December 5, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLII  No. 69

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: On November 3rd, I informed hon. members that government was projecting a budgetary shortfall of $60 million in its 1995-'96 fiscal year.

Since that time, each minister has been asked to review his or her department's spending estimates to identify savings to restore a fully balanced budget position this year. I am able to advise the House today that government has taken decisions which will balance the budget for this fiscal year.

In arriving at the individual decisions that comprise this $60 million, we have attempted, where possible, to avoid direct impact on the public. Consequently, we have placed considerable emphasis on the reduction of departmental operating budgets. We have also been able to achieve cash flow savings in our capital accounts.

Mr. Speaker, hon. members will recognize that the majority of government's discretionary expenditures are salaries. Consequently, it is not possible to obtain significant savings without affecting our employees. The spending reductions that have been accepted include reductions in the public service of 475 positions; 390 of these positions are presently filled and are spread across a number of departments and agencies of government. All of the individual employees affected will be notified this week. The savings this year will be $4.7 million less any severance payments required. The annualized saving each year thereafter from these staffing measures will amount to approximately $18 million.

In taking these staffing measures, government was conscious of minimizing the impact on services to the public. Of the positions where lay-offs will take place, less than fifty will be front-line workers. The result is that the majority of the staff cuts have taken place in our administration structure. This includes reductions in our central agencies such as Cabinet Secretariat, Treasury Board Secretariat, and the Department of Finance. The hon. the Premier has reviewed the mandate of his own office and has put in place a restructuring which will lead to a 40 per cent reduction in staffing from seventeen to ten positions.

The government will achieve $30 million in savings through a variety of program reduction measures, the more significant of which are as follows:

As hon. members are already aware, government will reduce Municipal Operating Grants by $4.1 million this year.

We have been particularly sensitive to the health care sector which is undergoing a period of fundamental restructuring. We believe, nevertheless, that savings of approximately $2.5 million can be made to year end in the areas of grants to institutional health boards, the faculty of medicine, and spending at MCP without disrupting the provision of essential health services to all residents of our Province. This represents less than one-third of 1 per cent of government spending on health care operating budgets.

The operating grant to the University will be reduced by $3.4 million for the balance of this year, and school board operating grants will be reduced by $3.9 million, and provincial colleges will be required to achieve savings of approximately $2 million.

The Department of Social Services has identified $3.1 million in savings through reduced program spending in community development and other areas. This represents less than 1 per cent of this year's Social Services budget.

Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation, the Economic Recovery Commission, and the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology will contribute $4.9 million in both program and operating savings.

In the Department of Justice we will reducing our expenditures under the RCMP contract for policing in this Province by $1.9 million this year, and we will be implementing certain economies in the operations of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. These budget reductions in policing will be implemented in such a way as to ensure that our principal policing functions are not affected.

The Women's Correctional Centre at Stephenville will be relocated to the more modern facility at Clarenville and male inmates currently housed at the Clarenville facility will be transferred to available space in other locations.

Mr. Speaker, the balance of our expenditure reduction plan includes having departments and agencies further reduce their operating budgets by $11 million and defer $9 million of capital expenditures. The Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation will remit an additional $2.9 million in dividends from that originally estimated in the Budget.

The plan I am presenting today represents an important step in maintaining the Province's financial creditability. We face major fiscal challenges next year. The general economic outlook for the Province in the near-term as well as the stance of the Federal Government with respect to transfer payments and other expenditure areas indicate the need for a fundamental review of our spending programs for 1996-'97. In particular, the Federal Government's $100 million reduction in transfer payments for health care, post-secondary education and social services dramatically affects our ability to continue our current levels of service to the people of the Province. The adjustments we are announcing today will allow government to balance our Budget for this fiscal year. To continue to do so next year and thereafter, will require a resolution of fundamental questions about the essential services which the people of this Province want, expect, are prepared to pay for and the manner in which they are to be delivered.

Government will put in place a process for an orderly and well-planned approach to restructure government services. Over the medium term, the Province expects brighter economic prospects. We are committed to meeting the challenge and maintaining a sound financial position in the interim. We believe this to be in the best interest of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what this Statement the minister has just read today says to us is that he is now confirming government's inability to budget, government's inability to manage and the failure of government's economic policies, Mr. Speaker. Everything we have said would happen over the past number of Budget Speeches has indeed come to pass. What we are looking at here, Mr. Speaker, now, is crisis management on behalf of this government.

Crisis management of a crisis of their own making, I would suggest, because they should have known last year, that the Budget they brought into this House was unrealistic and unattainable. It is no surprise to us, the Opposition told them that at the time, Mr. Speaker, and I think it was an unrealistic Budget based on false pretences and false assumptions on behalf of this particular government.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, we have seen some inappropriate management and I refer specifically to the $27 million in Special Warrants, that show crisis-buying or impulse-buying which has caused a large portion of this particular problem that the minister is trying to deal with today. And I suggest to him also, that the crisis is one of their own making because of the predictions in their Budget, and I remind government that three years ago, they set themselves on a course, a three-year course of balancing the Budget by next fiscal year and in their Budget Speech of last year, they announced where they were one year early. Now, they are back on target, Mr. Speaker. And now that they are back on target, it appears to be a great crisis, all of a sudden, that they are trying to deal with, and a large part of the crisis was caused by their Special Warrants, Mr. Speaker.

What it amounts to, is that they are now cutting for the next three or four months, $9.3 million from the education Budget over all to pay for water bombers they bought this summer; three million dollars from social services programs, Mr. Speaker, to pay for Marble Mountain; $2.5 million from health care to pay for the Cabot Corporation which they a month later totally disbanded.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: One point nine million dollars, Mr. Speaker, from the RCMP funding, from policing in this Province, to pay for the educational referendum. We know what that did. Four point seven million dollars, which represents a loss of 475 positions that this government has been telling us ever since it came into office six or seven years ago it was going to cut each year. Now it is finally doing it. The cost of that of course will be borne by the public servants of this Province, and by the people of this Province.

The real question is, is this not just more smoke and mirrors? First of all there is an $11 million item in there of additional program cuts that the minister has not identified. So he hasn't even finished the job today of identifying where he is going to find his $60 million that he says he wants to find.

Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the Economic Recovery Commission, long overdue to cut them. This government has yet to show us what they have produced. I have some concern -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: - that perhaps some of the programs in the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. WINDSOR: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

MR. WINDSOR: Just for another few moments. I won't....

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, what this also does - and let's be very clear - the minister said a month ago that he would be coming forth with a statement in due course, and he said there would be no increased taxation. Well, $4.1 million in cuts to municipal operating grants is indirect taxation. Two point nine million dollars additional dividend from Newfoundland Hydro will be passed along to the consumers of this Province, and that is indirect taxation.

The Minister of Natural Resources shakes his head. Where is Newfoundland Hydro going to get it? The minister knows better than that. When they go before the PUB that will be dealt with and it will in due course be passed along.

Mr. Speaker, it is crisis management of the worst order, an admission of gross failure in the financial management of this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. member.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I only have time for a short statement, but I do wish to point out the fact that this government by bringing in a balanced budget on both capital and program expenditure last year made every expenditure equal to every other one. So that a capital expenditure for water bombers and for Marble Mountain now is translated into taking away program spending for Memorial University, for health care, for social services.

If it had the intention from the very beginning of policing this Budget the way that it is doing it now, by taking money out of the pockets of public servants, of health care, and universities and schools, if it had that intention, then it should have started policing it from the very beginning and not made those expenditures. It is now forcing the individuals in this Province and individual public servants to pay for its inability to manage the public purse.

Oral Questions

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Minister of Finance.

What does the government know now that the government did not know last March when it brought in the budget for this fiscal year? What does the government know today that the government did not know in the summer when the government spent $27 million on items which were not covered by the March budget? What were the government members thinking when they spent $7.2 million during the summer for water bombers if they were determined to extract that amount to offset the unplanned spending from schools and hospitals? Why didn't they notify and deal with school boards and hospitals last summer?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not really sure what the hon. member's question is. If she is asking why government made expenditures it was because government at the time deemed it to be prudent to do so. The water bombers were and are necessary for the protection of the forests of the Province. It is the same as anything else in a persons personal life, you may not plan on expenditures but they may become necessary. Government has said all along it intends to achieve a balanced budget. Its fiscal position changes month to month, depending on revenues.

One of the largest items that we had to account for was a decline in equalization that was not forecast by the federal government, also a decline in personal and corporate income taxes, according to the forecast. These are direct transfers of monies that the federal government collects and remits to the Province. That is essentially the major portion of the problem as we found it. Today I have just told the hon. members and the people of the Province how we will address it.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm that $27 million of the $60 million shortfall is explainable by the governments own overspending? Twenty-seven million spending this summer on water bombers, Cabot celebrations, Marble Mountain and an education referendum which were not provided for in the March budget, unplanned spending. Will the minister explain why action was not taken during the summer to notify school boards, colleges and hospitals that they were going to be called upon to make the offsetting savings so they could plan the savings over the fall instead of having to make panic decisions in the remaining three-and-a-half months of the budget year?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Special warrants are not to cover unplanned expenditures but unforeseen ones. In these cases the referendum was not, as I understand it, a matter that was planned at the time of the spring budget. It was therefore not budgeted for. As well, the water bombers is another one that the hon. member focuses in on. Several of the other matters that she mentioned are matters that were pending agreement with the federal government under cost-shared agreements and and by virtue of our Financial Administration Act the Province unfortunately cannot budget for contingencies. It can only budget for matters which it knows at the time are to be definitely expended in the coming year. In every year there are matters for special warrants, including the last year in which the hon. member was a member of the conservative administration, in 1989.

Mr. Speaker, it is prudent for the government, during the course of its fiscal year, to plan expenditures on the one hand that were not foreseen and, secondly, to take corrective action and find that money to offset those expenditures in other areas. That is what we have done. The dimensions of what we would need to do was not apparent until the end of October, and at that time we immediately began the process of asking the departments to come forward with solutions. Those were evaluated over the last month, and in the circumstances I believe the government has made the fairest judgement and come to the best conclusions as to how that money should be found.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the Minister of Finance, last March the government played numbers games with the Budget. This fall the government has been playing mind games with the public service. Today the minister announced that 390 public servants in departments and agencies are being laid off, for a savings in this budget year of $4.7 million less severance. Will the minister indicate how much will be spent in severance pay, and will he indicate whether the severance will totally offset the $4.7 million, meaning the lay-offs will not address the $60 million shortfall in this budget year.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We will not be able to quantify the exact amount of severance for some period of time. The reason is that under collective agreements individuals have the right to bump. The person often with the least seniority is the person who is displaced. That person, in that instance, has the least claim to seniority and severance. Therefore, it will take some time for us to ascertain the exact amount.

Having said that, the savings on salary budget will still be substantial and, thirdly, we expect that the majority of that fund will be found out of departmental budgets. Many departments have already offset the amount for severance against their own budgets, so in the end we expect that we will achieve very close to the amount we have in our budget of $4.7 million.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That does not make any sense, I say to the Minister of Finance. The minister knows that the government has contractual obligations to pay significant amounts of severance pay to public servants.

I ask the minister to tell us his revised estimate of provincial revenue as a result of the government carrying out the cuts that he just announced. The government is indicating an intention to take $50 to $60 million out of circulation, that's bound to have a depressing effect on provincial sales tax and income tax and other sources of provincial revenue, what is the minister's revised estimate of provincial revenue?

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

MR. DICKS: Yes. In answer to the first part of the question, Mr. Speaker, I don't think the hon. member understands what I said earlier. In order to determine whether or not severance is payable, you have to see which employee is in effect going to be the person who actually loses a position.

Under the collective agreements in many cases an individual is not entitled to severance until they have been with the government nine years, it doesn't vest for that period of time, so if someone with twelve years seniority bumps someone with one year seniority, obviously the effective payment of severance is much less depending on the person affected as opposed to the position eliminated. In terms of savings to government, the savings are from the salary of the position that was eliminated. Severance is based on the person who ultimately may lose the job with the public service, so in that we can't give a definite figure. I am reluctant to give a ballpark figure because experience shows that the hon. members have an inclination to distort it. I think that essentially addresses the first part of the question she raised.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What the minister has just told us in effect, is he has put in place a plan that takes senior employees who have the right to bump, they will be moving down the line, so the bottom employee is the one who will lose a position. In effect, what's happening is a non-voluntary demotion for employees all the way down the line, all of whom will take a lower salary or otherwise be forced to quit and if they quit, they lose the entitlement to their severance pay, I understand.

Is that the minister's way of getting around the severance position so that the person at the end of the line who is bumped out, is not eligible for severance pay because they have been there less than nine years? Is that his game?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member had just distorted what I did say and this is the reason I am reluctant to give any ballpark figures.

Of the people who are displaced, some are management. In that case it is clear what the severance package is, because the person who is displaced, that person will lose his or her job; there is a defined right of severance in that case. Another group of our employees affected are people who hold bargaining unit positions, they have the right to bump. Where that ends up, given the nature of the collective agreement, is uncertain to us at this time. It is therefore impossible for us to quantify what exact amounts of severance will, if anything be payable, therefore despite what the hon. member says, I trust that if he didn't know the difference, he now does. It is impossible for us to say as of this date, when the full bumping process has not taken place, what the government's final liability for severance will be. When that's determined I will certainly be pleased to report back to the House on the final amount.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Clearly, the net result will not be $4.7 million.

Could the minister tell us: in the additional $11 million in operating cuts that he has announced here, how many jobs will that impact? Obviously that's not all from programs, obviously the minister is talking about additional layoffs. That's an $11-million slush fund, or you know, undefined cut, it's an axe fund, it's a catchall, $11 million in additional cuts and operating. Could the minister tell us how many jobs are involved there, and in what areas, and what will be the net impact of that altogether and tie that in, Mr. Speaker, with the cuts in the capital expenditure this year, what are the indirect jobs in the Province, not in the public service, but the indirect jobs in the construction industry that will be lost as a result of freezing the capital program for this year?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In answer to the hon. member's question, there are not other job implications from trimming our operating budget. Those expenditures include things such as travel, communications, some equipment purchases, computers, things of that nature. There are no direct job implications for government in that. As regards the other measures government has taken, there may be less work performed for government in the private sector and that may diminish some economic activity in the Province. Whether or not people will lose jobs as a result of that, at this stage it is conjecture, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister some questions now dealing with Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the Economic Recovery Commission.

Is the government going to eliminate the Economic Recovery Commission as a dead loss -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: - and on the other side, Mr. Speaker, what will be the impact on Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, which does have a function? I think it needs to be totally overhauled and revamped and a lot of what it does could be done away with, but there are some good programs there that I would hate to lose in throwing the baby out with the bath water. Will the minister tell us what funding programs to private enterprise will be lost as a result of these cuts, and what benefits, what assistance, to private enterprise will be lost here?

