December 13, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLII  No. 75

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just apologize to my hon. critic opposite but this is a very brief statement and the major contents would be in materials that are tabled.

On November 3 of this year, Mr. Speaker, I advised the House of Assembly of government's decision to begin the process of phasing out the John Cabot (1997) 500th Anniversary Corporation. In keeping with that commitment, Mr. Speaker, I bring to the House of Assembly this afternoon the three financial summaries that were promised at that time: firstly, a complete financial summary of expenses incurred from May 22, 1992, when the corporation was established up to the statement of November 3, 1995; secondly, Mr. Speaker, the expenses incurred as a result of government's decision to wind down and phase out the corporation; and thirdly, a revised budget, Mr. Speaker, for the period carrying forward from December, now, 1995 to March 31, 1998.

Mr. Speaker, government has assembled a small management team of six persons with two additional staff seconded from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Mr. Mike Buist, the department's Assistant Deputy Minister of Parks and Recreation, and former Manager of Marketing and Communications for the Cabot Corporation itself, will assume responsibilities for managing the celebrations. Government is dedicated, Mr. Speaker, to work collectively with volunteer groups and associations throughout the Province to make 1997 a most successful venture for everybody in the Province. With that, Mr. Speaker, I table the three statements referred to in this statement. Thank you.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I called over at 1:50 p.m. today because I heard there was supposed to be a press release, and I still do not have it, but I heard it from the minister and that is enough. After all these years of asking for accountability it is about time that they are being accountable. The eight people, we will see what the eight people will have to do on the 1997 celebrations. It took John Cabot less time to find Newfoundland than it took this minister to find his conscience.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, I have said all along, and I will say again, that this minister and this government would not run an out house over a river.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Health.

Your department is now permitting people who are requiring Level II to be admitted into personal care homes when they could only admit Level I before. Your department has promoted the merits of keeping people in their own community and since the City of St. John's has no personal care homes, I ask the minister: Are you now going to force people from the city here into personal care homes across the Province?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, we have no intention, nor do we have any policy, or any intention to put policy in place, that directs people or forces people to move from any one particular place in the Province to another. In the first instance, people want to reside in their own homes as long as they can, in or near their own communities as long as they can, and certainly, we support that concept and that principle that I think we will all eventually want to be able to have the option of so doing.

We are not directing or redirecting people to any particular location in the Province. We have people who live hundreds of miles away from St. John's and when it comes to a time in life when they need long-term care, they prefer to be in a place like St. John's, lots of times because they have family in this area and that type of thing. But on no account is government, by policy direction, suggesting to anybody that they move anywhere in particular for purposes of residency.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the minister now admit that the waiting list for admission to nursing homes is far beyond his department's ability to cope with, and the only avenue they have now to deal with this demand is to put Level II people into personal care homes where it only costs, according to the estimates, $2,400 per person per year, compared to almost $60,000 per year in a nursing home?

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

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member poses a suggestion in the form of a preamble to his question that is factually incorrect. We have adequate long-term care facilities in the Province to deal with the needs of the people who require long-term care, and that includes the region of St. John's, notwithstanding the proposition that he continues to put forward that we have enormous or lengthy waiting lists.

At the moment, to further ensure that is the case, or prove otherwise, we have a full continuum of care review being completed as we speak by the Health Research Unit at the Medical School, Memorial University, headed by Dr. Pat Parfrey. He is reviewing the continuum of care from personal care homes, enriched needs in the person's own home, and long-term care needs. The preliminary report and indication I have from him is confirmation that we have adequate long-term care spaces in the Province, including St. John's, although there is, relatively speaking, more pressure in the St. John's area than in other areas, to take care of the requirements that we have.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, that is not what a minute of a meeting which he and other ministers attended, in a special committee, set up. They have identified 518 names on a list in St. John's and 544 more potential, at a recent meeting, I say to the minister.

Now, I will get on with my next question. By virtue of placing Level II people in personal care homes, you now have privatized Level II care. Other provinces in Canada have licensed private nursing homes. The minister is now faced with hundreds of beds that do not meet his own departmental standards and these are run by government and by churches. I ask the minister: Having taken the first step, is it now your plan to address this critical capital requirement that government cannot cope with by allowing the licensing of private nursing homes?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I gather from the suggestion in the first part of his question that he agrees with the direction that government is taking and that is, allowing higher levels of care to be given in personal care homes where they meet the standards in terms of programming and life-safety issues and so on, so given the understanding that he agrees with that direction, I accept that commendation of government's policy.

In terms of whether or not we are prepared to look to the private sector for additional long-term care spaces, I want to say to the hon. member, who wishes he was the minister, that, at what point in time this government finds itself with a situation where we know that there are needs for additional long-term care spaces, we will have no hesitancy in my judgement, to consider as one of the options, going to the private sector and allowing them to have an opportunity to provide those spaces, providing they can do it at an equal to or better than rate than any other means of doing it, be it church-run homes or government-run facilities.

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

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the Premier.

The federal government has embarked upon a course of fundamental change and significant cuts to a number of programs. Now the federal government is eyeing the Canada Pension Plan.

Does the provincial government have a position on the Canada Pension Plan, on CPP benefits for elderly people and the disabled? Will the Premier indicate whether his government will be seeking to maintain the Canada Pension Plan as it now exists, whether the government will be passive in the face of reductions or changes to the Canada Pension Plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There are two realities that conflict a bit that must be balanced in this whole question.

One reality is, the genuine need and entitlement of people who have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, particularly those who do not have other adequate sources of income. The second reality is the ability to pay. What's happened to the Canada Pension Plan fund. Now, if you insist on causing the pension plan to pay that which it cannot afford to pay, and insist on maintaining it at a level that's not capable of being sustained then you wreck the thing totally. It is far better to make a reasonable adjustment to the extent that is necessary to ensure that you can at least produce the essential that is required.

Now, I've paid into the Canada Pension Plan all my life. I expect that I will be able to earn a living as a lawyer, maybe, if I ever get back to the practice of law, so that I won't need the Canada Pension Plan. So it is right for the federal government to tax it back from me and give it to the person who needs it. Those are the kinds of ways that you can deal with it, but you can't sustain the unsustainable merely because of a blind position on it. You've got to look at all of the realities and balance them.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask the Premier to table any formal position his government has adopted with respect to the Canada Pension Plan. Is there such a position, or is the Premier just reflecting his personal observations about the plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The member didn't ask me to table the government's position except in this question now, but that wasn't her first question.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is at this moment meeting with his fellow ministers of finance from across the country. Amongst other things they are dealing with the pension plan issue. I will wait until we see what the federal government's firm proposals are. When the minister comes back I've no doubt that he will discuss it with Cabinet. Government will take a position on it then.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is indicating the same kind of a passive approach to the Canada Pension Plan as the government took with respect to the UI-EI conversion and TAGS. I say to the Premier, the cumulative affect of federal government cuts, reductions in transfers to the provincial government, as well as cuts in these programs, is hitting this Province very hard. I ask the Premier: How hard will the federal reductions hit this Province over the next five years? What are the projections worked up by provincial government officials of a loss to this Province of all the federal government cuts over the next five years?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Very substantial. I've spoken with the Prime Minister about it. As a matter of fact, I was on the phone with him on Monday night about it. I told him about the assessment that was being done, and I told him what our preliminary indications are. In fact, I've drafted a letter to the Prime Minister to spell this out. In fact, it hasn't gone. I've gone through a couple of revisions of it since it was drafted yesterday, to emphasize to the Prime Minister the level of concern and the kind of impact federal policies can have on the economy and finances of this Province.

Now, I owe it to the Prime Minister to pass the information to him first rather than dealing in the House or through the media with the contents of my discussions with the Prime Minister before he has seen the letter.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, I have a question either for the Minister of Energy or for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. I guess I will put it to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if many Newfoundlanders are aware of it, but there are plans to build a national park in the Torngat Mountains in Labrador, and there have been adjustments already in proposed park boundaries with regard to certain mining interests and certain concerns of the Native peoples; however, certain mining companies have indicated that they still have interests in the area and they are reluctant to explore or do much with the uncertainty with regard to the boundary. Could the minister tell us: What is the status with regard to this particular park? And will there, before any boundaries are finalized, be any at least preliminary or electronic surveys of mineral potential before the area is closed off forever?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe the hon. member is well aware of the fact that there has been a very full and detailed public consultation process with respect to the possible declaration of a new national park in Northern Labrador in the Torngat area. Those discussions have taken place in the local area, in other parts of Labrador, on the Island, for special interest groups that are particularly concerned about that development. It has been very well received to this point, and very encouraging from the point of view of the fact that we might have another fairly significant land mass that will be designated as a national park and become part of the national park system, and another way for us to promote Newfoundland and Labrador and these kinds of protected areas.

There are the concerns that myself and the Minister of Natural Resources have been discussing as well with the interests that have staked certain claims in the area for purposes of exploration, and under the federal legislation should we make the land available for a national park, which we hope, by the way, may happen as early as this spring, then under that legislation they do not allow for the multiple use that we are leaning towards in the provincial policy decisions as reflected in reserves lately in the Province where we have allowed for limited time exploration for mineral resources, hydrocarbons and so on before declaring it a reserve of any permanent sort, so those issues are still being worked through. Those groups have made representation in the public hearing process and they are being considered now in light of the fact that we are trying to reach some kind of a deadline in the spring for the actual declaration of the park.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The best kept secret in this Province I think is the possible existence of a park in Labrador.

I have another question. I would have put it to the Minister for Natural Resources but he is not present. It is a question I would probably like to put to the parliamentary assistant to the Premier, if parliamentary assistants are allowed to answer for the Ministry. It is with regard to the protests in Eagle River.

Quebec power is being brought across the border, cheaper power than what is currently available, but the current diesel rates are going to be charged, and that is upsetting the people in that particular area. I would ask the Ministry why the government won't give the people of Eagle River a break, why it won't charge them the lower rate. Why is it charging them the higher rate of the current diesel generating? Is this a specific thing with regard to Eagle River, or is this part of the government's plan to generally eliminate subsidies and giving a break to rural areas with regard to electrical rates?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the government doesn't set the hydro rates to begin with. But a couple of days ago when in fact the Member for Eagle River came to see me, told me what the concerns were, and said to me essentially: I don't believe the position that Hydro is taking is justified in the circumstance. Would you do a review of it? So I put in place a meeting process, and I'm happy to advise the House that this morning at 8:30 I met with the minister and with a couple of representatives of Hydro to get them to spell out for me exactly what their policy was on the matter. Because there is a change of circumstance occurring in the Labrador Straits area.

