November 17, 1995          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLII  No. 57

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

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

Oral Questions

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions about the Budget for the Premier or the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. Neither of them is in his seat. I wonder if the Government House Leader can tell me if the Premier is going to be here this morning.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the Premier is at a conference at the University with respect to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon?

AN. HON. MEMBER: The news said 10:30.

MR. ROBERTS: My understanding is the Premier is at the meeting now, but my understanding may be incorrect. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board I understand will be here but, as we all know, the minister does tend to operate on Corner Brook time which is fifteen minutes behind St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I will ask one of my colleagues to check. I don't know where the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is. I understand he will be here this morning.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is the second day this week that I have had questions about the Budget, a subject that is very much in the minds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians because of the alarming signals coming from the government, the panic signals, and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has not been in his seat to answer questions. Can the Government House Leader tell us if the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is going to be here for Question Period this morning?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I just did say to the hon. lady, but I'm happy to repeat it, my understanding -

AN HON. MEMBER: Here he is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, may I introduce to the House of Assembly the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board?

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now that the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is in his seat, I would like to ask him about his government's approach to budgeting.

The government has been in office for seven budget years now, and it is clear to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that the government's approach to budgeting has been a dismal failure. Seven budget years and repeated mistakes; spring budgets that are incomplete and misleading; and late fall, pre-Christmas panic roll backs, cuts and taxes. A pattern has developed. I ask the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board: Why don't you try a revolutionary new approach? Why don't you leave well enough alone for this Budget year, for the four remaining months, and use the next four months to consult, plan - a revolutionary new concept, plan - and bring in a realistic budget next March for the next budget year?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Perhaps we plan to bring in a revolutionary budget plan as of the end of this month.

The government's record on budget reductions and financial controls has been exemplary. Since 1979, the government has reduced the fiscal demands in the Province substantially, it has streamlined services. I am proud of the record of this government and frankly, we intend to continue it. I expect that the Province will be very pleased with the direction that the government will take at mid-year and at the beginning of the new fiscal year. I think there will be some very important changes made that will be very beneficial to the financial future of the Province.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, how can good Budget decisions be made about critical areas of public policy, panic-fashion?

The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs admitted the other day that, as of a week or two ago, he had no inkling that the Cabinet was about to make drastic cuts in Municipal Operating Grants. Those cuts were obviously made rashly, there was no consultation with municipal leaders and the consequences are just becoming clear.

Now, I ask the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board: Is this any way to run a Province?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, get up and answer that, now.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't know where the hon. member gets the impression that there is any panic. What we are doing is, proceeding very methodically to examine all areas of government expenditure. What we said in a very straightforward fashion to the people of the Province, is, we have no interest in raising taxes because we think, by-and-large, we have reached the edge of where people find taxes acceptable.

Secondly, we don't believe there many alternatives except to look at our expenditure program; and, in doing that, we believe that a certain amount of restructuring will be necessary. Those decisions are being made in a very methodical fashion; all government programs are being examined and the hon. Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs I think - and I will say to compliment him - I heard him on CBC television last night, he did an excellent job and a very straightforward job explaining the difficulties he had; and the municipal leaders with whom he spoke and who were there, both of whom I know, were quite understanding, and by-and-large, I believe that municipalities are supportive, although they will find it difficult. But they know that the problem is one of the general lesson of economic strength in the country, the fact that previous governments have added incredibly to the deficit and the fiscal demands to service interest in this country and internationally. So we are left with no alternative but to try to make ends meet, but at the end of the day, I can say frankly that I think we will be a better government for it, it will be more streamlined and we will deliver services more effectively to the public.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board: Can the minister give any assurance or comfort to taxpayers in this Province? The taxpayers in Corner Brook who are paying a residential mil rate of 13, taxpayers throughout who are paying a provincial sales tax of 13 per cent, since the 12 per cent is on top of the GST, that their municipal taxes will not go up. Is the minister not being inconsistent saying that we have taxed people to the limit, yet he and his government are cutting municipal operating grants by 22 per cent? Isn't there necessarily going to be an increase in municipal taxes?

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

MR. DICKS: No, Mr. Speaker. The municipalities face the same difficulty that we do. What I have said is that as a Province I believe there is very little acceptance on the government side. Perhaps the Opposition is more in favour of it, but we do not like the idea of raising taxes. Maybe the Leader of the Opposition thinks that is an acceptable thing to do in this day and age but people I speak with, my constituents, her constituents in Corner Brook, and the people I meet around this Island do not want tax increases. So, what should we do? Should we increase taxes to pay more civil servants on a structural basis?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I believe I heard the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern say `cowards.' That is certainly unparliamentary and I ask the hon. member to withdraw it.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I apologize and I withdraw the remark.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In answer to the second part of her question I say frankly that there is no need for municipalities to raise taxes any more than it is for this government. What we all have to do is look at our fiscal requirements and if we are not going to meet them with the revenue at hand we can diminish services, we can look at the structure and the number of people we need, or that we think we need to deliver the services. Frankly, l think there is room both at the municipal and the provincial level for a more streamlined delivery of the services we have.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance says he does not like the provincial government raising taxes. Is that why they are making volunteer municipal councillors do the dirty work and raise taxes?

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

MR. DICKS: I do not know if the hon. member does not understand the nature of separate jurisdictions. The federal government has cut back on provincial programs. The federal government is not making us raise taxes. In looking at our overall spending program we feel it is necessary, and believe it is fair, to reduce the level of assistance we have been giving to municipalities. That has been cut substantially at our end and in a lot of cases it does not amount to more than 2 or 3 per cent of some municipal budgets in this Province. I think it behooves the municipalities to look closely at their expenditures and to streamline them.

What I hear from taxpayers all around this Province is that they do not want taxes raised, federally, municipally, or provincially. They want them reduced and they are prepared to look at less people working for government, both at the municipal, federal, and provincial level, in order to achieve that social good.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In Question Period the other day I questioned the Minister of Natural Resources with regard to Voisey's Bay and the timing of a tax reduction for the mineral industry versus the finding of that particular mineral find. The minister assured us there is nothing untoward there and that certain adjustments would be made in the tax regime because Voisey's Bay was rich beyond their dreams. I ask the minister, when are we going to get this dream adjustment? If we compare it to the previous tax level will this dream adjustment bring in less revenue than before, equal to the previous tax revenues or greater than what we could have had before?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, we've said it numerous times, I guess I can say it again. The same old question, yes, same old answer. We have said that we plan to make the appropriate adjustments in this session, we plan to do that. We are not going to be rushed into doing something until we are satisfied that we have thoroughly analyzed it and that what we are doing is right and appropriate for this Province. We will do it when it is right and appropriate, when we have analyzed it properly. That is when it will happen.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Again, Mr. Speaker, the minister refuses to be definitive, even to lay out the groundwork as to whether or not the money gotten will be equal to what we would have gotten before or even better, it could well be less obviously.

Mr. Speaker, in the paper yesterday a spokesman for Inco talked about his involvement with Voisey's Bay and how that would make Inco stronger and help drag Sudbury along and so on, so forth. I attended a luncheon at the mining conference where a gentleman from Inco spoke and he basically put down the Voisey's Bay thing and put it in the overall context of his world developments. I would ask the minister, who is running the show here? Is it the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador or is Inco, in its capacity as a minority shareholder in this development, really the tail that wags the dog?

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

DR. GIBBONS: There is no question about who runs the show, Mr. Speaker. This is our resource. It is a resource in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and we run this show and we are going to ensure that it is done in the best interest of the people of this Province.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Social Services. I am sure she is aware of the confidential nature of the information that her department has on file with regard to the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: This information is very confidential, financial information, psychological assessments and that type of thing. I wonder if the minister can tell the House and the people of this Province what safeguard she has put in place to protect this very confidential information? Can she tell us what safeguard she has put in place to protect the confidentially of this?

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

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We take every precaution that we can to ensure that the information that flows back and forth from head office to the district offices, regional offices, and the same way back and forth between the offices; however, there are incidents where a number - and I think I am aware of what the member is referring to. Any time that there is a mistake made in transferring information via fax there could be a mistake in punching in the numbers, and I am certainly aware of any concerns that the member might have.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I will not say that the minister is deliberately misleading the House, but would she want to reconsider what she just stated, that there were people punching in wrong numbers, and that type of thing is the only breech of confidentiality that has occurred? Can she confirm that, indeed, information has been sent to a construction company several times in the last several weeks - several times sent to a construction company - and officials in her department have been informed of it, and yet this information continues to arrive at this construction company rather than a social services office in Wabush?

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

MS YOUNG: Yes, Mr. Speaker, thank you.

I am aware of it. It came to my attention yesterday, and every precaution has now been taken to rectify that situation. It is very unfortunate, and when I became aware of it I put measures in place to deal with it.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the minister mentioned that she did every possible thing to correct this. Will she confirm that officials in her department published a booklet in June of this year with a fax number for the Department of Social Services office in Wabush, the incorrect number, that officials in her department were informed of this months ago and they did absolutely nothing about it. Because of budgetary restraints they refuse to reprint a page or correct the mistake in this booklet, and that is why this travesty of justice has occurred, and that is why this personal, confidential information has been released to people who should not have it, and that she is responsible for it because of the budgetary cuts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I said, the number has now been corrected and, of course, I would not be able to go through the directory and make sure that every number is correct. It was brought to my attention, Mr. Speaker, yesterday and it is certainly being dealt with.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Will the minister confirm - I will ask again - that officials in her department were informed of this mistake months ago? They were informed of it months ago and did absolutely nothing about correcting this mistake, and that is why, because of budgetary restraints -

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

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MS YOUNG: It was brought to my attention yesterday and it is being dealt with. It has nothing to do with budgetary cuts.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, it has come to my attention that the reason for not correcting the mistake was because of the cost of inserting an extra page rather than just sending out a telephone call to offices. Is that correct?

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

MS YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, that is utter nonsense.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are also for the Minister of Social Services. They concern the Vera Perlin Society. As the minister is fully aware, over the past number of weeks we've made representation on behalf of the Vera Perlin Society as it tries to find funding to access another centre. I would like to ask the minister, over the past couple of hours we have learned that after meetings with the Premier and meetings with the minister that two directors from her department informed the Vera Perlin Society that it will receive no funding. I ask the minister: Is this proper for a minister of the Crown to instruct her directors to pass on the bad news to this very important society?

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

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to respond to the question by saying that we have met with the Vera Perlin Society. I'm very pleased with the work that the Vera Perlin Society has done for the developmentally delayed people of this Province. However, at this time I have to confirm that we do not have the dollars to provide the funding to the Vera Perlin Society to commence work on another facility, a training centre as they have now.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, over the past number of weeks we have listened to ministers opposite talk about restraint, talk about fiscal problems that they have had. I would like to ask the minister: Doesn't she realize that sending these people home - because basically that is what is going to happen to these people at the end of December - and not allowing people who are on the waiting list to partake in training is going to cost this government much more dollars than what it has cost to put them in the centre for training?

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

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess the hon. member didn't hear the president of the Vera Perlin Society on the radio this morning. I listened to him with great interest and he said that the Vera Perlin Society will work on different, I guess, solutions to the problem. One of the solutions that they talked about was the shift system for the current members of the Vera Perlin Society. Unfortunately, they do have a waiting list, as do a lot of other organizations in this Province and, at this point in time, at a time when I have been asked to look at cuts to my budget, I regret that I am unable to supply the funds they need.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister, the Vera Perlin Society has no choice - when you are thrown over the wharf, you either swim or drown.

I say, Mr. Speaker, that you are going to throw these people out on the street, a cold, callous act by this minister to these people who need this training.

I ask the minister: Would she, once again, once again, try to find the funding that is needed to put these people in the proper training that they need to live normal lives in this Province?

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

MS YOUNG: I take exception to that, Mr. Speaker. We didn't throw anybody over the wharf - that is utterly ridiculous!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) thrown over the wharf, is him.

MS YOUNG: Yes, I agree with you.

Unfortunately, the Vera Perlin Society find themselves in a position that they are unable to provide the space to the people they serve, and I can certainly understand the dilemma they are faced with, but we also have a dilemma that we have to deal with. Even today, we are looking at ways that we can deal with all of the problems that we have out there around training for the developmentally disabled. We will do a review of all the dollars that we are putting into that area and hopefully, the right solutions will be found to deal with all of the people out there who require the services of our department. Again, I want to say, that we are very, very, appreciative of the service that the Vera Perlin Society have provided to the people they serve.

Thank you.

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations; then, I was planning to go to the Premier but he is not in his seat, either, Mr. Speaker, so I will go to the Government House Leader.

Could the minister confirm that hundreds of workers at the Hibernia site are working under permit, which means that they are union members while employed at the site, and once finished, they are not part of the union anymore, thus not eligible for financial benefits associated with being part of the union, even though they have contributed significantly to the union?

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the alternate minister, Mr. Speaker, I will take it under advisement -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Byrne primus reads the question, you will read the answer.

MR. AYLWARD: That's right. I mean, that was a detailed question. We will undertake to get the answer very quickly and get back to him this morning.

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

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

Does the minister find it acceptable that hundreds of permit workers, who contributed hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of dollars to the international union pension fund, which is controlled outside this Province, will not get their money back or receive benefits that their hard-earned money should have earned them?

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

MR. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I won't comment any further until we get the details so that we can respond with the facts to deal with his question and I undertake to do that. We will do it as quickly as we can and get back to the House of Assembly to provide the information.

