I recall the Premier even addressing the issue publicly, and I wonder what efforts he and his government have been making.

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of Canadian unity, would the Premier acknowledge that the Separatist cause in Quebec, or the `oui' campaign, as it were, received a lot of support from people who want to maintain the kind of Canada that we had, whereas the P.Q. was able to try to guarantee pensions, social programs, health care would continue, while the Government of Canada was taking it away. Is the Premier prepared to acknowledge that a large part of the argument and debate in the Quebec referendum had to do with ensuring the kind of social security that Canadians have come to expect from their Federal Government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't in Quebec and I know only what I have read in the news media or heard on the electronic media in terms of the role that played in the referendum campaign in Quebec, so I cannot acknowledge what he says, although I suspect from what I did hear in the news media and read in the newspapers that the matter was raised and on occasion the issue was raised and positions were taken on that. Whether it played a large part in it or not is more than I can say.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Would the Premier be prepared to use what may be his reputation across the country for having something to say on Canadian unity matters to try to build on something that the people of Quebec do want, and that is to continue the kind of social security that we have in Canada?... instead of dealing with constitutional issues, talk about preserving the kind of Canada that Newfoundlanders want to have, with a strong commitment to social security, social programs, health care, UI and pensions that are important, that the whole country be a part of, and not diversify in our own ways. Is the Premier prepared to use his efforts to campaign for that and try to convince the federal Liberals to change their course?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if you listen to the two leaders, you wonder how the reputation - I assume the Leader of the NDP thinks my reputation might have some influence across the country, and that is why he is asking me to use it, a marked contrast from the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Let's assume that maybe he is right... if he is right. The answer is, I, like all other Canadians, want to make sure that we preserve the essential aspects of our social security system. It is vitally important to those of us who are not fortunate enough to have employment or income opportunities that we preserve the fundamentals of our social security system and our income support system.

But, Mr. Speaker, if he is really asking, am I prepared to make arguments across the country to maintain the status quo, even though maintaining the status quo could risk the bankruptcy of the country, the answer is no. I have a greater dedication to preserving what is essential for our people than to try to preserve something that may not be sustainable. No matter how desirable it is, if the country can't financially sustain 100 per cent, then I am prepared to see it change to 92 per cent if there is a possibility that we can sustain it at the 92 per cent level rather than have the whole thing at risk.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board a couple of weeks ago admitted that last year's Budget was all smoke and mirrors and we have been asking him questions about some of the things contained in that, specifically, the number of lay-offs and the proposed cutbacks in the public service. We are finding out that there have been somewhere in the order of 1100 temporary positions. The minister wasn't sure. Has the minister yet been able to find out? It has now been three weeks since he said he couldn't find out, that he was trying to find out from his officials how many temporary positions there were. Has the minister found out yet, and what was the cost of those 1100 positions?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't believe that the hon. member quotes me correctly; nevertheless, I do want to mention to the House that there is a committee of government at this time working in conjunction with each department to determine the total number of employees and what their status is. We will report to the House in due course.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister has been in office now for three-and-a-half months. What has he been doing for the last three-and-a-half months, Mr. Speaker, if he hasn't yet been able to find out how many temporary employees government has hired. This is incredible! We have just come through a very traumatic and very troubled time financially in Canada. Would the minister tell us the projected $50 million deficit that we think we are now facing? The minister, of course, has not been able to find that out either, to confirm it for us. But assuming the numbers we are using are accurate, that there is a $50 million deficit projected: how much of that $50 million deficit was due to the troubled economy resulting from the Quebec referendum? What impact has the minister figured into those projections to account for the downturn in the economy that would undoubtedly have come from a `yes' vote two days ago?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, several comments. The minister does know, in fact, what the deficit is. The minister just hasn't told the hon. member in response to his questions. The figure is not $50 million. I told him several weeks ago that we would be reporting to the House sometime, probably during the month of November. Government is looking at figures, and what, if anything, needs to be done to change the course at this point in time.

With respect to the Quebec situation, that has had no bearing on the financial situation of the Province. The general economy of the country slowed by about 40-odd per cent in the last several quarters and that has affected equalization across the country to all provinces. I don't think any person, including Nostradamus, could determine what portion is attributable to concerns over the Quebec referendum, except to say that the markets have improved substantially since then, but certainly, in terms of what people were prognosticating with respect to increases in interest rates and drops in the value of the dollar haven't materialized, so it hasn't affected our position in any substantial way.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, at least we got one bit of information from the minister. He has now admitted that he does know what the projected deficit is. He is denying that all along, saying it is being studied and he won't know for four or five weeks, so I suspect the oven is on `bake' in the Department of Finance now, to come up with a number that is acceptable to the minister.

It is interesting that we are seeing that coming from the minister, a lack of information in this regard. Surely, there must be some work done in the Department of Finance relating to the referendum. Surely, the minister can't be telling us that he has been sitting here knowing this referendum was coming, knowing that there was a very real possibility of Quebec separation, and that the department has not done any numbers. Has the minister not looked at some of the projections, that economists were saying the Canadian dollar could probably fall to sixty-five cents, or lower, if Quebec were to separate?

Is the minister telling the House that he had not factored any of this in, that he had not done any calculations, and has he done any calculations now that the referendum is over to see if there is going to be a positive impact on the $50 million deficit he is projecting for this year, and what he is looking at for next year? Surely, he must have something done, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, the required reading in the Department of Finance is not Chicken Little. May I say to the hon. member that we don't predict the sky is going to fall on any particular occasion. What we do is monitor the markets on a repeated basis, we take careful account of our financial position, and frankly, the referendum has not affected, in any substantial way, as I said to the hon. member, the fiscal position of the Province.

The other factor is that we have known for some time, and we have had a pretty good indication of what the financial position of the Province is for this year, and over the next several years. What I have not done is told the hon. member in the House at this time what that position is, and as I have indicated to him there is a time and a place when that will be done, but not at this time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, several councils in this Province have been applying for water and sewer over the years and have not received any funding, and again this year, have not received any funding. I would like to ask the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs if he can tell me how the funding is allocated, if it is based on a public draw, if it is done based on politics, or if it is done based on need.

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

MR. REID: I guess, Mr. Speaker, the easiest way to answer my hon. colleague is to say it must be based on need because he was probably the highliner out of the whole fifty-two members in the last two years as it relates to infrastructure and capital works, so it must be based on need or I would not have put $3 million or $4 million in his district in the last couple of years.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: If that is the case, it must be based on politics. I would like to remind the minister as well, that I have the largest district in rural Newfoundland. If that is the case, then it is based on need. Government, four years ago, approved $442,000 for the Town of Fox Cove - Mortier for a water and sewer system. Mr. Speaker, that money was used by the council to take a water line from the pond to the main highway and install one fire hydrant. Not one home was hooked up as a result of that $442,000 and that is four years ago. If it was based on need four years ago to provide water and sewer to the residents and not one house has since received it, why, can I ask the minister, have they not?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, quite honestly, I would venture to say that there are 150 communities in this Province that have basically the same problems as Fox Cove - Mortier. If I remember correctly, last year the hon. member lobbied me strongly to provide funding for that particular community. If I am not mistaken, I may have met them. If I did not meet them, my staff met them. I believe, based on what the hon. gentleman said, that we gave them $450,000 or thereabouts.

AN HON. MEMBER: Four years ago.

MR. REID: Four years ago.

MR. TOBIN: And not one house hooked up - not one.

MR. REID: Well, it certainly wasn't me four years ago.

I will say, Mr. Speaker, that I sympathize with the hon. member, and I sympathize with a lot of my friends on both sides of the House when they continuously come to me and lobby on behalf of their constituents and their communities, but when you look at rural Newfoundland - especially rural Newfoundland - we have hundreds of communities out there even at this very moment with not a drop of decent drinking water, with poor sanitary conditions as it relates to water and sewerage, and I sympathize with them. The only problem I have is that at the end of the day there is only a certain amount of money to go around, and I can assure the member, and I think he agrees with me, that over the past two-and-a-half years that I have been in the department, a fair share of the money has gone to both sides of the House. In fact, this is the first time I have been questioned with regard to spending money in one area as compared to another and the reasons for it. I think, on both sides of the House, we have done fairly well in the last two years of the infrastructure, and I make the commitment to the hon. member that I will take these people into consideration again next year if we have a capital works budget, and then the hon. member can maybe come back and say congratulations to me for a change rather than criticize me.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, we represented our constituents, unlike what you are doing. I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, it is not a matter of criticizing. It was a matter of determining that it was based on need, and like the people of Fox Cove - Mortier and the ninety residents who have their wells gone dry, they are wondering why it was based on need then and not based on need now. What has happened to the need in those four years?

Mr. Speaker, the final supplementary on this is that some families are paying between $1,500 and $2,000 a year taxes on that debt. I would like to ask the minister if he will consider -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, can anyone put a harness or a gag on that minister there?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I would like to ask the minister if he will consider deferring the payments on that debt for one fire hydrant until such time as a commitment by this government to provide water and sewer to the residents.

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I make the commitment to you here today, Sir, that I will provide the hon. member as well as any representatives of the council from Fox Cove, Mortier to come in and discuss that question and make a formal request to me as it relates to that particular question. The hon. member knows that since I have been minister the door has been open to both sides of this House. In every particular case I have tried to do my best. I will listen to Fox Cove, Mortier in regards to their complaint. Bring them in and that would be the place for me to deal with it as the minister rather than have to deal with an individual council, one of 500 that I have to deal with on a daily basis. The invitation is there, Mr. Member, and call me up and I will provide you the time to discuss that particular question only too gladly.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. As the minister just said, there are about 150 communities that were refused funding for infrastructure; Fox Cove, Anchor Point, River of Ponds, Little Catalina, the list goes on and on. Residents in these towns must continue to live with inadequate water and/or sewer services. In many cases they must continue to pay taxes for incomplete systems. Can the minister inform the House today how many towns, if any, were given approval and accepted financial liability for water and/or sewer systems for residents who were not living within that communities municipal boundaries? Would the minister sign his approval giving community A permission to accept liability for services placed in community B?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the answer. He has asked me a question and he must be referring to, Mr. Speaker, a particular community in the Province and I honestly cannot answer his question here right now. I will answer it tomorrow morning. In fact, I will provide you with the opportunity tomorrow morning at 8:30 to meet with my staff and we will give you the answer. I cannot answer the question. The only thing that I can say is that communities have, in the last five years, adopted a policy and the government has adopted a policy whereby if you are not in the local planning area then money cannot be provided to you. Now if we made an exception to that - maybe the hon. member is referring to the Terra Nova Lodge. I don't know what he is referring to and I am not going to speculate on that but I will find the information. So I am saying, Mr. Speaker, I don't know the answer right now, I am sorry.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister can inform the House as to the date on which Muddy Cove was annexed into the town of Port Blandford?