As a result of that meeting this morning we have asked that the matter of the appropriate charge for electricity in the Straits area be referred immediately to the Public Utilities Board to determine what the rate should be, and that action is under way.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier related to the amendment to Term 17. I'm wondering if the Premier has been officially advised by the Prime Minister that the amendment to Term 17 will not be dealt with by the parliament of Canada now before the Christmas break. Does he have an undertaking from the Prime Minister as to exactly when this matter will be dealt with in the House of Commons?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am still having discussions with the Prime Minister and I am really not in a position to give a firm position on it. It seems rather obvious that it won't in fact be dealt with by parliament in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours but I am continuing discussions with the Prime Minister and when I am in a position to indicate something further I will forthwith it by the House.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is very apparent then, I say to the Premier, that it won't be dealt with, at the earliest sometime in '96, hopefully in early '96. What is that going to do then with government's educational reform? Are you going to proceed in the areas that you can proceed without the amendment to Term 17? Will we see a restructuring of school busing, curriculum and teacher certification? Will government proceed because it is possible that we won't be able to fully deal with it until probably sometime in '97, depending on when the federal government deals with it? So what is the Premier's plans for educational reform in the interim?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the member's question is a fair and reasonable one and it is an important one in the current context. It is critical, I believe, to the full and early reform of our education system that the government not be delayed in carrying out what is the clear wishes of the House and the clear wishes of the people of the Province. So we want to be able to implement it. The problem with delaying a month or two, in terms of approval at this stage, is it does not simply delay it a month or two on the other end. You could live with that but in order to say start implementing changes by next September we have to start giving notice and designing what is going to be done to do it by the end of January or early February in order to be fair to the school boards, the people involved and everything in order to do adequate planning. So this is a matter that is of great, great concern to the government of this Province and we are endeavouring to find a way to deal with it very effectively at the earliest possible opportunity. Now I don't want to make things more difficult right at this stage but I would hope in a few days I will be in a position to advise the House further as to the course of action that we intend to follow.

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

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

Conceivably this thing may not be dealt with in time to get things rolling until '97. Let me just ask the Premier this, has he given any consideration to further discussions or negotiations with the churches? Has he thought about that as a way to resolve this? It seems that they were very, very close to a total resolution. Has the Premier given any thought to proceeding in this manner so that we can get on with the much needed reform that we all want, a better quality education for the students of the Province? Has he given any thought to that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it is unthinkable that the Government of Canada would not respond to the clear wishes of the people of this Province in time to allow them to address these problems. I cannot believe that that will be a situation.

Now on the second question, no we have not given any thought. The churches have made their position so abundantly clear that there is no possibility, in my mind, of reconciling. The final position that the churches put with us was what the government feels is - the minimum that the government feels is necessary to address our education problems in the Province and enable us to provide the best quality of education within our limited and decreasing financial means. So I don't see any possibility there. If the churches have changed their view on it, I would be most happy to hear from them. I would be the first one that would respond but if the churches view is as it was when we left them, there is no possibility. It would be a waste of their time and a waste of ours.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier as well.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, Petro Canada announced that they were making applications to Canada Newfoundland Offshore Development Board which is obviously welcome news for the entire Province. The spokesperson later for Petro Canada confirmed that there would not be a GBS system for the production. I would like to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, if he can tell me, now that Petro Canada has confirmed that it is going to be a floating system, if it will be a steel floater, if it will be a concrete floater, Mr. Speaker, if it will be new construction or will it be the conversion of a semi-submersible drill rig?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, unless I am greatly mistaken, I did not think that the representative of Petro-Can confirmed that it would be a floater. I think they indicated that that seemed a probable one and I agree with the hon. member, that that seems probable. At the request of government, they are looking at all opportunities and all possibilities and, in fact, that is what the Development Plan Application will determine - some of these questions; that is what the process will help them decide.

If I were to make a guess, my guess is, it is far more likely to be a floating system than it is to be a gravity-base system but I don't think gravity-base has been absolutely ruled out. They have given the government certain undertakings with respect to considering all possibilities, so I would be surprised if they are at a stage where they are ruling out gravity-base at this time. Maybe they are, but I would be surprised to find that.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Premier that it was confirmed by Judy Wish, spokesman for Petro Canada, who said: `Terra Nova partners will be using a floating system to extract oil from the ocean floor but the type hasn't yet been decided. We haven't made a decision whether it will be a submersible or semi-submersible.' Mr. Speaker, she has confirmed that it would not be a GBS.

Mr. Speaker, the magnitude of Hibernia obviously has been felt throughout this Province with the GBS being constructed in this Province. Let me ask the Premier: Will the government be insisting in these negotiations with Petro Canada that, whatever form it is, Mr. Speaker, whether it be concrete or steel, that it will be built in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the government is still negotiating with the Terra Nova consortium and until those negotiations are complete, I am not prepared to be discussing and negotiating the details in conversation back and forth in the House. It would not be in the best interest of the people of the Province and it would be, I believe, offensive to the people with whom we are negotiating. I can say this, that the government has made its position very clear that the greatest possible level of benefits must accrue in this Province. The companies are very much aware of that and very much aware of the strength of the position, and very much aware of the resolve of the government to ensure that that is, in fact, what accrues.

Now, the best possible circumstances, the best of all possible worlds, is that the government not be involved in day-to-day dealing with nuts and bolts, every individual nut or bolt that is to be used, is to leave that to the experts who know, but to ensure that the conditions on which it is left to the experts, is that they will cause the maximum possible level of activity to take place here. That is the government's preferred approach, if that can be achieved, and that is along the lines that we have been discussing the matter.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Premier this, then.

Is the Premier - I am certainly not interested in having names of companies or anything such as that - but would the Premier tell me, Mr. Speaker, if there are any groups or consortiums in this Province, who have bid or made proposals to Petro Canada and their partners to have the work done in Newfoundland, and if so, how many companies would be involved with Newfoundland partnerships?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The Terra Nova consortium is following a course of advising the most complete list of companies whom they can identify that they think would be interested, knowledgeable and capable in the field of what is going to be needed and what the potential is, whether it is a floating ship shape, a semi-submersible, concrete, a gravity-base, or whatever it is, whatever kind of thing can be done, and inviting them to form alliances with companies within the Province, with companies outside the Province, because we have to readily admit that the expertise and competence to build that does not exist solely within the Province. We have to have capital and expert knowledge and experience come to the Province to help develop abilities here to do it.

Now thanks to Hibernia, a fair level of expertise and confidence have been developed within the Province and that will be put to good use, I have no doubt, in the Terra Nova platform as well. But the process they are using is inviting those whom they know to be interested to develop alliances to make proposals; then, I think they will call for actual proposals for the kind of process or approach or develop a method that would be used, whether it was say, a floating ship shape or semi-submersible or something. They may make their decision only after they see a variety of proposals and look at what is likely to be most reliable, most efficient, and most cost-effective and, above all, be the safest operating in that environment.

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

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

My questions are to the acting Minister of Social Services or to the Minister of Justice, and deal with the day care centres that are operated in government buildings, particular Confederation Building.

Notices were given out on November 24 that children of parents who work for the government but not on site here in Confederation Building have to find alternate day care spaces as of January 1. This is an unnecessary disruption in a child's life half-way through the work year. What possible rationale could we have for disrupting children in this particular manner at this time?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the minister, who I believe is on her way back from Calgary where she was attending a meeting of Ministers of Social Services across the country, let me give the answer. It would fall into two parts. The first with respect to the rationale is that notice of this change was given, I am told, several months ago, so there was some considerable warning given to those who might be affected by the change. The second point I would make is to advise my hon. friend and the House that the matter is under review and let us see what develops.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the minister could advise if the children of those government employees who recently lost their jobs as a result of the lay-offs have been told to move their children as well, if his review would include a compassionate approach to these families and to the parents of these families, to these children as well, because these families are going through a very difficult time. I ask the minister if he could show compassion towards all the families that were involved in the lay-off, particularly if their children are involved in the day cares?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, that is a fair question. The hon. gentleman has obviously been receiving copies of the letters that have been sent to a number of us on this, and it is a fair question.

Let me say that the government have both the compassion to deal with these people fairly and the courage to do what we believe to be right.

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

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Environment, and it is related to the proposed hydro-electric development project at Northwest River.

On November 29, the minister issued a statement regarding the acceptability of the environmental impact statement as it related to the Northwest power development. The minister stated that the proponent, Genergy Incorporated, has agreed to a two-week extension to allow for further consideration of public and government response to the environmental impact statement. The minister's decision date was yesterday, December 12, so my question to the minister is: Can he inform the House if his department has come to a decision on this project?

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

MR. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

As of this afternoon, a decision has been rendered, and we will be asking for a further assessment as to the information that has been submitted from the public. A further addendum to the environmental impact study will be required. The deficiencies that have been identified by the Environmental Assessment Committee of our department and other government departments, including DFO, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans - they have identified a deficiency list which is not satisfied by the present EIS, so that work will be undertaken over the next few months. They will submit the addendum in the time period to be worked out, and that will be a public document also to be reviewed further.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the report of the Social Services Legislation Review Committee. The Social Services Committee reviewed and approved for enactment by the House of Assembly the following bills:

"An Act Respecting The Investigation of Fatalities". (Bill 36)

"An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act". (Bill 40)

"An Act Respecting Standards Of Conduct For Non-Elected Public Office Holders". (Bill 41)

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I shall on tomorrow move, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate for further consideration of second reading of Bill No. 35 entitled -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I obviously will have to start again.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Hon. members, Mr. Speaker, are showing the wisdom -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: The members opposite, Mr. Speaker, are proving the wisdom and the necessity of what we are about to do. I will have to start again.

I give notice that I shall on tomorrow, move, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate or further consideration of second reading of Bill No. 35, entitled "An Act To Amend The Hydro Corporation Act, The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 And Other Acts," standing in the name of the hon. the Minister of Natural Resources, and any amendments to that motion for second reading, shall not be further adjourned, and that further consideration of any amendments relating to second reading of Bill No. 35 shall not be further postponed.

All members will have an ample opportunity to debate the bill. We will be calling it tomorrow and we will deal with it at second reading tomorrow, Sir.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in response to a question raised by our colleague, the Member for Mount Pearl, on December 4 as to whether there was an environmental study completed before the Kitchener Pelley farm was permitted to switch from root crops to a dairy operation.

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

DR. HULAN: In 1984, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl, on a point of order.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the minister is coming from, but I asked no such question of him on December 4 or any other day.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, it was the Member for Waterford - Kenmount. Waterford - Kenmount and Mount Pearl being so close together, I made a little error.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. HULAN: Certainly, the Member for Mount Pearl will not be there the next time, so I will not make that mistake.

In 1994, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kitchener Pelley was issued an environmental approval for a thirty-head dairy operation in Harcourt under section 23 of the Department of Environment act. The required review for this permit was carried out at that time by the Department of Environment.