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training and I want to emphasize to the minister, it is a question, not a suggestion, so he doesn't put a twist on it as he did the last time I stood in my place.

I want to ask the minister: The teaching profession is rampant with rumour that the government is seriously considering - we call it an early retirement program for teachers - those with a minimum of twenty-five years service would be offered a package to retire so that would give the minister some flexibility to -


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Members can laugh all they like but, I mean, it is a matter that is taken very seriously by the teachers of the Province.

MR. TOBIN: It is not like `Roger' with his teacher pension (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He doesn't care anymore; but, Mr. Speaker, is the minister considering this to give his department flexibility to implement his teacher certification program? Because, unless they get new blood in the profession, I can't understand how the minister is really going to implement the new teacher certification program.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am sad it is not a suggestion.

The hon. member will know that the pension funds in this Province are in a terrible mess today, and whoever would even dream that government is considering pensioning teachers after twenty-five years, I would have to tell the hon. member, they are dreaming in Technicolor. There is absolutely no basis for it whatsoever.

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

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

It seems as if there is a lot of dreaming on the other side, I say to the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is a lot of dreaming over there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but they are good dreams, I say to the minister; they are not the nightmares the minister is going through now on a daily basis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister this: Right now there is a provision for teachers to take a `thirty and out' option. Is government considering doing away with that `thirty and out' clause for the teaching profession, in light of budgetary problems? Or is the minister hoping to address this in the upcoming negotiations with the NLTA?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, that question would probably be better answered by the Minister of Finance, but I am not aware of any deliberate attempt by government to abolish `thirty and out' or not to abolish it, but I would suggest, and I think the President of Treasury Board could correct me if I am wrong, that in the upcoming negotiations everything will be on the table, and after the negotiating period - but I can tell the hon. member, I can reassert, that, as the hon. member knows, our pension funds are in a terrible mess, and I think it is more important to deal with it when you are forty-five or fifty years old than to deal with it when you are seventy years old and then the thing goes `busted'. That would not be a good thing to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for - the hon. the Leader of the Opposition - the hon. the Opposition House Leader, on a supplementary.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I will get it right after awhile.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much for your vote of confidence.

It seems the minister, really, has indirectly answered my question. It seems to me that the `thirty and out' option for teachers in this Province is certainly on the blocks, I say to the minister. but I want to ask a final supplementary of the minister, something I asked a few weeks ago about an alleged situation with the Central Regional College, at the time involving two people who were supposedly using college vehicles for private use. The minister, at that time, said it was under investigation. Can the minister report to the House whether there has been a conclusion to the investigation, and what the results are?

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

MR. DECKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we received an anonymous letter telling us that two people working at the college had used a government vehicle in an improper manner. We did follow up with an investigation, and in the case of one person there was absolutely no basis whatsoever. The person did leave the Province, but he was accused of taking his son or daughter to university. There was no truth to it whatsoever; his son or daughter did not attend, but went to the university, I think, two or three weeks before that event.

In the case of the other person, it seems that indeed the person did attend some functions on behalf of the college and take his son or daughter to the university at the time. We did advise the person in charge, the person who did this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has asked me a question. If they want to hear the answer I will answer. If they don't, (inaudible) outside the House.

In the case of the other person, it was probably poor judgement as opposed to deliberately doing anything improper. He indeed did attend some functions on the Mainland, and went in a government vehicle, which was quite proper to do - it didn't cost any more by doing it that way; it probably cost less - but it is one of these things which did not look proper, so I think it was a case of poor judgement as opposed to doing anything which was illegal or maliciously wrong. The person has since apologized for his action, and assured that it won't happen again.

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

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

The minister was a little forthcoming in his answer, but let me ask him this: The person who used bad judgement, poor judgement, two things: Was it the president or the director, or the principal or the director? And will the person who used the vehicle for private use be reimbursing the college?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I didn't say the vehicle was used for private use. I don't think the hon. member heard me say that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes you did.

MR. DECKER: I said - well, if I said that I will withdraw it, it was wrong. It was not used for private use. The person I am talking about is the principal of the college for Central Newfoundland. He attended some functions on the mainland which were quite legitimate functions in his job as principal of that college. During that visit, he took his son along with him to attend the university. I just forget the details.

If he had not taken his son along, he still would have made the visit, still would have done the same thing. So I suppose there is nothing illegal or wrong about that. However, some people were offended by this and read some motives into it, of which, certainly on the surface of it, we cannot substantiate these accusations. But it was a case of poor judgement as opposed to doing anything deliberate. If I said that he used it for personal use, I withdraw that. I didn't intend to say that. I think Hansard will show that I did not say that, Mr. Speaker. He made a legitimate business trip on behalf of the college and took his son along at the same time.


MR. DECKER: If the hon. member says that is not so, and has some proof of that, put it on the table and I will deal with it. But if the hon. member is making an accusation he had better be prepared to substantiate it.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Health Care Corporation of St. John's experienced a budget shortfall of $1.4 million in the first quarter. With the second quarter well beyond its point by a month-and-a-half, I ask the minister if this shortfall has been recovered, and could he now tell us the fiscal position of the Health Care Corporation after the semi-annual update?

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

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

The Health Care Corporation, like any other hospital board, is given a yearly budget. The fact that they may have had a shortfall of $1.4 million the first quarter does not indicate that that will follow through the year and that it has to be that situation at the end of the year. Any difficulties that any health hospital board, including the Health Care Corporation, have in budgets, they work it out through the year. They are addressing any budgetary problems they might have. They have not come to me and said: We need more money. They have said: We are dealing with any problems we have in a responsible way.

I am confident that the Health Care Corporation will come within budget, if at all possible. If not, there will be a more than adequate explanation given by them, and certainly by us, to the people of the Province on that account.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has elapsed.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, more or less by way of a point of clarification and let me be very clear in the beginning, not to challenge Your Honour's ruling a few moments ago in relation to my friend from St. John's East Extern. Beauchesne is very clear that no words are deemed to be unparliamentary in every sense of the word nor are they deemed to be not parliamentary in every sense. Every circumstance is different, it depends on the timing, the circumstances, the tenure of the House at the time, how it is said, whom it is said by and to whom it is said. So there are no hard and fast rules.

Beauchesne is very clear, Section 486, page 143 of the sixth edition, it reads here; "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." I am sure Your Honour would want to say that the reverse is also true. Words that are deemed to be parliamentary some times may well be judged by Your Honour to be unparliamentary at other times. I am not questioning the fact that the ultimate authority is Your Honour and that you may judge at one time that a word is parliamentary and rule it in order and another time you may rule it to be unparliamentary and out of order. I just want to, for the record, Mr. Speaker, so that we know where we sit on this refer to Beauchesne, Section 489, it says: Since 1958, it has been ruled unparliamentary to use certain words. In Section 490, it says: Since 1958, it has been ruled parliamentary to use certain words.

In the list of words that have been ruled as parliamentary `coward' appears here in debates of April 1, 1976, pages 12386, 12409 and 12410. So clearly the word, `coward' is listed in the words that have been ruled to be parliamentary. Now I don't question the fact that there may well be circumstances where Your Honour may rule that word or any word to be out of order, whereas in general terms, Your Honour may choose to rule it as being in order. I simply want to say that the practice in this House - we have accepted many, many occasions Your Honour, the word coward being thrown back and forth across the room. I don't want to set a precedent by your ruling that would in time have every word that we use in this House because we could carry this to the extreme, that every word that we use in this House from time to time might be ruled unparliamentary and there may be precedents set by Your Honours ruling that we would be bound with in the future. The rules of this House are, as Your Honour knows well, that our own precedent governs our Standing Orders - precedent in this House and subject secondary to that of course, Beauchesne and the rules and precedence used in parliament in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker.

So I simply want to say, Mr. Speaker, that we have to be very clear. The context in which a word is said, in this case the word, `coward'. Now if my friend was referring to, for example, the Minister of Social Services having her directors advise the Vera Perlin Society that funding was not available. My minister might say, `that is a cowardly thing to do.' Hardly, Mr. Speaker, a terrible slur.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his point.

MR. WINDSOR: I am just about finished, Your Honour.

However, if an hon. member had returned for more and my friend had said, `you are a coward because you did not go over the wall to defend your country.' Now that would be a very serious offense and no doubt the member would have the right to take offense to it. So what I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that the context is important.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member -

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the pompous prattle we have just heard.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the rules are very clear, it is for Your Honour to decide whether an expression is unparliamentary or not. The rule is very clear. What we had was pompous prattle from the hon. gentleman from Mount Pearl lecturing Your Honour, which I suggest with respect, is offensive. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, I suggest with respect -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to a Point of Order.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sit down, Neil.

MR. ROBERTS: I suggest, Mr. Speaker - you don't know any ruling, sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair would first of all like to rule on the Point of Order raised by the hon. member. Let me say that there are occasions when certain words are acceptable and when they are unacceptable. The hon. member when speaking was responding to what the hon. Minister of Finance was saying and clearly he said `coward.' I understand that to be referring to the hon. Minister of Finance and certainly it is unparliamentary to call anybody in this House a coward.

MR. WINDSOR: I thank you for your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and I refer to Beauchesne again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I also want to inform the hon. members that in our own Standing Orders, before you get to the point of order, Standing Order 31 says that the Speaker's rulings relating to oral questions are not debatable or subject to appeal.

MR. WINDSOR: Is it proper to ask a member to shut up? May I ask Your Honour that question?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I did not hear any hon. member say it.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. WINDSOR: This is a new point of order, and let me simply say that I think I made it clear in my submission that Your Honour is the final arbitrator and I in no way would challenge, or wanted to challenge Your Honour's right, an absolute right at any time to interpret any word as he might see fit. I would refer however to Page 147 of Beauchesne and the list of words that have been deemed unparliamentary. Clearly the word `pompous' is listed as being unparliamentary and I ask Your Honour to direct the buffoon over there to withdraw that immediately?

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

MR. ROBERTS: If I used an unparliamentary phrase, of course, I withdraw it without hesitation. It is also unparliamentary to call the hon. gentleman a bag of wind, and I did not use that phrase either, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the whole point of this is that the hon. member was challenging your ruling by the subterfuge of raising a point of order which is specious and I resent that Sir. It is an abuse of the privileges of every member of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I understand that the hon. member has withdrawn the statements he made. Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given. Oh, I am sorry; we are at Orders of the Day.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: John Carter, I say to my friend for Burin - Placentia West once called an hon. member a quagga, q-u-a-g-g-a. I commend it to my hon. friend to find out what it is. I would never call my hon. friend a quagga. It is a word found in the dictionary.

Your Honour, before we get into the orders may I take a moment to discuss the business of the House because members will be distressed to know that I will not be here at noon. I have to go at 11:00 o'clock because I have an encounter with the dentist. The Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Services sent me a notice and I think it is appropriate to inform the House that the committee wish to use the power conferred on them by Standing Order 54.2 sub (1) and that is they wish to consider the Credit Union bill which was given second reading here in the House the other day, so that process will take place. I believe several members wish to go into details of the bill and also, I believe, several members perhaps wish to ask witnesses to come forward, so that will be dealt with in the appropriate way.

Secondly, may I advise the House that given what I understand to be the desire of every member on the other side to speak at length on the Electoral Boundaries bill and given our desire to accommodate them, we will suggest that the House be prepared to sit late on Monday and Tuesday nights.

MR. TOBIN: We will sit a lot of nights.

MR. ROBERTS: It may well be. What the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West is doing is confirming the wisdom of the decision of those of us on this side to provide him with whatever time he is entitled to under the rules to give us his comments on that bill, and we shall gladly do that. What I am doing is advising members of the fact that we shall be asking the House to sit through the 5:00 o'clock until not later than 10:00 Monday night and Tuesday night to deal with the bill. We want to give members the chance to express their thoughts.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman - I cannot call him pompous so I won't - the hon. gentleman who is not pompous is once again interrupting rudely and, you know -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Neil, don't get me into a discussion with you. Getting into a discussion doesn't help anything.

Now Your Honour, with that said let us go on to the -

MR. WINDSOR: Afraid to debate it openly, aren't you? (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend says I'm afraid to debate it openly. I would ask him, when he was Minister of Finance, why he didn't come to this House and ask the House of Assembly to approve the $24 million they had lashed out on Sprung? He was party -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has called Orders of the Day. We are now getting into a debate. I ask the hon. member to get to the orders.

MR. ROBERTS: I regret, Mr. Speaker, that I allowed the gentleman for Mount Pearl to lead me astray.

Your Honour, would we please call Motion No. 5, which is a first reading, and then that bill is ready for distribution. I understand it will be here before the House rises. That done, could we go into Committee, Sir, and we will deal with the resumed debate on Motion No. 2. If we finish that then we will go on to Motion Nos. 1 and 4 in that order, but I'm not presuming we will get beyond Motion No. 2. That is a matter for the Committee and for the House to decide.

Your Honour, would you first please call Motion No. 5?

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act Respecting The Investigation of Fatalities," carried. (Bill No. 36)

On motion, Bill No. 36 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (Penney): Order, please!

Motion No. 2.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to say a few words on Bill No. 14, An Act To Amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957.