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

MR. WINDSOR: Not in Chinese, please.

MS VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: She said "How are you" in Chinese. Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to tell the hon. member that indeed a full review of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the Economic Recovery Commission will be undertaken, is being undertaken, over the next three to four months.

With respect to Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador under this current round, there will be an 11 per cent reduction. It will impact on jobs directly in the corporation. There will be no programs to businesses affected at this time. The Economic Recovery Commission will be reduced by 5 per cent at this particular time. Its programs, it has done some important work on income security, on new growth opportunities, on the nineteen economic zones and other areas that my hon. friend is familiar with. But there will be a total review of both of those structures in light of what has to happen next year as well.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Let me go back to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board again, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister tell us: What will be the net impact on jobs in the health care sector and the educational sector? The minister knows as well as I do that the educational sector can't possibly find $9 million over the next three months. Most of their funds are locked in. Are we looking at severe cutbacks in maintenance, in operating budgets, in supplies for students, in school busing perhaps? How does the minister propose that school boards are going to find $4 million over the next three or four months? How is the University going to find $3.4 million, or the community colleges $2 million? Are we not getting down here to nuts and bolts and a reduction in the standard of education in this Province?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, there is really no need for the hon. member to be so distraught. We think we can manage to make our contribution. The school boards will be asked for $3.9 million. The school board year goes from July 31 till June 30 of the following year, as the hon. member knows. So unlike most of the departments the school boards we will be asking to get their savings from the six-month period, from January - well, really seven months, from now until June 30. So it won't be fair -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I thought the question was serious enough to give a serious answer. I didn't realize it was going to be a shouting match over there. I thought it was a serious question; I'm trying to give a serious answer.

The University is asked for $3.3 million. We fund them to the tune of $110 million and it should be able to handle that. The colleges, we are asking for $2 million. The colleges have a total budget, if you include the federal transfers, of about $100 million. That is one area we don't expect there to be very much pain at all. As for the lay offs, the Department of Education will be laying off sixty-three people. Twelve of them will be with the School for the Deaf, the others will be with the department. Many of them are managers, many of them are consultants, and many of them -

AN HON. MEMBER: I hope you're one of them!

MR. DECKER: Unfortunately for the hon. member, no such luck. I will be around until the Premier asks me to leave. Mr. Speaker.

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 Tourism, Culture and Recreation. An official, an Assistant Deputy Minister with the minister's department, went to Grand Bank this morning and advised the staff at the Seaman's Museum that their jobs were being terminated and the facility was being closed in January of 1996. I want to ask the minister: In light of that facility's important cultural and heritage significance to Grand Bank, the Burin Peninsula and the South Coast, and as well, the significant tourism factor that facility plays for the Burin Peninsula, would the minister reconsider his directions to close the Seamen's Museum in Grand Bank?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not sure if we are in a position to reconsider. These decisions were all taken very seriously, over a period of time, as my colleague the Minister of Finance pointed out, and in looking at an option which is obviously one that has some impact for the Burin Peninsula, as the hon. member obviously points out, it wasn't a light-hearted decision or one taken easily by the department.

It was clear, Mr. Speaker, in examining the different operations of the department, and the different facilities, that the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation operates itself on behalf of the people of the Province, such as the Seamen's Museum in Grand Bank, arts and culture centres, other museums and so on, that of all the facilities in looking at and trying to find the appropriate level of savings so that this department could contribute to the overall balancing of the Budget exercise, that in view of all of the department upon serious evaluation, re-evaluation, assessment and re-assessment, of all the options available to us, this was deemed, and has been deemed to be probably the least painful in terms of the impact in any region of the Province. The museum itself, Mr. Speaker, of the ones operated by the Province is, by its very nature, in need of some serious repair at this point in time, if we are going to continue with the facility. It also needs some work done with respect to the interpretative displays and the actual material that is contained inside the museum.

Mr. Speaker, despite what the hon. member says, of the properties and the museums operated by the government, it is the least visited of all of our centres and all of our facilities. In our judgement, the best move to make was to close this facility at this point in time, attain some savings in this fiscal year, and have the savings then go forward into a full fiscal year for next year and years beyond.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank, on a supplementary.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister a supplementary. Two weeks ago the Premier of the Province went to the Burin Peninsula for round table discussions and he waxed eloquent about the importance of the tourism industry to the Burin Peninsula and indeed to this Province, as well as the importance of small business.

Now, let me ask the Minister of Tourism, how does the Premier's discussions, talk, and small talk, and sweet talk on the Burin Peninsula square with the minister's decision today to close, without any doubt, the top tourism draw on the Burin Peninsula, being the Seamen's Museum? How can the minister stand here today and justify his decision in light of what his leader, the government leader, the Premier of this Province, said two weeks ago on the Burin Peninsula when he talked about the importance of tourism to the Burin Peninsula and to this Province, and what it would mean in economic benefits for the people?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no difficulty whatsoever that should be read into what the hon. member indicates in the Premier's address at the round table a couple of weeks ago. I am fully aware of what the Premier discussed and what was discussed generally at that meeting, which was a very good meeting, from all reports and accounts.

What we are talking about is a decision of the Province itself to no longer maintain a provincial museum, funded completely by the taxpayers of the Province from the general revenues of the Province, and paid for 100 per cent by the general revenues of the Province - that we will no longer operate that facility ourselves on that basis.

The hon. member knows as well that this particular facility is not the only one on the Burin Peninsula that is run as a museum. Others in many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador are run by local groups that get small sustaining funding from the government. The Seamen's Museum is run as a provincial museum, one of only two outside the capital city region, and, in fact, people in the local area will be entering into discussion with them as to whether or not there are ways and means where people locally, recognizing the value of it, as the hon. member states, to the tourism traffic in the area generally, might find some other mechanism to operate that facility without getting the total operating cost, maintenance cost, and ongoing staffing cost from the provincial treasury.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

The hon. the Member for Grand Bank, on a supplementary.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, is not the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation aware that this very facility typifies the history of this Province on the Burin Peninsula? It typifies the banking fishery, it typifies the deep-sea trawler fishery, it typifies the loss of life and wills, and fatherless children on the Burin Peninsula; that is what this facility typifies.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: And isn't the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation aware of that? Why does he stand here today and make light of the facility and what it means and what it symbolizes for the people of Grand Bank and the Burin Peninsula?

Now, I want to ask the minister categorically: Will the minister reconsider the decision today to close out entirely the Seamen's Museum in Grand Bank, and at least consider making it a seasonal facility, opening in the Spring and closing in the Fall when the tourism season ends? Will he at least go back today and reconsider that for the benefit of the employees at the facility, for the people of the town of Grand Bank, for the people of the Burin Peninsula -

MR. TOBIN: The schoolchildren.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - and for those schoolchildren who have taken up a very active program there this year, which has taken off like wildfire. Will the minister reconsider that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just with respect to the preamble from the hon. member, I don't believe, in anything I have said in my previous two answers, that I did anything to make light of the significance of the museum in Grand Bank, so I would just like to correct that for the record.

We recognize the significance and usefulness of the facility. I indicated in my previous answer that of all the facilities that the Province runs 100 per cent from provincial resources and from provincial revenues, this is the least utilized of all the facilities, and we felt that in making these kinds of decisions, this was the one that could best withstand the closure without having the impact that some other closures we contemplated might have had.

The reference that the hon. member makes to some seasonal operation, and those types of possibilities, we will certainly discuss those with people in the local area as to whether or not some local sponsoring group or someone else can take on some of the aspects of running that particular museum. The immediate decision is to mothball the facility, to lay off the permanent staff, and to move on from there. If there are other possibilities, such as those mentioned by the hon. member, that come out of the discussions that we will have with representatives in the Grand Bank area, then certainly, we will look at all of those possibilities if they make sense and if they can be handled within the financial scope of the government.

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

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

I am pleased to hear the minister say that he will at least explore possibilities with the people, the council and the local heritage society there, with some possibilities for keeping the facility. If all of the above fails, let me ask the minister this: What is going to happen to the artifacts that are there in that museum? Are they going to be brought in here to St. John's and stored somewhere to collect dust? A lot of these artifacts have been donated by people from Grand Bank, the Burin Peninsula and the South Coast, very valuable personal artifacts. I am just wondering what the minister's plan will be for those if, indeed, the facility never opens again.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We haven't gone into the details of that particular scenario.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: There is a normal process that does occur, particularly when artifacts and parts of exhibits have been donated by individuals. If, in fact, the decision stands that that particular facility, the Seamen's Museum in Grand Bank, does not open again under the auspices of the Provincial Government, and does not open again with anybody else as a sponsoring or co-ordinating person or group to run the facility, then the normal procedure is to offer any donated artifacts back to the individuals who donated them. If nobody is interested, there is already a full collection of artifacts that have been donated to the Province that are not on display at any particular point in time in any of the exhibits, in any of the museums, that are stored looking for opportunities to put them on display either permanently in one of the museum premises, or on a touring basis in the Province. Those things go through a natural course of events, and that will unfold, depending on what happens here with the discussions with Grand Bank.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Health.

In a paper entitled When Less Is Better: Using Canada's Hospitals Efficiently, written for the Conference of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Deputy Ministers and released by the minister, it is stated that hospitals are the most expensive component of a very expensive health care system. Furthermore, it states that 20 per cent of diagnostic tests in both the laboratory and imaging categories are redundant or unnecessary. I ask the minister: Has his department identified such redundant or unnecessary services and, if so, what has his department done to address those concerns?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the question. I am familiar with the document that the hon. member refers to.

It is true that the institutional side of health care is, without doubt, the most expensive and costly part of the health care system. Of the $900 million that we spend in health care in the Province, $600-plus million of it is dedicated and spent in the institutional side, no question about that. There is some school of thought that there could be reductions in terms of the number of clinical procedures and tests and x-rays and blood tests, and all these sorts of things that are ordered up. I have had, as late as last week, detailed discussions, I can report to the hon. member, with the president of the NLMA, Dr. Edstrom and their executive director precisely about this type of thing. They have agreed to engage themselves, as they commenced last year, with a TV advertising campaign directing people to think about good health and the value of the health care system. They have agreed in principle to embark upon a campaign of further types of educational initiatives to not only make the general public but also to make the physicians aware of the cost it is to health care with respect to ordering up tests and that sort of thing. They have agreed to take some initiatives on their own to try and get a sensitivity raised, if you like, within the medical community and within the general public as to the relative cost of these things and to think about the appropriateness of everything that is prescribed. I can only commend the NLMA, I would tell the hon. member in the House, I can only commend the NLMA as a body of professionals to take that type of pro-active approach to try and address some of the fiscal and some of the other problems that we have in health care.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Medical equipment is very expensive and constitutes a significant part of a health care boards budget. Now people working in the system have complained at public forums that hospitals are buying more modern equipment and throwing out the current equipment they have even when it has a considerable life span remaining. Now does your department monitor such expensive purchases and do they normally do a cost analysis to determine the best use of our resources?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the health care system at the institutional level is run throughout the Province by eight institutional health care boards who have significant responsibility to organize and ensure that health care is delivered in an appropriate, effective and efficient manner. Of course these responsible boards take responsibility for decisions they make in terms of budgeting, in terms of capital investment and in terms of purchasing of equipments. I can tell the hon. member this, that we are not in the habit in Health Care Newfoundland of throwing out good equipment just for the sake of having something better. We will replace present equipment with more effective, more modern equipment as we have the means to do so and as the proven effectiveness of those new pieces of equipment make sense to bring into the system but let the hon. member be aware that the health care system is run by responsible boards, responsible administrators, responsible administrations doing what they deem is best and proper for health care in the Province. I have every confidence that their decisions and their judgements are appropriate.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now cuts have gone to the point, in some instances, where they are counter-productive. It has been brought to my attention that hospital cleaning fluids and disinfectants are being diluted in order to save money under those boards. That is how far strapped they are in their budgets. Now has the minister examined the impact that this has on infections and does he approve of this practice?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes generalizations that make no sense. In fact, it is not a question he poses it is a proposition that he puts forward just to, I think, get his third supplementary in.

I don't know if anybody has ever diluted something that is used to clean floors but if they have diluted it, let me tell the hon. member, that it is done for the purpose for which it was intended and that it was to be diluted. If they have to add three to one to something, that is fine, that is probably what it is called for but the people who run health care in the Province are not strapped to that point. If the hon. member will refer to the statement just made by my colleague the Minister of Finance, he will find out and he will recognize that of all the public services in this Province health care has been elevated to one of highest priority and this government is very sensitive to ensure that we do what is right and provide the resources that are needed to deliver a -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with section 11 of the Memorial University pension act it is my pleasure to table before the House the auditors' financial statements of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: I tried, Mr. Speaker, but my voice is too weak to rise over the shouts and the catcalls from the other side.


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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak to a petition signed by residents of the District of Menihek, residents of Labrador City and Wabush.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education and Training thinks it is funny that the people of Labrador City and Wabush have to send their children to school in unsafe conditions. I want to tell him that these conditions - the people in Labrador City and Wabush, the parents of these children, don't think it is very funny. They aren't laughing about it as the Minister of Education and Training is.

I've presented petitions before on behalf of the residents of Labrador City and Wabush explaining the plight of the children, the dangerous conditions that these children will have to endure in order to attend school The response I got from the Minister of Education and Training after one petition was that it was nonsense. Nonsense, he says. Apart from my petitions that I presented that he called nonsense he has also received letters. As luck should have it these parents also gave me a copy of the letters. I want to read a quote from some of these.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education and Training on a point of order.

MR. DECKER: He has read something into the record which I have to correct. At no time did I say petitions were nonsense. I did say, though, and I will say again, that many of the statements that the hon. gentleman is making are nonsense. The petitions are signed by people who legitimately want to make a point to this House, but the stupid nonsense the hon. member gets on with, that is the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Exactly right, Mr. Speaker, there was no point of order. The Minister of Education and Training is merely attempting to stifle the people's voice from Menihek. He doesn't want the parents to voice their concerns in the House. Because they sent the Minister of Education and Training letters telling him that the conditions in Labrador City and Wabush were unsafe. I don't know if he has answered the questions in these letters, I don't know if he has read these letters, but I want to read into Hansard what some of these people said.

One parents said: Please come to your senses and leave the busing system for our children the way it always has been. That is what they said. They want the minister to come to his senses. They don't want him to behave like the bully that he just showed that he was. They don't want him to behave like that Attila the Hun that cuts, slashes the health care system, the education system. Now he is at the busing system in Labrador City. They don't want him to do that. They want their busing system to be maintained in the manner that they have built it to be over the last thirty years.