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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present a petition on behalf of 852 people in this Province who are opposed to the legislation regarding the opening of stores on Sundays and request that this legislation be taken off the Order Paper.

The fax machines in our office haven't stopped.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, no, not at all. They haven't stopped - with this minister. As I said yesterday, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations since Confederation has been the only person that I know of in this Province who has been able to unite the labour movement and the Board of Trade in St. John's. He is the only fellow who has been able to unite the Board of Trade, the labour movement, the churches, the employees, the public. The unfortunate part for the minister is that he has united them all against the government.


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

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the people of this Province are very concerned about the piece of legislation that this minister has introduced into the House regarding Sunday shopping. I know, the Member for Port de Grave, for example, opposes Sunday shopping. At least, I've been told he opposes it. I understand there are many members opposite who are opposed.

I'm not so sure that the minister supports it. The reason why I say that is because nobody asked him to bring it in.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He told me he didn't support it.

MR. TOBIN: He told you he didn't support it. Mr. Speaker, the minister wanted to slip this piece of legislation through. He came to me one day and said: We have this legislation, there is nothing to it, it shouldn't be a problem to get this through. I said: I cannot speak to you on that issue, you will have to check with the House Leader. You will have to check with Bill on that. He talked to my colleague for Grand Bank and he said, Tom, you will never get it through. The people of this Province will never support that piece of legislation.

What we are seeing today in this Province is the fax machines in the Opposition offices going mad with signatures coming in. There is one today from the St. John's area and I have more I will be presenting in due course, from the Lewisporte area, and more from the Placentia area. Mr. Speaker, I could go through them forever. The calls from Clarenville over the weekend, I say to the member, and he knows what I am talking about. The businesses out there are united in their opposition to it. The Chamber of Commerce in this Province surveyed their membership and 80-odd per cent of the members in this Province told the President of the Chamber of Commerce that they are opposed to Sunday shopping. The Board of Trade has been very explicit in their opposition to Sunday shopping.

MS VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, he is not. Bren Fahey is here in St. John's. As a matter of fact he is now President of Newtel Mobility. He stated, and not just to me, but stated it publicly on the airways yesterday, that they are opposed to it. The President of the Federation of Labour has stated their opposition to it, all their membership. Frank Taylor from the retail wholesalers -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is who gave you that.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is who gave me that, Frank Taylor. The retail wholesalers people are opposed to Sunday shopping in this Province. This government wants to have people working seven a days a week. Now they made it quite clear that there will be no new jobs created as a result of this legislation. I think it was brought in when the Premier was on his trip, and that is why the minister wanted to sneak it through while the Premier was gone.

This piece of legislation is not good for the people of this Province, and I can tell you one thing, that gag order that the Minister of Justice just got up and brought into this House, after only two speakers -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: By leave, Mr. Speaker, for a second.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave? No leave.

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Not to give the member leave does not mean he is going to stop talking. Let me say to the hon. member that we have addressed this issue, and the member knows that in regulatory reform it was an issue that was causing us concern, not so much that the stores could not open, but the enforcement of the legislation that was there. We have dealt with it. We brought in an amendment. We did not tell the stores to open. All we said, simply, was that if stores so desired they could open, but I guess in dealing with many, many groups and talking to many, many groups, probably the most appropriate thing, and I have asked the staff of my department, to put together a White Paper to deal with the issue.

I suggest we will probably think about moving it on to a committee, so I say to the hon. member that we will deal more in depth with the subject. I think it is fair to say that it needs to be consulted more so we will leave it at that.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to rise to support the petition presented by my colleague from Burin - Placentia West. No, the minister did not say he was going to withdraw the legislation, certainly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You are going to put it out to committee to gauge the views of the public. Is that really what -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Hydro.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, I mean there is a lot of legislation that comes to the House that should go out to the public for scrutiny and input, I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. I mean we just saw closure invoked on Bill 35 that certainly should go out to the people of the Province before it is put to this House but I want to support the petition presented by the Member for Burin - Placentia West. I am sure that the group would have wanted the minister - would present the petition to the minister but of course they knew the minister would not bring the petition forward to the House of Assembly.

The Member for Burin - Placentia West indeed is correct, the minister did come to see me to ask about the possibility of putting this bill through. He did not think it was a very controversial piece of legislation. He thought it was sort of minor and of course, Mr. Speaker, with my being around as long as I have and with my parliamentary wisdom, I more or less set the minister up. I set the trap for him. I baited the trap for the minister and once I got him on the hook, Mr. Speaker, knowing full well what was going to happen out and about the Province with the uproar from the business community, from the Federation of Labour and the employees, I had hooked him. I hooked him in good.

MR. ROBERTS: You are a master at that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A master? I am not a master at -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) business?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Master of nothing, I say to the Government House Leader, master of nothing, very little anyway.

Mr. Speaker, I think I know what happened. I have been trying to think about this and really why did this come about? I think I know what it is because I believe it was on a Monday that the minister asked me to have a word about the bill and at the same time the Premier was abroad. I think what happened was that the Premier must have been abroad shopping on Sunday and said this is a marvellous idea for the Province. So what did he do? He called Tom: Tom what a marvellous idea. I am at Harrods in London. Tom why don't you put that bill in the House of Assembly now? Because this is a wonderful - I enjoy shopping on Sunday and I think all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should be able to shop on Sunday. Now I think that is what is happening.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I think that is what happened. Of course the poor minister, the next day, came in to me and said: Billy, come up I wants you. There should not be any trouble with this bill. I said to him across the House, it will never see the light of day, I said to the minister. It will never see the light of day. Now what has happened out and about the Province, I say to the minister? Seriously, I say to the minister - I say in all sincerity to the minister that I am pleased to see that he is going to put the bill out for public scrutiny and to gauge - but I think it seems - to me it seems self evident of what the mood is out and about the Province. The business community are adamantly opposed to it, there is no doubt about that. The employees are adamantly opposed to it. So I guess what is left to gauge would be the mood of the consumer. I guess that is what it boils down to and having watched television, listening to The Open Line Show and monitoring the papers, it would seem to me that there are more people opposed to it, I say to the minister, then I thought. More opposed to it then I thought. I know the minister quoted a public opinion survey done and I believe - I think it was Market Quest.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, right after we had the storm and I think the minister allowed a Sunday shopping day because of the inconvenience caused by the blackout but I don't think that was a good time to really get a true evaluation of public opinion, I say to the minister. I think there is a big shift out there now. I would not be surprised to find out that the majority of the people of the Province are opposed to it. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I want to support the petition presented by the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Thanks Bill.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You're very welcome, sir, anything for you.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My friend from LaPoile will be with us in just a moment.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Hold on now. Let's see what straight line my friend from Burin - Placentia West is feeding me now.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: As I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker, if the only friend I've got is the gentleman from Burin - Placentia West and the only friend he's got is me, we are both in a great deal of trouble.

Your Honour, just before I call the business, the members of the House might want - I could do it now or at 5:00 p.m. - the way in which we will be asking the House to deal with business the next couple of days. We will begin tomorrow afternoon, which will be a government day, of course, by dealing with the Provincial Offenses Act.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We will begin with that one?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I don't expect that will take very long.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Fine; that is up to the members.

We will then ask the House to deal with the Committee stages on Orders 25, 26 and 28. These are the three bills that the committee dealt with this morning and reported back with a clear bill of health.

We will then deal with Order 30, which is the Mineral Impost; that is a very minor piece of legislation, and we hope it will be dealt with quickly. We will then move into the Hydro second reading debate, and one should anticipate that the Standing Order 50 motion will be adopted, which means every member may speak once for twenty minutes, so however long that takes it will take.

I anticipate that on Friday we will be in Committee stage on the Hydro bill, and members should anticipate sitting late tomorrow night and possibly late on Friday, so they can make their plans accordingly.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: Members should anticipate sitting late tomorrow evening, and possibly late on Friday so we can deal with these things.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You are going to shut her down on Friday, are you?

MR. ROBERTS: No. Then, that will leave us, for next week, the Pension Benefits bill, the three supply bills that are in Committee of the Whole, the Minerals Act which has been distributed; it is Order 36.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is a big one.

MR. ROBERTS: That is an important one; I agree with my friend, the Member for Grand Bank.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That is the smelter bill.

Then, there is the Mining Tax Act which will not be printed for this afternoon; I hope to have it available for distribution tomorrow. It is an important bill.

There are two which are not yet distributed. One is a Public Accountancy bill, and I have no knowledge of that because that is the one in which I am conflicted; it is Bill 42. And the Attorney General's Act, I expect, will be printed tomorrow. It is the usual. It is Bill 48. Neither of those is in the House as yet.

There may be one or two other minor pieces of legislation. I will speak with my friend behind the Chair and my friend, the Member for St. John's East about those, but that is what members should anticipate, so we will be asking the House to sit late tomorrow evening. How late depends on how many members wish to speak, of course, but every member will have the right to speak, and we will get through that. It will not be later than 1:00 a.m.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Standing Order 50 - we will not be sitting later than 1:00 a.m. unless we begin Committee right away, which we might if we are so minded.

Mr. Speaker, with that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) bullish.

MR. ROBERTS: I am always bullish as opposed to bearish, I say to my hon. friend.

Your Honour, with that said, perhaps -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: After what my hon. friend mixed for me last night, Mr. Speaker, it was a grand party.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was a bad concoction.

MR. ROBERTS: No, a bad mixer but a good concoction.

Your Honour, would you be good enough, with that said, please, to call Order 6. I believe my friend, the Member for LaPoile is anticipating you will, and I think that is why he was standing on his feet a moment or so ago.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 6, the hon. the Member for LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It wasn't for the interest of being anxious that I was on my feet. I thought that the Government House Leader was predisposed and the truth of the matter being that it had not reached 3:00 p.m. yet, so it wasn't automatic, anyway.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution put before the House today is one of which it will be very interesting to see what history writes about this kind of proposal that the Government of Newfoundland has made, should we be able to effect the changes in which we are hopeful the Government of Canada would participate with us on this kind of venture.

The Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises Act passed back here in January - well, prior to January, implemented in January of this past year - has shown us some success. It is such that not too many things that this government has brought in have received the unanimous support of the Opposition members, and the EDGE Act, as I understand it, was just one of these. A consultative process that we effected throughout the Province on the EDGE bill was a good one, and we received input from people from various parts of the community - from labour, from the Chambers of Commerce, and the Board of Trade here in St. John's. We got a good overall view, and we made changes according to the input. It was a good process and it made for good effective legislation which has reaped benefits for the Province up to this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with a case where, because of the groundfishery difficulties that we have been experiencing as a result of the shutdown of the groundfish fishery - which is not the reason for the creation of the EDGE legislation, but it is something that is having an impact on the economy of the Province. And therefore, it is something that we have to keep in mind when looking at how do we best approach the creation of new industry in the Province, given we are operating from a lower base because of the fact that 30,000 or more individuals are displaced by the closure of the groundfish fishery.