Bill No. 14 basically gives the towns, the municipalities or the community councils within the Province the right to borrow funds to run their communities. Basically since this government was elected in 1989 it has been down loading on the municipalities in this Province, and it is basically forcing these towns to borrow and to go further in debt. The towns too, now they are in a position where they find it very difficult to borrow any more money and so they are looking at, now, cutting services such as street lights within the municipalities and the towns. Some of the municipalities in this Province today are basically turning off their street lights. Garbage collection, I would say, is the next one to be hit. Some towns and cities are collecting garbage, household refuse, two times a week. That probably will be cut back to once a week, and possibly once every two weeks.

Snow clearing in the Province, in the municipalities around this Province, in the towns, last year the funding for the road maintenance and the snow clearing in the Province was cut. The Department of Works, Services and Transportation basically told the communities that it would not be responsible for snow clearing and paying for snow clearing in the Province and the municipalities, within the towns and community councils, and it cut funding to the municipalities. So the municipalities are finding it very hard.

Basically, this government has been down loading, as I said, since it was elected in 1989. Last year the government talked about a balanced budget and it basically balanced the Budget, or the so-called balanced Budget, on the backs of the health care in this Province. This year it is looking at the municipalities for some help in balancing its Budget. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board was asked a question this morning with respect to the municipalities. He said they are not raising taxes in the Province, that there are three different levels of government in this Province, the municipal, provincial and federal, and the municipal governments themselves are raising the taxes, but in actual fact it is a direct result of the down loading and the cutbacks that this government is forcing upon the municipalities in this Province.

The towns in this Province that have water and sewer over the past number of years has seen their debt retirement to the Province doubled. They have seen their municipal grants cut by as much as 50 per cent and 60 per cent, so in actual fact they are upwards of 100 per cent since this government was elected in '89.

This government has also, since '89, this past year, looked at education reform, and is looking at saving dollars within the education reform. They had the referendum on that, wasted basically $2 million. The bill has gone through the House, or the resolution has gone through this House, to be sent to Ottawa. I remember the Premier saying on a number of occasions that that would go through the House of Commons before this Christmas, and it is not likely to go through the House of Commons this spring, and maybe not the winter, so that is another $2 million that this government could have had to help balance their budget - $2 million of the $4 million they are looking for from the municipalities.

The municipal operating grants have been restructured since this government has come in, which has a negative impact on a lot of the towns, and somewhat a positive effect on a few of the smaller municipalities - I will give them that - but this year, with the 22 per cent cut that this government is putting on the towns within this Province, it is a very hard, a very harsh, move and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has actually stated that the grants to the municipalities may end in the near future, maybe in the time of the mandate of this government.

When this government was elected they campaigned on a number of issues, and I think one of those issues was the support of the municipalities in this Province, but since they have been elected they have been cut, cut - every year they have been cut - and now they are getting to the point where the towns are going to have to become completely self-sufficient, so that brings up another question. If the towns do become completely self-sufficient, and they are getting no grants from the provincial government at all, or the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, then what autonomy will be given to these towns? What autonomy that the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs have at this point in time, what autonomy will be passed on to the towns themselves? If they are getting no revenues from the provincial government, should they be required to follow the regulations that are brought in by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs?

Another down loading that the municipalities have had since this government was elected is the roads component of the grants. When this government took over in 1989 the towns themselves were getting as much as $2,200 per kilometre per year. Now that has been cut down to as little as $60 per kilometre per year, which has had a very, very negative impact upon the municipalities within this Province.

When I ran for council back in '86, I ran to become a councillor and ended up as mayor of a small town, and I was quite proud to be elected as mayor of a small town in this Province. I basically contributed thousands of hours, volunteered thousands of hours, to the municipality that I lived in, and was pleased to do that. Actually, I was the first mayor and we ended up with a nice town, a town that was in the black, that did not have any debt. When I was running to become elected to council, I ran on the campaign that we should stay away from water and sewer, and some of the people in the town, and some of the people in the neighbouring towns, thought I was crazy not to be going after water and sewer funding, but my point at the time was that it was too heavy a burden, too heavy a debt, and the cost per unit to install water and sewer in this Province was just outrageous, and it did not make any sense to me whatsoever. Now, I ended up getting elected and there was no one near me with respect to the number of votes that I got in that small town. It proved out in the end that it was a wise decision that we would stay away from water and sewer. Some of the towns in this Province now are cursing the day that they went after grants to get water and sewer - not grants, but loans.

Down in my district, in Flatrock, for example, that town borrowed between $400,000 and $500,000 to put water and sewer in their town. They put in basically a kilometre or two kilometres of pipe in the ground to service the town. Not one house is serviced at this point in time, and they are paying back a debt retirement of somewhere around $35,000 a year, and they are not servicing one house, so you can see the foolhardiness of installing water and sewer in these municipalities when they didn't have the tax base to support it. Now, Mr. Chairman, with the cuts to the municipalities this year, I had basically made up my mind, before I was elected to the House of Assembly back in '93, that I was not running for council again in the upcoming elections for the municipalities, and the reason why I made that decision, was the fact, that I thought that the down loading on the municipalities in this Province was too drastic, too hard and I could see the effects that was having on the municipalities.

Now I say, that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs basically, has the attitude that the towns are not paying enough for the services, that their mil rate is not high enough and are not collecting enough taxes, Mr. Chairman, but you know, if you go across this Province today, and look at the people in these towns and you look at the unemployment rate, some people say 20 per cent, 30 per cent, 50 per cent maybe, Mr. Chairman, the money is just not there and there is no point in raising taxes if you have a mil rate of five mils, seven mils or eight mils, whatever the case may be or ten, and raise it by two or three mils, if a town now, is collecting basically 70 per cent of their taxes, if a town is collecting 80 per cent or 60 per cent, if you increase the mil rate, all that is going to happen is that you will have some people who can afford to pay their taxes but you will end up, in the long run, losing more money than you are actually collecting at this point in time because the money is not there to be collected and increasing the taxes is not going to help any of them in any way, shape or form, so I would say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that he should take a serious look at what he is imposing upon the municipalities in this Province.

Tomorrow I believe, in St. John's there is a meeting of the Federation of Municipalities where we will see a number of councillors coming in from across the Province to discuss this very drastic step by the provincial government and I would suspect from what I am hearing there will be a number of resignations put to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs tomorrow. You will see many councils, maybe not tomorrow, you will see some, but in due course before the next general municipal elections in this Province, Mr. Chairman, you will see a number of the provincial municipal councils resigning and not running again because they find it too hard. These people now, basically, having to take the brunt for the provincial government. This morning I sang out across the House the word, cowards, actually it wasn't the word coward and a word that I should not have used according to the Speaker, and I accept that, but, Mr. Speaker, the towns in this Province are finding it very hard by the imposition of the down loading of responsibilities of this government to the municipalities.

Just to get off the topic of the municipalities, Mr. Chairman, this government also has hit the health care services in this Province very hard over the past number of years. Now, I understand that they are trying to balance their Budget and they have a very serious problem on their hands and I believe that a lot of these problems have been created by the mismanagement of this government. This government is in a situation now where they are in a crisis management situation; they go from crisis to crisis and try to solve that because of their poor planning.

The hospital care cuts in this Province have been very drastic and whenever the Minister of Health is questioned on this topic, he basically responds by saying: Health care in this Province is improving. Now, Mr. Chairman, if there were any words that have ever been spoken in this Province that are not accurate or basically tell the actual situation, those are the words; that health care in this Province is improving, and I mean, I have personal experience of this, Mr. Chairman.

In January of '90, I was in the Health Sciences Centre for very serious surgery. I was again in there in February of '94 for the same surgery and I could see a major, major difference in the health care services in the hospital now. Personally, I have no complaints with respect to the service that I had from the doctors or from the nurses who treated me in the hospital, but I can tell you that the nurses themselves were overloaded. They were overburdened with what they had to do, they were certainly understaffed and at times now, Mr. Chairman, if you go to the Health Sciences Centre, you will see a nurse, from what I can gather and my information has told me, one nurse for as many as twenty patients.

Now that is just impossible for an individual to handle. I mean just for the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

MR. SULLIVAN: There are some with thirty patients.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Ferryland says a nurse in there has to take care of thirty patients. Now, this is just physically -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) sick leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, I know - that's just physically impossible, Mr. Chairman and now, they are getting to the point, that if there is a nurse who phones in sick or takes the day off they do not even replace that individual. Again, complicating the problems. Even just in general cleanliness of the hospitals themselves, you can walk through the hospitals and see that they are not as clean as they once were. In actual fact, now we have patients in hospitals who have to make their own beds, Mr. Chairman. So the down loading of the health care in this Province is becoming very drastic. The Minister of Health can say what he wants but the health care in this Province is not improving by any stretch of the imagination.

Now when we are talking about down loading, Mr. Chairman, again the government is trying to save money. Well it is getting to the point now where they are gone beyond down loading to the municipalities but they are actually down loading to the families in this Province. Now, Mr. Chairman, I know - again I have personal experience where there have been people in my family or associated family who have been sick, they have gone to the hospital and they have been sent home much too early. Very much too early and it is basically left to the families to take care of them. Now the families want to do their best and they do do their best in most situations. Most people care about their own but there is a point in time where these people cannot do what needs to be done. So again, the government is looking at home care in this Province and it may be a good idea. There are some people who will question that. It depends on what you would put in home care but the health care cuts in this Province are very serious. I believe that the government should really take another look.

There are two areas, as far as I am concerned that should not be cut as drastically as other areas - I can see areas being cut of course but the health of our population and the education of our population is all important in my mind, Mr. Chairman. The education of our young people is all important because that will tell the future of what is going to happen to the people in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, I have had people say to me that this government has no heart. That seems to be the general trend that is going around now, that this government has no heart and I would have to agree with that. I have made the comment to people, when they tell me that, that this government is like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz. Now I believe the tin man in the Wizard of Oz was looking for a heart. He had enough sense to know that he needed a heart but this government, Mr. Chairman, does not have enough sense to know that they need a heart. We have to have compassion in government and this is abruptly pulled out of government in this Province. It was pulled out and not very delicately either, Mr. Chairman, there was no scalpel used. When this government was elected in '89 all compassion for the people in this Province has left government.

This is a finance bill basically so I know we have a latitude on what we can speak about but basically in the Emergency Employment Program that was brought in last year, we hounded, we begged and we fought and we finally got an Emergency Employment Program brought in by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. He opposed us tooth and nail. He opposed the government, he opposed the Opposition, he opposed the public who were begging for an emergency employment program. They brought in an employment program of $5 million and they set the criteria to qualify for that - it was almost impossible, Mr. Chairman. I know there were communities in my district that actually sent back money because they could not get people to qualify because of the strict qualifications for the Emergency Employment Program.

Now we have people out there this year and we asked for it again and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations stood on his feet and point blankly said no. There was a resolution brought to this House to bring in an Emergency Employment Program, members on this side of the House voted for the resolution but I believe everybody on the opposite side, the government side of the House, voted no to the resolution to bring in an Emergency Employment Program into this Province. Now again, I find that to be a very heartless move. There are people out there, Mr. Chairman, in this Province today, and I mentioned this before, who do not know where their next loaf of bread is coming from or their next pound of butter and that is a very, very serious situation. I believe that this government is largely responsible for that very drastic, very serious, very hard situation in this Province today.

For some reason or other, I really don't understand why this government and members opposite do not comprehend the situation out there today. Members opposite have to be getting the same calls that I am getting. They have to be getting the same calls that the members on this side of the House are getting, Mr. Chairman, but they don't seem to understand. If they do understand they certainly are not prepared to do anything about it, and they should.

If you drive around this Province today you have to wonder what is going to happen to the rural communities. If you take a drive through a number of the communities you have to wonder, you have to see, that the out-migration is certainly visible at this day and age. Last year I believe there was somewhere around 12,000 people who left. In the past three years, from what I can gather, there have been 16,000 people leave this Province. Over and above what has come into this Province.

MR. EFFORD: We know that. What do you suggest we do?

MR. J. BYRNE: I have all kinds of suggestions to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: We know all that.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, you know all that stuff. Why don't you do something about it? I would suggest to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that that government over there is elected to do something about it, to come up with the ideas. You people are the people who are getting paid to come up with the ideas to solve the problems in this Province. What the problem is here now is that they are like a vacuum. They are sadly lacking in any creative idea to create jobs in this Province, to keep people in this Province. I believe that there is actually a plan afoot to help reduce the population of this Province.

Since 1989, Mr. Chairman, this government has brought in a number of policies that would certainly lend a hand to, or help, the outflow of people out of this Province. I can get into a number of them. We don't know what the results are going to be for this year with respect to out-migration. We don't know what will be next year or the year after. I think that basically the government has a plan afoot to balance its budget by maybe, in a number of years, getting 100,000 or 200,000 people to leave this Province and it would have less people to be responsible for.

I think that the plan with respect to basically the nineteen economic zones, again, will end up being maybe nineteen counties. They are forcing the municipalities to cut the services in their towns. What will end up happening is you will have many of the councils, as I said earlier, resigning, many of the councils not running for re-election. Then the amalgamation issue or the regional government issue will be much easier for this government to put in place because it won't have people who are too opposed then. It won't have people in place to oppose its moves, its cold-hearted moves.

By doing that, by reducing the number of towns in this Province, of course the government will save money. That gets back to their balanced Budget again. The balanced Budget, the so-called smoke and mirrors budget of this government. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board himself said that it was a smoke and mirrors Budget last year. So were the government being honest with the people? That question begs to be answered and asked.