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

MR. REID: So it is Terra Nova Lodge, Mr. Speaker. Now let me answer that question, Muddy Cove is not in Port Blandford. As far as I know Muddy Brook is not in the town of Port Blandford but Terra Nova Lodge is.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I refer to Section C, page 4 of The Packet and that was on October 23, giving notice of intent of a feasibility study under the minister's signature that would have the effect, of course, of incorporating the community of Muddy Cove into Port Blandford. So therefore at this time, the minister is right, the community is not now in the town of Port Blandford and of course this is to cover the legalities and keep his commitment to Terra Nova Park Lodge. He must now force the community of Muddy Cove to be annexed to Port Blandford. Is the minister not concerned about this type of forced amalgamation to make matters legal, to make them right, he must now force a community to join another?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no. In order for Port Blandford to run water and sewage to their part of the town they have to go under a road that happens to be outside their town, to service a portion of their particular community. On the way along, they are going to offer the services of water and sewer to a number of residences that are not in the town. In order for them to recover the cost or the share of providing those services to those particular houses, they are asking that I, as the minister, include that particular section of Muddy Hole, I think it is called or whatever

AN HON. MEMBER: It is called Muddy Brook.

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, we have agreed to follow the process whereby we will be holding public hearings in the area. If people from Muddy Brook, Mr. Speaker, are not in favour of joining with Port Blandford, they will have the opportunity to tell me and I guess tell The Packet, because that's where the hon. member read this, to tell The Packet as well as myself, that they don't want to be part of the Town of Port Blandford, but I am led to believe, Mr. Speaker, that they have already requested that because the Town of Port Blandford is providing services to these people that they have not had and I think, to be quite honest about it, most people there, when they know that they are going to get decent drinking water now and adequate water and sewer services, they will probably, and I note probably, want to join with Port Blandford because, Mr. Speaker, Port Blandford is becoming one of the tourism destination sites in this Province.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I remind the minister that the services include sewer services only; the community will not get water services. That, I guess is the next phase.

However, Mr. Speaker, in the same issue of The Packet, the Mayor of Port Blandford states, and I quote: Mayor Penney explained that the area is not now incorporated but once the sewer services are installed, it will become part of the incorporated Town of Port Blandford.

Now, Mr. Speaker, therefore the feasibility study, the process the minister talks about is nothing other than a sham, an insult to the good people in Muddy Brook who have been asked to go through something on which a decision has already been made.

Is the minister not concerned about the process and is he not really, fundamentally insulting the dignity of the people of Muddy Brook?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, time for a quick answer.

MR. REID: No, Mr. Speaker. I am not concerned with it because the process that has been in place now for the past fifteen, twenty years that was introduced by his colleagues on the opposite side of the House with regards to public hearings is still in place.

I find it quite amusing though, Mr. Speaker, because when the hon. member was a one-time Mayor of Mount Pearl and the whole question arose on the question of the area called Newtown, when he was mayor he wanted to go in and annex the whole community, and basically told the people of Mount Pearl that these people have nothing to say to this, we are going to take this and we are going to do it; so, is the pot calling the kettle black here, Mr. Speaker, I wonder.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Pursuant to section 35 of the medical care insurance act I'm please to table the annual report of the Newfoundland Medical Care Commission for the year ended March 31 1995.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MS YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a report from the division of family and rehabilitative services, Department of Social Services, for 1994-1995.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a written answer to a question posed by the Member for Grand Falls two days ago for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, but it is in the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment.

The question posed was regarding a fire that occurred near the Trans-Canada Highway near Glovertown, a gas station that had burnt down. The owner of that property has been served with two ministerial orders as of July 11 1995: one, to remove all underground storage tanks, and two, to remove all scrap metal and other waste material left as a result of destruction by fire of the former Parkway Esso. The deadline of thirty days applies to both orders as provided for in the respective legislation.

The owner of the property has filed notice of appeal for both orders. It is now before the courts awaiting a date. As soon as the courts deal with it we would hope that the owner of the property will have it cleaned up shortly. The necessary action has been taken. We are just waiting the court date to get it settled. Thank you.


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 sixty-two residents of the community of Branch in St. Mary's Bay. The prayer of the petition reads 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, I'm pleased today to stand and present this petition on behalf of the people of Branch. Over the past several months I have had calls from my district, enquiries from my district, concerning the planned closure of the Janeway Hospital and relocation thereof. People are very concerned about the plans that government has as it relates to the Janeway and therefore they are starting to send along some petitions from different parts of the district. I think this is the second one I have had the opportunity to present here on behalf of residents of my district. There are other ones that are following it.

The people of the district are very concerned that the plans for the Janeway Hospital will not provide the services that are provided at the Janeway now, and at the level they are provided. As everybody knows, the Janeway Hospital is known and seen as a provincial hospital. It is not a city hospital here in St. John's. It is seen as a provincial hospital that many people throughout the Province have been proud of over the past number of years and have definitely had - I would care to make a comment that there are very few families in this Province which have not had some reason over the years to avail of the services that are available at the Janeway Hospital.

You see over the past couple of years, and indeed for the past number of years, the fund-raising efforts that have been put in place across this Province as it relates to raising funds to bring forward and to more or less improve on what the Janeway Hospital has to provide, the machinery that has been bought through fund-raising efforts across this Province. Millions of dollars that have been raised to provide quality health care and to provide the tools for the job for the people who work in that hospital. I myself and several others I know in this hon. House have partaken in the fund-raising efforts of the Janeway Child Health Centre.

Back a few years ago, Mr. Speaker, a little over five years ago now when my own first son was born we had, for reasons of health, to rush him to the Janeway Hospital. I have to say without hesitation that the service that was provided by the doctors, nurses, nursing assistants and other staff, and indeed volunteers at the hospital for the number of days that we had to spend there with our first-born, was second to none. The people down at the hospital put their total effort into providing quality health care and without a doubt there is a great feeling for the children within the hospital. It is a children's hospital in every sense of the word, and the children feel very much at home, as I'm sure most of the parents that avail of that hospital do.

Back through the years we can see where the hospital has been known for the great services they have provided; indeed, many of the miracles that have been accomplished by the staff at that hospital. I believe that the government's plan to strip the hospital of its individuality will not fare well. There are plans to move the site now, to adjoin it to the Health Sciences Centre. I think it will take away that special identity that the Janeway Child Health Centre holds in this Province. Indeed, many people are concerned about the future of the Janeway as a children's hospital, the fact that it is being amalgamated into the major hospital of the Health Sciences Centre.

With those concerns I'm pleased to present this petition on behalf of the people of Branch. I hope that the minister takes into account the issues that have been brought forward not only by myself but indeed by many people in the general public, the concerns of moving the Janeway from its present location on a stand alone basis and the joining with the Health Sciences Centre. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland is speaking to the petition?

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to support the petition presented by my colleague for St. Mary's - The Capes. I've numerous concerns about statements that were made recently, since back in July, late June, when there was an announcement that the Janeway Hospital would be closing. Statements by executive positions of the Health Care Corporation of St. John's and by the Minister of Health that are contradictory statements that are not going to solve the problems as they are presented with the closure of the Janeway Hospital.

On that day that the announcement was made - and I indicated that I would support any type of consolidation that is not going to take away from the quality of service that we are going to get, that is going to be able to use dollars that are used in maintenance and other costs, and to be able to keep them within the system. I can support that. Because health care has to be funded on an economic basis. The dollars have to be most efficiently used.

I have concerns that have been raised recently. The Minister of Health in this House indicated Wednesday before last, he said in this House, that the Janeway Hospital, when the site moves, there is going to be a sharing. He mentioned specifically two areas, MRIs and operating rooms. I say to this House, how can we reduce and share operating rooms in these new facilities when there are twenty-four operating rooms in the city today - there are surgeries being cancelled on an ongoing basis because there is no operating room space. When the Janeway and the Grace Hospital close we will have fourteen operating rooms. So to reduce from twenty-four to fourteen, and we are going to share operating space with kids and adults. We are going to ration out the future health of our kids in line with adults in an institution that was told by this minister and by the executive director of the Health Care Corporation that it would be a separate, stand alone facility.

Sharing of an MRI, yes. We only have one MRI. Blood work is done in a centralized location, administration from a centralized location. I can live with many areas of service that are not going to impact upon the direct quality of health care that a person is receiving. Sister Elizabeth Davis stated on September 28 that there may now be a shortage of operating rooms in this city. For the minister to say we are going to share and we are only going to have - unless he gives a commitment - I asked him before in this House on more than one occasion if he will give a commitment to ensure that there will not be a reduction in operating rooms in this city because of a consolidation of the Janeway and the Grace with the Health Sciences and St. Clare's. I think that is a commitment that we need to have from this minister.

It was stated back earlier it would not be. Now, on a stand alone basis... Back at that time when that announcement was made there was no commitment even to build a new facility for the Janeway Hospital. Over a week, or a week-and-a-half later, after much public outcry and criticism, Mr. Tilley, an executive vice-president, indicated on CBC one morning, the first indication that anything was going to happen, that there would be an extension or some type of new space to be able to accommodate the Janeway Hospital on that site, and I agree there should be - I think it is the proper step - but we have been receiving contradictory statements, and people are worried that their kids may have to get in line with long waiting lists now for adults to get surgery that is needed, and that is a growing concern.

Now I want to see dollars saved in the system as much as the minister wants to see dollars saved in the system. I do not want to see one dollar of duplication within the system, and if there are efficiencies I will support them, but I have not seen from this government how - and maybe we will see it in due course; he indicated near the end of this year we will see it, and I am waiting anxiously to see that - the Janeway moving, how we will see what the total cost of that new structure is, based on the financing charges for that new structure, and how much we are going to save in operational costs by closing that particular site. If that cost is greater, if the cost of maintaining it is greater than consolidating it there, I will support it if we are not going to have a deterioration of services there. I will be one of the first out to support it. I am looking with optimism that we are going to have a few extra million dollars in the system used for service rather than administrative costs. I have seen a growing bureaucracy. We have seen an increase in public relations staff with the corporation. We have seen an increase in public relations staff with other health agencies recently, that I will not get into. We have seen an increase in public relations and administration, and I do not want to see a growing bureaucracy under our Health Care Corporation, I say to the minister. I think we need to control it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I just want to say a few words, most of which I have said before in this House - and outside of the House, I might add - with respect to the issue of the reorganization of the institutional-based services in the city.

Many of the points that have been raised in the petition presented by my colleague from St. Mary's - The Capes and referred to by the Member for Ferryland have already been addressed. I can only basically reiterate for the record and say again what I have said on so many other occasions. First of all, we are not closing the Janeway Hospital; we are not closing the Grace Hospital, if you refer to these institutions as services being provided by the operations down there and over there. What we are doing is moving the programs from the buildings that they are now delivered in under the names that are now over the door called `Janeway' and `Grace', to new space at a new site adjacent to, joined to, contiguous with, the present General Hospital Health Sciences Complex. We are not in a process of diminishing the level of programming that is being provided. We are not about reducing the amount of O.R. space or time that is going to be in the new system. The counting of O.R. studios is no different than the counting of hospital beds. If you are going to use that as a measure of health care, then you are missing the point completely.

I said to the member the other day, there is no difference in operating an O.R. studio for sixteen hours a day, one studio, than it is operating two studios for eight hours a day, each, and we have all kinds of latitude within the system to better utilize not only the space we have, but the equipment we have and the personnel that we have running these services.