Based on that, what would be one of the better ways that we could effect a potential improvement to the EDGE legislation that would attract more businesses to the Province? Not that EDGE itself has been a problem, because really we have signed fourteen contracts to date with companies that have gained EDGE status. These companies have indicated a potential capital investment of some $100 million, and that, in effect, has created some employment.

I note in The Globe and Mail recently some advertisements by one of the companies, Lo-tech Engineering, seeking to hire people, that are not low wage jobs. These are trained professionals that they want to work with them in developing some of the new marine-based technologies. You have many others as well that the EDGE legislation has brought to the fore and has brought here to the Province and certainly will improve the overall situation for us in creating new jobs for people here, and people who may have to come here from somewhere else. The numbers that we see out of these fourteen companies based on their projections - and again, these are projections, but the companies will ultimately have to meet the criteria established under the EDGE legislation to maintain that status, and their estimates are that we will create some 600 permanent jobs.

From there, what can we say that the Province would like to have in the way of a share on the part of the Federal Government? Because we are willing to forego the tax implications with the current EDGE legislation. Would it be helpful if the Federal Government were, on a limited basis, able to offer us a certain amount of relief on the corporate income tax side to the profitability of these corporations that are created? We feel, as a matter of government policy that has been enunciated by the Premier and other members of the government at different times, that the implementation of a double-EDGE, notwithstanding the analogy that could be drawn, I suppose, to the double-edged sword, but to double the effectiveness of the EDGE legislation in mirroring the tax implications that the Province has put forward by allowing relief for the federal income tax provisions.

We did mention with respect to this that there are limitations, that we are willing to have limitations if the Federal Government are willing to participate in this with us. The Province has partnered with a number of municipalities throughout the Province. These municipalities - I'm not sure how many, I think there are some thirty municipalities that currently are involved and have approved the EDGE legislation, that they will participate with the Province - and that is a municipal-provincial partnership that may very well go further if, in fact, we get the Federal Government involved in this.

Now, we mention a limitation. The Federal Government, by virtue of the creation of the TAGS program, have taken responsibility for the fact that the groundfish fishery has been shut down. And really, if you look at the history of the Provincial Government's policy on fisheries matters, time and time again, over all of the years that this government have been in office, and when the party opposite was in office as well, there was a continuing policy that we did not want increases in the total allowable catch that were being proposed by federal scientists and supported by federal ministries throughout all of those years leading up to the disastrous closure. And these are matters that are on the record, there for all to see, that the closure is a result of overfishing. There are some other factors but it is acknowledged that it is damage caused to those who have been excluded from their work by virtue of the federal shutdown. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we have this situation where, as a result of the federal management of the fishery, or mismanagement, some would say, over the years, these people are now displaced.

As a result of that, then, why not utilize the program that we are working on, the EDGE Program, which is seeing a lot of activity in participation by the private sector; a lot of interest has been generated in the Province with the tax benefits provided. There is very little outlay of capital on the part of the Province and there would be very little outlay on the part of the Federal Government if they were to mirror our - the implications of this, because in a lot of cases, these are new industries that would be created, in new areas of industry. People who come here to start in this normally would be carving out a niche that would probably not be done anywhere else in Canada, or elsewhere, if we create it here.

It is a matter of the people who work on these kinds of projects and there are a variety of different projects but these projects will create - you know, the fact that people create more than just to develop and cultivate the wealth that is in the ground and the natural resources we have, we can add value by virtue of the industriousness of the people in our society; and looking at that and what we create from the EDGE Program, then to have the Federal Government participate and mirror the income tax provisions just to have it limited to the number of jobs that have been displaced out of the fishery on a full-time basis. So, looking at that, the Government of Canada fully expects that the number of jobs that will be displaced would be roughly half.

They suggest that the fishery, when it may be ready to re-open, would be down-sized to about half of its previous size, and therefore that displacement of jobs may very well be the kind of target they were looking for in having the limitation placed on double-edged status companies. And who knows if those companies may grow way beyond that, but at the very least, based on the projections, with a shared evaluation on the part of the Federal and Provincial Governments, grant us that status and then we would be able to allow for a reasonable number of job replacements for those that have been lost due to the groundfish fishery closure.

The number of municipalities, as I mentioned, the property and tax benefits are a very important part of this and the fact that the municipalities who have, they would be giving up on this basis really, more than the Province would because normally in new businesses that would start, you would see as far as provincial income tax for the first number of years, businesses would manage to avoid taxation because of the fact that they are new investments, they have the write-off provisions under the Income Tax Act, they have the fact that normally starting off, businesses are not as profitable as they might be later on if they are successful, and all of these things are coming into view when a business is first started. So that is one thing that the Province normally does not give up in the first few years of a business' inception.

Now, as far as a municipality is concerned, because their taxes are based on the property tax provisoes that are accounted for in the legislation, then they would be giving up money right away. When a business moves into town and occupies a property or builds a property, then the municipalities mirroring and getting involved in this, certainly is a direct cash benefit that they provide to the businesses that set up in the municipalities, and that is not to be taken lightly, the sacrifices that have been put forward by the municipality. It is their interest in trying to be involved and to attract business to their area of the Province. I note that one of the major communities in my district merit the EDGE provisions and is interested in participating. That is down in Channel - Port aux Basques, and there are many others throughout the Province who have the wisdom to do so.

We also have to look at certain things about attracting business to the Province. What is this government doing? The Opposition's support of the government measure is one thing and we were very glad they stood with us and supported this. They supported the fact that we consulted widely, and that we listened to the consultations. They did have a few concerns but in the overall they were willing to support us on this measure and we hope they will be willing to continue that support in the extra measures that are being offered by the government to the Government of Canada in order to try and make EDGE that much more of a factor in having new business locate here.

Of course we have to look at other parts of the country. We know there are situations that arise. When they do a measure like this for the benefit of the Province of Newfoundland it may then come back that other parts of Canada may want similar treatment, or treatment of a similar nature, and that, of course, will bring about a problem that is a problem that has arisen in the past when you talk about free trade zones, when you talk about anything that the Government of Canada offers to one part of the country it should be able to offer to another. In this case it is a special situation, a situation on which the government of the Province has suggested that we are willing to accept limitations, and a suggestion to which we feel that the Government of Canada should certainly be able to agree.

Now, what has the Province been doing with respect to the EDGE legislation, and approaches to business? There have been numerous speaking events in cities throughout Canada, the United States, in Europe, even throughout the far East and into China, that have been attended by Minister Furey, the Premier, and others, and these have been very fruitful and have resulted in a number of contracts that have been brought back by the private sector companies involved, and have resulted in a good effort as far as some of our institutions.

We note the recent signing of a memorandum of agreement and the creation of Canada and China, or as they say the China/Newfoundland institute that C-core were involved in in China which was just recently opened by Mr. Furey. These are provisions that have really made for good business effort on the part of the Province. What else are we doing to attract new business to the Province? There are a number of things. One thing I am very pleased with is the recent publishing of a lot of new literature and information for the benefit of the business community out there throughout the rest of the world.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. RAMSAY: By leave. If I could just conclude with the information about the various brochures?

MR. SPEAKER: Leave is granted.

MR. RAMSAY: The kit which is in this folder, for the benefit of hon. members, is quite a good job. My compliments to the staff who have done this up with the ten year tax break, and focusing on a variety of different industries here in the Province, and putting it forward in as attractive a way as possible. Also, for the benefit of those who cruise the worldwide web we have, of course, developed our web site which is provided through Compusult on a contractual basis on behalf of the department. There is a message there on this, and most of this literature is available through that site by request.

We have sent out a huge amount of information to businesses that are interested in doing business here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and we are hopeful this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak, no pun intended with respect to the iceberg vodka corporation, but that it will be the tip of the iceberg on many new and exciting ventures that will come to the Province, and that our efforts will certainly be vindicated and that we look forward to the support of the loyal Opposition to Her Majesty in carrying out this mandate given to us on behalf of the people of the Province.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will listen to the voices of other hon. members and then conclude the debate later on. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand to support the member's private member's resolution. I think it is a good one. Whether it comes about or not remains to be seen. About six months ago I talked to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, Mr. Furey, about the very same thing, and asked him would this be a possibility of the federal government participating in this government's EDGE program and EDGE legislation. As hon. members know, the EDGE legislation was supported unanimously by the Opposition. We felt it was a good piece of legislation. We made suggestions in terms of what amendments we saw could be made to strengthen the legislation, which were made, which would help in attracting new business to this Province.

To the member's motion, I would skip to the "therefore be it resolved" part of it where it says: "that this House of Assembly endorses government's efforts in aggressively marketing and promoting the EDGE program as a mechanism of encouraging new business growth in the Province and thereby providing new employment opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."

We support that. But there is an area that we have not focused in on in terms of the EDGE legislation, and that is the food industry in this Province. Last year the food industry in this Province, in net dollars, was a $1,565,000,000 industry.

AN HON. MEMBER: Retail food?

MR. E. BYRNE: Retail food. From salt meat to crackers to groceries, chicken, poultry, fish, eggs, you name it. The sales for 2 per cent milk in this Province were $240 million, just for one product. The meat industry - or we will just look at ground beef, excluding patties, not beef patties, $160 million business. Ground beef, in this Province alone.

When we look at EDGE where EDGE has an opportunity to really make an impact it is in the food industry, and we haven't really attacked that industry, and we really haven't promoted it from a Newfoundland standpoint because there are tremendous opportunities not only from a business sector but from a job creation sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes. The big thing, Mr. Speaker, of that $1,565,000,000 that this industry represented in the Province last year only $150 million of it came from products made in this Province. Ten per cent of what we consume, of what we buy in food in this Province is made here locally.

There are a number of reasons for that, not the least of which the dumping that takes place in large national chains in this Province. Large national chains, through their outlets and through Loblaws and TRAs of the world which compete with local products by what they call lost leaders, competing head to head with a local product of the same quantity, whatever the case may be, and out-pricing them. Lowering their prices purposely, losing money on that product purposely. People have said to me that this does not happen, people in the industry, people who represent these large national chains, but it does and it does every day in this Province.

Two and half years ago there were 250 employed on Kenmount Road at Canada Packers. This is just one small example, and I can go through many. Today there are thirty. Mostly because products from Quebec end up on our shelves down here ordered through by TRA, Loblaws, et cetera. We have people displaced. John Ackerman, terrific businessman, entrepreneur of this Province, who is in the business, has about thirty-five, forty people employed right now. He could employ another twenty to thirty people alone in blueberry pie filling. People will laugh at this. I've talked about it before. But in blueberry pie filling alone, for him to get his product on the shelves, if government departments, if the cafeterias downstairs, if the cafeterias in community colleges, if the cafeterias in hospitals and at the University, supported that business alone in bringing in his pie filling and blueberry pie fillings, he could employ twenty-five to thirty more people today. Today! But he can't even get into our own cafeterias.