MR. EFFORD: What's your suggestion? You haven't given one suggestion (inaudible)!

MR. J. BYRNE: My suggestion to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is that when he was in Opposition he wasn't shy in pointing out the faults of the government of that day, and he didn't have any suggestions. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stood on his feet yesterday, Mr. Chairman, and whenever he gets on his feet he talks about - I hate to bring up the word - cucumbers and pickles. That is all he seems to harp on. What he didn't mention, and I was planning on getting into that, was the Trans City situation which the Member for Kilbride stood on his feet yesterday, said, what was it, $42 million? The Hydro, $10 million.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Same thing, what has spring got to do with it? Ten years ago, Sprung. Then we have $50 million, $60 million, $70 million spent by this government at this point in time. I should stay away from the remarks of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation because he is only trying to distract me, and he is doing a good job, Mr. Chairman. He is doing a good job with distracting; that is all he is good for.

Back to the balanced Budget and the smoke and mirrors Budget. This government at this point in time - and the minister is quite aware of this, but I don't know if the back benchers over there are as well aware as the minister - but it is struggling now to balance its Budget again with its $60 million so far. It is looking at cuts and more cuts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Again I'm going to be distracted. I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that the government - half the people on this side of the House were not in that government, they had nothing to do with it. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is part of a government over there that has been in place for six, going on seven, years now, and all they can do is blame the previous government. It is a tired line and he doesn't realize it.

He has been in government for six or seven years - in government itself, I don't know how long he was in Opposition. It was the previous government, I believe the Liberal government, defeated back in the early 1970s, in power from 1949, for twenty-one or twenty-two years, who created the problem we have today.

Now, I know the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation would love to have $800 million a year into the coffers of this Province, and if the previous, previous administration, the Liberal government, had not signed the Lower Churchill deal, we would have $800 million flowing into our coffers at this point in time - that would be $800 million per year - and they talk about $22 million over seventeen years, no comparison at all.

This government has said it is in crisis management. And the morale of the employees in this Province, and it goes through every section of government, every government department - the employees are becoming completely demoralized. I was hoping the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs would be here this morning, because I know of people in his department - and it is happening in other departments but I can name people in his department - who are sitting at their desks crying because they don't know what is going to happen to them in this Province.

MR. EFFORD: Who? Who is crying?

MR. J. BYRNE: Employees of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs are actually crying at their desks because they don't know what is going to happen to them. That is the type of situation that this government has brought the people of this Province to. It is actually completely demoralizing.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation said he would like to have some recommendations. Well, the biggest one I would like to pass on is to the Premier himself, and that is this: They should not be so negative. I have yet to see the man stand in his place in this House of Assembly, or in public, and say something positive about Newfoundlanders. I have yet to hear him say anything positive about the economy. There are always qualifications with respect to anything he says.

Also with respect to recommendations, this government is not standing up for the people of this Province. Everything that comes down from Ottawa is, `Yes, Prime Minister; yes, Prime Minister; yes, Prime Minister'. We have the transfer payments that are being cut cold-heartedly. It must be the former government that is in Ottawa also. Liberal times must really be hard times. We have the Premier and the ministers of this government taking everything sent down from Ottawa, `Yes, Prime Minister; yes, Prime Minister; yes, Prime Minister', and then we have everything that is going on in this Province, we have the ministers on that side of the House, everything that the Premier says, it is, `Yes, Premier; yes, Premier; yes, Premier'. What they remind me of - I think back in the 1960s and 1970s the cars used to have a little dog in the back window, and the head used to be constantly moving up and down, up and down; it used to be going up and down all the time. This government reminds me of that little dog: `Yes, Premier; yes, Premier; yes, Premier' - they will not take him on - to everything he says. And we saw an example of it yesterday when we met to discuss the cuts that are coming in this Province.

We know that cuts are coming to the UI. Some major changes to the UI system are coming in this Province, and we have asked the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to speak up on behalf of the people of the Province, but he squeaks up, he whispers, and he says nothing to Axworthy, the Minister of Employment and Labour in Ottawa, HRD, whatever the case may be. He is not saying anything. He is just accepting, accepting, accepting. We need somebody to stand up and pound his fists and say, `We are not going to take it anymore'.

We had jobs leave this Province, towed out of Marystown. We heard the Premier say: Well, that's all we can do; we have to accept it. We saw the situation in the dockyard with Marine Atlantic; now, we have to accept it - we have to accept everything. I say we don't have to accept it.

We have cuts coming to TAGS. We have people being laid off right, left and center from TAGS, let go, and what do we have over here? We have the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, who doesn't even know that fisheries is a part of his district, a part of his responsibilities. I ask him a question and the answer I get is: It is under review and we are going to check into that.

As a matter of fact, there shouldn't be a Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture; there should be a Department of Fisheries in itself. I have to say that I am not a fisherman and I have never fished in my life. The most I know about fishing is from when I grew up in Torbay, going over to Tapper's Cove, getting a fish from the fishermen and bringing it home.

Now, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation was a real spokesman for the fishermen in this Province when he was in Opposition, and I didn't hear any constructive comments made by the minister at that time - all he did was complain, complain, complain. I think I am going to get him on his feet this morning. I do believe he will be on his feet this morning.

Now, as I said, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stood yesterday and talked about the $7 billion of debt that was left by the previous Administration, and he talked about the cucumbers, $22 million, Mr. Chairman, but he didn't mention anything about the government before that bringing in rubber boot factories. Where are they today? How many millions did that cost us? Chocolate bar factories - he didn't get on his feet and preach about the chocolate bar factories that were brought in. Where are they today and how many millions did that cost the government and the taxpayers of this Province? I believe there were also orange juice factories brought in, or they tried implementing them in this Province. When he was on his feet the other day, I didn't hear him say anything about that. He talks about a debt of $22 million compared to billions of dollars yearly by the previous administration.

It is a farce. He didn't mention the $10 million that they wasted on Hydro when they were advised against it, Mr. Speaker. He didn't mention the $2 million on the referendum. He didn't mention the Cabot Corporation. He didn't mention the patronage appointments of this government, which have gone into hundreds and hundreds, Mr. Chairman. That is costing the Province millions and millions of dollars. He didn't mention the patronage with respect to the rental of office space throughout this Province. In less than a year after they were elected they were putting people in buildings in this city that were owned by known Liberals, taking them out of other buildings and putting them in those. He didn't mention that. I can name them. He knows, Mr. Chairman.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave.

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

The hon. member doesn't have leave.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: He spoke on this, Mr. Chairman. He spoke yesterday on this.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I remind hon. members that, in Committee stage, a member can speak more than one time to the motion.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Before I begin my speech I just want clarification on the time because I understood that in Committee you go ten and ten back and forth. And do I have ten minutes or thirty minutes?

MR. CHAIRMAN: It has been the custom of this hon. House for the last number of years that by agreement members have spoken ten minutes back and forth, but such agreement was not arrived at, at this time, so we are reverting to the Standing Orders which allow hon. members thirty minutes. If it is the wish of the House to limit it to ten minutes, then the Chair will entertain that.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I understand, Mr. Chairman, that most members who have spoken have utilized their thirty minutes. The hon. minister has spoken before, so I don't know if he used his thirty minutes or not. If he has, then I don't think the minister can speak, but if he has used less than thirty minutes, then I have no problem with him using what is remaining. You are right, we did not make an agreement. Usually in Committee on finance bills we agree to ten and ten but we didn't do that this time.

So, I have no problem with the minister using up whatever time he has left from his thirty minutes, if that is the case.

MR. DECKER: You can't go thirty, thirty, thirty!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, no, you can't go thirty minutes, thirty minutes, thirty minutes, I say to the Minister of Education, I mean, we would be here forever. Do you want to get the House closed for Christmas?

MR. CHAIRMAN: I remind the hon. minister that when he last spoke to this he spoke for a total of six minutes, so if he wishes to use up the other twenty-four minutes, he may do so.

For the benefit of hon. members, the Chair was reminding members that previously there had been an agreement by members that at Committee stage, hon. members would speak for ten minutes, but that arrangement was not made here at this sitting, so members were allowed to speak for thirty minutes.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has spoken in this debate, on one occasion, for a total of six minutes. The Chair has recognized the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: They can try to delay, Mr. Chairman, but they are not going to stifle this minister. I have things to say and I am going to say them - provoked again by the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern, who is now going to leave the Chamber because he is afraid he might get some knowledge passed along, some good information.

Mr. Chairman, I take exception to some of the comments coming from -

MR. TOBIN: `John', I have to leave now (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation unfairly commented on the presence or absence of a member in the Chamber. He accused the Member for St. John's East Extern of leaving the Chamber because he was speaking. That's unparliamentary, Mr. Chairman, and he is not allowed to say it. He is not allowed to comment on the absence of a member from the Chamber and he should withdraw those comments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to that point of order.

MR. EFFORD: It's too bad, Mr. Chairman, that the hon. the Member for St. John's East wasn't listening. What I said, very clearly was, that the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern was now leaving the Chamber because he didn't want to get some good information for his next speech.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair will rule on that.


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: As usual (inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has noticed that recently there are a number of hon. members in this Chamber making reference to the fact that members are not in their places, and I remind all hon. members that it is unparliamentary to do so.

If in fact, the minister, as he has stated, made reference to a particular issue, that the member was leaving because he didn't want to hear something, that is not unparliamentary.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to say to the hon. the Member for St. John's East, it is too bad that he doesn't obey all the rules of the House. He tried to have me obey one that I didn't break.

Mr. Chairman, the Member for St. John's East Extern stood for thirty minutes and talked about the position of the Province today. He talked about this government not doing anything. I say to the hon. member that he hasn't been listening. He has been sitting in this House of Assembly for the last couple of years, but he hasn't been listening very clearly.

AN HON. MEMBER: He will never be back again.

MR. EFFORD: I don't think he will get back again because I believe now, that the people of St. John's East Extern see the error of their ways. We have major financial problems in this Province; we have -

AN HON. MEMBER: Obey a rule you didn't break.

MR. EFFORD: Typical lawyer, a typical lawyer, trying to get me to obey a rule I didn't break.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: All I hope, Mr. Chairman, is that the hon. member doesn't send me a bill for that.

Mr. Chairman, we have some serious problems in this Province and you could stand, whether it is ten minutes in Committee or whether it is twenty minutes or thirty minutes, is not the issue, but if you stand, day after day, in speeches on all the bills and you are saying the same thing over and over and over again, pointing out that we have problems. We know we have problems. We know what the massive debt in this Province is, we know that it has to be dealt with, we have been making some major, major decisions to deal with that, very unpopular with the electorate, very unpopular with people who are affected by them, very unpopular with those who have to give up something, but the decisions that are in the best interest of this Province have to be made.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) same speech (inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Well, I have to give the same speech that I gave yesterday, because the hon. members keep repeating the same speech that someone in their office writes over and over again. I mean, it is nothing new, but if they keep giving the same speech, then I have to keep going back telling them what they did for seventeen years and what we have to do to correct the situation, it is as simple as that. It is just as simple A, B, C, D, E, F, G, no different. Just as simple as the alphabet that you have to keep repeating it over and over so they will understand that we have a problem.

Now, what do you do with a $7 billion debt? Do you let it go? Do you keep expanding it? Do you let it grow and grow and grow? I would not mind if one member opposite stood up, if one hon. member opposite stood to his feet and took five minutes and made some good suggestions about what you should do to straighten the books out, to balance the books. What is the right thing to do? We are making those decisions. We are making the decisions that are necessary to balance the books and government has to get its House in order. We have been getting our House in order for the last two or three years. It is very difficult with what we took over. It is very, very difficult and it is very, very difficult when you start taking things away from people.

Now one of the reasons why I wanted to get up for a few minutes and talk about it is that the hon. member spoke about Trans City because I brought up about the cucumber farm yesterday. The hon. Member for St. John's East Extern is more familiar - even though he was not in government with the cucumber farm - then probably a lot of members are today because he lives out in the east extern where Robin Bay dump is located, where the cucumbers were grown and trucked out there and dumped that which was not given out for cattle feed. They were dumped out there. So he said, `Well what about the Trans City?' Well the difference is that the cucumber farm, the $27 million was spent and it just disappeared, except the memory but the Trans City contractors built hospitals. The hospitals are there. They were not dumped in Robin Hood Bay, they were not destroyed, they were not burned, they were not closed up, they are the buildings and the facilities are there. It is two different things altogether.

If you want to get into contracts about who got contracts on a partisan decision then I can tell the hon. member about the former Minister of Finance, who at the time, while he was in Cabinet, while he was in Cabinet had rented accommodations to the government of the day to the tune of $500,000 a year, which is still being rented, $500,000 a year income while he was a minister in Cabinet. We want to get talking about who got what. You see? So, Mr. Chairman, it is very simple, you cannot compare what happened with the cucumber and the pickle factory to contracts of building hospitals. It is two different scenarios altogether but the fact remains we do have a major financial problem; we do have to deal with it and in order to deal with a massive debt in this Province we have to make some hard decisions. It is going to impact very clearly, Mr. Chairman, it is going to impact on the lives - I guess I may as well go to the full extent and say every Newfoundlander and Labradorian, it is going to impact on everybody's lives.

People's expectations will have to change, people's way of life will have to change, people will have to seek alternative employment, job opportunities, be more creative, more businesses will have to be started up by individuals and yes, some people will have to leave the Province. I don't think that has been a great change over the last - before Confederation, long before Confederation people left, always ever did.