The Janeway will be retained as a service. The Janeway programs will be enhanced as services are being provided. The concept of bringing the continuum of care for newborns and paediatrics onto one site and under one arrangement is what this is about. The member just has to reflect on, I would say, what is happening in other jurisdictions. If he looked no further then Halifax, I am not sure but I believe the IKW Children's Hospital there is adjacent to the main tertiary care hospital in Halifax.

I am interested in the hon. member's comments from Ferryland. He seems to be consistently agreeing with Sister Elizabeth but he consistently wants to try and come across as disagreeing with what she is doing. Now I don't know how he is agreeing with her if he is disagreeing with what she is doing in the health care system because her relationship to this is that of the chief operating officer of the health care corporation. I appreciate the level of support really, that I find from the Member for Ferryland because he keeps saying that I agree that we have to rationalize, I agree that we have to spend our money better, I agree that we have to deliver the programs that we are delivering now and probably enhancing those programs but I am not sure that I agree with the way in which the government intends to see it done or the way in which Sister Elizabeth is articulating it will happen. Let me assure him again that at the end of the day the move of the Janeway and Grace to the Health Science site will serve the people of the Province better, just as the moving of the H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Clinic is serving the people of the Province better as a result of that move to the Health Science site.

I don't think there is one person, who receives cancer care in this Province today or has had the opportunity to even visit the new cancer clinic at the Health Science site, would not agree that there is a better level of service in a more appropriate setting being provided. The principle of what we are doing with moving the Janeway and Grace over to that site is identical in concept and will achieve the same result as the move of the cancer clinic to that site has achieved. That is a more appropriate location, providing a higher level of service in a more efficient manner and serving the people of this Province better than they are presently being served. Even if we did not do this, Mr. Speaker, the facts of the matter are that we would have to spend considerable amounts of money in capital just to refurbish and maintain the building, the old base hospital that is now the Janeway and the Grace Hospital which is seventy-five years old, or at least parts of it are.

So we are going to have to spend capital dollars regardless. Even if we were not moving anything anywhere we would have to spend considerable capital dollars -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: - to do what we are doing and I trust that this will again enforce, in the speakers mind, the correctness of what we are doing.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. friend for the straight line but I will pass on this occasion.

Your Honour, we seem to have trouble getting off Motion 4. We spent the last few weeks on Motion 4 and it is Motion 4 today but it is a different Motion 4, the one standing in the name of my friend from Eagle River.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Today I am pleased to introduce the following resolution;

WHEREAS the unemployment insurance account is funded solely by employer and employee payroll deductions and;

WHEREAS revenue has exceeded expenditures in recent years and the fund is projected to be self supporting in the future and;

WHEREAS this program is vital to the income security of thousands of our people who are seasonally employed;

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly endorse the government's position that seasonal workers not be treated any differently then others who access the program.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important resolution to me. One of the obviously main reasons is that I represent a district in this Province - not unlike many other districts in the Province - where there is a significant level of seasonal employment. Mr. Speaker, the other reason it is very important to me is because I am very concerned about what is happening in Ottawa today. I am very concerned about what is happening with the focus of the debate on the unemployment insurance program. We have listened to many people in the Reform Party, in particular, who believe that this program should be eliminated altogether. I have listened to one of the members of the Reform Party in particular, who is trying to make out that the problems of the deficit in the country are being caused by those people who have been drawing UI and particularly fishermen and plant workers in Eastern Canada. It always seems to be a convenient scapegoat those days to identify people on UI as a substantial reason for our deficit.

I want to go on record, Mr. Speaker, indicating to this hon. House that nothing could be further from the truth, in my view. The program as I stated in my Whereas to the main resolution says that: This is a totally funded program by employees and employers and that has been the way it has functioned since 1990. There has not been a cent of tax dollars transferred to that fund and neither will there be in the future, simply because it is set up under legislation to operate at arm's length of government and it is through the payroll deductions that all those would qualify for unemployment insurance, have the deductions taken out of their pay cheques every week, and so the employer then remits one-and-a-half times that for their part of the funding of this program.

It is totally in the hands of an arm's length organization that is dealing with the payments as they come in, or the requests as they come in from people who file claims, and while the program in previous years did not make any money, the fund itself was in a deficit particularly in 1991 and 1992 when there was a significant recession in the country and the payments of course, the premiums are set up on the basis that this will be a balance but the recession saw some 50,000 people a month for some number of months in Ontario, go on to the UI account which nobody expected and this caused the deficit in that particular account to go up significantly.

However, last year there was a surplus of some $2.4 billion in that account and the federal government has already announced that they are going to be keeping the premiums at the same level that they are now, and the federal Minister of Finance has already indicated to the country that on the basis of these premiums, this particular fund will be $5 billion in surplus by the end of 1996-97 and that surplus means, Mr. Speaker, that they will have paid off every cent that that fund owes and they will have covered every part of the deficit that that fund now has, and that there will be some $5 billion in that particular account by the end of 1996-97 fiscal year so, Mr. Speaker, I am troubled by the fact of what we are hearing and now we haven't seen anything in legislation.

I understand the Minister of Finance has requested the Minister of Human Resources Development to come forward with a program to achieve a $1.9 billion reduction in that account over the next fiscal year; we have obviously heard on the public airways that there are some proposals being put forward which really will have quite a significant effect on my people and on people throughout this Province simply because they depend on the UI fund as a vital source of income, and, Mr. Speaker, one of the most troublesome parts of the reforms that were put out in the form of a White Paper in the standing committee on Human Resources Development, heard submissions from it across the country.

One of the most troubling parts about it is that, they have indicated they wanted to have a two-tier system where, the people who were getting income or repeaters I guess, people who were getting on UI year after year, would all of a sudden be classified in another section of the UI fund and punished for being repeaters and I believe, Mr. Speaker, that this is a terribly mean-spirited initiative. Either it is completely mean-spirited or it is done with total ignorance of reality and, Mr. Speaker, I say total ignorance of reality because this UI fund is essential to places in this Province and certainly, the Coast of Labrador is a very clear example of how this cannot work and if people in Ottawa or if people in other parts of Canada are feeling that way, I have not heard it. I have done a bit of travelling in the country and have raised this issue in other parts of the country, but I do not believe that there is any ground swell of support, or any ground swell of demand, from Central Canada, Western Canada, or anywhere else, that says simply because you live in a certain part of the country you should be penalized because you cannot earn a living.

Mr. Speaker, in my district, of course, we have a seasonal fishery, not by our choosing because if we could have a fishery, whether it be scallops, crab, salmon, turbot, shrimp, or the cod when it does come back, if we could do it twelve months of the year people would do it twelve months of the year, but the simple fact of life is that every October or November the ice comes, the snow comes, the ice sets in, and there is a total freeze-up until May or June. It was only in 1991 when there was a total freeze-up and ice compensation was kept in place for the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland, all the coast of Labrador, and the north coast of Quebec for fourteen weeks, from July 15 until August 20. There was ice in the harbours in these particular areas of our Province and obviously people could not go and earn income from the fishery. There is a move in Ottawa, and it is aided and abetted by those who want to mislead the public, that these people are terrible abusers of the program and must be punished, and that is wrong. People are not abusing the program. They are carrying on their life as they always did and it is not only pertaining to the fishery.

The tourist industry in my riding is no different than in any other riding in this Province. The tourism industry is a seasonally based industry. We are always making initiatives and we are making some progress, particularly in the West Coast area, I guess, with Marble Mountain and the White Hills. There are other things being done in tourism development to try to extend tourism beyond the summer season, trying to get the adventure tourist to come and participate in our wonderful winters and be able to do the adventure tourism initiatives that are being planned, but that is very much in the primitive stages and certainly we are nowhere near the point where we are able to have a year round tourism industry.

That is a fact of life, that people who work in the restaurants, people who work in the tourist chalets, people who work in the hotels and motels across this Province, and the same thing in Prince Edward Island or anywhere else in Canada, are restricted to twelve, fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen weeks a year. People who are doing that are not doing it because they say, okay, this is an opportunity where I can work for twelve weeks and then get unemployment insurance. They are not doing it for that. People are doing that because in many cases it is a family business and this is what they have put their savings into, this is what they built, and this is why they want to return to it every year.

It is certainly not fair to say to them, now you must be classified in a different section of the Unemployment Insurance Act and be demeaned by that process, not to mention the fact that you will have your unemployment insurance benefits reduced simply because you are in this industry.

We have a small forest industry right now and we hope to extend on that significantly, but in the Port Hope Simpson - Cartwright area we are building a forestry industry and indeed the same thing applies there. The construction trades and the construction industry is also a seasonally based industry and all told I would expect that there are a significant number of people, well over 100,000 people in this Province with a workforce of 200 and some odd thousand that are working in a seasonally based industry. If we are going to have changes to this program that tells those people that you are going to have, first of all, to wait for twenty weeks until you qualify for unemployment insurance; and if you then qualify you are only going to get 50 per cent of what you made, and you are only going to be able to get one week for every week that you worked, then I have no hesitation in saying, Mr. Speaker, that we are going to make a very bad situation for the taxpayers of this Province, namely, the people who have to pay taxes to pay out social services. Because that is the only place where thousands of our people will be forced to go if this type of initiative is put in place.

I have heard recently that the minister has indicated the two-tiered system is not on. It may not be on in the actual concept of a two-tiered system, but I guess a rose by any other name is still a rose. If you are going to say that you still have to wait twenty weeks to qualify and you are still going to have those reduced benefits if you happen to be doing that every year, then that will be exactly the same thing as having a two-tiered system.

So be honest, I say to those people who are contemplating this. At least tell us up straight if that is the mentality that is there and we can deal with it on its own merits. But it is wrong, in my view, to do that. It is wrong because people have chosen to live in this particular part of our nation, and obviously, nobody in Canada that I've heard, nobody in the Federal Government, has indicated that they are now prepared to release sovereignty over the Coast of Labrador, or to release sovereignty from the northern part of Canada. So if you are not prepared to do that, then there must be a program put in place to provide income support for people who live there, because they can't earn it through no fault of their own. That is all we are asking for.

If somebody wants to do the other thing and say: You shouldn't be living there anymore, and say: We are going to relinquish sovereignty over this particular part of our nation simply because it doesn't meet the economic model that many people want to put in place in this country, well, say it. But don't try to come through the back door and drive people out of those places because they cannot survive, they will not be able to survive, on a program of this nature. Let's be fair and honest about it.

The other thing, as I said, that really bothers me about this is that people believe that this is going to somehow help the deficit, that the program is going to be reduced. That isn't fair either. Because there isn't one cent of money now that is being spent on this program being released to cover off the deficit, neither would it be legal, in my view, to do that, and neither should it. No, this is an employee-employer based system and it should remain that way. If there is a deficit, then that deficit obviously can be paid back on its own basis with the revenue that is coming in to that particular fund. There is no need in the future to go back to the same people and expect them to be taken out.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. DUMARESQUE: I will have more to say on what we want to do in the future in the fifteen minutes that I will have left at the end.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DUMARESQUE: Because we aren't saying there should be absolutely no change.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I will put forward some of our ideas for change, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the resolution as well, and say that I can understand some of what the hon. member is saying. At the same time, when he talks about the harsh treatment of people in this Province by the UI program, I find it difficult that he would be contemplating running on a ticket for the party in Ottawa that is prepared to scuttle the UI system in this Province. Now, the member can't have it both ways, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Don't you worry about me, my son!