Another parent says in her letter to the minister that: it is outrageous this cut, outrageous, and with the sidewalks not cleared our children must walk on the roads with visibility and road conditions at times in our town very dangerous. Mr. Speaker, I've said that in my petitions when I've presented petitions that the road conditions were dangerous. The loud, inefficient Minister of Education and Training, the slasher of the bus system, the man who wants to cut the guts out of the busing system in Western Labrador, Mr. Speaker, he has said, it's nonsense. The minister thinks it is funny, he makes a joke of it but I will tell you what another parent said to him in another letter and see if he will laugh at this, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Well, Mr. Speaker, he thinks it is funny. I will ask him to respond to what Cathy Strangemore said about it in a letter to the minister that he probably hasn't even read yet because he thinks it is nonsense. She said: Would you be able to sleep at night knowing what you had done caused a child to lose a hand or a foot or even their life because they had to walk to school at -30C, or do you even care? Well, we do and we want our bus system left as it already is.

Now, this is a mother saying that. Now, that Minister of Education and Training, thinks that this is nonsense. I want that minister to write her a letter because if he doesn't write her, I am going to show what he said. I am going to give her a copy of Hansard showing that he thinks, what I said is nonsense.

MR. DECKER: Make sure you tell them the truth, won't you?

MR. A. SNOW: It is the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. A. SNOW: May I have leave, Mr. Speaker?

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



MR. A. SNOW: The Minister of Education and Training pointed out that I do not have leave to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat. There is no leave.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't planned to become involved in this motion, I was going to wait for the minister to stand up, but when the Minister of Education and Training denied a couple of seconds leave to the Member for Menihek to present a petition and to speak on behalf of the parents of little children who are forced to walk to school in 30C temperature in Western Labrador in this Province, when the Minister of Education refused to give the member an opportunity to present a mother's concerns which have been outlined in a paper, then I felt obligated to stand and support, not only the member and the parents and the children, but to try to support democracy that this minister is now trying to deny to the member of the Legislature in presenting a cause on behalf of little children in this Province.

Now, you know, Mr. Speaker, for the government to attack the bus services throughout this Province and in particular in Labrador, to deny children a way to school in the morning, to force children to walk for - how long does it take?

MR. A. SNOW: 1.6 kilometres.

MR. TOBIN: - 1.6 kilometres, little children in Grade -

MR. A. SNOW: Kindergarten.

MR. TOBIN: - Kindergarten, five years old, Mr. Speaker, before daylight, in -30C̊ temperature in this Province. For that minister and this government to force five-year-old children to walk in -30C temperatures before daylight, Mr. Speaker, could only be done by a heartless, brutal crew, Mr. Speaker, and if there were ever a heartless, brutal, cold, callous uncaring group put together, there is only one person who could have picked them and that's the Premier of this Province, because they are there together, and then today we wonder.

My colleague, the Member for Grand Bank asked questions, and I share with him as a member from the Burin Peninsula. We wonder why this government would cut the Seamen's Museum in Grand Bank, wonder why they would close it, wonder why they would take that away from the people of this Province. Mr. Speaker, it is a museum that epitomizes hard work, seafaring individuals, many of whom lost their lives providing for the people of this Province and their families, orphans and widows walking the streets of the Burin Peninsula, Mr. Speaker, the least they could see was the museum that was constructed to a large extent in memory of their husbands and fathers and children and grandfathers. And this minister and this government saw fit today to attack the orphans, the widows, the children, the families and the people who earn their livelihood from the sea, and we wonder then why they would do that.

Mr. Speaker, it is not hard to figure it out, when they send five-year-old children before daylight in the morning on the streets to walk a distance of 1.6 kilometres, in -30C temperatures, to go to school in this Province. It is not hard to figure out what is happening. It is not hard to figure out why they would do it to a museum when they would do that to these innocent little children. But this government will have to answer us one of these days. They will have to answer to the people of this Province. They will have to answer to the people of the Burin Peninsula. They will have to answer to the people of Labrador, the South Coast, the West Coast, the Northeast Coast, and every other part of this Province, because people will not continue to accept this callous treatment.

The people of Bell Island stood in unity, sent a message loud and clear that they would not permit this government to kick them into the ground, to destroy their community. They were not going to stand by and allow it to happen. They came to this Legislature, and the government knew full well that these people were serious and meant business, and they changed their mind.

I would think that one of these days you are going to see a lot of people come to this Legislature and demand their rights, and if the people of Labrador West were close to this Assembly, I am sure they would be here as well. Why? What minister there - I am sure the Minister of Education would not want his children or grandchildren, at five years of age, to have to walk 1.6 kilometres in -30C temperatures, to go to school.

AN HON. MEMBER: He wouldn't care.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, he would care. He wouldn't do it to his own.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. TOBIN: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?

MR. SULLIVAN: Nobody withdrew it, so he must have it. Nobody said no.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, this government will have to answer to the people of this Province sooner or later. They will have to answer to the people of Labrador West, the daily presentations of petitions and letters.

Here is another letter to Mr. Decker from a parent in Labrador that says: Our children are the ones who will suffer the most. Children living within 1.6 kilometres from school having to walk every day in these extremely cold temperatures is utterly ridiculous. Please come to your senses, Mr. Decker, and leave the busing system for our children the way it always has been. `Please come to your senses' is what the parents in Labrador are begging; come to your senses.

Another letter says: The children are the adults of the future, and we should be looking at a way to protect them, not putting them in more danger than necessary. We hope these changes will be revisited, and the changes made in the best interest of the children. We want a positive reply.

It says: Mr. Decker, would you be able to sleep at night, knowing that what you have done caused a child to lose a hand or a foot, or even their life, because they have to walk to school in -30C, or do you even care? Well, we do, and we want our bus system left as it is.

Mr. Speaker, another parent states: Because of being in the North, with daylight saving time, it is dark when my son goes to school in the morning. Now, it will be dark when he returns in the evening, because he has to walk.

That's what is being said to this minister: You are forcing my five-year-old child to leave home in the dark, in -30C temperatures, and you force him to walk home after school in the dark in the same -30C temperatures. I don't even know if the minister is going to provide adequate lighting for them. Maybe because of the MOGs they will force the council to have to turn out some lights down there. The children may not even have lights.

Another parent writes to Mr. Decker and says: If you all think about doing something with the buses, come to Labrador City and actually experience on hand what it is like to walk in winter conditions.

Mr. Speaker, that is what the people of Labrador are saying to this minister. That is what the people of Baie Verte district, from a community up there, as I saw last night on television, said to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation: If you are concerned about winter conditions and what has happened as a result of lay-offs of government employees, if you are concerned about that, come to our area, get on the bus and we will show you what is happening as a result of your cutbacks. That's what is being said, Mr. Speaker, by people all around this Province.

I wonder when this government is going to come to their senses, when this government is going to do something about the hardship they are creating. Today, in a Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Education, we saw $3.9 million coming out of school boards, and the minister gets up and says: Well, now, we have something going on here. The fiscal year of the school is sometime in June. Mr. Speaker, I thought this statement today was dealing with the fiscal year of the government, not the school year, Mr. Speaker, but the year of the government. That is the kind of conniving that this government gets on with, that is the kind of conniving that this minister gets on with, Mr. Speaker.

There is $10 million cut from education; social services again, when we talk about the cutbacks in Labrador. Is that what this government is all about? Today, we have seen every single sector of this government attacked because they wanted to buy water bombers, and where did the water bombers go this summer? Out to Alberta and some of them probably haven't come home yet. They spent the whole year in Alberta fighting forest fires. And today, the children of Labrador are going to school in minus thirty degree temperatures, on foot, to pay for these water bombers.

There was $7 million spent on Marble Mountain, Mr. Speaker, and there are people going to bed hungry in this Province so that the Premier and Mr. Trudeau can slip down that slippery slide from top to the bottom, $7 million while there are people starving in this Province. And the minister had to come in today and slash the Budget. Here he comes, Mr. Speaker, the man who shut down the museum in Grand Bank, which epitomizes the hard work of the fishing people of this Province, people who have devoted their lives to what this Island was built on.

The minister can sit over there and smile all he likes, he can smirk all he likes, Mr. Speaker, but that museum was put there as a tribute, as former Premier Smallwood said as he opened the doors when that was brought down from Expo-67 and put in Grand Bank - was it Czechoslovakia?

AN HON. MEMBER: Czechoslovakia.

MR. TOBIN: And, Mr. Speaker, this minister today shut it down. It was built as a monument to people who lost their lives. the poor men who went down.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Blue Wave and the Blue Mist.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, the Blue Wave and the Blue Mist. I remember well the night the Blue Mist was lost. Members of my own family were in a boat next to her, in a dragger next to her. They got towed in the next morning and had to light a fire on the deck to try to burn the ice away to get at the winch. I know all about it, but the other men weren't so lucky, they were not there to get towed in. They went to the bottom that night. And there is tribute paid to them in that museum, and there is tribute paid to the members of the Blue Wave in that museum.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the hon. member that he is on a petition, and he is `by leave', and that he should keep his remarks relative to the prayer of the petition.


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I don't think this is funny at all.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Education thinks it is funny.

MR. TOBIN: I was speaking on behalf of the petition but I got sidetracked, I let my emotions - because I am from the Burin Peninsula, I know what happened on the Burin Peninsula, and I know what that museum meant to the people of the Burin Peninsula. At the same time, the Minister of Culture or whatever he is called, `old slasher' himself, who closed the museum, began to laugh, Mr. Speaker, began to smirk, and it irritated me to know that he was over there grinning about the closure of a museum that was built and was put there, Mr. Speaker, to commemorate what happened.

I guess, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Education and the Government House Leader want me to clue up, I shall do it. But I support the petition -

AN HON. MEMBER: So ably presented by your colleague.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it was.

- and I would ask the Minister of Education to reconsider, to do something for these little children who have to walk to school in the morning in -30C temperatures, I am serious. No, I am serious. I ask you to do something.

MR. DECKER: We know you're serious.

MR. TOBIN: But why would you do that to these little children? Don't you think it is rather cruel? Don't you think it is callous, uncaring? I never knew you were that type of an individual but lately I am beginning to think you are, that you couldn't care less about these little children, you couldn't care less about anyone. So I ask you to change your mind and do what needs to be done. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have a fairly ambitious agenda today and just for the sake of having it done but in the hope that we will not need to do - let me simply move that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

On motion, the House not to adjourn at 5:00 p.m., carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask the House to go into Committee, and the proposal is that we deal with Orders 11 through 17 on today's Order Paper and I will take them in the order in which they are - no, I am sorry, if we could let Order 11 stand until I can have a word with my colleague, the Minister of Finance, because there was a question by the Member for Mount Pearl about that. Start with Order 12 if we could and go through to 17 and then my friend, the Member for Grand Bank and I shall have put our heads together behind the Speaker's Chair before we conclude that discussion and then we will see where we go from there. So I hope we will not need to sit late and certainly, I have no desire to be here any longer than we need to, to deal with the business to be dealt with. Before you put us into Committee, Sir, would you call - I am sorry?

MR. SULLIVAN: We have a co-operative House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: I am glad they have a co-operative House Leader on the other side, I say to my friend, the Member for Ferryland, and if only his colleagues would co-operate with the co-operative House Leader, all would be well.

Would you be good enough please, Mr. Speaker, to call motions 5 through 9. Those are leaves to introduce draft bills.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act," carried. (Bill No. 49)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The St. John's Assessment Act," carried. (Bill No. 45)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Natural Resources to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act," carried. (Bill No. 46)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act Respecting Provincial Offences," carried. (Bill No. 47)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law," carried. (Bill No. 48)

On motion, Bill Nos. 49, 45, 46, 47, 48 read a first time, ordered read a second time, presently by leave.

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!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, would you please call Order 12, that is Bill No. 7. We were in the midst of a debate on that yesterday. I am not sure who had the floor, but it doesn't matter, whoever wants it can have it again, of course.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 7, An Act Respecting The Revision And Consolidation Of Subordinate Legislation.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Yesterday, I had a chance to speak on this particular bill in Committee only for a couple of minutes before we adjourned the House at 4:58 p.m. But let me go on to say, for the benefit of some people who are sitting in the galleries, what this bill is about.

There are 441 acts that govern all the operations of government, and there are some 2,358 rules of regulations associated with those acts. What government is attempting to do here with this piece of legislation is simply this. They want to repeal all of those regulations on a particular day, and then, the next day, re-enact only the ones they see fit. And they want this House to pass this particular piece of legislation without any knowledge of which regulations will be lost or which ones will be kept.

Now, government regulations impact, dictate, behaviour within the workplace, behaviour within society, from occupational health and safety dealing within fish plants, workers' compensation, how the Auditor General's office is run, regulations associated with Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, regulations associated with the running of hospitals, Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, etcetera, and the list goes on.

Now, what government is asking us to do right here today is to say that they have indicated that there are 1,152 regulations of those 2,300-and-some change that are going to remain intact. But there 1,088 sets of regulations that government want to wipe off the books without public debate in this House of Assembly. They have not indicated which regulations will go, or the means by which they will be judged on how they will go.

Let's take, for example, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Can he stand on this particular piece of legislation and indicate to the House by what standard is it going to be judged within his department that sets of regulations that govern his department - by what standard will those regulations be thrown out? What regulations will be thrown out? Will it be regulations dealing with the labour code of the Province?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: These are legitimate questions. The minister can't look at me and say: Don't be so foolish, when they haven't even indicated to the public Chamber what regulations - I don't know because I haven't been given the information. So any question is a legitimate one, I propose to the minister. What regulations will go? Will it be ones dealing with workers' compensation, the act governing workers' compensation, and the set of rules and regulations associated with it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: It will not. What about the Occupational Health and Safety division? Will there be a streamlining to make it more business-friendly?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand. What I'm asking is, what rules and regulations will be repealed, taken off the books, in your department? If the minister gets a chance, and if he wishes to, he can stand. But by the information that he is giving me it doesn't seem that the minister is really aware of what regulations will go in his department.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me? In your department. So if it is insignificant in Employment and Labour Relations, that means that the majority, then, of the rules and regulations will be coming from other departments.

Let's talk to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Can he say today what rules and regulations will be repealed within the Department of Works, Services and Transportation? Do you know? Are you aware of them?