I can remember hearing my father tell me the story of when he was eleven years old his father went to Boston to work, took him on the boat and went to Boston. People always had to do that. There will never be enough work - I should not say never, never is a long time - traditionally there has not been enough work in this Province for all the people. That is the natural way. We have all, perhaps most of us here in this House of Assembly, at one time or another had to go out of the Province for work but there is nothing wrong about that. There is nothing that people find: well this was something that was started in the last few years. It is wrong. It has always been there. We would like to have the perfect situation and everybody living in the Province, not so.

So the fact remains that we do have people leaving the Province. They keep referring to the outward migration and that has caused, the increase in that has caused, very simply, the closure of the fishery. Now there is nobody in this House of Assembly and nobody in this Province who would like to see the fishery come back any more than I would. The district that I represent, the mainstay of the economy is the fishery. We have $18 million worth of boats tied up in Port de Grave, most of the year, $18 million worth of long liners. That is besides the small boats, beside the small thirty-five foot boats and under. Luckily most of those boats are still fishing part-time of the year. Not as much as they would like to, but the species that they are allowed to catch do give them a reasonable standard of living. Big investment, $1 million, $1.5 million in the boat, hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, in the diversifying in the new type of fishery, but at least they are willing to try, to make an attempt.

Now the hon. Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is being blamed by the Opposition for down loading on the municipalities. I talked about it yesterday. I gave an example of communities in my own district which have obtained monies from the government to put services in, water and sewerage, which are paying less than $150 a year per household. It is quite clear that you can't get a multi-million dollar service from the taxpayers of this Province, from the government of this Province, and not have the responsibility of paying a reasonable fair charge for those services.

For the most part most people of this Province believe that, are willing to do their share, once the system is put in place and they can do it. So when you tell a small council out in the area that you are not paying enough taxes, that you have to get your house in order, that is the responsibility of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to do that. It is not a matter of down loading. It is making sure that everybody gets their house in order and everybody pays their fair share; then collectively in the Province, we all work together for the common goal of trying to get the financial order of all of this Province in order.

I don't see anything wrong with that. There is an attempt being made to do it. Standing to your feet and saying that this government is not doing anything couldn't be farther from the truth. We are doing what we have to do to get our financial house in order.

MR. HEWLETT: Why didn't you do it at Budget time?

MR. EFFORD: Pardon?

MR. HEWLETT: Why didn't you do it at Budget time? Why did you come in with that big false Budget?

MR. EFFORD: It has always been done. There were major steps taken the last Budget, there were major steps taken the Budget before, there were major steps taken the Budget before that. But now, due to the drop in the revenue, the economy of this Province, the job opportunities, due to the transfer payments of Ottawa, due to the reorganization of the whole national agenda, the financial agenda of the federal government of this country, which is, the numbers I am hearing, three-quarters of a trillion dollars owed by the taxpayer of this country. People are looking at us that we are the sole proprietors of this Province. We are only elected by the people of this Province to administrate their affairs. We don't owe the debt. Every man, woman and child in this Province owes that money, that $7 billion. Every man, woman and child in this country owes that three-quarters of a trillion dollars. It is common sense.

The hon. Member for Waterford - Kenmount knows that he is only playing a political game when he gets up and asks the question as a critic. It is an Opposition's responsibility to do that, I guess, that is the way he is looking at it. But he knows full well if you have a massive debt you have to deal with it. If a council out there is not imposing enough taxes and the organization needs to be changed, the restructuring needs to be put in place, it has to be done. You can't keep borrowing the money. People's expectations can't keep growing. We can't keep handing out monies we don't have.

It is like your own son and daughter. They ask you for a car. I can't afford to buy you a car. Change your expectations. They ask you for a bike. I can't afford to buy you a bike, I don't have the money. You change your expectations. You tell them no, the money is not there to do it. You don't have to be a genius, you don't have to be a rocket scientist, all you have to do is use some good, Liberal common sense. That the Tories for seventeen years never had the ability to use.

The hon. Member for St. John's East Extern made another reference about the former governments and chocolate factories. When the governments changed in 1972 the total provincial debt was less than $1 billion. Think about it. At the end of that term the total provincial debt was in excess of $7 billion. That is a major problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Yes, I point it out in debating here in the House of Assembly, because they keep standing up and saying we are not doing anything to deal with the problems in this Province. We have to keep telling them: Yes, we are dealing with it, but you caused it and we have to take the responsibility of correcting it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Yes, that is what is going to be said, and as long as you keep saying it, we will keep saying it back. That is the point we are trying to make. You caused it; we will correct it - $7 billion. Seven billion dollars is a lot of money.

MR. ROBERTS: Look what they did to the pension funds.

MR. EFFORD: There is another example. What happened to all of the pension funds? The money is not there now; it is not invested. There is not enough money in most of the pension funds to be sustainable in the future.

MR. ROBERTS: Peckford's bad decisions will be like the albatross in the years to come.

MR. EFFORD: And who has to take the responsibility? The people of this Province. Unless this government makes the right decisions, the suffering in this Province, by every citizen of this Province, has not yet been realized. Unless we can do something to correct the financial situation, unless we can make the right decisions to correct the pension fund...

Let's talk about the teachers' pension fund. What about it? The member this morning asked: Would we consider dropping back the age of retirement twenty-five years? In the present teachers' fund, if the rules that are in place now continue, by the year 2005 it will be bankrupt - by the year 2005.


MR. EFFORD: Well, is it 2005? The Minister of Finance is not here. It may be 2003; that is even worse. Who has to correct it? The problem is there; it has to be corrected. Are you saying we should turn our back on it, and we should go out and borrow more money and forget about it? How silly. That is the way you would do it. That is the way they would do it. That is the way they did it in the past, and that is the way they would continue to do it. That is the reason why you are sitting over there on the Opposition side with your arms folded, because the people of the Province woke up. The people of the Province came to realize that this cannot continue on.

I will tell you, I talked about it to a couple of my colleagues this morning. For the most part, as hard as the decisions are that we have to make, for the most part most people in this Province accept it. I am serious; they accept the fact. They talk, and realize, and understand, as hard as it is, that we know we cannot continue spending the way we spent in the past. Two wrongs do not make a right. Going on into bankruptcy will solve nothing for anybody. They understand that there are some hard decisions that have to be made. They understand it. It is no good turning back and going over and repeating what we did in the past. There is only one alternative.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is it?

MR. EFFORD: Get your financial house in order for the future.

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you do that?

MR. EFFORD: Very simple; reorganize the whole system. Change people's expectations, for one thing.


MR. EFFORD: Be honest with people. Tell people what you can do for them. Tell people how much money they can expect to receive next year. Do not keep misleading and blindfolding people with the wrong information. It is a simple fact of getting your financial house in order, being directly responsible for what you have to do, and telling the people the true facts.

I tell you, the majority that this government got in the last election will be minute to what we get in the next election. Now I realize that my margin of victory can only go up a very few percentage points and I will have it all, but I have no doubt in my district, in the next election, even my margin will increase, and that is because the people in my district, like all the rest of the people in the Province, realize that we are working and the decisions we are making are for their best interest, for the future of this Province, for the children of this Province, for the generations to come, that the best interests -


MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

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

MR. WOODFORD: By leave, Mr. Chairman. Does the member want to finish his speech?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chairman has recognized the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. When everybody was here saying `how great thou art' I thought they were talking about the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, but it must have something to do with the Member for Port de Grave.

I would like to make a few short comments on this Bill 14. I might make it half-an-hour. After listening to a number of speakers now on both sides of the House concerning this piece of legislation, this particular bill, there are all kinds of insinuations being made, accusations, I suppose, being flung back and forth across the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Even (inaudible) a statement or two, as well as insinuations.

MR. WOODFORD: A few statements of which probably some were false, some were true.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) paralegals (inaudible) Lynn Verge here this morning.

MR. WOODFORD: It could be they are referred to as para-leaders.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Chairman, the bill comes to the House every year because it is an annual thing. The Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs gives permission to municipalities around the Province, or guarantees loans for them at a number of banks, or whatever banks they deal with around the Province, to do specific projects in their municipalities.

But, Mr. Chairman, I would say, the underlying problem with all municipalities, with anything today that has anything to do with the economy in this Province, any occupation, whether it be a construction company, agriculture, the fishery - well, the fishery is a little different, I suppose, because of the quota system and because of what happened in the groundfish industry. But the bottom line is that people are just not working. If you have nobody working, you have nobody paying taxes. You have no revenues - you have nobody spending money at stores, you have nobody buying cars, nobody buying fridges -

AN HON. MEMBER: And government gets no (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: - and government gets no revenue. There is no RST, no GST, no income tax. In order for government, any government, to get revenue there has to be - more specifically, the Federal and Provincial Governments, because the municipalities are more limited on what they can collect in the form of taxes. But federally and provincially they can collect income tax, RST, they can put all kinds of fiscal regimes in place to collect revenues. Municipalities are limited to some extent by the municipalities act in what they can and cannot do.

As I said, the bottom line is that people are not working, and when people are not working they can't spend. They can spend for the necessities of life if they are drawing UI for a certain period of time, or social services. They can live from day-to-day, week-to-week. But for the extras they need, in order to stimulate an economy or to bring extra revenue into a province or into a country, in order for government departments to put monies back into the municipalities, the money is just not there.

Whose fault is that, Mr. Chairman? We have heard references this morning going back to 1971 when the debt in this Province was $1 billion. I don't have to tell any member of this House what the inflation rate was in 1971. I don't have to tell anybody in this House what the interest rates were back in 1971. I can just come ahead to 1981, ten years later, and ask what the interest rates were in this Province and in this country. They jumped from 8 per cent or 9 per cent overnight to 23 per cent and 24 per cent.

Now, Mr. Chairman, you put that alone, that one specific year or two years, on to that $1 billion and start extrapolating as you go along. There is no trouble to find out where at least half of that particular debt, the total debt, came from, no trouble at all. Anybody who knows anything about finance, about business, about running a fiscal regime, regardless of what it is, there is no trouble to tell where a large amount of those funds came from.

Mr. Chairman, time and time again, I have stood in this Chamber and said that the people of this Province will suffer forever and ever and a day if we get up, day-after-day, blaming governments, blaming each other for the mistakes of the past or whatever. You can't talk about a government in this Province or a government in this country that haven't made mistakes, that haven't made bad decisions, whether it is leadership, whether it is by a certain minister in a government department or whatever; there have been bad decisions made throughout our history, and it is always the person who stands today who has to pay the price for those mistakes. And it's the way it is today. We have had seven years since 1989. I can point back just a few months ago to bad mistakes by the government opposite, and I am sure if government changes next year, or in eighteen months, which it will, I will be able to stand on that side of the House and say the same thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: No you won't.

MR. WOODFORD: I will be able to say: Well, the minister had the opportunity to do that, the minister had the opportunity to do this, and he didn't do it, he didn't avail of the opportunities.

We stood in this Chamber up in the old House of Assembly, I think it was in 1989 or 1990, when the legislation was brought in dealing with Enterprise Newfoundland and the Economic Recovery Commission, and we said at that time that it was a waste of money. We had the old Rural Development Authority there that looked after loans for small businesses in the Province, looked after it well. The repayment schedules and the delinquent repayment schedules of people in the Province weren't as high as they are today. Enterprise Newfoundland today is something, someone said, like 40 per cent, but I would say the 40 per cent only has to do with people who are probably not paying at all. I would say it is closer to 70 per cent, because some people are making a payment here and a payment there, and most banks and institutions today don't include that with a so-called delinquent account. Because if you are paying anything at all, they will usually put the principal on the end of it, and just pay your interest as you go, just extend your time for payments. So I would say, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador today is between 60 per cent and 70 per cent delinquent payments in this Province. That, in itself, doesn't have all to do - that is not saying that the people who got the money shouldn't have gotten the money, and it is not saying that the people who got the money didn't run their businesses right - that is not necessarily true - but it probably will come down to the way the economy is, the general feeling and the general working of the economy in this Province today, and the attitude. There is a terrible, terrible attitude out there today.

When people saw the Premier of the Province come on a couple of months ago, speaking to the Board of Trade, and saying that we have a tough two years ahead of us, whether it is true or not, that doesn't augur well for anybody who is about to invest in this Province. It does nothing to help a business in this Province try to extend or hire an extra man or woman, or whatever, in municipalities throughout this Province.

We can go on, like I said, and blame and cast aspersions on other people and on other governments, but we have to take the bull by the horns and do something about the attitude in this Province today, and that comes from leadership; that comes from the government of the day; that comes from the Premier of the day. And leadership doesn't always mean that we have to cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. Most people in this Province today would not survive if they weren't allowed to make a payment on a car, a payment on a mortgage adjusted to the amount of income they have, a payment for a holiday, a payment for children going off to university or whatever. They couldn't survive, for instance, on $1,000 or $2,000 a month if they had to go out and pay for those things overnight. That's the way the economy works; that's the way the nation works; that's the way people survive, because they get loans, they mortgage, they amortize. That is how people survive, how communities survive, and how governments survive.

As for municipalities in this Province, as far as I am concerned today, the die is cast. The die is cast for municipalities in this Province, whether we like it or not. This weekend, you will see mayors resigning. It is not going to solve the problem. It won't solve the problem at all. The minister will go out as he did in the past, with councillors, and so on, and he will appoint people in those communities to do what has to be done under the Municipalities Act.