MR. TOBIN: Pardon?

MR. DUMARESQUE: Don't you worry about me.

MR. TOBIN: Don't worry about you?

MR. DUMARESQUE: I'm not going to run for anybody who is going to scuttle the people of my Province. If you think that, you're silly.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, he should resign right now. He is part of a government that has cut, slashed and chopped every person. They have even attacked the sick, the suffering and the poor, I say to the member.

The member can't get up here and shout and bawl because he wants to take a platform to get involved in federal politics and cut the legs out of the crowd that he wants to run for, Mr. Speaker. The bottom line is that the Liberal Government in Ottawa is insensitive, uncaring, and callous when it comes to treating people in the poorer province, and particularly people who depend upon the UI system.

I raised questions in the House last week about the UI system, I say to the Member for Eagle River. Now, the Member for Eagle River talks about the government that is cutting. Let me just briefly take you through some statistics. In 1992, for example, the regular UI benefit in this Province was $884 million: from fishing $95 million, maternity/paternal sickness $23 million, training income support $48 million, training purchases of courses $25 million, other developmental uses $21 million, for a total of $1,096,000,000 - $1.1 billion approximately in 1992.

Now with the unemployment in this Province heavily increasing, and statistics prove it, while there is everything increasing, in 1995 regular benefits were down from $884 million in 1992 to $475 million; fishing was down from $95 million to $51 million; maternity was $23 million in 1993, $22 million in 1994, and $21 million. Maternity leave was down, I say to the member opposite. Training was $48 million in 1992. It went to $53 million in 1993, $54 million in 1994, and $48 million in 1995.

MR. WOODFORD: It was cut in half.

MR. TOBIN: Cut in half, yes.

When you add all of that up, it has gone from $1.1 billion in 1992 to $645 million in 1995, almost cut in half, and the Member for Eagle River says he would not be part of supporting a government or run for a government that wouldn't cut. Well, here is a government that has cut the UI system in this Province from $1.1 billion to $645 million, and they did that while that minister sat in his seat and said absolutely nothing for the people of this Province, has refused to stand up and fight for the Newfoundlanders who depend upon that system. That is what is happening in this Province today. In fact, the federal minister has been doing exactly what he wants to do, having balanced his budget in terms of social reform, and this government and this minister have sat idly by and watched it being slashed, chopped, and cut up from $1.1 billion in 1992 to $645 million today.

Now, the minister is going to get up, as he did yesterday, and say that I am confused, that I am talking about calendar years instead of fiscal years. What does it matter if it is a calendar year or a fiscal year? The fact of the matter is that they have cut it almost in half, and I say to the minister that this is very serious and it is time that you and your colleagues went to Ottawa and took on Lloyd Axworthy, not go up to Lloyd Axworthy and sit down and have a cup of coffee, or something like that, over the meeting -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Or a drink - it doesn't matter. The bottom line is that you have to stop cozying up to this minister.

When John Crosbie was the federal minister, every day you were over there ranting and roaring, when he did absolutely nothing in comparison to what this government is doing, absolutely nothing in terms of cuts to what this government is doing. Why the silence on this issue? Why has the government not been more forthright? Why have they not indicated to the federal minister that this will never, never be accepted in this Province, the way he is trying to slash the social programs, the way he is going to treat the UI system in this Province. I don't believe, Mr. Speaker, that anywhere in this resolution will you find reference made to the Federal Government - `an employer/employee funded solely from payroll deductions. The fund is projected to be self- supporting in the future and the program is vital to income security. Therefore, be it resolved that the House of Assembly endorse the government's position that seasonal workers not be treated any different from any others who access the program.'

Mr. Speaker, why did the Member for Eagle River wimp out and not lay the responsibility where it should be, squarely on the shoulders of the federal minister, the one who was trying to slash and cut this program, who was trying to bring the people who depend on this program to their knees. We see what happened a few weeks ago, when the federal minister wanted to cut the TAGS program, made the big announcement they were going to cut the TAGS program two weeks before Christmas. Did anyone see the minister standing up? The Member for Eagle River, Mr. Speaker, did he say anything? Did the Minister of Fisheries -

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, Roger Simmons is taking credit for it down our way. I don't know who is taking credit for it this way. Mr. Speaker, the last time that minister was in Ottawa and met with the federal minister there was the biggest racket that you could ever think about in the caucus and the Cabinet. I have been told that the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture went to the Premier and asked him: `Who is the Minister of Fisheries, is it me or the Member for Eagle River?' The Premier had to tell `Danny' to stay

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I share the views of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology that the Member for Eagle River would be, by far, the better minister.

MR. DUMARESQUE: He didn't say that!

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, I asked: Who is the best minister?... and you pointed at him.

AN HON. MEMBER: I said he went up to Ottawa and (inaudible).


MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, I asked: Who is the real Minister of Fisheries, and the Minister of ITT pointed at the Member for Eagle River. And so you should, because let there be no doubt - there is no doubt in my mind and I don't think in the minds of anyone over here, that the Member for Eagle River would be, by far, a better minister than the present one that we have - no doubt about that. But then, having said that, the Member for Eagle River, Mr. Speaker, would still not measure up to a lot of ministers who sit opposite, and most of them are not much good.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Eagle River brought in his resolution, I don't know at who's encouragement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is rather ironic that we are here today debating unemployment insurance for the poor people of this Province who depend upon the program, and at the same time, we are debating two millionaire lawyers who have no interest in the UI system, no matter how hard they may try to impress upon people that they are concerned about it, have no interest in the system, Mr. Speaker, who sit down and totally ignore the debate that is taking place regarding UI in this Province. Now, that is the reflection, Mr. Speaker, of the two millionaire lawyers who pretend that they are concerned about social programs in this Province but yet refuse to listen or participate in the debate. Now, it would be better if they would go on and practice law full time, Mr. Speaker, and leave the needs of the social programs to those who understand it, who live with it, who have family members living through it and knows what goes on, I would say to members opposite. And if they want to talk law, Mr. Speaker, let them go out through the door and debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: You got that off your chest.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) got a ride.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, and I don't want one from either of them.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know why the Member for Eagle River, in putting forward this resolution, chooses not to include the Federal Government's name anywhere, because they are the ones who will take the knife to this program. Lloyd Axworthy, Mr. Speaker, Axworthy, supported by axe-Murphy, they are the ones who will chop this program to pieces. Axworthy and axe-Murphy will chop this program up for Newfoundlanders, that's what I say to members opposite.

I have not heard a word, Mr. Speaker, from the - I was asking earlier, before I was sidetracked by the lawyers trying to count their money -

MR. ROBERTS: After we (inaudible) money.

MR. TOBIN: No, you wouldn't have much to count because I am an honest worker and every day's work was an honest day's work, Mr. Speaker, and like everyone in that category, I have no money, unless you won the 6\49.

Mr. Speaker, I say that this minister and this government have not been forceful, have not stood up for the rights of Newfoundlanders, have not defended Newfoundlanders when it came to the TAGS Program. And Roger Simmons, the federal M. P. came out and said: I am convinced that the Minister of Fisheries listened to me when I suggested that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Roger Simmons said: I suggested to the minister that it should be spread out over a period of time - not take it two weeks at a time but spread it out over twelve months.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is he (inaudible)?

MR. TOBIN: I know where he is going to be the member for after the next federal election.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: I thought it was Earle McCurdy (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, no, no. Roger said that he went to the minister and he got the Federal Government to agree to spread it out, but the fishermen's reaction was, you know, so what? So what, twelve? If you are going to take two weeks, take two weeks; whether it is over ten weeks, two weeks or twelve months, you are still robbing our money. Mr. Speaker, that's what he said.

MR. DUMARESQUE: And we changed that.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there was not a whimper from any member opposite, including the Member for Eagle River, who is now trying to get up and get into Rompkey's seat. And I wouldn't go so far as to say that he would do it any cost, like some ministers over there who were not present to get into Cabinet. I am not saying that he would go to the same extent as some of them but I will say that the Member for Eagle River would go a long ways to cover up all of this, and I am sure he is going to say to Lloyd Axworthy and Brian Tobin, when he sees `Brian' one of these days, if he can get through to him - well, he would get through to him because he is in the Premier's Office and probably answers some of the calls; when Brian is having a chat with `Clyde', probably `Danny' intercepts some of the calls.

You know, on second thought, maybe `Brian' had some input into this resolution. I know he had a lot of input into the last one we debated in this House, when he dictated who could speak.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible) you are coming.

MR. TOBIN: Well, that is not something either of us will promise.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: By leave, Mr. Speaker?


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, leave for a minute?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member does not have leave.

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you very much.

MR. TOBIN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, isn't there supposed to be some sort of an indication as to how much time you have left when you are speaking in debate before you are abruptly adjourned?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I am serious about this. I can say to the government that I have been around here for a few years. I always thought that you were given a three-minute notice or a one-minute notice. I didn't receive any. To the practice that I've been around, Mr. Speaker, in the fourteen years that I've been in the House, that was always given, and today I didn't receive it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, to the point of order.

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is no requirement in the rules. The Clerks at the Table often, as a courtesy, will let a member know that he or she has only two or three minutes left. But one of the reasons we have these clocks -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - set in the gallery opposite each side of the House - the clocks are set antiphonally because the House sits antiphonally - is so that members can raise their eyes to heaven not simply for inspiration but to look at the time. There is no rule, I say to my hon. friend, although as a practice or as a courtesy, the Clerks often - but my friend speaks -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The gentleman couldn't get unanimous consent. I said `aye' but I was overruled by some of my colleagues.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the minister, the Chair rules that there is no point of order. The member took advantage of the opportunity just for clarification.

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I want to first of all say how impressed I am with the Member for Burin - Placentia West, at his enthusiasm on behalf of the people of the Province, and all the other things that he had to say today. I know it comes from his heart and I enjoyed his speech, I enjoyed his comments, the same comments that I have heard over and over and over again. However, let me say it is a privilege for me to stand up this afternoon to say a few words in agreement with the resolution put forward by my colleague, the Member for Eagle River.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to say, over the last year how hard we have worked on behalf of the people of this Province in our discussions with Minister Axworthy and other federal officials, including our own Minister Tobin, respecting not only UI but really dealing with the UI problem.

It is not a fault of the people of this Province that many of them are classified as seasonal workers. Some eight or nine months ago we heard that the Federal Government were talking about UI reform, and in the same sentence, were talking about a two-tiered system: one for those who are fortunate enough to be able to work for fifty-two weeks in a year, and another group which, through no fault of its own, whether they fished or they farmed or they were involved in forest products work, construction, or whatever, had no opportunity to gather any more than, in most occasions, weeks that were certainly less than fifty-two, less than twenty-six, less than thirteen.