MR. EFFORD: Yes, I'm aware of every single one. I can't repeat them off by heart, but I'm certainly aware of them. I have been a full participant in the (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Right. How many sets of rules and regulations would you say, then, off the top of your head, seeing that you are aware of them and participated - you are aware of every single one, you stated. Of those 1,088 sets of rules and regulations that will be repealed, from rules and regulations governing how departments govern themselves, how many of those will come from your department?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) they are not all going to be repealed (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I know that. I've indicated that before you came in. Right now there are about 2,300 sets of rules and regulations within departments. There are 1,088 going to disappear altogether. What I'm trying to get a handle on are what are the rules and regulations or sets that will disappear. I have no idea. What I'm being asked as a member of the House here is to give the government a blank cheque, to say; Yes, we agree totally with deregulation so go ahead and do what you are going to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Would you be able to table a list so we could have a look at it? So in the sets of rules and regulations in Works, Services and Transportation - because I know there are significant in your department - would you say that of that 1,088 that are going to be repealed, would we look at probably 200 to 300 sets of regulations, maybe more?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Let's just say - I'm not going to hold you to whatever guess you make. Can you give me a ball park figure?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Two hundred to 300.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Fair enough.

AN HON. MEMBER: John, some of them licencing with the Public Utilities Board?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Boys, do you want to get up? Do those fellows want to get up? Let me ask the Minister of Health then, seeing that he is in his seat, rules and regulations governing your Ministry. Are you aware of what sets of rules and regulations will be repealed, not to be brought back after December 31 of this year, dealing with your department? Have you been, like the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, fully aware of each one, completely a participant in the process by which they will be repealed, decision maker on which ones will go? Or has it been somebody else in your department?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: No, Mr. Speaker. I think the House Leader outlined the process that was taken to review all of the regulations that were in place in government, the 2,100-odd or whatever it is. The regulations that were of a routine nature were dealt with upon recommendation of the commissioner by routine committee of Cabinet.

Where there was a recommendation by the commissioner that had policy implications, they came to the department, to my deputy and to myself, and we reviewed what our response would be. If we felt that the commissioners's recommendations were something we could concur with we would agree. If not, we would put forward a position that was different. Then it would go to full Cabinet, as it did with other departments, for an ultimate decision as to whether or not the regulation would be not re-enacted or whether or not it should be re-enacted. Generally these were cases where there was a differing of views between the regulatory reform process and the Ministry.

To the extent that there was a change in policy on any regulation of significance that was not dealt with at the routine level, they came to the minister directly through his officials. A considerable number of them I'm fully aware of what it meant to re--enact or not re-enact. I'm assuming that the same process took place in other departments.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) person that I have met in my entire life who enjoys so much to hear themselves talk, it has to be the Minister of Health. I asked him a simple question, Mr. Chairman. Was he aware of the regulations that would be repealed in the Department of Health? He had to get up and give me an explanation of the process. I'm fully aware of the process. What I'm trying to get at, I say to the Minister of Health, is that if you are, would be so willing to table the rules and regulations that the commissioner suggested to be repealed? So that all members of the House can have the benefit of doing a full analysis. So that all members of the House can have the benefit of seeing what the impact of such a repeal of rules and regulations will be on the constituents that they represent. Will you as the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The Minister of Works, Services, and Transportation just indicated that he would do it. The reality is will you afford me the same benefit that you have as a member? Will you give me as the Member for the District of Kilbride the same benefit so that I can see what the implications of repealing certain rules and regulations will be upon the constituents who I represent?

AN HON. MEMBER: You have equal access to every regulation of government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: He must be drinking something. Whatever it is I don't want any of it, I can assure you of that, Mr. Chairman.

The Minister of Health is quite correct. I have access to every rule and regulation of government, and I have them all up in my office. How else would I know exactly the numbers we are talking about? But that is not the question I asked. Would he table in the House -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Chairman?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Does the member have leave.


MR. CHAIRMAN: By leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: He loves to hear himself talk.

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I want the same benefit that you have as an elected member.

I have all the rules and regulations in my office right now. What I do not have access to is the information that has been provided to you, and you only, as a Cabinet minister, on what rules governing your department will be repealed forever and a day without having the benefit to study the implications and the impact of them. People living in Kilbride on Donovans Road, or on Cowan Avenue, or in Brookfield Estates, deserve the same privilege as the constituents that you represent.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have that right.

MR. E. BYRNE: No. Well why do I, as a member, not have that information?

AN HON. MEMBER: You can have every regulation you wish today, and you will see the ones that are being reenacted in a consolidated form.

MR. E. BYRNE: So, what you are saying is that you want me, as a member of the House, to say to you, as part of the government: Yes, we trust you, we will give you the blank cheque on this piece of legislation that you want. We will give it to you unequivocally, without asking any questions, and then after the fact - not before, but after the fact, I say to the Minister of Health - then, after the rules are made, the implications are in place for people, people's lives are impacted, now I don't know whether negatively or positively, it is after the fact that I will have to get the information. Not correct, Mr. Chairman, not the way of doing things, not the way that we should be operating in this Legislature.

Let's take occupational health and safety in the workplace, and government talks about reviewing, deregulating all of government, making it more friendly to the business climate. Philosophically at that level I don't have a problem with it, but what I do have a problem with is not being given the information to know what the implications will be, and how they will impact either upon the worker in the workplace or upon the employer in the workplace. That is what I have a problem with, and why government won't produce it, that is their own answer, that is up to them only, but they will answer some day, and that day is coming sooner than later, I say, Mr. Chairman.

With that, I am operating under leave, I will sit down. I will have another chance to get up in ten minutes if there is an intervening speaker.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to take up a little bit where the previous speaker left off on this bill because what we are talking about here is a whole series of sets of so-called regulations which are actually subordinate legislation and are very powerful. They have the same force as legislation because they are the law of the land when it comes to the topics which they are designed to regulate. They are only called regulations because that is just a legal term referring to what is actually subordinate legislation. It has the same force as legislation, has the same legal effect. Obviously it is subject to the legislation. If it contradicts the legislation, the legislation prevails, but other than that it is a very powerful instrument. It is a powerful instrument of government because the government, as the Minister of Justice, the Government House Leader said yesterday, the government can, in fact, by Order in Cabinet, for the most part, change them at any time. Now, certain regulations or certain subordinate legislation is made by a board or other authority with the approval of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, and in some cases the minister is entitled to make regulations. The minister can make rules and regulations within a particular department.

They are very powerful instruments, and while the government has the power to change these things piecemeal - each and every regulation can be changed - they have to be published, and if the government intends to repeal... If the government intended to repeal the occupational health and safety regulations, anybody reading the Newfoundland Gazette, which I am sure all hon. members read every Friday, could see that an Order in Council was made repealing the occupational health and safety regulations and there would be an uproar, but if the government passes this legislation here and says: All regulations and all supporting legislation which is not re-enacted by March 31, is gone, no one really knows what's gone and no one knows what's left and that's the problem that has been pointed out by a number of people.

Now the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has made a very fine suggestion here today, he is being most reasonable in his approach to this and I commend him for it. He has offered to table a list of the regulations from his department that are going to be repealed, because then we could look at it and say: okay, well he is getting rid of what he said, the taxi regulations or the trucking regulations and all those ones, that's part of the general commercial deregulation.

Now, people have arguments about that one way or the other but nevertheless, it is going to be transparent because the minister will say: Here are the ones we are getting rid of and if someone wants to get them and look at them and say: why are you getting rid of that one for that's really important then they can say: so I would commend that to other ministers over there because that way we would certainly be able to have a look at what's going on.

Now the Government House Leader said yesterday and the Minister of Health said today that many of these things are part of the routine Cabinet Committee and said okay, we will get rid of this one, this one, this one, this one, that's well within the guidelines that were set but there were a number, and he didn't say how many, I don't think, he may have said a couple of hundred that there were major policy considerations involved or major policy decisions to be made one way or the other, and they were referred back to the ministers for their comments and then go back to a special Cabinet Committee.

Well these are obviously the key ones, and if what we are having going on through this process is government making major policy decisions, then the public ought to be told in what areas they are making major policy considerations, and that's why it is important-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) proper public consultation.

MR. HARRIS: There is no public consultation. In fact, no public awareness of what's going on and at the end of the day you are going to see a list of here is what's left but we won't know what's gone. Now, yesterday, the minister made his speech, the Minister of Justice, the Government House Leader made a speech and he said: well we will give you a list of the ones that are there and a list of the ones that are gone but that will be done some time next March or April, because they don't even have to Gazette them according to this bill, they don't even have to Gazette them or put it this way, they plan to Gazette them and the law says you are supposed to Gazette them but if they don't Gazette them, that doesn't mean that they are not in force and they are not a full force in effect, so it is a little, iffy, Mr. Chairman, for something as important as legislation here and what really should happen is that Judge Noel's Regulatory Reform Committee Report, ought to be tabled in the House, but if the government is prepared to stand by its policy decisions, then it should also be willing to say: Well, you know, Judge Noel recommended this but we did that because it was our decision to do it and they are entitled to make that decision.

Now, no one is suggesting that Cabinet doesn't have the authority to make policy decisions in the area of regulations which are under their power to make. Where it is under their power to make regulations, under the various pieces of legislation and there are some 441 acts, not each of which has regulations associated, we have no problem with that, nobody can have any problem with that unless some specifics about a particular power but, and it's a big but, the real issue comes down to: What are the policy considerations that the government is making, and if Judge Noel and his Commission made a particular recommendation, and the government is saying in Works, Services and Transportation: Well, that's what Judge Noel recommended, we considered it and we had a different opinion -

MR. EFFORD: That's right, that's exactly (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: There is nothing wrong with that but, tell us, let us say why, let us stand up and defend the government's position if it needs to be defended; maybe everybody would agree with the government and disagree with Judge Noel and his Commission -

MR. EFFORD: You are not the government.

MR. HARRIS: We are not the government no, and we are not making the decisions, the government is making the decisions; all we are asking is for a process that makes public, and lets the public know what decisions the government is making and why, and if there is public criticism, well the government has to stand it and if the public says: Well, what a wise government, making such wise decisions, well that's to their credit as well, so what we are looking for is a little bit of transparency and a little bit of public discussion, if necessary, on particular policy considerations.

But when the minister said, the Government House Leader said in the House yesterday that there were major policy considerations and major policy decisions to be made well then let's just have it on the table as to what these policy considerations are all about and if -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well, I can accept that the deregulation of trucking was a major policy consideration but that was not a decision that was made yesterday, that was made a couple of years ago. Some of the regulations may still be hanging around so getting rid of them now is really part of the routine cleaning up act. If there are major policy considerations going on now, why isn't the Minister of Health coming into the House and saying: well we have decided to get rid of these regulations because we think that they are unnecessary and we think that it is time to change the policy that includes those regulations. Then if someone wants to have something to say about it, well and good. The government obviously would have to stick by whatever decision that it made or defend at least, whatever decision it made unless it changed it as it did with the Bell Island ferry rates. Now I know the minister played a role in that and maybe he did not like the decisions that came out the other end of it but nevertheless there was public discussion about it. There was sufficient objection to the policy decision that had been made by Cabinet that a change was brought about. Now no government likes to be criticized but that is the public process that we all sign on for when we run for public office and if we are successful in getting a majority of seats you run a government and you are entitled to but you also get the criticism that comes with the territory.

So all I am saying and I said it on several occasions before in the House and the previous speaker, the Member for Kilbride said the same thing, at least we got a willingness of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to tell us what is happening in his department, which ones are being repealed and which ones are being re-enacted. I look forward to having a chance to review that and examine it, as is our duty to do, as representatives of the public to see whether there are any policy considerations that need to be brought to public attention or brought to the attention of other members of the House.

So those are my remarks on that. It seems apparent that there are some major policy decisions going on. So I will take my seat and allow some other member to speak on this issue.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Very briefly, Mr. Chairman, maybe if the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation would just address a concern that just arose when he talked about there were many pieces of legislation in his department that would be included in this Bill No. 7, the doing away of some of the subordinate legislation. I would like to ask him if one of the pieces of legislation that he is looking at doing away with would be the license that is required now by truckers in order to apply to the public utilities in order to get a carrier plate if they are expected to buy a piece of equipment in order to carry certain items or be designated as a certain carrier? If it is, I would like to ask the minister if he will be allowing public input into that before it is done away with?

I am aware that several groups of people or at least one group, have met with the minister already and have expressed great concern to me because many of those people who have gone out and invested thousands and thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands of dollars, now find themselves, I suppose - and I am not saying that it is wrong - but they are finding themselves now in a market that they were not aware of what might have been there for them when they went out and invested this money. Many of them now are echoing a concern that they may be priced out of a job even though it might be an open market, the minister might say it is an open market and they have every right to compete and compete with anybody else but I say that the field has now changed. Some of those people have gone out and thought into buying themselves a job but now may find, because it is an open market, that they may not even be able to compete.

So my question would be to ask the minister if he would be kind enough to respond to that and to allow me to know if those people will have access to the ministers here or what options they would have before this legislation is being carried forward and taken out of the statutes?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Chairman, just to answer the hon. gentleman's question about the deregulation of the trucking industry. One of the things that is part of the deregulation, eliminating the necessity for truckers to have a carrier plate, in other words put it back to free enterprise. That has been communicated to the truckers months ago. That is not something that just happened today or a few weeks ago. That has been there on the table for quite a number of years now but the deregulation process took place and all the truckers were notified by my office individually. I think some 675 independent truckers around the Province and associations were notified individually that would be a part of the deregulation process, the final stages of the deregulation of the whole of the trucking industry. I think it was last Thursday or Friday when a group of truckers came in, met with me, and discussed some concerns they had about it, but that is part of the deregulation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Exactly, but that is if everything goes through and is finalized. That is the process that is happening.

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Revision And Consolidation Of Subordinate Legislation." (Bill No. 7)

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion, clauses 3 and 4 as amendment, carried.

Motion, that the committee report having passed the bill with amendments, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 13. Bill No. 27.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Grand Falls.

MR. MACKEY: Mr. Chairman, Clause 1 amends the Waste Material Disposal Act basically to broaden the application of the act to include littering. The explanatory notes attached to the bill state that Clause 1 of this bill would amend the Waste Material Disposal Act to create a distinct penalty for the wrong deposit of waste material in the form of litter. The amendment would also provide for late payment fees. The bill effectively defines unlawful littering as the deposit of waste material in a place other than a waste material disposal site for which a certificate has been issued, or in a receptacle or container placed or located specifically for the purpose of collection.

Now, Mr. Chairman, if we are going to distinguish unlawful littering as an offence then it seems to me we do not want litter lying around in places other than waste material disposal sites or waste receptacles. We do not want litter along the sides of our highways or in parks and the wilderness, we do not want litter in our streets and sidewalks, public places and front yards.