Now, if that is not an individual, a Newfoundland business person, who deserves to get EDGE status to put him in a competitive situation, a more competitive situation on the one hand because he is competitive. He can guarantee supply of a quality product. He can compete with the price that is happening nationally and he can guarantee that it would be here for ever and a day. The only thing that he cannot get into Mr. Speaker, is the loop that national chains have and the stranglehold they have on the Province and the food industry right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: We can do it. We have to take more aggressive action right here to do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) legislation.

MR. E. BYRNE: Legislation is a very powerful tool. It is a very powerful tool.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I agree. I remember when I was president of the student union at Memorial University in 1984, 10 per cent of the fresh fluid milk that Newfoundlanders consumed in Newfoundland and Labrador was produced locally, only 10 per cent. Today it is about 90 per cent, I believe, 92 per cent because of the creation of the Milk Marketing Board. I sat on the food committee as a student rep at the University when the Milk Marketing Board came before us and what we were drinking and what was being served to us was powdered milk, basically. Using Newfoundland water, reconstituted milk coming from Halifax, PEI, other places, Quebec, et cetera, married with cream, butterfat content and then served to the university community as a whole.

In terms of what we were doing, we were supporting industry outside this Province. We were saying to local industry, local dairy farmers who each and every day created jobs, tried to create wealth, we said to them we did not - one of the largest suppliers are outlets for their product, for fifteen to twenty years, was not even taking in their product. Why? It was not because the university community did not want it so much, it was because of the contracts negotiated with food service companies and this is what we had to get at. We had to be very practical in our thinking about how we get people into the loop, to get more people involved in that business that could create more jobs.

So what we did as a committee, there were eight people on the committee, we looked at all the tenders and we made a recommendation to the administration, all unanimous recommendation that on certain products, on milk, we said that it must be fresh fluid milk at the University campus. That is all we would accept. We would not accept the reconstituted milk that was coming from other provinces and it passed. As a result, Beaver Foods at the time, entered into substantial contracts with local producers and it began from there. The same thing can happen in this Province through its Edge Legislation, if we can get more people participating in the food industry. This industry alone in this Province, Mr. Speaker, has the possibility to create 4,000 to 5,000 long lasting jobs but we must attack it aggressively.

We will look at the poultry industry; boneless, skinless chicken breast. Last year, one product, boneless, skinless chicken breast, the amount of money spent was $176 million in the retail trade. That is what people in this Province spent on buying that product. Not all Country Ribbon, not all Newfoundland Farm Products but what is happening at Farm Products in those value added products that they are developing, they are getting a greater percentage of the market and a greater share each and every year as time goes on. What does that mean, Mr. Speaker? It means that each and every year, as we move on, there are four, five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten new employees being hired down there because people in this Province are buying that product. We are not buying product coming in from outside the Province but there are three factors that have to be consistent if we support this. There has to be a guarantee of supply, quality has to be uppermost and price must be competitive and Newfoundland companies are proving that each and every day. So there are tremendous opportunities for us in that industry alone and we must move towards it in a greater fashion and in a more expeditious fashion because we are not doing it right now.

About two weeks ago a businessman in town came to see me, represents a group, Newfoundland association of consumers - I forget the exact name of the group, a newly formed group - and he said: Go down in the cafeteria right now and see if you can pick up a bottle of apple juice or orange juice made by a Newfoundland company. I could not. I could not find one.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where was that?

MR. E. BYRNE: Down in the cafeteria, about four weeks ago, about a month ago. There is some down there now, a little bit, but two types of juice, one out of Ontario, Fairlee - this is factual.

AN HON. MEMBER: Windsor.

MR. E. BYRNE: Windsor, yes, out of Ontario.

AN HON. MEMBER: The worst water you can have.

MR. E. BYRNE: Admittedly the water - it is all concentrate. Most orange juice concentrate comes from Florida and Brazil, in the world. That is the orange belt of the world that supplies all the other world in terms of concentrate. Concentrate is shipped; it is about 10 per cent to 90 per cent water. Out of Lake Ontario, the water in Lake Ontario goes into the juice in Fairlee. It is mixed through sixty-five different chemical solutions to make it pure, and that is what is served on the shelves downstairs, down here - that is a fact - yet, local juice producer Sunnyland Juice, brings in concentrate, a local producer, the cleanest, freshest water in North America right here, no chemicals added to make it clean -

AN HON. MEMBER: Which one?

MR. E. BYRNE: Sunnyland Juice, employs about twenty-five people, and if he could get in this market, in the cafeterias in this building... Government stands up and says we support the Newfoundland Manufacturers Association `Manufactured Right Here' campaign, and when people come from China to visit the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and he takes them down to our cafeteria, or he takes them to local business, he cannot buy a bottle of Newfoundland juice, in the cafeteria of the Confederation Building of Newfoundland and Labrador, produced by Newfoundlanders. There is something fundamentally wrong with that, and that is an area where EDGE can work and it can work very well, but political will must exist to do it.

We will look at french fries as another example.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: You are right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) don't say to these people: No, that is not made in Newfoundland; I am not buying it,' it will never change.

MR. E. BYRNE: I wasn't aware of it. When I first became aware of it, I asked to see the supervisor downstairs, and I said: Why aren't you carrying Newfoundland juice? Well, no reason, couldn't explain anything to me. The supervisor couldn't, because they never had the authority.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The price is competitive, the same price.

AN HON. MEMBER: The same price?

MR. E. BYRNE: A little bit cheaper, actually. You can go down now and you can find, right over in the corner, on the last shelf right over by where you make your own sandwich, and the lettuce and salads and stuff, right over you will find the two shelves, incredible, downstairs in our own cafeteria, absolutely incredible.

Mr. Speaker, to the other part of his resolution he said: AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House of Assembly supports the Province's request that the federal government participate in the EDGE program by mirroring the corporate income tax provisions of it in an appropriate manner until such time as the full-time equivalent jobs that were lost due to the federal closure of the groundfish fishery have been recouped.

Mr. Speaker, we support that. I support that wholeheartedly. I don't see any member in this House not supporting it, but the question we must ask is: Will the federal government do it? Does the political will exist within Canada, within the federal government, within the Prime Minister's office, to promote a national policy for this region that empowers the people of this Province as opposed to exploiting them? That is the question that is fundamental to this Private Members' resolution. I hope and I pray that it does. I fear that the political will does not exist.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at what has happened in the past two years in terms of the federal government's involvement in this Province, and if we look at what is about to happen over the next two or three, the Premier's responses today in terms of the grave concerns that he has, that he has written about to the Prime Minister in terms of the total impact of the federal government's pulling out and reducing subsidies and reducing transfer payments, the impact that will have on this Province in the next two to three years, is frightening. He knows it. He said today, while the media were here, that before he wanted to get into it publicly he owed it to the Prime Minister to let him know what his thoughts on it were, first. So I wait anxiously to hear what the Premier has to say publicly about this issue, and sum up by saying -I only have about a minute or so left I believe, do I? One-and-a-half minutes left?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: No. I will sum up. There are other members who want to speak on the issue. I am anxiously waiting to hear what the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation has to say - because his department is a leading producer in the new economy, creating new wealth and new jobs - what he has to say about this private member's resolution. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will sit down.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I rise -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Quit while you are ahead, `Kevin'.

MR. AYLWARD: It is the best speech I ever gave so far, Mr. Speaker. I think I should quit while I am ahead. The way I was quoted on CBC last Friday evening, Mr. Speaker, I am not so sure I should be bothered standing up. But I have a lot to say about this issue and I am glad that the Member for LaPoile has brought it forward because this is talking about the economy, it is talking about how do we drive our economy, how do we get some new opportunities going in this Province. And that is the most important issue that we can all be talking about these days, about trying to find out what will be our future and how do we create a future for our people.

The EDGE Program is one program of a number that the Province has instituted and brought forward to try to deal with ways to make it attractive for business in this Province to do more, to provide incentive for people locally to do business here, and also for people outside who want to come in here, to make it more attractive for them. I look at the EDGE Program as almost a provincial tax-free type of situation a way for regional centres around the Province, to be able to attract business to local regional centres. Where we have industrial parks where we have a hard time filling them up, this program I think, along with, hopefully, federal assistance, will help in getting new companies started. It is starting to have some success but it can have a lot more.

A program like this can be very attractive to companies that are starting out and also to companies that are set up. I know that in the last few months and in the next few months, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and all of his officials, his departmental personnel, have been actively pursuing a whole list of business prospects. The government has undertaken a business prospect, the initiative, Mr. Speaker, which I think, is going to start paying off some dividends. If you are going to go prospecting, though, for business, you have to have something to offer, and the days of offering money and the funds up front, those days are over. The days of offering an incentive to come in here and do something and employ people, then you receive a benefit - and that is the way it should be - that program is what we have with the EDGE Program. That is a different philosophy, and I think, an excellent philosophy. It is time we adopted it, and we get out of what we were doing in the past, providing a whole range of funds to companies that were somewhat questionable and so on. And in this way, we have to have up front private investment into a company, into a local area, and once they meet the criteria, then they can qualify.

They create jobs by doing this. They create employment, they create work for people, people who have something to make a living at. And when people are working, then the economy starts to generate. So the program itself is a very good one. I think it is going to start paying us dividends in the very near future. They are doing that now, but as we start more advertising and more communicating to companies out there, I think you are going to see a lot more interest. And I think we are going to see some more developments, not only on the Avalon or in St. John's, but also in the regional centres: Gander, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Grand Falls, Marystown, Port aux Basques, Lab City - all the different areas of the Province, areas where you can now go out and you can say to a company that may be looking to come to the Province, or are already in the Province, that may be looking at expanding its activity or doing some further activity. You can go to them and offer them a pretty darn good incentive that would enable them to set up, to employ people, and to get a tax benefit while they are operating.

That makes more sense, Mr. Speaker, than what we were doing in the past. What we are doing right now is we are trying to get the financial house in order, which is a difficult process. Ontario is doing the same thing. A lot of other governments in Canada are doing the same thing. The governments in the United States are doing the same thing. State governments are doing the same thing. We are not just off on our own with our own problems. Everybody else has these problems.

We have to make this Province one of the most attractive places on the planet to do business and that is the goal of this government. The goal is to make it attractive. The goal is to make it so that when you get in here and when you look at coming here, that there are very good solid reasons, that it is not a pie-in-the-sky attitude, that it is not a: We will give you $2 million or $3 million, and come on in for six months and see you later, pal. No. What we want to see are concrete businesses coming in here and businesses that are already here expanding with the assistance of this type of program. I think that the program is going to work very well.