We all know, every member in this House knows, especially the members in rural Newfoundland, how difficult and how hard it was for people in rural communities to go from place to place trying to find employment. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, in your district, where the fishery was historic, that there were people in your district who left the fishing boats, went to the woods operations, worked with the Fudges in the Fudge camps and so forth and so on, continually trying to get as much employment as they possibly could. Even some of them - from my hon. colleague here - walked from Fogo to pick up the train to get to St. John's to get a berth to go the seal fishery. Those are the kinds of historical things that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been involved in.

Now, for somebody in Ottawa to classify Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who had nothing at their disposal only the seasonal work they were able to garner up as a second class type of person and two-tier them into a system they were forced into through no fault of their own.

MR. TOBIN: What about your silence?

MR. MURPHY: Let me say to the hon. member that I have not been silent, but the one thing I have learned, I say to the hon. member, it is better to try to negotiate on behalf of the people of this Province with some degree of responsibility and sincerity. I have been to Ottawa five times to see Minister Axworthy, and I do not know how many pieces of correspondence and telephone conversations, to highlight -

AN HON. MEMBER: Table them.

MR. MURPHY: I would like to table you, I say to the hon. member, or some such other thing. Let me be sincere with the member. He knows, as I know, that you cannot negotiate through media or in this House, or anywhere in a public sense, and represent the people of this Province, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in the best possible way. You have to sit, and you have to negotiate, and highlight, and make sure that a minister who was born and bred in Winnipeg knows and understands everything he needs to know and understand about Newfoundlanders, the workforce history of Newfoundland, and make sure you drive that home, and I can assure the hon. member that is what has taken place.

Mr. Speaker, I think we all recognize that seasonal employment needs to be covered by UI. The Member for Eagle River talked about the contributions of UI coming from the employers of the Province and the employees of the Province. The problem is that if we have the type of recession we had in 1982 when Mr. Peckford was over here, and it was a very short period of recession, and Mr. Peckford got all beside himself, as he should have, on behalf of the people of this Province.

Now, this government has been faced with 1990, up to now, recession, the loss of the groundfish, and just for the information of the Member for Burin - Placentia West when he talks about $680 million of UI last year in comparison to over $1 billion in 1991 he should know and understand, and set the record straight, that some $260 million, that he did not include in his numbers, were paid out in TAGS which would have normally gone into the UI structure if the groundfishery was still being executed. That figure is totally misleading, I say to the member, and he should correct it when he gets a chance.

Let us take into account the profound effect of UI changes on communities depending on seasonal employment. No matter where you go in the 870-plus communities of this Province there are very few towns, a few around the Province who are very fortunate. The Member for Humber Valley knows how important the forestry industry is to people in his district, whether it is the sawmill operating or the cutting and harvesting of forest products for either Kruger and/or Abitibi Price. It is not the fault of the people in the member's district, or other rural districts, if we do not have snow and Abitibi Price - I use this as an example and the member can speak to it, if they do not have snow and they can harvest wood and need wood right up to January, there are always enough people in the member's district, and other districts in rural Newfoundland, to go to work and take advantage of that employment opportunity, but if the snow falls early and they cannot get in the woods, and they have sixteen or seventeen weeks of UI, then that is the only bit of work they can access. It is, as far as this government is concerned, it is unquestionable to say that a transition from twelve weeks, twenty weeks entry, twelve weeks within a given year, to change that in such a way that it makes it extremely hard for Newfoundlanders, is totally unacceptable. We know that the people of this Province, through no fault of their own, are dependent on UI.

If the federal government has a deficit problem then the deficit problem is not in UI within itself. There is a small amount of deficit there but, as I say, the other problem is - and this is what the federal government brings back when you sit down with them, 1991, 1992, and 1993 were years of deficit and the federal government had to support those years, but 1994 and 1995 we are looking at a significant amount of surplus in the UI fund. Now you have to ask yourself, is it fair that somebody else in this great nation, this great Canada, would unilaterally say: Look, what is good for the guy in Hamilton or Toronto is good for the guy in Newfoundland. The same opportunity for employment in Alberta or B.C. is not the same opportunity as employment for people in rural Newfoundland, through no fault of their own, and historically Newfoundlanders, because of their desire to work, have left the Province, and this is not the last couple of years, or three or four years. Every hon. member here knows that since the thirties - the Member for Placentia nods - since the thirties Newfoundlanders have been going from the Boston States to Toronto, to Fort McMurray, to whatever, and this has been historic. If all the Newfoundlanders came home, I say to hon. members, maybe the rock would sink, I do not know, but we are all over the place because of the work ethic of Newfoundlanders.

Now the federal government knows from this provincial government - knows and must understand - that if they are going to deal with UI reform and talk to us about social safety nets related to UI reform, that the transition, and they are talking all kinds of things - and to be quite candid and to be quite honest with all hon. members, in all the meetings and all the dealings with Minister Axworthy, I have gotten a lot of innuendo and a lot of maybes, have gone from hours to weeks, and the point of entry, and thirty-six hour weeks versus forty hour weeks, and twenty-two to get in, thirteen or fourteen weeks to get in, seasonally and so forth and so on, shorter periods of time accessing UI, and all of these scenarios have been thrown in front of me as the minister responsible, and to try and unravel it is impossible because we have not yet seen Mr. Axworthy stand on his feet in the House of Commons and say: Here is the new UI program that will take effect July 1, 1996. I do not have that information, as much as I would like to, because if I had the information then again I could go back and make representation if I saw some flaws in it, and say: Look, you cannot do this to us in our region; it just will not work. It will drive our people into the lap of the Minister of Social Services.

There is the reality of it, I say to hon. members. That is the reality, and we are doing everything we possibly can to support the position of the Member for Eagle River. If there is a transition period, if - and I say `if' - UI continues to run in a deficit position, then obviously there has to be adjustments because, as the Minister of Finance full and well knows, Mr. Martin has told all the other ministers to decrease their budgets appropriately. Subsequently what will happen is that we are going to pay a price through transfers - we all know that - we are going to pay a price through other programming, but UI, being so important, takes on a domino effect, I say to you, Mr. Speaker. Once you start to realize that x amount of dollars are extracted from the Province, then everybody suffers.

So, I think it is extremely important that we all recognize that seasonal employment needs to be covered by UI, without question. Drastic and dramatic changes are not acceptable to this government and will not be acceptable before Mr. Axworthy stands to speak or after Mr. Axworthy stands to speak. We have worked very hard to make sure that he and his colleagues know and understand the position that this Province, both the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, are going to be impacted and affected with drastic changes. We have all heard the expression, but to maintain and retain the social safety net we have to cut and slash.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I said we have heard. Now, if the hon. member all of a sudden shows up and hears something... He should be here in his seat, listening attentively as I listened to him yesterday. What I am saying to the hon. member is that Newfoundlanders are prepared to know and understand that there are UI changes coming.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MURPHY: By leave just to clue up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I gave you leave, I did so. Well I did.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, of all the things and all the resolutions brought to the House of Assembly over the years and especially in this session, well I know this is only the third week we have been open but this resolution is a very important resolution. Now of all the things, all the polices and all the changes that has been talked about and recommended by the federal government today and there has been many, I would suspect that over the next six or seven months we are going to see, in no uncertain terms, what it is going to mean for the social programs and eventually to the people of this Province. It will be devastating, Mr. Speaker, to say the least.

Now this resolution, like I said, is a good one but there is nothing in it. It is an anorexic resolution. There is absolutely nothing on it. It is time, as far as I am concerned, for members opposite and members on this side of the House to put some meat on the bones of this resolution. It is too transparent. You can see right through it. It is not going to do anything. Why should we be standing here in the House today asking the House of Assembly to endorse the government's position? Now there are fifty-two of us here, what good is it for us to endorse the government's position? We would be endorsing everybody's position in this Province. Everybody in this Province today have concerns with cuts to UI, everybody. So you would not find a person in the Province today, unless there are a few that got their pay cheque every Friday evening, twelve months of the year, forever and a day. Sure they are going to criticize.

The big so called entrepreneurs are going to criticize because so and so is on social services or so and so is on UI. Granted we have some abuse in everything we have, every kind of a system. In every kind of program we have some abuse. We cannot help that, it is in income tax, it is right with Revenue Canada; it is in everything we do and touch today in this Province and in this country but do we have to throw out the baby with the bath water? In this case, Mr. Speaker, someone has to speak up. We have to speak up. The Premiers, especially Atlantic Canada.

Do you know one of the things that I see came out of the referendum the other night in Quebec? Quebec is going to be hurt more than anyone else in Canada except for other parts of Atlantic Canada by a decision to cut UI, regardless if there is a qualifying period or the duration period in which you draw. Quebec is going to be hurt. So I would say, Mr. Speaker, if there was ever a time for us as members of this Chamber and other members in Chambers around Atlantic Canada and more especially in Quebec, now is the time to put the gun to the heads of the people who are making the decisions in Ottawa.

I got to refer back to the general election, the Provincial Election in 1989. There was a little rumour going around the Province at that time that Crosbie and his cohorts in Ottawa were going to change the qualifying period from ten weeks to possibly eleven, possibly twelve, depending on whether the unemployment rate in the area, especially around the St. John's and Avalon area, all out around the Conception Bay area would drop down to around 13 per cent or go up to 13 per cent or 14 per cent. There might be a percentage point here or there but I can recall those days when I was going door to door on the West Coast of the Province and no matter where you went the federal politicians and our Mr. Tobin now on the West Coast, Brian was upfront every day of the week, he was in Ottawa asking all kinds of questions. The members opposite - I know my colleague the Member for Strait of Belle Isle was kicking up all kinds of fuss because they were talking about a small change. The Member for Port de Grave too, in 1989. Now there isn't a word.

Last summer the federal government put it from ten to twelve weeks. There wasn't a whimper. Not only did it do it, but it did it retroactively. It cut the legs out from under a goodly number or percentage of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians retroactively. It brought in legislation July 3, 1994 and made it retroactive to April 3, 1994. Anybody who had ten weeks and were laid off between those two dates had to go back and get two weeks in order to qualify for UI.

Mr. Speaker, we have a case today in this country where not only are the qualifying weeks going to be increased, or are talked about being increased, but the duration period for drawing as well. We have a province in which we have an unemployment rate officially of somewhere around 20 per cent to 23 per cent; unofficially up in the forties. We have a province in Atlantic Canada, one of the only provinces in Canada with a TAGS program because of the demise of the groundfishery. We have social programs being cut now by the feds, in turn by the Province, and in turn by municipalities right on down to the ordinary Joe. Those people are suffering enough. The unemployment rate is high enough.

It is hard enough in this Province today to get a measly ten weeks, let alone twelve. To ask people in this Province to try to get more, to get fifteen or sixteen or twenty, is wrong. We have to stand up. It is about time we do so before it is too late. They can't get it. The forestry workers, the workers in the tourism industry. We have fisherpersons around this Province affected. We have people in construction. You can go on, and there is no end to it. Our industry, our climate almost dictates that it is seasonal work.