Mr. Chairman, waste material has a pretty broad definition. It means refuse, garbage, rubbish, litter, scrap, discarded material, and it also can be defined as any material or thing that may be a danger to the health of human beings, animals, wildlife or fish or is of unsightly appearance.

Mr. Chairman, this is a pretty broad definition and no doubt applies to everything from abandoned rusting vehicles, chip bags, bar wrappers, shopping bags, fast-food containers, beer bottles, soft drink cans. It might also apply to cigarette butts, apple cores -

MR. EFFORD: And Tories.

MR. MACKEY: And Tories, perhaps. That was said in a Liberal context. It may even apply to pet droppings, all of which fall within the definition of waste material.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MACKEY: Mr. Chairman, I don't wish to get that close to the other side of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MACKEY: It is a good thing that the House does not sit on Sundays so I wouldn't be that close either.

Mr. Chairman, I'm not raising these things to be facetious, but I would like to rather outline my next point.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, there is a point. That is reassuring.

MR. MACKEY: Yes. It will be a challenge to enforce these provisions in the context of littering. Police officers will have the authority to do so if they encounter littering, or if littering is reported to them. Private citizens will have the power to stop people from littering. It will draw attention to the issue of littering and perhaps serve as somewhat of a deterrent to those who might otherwise consider littering.

If there are ways to accomplish the same ends through such restrictions, some would say these alternatives are preferable. Of course, few would defend the right to litter, especially in Newfoundland and Labrador where litter is a serious problem. But how far will the authorities go in enforcing these powers as they pertain to littering? Will we have convictions on what will be considered the lesser end of the littering spectrum? If we don't, if people are allowed to get away with dropping a chip bag or a gum wrapper without penalty, then would this not bring the entire legislation into ill repute and make it the subject of ridicule?

Do we have the policing capacity to enforce this legislation to a reasonable degree? How much will it cost in administration associated with enforcing this legislation? Will it demand the hiring of additional personnel? What other costs are associated with this enforcement? What about the costs associated with people appealing their convictions? What additional burden will this place on the system? Has government determined whether these monies could be better spent on measures other than the one under consideration here?

This bill seeks to impose penalties for an unlawful littering offence. For this offence the fine will be $25, the first offence. For subsequent offenses the fine will be $100. These are hefty fines. People ought not to be littering in the first place, but they do have a right to know, and government has the responsibility to inform them, that there are steep penalties for littering. It is usual of course that people who are in default of payment of their fines be imprisoned for a period of time. I don't know where they are going to be imprisoned because we will be shutting down our correctional centres. One can expect that if the legislation is enforced to the letter there may be Newfoundlanders hard hit by economic downturn who will be forced into what is in effect a pauper's prison.

I note that the government has written what may be called a little leniency into the bill, allowing people sixty days to pay their fine and tacking on a late payment fee of 25 per cent or 40 per cent of the original fine if sixty days has passed. So I wonder, will the minister spell out to the House what will happen in the case of minors who litter? Will the minister indicate how he arrived at the fine amounts of $25 and $100? Does he calculate the amounts by balancing the need to make the deterrent significant against the recognition that penalties must be not unduly severe?

I note as well, Mr. Chairman, that the legislation effectively wipes an offender's slate clean after a year has passed. Any offence committed a year or more after the first offence is considered not a second offence but a first offence. After a year has passed, the next instance of unlawful littering becomes 75 per cent cheaper, although $25 will not be cheap.

These are tough measures, but I am sure the minister weighed the fact in drafting this legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act And The Summary Proceedings Act." (Bill No. 27)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Order 14, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 28, "An Act To Revise And Consolidate The Law Respecting Credit Unions".

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: First of all, Your Honour, I think this bill won support from all sides of the House during debate. Secondly, it was referred, as the Order Paper notes, to the Government Services Committee which, of course, has representations from both sides in the House, and my recollection of the committee's report is that it was a clear report, and they came back and said no question or objection to the bill. That being so it might be appropriate, given the length of the bill, to take the clauses by bunches. After all, there are 251 separate clauses and we will be here all week if Your Honour goes one, two, three, four, five. I put that out as a suggestion, if hon. members opposite agree.

A bill, "An Act To Revise And Consolidate The Law Respecting Credit Unions." (Bill No. 28)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 15, Bill No 10, please, Sir.

MR. CHAIRMAN: A bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Control Act," (Bill No. 10) - an important bill.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

A few comments in second reading I know I addressed to the minister, that he addressed some adequately and some not so adequately. I guess the minister must have been drinking too much of the severely diluted disinfectants they are using now. I guess it is part of the overall scenario in health care. We have seen cutbacks. Instead of doing the slicing in the budget of $2.9 million now, what they are going to do, hospitals are out diluting down beyond the normal dilutions, double the dilutions now in disinfectants in cleaning hospitals. Workers in his department -

AN HON. MEMBER: Where do you get such foolishness?

MR. SULLIVAN: From people in your employ, people at public forums, on public record. The media were there. I have it on tape, I have it in written forms, by employees employed directly in hospitals who have indicated that they are instructed now to dilute down below the normal dilution levels for disinfectants and cleaning. That could increase the risk of infections and be counterproductive to our health care system. That is what I was told, and if the minister wants to know off the record I will tell him what public meeting - there were media there - where it was, in what location, what boards were involved and so on, if the minister would like to know, and see what he can do about it to ensure that the safety and the health of people in institutions here in the Province is protected, I say to the minister, and not to tell them they don't know how to read. That is what he said, basically, they do not know how to read the dilutions that are marked there, if it is supposed to be three to one; that is what he said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It was at a meeting out in central - western Newfoundland region; I don't know but both of it came up. There was one instance in particular I remember.

I say to the minister, too, while we are on the health issue here, they are basically throwing out equipment that has a life span left on it, so we will compete for new, expensive equipment. The boards around this Province now are going to be competing against each other for buying equipment.

Whoever can get the Tim Horton franchise now gets a new piece of equipment, whoever can get the MacDonald's franchise, gets another piece of equipment and the rich will get richer. Institutions and other hospitals that do not have the ability to compete and are more rural, won't be able to compete because -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No they are not. - because what Ms. Peachy said on radio about the Tim Horton franchise: If we do make a lot of money we might be able to share some with other hospitals. That's the statement that was quoted on CBC Radio when I listened, so in other words, the hospital that has the largest numbers, the most services is going to have the cadillac service and other hospitals are going to have an inferior service.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Are you against hospitals generating additional revenue (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will tell the minister what I am against right now very unequivocally. I am against hospitals and government taking over private business and I am against Tim Horton franchises and Wendys and MacDonalds being nationalized and state run, that's what I am against and the minister stated -

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible), get in the real world (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, the minister should wake up and smell the coffee, I say to the minister, that's what he should do. The minister stated on television, donuts are tasty, delicious things. He hasn't examined it, he should ask the Minister of Buds - Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, to do a biochemical analysis of the contents of it and report back as to whether it is healthy, I say to the minister. The minister said, and what a silly statement. He said: We are promoting private business by taking something out of private business and bringing it under the health care corporation that's directed and run by this Province. He is cutting into and attacking private business, when this government professes to be promoting private business in the Province. He is going to take -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are a smooth one.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, that's factual. The health care corporation is running business, private business ran it, now the health care corporation has it, if that's privatizing business I think you have the signals all mixed up. That is de-privatizing and it is nationalizing business and I am sure the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the way he is looking, doesn't think that government and health care corporation should be getting into Wendy franchises and Tim Horton's and other private businesses. Leave that to the private sector.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) buy a paper company and generate our own paper?

MR. SULLIVAN: I would say, leave it to private business. Downsize government, streamline it, let private business do it, that's what I am saying you should be doing, and don't try to sell donuts in a hospital and try to tell us it's healthy. The reason they are doing it, I say to the minister is because they are going to start privatizing hospitals now. The hospitals that have the business to give the service and ones that don't won't have the service, therefore -

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) good.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister has an opportunity to speak when he gets up. - the hospitals that can't survive, that cannot meet their budgets to have overruns, will close because they can't operate efficiently. Now if you look at that scenario, it is my understanding and the minister can refute if he so desires, that the Grace Hospital, the one he is going to close is one that has always run within Budget, so in other words, we are going to close the efficient ones and we are going to keep the inefficient ones open. Is that the basic criteria?

Now on this bill, which is the Tobacco Control Act, and I raised some concerns on it before and the minister gave, I must say, adequate in some instances, explanation there and some I guess, is a matter of opinion; things like we are going to allow cigarettes into a correctional institution, an adult correctional institution I might add, which is hard, there are arguments you could put on both sides, these are just some of the points there that - it is a difficult thing to enforce and may be for what affect it might have, maybe it is better to allow it and there is no hassle and it is easier to deal with administratively, that's one you could probably live with. He also adds in on the stand for fines when your license is suspended there, which I suppose if you are selling and you are not supposed to, you deserve to get a certain penalty no doubt and one though, that I did raise a concern about, and its pretty broad-sweeping powers.

In other words, if you are in a store and somebody comes in and they want to detain you, they want proof of your age and any other inquiries they might make of you, and you may not be under suspicion, basically, of having in your possession something that is of tobacco that is illegal, you still could be undergoing the scrutiny and questioning and so on. It is fairly broad powers they are given there in clause 2 and they are referred to paragraph (g) basically of subsection 3(2) of the act there.

It is getting very general there. It might infringe upon someone's rights in some way. I would hope it would be applied with the greatest discretion and not try to implicate somebody who would be an innocent bystander there. I would assume that is up to the person who is there, I guess the investigator or the person on site, the inspector, and using their proper judgement, which we hope they certainly would exercise and not go beyond their powers. We are giving them fairly wide scope here in this instance.

Over all Bill No. 10 is not one that I can take great issue against, I say to the minister. There are some points there that are dubious whether you support it or not. People can fall on either side of that line. There is a kind of a fine line there in instances. Nothing that I'm really going to get hung up on and nothing that I really highly support, to be honest with you. It is give or take a little and it is really a non-issue in some instances there. With that I conclude my remarks, Mr. Chairman, on Bill No. 10.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Control Act." (Bill No. 10)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Order No. 16, Mr. Chairman, please.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order No. 16. An Act To Amend The Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991, The Teachers' Pensions Act, The Uniformed Services Pensions Act, 1991, The Memorial University Pensions Act, Chapter 18 Of The Statutes Of Newfoundland, 1993 And The Pensions Contributions Reduction Act, Bill No. 29.

On motion, clause 1 through 7, carried.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will have a comment.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Just a few comments generally on pensions here. I guess anybody who wishes to work beyond their normal thirty-five years, is it, to continue to make contributions until they get their maximum accrual rate of 70 per cent. In other words, beyond thirty-five years you aren't going to contribute any more, but it is capped at 70 per cent, I understand. You can't keep - like a teacher's pension, for example, you can teach for thirty-eight years and get 76 per cent. You would stop paying in benefits. No, continue to make contributions -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. It will be a change, I say to the Government House Leader, from what is normally happening, yes.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is my understanding that the maximum accrual according to this now is going to be 70 per cent. That is what it is capped at. As in, we will say, 75 per cent for hon. members here, basically, but some as we've seen - the teachers' pension for example doesn't have a cap, I understand. You can teach for forty years and get 80 per cent. That is my understanding here. If you go beyond the normal thirty-five years, after thirty-seven years for example, I would assume you are going to stop paying in premiums. Is that the intent?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. Overall, Mr. Chairman, we have a crisis in pension funds here in this Province. We are in terrible shape. I think we have an unfunded liability of about $1.5 billion in the public service pension fund, about $1.1 billion in the teachers' fund I think, and under the uniformed service another....

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will have a look. It could be. I was accused of being backward once before.

MR. ROBERTS: Unfunded (inaudible) -

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh yes, I know. I'm talking about unfunded now. Yes, the unfunded liability in the public service fund as of December 1994 is about $1.18 billion in the teachers' fund, which the Government House Leader said, and it is $1.157 billion in the public service pension fund.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) under the public plan and under the teachers' plan.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. I am looking at the unfunded liability of the fund now. I am not looking at the assets in the fund. That is the net unfunded portion.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. The unfunded liability portion is the relevant one. The uniform service pension plan is $150 million.

MR. ROBERTS: The (inaudible) plan -

MR. SULLIVAN: Has $35.9, about $40 million with the small number contributing and it is going to be less after another while. Has the minister given any attention to the recent announcement about one of the largest pension funds in Canada, the Ontario teacher's pension fund, that has assets, if not the largest, then the second largest in the country, how the method of payments was in error and William Mercer - the minister is quite aware of that firm. Has there been any analysis now looked at to see if the pensions in this Province have been subjected, and probably others in the county, who have been paying improper payments under the pension fund? I ask the Government House Leader, would this government be investigating into that in light of the recent announcement, in the past day? He is pretending he is not listening to me.

MR. ROBERTS: I listen with one ear.

MR. SULLIVAN: One is all I want, just to listen with one ear.

AN HON. MEMBER: If he is not listening, he is like the rest of the people in Newfoundland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I say to the member, the people in Ferryland district listen to me.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: They did, and let us hope they will the next time, too, I say to the Government House Leader.

Is government initiating now - Cabinet ministers may be able to answer that. Are they initiating, in light of pensions now the recent discovery in Ontario, one of the largest and a well-managed pension fund, the Ontario Teachers Federation with billions of dollars in assets, tens of billions in assets, I should say, where there were improper payments based on improper calculations.

William Mercer, I think, handled our pension fund, too, in this Province, and I am wondering whether or not he made the same discovery in our Province as in Ontario? It is quite possible that in other pension funds across the country,this could be the case, too. I understand also that all those who were overpaid are going to be able to keep the money, and all those underpaid are going to get their money. That is further going to increase the unfunded liability of pension funds here in this Province, so maybe we are not looking at a figure that is accurate. Maybe the unfunded liability is even more enormous.

In fact, the unfunded liability in pension funds now is up to about 70-some per cent of our total expenditures in this Province, of everything we spend, so we have a massive unfunded liability in our pension plan, something that needs to be addressed, I say to the Government House Leader. Maybe the answer, I say to that minister, is not capping it here at 70 per cent, maybe let them work for fifty years and go to 100 per cent because they are not going to draw on it very long. Lifting the upper limits on pensions now is maybe a way to do it like in the teacher pension fund. If you want to go on and teach longer you can accumulate 2 per cent a year with no cap. Even though you pay more in, you are not going to be alive as many years after you retire, if you stay for another ten years. Maybe if you stay teaching you probably won't survive very long anyway.