With the number of prospects that we have coming up in the near future, with the very positive policy that the Minister of Natural Resources has brought forward that has stimulated the exploration activity of mineral development in this Province, with Voisey's Bay coming forward and the smelter also, besides the mine, with hopefully, Terra Nova in the near future, along with potential West Coast oil development, plus potentially the fishery down the road, and hopefully, maybe even on the South Coast - I know there is an expanded sentinel fishery next year; given a lot of those factors, along with the pulp and paper industry that is going well right now, there is a very good business plan for the future for the economy of this Province.

It is coming around and it is getting there. A lot of it is private sector driven, which has been the goal also of the government, and I think the goal of all the people of the Province, to have private sector investment as much as you can, not basing your economy solely on government spending, which when you've got a deficit like we have had in the past number of years, and you are trying to get back to a decent deficit position, decent balance position, then it is the game plan. It is a good game plan. It is one that is very strong. I think that it will pay us major dividends in the very, very near future.

As we go to those bigger projects which are now on the horizon, which will give us an oil industry business we have never had before, which will give us a much larger and enhanced mineral business than we have ever had before, which hopefully, we will see enhanced opportunities in pulp and paper and in the resource sectors, we also have to push and promote our manufacturing sector which has expanded in the last three or four years.

As a matter of fact, the Newfoundland Manufacturers Association deserve a great deal of credit for what they have done. They have become very active in the promotion of their `Made right here in Newfoundland' campaign. It has worked quite well. I think it is having an impact on consumers and it is also helping create new jobs in the Province by doing that. The Manufacturers Association have done a lot of work. Last year they hosted the Canadian manufacturers Association in Newfoundland and Labrador here in St. John's. There were rave reviews from a number of people on the national executive of the Manufacturers Association who were quite impressed with what the Province has to offer and with the infrastructure that we have in a whole range of regional centres. We have a major infrastructure in some of the regional centres of this Province. We have a number of airports that are very important for business activity. These airports now are going to become more important for business activity.

Given all that infrastructure, and given the manufacturing groups in the Province that are pushing and promoting, and given this new legislation, the EDGE program, that is a very good, solid base from which to start, and it is starting to pay dividends. A lot of small companies have started up. Despite the government dealing with its deficit, these companies, in the business environment they are in, are starting up new opportunities. And there are a whole group of others, that are looking to expand and looking to opportunities in this Province.

A lot of procurement work has been done. I know the Economic Recovery Commission has done an evaluation of import substitution opportunities, looking at how we replace, here in this Province, what we are importing by producing it here in the Province. That work is also paying dividends. I know a number of companies are looking at producing goods that we are now importing. Where we were not even looking at it three or four years ago, they are looking at it now.

You have to do your homework first if you are going to change your economy and get that economy on a solid footing. The homework has been done, Mr. Speaker, and the dividends are going to start paying off very, very shortly.

The small business sector in this Province has been working hard despite tough times, but a lot of them are doing well and making it. They are making it in these times, and are going to make it better in the future, and when we get the bigger projects which are now on the horizon off the ground they are going to have an even bigger economic base from which to work. I think we are going to see this in the not too distant future, You can see the opportunities they are going to create, Mr. Speaker. They are going to get bigger for the small business sector in this Province, and they are also going to have some good, reasonable programs to deal with instead of the monies we provided for God knows what a number of years ago.

What it does is, it allows government to concentrate on the other activities it needs to concentrate on, especially these days with less funding we have, and less money we have, concentrate on providing the social services that are so needed in the Province, and at the same time getting out of the way of business, Mr. Speaker. That is another thing we have been doing over on this side of the House. I think there are over 1000 regulations, are there not?

MR. MURPHY: 1480.

MR. AYLWARD: My colleague, the Minister of Employment and Labour says 1480 regulations are going to be dropped, or almost dropped -

MR. MURPHY: They are going to be looked at.

MR. AYLWARD: - just about dropped, as a matter of fact, in the next few months, dropped off the books of this Province, that were impediments to business activity and that were requirements for people who wanted to do anything, to have to go through at some point in time in applications for business and so on. Even when you take out the 1480 which we are going to drop, we are still going to have I do not know how many more hundreds that are still there. We are still looking at those and there is going to be a process put in place to review those on a five-year basis, so that every government has to look at it every five years so you can figure out whether or not it is the right thing to be doing, or do you need the regulation.

In some cases you do and in some business activities you do, but in others, in a lot of other ways you don't, and you can allow business activity to proceed without having to put them through reams of bureaucracy which they have had to tackle over the last number of years. Those measure are also under way, and given the EDGE program, which is not a `throw money at a program', it lets you make your investment, you create some jobs, and over a period of time you will receive a benefit, but you are also creating jobs. That is a better philosophy, I think, from which to operate, and we will see the benefits of that in the near future.

The Federal Government have to look at this Province and help this Province more. There is no doubt about that. We are dealing with a situation that is pretty daunting, when you look at it, in this Province. It is pretty daunting when you have had you biggest industry basically take a major, major hit, and where you have communities in certain parts of the Province which have had to review their whole future as to how they are going to survive, their whole economic base. That has been tough on the psychology of our people. It has been tough to deal with.

I was just reading a report that was released a few weeks ago from the national Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, along with the provincial Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. They did a report on sustainable communities, and I think all members should read the report because it is an excellent report. It deals with the future of these communities and how people believe they have a future, and how they believe they should go forward in the future. These people did an excellent report. A lot of volunteers worked together to put it together and I suggest it would be very good reading for all of us.

It also suggests, too, that there is a very bright future out there and that we have to pick up our boot straps and go forward. That is what we have been trying to do in putting programs forward that work for business, that do not work against business. That is the other line, the bottom line, that we have to make it easier and we have to ensure that the business climate is as appropriate and as attractive as we can make it, and I think this program, the EDGE program, and getting federal assistance in maybe tax breaks for business to set up in Newfoundland and Labrador until the fisheries crisis is over, I think that would be very appropriate, as the government and the Premier have suggested. I think it would be a very big help here in this Province.

Our geographic position is one of advantage, not disadvantage any more, with the worldwide web, with information technology. Europe is very close to us, and we are the jump off point. We have to be promoting ourselves in that way. Geography is not as big a factor as it used to be, so we have to promote that. The government has adopted a strategy to deal with that. The new on-line network that we have put in place through the information technology sector in this Province is starting to create some new opportunities. In medical care I see some of the software and hardware that is being produced in the Province, ideas that you would never have seen four or five years ago.

We have some strong sectors that have built up in just recent years on information technology. I believe we have a very bright future in that area, and I think the EDGE program is going to help very much so as we create new opportunities and look forward to the bigger opportunities that are just on the horizon, not very far away, the oil industry that is going to be off our coast in just a very short period of time, the Voisey's Bay mine that is just now (inaudible) moving.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. minister's time is up.

MR. AYLWARD: It's too bad, and certainly it has been a pleasure. Thank you very much.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like a few words on the Private Members' resolution by the hon. Member for LaPoile.

The call upon the federal government, of course, to get into the EDGE program is nothing more simply than political posturing. The feds have absolutely no intention of relinquishing their corporate and other taxes with regard to new and emerging businesses in this Province, and especially not in a case where the EDGE law is very specific with regard to what businesses can apply for such assistance.

Mr. Speaker, I was thinking as I sat down and reviewed the resolution from the hon. member talking about the twenty-four companies with a potential - potential, I stress - to create 600 jobs using $100 million. I think that is something like $150,000 a job. It brought me back, I thought, to the old Sprung project. If Phil Sprung and his notions were around today under the current rules with regard to EDGE, I think it is a company that would fit perfectly under the requirements. It is not an industry that is natural to Newfoundland in any great way, and I think it created in the order of 300 or so jobs when it was going, so it is rather passing strange that had this program been initiated some years ago the Sprung project would have probably fit perfectly under the bill for an EDGE project.

Given the fact that the hon. members opposite have been less than kind to the endeavours resident in the Sprung project itself, it is rather amusing to think that Sprung, especially with 200 or 300 jobs, would have fit perfectly under the EDGE program and would have been announced in this Assembly to resounding applause from the opposite side.

As I said, the core of this resolution is calling on the federal government to get involved in EDGE, and it is brought forward by a government backbencher, because obviously the government ministry understands that there is no chance under the sun that the feds will get involved in this particular program, and it is a safe government resolution to allow the government members to talk in relatively positive terms about a program that we in the Opposition have said, for its own limited use, it is a good program and it has created a certain number of jobs, and we congratulate those involved.

Mr. Speaker, the unfortunate thing about the EDGE thing is the way it is targeted. Very few local businesses can really get in on it because it has to be something new, different and not natural to Newfoundland. So as a result, we have to send ministers of the Crown scurrying around the globe, at tremendous public expense, trying to track down weird businesses that will come and settle in Newfoundland on the pretext of no corporate income tax for a ten year period.

Mr. Speaker, if you are going to create the kind of business climate that is going to generate jobs and attract investment you need a more general incentive to business. Not something as specific as having to find some unique little business that does not tread on anybody's toes in the existing economy and therefore can qualify. If this particular provincial government were to eliminate the payroll tax that is a tremendous burden and a great disincentive to employment in this Province, Mr. Speaker, they would do wonders to creating jobs. The 600 potential jobs that we are talking about here, Mr. speaker, I am sure there have been many hundreds more of jobs cost in this Province or prevented from occurring in this Province because of the payroll tax instituted by this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, the hon. minister may as well talk about taxes because this government is good at doing taxes by another name. The Hydro bill that they are now going to shove into the closure fast track mode tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, is one of those bills that allows them to tax the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and have an arms length, not even quite, Crown corporation take the blame.

They got Sister Davis in the city of St. John's some time ago to take on the role of consolidating their hospital situation in here. What is better then have someone of the cloth bring forward some of the nastiest stuff that the administration got to do? That way someone who people are loath to criticize in any heavy way, at least in a heavy political way, they get to carry the can on a very ugly piece of business with regard to the consolidation of hospitals. With regard to Hydro of course, they bring in tax increases through the back door that they don't want to do politically up front because it would be very damaging.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the matter at hand, the local business community has some considerable concerns about EDGE because it does - it is not so much what it does to them, it is what it does not do for them, Mr. Speaker. It is not an incentive of general application that allows a natural expansion of local business interest. What we have is, if a local company comes up with a unique expansion - I suppose one that does not tread on any existing toes in the existing economy - that is weird and unique, if they import some product from Mars or develop some product that they can export to Mars then fine, they will qualify for the tax exempt status but, Mr. Speaker, that is not what this Province needs in general terms. EDGE is good, as far as it goes, but a more general incentive package, with regard to business, is what is needed. What we need is the generation of a real private sector economy in this Province and not a singular, unique, weird, private sector economy. I am surprised the word, `weird' was not in the EDGE legislation because in terms of the Newfoundland economy any project that receives funding has got to be somewhat weird, somewhat offbeat or certainly not in a position to cause any grief to existing companies in the economy.