In some places in North America they do have year-round tourism industries. Very few, but there are some. Our tourism industry, pretty well in the summertime around this Province, that is pretty well it. We have some like Marble Mountain hoping to capitalize on a four-season resort and so on, and try to bring in more revenue, and keep people employed twelve months of the year. The forestry industry is trying to spread it out a little more so that workers work different times of the year so they always get fresh wood and they won't have to be using wood that if it is cut - the forest industry in the Province today doesn't want any wood that is cut over six weeks. Anything six weeks old or more, they don't want to see it. They will take it, possibly at a lesser price, but really they don't want to see it.

We have concerns from unions. When you see the unions in this Province get together with a big paper company such as Abitibi-Price and Kruger to try to do something with regards to the federal government's intentions of changing these particular programs then you know there is reason for concern. Every member in this Chamber knows full well, because of the phone calls they receive on a daily basis as it pertains to problems in this Province with people trying to get enough to qualify for UI, they know full well what the circumstances are going to be, and what the repercussions are going to be if anything in this particular program is changed.

We know full well there are going to be changes. No question. Why should the federal government all of a sudden be interested in changing a program and cutting a program to people who are at their mercy, to people who the federal government has nothing to do with it. This is an employer-employee program funded fully by the employers and the employees in this Province when they are working, and that's the reason for the program, when a person was out of work to try to give them something to live on and to sustain their families and themselves until they went back to work, so why don't they concentrate on something that they are collecting the taxpayers money for and try to do something with? Some of the dollars that they have been putting into training programs and so on through HRD, why don't they pay more attention to some of the dollars that are going out in other areas of that particular department? So, Mr. Speaker, I question the silence of federal members in this Province as it pertains to this particular program, as it pertains to the possibility of cuts to this particular program. Why is there so much silence from federal members in this Province?

I can refer, as I said, back to 1989, when this Province was in an uproar over a very small, very minuscule difference in the percentage points with regards to UI and some of the changes that were possibly going to be made, but in this case, Mr. Speaker, we know that they are going to be made, we know what is coming down the tube, and as I said, the only thing that may stop it for a while is the situation and the turmoil in the Province of Quebec as of Monday night. So, Mr. Speaker, I say to members opposite, that we have to try to get something more on this particular resolution. This is nothing, this is nothing. This is a motherhood resolution the way it stands today, it's a motherhood resolution because there is nothing there; they are asking us to endorse the government's position that seasonal workers not be treated any differently from anybody else.

Who is going to disagree with that except, like I said earlier, some of the people who get a pay cheque every Friday evening and not worry where the next dollar is coming from. So, in order to do that, we propose, on the last BE IT RESOLVED: that the House of Assembly endorse the government's position that seasonal workers not be treated any differently from others who access the program, to amend that particular resolution and put in: BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House of Assembly call upon the federal government to ensure that there be no increase in the qualifying period or reduction in the duration period for benefits. Those are the two crucial areas with regards to unemployment insurance in the Province today.

People now, with the twelve weeks, they are being laid off and when they are laid off, do not have enough weeks because of the duration period you can draw, they can't draw UI long enough in order to bring them back to the time they are called back to work. Say for instance, if a river warden or someone in forestry is laid off in November month and they are supposed to go to work in April, they may have to wait, and that is back on the provincial government. That goes back on the provincial government because they have to go on social services. The demands that will be put on the Department of Social Services provincially, because of the changes, any changes to the UI in this Province, Mr. Speaker, will be drastic, so I say to members opposite, especially Cabinet ministers, they are going to have to make some crucial decisions over the next little while with regards to the budgetary process in this Province next spring, then they better take heed, they better take heed to some of the things that are coming down the tube by the federal government, not only as it pertains to UI, the education program, pertains to health care and everything else so, Mr. Speaker, I present this amendment to members opposite and to the House for your perusal and possibly your approval and hopefully, Mr. Speaker, there is not a person in this House who would vote against such an amendment to such an important resolution that would help each and every Newfoundlander and Labradorian in this Province today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before the Chair recognizes the hon. member, the Chair will recess for a few moments to consider whether the resolution is in order.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I draw hon. member's attention to Beauchesne, Paragraph 567. "The object of an amendment may be either to modify a question in such a way as to increase its acceptability or to present to the House a different proposition as an alternative to the original question." It is the ruling of the Chair, therefore, that the amendment is in order.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to take away from the time of other members because this is a very important topic and members, like I said in my fifteen minute speech, pretty well every member in this House has been approached at one time or another, especially over the last little while concerning this particular problem. I would be only repetitious in what I would be saying if I spoke for another fifteen minutes so I would like to just say to hon. members that at the end of the day when they rise to get a chance to vote on this particular amendment, I think it would be sending a real message from the House, that was initiated by my colleague for Eagle River, on this particular resolution and, like I say, put some meat on this particular resolution, let us get it passed, and get it to Ottawa so they can see we mean business down here. Coming from all members of the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, would show that we mean business on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

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

We have had an amendment put forward and that may attract further speakers to want to participate in this this afternoon. I just want to make a few points with respect to the whole concept of unemployment insurance, and how we in Newfoundland have to begin to look at it in probably a different way than we have in the past.

I think most Newfoundlanders would readily agree that they are no longer satisfied with the concept of wanting to have a cheque come to them ever other week in the mail for simply the sake of getting the cheque. I think that concept of a cheque coming to us on a regular basis is based on the fact that we have traditionally in this Province lived on seasonal employment. Now, within seasonal employment, and I have said this before on a number of occasions, there are problems even with seasonal employment in Newfoundland. You have the contractor who hires carpenters and his labourers and those people make a reasonable or decent wage over that fifteen weeks, eighteen weeks, twenty weeks, or whatever it is that they may accumulate during the work period. They themselves through no fault of their own, through lack of work, find themselves on UI, and that is a concept that we have to maintain and something we have to realize will be a part of this Province for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, we also have an inequity on the other side. We also have people in this Province who, through the mere nature of the kind of work that they do, are able to accumulate large amounts of income in short periods of time. I suppose this past season the crab fishery might be a good example of where crews did very well in a very short period of time. Historically we've seen in the fishing industry there have been cases where there have been people who have made, over a twelve- to thirteen-week period, or a fifteen-week period, $70,000, $80,000, $90,000, $100,000 a year in income, and then have the privilege of being able to access additional income for the remaining forty weeks, or thirty-odd weeks, whatever it would be, in UI.

I think what we have to do, if we are going to try to find a way to stabilize unemployment insurance, not only in Canada but in our Province, I think we have to find a new way of looking at how unemployment insurance is paid. I don't believe the committee that was set up by Minister Axworthy that toured Atlantic Canada, and Newfoundland in particular, took enough time to really analyze what new approaches could be taken in a province like ours with respect to UI. I took the time to write Minister Axworthy last year this time to explain to him that I felt that if they were to spend more time in rural Newfoundland they might have a better idea of the concept of what UI means to those who live in rural Newfoundland, and how much it is a part of the maintenance and survival of their very communities.

One of the things that I've been expounding or professing is the fact that, one, we have to look at the idea and concept of those who are in need, by all means they have to receive. Those who are out of work through no fault of their own, be it factories closing, or businesses closing. That is there as an insurance policy for them. Seasonal workers are an area that we are going to have to look at in the future in a different light. I think what we have to do is to look at a process whereby there is a minimum and maximum.

If a person's income were to reach X number of dollars during a period of time then maybe they are welcome to and should receive maximum benefits. Should a person in a short period of time have the advantage of earning $40,000, or let's take a magic number of $50,000 - for discussion purposes and no more - that those people, or those in that category, should probably be entitled to a very small percentage of what would be normal UI, or indeed none at all. What it comes down to is that they themselves know that they are going to have an opportunity to make large amounts of money in a short period of time. With that in mind they then have to realize that they too have to balance or spread their income out over a period of time, or over a given year.

Those are the kinds of abuses I think that Newfoundlanders have had to carry in terms of making their own arguments for UI, not only within the Province but indeed across Canada. Those are some of the, I guess, pitfalls that the federal government finds itself having to look upon.

If we don't set parameters by which there are minimums and maximums in terms of what can be claimed against the incomes that are made in short periods of time, I think all of us will agree that the UI fund as we know it can't survive and it won't go on much longer. I think we are in a fortunate position in Canada right now that the amount of money in the program is in excess of what is being paid out annually, and I suppose that in itself is a minor miracle. But also the fact that there has been a significant amount of money in that fund that is now being used to retrain or to allow people with minimum training standards to upgrade their standards, and hopefully be able to find employment that will carry them over a substantial part of the year rather than just in short periods.

In making changes to UI, one of the things we always have to be afraid of is that somewhere in Ottawa someone sits in a high-rise tower with a pen and paper, willing to make changes upon people or regions of Canada that they have never seen. They do not understand that if you are living on the Northern Peninsula or the Labrador Coast, that by this time of year there will be no more nets go in the water and there is very little else to do because the ice moves in and the season has ended.

In a lot of cases we have a short construction season when it comes to the housing industry or the home-building trades which would normally start, probably, in Ontario, moving into its peak around Easter time, barely gets started here in June, so we have very short construction seasons, which is again a little different than in other provinces.

So we have to ourselves be very cautious and careful of what the mandarins in Ottawa may send down to impose upon us. In a lot of cases programs are being recommended that, at the end of the day, will see, or potentially see, a greater out-migration from our Province, but more than that a greater degree of people leaving the smaller communities for the larger centres where at the end of the day they will probably do nothing more than eke out a meagre existence and in many cases find themselves having to rely upon social services at the end of the day in order to make ends meet.

I think what we have to also be careful of is that when we are looking at making changes, and although because of the degree and the need in our Province it is easy for us to want to scratch and claw for the maximum amounts that we can get, and I think we ourselves in this House, and indeed the people who have an opportunity to make influence upon the federal government, those of us across the Province who have an opportunity to influence those who will make the decisions -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WALSH: I have not decided yet. I have not seen it, actually; I have only heard it being read in reference to whether or not I support the amendment. I would appreciate seeing a copy of the amendment which I have not seen as of yet.

What we have to do, we ourselves have to be cautious in that we have to be reasonable in what it is that we are looking to do, and I think by setting parameters in terms of minimums and maximums, by deciding what the high end of an individual's income will be beyond which they cannot collect UI, I think those are the kinds of things that we have to look at, and they themselves may be somewhat revolutionary or confrontational, but again I believe that we have to once and for all say that we cannot continue a practice that allows anyone to earn $30,000 or $40,000 or $50,000 or, as I said earlier, pick a number of $50,000 a year plus and still be entitled to receiving UI for the remaining twenty weeks or thirty weeks of the year. Those are the kinds of things, I think, that will bankrupt the system that currently exists, and at the end of the day UI premiums may not be something that is there that will be available to those who really need it.

There is no doubt that changes are coming. There is no doubt about that.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are not necessary.

MR. WALSH: They are coming, and I think what you will find is that when a fund that you are asking a business community to support to a maximum degree, when you are expecting the same from the employees themselves, we will face a point in time where what is coming out is going to be far greater than what is going in, and at that point in time we will cross over the magic threshold and it will go bankrupt.