I think these are things we have to look at in managing and proper planning of our pension funds. Even though the Government House Leader and members are not paying much attention, I can tell you it is a major problem. I will be looking forward - and I will send you a copy - I will be looking forward to seeing what this government's response is on the William Mercer, who manages our pension funds. If they did it wrong in Ontario and it has been managed wrong, I say it is being managed wrong in this Province, too, in calculating the payments that are due under that fund.

With that I conclude my comments on this bill, Bill 29.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, for the record, I was standing when you called the previous clause. I am not moving an amendment, so it doesn't really matter.

MR. CHAIRMAN: All the clauses have been passed. We were on the enacting clause when you stood.

MR. HARRIS: I will speak on the enacting clause, it doesn't matter.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We are on the title.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I wanted to say a few words on this legislation. It deals with several plans, including the Public Service Pension Act, Teachers Pension Act, Money Purchase Pension Plan and the Memorial University Pensions Act. It seems to be designed to provide enabling legislation that would allow individuals to top up what the government took out of the plan, those who had already retired in 1993 and 1994 before the regulations are made. They could top up the contributions that the employers were not making in order to enhance their pensions.

Now, I don't know if this has really been fully explained properly, and I don't see the Minister of Finance here in the Chamber, but it seems to me, in looking at the plans that we just had today, the Minister of Education, when he tabled in the House the audited financial statements of the MUN pension plan, for example, and it is not clear how the changes in contributions of the employers actually affects the pension that they are entitled to, in any event. It is not clear from the legislation that even though the employer may be contributing less to a pension - by contributing less to a pension how that, in fact, affects the entitlement of an individual, since the actuaries point out, as the legislation does as well, that the pension is available based on years of service times 2 per cent of the best five years of pensionable salary. I suppose, by reducing the salary, one may reduce or potentially reduce the best five years. Perhaps, what is being done here but is not clear, is suggesting that if by reducing your salary you are reducing your best five years of entitlement, then you can go ahead and make contributions.

There appears in the audited financial statement for the year ended March 31, 1995, a note: note 5 says that in February of 1995 the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the MUN pensions purchase of service accrual regulation which enabled employees to make additional contributions to the MUN pension plan in respect of reduced contributions by Memorial University for the fiscal year 1993-'94. It goes on to say that effective March 31, 1995, 707 employees - approximately 26 per cent of those affected by the reduction - elected to make additional contributions in accordance with the regulations, thereby adding $1.164 million of additional contributions committed by these employees. Now, as I said, it is not clear what the consequences of this regulation were, whether it is to give back - to ensure that they are entitled to collect, by way of pension, the full amount despite the reduction in contributions by the employer. If one really looks at the audited financial statement, it seems that the employer's contribution to the plan in the years '94 - '95 substantially differed from year to year. In 1994, for example, the employees contributed $4.8 million and the employees contributed $4.6 million in 1995. In 1994 the employer contributed only $114,000 and in 1995 contributed zero to the plan. So what is going on in this pension plan is a surplus. There is a surplus that is taking place in the MUN pension plan, and the employer is backing off its contribution because it says, and the actuarial evidence supports it, that the contribution from the employees, together with the surplus that is generated by interest and the increase in the value of the assets, can allow the employer to take a contribution holiday as long as the plan is actuarially sound.

What seems to me is going on is that the employer is getting the benefit of the success of the plan, whereas the employees are not getting any benefit whatsoever in the accrual of the plan. It seems to me an awfully strong statement about how the balance between employers and employees is worked out in these pension plans.

Now, I don't think the MUN pension plan is one of those that has unfunded liabilities. The MUN pension plan is in surplus, and has been in surplus for the last couple of years, to the extent that it allows Memorial University, the employer, to take a holiday from payments. Now, there is an obligation by the government to financially back the MUN pension plan. They are guaranteed, in fact, to cover any deficiencies, so it is a matter of some concern to the government as to what the health of the plan is, although the MUN pension plan is not one of those that is required to meet the funding requirements of section 18 of the Pension Benefits Act. That has been exempted from those provisions, so perhaps that is why it is not considered to be in a situation of unfunded liability.

I want to make just one additional point on that, and that is that the size of the MUN pension fund is in excess of $300 million, having grown from $293 million at the beginning of 1995, and $262 million at the beginning of 1994, and these funds are invested in bonds and equities, for the most part, and they are what provides the funding for the increases in benefits that accrue on an annual basis, and that is the asset base which the obligations of the fund come from.

This is an awful lot of money, and it is money that is, for the most part, I would say, invested outside this Province. The $300 million, for example, in just the MUN pension fund alone, I would say the vast majority of that is invested outside the Province in provincial government bonds of other provinces, in Government of Canada bonds, in Canadian and foreign equities, and in accordance with investment advice being received by the MUN pension trustees. Very little of that, I would suspect, and it would be worth knowing exactly how much, but very little of that would be, in fact, invested in this Province.

One of the biggest problems we have in this Province, that has been pointed out as recently as the other day by Rex Anthony talking about the development of local business, is access to capital and access to capital markets for debt and for loans. Now, I am not suggesting that all pension funds be thrown into venture capital - I am not suggesting that for a moment - but there is room, I would suggest, for the government to have a good, hard look at providing rules which allow, and in some places encourage, large pension funds to commit a certain portion, a specified portion perhaps - it could be as low as 5 per cent or 10 per cent, but it could be higher, depending on what types of studies could be done. There should be a study done into it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: By leave?

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


MR. HARRIS: There should be a study done as to what is happening to all of this pension fund money and determine, on a sound basis, whether a portion of that money should be directed to be reinvested in the Province of Newfoundland so that the so necessary capital can be available to enterprise in this Province, whether public or private, or a mixture of public and private, or the co-operative sector, to finance development in this Province based on sound financing arrangements.

I noticed the other day, Mr. Chairman, that one of the nationally funded labour-sponsored venture capital funds has invested in this Province through a venture capital pool that has been created under the Federal Government's labour-sponsored venture capital rules. That has provided $600,000 in capital to assist a company in this Province to develop. That is a pension fund. It is a different type of pension fund, but there is no reason why this kind of issue couldn't be looked at to see that some of these pension plan monies - and there are hundreds of millions of dollars in this pension fund alone, $300 million, in others in excess of $1 billion in pension funds that are being invested and being used - a certain portion of them could be directed to be reinvested in this Province.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I conclude my remarks on Bill No. 29.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, I want to just follow along on what my friend, the Member for St. John's East was saying. He makes very valid points. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in pension funds that are being invested outside this Province. We really should be looking at whether or not some of that funding should be made available to corporations in the Province. Since this government took office, they have eliminated, we should remember, certain programs that were put in place.

The investment tax credit program, that was a good benefit to companies; unfortunately, there weren't a lot of companies in the Province that were able to take advantage of it, but there were some. But you know, you have to be in a taxable position to get benefit for tax credits. Nevertheless, there were some of our larger corporations that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) development corporation bonds.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, that was the second one I was going to mention - my friend brings it up - the development corporation bonds. This was a way of re-investing into our - and then, the investment tax component, where people could invest, actually, in local companies in the venture capital fund, Mr. Chairman, where they had an investment tax credit. So people, senior citizens of the Province, many of them who have funds invested all over the place. Not all senior citizens are living on fixed incomes. There is a lot of capital available from senior citizens that is not being utilized to our best advantage, that is being allowed to be invested outside. I think we estimated at one point in time that there is over $400 million in private investment capital that is going outside of this Province every year. The pension funds, of course, many more times that: $300 million from the University, and God knows how much from other pension funds in this Province.

I agree with my friend, we really should find a way of having it invested here in the Province. We would be very careful about investing in public corporations because that is simply what we have been doing in the past. We have been investing it in the Province, in other words, not paying it into a fund that was at arm's length, but leaving it in the consolidated revenue fund, in effect, borrowing, ourselves, from our own pension fund, and that is why we have such a tremendous accrued liability at the moment. We have to be very careful about that.

There is certainly no reason why pension funding couldn't be made available to some private corporations to allow them to expand in this Province and create more employment and more economic activity. God knows, there is a tremendous shortage of capital in this Province at reasonable rates. You can get capital if you are prepared to pay high enough rates for it, but (inaudible) -

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: It is money circulating in the Province. Even just keeping it in the Province itself.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Exactly. Mr. Chairman, it is a very valid point that my friend raises and I wanted to support that.

The second aspect of this bill is as it relates to Memorial University. We had tabled today in the House the audited financial statements of the University pension plan, and it simply brings back to mind once again, the fact that the Auditor General has not been given access to the university books to which she should be entitled. You know, there has been very strong action taken by this government to restrict the work of the Auditor General to see that she has not been given free access. The president of the university is probably the only person in Newfoundland who doesn't have to answer to the Public Accounts Committee, the only person, we cannot call before the Public Accounts Committee. We can call any one of the ministers, we can call the Premier, I don't know if we can call the Speaker, the Speaker might not be able to be called, the Deputy Speaker still can and the Assistant Deputy Speaker but, Mr. Chairman, the president of the university has been given special status in not answering to the Public Accounts Committee except through the Minister of Education and Training and we will get on with that in due course, but the university has also been given special status and the Auditor General does not have the same access that he or she is entitled to and that's a serious problem, Mr. Chairman.

You know the people of this Province, when we are putting that kind of money into the University, and when you are doing that sort of thing, people have a right to know that proper safeguards are in place and that's what the Auditor General is, she is the principal, the protector of the public purse through the auditing process, Mr. Chairman, and I think it is a great travesty of justice indeed that the Auditor General has been denied the access that she has enjoyed for many, many years to my knowledge and auditor generals throughout Canada enjoyed, the right of auditing financial statements of the University. It cannot be said that it is an infringement on the rights of freedom of speech or educational freedom or whatever they call it, academic freedom. I am not talking about academic freedom, Mr. Chairman, we are talking about financial management. We are talking about financial management, they are very distinct and separate.

The Senate of the University and the Board of Regents of the University are two separate bodies, one dealing with the academic side and one dealing with the financial side and there is absolutely no reason why the University cannot be taken under scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee and by the Auditor General of this Province and be made to answer to the taxpayers of this Province for the tens of millions of dollars that we spend there every year, Mr. Chairman, and it is incredible. I just couldn't believe my eyes or my ears, my eyes when I read in the paper a couple of days ago, the president of the university saying that they are now going shopping for students, it is such a bargain here. Our tuition fees and our residence costs are so low, the president says we should be able to attract students from other parts of Canada.

Does the president of the University not know that many students in this Province are unable to get into the University, or certainly are unable to get the courses for which they are applying. It is a very serious problem this year, because of overcrowding at the University apparently or the underfunding of the University. The cutbacks in the educational system, that students in this province are not able to get the required courses that they need in order to complete their program, and I have had many cases of that brought to my attention. In fact my own stepdaughter was in that situation, was able to get only one of the five courses that she applied for this semester. Not that the courses are not being offered, she just wasn't able to get in there, there were not enough spaces available, but the president of the University says: we can go out and shop around and bring more students in from outside of Newfoundland and educate them.

I mean, there is a value of bringing in top flight students who are going to be involved in research and to bring some brainpower into the Province, unfortunately we are losing a lot of our brainpower, there is a great brain drain going out of this Province, Mr. Chairman, and I find it just absolutely incredible that the president of the University is talking about bringing people in and that he is saying that we have an excess capacity at Memorial University, I can't believe it, I can't believe it, Mr. Chairman. So, Mr. Chairman, those are the few comments that I have on this bill and perhaps we will have another opportunity to deal with these issues a little later.

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

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

I want to have a few comments on this Pensions Bill here that they are debating in Committee today. There are a number of people who were looking forward to getting pensions, who had contributed to pension funds in the Province, that will not now be getting any pensions as a result of the governments actions of the last day or so, Mr. Chairman. People are being laid off who have contributed to the various pension plans of the Province and are now, as of today, being terminated from a position - people with many years of service, some I hear with twenty, twenty-one years of service, who were looking forward to pensions to retire, Mr. Chairman, who have now been axed by this government, a few have been axed by this government that will not be here long enough to get a pension and God knows what the new fiscal year will bring, Mr. Chairman, with egard to lay-offs and pensions.

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Education's advice to me is to go quick. I say once I see the Minister of Education going through the door I won't be far behind him because I know that he will have the inside track when it comes to pensions. The Minister of Education, once I see him going down over the steps swinging his briefcase and a few other things with him, I will know it is time to follow him.

MR. DECKER: When I bring back the picture.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, when he brings back the picture that he has down in his house belonging to me of the US Memorial Hospital, that great picture and I believe it is a great picture of a bird, some kind of a bird, a big pelican they gave me up in Cold Lake when I was up there looking at low level flying I say to the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) flying low?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I was flying low. After the old air wolf himself taught me about low level flying when he went into St. Lawrence and did away with other people who thought they were going to get pensions, Mr. Chairman, I had to get involved in low level flying myself so I went up to Cold Lake and had a look at the situation up there.

Mr. Chairman, I want to comment for a few moments on a situation of the employees there at the museum in Grand Bank today who got their notice that they will not be indeed getting a pension. They will be terminated as of January 1, 1996. What a cold callous act by this Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and by this government to go down there and shut down that facility. A very good facility. It has been a landmark in the town of Grand Bank now since it was built, constructed, brought down from Expo and put up there. It is a seaman's museum, a testimony to the people involved in the fishing industry of this Province, people who toiled long and hard to make a living and contributed to the provincial economy. Many of them lost their lives in the fishing industry, Mr. Chairman, on trawlers. Two trawlers down there sank, the Blue Mist and the Blue Wave, all crews lost. Widows and children left behind and that is what this very building symbolizes. Now today the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation sent one of his henchmen down there and told them he is going to shut it down, get through the door, shut her down, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, visitations to that facility this year, I say to the minister, have increased substantially.

The Premier was down there two weeks ago talking about the importance of the tourism industry to the provincial economy and to the region, talking about tourism. We must attract more people into the Burin Peninsula. We must get them to stay overnight. We have to offer them attractions and what does the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation do? Shut down the museum. Just last year they opened a new golf course on the Burin Peninsula, Mr. Chairman, why? Because we wanted to promote tourism. We wanted people to flock to the Burin Peninsula to play golf, to put up in the hotels, to the 30,000 people going to and from St. Pierre annually. We wanted to keep them a night or so on the Burin Peninsula so that they would spend some money and not all drive to Fortune, go to St. Pierre and come back and drive out. We wanted to offer them attractions on the Burin Peninsula. That is what the Premier was espousing two weeks ago. Now what happened to what the Premier was espousing two weeks ago and what the minister did today? What happened? Where is the correlation? Where is the connection, I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation?