Mr. Speaker, corporate taxes are a disincentive to business, obviously. One of the things that has been talked about in this Assembly, probably in private members' resolutions previously, was the notion of some sort of tax free zone, free trade zone or whatever in a certain geographic area to promote business. I suppose if you had some tax relief for business, if you had it provincewide or at least sector wide or in certain geographic centres, you might do a better job if you had a wider application of a tax incentive program. Mr. Speaker, the federal government obviously is not going to get into, as this resolution calls for, dealing with specific types of projects in this particular Province when you have, obviously, have not areas throughout Canada that could use federal help one way or the other in terms of creating economic development. They have been loath to get involved in that sort of thing. Their own economic initiatives in the Province, through the ACOA program, have produced some successes, Mr. Speaker, but the record of failures as well have been quite extensive. One wonders if the feds are inclined at all to delve into this economic development business. Because to a great extent it is essentially a local concern and they seem to be drawing back considerably from that and letting the engine of the Canadian economy, mostly residing in central Canada, and I suppose to some extent in Alberta and British Columbia, do the job. So I don't see the feds investing much time or energy into supporting a program which, since its inception, is supposed to have created only 600 potential jobs in this particular Province.

Mr. Speaker, we have in this Province right now a shrinking private sector economy, a very shrinking public sector economy, very few new jobs being created, and a general range I suppose of despair throughout the entire Province. Once you get outside the St. John's - Avalon region where you have the best employment prospects in the Province, I mean, it is absolutely desperate throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

The unemployment rate in my district would be much higher than it is now, but when the people moved to Ontario and British Columbia the unemployment rate has to stay down. Because anybody interested in work in Newfoundland and Labrador now is gone. What we have in a lot of communities that I represent are very few working families with children of school age. It is becoming absolutely desperate. The school consolidations are not going to require, to a great extent, a constitutional amendment. What we are having is a demographic reality going to bring about that, because there are no jobs being created of any significance in the Newfoundland economy. I shudder to think what would have happened to the economy of this Province had the Hibernia project not gone ahead as it did.

The hon. the Premier when he was first elected turned up his nose at the Hibernia project, referred to it I think as nothing more than a couple of fish plants. For several years we've had upwards of 6,000 people employed in high-paying jobs, highly-skilled jobs for the most part, in that kind of a project. When we see those 6,000 jobs winding down and taking probably 500 to 1,000 jobs who actually run the Hibernia oilfield when it is up and producing, the potential 600 jobs under EDGE pale in comparison.

We have in rural Newfoundland many rural development associations being eliminated or squeezed out of the play. I know in my particular district when they could access various programs of the federal and provincial governments the local rural development association in Green Bay kept 150 families or more per year out of the local welfare office. That is going to go. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has made it quite clear that these new zonal boards are going to be the way of economic development in rural Newfoundland. If we get the local zonal board promoting a single EDGE project we will be lucky. At the size of these projects, you are talking ten, twenty, thirty jobs for most of them. That is going to do very little to replace the 150 jobs that were somehow scrounged up by the very diligent work of the local development associations.

I don't foresee the EDGE program doing much for my area. In the Springdale area we have a wood manufacturing plant that makes pre-fab log homes. It has been struggling, sputtering along, barely keeping going over the last number of years. Its biggest problem has not been the provincial taxation regime, it has been a lack of assistance from the government generally in marketing what is an excellent product. The only place you can really sell pre-fab log homes in Newfoundland is in the export market. Newfoundlanders are not going to pay $35,000, $40,000 in any great numbers to build summer cabins. Most of them are built in bits and pieces by families as they can afford to do them, and buying pre-set packages in the $30,000 to $40,000 range is not the way the vast majority of Newfoundlanders are going to do it.

However, if you got into Europe and some places where it is probably against the law to look at a tree, let alone cut one, if you could get a freighter-load of fifty packages of pre-fab homes into Europe made of Newfoundland logs, manufactured and fitted in the pre-fab packages here, you might have an opportunity to create a few dozen jobs in my district and sell the product overseas. But for some reason the same government that did provide some assistance under one of its programs, I guess, through the old development department, to get some money to buy the manufacturing equipment - they helped finance that - they fell far short when it came to the required assistance in actually exporting the product overseas. A lot of local small companies do not have the expertise to really get into the European market in a big way and sell a product that could claim a good price in Europe because of the ability to cut forests for trivial things like vacation homes and what not simply is not there, but somehow the government fell flat on that, and instead they come up with a program like EDGE which, in its limited way, has done some good, but it has done very little to turn around the Newfoundland economy. It is not going to replace the 20,000 or 30,000 people who gain employment from the fishery, and it is certainly not going to replace the 6,000 working at Hibernia.

Today the Premier was questioned with regard to the Terra Nova project, and we wait with bated breath for the announcement not only of the revenue package from Terra Nova but, equally as important, the industrial benefits package. We want to see this government come up with something that will use some of the talent, some of the expertise, especially the technical expertise developed during the Hibernia times, to carry over into the construction phase of the Terra Nova project, and we hear some pretty scary stories about some sort of floating barge being towed from overseas to this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to rise today and support the resolution proposed by my colleague from LaPoile. Obviously this is a very good resolution, and after listening to members opposite it must be very good because, try as they may, they have a very, very hard time trying to find any criticisms of this side of the House at all.

I just listened to the Member for Green Bay. I was surprised at the Member for Green Bay when he started to indicate that he would like to have seen this legislation a few years ago because he would be able to get Sprung included as an EDGE corporation. I cannot believe, after the record of the previous government and the decisions by the people, that the official position that the Member for Green Bay is putting forward now is to bring back Sprung. He wants to bring back Sprung again as a way to encourage economic development into the Province. I was really surprised and quite shocked that he would be advocating now bringing back Sprung as a plank in the Tory economic development platform. I cannot believe that he would be clamouring and telling us to please keep that legislation there because when we get in power we will bring back Sprung as a way to be able to encourage economic development in the Province. He must know that the views of the people are very, very well known on this.

The Member for Kilbride obviously is leaving. He wants to put distance between him and the Member for Green Bay on this very issue, but I suppose it is not hard to understand. If you were the Chief of Staff up there when the directive went out from the Premier's office, no more talking to the media by anybody below the Premier's office on this very issue, everything had to be channelled directly to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Hewlett of the day, who then had to decide if they were going to answer any questions on the Sprung issue, so I was quite surprised, but I guess I should not be, that the Member for Green Bay wants to have this legislation kept in place so they can bring back Sprung.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of very important issues to be brought up here in this resolution. The first and foremost is that we want the federal government to participate in the EDGE program for a very, very solid and meaningful reason, and that is obviously the decision in 1992 by the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of the day, Mr. Crosbie, to close down the northern cod fishery and indeed the decisions after, to extend that closure, that moratorium to all of the groundfish species in all the zones adjacent to our Province. To be able to do that, Mr. Speaker, and at the same time, acknowledge that it was the federal government's responsibility to do that and we are very pleased of course that the record in this Province will show that when it came to setting the total allowable catch for northern cod or the 4Rs 3Pn gulf stock or the American plaice or the yellowtail flounder or any of the other groundfish species that are adjacent to our shores, when it came to that, the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture here of the day and the government of the day spoke very, very clearly and very adamantly told the federal government that we did not support an increase in the total allowable catch.

As a matter of fact, we recommended very specific lowering of the total allowable catch for the species that I mentioned, and to be also fair about it, Mr. Speaker, the previous government did the same thing. I remember Mr. Peckford, when he took on the fisheries minister of the day, Mr. McGrath, and called him some nasty names and to come to the defence of Newfoundland and Labrador because they were talking about extending some access to the Northern cod, to this Nova Nord, this consortium of companies in the Maritimes and obviously he couldn't stand for that because he knew, and his advice from his government was that, we could not withstand any more increase in the TAC in spite of what some of the federal scientists were saying.

We were listening to the people in this government and the people previous were listening to the fishermen of the day who were telling the governments, both levels of governments that the total allowable catch was too high, that the fish were becoming smaller and scarcer and indeed it was time for some drastic, conservation measures to be put in place. So obviously, in 1992, after this decision was taken, this unprecedented decision was taken to close the northern cod fishery and a subsequent decision to extend that moratorium to other areas of the Province and other species, implicit in that, and also I guess, to be fair, the federal government, when they announced this did acknowledge their responsibility. They acknowledged they had absolute responsibility for the management of the fishery and they were going to set up adequate compensation to make sure that the people here got the benefit of the resources of the Government of Canada to try and ease the pain and make the adjustment that was necessary.

Now when the TAGS, The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, was announced just two years ago, May 15 or so of '94, Mr. Speaker, the government of the day set out three elements of that response and the first element of course was the Income Support Program, that was put out there from $406 a week down to a low of $225, this was the basic income support that was given to all legitimate fishers and plant workers in this Province because they were being forced out of their industry. They were being told you are not allowed to go back into the fishing boat or into the fish plant, therefore we accept the responsibility for income support.

Also, Mr. Speaker, they acknowledged that there must be some kind of an adjustment and there must be some kind of a mechanism to allow these people who wanted to get out of the fishery, who wanted to also diversify within the fishery, that they should be given some support in terms of training and that was put in place, another important part and it has worked in many cases. I know that the training has a black eye in some corners of the Province and some of the programs that they have put in place, some of the recommendations that came from the fishermen's union have not been welcomed and they have not been successful, but that doesn't mean that there aren't people out there, there aren't fishermen and plant workers out there who have had good, solid training from the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy and will be able to make the adjustment that is necessary to get on with their lives. Many of them are gone to work as my colleague the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations so well knows. He is administering the provincial side of this program and doing it very well.

The other very essential element of this strategy that was announced on May 15 or so of 1994 was that there would be a response from the federal government to diversify the economy so that we would be able to have the alternate employment available as a result of the displacement of some 13,500 full-time jobs. That would be the net effect of what was happening in the closure of the groundfish industry. That is the element of the program, and the federal response that has yet to come to fruition. That is the element of the strategy that the people of the Province want to see. That is the element of the strategy that the provincial government wants to see further elaboration on, and obviously some real meaningful efforts be put in place to see that that aspect of the strategy is accomplished.

We did have an agreement in principle a few months ago on $100 million for economic diversification which looked at the aquaculture industry, which I know the Ministry of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture is certainly very keen on. It is a very important part of the diversification of the fishery. The aquaculture industry offers tremendous potential. We are very much at the primary stage of developing a tremendous industry. I had a chance to go to Norway last June and see the industry over in Norway working. They have seen the industry over there now produce some 300,000 metric tons of salmon worth over $600 million a year in Norway. Fifteen years ago they didn't have 10,000 metric tons of salmon, in particular, being processed from the aquaculture industry.