Well, then, I say to the minister, that one of the things that will have to be done within the next twelve months in this Province is, amendments will have to be made to the Municipalities Act to accommodate a lot of municipalities in this Province, that just cannot operate under the restrictions of the Municipalities Act today. They can't move, there are only certain things they can tax; they have an equalization component, a local revenue component, they have a per capita component, they have a formula for repayment on capital debt that they have to live with under the Municipalities Act, period. They have to have their budgets in by December 31st, period. They can't go to the bank and get a loan unless it is guaranteed by government. They are restricted.

They are restricted in what they can do with regard to a business coming into their community. They are restricted under the municipal plans in their communities. If they need an amendment, they have to go to the minister and it takes months and months and months by the time the bureaucracy in this Province gets it through the system. One of the first things the minister had to do, and it started last year, but I don't see it working, was to arrange for offices, putting the work of different government departments in the one office, sort of a central station whereby they can put out some of the fires rather early so people can survive in this Province.

It is not happening, Mr. Chairman, and it is not going to happen if we have people in those departments who want to justify their existence. People in those departments who don't want - some of those, the Department of Health, treading on their turf in the Department of Environment; someone in Environment doesn't want development control telling them what to do. Someone in highways doesn't want development coming in and telling them: That's not right. We have to get clear of the system we have, if not, I can assure you that businesses in this Province and municipalities in this Province, Mr. Chairman, are out the door. They are finished, they are going to throw up their arms in frustration and say: `Enough is enough', we just can't take any more. And it is true - members opposite may not admit it, but it is true.

Back in the early 1970s when I was a mayor in the community of Cormack, and for five years on the Federation of Municipalities representing small towns in this Province, both in the Province and outside the Province, when I sit around the table in another jurisdiction in this country and hear mayors, like one who just quit yesterday, Mr. Harcourt, the Leader of the NDP, I sat around the table with him many times as a small town representative from this Province, the hon. minister was there and several other people who had been federal Cabinet ministers over the years, and I heard some of the things that were said at that time and I stand, representing a community of 760 people, and those people were from the hundreds of thousands, they didn't have a clue, not a clue as to what was happening even in their own offices.

I will never forget the time in Ottawa when I questioned a certain mayor who went on to become a federal Cabinet minister in this country, on some of the things that were supposed to be happening in her office and she could not answer the question, and you know why? not because she wasn't capable of absorbing the information, not because she wasn't capable if she had absorbed it or knew it to be able to deliver it, but because the councils in those jurisdictions were run by bureaucrats. They had their engineers, they had their town managers, they had their city managers, they had their legal experts, but in the small municipalities in this Province, what did we have to do? You had to be the engineer, you had to be the tax collector, you had to be the dog catcher - everything under the sun, under the Municipalities Act, you had to do it. You had to deal with your staff, you had to deal with everything in those small communities and they didn't have a clue what was in under the act, whether it be a city act, whether it be a municipalities act governing smaller towns or what have you. The same thing is happening in this Province today but the only thing about it is that the mayors and councillors in larger municipalities in this Province today are starting to see what is happening. They are starting to see that they need the smaller municipalities. They are starting to see that they need to be on top of what is happening in their departments, the same thing as a minister. The minister got a job to control everything that is going on in his or her department but if they lay down the law and say that I am firm, this is what I need, this is what I want, this is what I expect from their staff, then nine chances out of ten, 90 per cent or probably 95 per cent of the cases the staff who work under the minister will make sure that that particular work is done and will make sure that they won't so called 'screw-up' and they will make sure that their minister or their mayor or whatever is protected.

Mr. Speaker, the municipal operating grants in this Province since 1989 have been gutted. They have gone from $2,000 per kilometre for road components down to as low as sixty-nine, now back up to $500. The other grants, the whole structure of municipal operating grants has been changed, changed completely. I had a mayor I was talking to this morning from a small community in this Province who, all of a sudden last winter, because of the $3,000 the Department of Works, Services and Transportation was charging for snow clearing, they took it upon themselves to do it. It cost $12,000 last winter.

AN HON. MEMBER: To do what?

MR. WOODFORD: To do their snow clearing themselves. This year they tendered it. They tendered the same thing this year for their snow clearing this winter. The lowest tender they got was $48,000. They just cannot afford to do it. They have been just told by the minister that they are cut 22 per cent which is equivalent to $25,000 from this municipality who has to do up a budget before December 31. They are owed $108,000 in the community itself. They cannot collect because there is nothing to collect, nobody working in the community. A handful of people working in the community. A few people on the TAGS program, a handful on UI, the rest on social services and they cannot collect. What can they do? Just put yourself in some of those people's shoes and just put yourself in a position that some of those people have when they sit around the table after a hard days work, a bunch of volunteers trying to look after municipalities in the Province and they just throw up their arms and say, what can we do? It is alright to say that municipalities must take more responsibility for the running of their towns and cities of this Province. Yes, no question, they have been doing it for years, taking responsibility, but when they got a certain amount of funds - they are told at the beginning of one year that they have a certain figure to work with all throughout the next and then all of a sudden someone tells them that they do not have it, what do you do?

An analogy I would like to draw here, Mr. Chairman, is this, if most members in this Chamber - I don't know about most but probably a fairly high percentage I suppose - got mortgages, cars or payments somewhere to some financial institution in the Province - there are not to many here in this House who can afford to go out and buy a car, write a cheque for $20,000 or buy a house for $100,000. There are not too many, there are a handful. If you got $2,000 a month coming in, your payments are $1,500, you got $500 for groceries and a few dollars to pay the light bill. All of a sudden the bank manager calls you and says: I want $1,700 this month or I want $1,800 this month. What do they do? Now if they have a choice to come in and extend their mortgages or extend their car an extra year they may be able to pick up enough dollars to cover it but if they do not have any choice whatsoever, their income is stable, it does not fluctuate at all up or down and they got no room to move and the bank puts the squeeze on him, what happens next? They lose their homes, they lose their cars or they lose whatever the payment was supposed to be made for they have no room to move. Municipalities in this Province today have no room to move.

The larger centres, I will say, there is no question, if they put their mil rate up because of the high value of their appraisals, their properties, after the appraisals are done their properties are appraised at a fairly high market value and then when they put up the mil rate half a percentage point, or a percentage point, they usually collect a fairly substantial amount of dollars, but in a smaller municipality in rural Newfoundland the property values are set. Most of them are $25,000 or $30,000 and there are very few in those municipalities that go beyond $75,000, $80,000, $90,000, or $100,000.

They can put the mil rate up to fifty if they like but they cannot collect any more unless they put up the minimums for poll tax or the basic minimums for a property in the community, and how can you justify that when you have probably 80 or 90 per cent of the community on UI, social services, or something? There is no infrastructure. They have no businesses where they can attach an extra mil or half mil on a commercial rate. They have absolutely nothing to fall back on only the people and the residential properties in that particular community. There is absolutely no where to go.

Now, the example I just gave about this one particular community this year in a squeeze and what they are going to do about it, I will say the minister will have resignations passed to him tomorrow. I know of three that will be passed to him tomorrow. I just pity someone in those particular communities if they accept an appointment by the minister to take control of those communities. I would not want to be the one walking into a store or post office, or walking into a general meeting in those municipalities, after seeing an elected person quit out of frustration, go in and say: boys, I am sorry the mil rate has gone up an extra one or two, and you are paying an extra this on garbage collection, an extra this for street lights, and so on when they could not get the funds before. I pity those people.

Now, if they are foolish enough to accept it, I suppose, you should not have any pity because there will be no pity from the people in those municipalities. There is no compassion by the Department of Municipal Affairs, absolutely no sympathy, no sympathy at all from anybody in government today for the municipalities in this Province. The only thing they could hang their hat on were the municipal operating grants. Because of the gutting of the other system over the years this one at least, they thought, might be stabilized but now it has gone down some $11 million. The minister has already stated that he not finished.

People said it was because of monies that were spent in the past. Sure, it is because of monies spent in the past. People asked for services and in most cases they got them. People should be afforded the right to at least good, clean, healthy drinking water in this Province. It is like the fishery, year after year, after year, fishermen and politicians, some of them sitting across the House today, screeched and bawled for more quotas, extra quota. I remember in the election campaign of 1989 when John Crosbie was going to cut the total allowable catch for northern cod, groundfish, and so on in this Province. There was an outcry from some members opposite that it should not be done and that it should not be touched, but at the same time today we hear people opposite say, well you should not have done this a few years ago, or you should have done it this way.

Hindsight is 20/20, Mr. Chairman. If we all had it there would be no need for elections in this Province, absolutely none. The minister, his officials, and his Cabinet colleagues are going to have to take heed or else they are going to have, I would say, a bad, bad mess on their hands in the next year to eighteen months. Because it is not only the smaller communities that are hurting. The larger communities and the cities now are starting to hurt more.

For a mayor, Mr. Chairman, in this Province - and I will say this publicly - to come on a television or publish in a paper, or anywhere else in this Province, any of the news media, to sit down and accept a cut of 22 per cent for the municipality should not be allowed to serve in that capacity. He or she should not be allowed to serve in it. If there is one mayor in this Province today to stand up in the media and say that he or she will accept the 22 per cent to the municipalities, he or she should be booted out! He or she doesn't deserve the position. I don't care who he or she is, if he or she is a Liberal or PC or what he or she is. Get the hell out. He or she should be standing up for the people. The same as today in this Province today, the Premier in this Province today.

The federal government is gutting Newfoundland systematically day after day. UI, health care, education. You could go on. Municipalities, CN Marine, the ferry service. Newfoundland today is gutted and there is not a word said about it. Absolutely nothing. Airports in the Province going to close, nothing done, no responsibility. Who were we elected to represent? We were elected in this Province to represent the people of this Province, and regardless of who is in power in Ottawa you should take them on. We should take them on. But we are not doing it.

I remember a few short years ago previous to the fall of 1993, it was the spring of 1993, when the federal government said there would be a shortfall of $32 million to $33 million in equalization payments to this Province. There was all kinds of criticism. There were ministers going off to Ottawa, the Premier was off to Ottawa. Today? We've been gutted, we've been almost left on our own down here, and there is not a word. There is absolutely nothing said.

Members have to remember that within the next year, eighteen months, I say to members opposite that they will have to face the electorate in this Province. I can assure you that the concerns and grievances and everything else that is going on in this Province today are not going to be forgotten. People today remember. People today will be asking questions. They are more tuned into what is going on. They are asking questions they didn't ever before in this Province. Students today who are being told: Yes, get an education, get your Grade XII, get out and go to some post-secondary institution, keep on going - what do they do it with? The parents only have x number of dollars for income. They go for a loan and they are told that: The parent is on the threshold. You are making $40,000, $50,000 a year. Although you have a mortgage, although you are paying for a car, although you are paying for this or paying for that, every dollar you have coming in is going out, but the student is not allowed to get a loan. Just because of that.

What do they do? The banks today have some programs out where they are offering $5,000 for an undergraduate student. Big deal! All you have to do is pay the interest on it. Sort of a line of credit. Come on in, sit right down. What else do they do? The parent has to sign. For a graduate student it might go up to a maximum of $20,000. Come in. The banks in this country today have every individual in this country right by the tail. I could say something else. Because they are squeezing them. Every time they squeeze them they are hurting.

When I look in The Globe and Mail and I see 29 per cent in corporate profits for last year, when I see banks going down to St. Helena and setting up a bank where there are 5,000 people, when I see big corporate buddies in this Province going off to (inaudible) are writing off a $300 million loan in Mexico, when I see them writing off $200 million to Russia, and when I look around this Province and every time you go in and get your bank statement: $4 for this, $6 for that, $8 for that. If you haven't got any money, if you are on social services or UI, don't come in, don't talk to me. The banks in this country, Mr. Chairman, have a lobbyist in Ottawa who does nothing else only lobby the federal government so it won't make any changes to the bank act that will be detrimental to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that right?

MR. WOODFORD: Oh yes. There is one in Ottawa now who is ready to quit, and they have proposals called for a new lobbyist in Ottawa year-round, $300,000 bucks a year, Mr. Chairman. I can assure you that if we don't stand up for ordinary people....

I will never forget, Mr. Chairman, just last year I was coming out of the Bank of Montreal in Deer Lake and I met this constituent of mine from Hampden. I said: How are you today, ma'am? Not too bad, sir, she said, started to chew the fat. She said: This is a bad time of the year, isn't it? I asked: Why is that? She said: Just got my income tax done, have to pay in $2,100. Only worked part-time. Both she and her husband are seasonal. I asked: Have you got any RRSPs? No. She said: We can't get RRSPs. I said: Who told you that? She said: Well, the bank. I said: The bank? Yes, she said, the bank. I asked: When did they tell you? She said: Well, only a few months ago when I asked about it. I said: Do you want me to go back in with you? I will go right back in with you if you want me to. You point out the person who told you that and I will fix that up for you.