Of course we know how he promotes and supports tourism in this Province. It is not in this Province he supports tourism but it is in other provinces and in other countries, that is the problem with the Premier and his ministers. They promote tourism but it is outside of this Province spending on travel and accommodations in other parts of the country and other parts of the world. That is their commitment to tourism. It is not tourism within this Province, it is tourism outside of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Out-migration.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Out-migration, to go visit the Newfoundlanders on the mainland.

I think the Premier was confused in '89 when he said about bringing them all home. I think what he meant to say was, I will go to visit them all once I have kicked them all out of the Province. That is what he meant.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, Clyde Wells, when he said: I will bring them all home.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, he was confused. Premier Wells was confused. What he meant was, I make a promise to every mother's son that I will go visit them on the mainland once I have forced them all out of the Province. That is what he meant. What a commitment to tourism. And I tell the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation he hasn't heard the last of it yet. He can laugh and talk to his cohort there, the former President of the Newfoundland Teachers' Association, another shining example of commitment to Newfoundland, another shining example of commitment to education, another shining example of commitment to tourism and culture, and children and youth, and education and prosperity, another shining example, the two of them there together now, birds of a feather, smiling together. They think they have hoodwinked the people, the two of them. What goes around comes around, I say to the two of them, another attack on education, more teachers now and college instructors will not get a pension - no pensions - contributing for years, now being booted out the door as a result of government's action, the impact on the pension funds of the Province, if any of them are lucky enough to be pensionable, booted out the door. What a commitment to the people of the Province. What a commitment to tourism.

For the Premier to go down there the other day, imagine, to go down on the Burin Peninsula and sit down with community leaders and talk about tourism, how important tourism is to the Burin Peninsula, and we must have golf courses, we must have museums, we must have golf courses. We must keep people here to stay overnight to stay in our hotels, and what does he do? He sends down the old henchman today and says: Shut the doors, lock her up, put them through the door. We don't really want people to go down to the Burin Peninsula and stay down there overnight and spend their money. Let them go on to St. Pierre. Don't keep them playing golf; don't keep them down in the museum looking around. Don't let the students down there find out about their culture and heritage, about the banking fishery and the deep-sea fishery, the trawler fishery. Don't let them find out about that. We don't want our students to know about Newfoundland culture and history. No, we don't want that.

We can see that in the curriculum now that the Minister of Education and Training is bringing to this Province. Is there any more Newfoundland history? Is there any more Newfoundland history in the curriculum of our schools, I ask members opposite, or do they know that? That has been wiped out, too. What a crowd. Most of them over there, since we are talking pensions, will not even qualify for severance if there is any left, because they are going to be gone through the door in four years, and one or two of them over there -

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the Member for Terra Nova?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Was she involved in the dairy industry? I know where she is going, as fast as she can go.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, I say to the Member for Fogo, he probably has the luxury of being a little bit (inaudible). I don't hear him kicking up for the people of Fogo and the ferry. I don't hear too much out of him.

AN HON. MEMBER: You worry about that museum down in Grand Bank.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am worrying about it. At least I have opened my mouth about it, I say to the member. That is more than you have done. At least I have opened my mouth about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Silence.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Silence is deafening from the Member for Fogo.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, it is (inaudible) behind doors, I tell him, not muzzled, not put in my place by the leader, the Premier over there, telling you: Sit down, Beaton, and shut up. You can come to caucus, but don't speak to me about pensions, Beaton. Don't speak to me about lay-offs, Beaton. Come to caucus, be seen and not heard, Beaton.

Mr. Chairman, that is what is going on.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to the Member for Eagle River, it wasn't very quiet behind yours this morning. It wasn't the Member for Fogo doing the blaring and the bawling this morning when I went down to use the washroom, I tell him. It certainly wasn't the Member for Eagle River because he was out again with old Harry, walking him. Mr. And Mrs. Wells are gone so he has to go down and walk the dog, Mr. Chairman, old Harry. Down walking the dog, taking the Premier's dog out while he is gone. Some people would do anything for a pension, even walk the dog and water the dog.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I would say if I was the Premier I would be pretty concerned if he has the dog living with you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, there is only a certain kind of person who would go and walk the Premier's dog, I will tell you that. No reflection on the dog, I say to the Member for (inaudible). None whatsoever.

MR. CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: By leave, Mr. Chairman? Do I have leave?

MR. CHAIRMAN: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) by leave, yes.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, I just want to get back to the smiling Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. I don't know what he has to smile about. The people in Grand Bank have nothing to smile about today, I tell him. The people on the Burin Peninsula don't have anything to smile about today. People in the tourism industry, the people down there in hotels and motels that are hanging on by their fingernails down there, some with loans to Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, that this is probably going to finish them. What this minister has done is going to finish them. You build it up and he tears it down.

That is typical of this government. One minister does something positive, the other minister does something negative. How could the Premier justify even a tank of gas two weeks ago to go to the Burin Peninsula and talk the nonsense he talked about, about tourism and the importance of tourism, and the government's commitment to tourism. Can you imagine? The face of it. Make no wonder he is gone to Europe. He should stay in Europe. Because at least he is doing something for the tourism industry in Europe while he is gone.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Premier. The Member for Fogo is saying yes. He probably contributed to his ticket and thought it was one way. The Member for Fogo probably took up a collection for the Premier to go to Europe thinking it was a one way ticket, and he is going to be disappointed when he finds out he is coming home.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, he is a good man, but these days he is a terribly quiet good man. An awfully quiet good man, the Member for Fogo. Sat on petitions of thousands of people and never presented them, thousands of names, never presented them yet. Wanted to get rid of the pontiff, wanted to get rid of him really, and then didn't have the courage to present the petitions. Beaton. It is like the former Member for St. John's North said, what is it: He has been `beaten' all his life. He is the only man I know who has been `beaten' all his life, he said. That is the story with this man. That is what it is now. He is a broken man, his spirit is broken, the Premier has broken his back and spirit, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, he seldom comes. Doesn't say anything, doesn't stand up for his district, doesn't care about tourism, doesn't care about the fishery any more, doesn't care about the caplin.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Member for Fogo, I said, doesn't care about the caplin. We know the minister cares about caplin, we saw his statement last week. We know how he cares, Mr. Chairman, about caplin, the minister of sustainable harvesting, of sustainable renewable resources, the minister who represents all of that. His sustainable development, that is the word.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The only thing, Mr. Chairman, from everything I read in the paper last week, the minister is not going to be sustainable very much longer himself.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: When you get the kind of editorials written in the papers of this Province about the minister, and the snide remarks by commentators about the minister, I would be worried about his sustainability, I say to the minister. I would not be surprised that when the Premier comes back from his shopping tour in Europe, his Christmas shopping spree which he goes on every year - last year he went to Brussels, I believe it was, and he brought back Belgian chocolate last year, and this year he is over there again.

We do not have enough money in the pension funds. They are all in trouble, unfunded liability, cannot keep the museum open in Grand Bank, got to increase the ferry rates to the people of Fogo, and the Premier of the Province over in Europe on a Christmas shopping jaunt.

MR. TOBIN: They are trying to get the Premier to go to Boston.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, they do not want the Premier to go to Boston.


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The member is trying to turn the screw now because I have exposed his involvement with the Premier. The Member for Fogo has experience in this stuff, see. He has lots of experience. Also, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and the Member for Twillingate, and the Member for Bonavista North.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, you brought in the turrs. He brought in the turrs for the turr supper. Mr. Chairman, every time in the House when I speak about the Premier gone and the Premier leaving the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation smiles from ear to ear. He lights up like a Christmas tree. He cannot wait for the day when he is going to bring in the turkeys.

MR. ROBERTS: There are enough turkeys in here now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He once told me that the next supper he has is going to be geese. It is going to be bigger than turrs, it is going to be geese. Because it is a bigger prize we are after the next time we are going to have geese.

MR. TULK: (inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, we are lucky to have anything because of the state we are in I say to the Member for Fogo, but the people in the Province are going through just as hard a time. I say the people who got their notices yesterday and today would like to know if they could have turrs, geese, or turkey. They would have liked to know they could have stayed working until they got a pension. They would have liked to have some comfort from that. Some people working for twenty, twenty-one or twenty-two years with government are now out the door I say to the Member for Fogo. I do not think that is very funny.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: If its turkey you want then you should be up (inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: See what I mean, the old disinfectant just kicked in again. They did not water down the disinfectant enough. The minister does not know it but what they are doing is getting into experiments with the strength of the disinfectant.

MR. SULLIVAN: Infections are up in that hospital by 25 per cent.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Am I going to let anybody ask me? That is not the way we operate over here. I do not let people speak, Mr. Chairman. Yon do not let people speak on your side and that is the difference. You are confused again today. I think you have been into the minister's disinfectant bottle I say to the Government House Leader. As a matter of fact I would suggest that the whole Cabinet must be drinking the disinfectant that the Minister of Health provides, seeing the decisions you have made in the last week.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Member for St. John's East can try to goad me all he likes but there are some things I am not going to get into. He is trying to set me up. He will be up there one of these days asking us to give him leave again, asking us if he can have leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I do not believe that. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation holds the Premier in high esteem, especially since Friday. Since Friday the glee is all over his face. It started Friday morning when the people from Bell Island were here and the Premier came as close as he could to announcing what the minister had to announce Friday night, without the minister knowing what he was going to have to announce Friday night, that's what happened.

MR. TOBIN: After John getting up and saying: no, I wasn't changing my mind.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But I pity the poor minister as he went out there the day before and it took great risk in my view, I don't know if I would have gone out there, it took a lot of courage -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, it took a lot of courage for the minister to go out in that lobby and up in that stairway and then they went up all that and I saw what happened, they went all up back and pinned him in there, it was an uneasy feeling; it had to be an uneasy feeling. I was uneasy, Mr. Chairman, watching the minister in the middle of it, I got nervous watching him in the middle of it, I got concerned for his safety.

MR. SULLIVAN: He was half afraid they wouldn't crush him.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to him, -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I was, I was, but having said that he did go out there and he faced the crowd and laid down a few conditions which is fair enough, he laid down the conditions. No, then he got a little bit huffy himself, yes he did, but having said that, I can appreciate how the minister felt on Friday morning when he sensed the rug was being pulled out from under him, quite embarrassed and then he went up to the Cabinet and what did his colleagues do? Roll right over and played to the Premier, deserted him, left him there, left him out in the lobby by himself and then left him in the Cabinet room by himself and then told him to get downstairs to the lobby and tell the press that we are staggering the increase, which I announced Friday morning after Question Period. I told the people on Bell Island what they were going to announce and the minister is not over it yet, Mr. Chairman. The minister hasn't recovered from it yet.

I watched him Friday night, I watched him on television and I said: Well, what has happened to poor, old John? I knew what had happened to him but he hasn't recovered from it since. Some people said he is a great actor, that he was acting. That's John now, making out he is upset and he cares, that was a big show, but I didn't say that, I said: no, no, no, that's not the case. I said that man, he is down in the dumps, to have the rug pulled from under him like that and it is not the first time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Stronger language than that I am sure if I were talking to the minister privately, he would use stronger language than that. It is not abuse, just praise, praise that he is so courageous and I would -

AN HON. MEMBER: Nobody in Cabinet supported him either.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No one in Cabinet supports him.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation had as much support in Cabinet on Friday as he is going to have when he announces his intention to seek the leadership of the party - he is going to have none.

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, `Paul', listen, I don't know about that, but I know where it is going to happen first - right over there, and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation wants to have a shot at the leadership.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I have to have a long talk with you before you do that. I have to tell you the facts of life. I have to tell the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation the facts of life, because I don't want him availing of the pension fund - since we are on this bill, and I have to be relevant; relevance is important - I don't want the minister availing of the pension fund too early, because he will get really discouraged when he finds out he doesn't have any support from his caucus, and then he will leave. Then the pension fund will be further depleted. We don't want that.

MR. EFFORD: Now I know why (inaudible) bringing it all together.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, it is all relevant. I never speak in this House unless there is relevance, I say to the minister. Always you can bring it together later on.

MR. SHELLEY: It just takes him a while to get to it, that's all.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I started out by talking to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation about what he has done to the people in Grand Bank, to the employees, and how they will never see a pension because he booted them through the door this morning, put them through the door, hobnailed boots - out, shut her down; let the place fall down.

You talked about repairs today, by the way. I have to take you up on that. I don't know who gave you that information. There has been a lot of money spent in the last number of years down there. You say it is in a bad state of repair. I don't know if that is so correct, I say to the minister. I have to look into that a bit over the next few hours to see what really needs to be done down there. I don't think - there is no evidence of the problem, I say to him. It is a wonderful facility. As a matter of fact, I was there a few months ago with a delegation from Japan that was down visiting Clearwater - Grand Bank Seafoods. Marvellous - they were so impressed with it. That was where they had the reception for them, right in the museum. They came in and set up, served the seafood. It was just a wonderful, wonderful occasion, and the place is remarkable. I don't know how many members have seen it, but it is a remarkable facility, and yet the minister talks about the much-needed repairs. I don't know who gave him the briefing note on it, but if I were him I would check up on it. I am sure it wasn't the gentleman who was down there this morning, because he is probably not back yet. He probably had to make three or four more stops on the way back to lay off a few more people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Did you say it's part of his job? Is that what the Member for Eagle River said, he has a good job?

AN HON. MEMBER: They were talking about Sunday shopping.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: Sunday shopping.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Sunday shopping? What is that going to do for pensions?

MR. DUMARESQUE: I'm not paying any attention to you.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I don't blame you either. The hon. gentleman, the Member for Eagle River pays as much attention to me as I pay to him.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The only time I notice him is when he is out going around with the Premier's bow-wow, I say to him. Talk about a tourist attraction. I would say there would be several thousand agents come in if they knew that, that we had a man here in this House, a member on salary, who gets paid extra money to walk the Premier's dog - walks the Premier's dog, gets paid an extra allowance. He doesn't do anything else. He is not allowed to travel with the Premier. He is not allowed up on the Eighth floor - the first parliamentary assistant in the history of the Province who is not allowed on the Eighth floor. They won't even accept calls from his office to the Eighth floor once they see the number. They don't even acknowledge it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You've got it rough. That is what I said. Like I said, it is no disrespect to the dog, nothing to do with the dog, Mr. Chairman. I'm not putting down the Premier's dog.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Do you want me to get into the purchase orders again (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't care what you get into. The next purchase orders that are read out in here are going to be for your purchase of puppy chow.

MR. DUMARESQUE: You think you control this House now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Puppy chow, Mr. Chairman.