So when we look at the changes that are coming, I think we have to be reasonable in our approach, and I think the reasonable approach to take is to set parameters. There are people throughout Canada, and there are people in this Province, by the mere nature of the employment that they have on a seasonal basis, who will always be in need. There will always be those who will not fall and make enough income or not find a job that will carry them through a full year in order to support themselves, their families or their dependents but at the same time, there are people who work for very short periods of time and have the opportunity of maximizing their income and at the end of a short period of time working, make in excess of $40,000 - $50,000 a year. Those are the people that we are going to have to set the minimum draw on so that those who need it most will receive the most.

Mr. Speaker, I have not received a copy of the amendment so it is difficult for me to comment one way or another. I will have to leave that to the speakers who will follow me, in terms of what their feelings are towards the amendment that was put forward. I have heard the words but I have not retained exactly what was said so I think it would be unfair for me to comment.

Mr. Speaker, I will say to you though that I support the proposal put forward by the Member for Eagle River and feel comfortable and confident in the remarks that he made. I am sure that before the afternoon ends we will have an opportunity to hear from some others. With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, I am going to give some other individuals an opportunity to speak on the issue. Mr. Speaker, if my memory serves me correct, from what I have heard from the comments that were made by the Member for Humber Valley and again, I have not seen a copy of the amendment but from what I heard the hon. member say and from what my memory tells me, I believe that I personally could be comfortable with the amendment that was put forward and that I would have no trouble at all in supporting the amendment if it is as I have heard. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased today to have the opportunity to stand and say a few words on the Private Members' Resolution put forward by the hon. Member for Eagle River. As the member touched on in his opening remarks, he comes from a district that depends very much on seasonal employment which is similar to many districts in our Province and definitely similar to the District of St. Mary's - The Capes, Mr. Speaker. That is why I am pleased today to stand and say a few words on this very important resolution put forward by the Member for Eagle River.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a tradition in the Newfoundland and Labrador society for the past number of years to be dealing in what we call a seasonal employment nature. Mr. Speaker, we have a fishing industry here that is now undergoing some major problems that has been, most of the time, of a seasonal nature. Our forestry industry, Mr. Speaker, here in the Province has been mostly on a seasonal nature. Our construction industry, Mr. Speaker, we look around in many places here where you are dealing with Concrete Products or you are dealing with any other part of construction you have to wait sometimes well up into mid-June. The construction season is also very short and seasonal in nature. When you talk about construction, our roads and our highway construction, Mr. Speaker, basically any type of construction here in the Province is mostly done on a seasonal nature, especially, when it is in the outdoors.

Most important of all, Mr. Speaker, over the past number of years we have seen a major rise in the tourism industry in this Province. The fact that hundreds of millions of dollars are now pouring into our Province, Mr. Speaker, new dollars coming from outside in a lot of cases - outside the Province and indeed outside the country - that these new dollars in our tourism industry that are coming into our Province, once again, we are faced with the problem, in most cases, of dealing with them on a seasonal nature.

Mr. Speaker, our winter tourism product is starting to come around which will give the opportunity for some parts of our Province to partake in a year round tourism operation such as the Corner Brook area with Marble Mountain and the White Hills and some other - up on the Labrador. There are several parts of our Province which will have the opportunity to partake in the year round tourism operation but most of the Province will be dealing with a short-term, possibly three, four, or five month maximum tourism operation, from maybe the 24th of May weekend up until the Thanksgiving weekend, or whatever the case may be. Therefore the fact that the Member for Eagle River brings forward a resolution that has to deal with seasonal workers in this Province, I believe, is very important and indeed a resolution that we should all, at least, have the opportunity to stand up and say a few words on.

Mr. Speaker, I also have to agree with the Member for Humber Valley who put forward the resolution that would see that there be no increase in the number of insurable weeks that a person would need to quality for UI insurance, and also to see that there be no decrease in the time that a person could draw benefits. That is certainly a concern that I have in my district. Even this past year or so I have been dealing with some river guardians in my district who were laid off shortly after Labour Day 1994. Their UI benefits had completely run out by the time May came around and they were not rehired until the latter part of June. This caused some major problems for these people because there was almost two months really on both ends of the stick where they ended up with no income due to the nature of the UI system.

Mr. Speaker, the concern that the Member for Humber Valley brings out when he puts forward his amendment that has to deal with the decrease in the amount of time somebody can draw benefits is certainly of a concern to the people in my district, so I believe I can support the Member for Eagle River's resolution, along with the amendment put forward by the Member for Humber Valley. I believe that anybody who deals with a district here in rural Newfoundland can understand definitely where the amendment came from and where the resolution came from.

I do not think there should be any problem here in the House in supporting both pieces and forwarding the concerns to the people in Ottawa who will be making the decisions based on the UI changes that are forthcoming, bringing forward the concerns of the people of the Province, and to make sure that the changes do not adversely affect rural Newfoundland and definitely the people who have decided to live there.

Along with that, Mr. Speaker, we have several concerns and one has to do, I believe, with the surplus that is now in the UI fund. I have been told over the last couple of days that there is over a $2 billion surplus in the UI fund for the last fiscal year, at the same time that government is planning on making some major changes that will effect the seasonal workers in general, and indeed all workers who depend upon, at some time, the UI system. The fact that we have over a $2 billion surplus and the fact that over the next two years it is being said that there could be as much as a $5 billion surplus in the UI fund, then I think that government should start looking at some ways of creating some incentives to employers and employees, and to put some dollars back into the pockets of the employers by reducing some of the rates that the employer has to pay to the UI fund, and along with the employer, some of the rates that are coming out of the employees, Mr. Speaker.

This $5 billion surplus could be put back into incentives to boost investment in our Province and to make employers have at least some type of safeguard, and definitely some way of saving a few dollars so that they can put it back into creating employment and the necessary jobs that are needed in this Province. When we talk about a surplus in government, it is kind of a strange thing to be even talking about a surplus of over $2 billion, and the fact that at the same time government is trying to really cut the legs from out under the UI system. I believe, once again, that government should look at some type of dollars back into the employer's pockets so that they can create some incentives to work.

Mr. Speaker, I also have some concern about the training, and the dollars that are being used now in the UI fund, and put in place for training. I, 100 per cent support any type of training that will create jobs, that will create new jobs in our Province, and the different industries that are in our Province, but I do have some problems with the hundreds of millions of dollars being used on training, and people being forced to train to hang onto their social benefits. I believe that is totally wrong and I believe anybody who is fifty years of age and being forced to train, that it is not fair. Anyone who is young and has an opportunity to move, to travel around the Province or around the country, sure, if the training opportunities are there for them I think that they should be able to avail of them, but the problem is, with a lot of training, the people who need the training the most have not been able to avail of it.

I had a call just last week, Mr. Speaker, from a constituent of mine who was trying to get into Cabot College here in town and found out that he was something like 111th on a waiting list. Mr. Speaker, you are looking at possibly four years to wait before he could partake of some kind of training and when he went in to see the councillor to see if he could partake in the training, he was asked three questions: Number 1, was he on Tags? Number 2, was he on any type of UI and Number 3, was he on social services? So I believe that, that is definitely the wrong incentive to be sending out to the young people in the Province, is definitely the wrong incentive to be sending out to the industries that are in our Province trying to create work, that in order for somebody to partake of government training, they have to be on some type of program such as TAGS, UI or social assistance.

Even the fact, Mr. Speaker, that they are offering training to the people who are on TAGS and on UI and on social assistance, I think they are leaving a lot of people out in the cold. There are a lot of people in our Province who would like to have the opportunity to work in the different industries, not only in our Province but throughout the country and in the world, who do not have the opportunity to partake in training due to the fact that they are not availing now of some of these social programs that are in place.

Then we have, Mr. Speaker, many of the people, as you can see I am sure, and that many members can see, that there are a lot of people in our districts who do not have the opportunity now, lately, to avail of UI. We have several people in my district who, down through the years worked in the fishing industry and have had the opportunity to be part of the NCARP and TAGS programs, but there are a lot of people who were indirectly involved in the fishing industry, who worked in the stores, in the restaurants; those people who worked in the trucking industry, who trucked the fish and so on, several jobs were created in our community as a result of having a fish plant or a fishing enterprise in your community, and a lot of these people, for some reason or other have been left out in the cold by the TAGS program and the NCARP program before that, and these people now do not even have UI to fall back on, therefore we have a major problem in our communities in relation to people who have no opportunity to find work and definitely no opportunity to take advantage of the UI program.

I would also be very pleased if the federal government in their wisdom would come forward with some of this surplus dollars that they have in the UI fund to put into creating some type of work and if it is the case of emergency funding, Mr. Speaker, so be it. We do not have much choice in many communities in our districts now, but to look at some type of work. But there is a fair amount of dollars in the fund, surplus dollars, that could be put into use in our communities to create some needed employment but also to put in some proper infrastructure in our communities and I believe that these dollars that are surplus now in the fund, could be used for this.

I also think that there are reforms needed with the UI programs. There are problems with somebody who earns immense -

I ask the Chair's protection from members on my own side, Mr. Speaker.

There are reforms that could be carried out to the UI system that I am sure would benefit not only this Province, Mr. Speaker, but indeed the whole country. I mean, you have situations where somebody is making $75,000, $80,000, $90,000 a year in a short time, in a matter of three and four months sometimes, and then they have the opportunity to draw UI benefits for all winter long, while there are people in our Province who do not have the opportunity to make as much as $12,000 a year and we have people who are making $80,000, $90,000 in five or six months and then drawing UI Benefits for the rest of the year. I think that's unfair and that is the kind of reform I think should be coming forward and that the people would avail of.

There are other reforms, Mr. Speaker, that are needed in the UI system such as opportunities for single mothers; people who are in different situations in our society who could avail of the UI system in somewhat different I believe, from what the ordinary Mary or Joe can avail, and I think that these are some of the things that the government should be looking at, not looking to attack the seasonal workers because the news that we hear coming from Ottawa, and the plans that the federal government is proposing to put in place would definitely, Mr. Speaker, be an outright attack on the seasonal workers of the Province, the people who are involved in the seasonal industries here, and I think that it would be unfair to these people, and definitely unfair to Newfoundland and Labrador, based on the seasonal history of employment that we have in this Province, to be coming out with plans that would definitely take the legs right out from under many of the people of this Province who, through no fault of their own, have had no other choice but to avail of seasonal employment.

I have several situations in my own district where construction workers leave my district to travel to other parts of the Province and work for seventeen and eighteen weeks of the year. Some told me over the past several months they were lucky last year, lucky this summer past, to have the opportunity to even get twelve weeks work, due to the fact there is not much construction going on in this Province, and I think there is no one to blame for that only the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Mr. Speaker, I say there are a fair number of people who have only the opportunity to have twelve or thirteen weeks, so I think the amendment put forward by the Member for Humber Valley is very important, and one that the Member for Eagle River, I hope, will consider with his colleagues that we put an amendment forward that would not increase the number of work weeks that are needed, especially during the present time we are going through here in Newfoundland. The fact that our fishing industry is down is creating major problems in our rural communities. The spin-off industries from the fishery and the many people who had the opportunity to work in those spin-off industries are struggling now to get the twelve weeks. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is looking over, and I am sure that he knows full well what I am talking about when I talk about the people now who are having the opportunity not even to avail of UI because they were not directly involved in the fishing industry, and I am sure that will come up later on.