I went back in the bank with that lady. Do you know what the reason was? Very little income, didn't want to fool with them. Didn't want to be bothered with them. Terrible! Didn't want to be bothered with them. She wanted to get a loan, like everybody else. They do it sometimes at prime; they do it sometimes at prime plus 1 per cent.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: A lot of banks have all kinds of deals on for that. Time is up. Wouldn't look at her. The same thing applies to loans for those people. Where do they have to go? To the Avcos of the world, to the Household Finances of the world, to the people who charge them 28 per cent and 30 per cent. They've got absolutely no protection, none whatsoever. That is what is crucifying. It gets right down to the municipalities. Because anybody on a fixed income, social services, UI, or anything like that, they can't get loans, the banks won't look at them. They have to go down to the Avcos of the world, or Household Finances or whatever else, but they will look at them.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: He will never do it. By his performance last night he will never get elected as mayor, boy.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, he's coming back, and you're going back (inaudible).

MR. REID: Switch again. I could be a much lesser person, I suppose, than the Mayor of Carbonear. I could be.


MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I want to just make a few comments on some of the rhetoric that has been going on in the House in the last four or five days with regards to questions. My hon. friend for Humber Valley made some comments about municipalities. It seems like I guess I'm the target of attack this week and somebody else will be next week, and so on.

I agree with a lot of the comments that are coming from both sides of the House as it relates to municipalities. I've been searching, and quite honestly searching, for the past two-and-a-half years to find some way to change the system whereby municipalities in the Province in particular can find ways and accept, I suppose, responsibility for running their individual communities, and when I say running I mean councils.

There is not a great problem with the majority of the larger communities in this Province when it comes to their financial ability, I guess. The problems in most cases exist in the smaller areas, the smaller communities.

Just recently we did a financial analysis of some 113 communities in the Province and I, being the type of person I am, had to ask for some independent analysis to be done outside my department by a number of other people, and in so doing I found in a number of cases the unbelievable system whereby a large number of communities in the Province, and people, councils in communities and people living in those communities, feel that it is government's responsibility to provide services - all services, the best of services - to themselves and the residents of their communities, and that they should not pay for it, that the Government of Newfoundland should pay for it, that the City of St. John's should continue to be paying income tax, and people living in the city. The City of Mount Pearl and Corner Brook and Gander and Grand Falls, those people living in those communities should be paying for the services for people in other smaller communities around the Province.

I just want to give you some figures. In doing the analysis it was just unbelievable to find out that certain communities in the Province who are charging high mil rates, and councils and mayors think that they are high mil rates, but because the mil rate was based on the assessed property value, the actual tax that people pay in the Province is sometimes less than $100 a year.

There is a community, for example, on the South Coast of the Province whose average residential property value is $11,300. They have a mil rate of nine mils. Now nine mils sounds high, but nine mils of $11,000 is $100 - it is $99 - and that is what a resident living in that community - and that community, by the way, has a water and sewage system; it has access to a stadium that is not in their community, but a mile-and-a-half away; they have garbage collection; they have street lighting; they have animal control, and I guess with the exception of having an Arts and Culture Centre they have as good a service as we do living in St. John's, or I do living in Carbonear, and the mil rate in St. John's happens to be eleven or twelve or thirteen, but the average person living in St. John's is paying somewhere to the tune of $1,400 or $1,500 for the basic same services.

My taxes in Carbonear, with a mil rate of 9.5 - now I do not own an elaborate home; I own an average bungalow that I built back in the days when I could afford to build an average house of 1,400 square feet, or 1,200 square feet - my taxes in Carbonear each year run me in excess of $900, and I wonder why I am paying $900 a year for taxes in Carbonear when somebody living no more than three miles from me, in a house that is worth double what mine is worth, and they are getting away with $500, basically using the same services, provided with the recreation facilities that we have in my community of Carbonear, and I guess that is true of all over the Province because most communities around the Province are within driving distance of the main centres and they can avail of the shopping centres and the hospitals and the stadiums and the Arts and Culture Centres and all the good things, or at least that is what I would consider them to be, the good things of life, and they do not have very far to go.

Now I will admit that there are communities that do not have very much. There are lots of communities out there that have very little, but if you go to those communities and ask them, do they want to become incorporated and form a council and go after water and sewerage, the first question that most of those will ask you is: Will we have to pay for it? And the answer is: Yes, you are going to have to pay for it. And immediately they say: No, we don't want it. So they survive on their own.

The other problem I have, too, with the whole system is that there are large numbers of people living in areas of Newfoundland that do not pay any taxes at all. Now when I say any taxes, I mean municipal taxes, taxes for services. They pay their income tax, they pay their PST and all the national I suppose and provincial taxes that have to be paid, they pay those; but then, someone living in St. John's, pays those as well. Someone living in Corner Brook or Carbonear or Wabush or Goose Bay pay them as well.

There are thousands and thousands of people maybe as many as 100,000 people, it could be more than that, living in this Province and they live in what we call local service districts and unincorporated communities, that when the snow falls, the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and Minister Effort's people are there immediately to plough their roads for them. In most cases - well I shouldn't say most but in a lot, in my district for example, all the roads that Mr. Effort ploughs are paved and not only are they paved, they even have street names on them that Works, Services and Transportation put there a few years ago; I suppose to identify what roads they need to go in and what roads they need to service.

Now, with that said, there is something wrong with a system whereby one resident living within the system pays $1,600, $2,000 a year for basic services of garbage collection, street lights, recreation, snow clearing and all the things that go with it. There is something wrong with a system where one person has to pay large amounts of money for services and next door to that same community, somebody living there, is getting basically the same services and they are getting it for much, much, much less than what their neighbours are paying.

I don't know, Mr. Chairman, but maybe the answer to it would be to take a good, serious look at all municipalities in the Province, and not only municipalities but unincorporated areas as well and those areas that we consider local service districts, because a local service district, and most of you I think, realize what a local service district is. It is not an incorporated community; it is a committee that meets every month or two and they are responsible basically to provide garbage collection in the community and that's all. They don't go beyond that unless they get into a system of wells, artesian wells and then they are responsible to maintain the lines between houses and down roads and this sort of thing, but that's the only duty they have.

Mr. Chairman, the other point that I want to make is that, some two weeks ago I guess or a little over two weeks ago, I was told basically, as all other members of Cabinet were told, that we were short some $60 million this year in our Budget, and the problem we had with that was that, if it were a case of having the $60 million or being able to borrow the $60 million, maybe we would have looked at that but we found out pretty quickly that it wasn't the case any longer where this Province could actually go out and borrow money. We have reached a point in our history where, the bond markets and the people who loaned us money are saying to us: be very, very careful in coming back looking for more money, more financing because sooner or later, it is going to affect your rating again and your rating I guess, in our case I believe it is at B+, BBB+ right now.

Now, if our rating happens to drop, then that $60 million will be a drop in the bucket. If our rating drops you will be looking at maybe, hundreds of millions of dollars in interest charges, so we agreed that we would have to find the $60 million. Now the $60 million, Mr. Chairman, I won't say it wasn't our fault but a large part of that $60 million was an adjustment to our funding that we get from the federal government and in the middle of the year, getting a letter from the federal Minister of Finance advising us that we are down $30 million or $40 million or $50 million this year, in transfer payments, because of a number of reasons, out-migration and a number of other things certainly was a blow to us and there was no way of predicting that.

You can't predict that in a budget so we had to find the $60 million for this year and basically, I felt like all other members, my colleagues in Cabinet, if we had to find this we would have to find this equally among ourselves. We would have to share the burden of finding that $60 million. When the assessment was done on my department they basically told me, Treasury Board and Finance, that I had to find in excess of $4 million to help offset this $60 million. So I went looking for it and of course ultimately I had to make the announcement as it relates to funding to municipalities. Now when I say funding to municipalities, Mr, Chairman, I think most people understand and they realize that the $41.5 million that is being provided to municipalities in this Province is only about one-third of what this government and previous governments are contributing to municipalities in the Province.

My budget, and when I say, `my' it is because I happen to be the minister of the department. I am not claiming to own the department by any means but in Municipal and Provincial Affairs our budget each year is $180 million. I will round it off to $180 million. Out of that $180 million in that budget, from that department, $155 million of that $180 million goes directly to municipalities. It goes in the form of municipal operating grants, $40-$41 million, MOG we refer to it as. Some $70 million each year the government pays to NMFC which ultimately goes back to the people who we borrowed the money from in Japan, in New York and the bonding markets of the world, $70 million. We provide assistance for fire fighting in St. John's and in Corner Brook. We provide large amounts of money, millions of dollars each year towards the Labrador Agreement and work on the Labrador to try and do something to help those communities up there and I could go on and on. Close to $155 million a year goes towards or goes out to municipalities. Now out of that $150 million I am looking for $4 million to help this Province balance its budget in '95-96. Now $4 million out of $155 million does not sound like very much and, Mr. Chairman, it is not a lot when you think about it.

I've done an assessment on every community in this Province that I have had to announce a decrease to their MOG and I say categorically to you here in this House today that every community that there was a reduction in, it basically means somewhere between 2 per cent and 3 per cent of their total budgets. The City of St. John's for example, loses less then 3 per cent of its total budget. Now when you look at it in that light, I am asking as a representative of this government and this Cabinet, I am asking municipalities around this Province to find approximately 2-3 per cent of their budgets next year so that $4.5 million, at least for this year, can be replaced. Is that a lot? Yes, that is a lot to some municipalities, it is a lot. I have municipalities out there that I know of personally that have cut back on staff, cut back on services, laid off town managers and laid off town clerks, even closed out stadiums and turned off street lights. They have done everything that they can possibly do to meet the ever increasing problem that they have in their communities.

I heard a lady the other night on TV crying that she had to leave Newfoundland. She said, with tears rolling down over her face, she said the hardest thing I had to do and the most devastating thing to me, living up here in Edmonton or Alberta, was that I had to give up my dart game. God bless her, the poor old soul. I had to give up my dart game. That is the thing she missed the most.

Mr. Chairman, I have also, in my assessment of municipal taxation, done an assessment around this Province of the cost of cable TV. In the same areas, in the same municipalities, I have asked for the cost of cable TV and surprisingly enough, Mr. Chairman, the average cost for cable TV in this Province, if you compare it to the average cost of municipal taxes, is three times greater than the cost of municipal services. The average cost for cable TV in this Province, on an average, cost three times more than good, clean, decent drinking water, having your road snow cleared when the snow falls, hospital services, education services, stadiums, recreation facilities, garbage collection, and street lighting. Now, I am saying this because municipalities for the most part provide those services to residents all over this Province, and people will say to you and to me, and to every member of this House that government is taxing us to death, and while they are saying that they are getting ready to rush home to watch Another World on a television that is costing them approximately $300 to $400 a year for cable TV.

Now, I am going to go right back to where I was when I started here today. I do not know, I cannot answer that question; I do not know why people think that cable TV is more important to them than being able to get up in the morning and turn the tap on and get fresh drinking water. There are places in this country and in this world that would pay $10,000 a year for good drinking water. That is what I am dealing with. Is it right, or is it my responsibility as a minister in government to try and change the attitudes of people living in the Province as it relates to the role that the mayor and the six councillors play in their community? Maybe it is part of my responsibility, but I think that something has to be done, be it brainwashing or something has to be done to let people know from one end of this Province to the other that the most important service, outside of health and education, that they can have in this Province is the services that volunteer people are providing them and those volunteer people are called councils.

I hear on a daily basis people ranting and raving, and picketing in front of town council offices around the Province condemning the mayor and condemning council, and saying everything they can possibly say about these people who volunteer their time, for what? When I think back to the eight years I served on council, and now Mayor Peach is in Carbonear and he went through it for six years before me, and came back at it, I wonder why we as volunteers, I suppose back then, wanted to get ourselves in that situation? The only answer can be - and I say this to my friend over there from Mount Pearl, the only answer can be, because I believe he would answer the same as I would, and Milt Peach would, because he is back out there at it right now, is that I am living in this God forsaken place and I have to try and contribute as much to this place as I possibly can on a volunteer basis so that my children and my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren, and the people who are living here can grow up in this place and have a sense of pride, and say, look, Mount Pearl is not such a bad place to live in, or Carbonear, or Wabana, or Portugal Cove.

MR. WINDSOR: Giving something back.

MR. REID: Yes, giving something back because we do it as Newfoundlanders. We do not only do it through municipal councils. We volunteer to be chairpersons of cancer societies, tuberculosis, and out campaigning on a regular basis. All of us have gone through that. I do not think any of us would have ever got in this House if we had not gone out and shown the people in our areas, in our communities, and in our districts that we were honest and sincere people, that we were out volunteering our lives to do those sorts of things.

I say to you quite honestly that I wish there was some way that we in this Province, and when I say, we, I mean my department, the Federation of Municipalities, NLAMA, the Administrators Association, and municipalities around the Province could come together and say: Here is our problem, and we have to do something about it.

I am after saying, I suppose, two or three times in the last couple of weeks - I have been quoted out of context, I suppose, in some cases; I think my hon. friend from Mount Pearl understands - I said on several occasions, and I said it again last night on CBC, that if things keep going in the direction they are going, yes, the municipal operating grant will be on the chopping block like every single program that we have in government. I hope it doesn't but, at the same time, when I look at some communities in this Province and I see how hard they are trying to survive, the things that they are doing, on one hand I see those people and those councils and I say to myself, I wish I could give them more. Then, on the other hand, I have letters and I hear comments from mayors and from councillors from around the Province that says absolutely no, we are not doing any more, and that is it, I say to myself, I wonder is there a way of separating them; I wonder is there some way that we could separate them, but I don't think that will ever happen.