MR. DUMARESQUE: You don't control what happens in here.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, and no more do you. You don't control what's even happening with your own position, I say to him.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I will read out the purchase orders, and I will read out the cigars, and liquor, and all (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Dr. Ballard. He doesn't like the puppy chow. He had a reaction, then he had to take Harry to the vet. Yes, I heard that. The member could probably verify it, that he gave Harry the wrong food and he had a reaction. That is the purchase orders we are going to get read out here, the needles from the vet and the dog food, Mr. Chairman, the puppy chow.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). Make some sense.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pensions make sense, I say to the -

MR. DUMARESQUE: People would vote for Harry, the Premier's dog, before they would vote for you fellows over there now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, the Member for Eagle River needed something to buoy him up, needed something to get him out of the doldrums - another weather-beaten, downtrodden individual of the government, proud of what the government has done again today over there. Thumping his desk, chest pumped out, proud we've laid off another 500 people. Lay off, kick them through the door - proud of it. It doesn't matter, lay off another 500 or 600. Send them home, put them on welfare, it improves the provincial economy. Shut down the museum, shut down the college campus. It helps the economy of the Province. That is what this government is about - a `shut her down' mentality.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) shut her down?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I am too wound up now, I say to the Government House Leader. Wound up, wound right up on it.

MR. ROBERTS: Do you need to order something?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I believe the Government House Leader likes to be here suppertime so he can get a bit of supper over there because otherwise he would not get any supper I believe. I believe he would not get any supper. If he had to go home he would not get any supper, I am convinced of it. That is the only reason I know that every day he moves that we not adjourn at five o'clock because if he was going to get supper when he went home he would go home at five o'clock and have his supper.

MR. ROBERTS: My wifes away (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I would say, I don't know, maybe she will stay away.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take the dog out for a walk, boy.

MR. ROBERTS: Even the dogs, they take me for a walk.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They pull, they just pull him behind them. He got big dogs.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I could not tell him, no. I cannot say that, that is too nasty. Now we really got it on the dog talk now.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's gone to the dogs.

MR. DUMARESQUE: And you're a fool.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I'm a fool? I say to the Member for Eagle River, there is one basic difference from me and him, there is one basic difference then me and the Member for Eagle River, is the impression we have of ourselves. I realize my abilities and my limitations. I realize what I am, I realize where I came from and how I was brought up. I never forgot my roots I say to him, that is one basic difference between me and him. Now he is in here and what is he? What is his great claim to fame, the Member for Eagle River? Walking dogs. But he has forgotten about his roots, he has forgotten about who he represents and where he is from, Mr. Chairman, why? Because he comes to St. John's and he walks the Premier's dog. He has climbed the ladder of success. The Member for Eagle River has climbed the ladder of success. He has been where so many of us want to be, Mr. Chairman, walking the Premier's dog. Can you believe it, Mr. Chairman? That is the difference between me and the Member for Eagle River. I know I can never reach that goal in life. I know I don't have what it takes. I don't have the intelligence, the fortitude and the determination to ever, ever, ever walk a Premier's dog in this Province. Oh if I could only get to that point in time in my life, Mr. Chairman, if I could only get there. If I could only get there, Mr. Chairman If only I could be so fortunate.

I wonder will fate have it in store for me at some time in life where I can write my constituents and say: Thank you for electing me, it has been a real pleasure being your member. But guess what, constituents? Please re-elect me, because I enjoy walking Harry.

That is the difference between me and the Member for Eagle River. I know I'm not capable -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I'm just wondering in terms of relevancy if the dogs pay into pension plans.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, they do not, Mr. Chairman, but the person who walks the dog is paying pension premiums. There is a direct connection between pension premiums and the dog. It is what connects the hand of the Member for Eagle River and the dog.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, that is the difference. So the Member for Eagle River has done quite well for himself. He should be proud of himself. I'm sure he will tell all who belong to him, the family history will show -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, this is all pension related. Some people will do anything for a pension, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Different kinds of things than a minister will do. A minister will cut back and lay off people and not salt the road to make the pension fund healthy. He doesn't want too many people contributing to the pension fund. He lays them off before they get pensionable so that protects the pension fund.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I'm sure the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation has got the message now about what he has done in Grand Bank.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That's too bad I say to the minister. You are getting paid well enough to be here. As unbearable and insufferable as I may be, you are getting paid well enough to put up with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: There is a man now, see, making decisions about pensions. He doesn't care if he gets a pension or not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, gold-plated slippers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, now, come on. Sell off some of your jewellery and I would say you could stabilize the pension fund.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Talk about being quick on the trigger, too quick for his own good.

AN HON. MEMBER: Never even mentioned his name.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Never mentioned his name, up he jumped; but then we have seen a couple of those cases here where people have been premature in their reaction. The Member for St. John's North then, when the Member for Burin - Placentia West mentioned the 500 Club, he came up like a rocket. He didn't mention any names. Then we had the infamous briefcase situation where indeed we thought the Minister of Justice, we were told, had the briefcase and, of course, the poor old Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - he is not over it yet: We thought we had two briefcases. There are two briefcases.

I am surprised, by the way, that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology got through that one, but he did. He was honest about it. He said he had the briefcase. The Minister of Justice, the Government House Leader, we had pretty good information that he had bought one, $650 or -


MR. W. MATTHEWS: $695 in Toronto, wasn't it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Get up and read it out again, I say to the Member for Eagle River.

Mr. Chairman, it is 5:00 p.m. With that I will conclude my remarks, because I know we have a bit more work to do before we go for supper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no. Are we on Bill 25, Order 17? I thought we were on 16.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We are on Bill 29.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Bill 29, that is right, so we have one more to go before we adjourn, so those are all my remarks on that one.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991, The Teachers' Pensions Act, The Uniformed Services Pensions Act, 1991, The Memorial University Pensions Act, Chapter 18 Of The Statutes Of Newfoundland, 1993 And The Pensions Contributions Reduction Act". (Bill No. 29).

On motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 17.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991 And The Uniformed Services Pensions Act, 1991." (Bill No. 25)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 11, Mr. Chairman, please.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act." (Bill No. 12)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This bill was in committee yesterday or - yes, I think it was yesterday. My friend from Mount Pearl had asked for some information. He has an unsigned note with a note on the bottom in bad handwriting. The bad handwriting is mine. These are notes from the finance department officials which I understand address his questions. If they do so satisfactorily, then fine. If not, perhaps he could tell me where we are deficient and we will try to provide him with the information at once; but I believe the information does answer his questions.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, the minister was good enough to provide some information but it is not totally clear. I don't know if the minister is familiar enough with it that he can answer it. If I can get his nose out of Time Magazine there we will get a question in to him, if somebody will shake him. There he is, he is coming around.

It says here that pleasure craft and recreational vehicles are taxed at sixteen-and-a-half cents per litre, but that commercial vessels operating are subject to the commercial tax of three-and-a-half cents a litre. Is that in addition to the sixteen-and-a-half cents or is that instead of. Are we saying commercial vessels are only paying three-and-a-half cents a litre instead of sixteen-and-a-half cents a litre? Can the minister clarify that for me?

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

MR. DICKS: I just want to make sure I understand the hon. member's question. Are you asking if it is in addition to the sixteen point five cents per litre?

No, my understanding is that it is three point five cents per litre rather than twelve cents per litre or twelve per cent of the purchase price. My understanding is it should have the same monetary impact, but it is not in addition to, I think it is in substitution for. It was calculated at a different rate. Is that the question?

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

MR. WINDSOR: I think the minister misunderstood my question to him. Pleasure craft and recreational vessels are taxed at sixteen-and-a-half cents a litre; that is pretty clear. In the first paragraph of the information you gave me, you said that we are charging three-and-a-half cents per litre to commercial vessels. Is that three-and-a-half cents per litre an additional charge over and above the basic sixteen-and-a-half, where commercial vessels actually pay less than recreational vessels?


MR. WINDSOR: So, any vessels that are used for commercial purposes pay less?

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, that is it. I thought I had explained that clearly, and I apologize that I didn't. But no, commercial vessels pay at a lesser rate. They pay the three point five cents per litre, but if they operate interprovincially or internationally they are exempt from the tax altogether. Because of, I suppose, the necessity to promote commerce and to make marine transportation effective economically for people who choose to use it, we tax it at a lower rate than for people who just use craft for pleasure.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, could the minister tell me - and he may not want to answer, he may want to take it under advisement - are tour boats in this Province, for example, considered commercial vessels, and therefore taxable at the three-and-a-half cents per litre rate? I mean, they are commercial. If they are licensed by the Province as tour boats, are they considered to be commercial and therefore paying at a lower rate?

MR. DICKS: I will check for the hon. member on that.

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

MR. DICKS: I expect that they probably are, but it would come back to the definition of what is a commercial vessel. I don't have the full act with me, but I will check that by tomorrow. I suspect that they are.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

I just wanted clarification. It was my understanding that commercial boats, like fisherpeople and so on with registered boats, normally they would have an exemption. But now since we are changing from a per cent to a per litre, they are going to have to pay it upfront. The three point five cents is going to be paid upfront at the sale now, rather than have an exemption and so on.

It is also my understanding that tour boats in the Province now are not getting this exemption. It is my understanding that they pay the full price and they don't have the price that is available to, say, fishers in the Province. I would certainly like for the minister to clarify that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is he gone?


AN HON. MEMBER: He is gone to do a live interview.

MR. SULLIVAN: A live - so, are we going to do resuscitation on him first? We are going to do a live interview. Are you implying he is dead, I say to the minister?

Maybe the Minister of Justice might answer those questions, the Government House Leader in the absence of the Minister of Finance.

The questions I am asking are: Number one, the implications now are that normally commercial, we will say, fishers in the Province, fisherpeople - fishermen, we used to call them, now they are fishers - would be exempt from taxes on the purchase of fuels for their operations. Now, since we are instituting a per litre tax, this is going to be paid upfront at three point five as opposed to, I think, the normal tax of - what? - sixteen point five.

Secondly, could the minister confirm that, as asked to the Minister of Finance there, it is my understanding that tour boat operators in the Province who are allowed to operate by the Province here do not get an exemption on fuel for that purpose and they pay the full rate. That is my understanding. I am just wondering whether that is factual.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, my understanding, to deal first with the second question, is that a commercial tour boat is a commercial operation and accordingly would pay the commercial tax as would anybody else using gasoline commercially. I mean, that is a cost of doing business and has to be built into the cost base and then, in due course, passed on to the consumer. As long as everybody in the business is paying the same cost, then there is no unfair competitive advantage. It may be said we should subsidize them by giving them tax free gasoline -

MR. SULLIVAN: I never said that.

MR. ROBERTS: No, I understand, but one may say we should give them tax reduced or tax free gasoline, but that is not the policy. The policy is that commercial operations pay the gasoline tax. In fact, even under the EDGE legislation, I think my friend the Minister of Industry will confirm that an industry which qualifies for EDGE treatment still pays the gasoline and the diesel fuel taxes. These are consumption taxes.

The other point was with respect to the normal fisher - and fisher, by the way, is a good biblical term. My friend from the Strait of Belle Isle would be able to tell us. Didn't Our Lord say, `I shall make thee fishers of men'? Dr. Grenfell used to have that motto on the wheel of the original Strathcona, I believe. In fact, it was on the wheel of the third Strathcona. I didn't know the second one at all.

The first question, I think, was - who resigned?

AN HON. MEMBER: Herb Clarke.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, Herb Clarke. My hon. friend from Burin - Placentia West is applying for the job, I hope. We will give him a reference.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: But I won't tell the House what he called the hon. gentleman because that would be most unparliamentary.

Your Honour, I shouldn't allow myself to be distracted by the hon. gentleman who intends to distract me and does it successfully most of the time.

MR. TOBIN: He never called (inaudible) Roberts.

MR. ROBERTS: No, I hope he didn't, Mr. Chairman. In deference to all the Roberts in the world I hope he never did that.

Your Honour, to come back. The first question, if I understood it, had to do with whether fishers were exempt from the tax, and my understanding is they are. If that answers the point satisfactorily, fine. That is really as far as I can go. I won't say I am on thin ice, but I will say it is thinner ice than I would normally be on. This is more for the Finance Minister. The Minister of Finance had to leave, he had made a commitment to be on the radio to do an interview on the financial statement.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My understanding was that they were exempt upon the purchase of that and they wouldn't have to pay it. My understanding now is they have to pay it and then they have to apply for a rebate afterwards. It is just since this year, I think, is it?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, the only effect of three point five, in my understanding - and I have been known to be wrong, I remember well, there was one day in 1962, I think - all that we have done is change it from an ad valorem to a fixed per litre, and that is all the amendment seeks to do.

On motion, that the Committee report having passed the Bill No. 12 without amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, that brings us to the happy point where we have done what we set out to do today. Could we rise the committee and perhaps we can deal with - there was one set of amendments dealt with in committee, Sir.

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 of the Whole has considered the matters to it referred and has passed Bills No. 27, 28, 10, 29, 25 and 12 without amendment, and Bill No. 7 with amendment, and request leave to sit again.

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

On motion, amendments to Bill No. 7 read a first and second time, ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from Burin - Placentia West for his usual kind words, and he is going before, as he does.

Your Honour, tomorrow is Private Members' Day and I understand we will be dealing with the motion put down by the gentleman from Burin - Placentia West, which is the eloquent, articulate and carefully phrased language that he normally uses in the House, and we will be dealing with that. I wouldn't want to predict it's fate, but I think members need not stay up all night awaiting that.

Thursday -

MR. TOBIN: Are you insulting me?

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman from Burin - Placentia West asks if I am insulting him. He wouldn't know if I am insulting him or not, Mr. Speaker. Far be it from me to insult him.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, will you sit him down?

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I would know if I were insulting the hon. gentleman from Burin - Placentia West, yes. It is a little like taking candy from a child, so I wouldn't do that, but there you are.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, sit him down. He is like a jack-in-the-box, he is up and down and up and down and up and down.

MR. ROBERTS: I hear that is more than can be said of my hon. friend from Burin - Placentia West, and he can think about that overnight. Your Honour, nobody ever accused my friend from Burin - Placentia West of being up and down. I am told it is either up or down for him.

Your Honour, on Thursday -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) personally now.

MR. ROBERTS: I assure the hon. gentleman I have no personal knowledge at all of the matter insofar as he is concerned.

Your Honour, on Thursday we will be asking the House to deal with the Committee stage on the Executive Council which is Order 22 and the Elections Act amendments which are Order 26. We will see where we go from there. We will let the House know tomorrow or Thursday what we are going to do precisely on Friday, but I expect we shall be doing legislation again, some more of the bills standing for Second Reading.

We will not sit beyond noon on Friday and members can make their plans accordingly.

With that said, I thank members for their attendance. I want to congratulate the hon. gentleman from St. John's East on his soporific speech and the hon. gentleman from Grand Bank on his galvanizing speech.

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

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