I will also just touch on again, before I close off, the fact of the amount of time that a person can draw benefits, there is major talk now about increasing the waiting period on one end when a person makes a claim for UI, and cutting down the number of weeks that a person can draw, and I believe we have to be very considerate of that for the simple reason of our seasonal industries in this Province. I have several people in my district who do not get called back to work until late June some years, and their UI is over on the first or second week of May. I believe this causes major hardship for many families in my district, and I am sure for families throughout the Province.

I say that I support the Member for Eagle River in his resolution put forward today. I think it is a step in the right direction. I hope that the members opposite support the amendment put forward by the Member for Humber Valley so we can send a strong and clear message to the people in Ottawa that the changes to the UI program have to suit the people of the Province, and definitely suit the people who depend on seasonal employment in the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. CRANE: Go back and look for your pony, Jack.

MR. RAMSAY: I don't know if there is a Newfoundland Pony big enough to carry me.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to speak on the hon. member's resolution.

The unemployment insurance account, of course, is something that is near and dear to us here in Newfoundland, more out of necessity, I suppose, than being the way that we would like it to be. The Province has had economic difficulty from time immemorial. It is the kind of thing where one wonders, I suppose, if we will ever get to a point... We are very hopeful, those of us who have a number of years left in public service and have, of course, the future for us and our children, we hope that Newfoundland will be a more prosperous place, and we also hope that Newfoundland and Labrador will probably set an example for the rest of the country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The level of private conversations is so high I cannot hear the hon. the Member for LaPoile.

AN HON. MEMBER: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RAMSAY: It is quite difficult, as you say, Mr. Speaker, to speak over the noise, but I am used to that. Maybe it has to do with not speaking in such a way that anyone cares to pay attention, but the issue itself is very important, and it is an important issue for the people of the Province, the unemployment insurance account, and how it affects seasonal workers. I have a lot of seasonal workers in my own electoral district who utilize unemployment insurance as a portion of their income. It is not a matter of choice; it is a matter of necessity.

If there were other jobs available I am sure the majority of these individuals would partake of the economy, working to earn a living in that period that they would normally draw unemployment insurance.

It is also interesting to note, of course, that the UI account now, with the changes that were made with the lowering of benefits at the point in time when the Mulroney Government was in, the increase in the number of qualifying weeks has brought us to a point where the fund is now much more secure. There was also the increase in premiums; the premium increase to businesses was marginal. Some large businesses paid a much higher price, of course, because of the payroll but, in effect, it was a better way of, I suppose, allowing the benefit to be paid by a larger company that could normally afford as a part of their overall payroll cost. As a percentage, it was very little in the difference.

Now what do you say about seasonal workers? Well, in general Newfoundland's economy has a lot of different sectors that utilize - the fishery is one, you have the tourism industry, you have Marine Atlantic and you have governments themselves. The Taxation Centre of the Federal Government is one case where a lot of people will work the qualifying weeks and then draw unemployment insurance for the balance of the year. It is a big thing for the local economy. These are the workers who need to utilize these monies as a part of their overall employment for the balance of the year in their total income benefits. So what we are looking at, then, is something that is not just a matter of whether unemployment insurance is there, it has become an income security provision for this Province. It is not just a plain insurance program, and therefore, we can't look at it in isolation as you do in other provinces of the country.

To go a little bit further than that, the Opposition has put down an amendment to the resolution which states that we further call upon the Federal Government to ensure that there will be no increase in the qualifying period nor a reduction in the duration period for benefits. Mr. Speaker, I think, from what I am told, that the government can support this. It certainly has been along the lines that government has spoken in the past. We feel that the people of this Province should be afforded - if there is no alternative to the unemployment insurance system, as it now exists, then there should certainly be a maintenance of the system as it currently stands. So without that alternative developed adequately or properly by the Federal Government, we should certainly maintain the system as it currently is. They should come up with other means by which to make sure that the unemployment insurance fund is maintained. There are creative means by which they can do this and there are also some things that have not yet been taken into account. We have cases of - Members of Parliament have brought up the issue of people receiving benefits who have high incomes. The benefits should be taxed fully as other income is and this is not the case at this stage.

But anyway, Mr. Speaker, I do want to put forward that we in the government would support the amendment, I would think. We feel it is an issue that certainly is of a pressing need for the people of the Province. I would certainly think that this will be of benefit to our hon. Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, who, in negotiating with Ottawa, will need the benefit of the support of this whole House in going forward and doing what can be done, in lieu of other benefits being provided, to maintain for the people of this Province the unemployment insurance benefits that are currently being provided as income security for the people of the area.

Now, we speak of improvements. Maybe there is a need for a task force of some kind with some federal MPs. Newfoundland, of course, is a user of the unemployment insurance system by virtue of our economic situation and maybe this is the kind of thing where we can offer assistance. When you have bureaucrats in Ottawa who probably have never had to draw unemployment insurance or seen its effect in the smaller communities of the provinces, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, they would do themselves well to get to know some of the people who utilize it on a regular basis and have very little in other opportunities to avail of in order to maintain their income. That has to be looked at on the social side and not just on the financial management side. We certainly have to make sure that we are not just cutting off parts of the body to keep it alive. We certainly have to have this kind of measure supported, and I look forward to the closing comments of the hon. the Member for Eagle River.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

While the minister is shouting across the House, I will define the shamrock. The scientific name is trifolium, tri referring to three and (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Sit down and don't be so foolish!

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, it shows his lack of knowledge of the Irish culture and religious and cultural beliefs.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: I just wanted to get that point in.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Eagle River, speaking to close the debate.

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

I am very appreciative of the members on this side, and on the other side today, for giving their concurrence to this particular issue. Obviously, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations laid out government's position on this issue and said quite clearly, that this is the way we see this working in the future, and obviously, that is the way he has been asking that things be done in the past.

In a couple of minutes I would like to dissolve some of the myths that are out there about the UI program, because there are a number of people out in the population today, all across this country and in this Province, too, who believe that the fishermen, for instance, are taking the UI fund for a ride, but, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that fishermen, for instance, are obliged by regulations under the UI Act that they cannot, that it will be illegal, they do not, they cannot, they will not, receive benefits for any longer than twenty-four weeks a year, from November 15 to May 15. In some parts of the Province - it is from May 15 to November 15, on the South Coast of the Province. But they are by law prohibited from drawing UI benefits for longer than twenty-four weeks a year.

That is the truth, but there are many people out there who believe that they work for the same old 10/42 and that is not right. The 10/42 has not been in place. It has never been in place for fishermen, and even now, the maximum that somebody can draw with twelve weeks of benefit, is thirty-six weeks if the unemployment rate is above 14 per cent. I want to make sure that people out there are fully aware of this particular circumstance, and to make sure they understand that there is no detrimental effect on this account by fishermen or indeed repeaters who are in this Province in the other industries, with the tourism industry or the forestry industry or the construction industry.

Mr. Speaker, I won't debate this any more, considering the concurrence -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DUMARESQUE: - that has been reached on this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having difficulty hearing the hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I am very pleased with the amendment that has been put forward. I just understood it was inherent in the "Be it resolved" that I had there that this was what we were talking about. Because you can't talk about making a case for seasonal workers and then agreeing that it is going to be twenty weeks to qualify for UI. Obviously, one would be directly contradictory of the other. So it was inherent in what I had proposed, but to make the clarification, like the hon. the Member for Humber Valley has, is perfectly acceptable. I know that he was the person over there who drew this up and wanted to make sure that it was put in. I have no problem accepting that amendment because it is exactly that particular focus that we want to put on it.

We aren't saying that the UI shouldn't be reformed. We aren't saying that there shouldn't be a better way of giving income security to our people. All we are saying at the end of the day is it is fundamentally wrong to look at those people who are trying their darnedest to eke a living from the fishing industry or the other resource-based industries, or the tourism service industry - for those who are doing their best but through no fault of their own they can't get any more weeks, it is wrong, fundamentally unfair, to say that they must get less of an income from the unemployment insurance program, and also to only be on the program for fewer weeks than those who are more fortunate than they are, to be able to get more work in a given year.

I believe that the Federal Government are always open to change and always open to seeing that things are done with the least amount of injury on anybody. I am confident that the federal minister will recognize what we are saying in this part of the country, that until there is a new program, until there is a new way of doing things, then please give us the benefit of having a program that has worked and that we are willing to try our best to make less onerous on the people who pay into the fund. Until we do, I ask them to bear with us and understand our unique circumstance, and give us the support we need to be able to make sure that our people don't have this extra worry, along with so many other things that are happening in our society today - have that extra worry about whether this vital income security program is going to be taken from the social safety net of this great country.

Thank you very much for the time and the support.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? We are voting on the amendment.

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion resolution, as amended, carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I assume the House does not want to sit for another ten minutes, so I will shortly move the adjournment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It would be a better speech than my hon. friend has made in a long time, I would say to him.

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will meet at 2:00 p.m. in the usual way, and the government will be asking the House to begin consideration of a number of financial bills. This is where we were on Tuesday, my friend from Grand Bank.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am prepared to do either you wish. The problem was, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: It's hard to keep up (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I agree it's hard to keep up to me. The hon. gentleman now sounds like my colleagues, not to mention my bank manager or my wife.


MR. ROBERTS: I can see it, Mr. Speaker, fifty-one copies of today's Hansard are going by brown envelope to Hogan's Pond tonight.

Mr. Speaker, we are prepared, if hon. gentlemen wish, to deal with the Tobacco Control Act, but earlier I had said we would deal with financial matters. I am prepared to do either. The reason we were going to call the Tobacco Control Act yesterday, when it looked as if we would be out at, say, 4:30, out of my bills, the Minister of Finance had a meeting he could not interrupt. So I would simply say to my friend from Grand Bank, here is his chance to determine the agenda for tomorrow. My friend, the Minister of Finance, is prepared to deal -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, let's deal with the finance bills; there are a substantial number of them. I believe the first one we start with is the Gasoline Tax Act, which is Order 8 on today's Paper, Sir.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am prepared to take them in the order on the Order Paper if that is acceptable, Orders 8, 9, and 10, in that order. Then, on Friday we propose, but I will confirm this tomorrow, to call the Regulatory Reform Bill for debate, to begin debate on that; that is Order No. 7 on today's Paper.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, a number of members have asked me if the House will adjourn for the Monday, November 13, which is a public holiday. The Remembrance Day holiday actually falls on the Saturday but the public holiday is on the Monday. It is my understanding and my proposal, subject only to higher authority, that when we adjourn on Friday, November 10 we will adjourn until the following Tuesday, November 14. If I can only have the continued cooperation of my friend for Grand Bank, and if he can only keep the Member for Burin - Placentia West on the straight and narrow....

AN HON. MEMBER: You know I never make promises I can't keep.

MR. ROBERTS: With that said, Mr. Speaker, I will move the House adjourn until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m. Thank you, Sir.

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