I am not going to take up much more time, but I just want to give you some more figures. These drastic cuts to municipalities are not as drastic to some communities as they may seem. I will just give you an example. I will run down through. I have the list here, for example. There are some communities, and I think if you listen around the Province to the media in the last week or so, most of the comments are coming from the larger centres. You notice they are coming from Corner Brook and Carbonear and St. John's and Mount Pearl, the larger centres.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have the full list there and could we see it?

MR. REID: Yes, you can have it. You can look at it; sure you can.

With that said, I cannot name the communities because when I came in as minister back two-and-a-half years ago I made a commitment not only to myself but to a lot of mayors and councillors, and the Federation of Municipalities, that I would never get up and discuss the name of a community or the situation they are in financially, and I am not going to do it. I have been tried. Several times the media have asked me: Give us the facts, give us the figures and so on, and let us work on it, and I will not do it.

I am not going to name the places, but just listen to some of the cuts. I have five pages of communities here, and I will just take the first page and read the cuts to you: $5,000; $2,000; $2,009; $1,823; $881; $4,410; $3,326; $3,491; $1,664; $4,357; $1.064; $3,415; $5,271; $4,607; $3,700, and I could go on. On that first page there are about thirty communities. I would say - I will guess, because I have not done the estimates - that 75 per cent of the communities on this first page are going to lose between $2,000 and $3,000 in taxes, and I will go further to say that I will bet you, or anyone in this House, that those communities - I said 70 per cent - 70 per cent of those communities have a mil rate of less than five. Now I can prove these things to you. Mr. Hodder knows what I am talking about, because he has seen these figures. He has seen and he knows what I am talking about. Anybody who has been involved in municipal politics in this Province knows that you cannot operate a community, have $3 million or $4 million worth of infrastructure in the ground, have snow clearing and sewage disposal and drinking water, and all the services that we have anywhere else in the Province, and pay $100 a year taxes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: What are you talking about? Which ones?

AN HON. MEMBER: He knows everything.

MR. REID: You should come in with me. I will give you the opportunity, like I have offered everyone. I will take the Southern Shore, in your district, and I will sit you down, if Mr. Hodder agrees to go with me, and I will give you every one of the communities that are in your district. I will show you the tax rates that they are collecting.

AN HON. MEMBER: I know, I know what they are.

MR. REID: There was one in your community yesterday, one was on CBC yesterday morning lambasting me and I went in and I looked it up and I said: oh, that's not too bad, lambasting me, their mil rate is 5.5 mils and the average property value in that community is $19,000. Now if you can't figure out what they are paying a year towards taxes, come over and I will teach you how to do it.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: You know what they are getting, the biggest community in your district, you know what service they are getting.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, as I just said, (inaudible).

MR. REID: For $100 a year? They should be paying more than that for garbage collection and nothing else and you know what I am talking about.

Mr. Chairman, subsidies to municipalities are not only, I began by saying this, not only municipal operating grants but there are all kinds of other subsidies that go out to municipalities. Let me, without telling the truth about it all, the largest without - I shouldn't say telling the truth, that's wrong, I retract that - without giving away the name of the community, let's talk about the largest town in the Province.

The largest town in this Province, this year, will receive a cheque for $5 million from this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: To do what?

MR. REID: To pay for the water and sewer services they got, to help pay for their new swimming pool. Their MOG that they go out and use to pay their workers to clear roads, all these things -

AN HON. MEMBER: How much did you give them in (inaudible)?

MR. REID: A lot less than that. Yes, I can assure you of that because the population is after growing and the MOG is based on population growth so they got less than that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: Five million dollars.

Let's take one of the large towns in Central Newfoundland. This year we will be sending $4 million to that town; $ 4 million from this government, and I asked that particular town if I could take out of that, $355,000, that's what I asked and you know what the reaction was. Now, that $355,000 is less than 3 per cent of their total budget.

Mr. Chairman, I don't want to leave the wrong impression here because I could go on and talk about a large number of towns. For example, my own Town of Carbonear this year, will receive and I don't mind saying that's my own, $611,000. Now, why are they so different, why is Carbonear only getting $611,000 and that other town that I talked about with a population of only about 4,000 or less people more in it are getting almost $4 million? Let me tell you why.

There are towns out there for example that have been incorporated for long periods of time and over those periods of years, they have had loans from governments, from NMFC and they have paid them off, so as they pay off their debt and don't have the debt that other communities have, then of course, we don't have to give them as much money towards their debt charges, so a place like Carbonear, if you look at that, you would have to say today that Carbonear is in pretty good financial shape.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: The same. The same. When I left the mayor who came in after me drove the deficit from $800,000 up to $1.2 million. Now, Mr. Peach is there and he is trying to get it down from $1.2 and he has had two-and-a-half years to do it and he is not doing too bad a job but it is still up to $1.2 million. I don't mind that, I don't mind saying that; I give credit where credit is due and Milton is doing his best, the best he can do in Carbonear and I am here to help him in every way I can and maybe in the next election he will be my campaign manager, who knows.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: One or the other.

Mr. Chairman, I am going to finish on that. I just wanted to make those comments to you because I believe - even though I get a fair amount of criticism from my critic on the other side and from some members of the House of Assembly - I think at the end of the day anybody who knows and understands municipal operations in this Province knows exactly what I am talking about and know what I said was true because I did not say anything that is not factual. I will provide that list to you seeing that you asked me in the House officially. I will show you the list if you want to see it. I am sorry; I will have to take that back, Mr. Chairman. I will show you the list as it relates to your own communities. I won't show you the list for the rest of the Province because really I don't think you need to see it. If your critic asks me to show it to him, well I would have to do it on the basis that I assume that the critic is not going to take it out and give it to the media. I don't think he would do that but I will provide any member - if you want to see the list come over now and look at it and I will show it to you.

Now let me make one final comment and then I will sit down. There was a misunderstanding, and maybe I should take the blame for it, when I mentioned here the other day in the House - I think the Member for Menihek and the Member for St. John's East Extern - I made a comment, when you try to explain - I believe I was referring to my friend from Menihek: Will you try to explain why Wabush is getting more money this year and Torbay?

AN HON. MEMBER: Property settlements.

MR. REID: That is what it boils down to, it is because of property assessments. Their assessments and their MOG would have been that much greater this year that it was enough to offset the decrease plus they ended up with a few dollars extra, so they are gone up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: They are gone up, yes.

The final comment I will make to you is that I am now in the process of - and I told my hon. friend from Waterford - Kenmount this this morning - I am in the process now of introducing a brand new system to the assessment division whereby we will be able to -this is what my officials are telling me - we will be able to do all reassessments and guarantee communities, every community in the Province, that all the assessments will be up to date and the maximum length of time for reassessment will be three years. We are going to offer that to municipalities because we are going to change our system whereby we reassess.

MR. J. BYRNE: We heard that two years ago.

MR. REID: I know you heard it two years ago. I am telling you again, this time it will work. If it does not there won't be an assessment division. There won't be an assessment division in my department. This time it will work, I promise you.

MR. J. BYRNE: Will you resign?

MR. REID: No, I won't resign - you know I won't.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to make these few points.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now we are going to hear it.

MR. J. BYRNE: Now we will hear the facts.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I say to the minister, we are going to hear a few facts. Actually, it is incumbent upon the government to put forth a budget that is realistic, and we shouldn't have to be facing, on an ongoing basis, shortfalls in budgets, especially - I say to the minister who is so interested in hearing what I have to say - when we issue Special Warrants for $9.2 million for Cabot 500 and Marble Mountain, a corporation which we had a funeral for, and we go out with Special Warrants for expenditures - on Marble Mountain, Special Warrants. We don't have any Special Warrants to deal with, we haven't had budget measures to deal with the communities properly that are out there being given one set of rules a few years ago and they changed the rules in mid-stream.

Another interesting one - water bombers, in a time of austerity. I guess the minister went shopping, and he went to a water bomber show, and he walked by and said, `These are nice, the two of these. How much are these?' `Oh, about $3.6 million each, $7.2 million.' `I would like to have a couple of those.'

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he comes back and goes to Cabinet. Maybe I will ask for it for Christmas. He couldn't wait for Christmas. The minister went to Cabinet and said: Two beautiful water bombers, $7.2 million; to heck with municipalities. Let's take $4.5 million on the municipalities this year. Let's take $7.9 million next year, whatever it is, $11.9 million in two years, and let's buy two water bombers.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Price Club.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Price Club, yes. Maybe he went wholesale shopping, and put a Special Warrant with a budget deficit, and this government knows as well, the budget problems started with a false budget, sort of barefaced falsehoods we heard back in March of this year, in which they produced a budget. They told us last year we had a surplus, when they took $31 million last year from the South Coast ferry system and lumped it into the general revenues to balance the Budget, and they took $20 million from a sinking fund, and that is where they got their Budget balanced. This year they came back again and said: What we are going to do this year, now -we have a big problem; we are going to take $70.6 million now from the sinking fund, and we are going to put that into the projected revenues for this year. We are going to take another $13 million, the next payment on the South Coast ferry service, and we are going to throw that in, so we have ourselves $83.6 million, and we are going to take $7 million from the offshore revenue fund. We are going to get $13 million more, it said, from Newfoundland Hardwoods and Holiday Inns. Of the $6.5 million they got, they spent $1.5 million; that is $5 million, when the minister stated in this House that we had, I think, Churchill Square a $2.75 million offer, and it is estimated at only about $2.9 million or $3 million. He said we could have gotten $8 million for Elizabeth Towers but we wanted to get $10 million. And to get our money back on Holiday Inns we would have needed $29.6 million and we gave it for $6.5 million minus the $1.5 million we spent on it for $5 million. Wouldn't you take an $8 million deal when it is worth $10 million, or a $2.75 million when it is only worth $2.9 million? But we will accept a $6.5 million or a $5 million deal when we need to get $29.6 million.

That is a pile of bunk. They picked out the one they wanted to sell and so on, pumped the money into it to make it suitable for the buyer, and then they sold it off to Fortis again. That is not playing the game with the people of this Province. It is not playing the game.

I will talk about the municipalities in my district. In many communities, we just do not have sidewalks or bus transportation. We don't have recreation facilities in cities, so why should we pay the same dollar value as we do in the city of St. John's? Why should you pay that up in Port Kirwan, which had 120 people down to eighty people, mostly seniors? Most people moved out - a little community that cannot meet its payments; not one business in the community in my district, not a single business in the community with an aging population, where people moved out to Alberta and everywhere else, with only eighty-some people it is down to now from 120 or 130. Yes, $3,000 is a lot to that community when you only have 70 per cent seniors in that community and only a handful of people. It is a lot of money. It is equivalent to millions in the city of St. John's, the same comparison. For people on fixed incomes, people not working out there, it is a lot of money.

I will mention a community, and I heard it on the news yesterday, the Mayor of Ferryland, a very responsible individual who came in when they were having a debt problem. He said: We need to get in, folks, a person with a business background, a commerce graduate, working in some management position in a Federal Government department. He has a knowledge of finance. He said: We are going to get our act together; we are going to pay back our debts. They negotiated with this government -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) said that?

MR. SULLIVAN: The Mayor of Ferryland negotiated with this government to pay back its debts over a four-year period because they are behind and they wanted to be in good standing. They negotiated. That was accepted with a handshake; he said on radio, I heard him say. They negotiated, it was accepted. They are up to date on their payments, to my knowledge, and that was said. Now, this community is hit with thousands of more dollars, when they went to a public meeting - and I went to a public meeting at that time just before the election there, and a very boisterous public meeting, when the people had to be told about tax increases. People accepted - look, if this is what we need to get back on track we are willing to give. They are willing to give.

A new council went in there. Things were going well, they were very responsible, doing and providing the necessary services, collecting the necessary taxes and so on. Gives a handshake with the minister - that is what he said - with the minister, a handshake and a deal, and now, we pull the rug out from under us and we are going to lose creditability with the people in the area. Now, that's what is happening and that is not an honourable way to deal with a struggling community.

Since I came in this House in 1992, I can't speak for the time before that, and I can't condone, whatever government was in power, if they did something wrong it is wrong, if they didn't act responsibly, that is wrong. We all have to bear responsibility, but I have observed the scene since I have been here and I have seen - and this minister said, We will tell them up front, but it hasn't happened. I came in here in 1992 and the following year, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, in June -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will give it a minute or two. In June they told the municipalities, when they were half-way into their budget year, they had to adjust. That is not playing the game, I say to the minister. It is not playing the game at all. The minister stands up and tells us that communities in my district are paying $100 or so. I am saying if a community is not in debt - I will finish with this one and then adjourn debate. The community of Bay Bulls has not one penny of long-term debt, and the minister stated that communities that are in good standing should be able to avail of infrastructure.

There are a lot of communities in this Island which have money. They wanted $25,000 to complete a road. They had their own $25,000 and they wanted $25,000 federal and $25,000 provincial, and they wouldn't give it to them. They threw out money in other areas. They forced municipalities to join so they could accommodate Terra Nova Lodge out there. A community without one cent of debt wanted $25,000 from this government, and they couldn't get it. Now, that is not playing the game, that is not assisting communities which are making an effort and do not have any debt.

I will pick up on that point when I get an opportunity and when we resume on Bill No. 14, and adjourn debate so we can move back out of Committee.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee on Supply have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report some progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Government House Leader has advised me that on Monday we will be dealing with Bill 31, "An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Act And The Electoral Boundaries Act". We are hoping to have that over with in about fifteen or twenty minutes, and then we will go on with some other bill.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Monday, at 2:00 p.m.

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