Right now in Norway they have something like 800 independent fish farms that are offering very solid, meaningful incomes to three and four people in each of these enterprises. They are becoming the rich people of that nation because the salmon and the extra processing that goes with it is being developed, and they are being very successful at infiltrating the market in Europe. I don't doubt that they will be coming across this way.

We are placed very competitively in Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador. We have the opportunity to develop this aquaculture industry and be able to access the greatest market in the world in the United States. We are going to do that. In order to do that we need to put some solid investment into the aquaculture industry. We are doing it as a provincial government now down in the Fortune - Hermitage district, in Belleoram, and I'm sure that we are going to have good success with it. But we need more capital funding in particular to put in place the nurseries, to put in place the technology, to be able to get the fingerlings to feed out to the people in the Province who want to take this on as a fishing enterprise. In order to do that you need some substantial seed money put in place to have that kind of ability and be able to offer, at least in the primary stage of this industry, those fingerlings out to the people who want to take them and feed them and, obviously, put them up to a marketable size.

That is a very important aspect of diversification of the fishery that we have to see approached in a meaningful way. While there was some funding identified in that $100 million I don't believe it was enough funding. Obviously we have to get a further measure to go towards that industry if we are going to make any kind of meaningful exercise out of it.

One of the very important parts of it is to see that this industry is put all over the Province. While I was in Norway I also had the chance to look at the latest technology in land-based aquaculture.

Normally, aquaculture is a sea based exercise and it can be done if the water temperature is of the right temperature. The pumping can be done at a very economical level so that the fish can grow but they have to be in at least 5̊C or better to be able to do that. Mr. Speaker, fortunately in Norway they have those climatic conditions but here in this Province we do not. That does not mean that all is lost because over in Norway now they are on the leading edge of technology. They have developed systems over there of land based technology where they can bring in the water and have it pass through the heat - I am not sure what the proper technical term is but basically what they do is bring the water in and they hold it at a certain degree of temperature. As the water is then passed out, cleaned and other water is brought in, 80 per cent of the temperature is retained in the aquaculture containers. They are able to have an indoor land based aquaculture industry continue all year long.

If they are doing that very well with halibut they can do it with cod. They have obviously done it with char and salmon. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no doubt that the aquaculture industry can be alive and well in this Province, in all parts of this Province, to be able to do the types of things we are doing but we need that extra assistance, we need that extra edge - to play on words - we need that extra opportunity, Mr. Speaker. The federal government has admitted that they are the primary managers of our fishing resource. They hold the strings to a lot of the resources that we need to be able to do this and one of them, of course, is to be able to take the appropriate measures under the tax system to be able to mirror what we are doing with tremendous success, I might add, in the EDGE corporations that we have approved so far here as a provincial government.

So I would encourage all members of this House to be cognizant of what we are asking the federal government to do, the basis upon which we are approaching them and indeed the benefits that could be derived from them getting involved and getting involved only until the 13,500 jobs have been recovered. We don't want this to continue forever, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. DUMARESQUE: One minute. We don't want this to continue forever and be at a competitive advantage to our other colleagues and citizens of other provinces. We just want it to continue until we have an opportunity to recover the significant economic consequences from the closure and the moratorium of all the groundfish species adjacent to our shores, Mr. Speaker.

So I would close by congratulating the Member for LaPoile on this very opportune resolution and to ask all members of the House to support it because at this point in our time we need this kind of initiative from the federal government like we never needed it before. I would hope that all members will be able to concur with the resolution as put forward by the hon. member. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I basically stand today to support the resolution put forth by the Member for LaPoile. I certainly would support the intent of the resolution, Mr. Speaker. I really don't know how far it will go in actual fact but I certainly support the intent.

When the Member for LaPoile was up introducing the resolution he talked about the EDGE legislation getting unanimous consent from the House. Very seldom does the government of the day get full support from members on this side of the House. The reason why, I suppose, they got full - or they got unanimous consent for the EDGE legislation was that we thought over here that it was a good idea and it did have some good intent, Mr. Speaker. Only after the Opposition made some good recommendations, that was accepted by the government of course, did they get full unanimous consent on that legislation or that bill, Mr. Speaker.

Now the Minister of Environment was up, Mr. Speaker, speaking on this resolution and he said he was referring to the future of our people, and he was talking about government getting out of the way of business, and he talked about the 1,480 regulations being dropped in the near future, good moves, I would say, to a certain extent but basically, and I think if you talk to most small business people in the Province today, and in particular people trying to start up new business in the Province today, they will tell you that the biggest obstacle to setting up in this Province is government, so we have a long way to go with respect to making it easier for businesses in Newfoundland.

One of the biggest problems they have, and it really comes back to hurt small business in this Province, is the payroll tax, which was a tax on jobs. When that payroll tax was brought in I was in private industry, had my own small business going. When they first brought it in it was based on $300,000, I think, gross payout in salaries per year, which was hard enough. Then the following year I think they reduced that down to $100,000 gross payout in payroll, and that really hurt the small business in this Province. Basically what you saw happening was that small business in the Province was either laying people off to get under that limit, or not hiring because they were afraid to go over the limit where they would have to pay too much money, so basically government is hurting small business in this Province.

Another big hardship on small business in this Province, of course, is the workers' compensation, and I have recently had to have meetings with representatives at workers' compensation in the way they classify individuals and how they charge out. If you have a business such as a trucking business, people in that industry are all classified the same. I think they have to pay $7.50 or $7.75 per hundred in payroll paid out, which is a great burden. Maybe workers' compensation should look at bringing up a different system of classifying people, not necessarily classify people by industry, which they seem to think is the simplest way to do it, but probably if they looked at classifying people by profession, or the type of work they do.

AN HON. MEMBER: They cannot do it that way, Jack.

MR. J. BYRNE: It is hard, I know; it would be very difficult, but in fairness to individuals in the Province it is something that should be reconsidered and re-evaluated.

Now, the Member for Eagle River was on his feet, of course, again today, and it seems to me that he is one of the very few on that side of the House who will get up and speak on most motions or most resolutions or most bills before the House. I don't know the reason for that, but he always seems to be on his feet, but the Member for Eagle River now, most of the time - today he seemed to be sincere and he made some good points - but most of the time he is on his feet he rambles on and he rants and he raves, and he is becoming known now as the motor mouth from Eagle River.


MR. J. BYRNE: He is becoming known as the motor mouth from Eagle River. Whenever he is on his feet he can never miss the opportunity, himself and I believe the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and I was not in government when this was done, but they never miss the opportunity to bring up Sprung, $20 million that was out the window.

MR. MURPHY: Twenty-six.

MR. J. BYRNE: Twenty-six million dollars; the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations corrects me. Now, I wasn't there. I believe that the magnitude of that project was the error, not the fact that they tried it. You have to try new things. There is research and development. The magnitude of the project, where they went with five or six different modules - if they had gone with one, maybe, there may have been a good attempt to achieve something positive for the Province.

What the Member for Eagle River never talks about is the money that this government has wasted since they have been in power in five or six years. If you look at the Sprung project, that was over a fifteen year period. It was a major mistake, no doubt about it, but this government has been in power seven years, going on seven years, and we had the Hydro fiasco where they spent $10 million on the privatization of Hydro, and now today the Government House Leader brought in again closure on a debate of a Hydro bill before this House, and the public out there have a lot of concerns about this bill, and rightly so, because what is happening, in due course, if this bill passes through the House at this sitting, and it is being rushed, there is no doubt about it, because this government knows how fast the people in this Province can get together to oppose a certain bill or any issue that this government is putting forth. An example of that would have been the way the people of Bell Island got together two weeks ago, overnight basically. Six hundred people attended a meeting on Bell Island with less than twenty-four notice, and 300 or 400 people from Bell Island showed up here on a Friday morning to oppose the new rates that were going to be imposed by this government. This government backed off when they saw the opposition growing.

Now, today in this House the Government House Leader brought in closure for one purpose only, and that is to try and force this through the House before the people will have the opportunity to mount an opposition to the bill, Bill 35, that is before the House today and possibly will be through the House tomorrow night if the Minister of Justice or the Government House Leader gets his way. Hopefully the people can see through this and see what is actually happening, that in actual fact this is the first major step towards the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

The minister can say what he likes and the Premier can say what he likes. I believe the Premier has, as of today, stated that he still believes that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro should be privatized, and to me this is going to be the first step in the privatization of Hydro. Once this goes through the minister will be the major shareholder in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro under legislation in this House and at any time down the road he can decide, if government is tight for money, to sell shares off to whoever might want to buy, and that is a very dangerous move to make with respect to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and to the people of this Province.

Now, back to the issues with respect to what the Member for Eagle River always talks about. There is $10 million gone out of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, out the window and not one job created. At least the Sprung project created 300 jobs for two or three years, Mr. Speaker, but Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, $10 million gone and not one job created. Then we have the electoral boundary issue that is waiting on third reading now, and again the Government House Leader brought in closure on that there last week, and $500,000 was spent on the commission that went around this Province, and basically government ignored the recommendations of that commission, another $500,000 wasted.

Then we have the Cabot Corporation, $6 million. We have a statement here today which shows $6 million spent so far. Now, what is going to happen with that? Hopefully, we will have in 1997 some success to attract tourists to the Province, and hopefully some outlay of cash from the tourists, some revenues with GST and RST for the Province. That is another $6 million gone out the window.

The education referendum, $2 million that we know of was spent. Again, the Premier was on his feet when asked a question by the education critic, Mr. Speaker. Prime Minister Chretien has stated that it is not going to the House of Commons before Christmas this year. Now, when all this debate was going on the Premier emphatically stated that the education referendum would go through the House of Commons before Christmas this year. He was told by members on this side of the House, and I have been one of them, that the education referendum would not go through the House of Commons before Christmas because of the Quebec situation. Anybody who had any sense at all could see that and would understand the political problems in the country today. We told him at the time that it would delay education reform in the Province but again he would not go along with that and he would not sit and accept 90 per cent of what was being proposed by the churches. No, he wanted all or nothing, and now we quite possibly will have no education reform until September 1997, another $2 million gone.

We have $300,000 to $400,000 spent on the design and location of the Caboto building, Mr. Speaker, and no jobs created again. Now, if you add that up you have $19 million right there and not one job created by this administration, $19 million out the window.

Now, let us look at a few other things, Mr. Speaker. They are talking about job creation and bringing in resolutions to promote jobs in the Province, Mr. Speaker. They are a living contradiction, they are hypocritical, as far as I am concerned. The Trans City deal, Mr. Speaker - Trans City, again upwards of $40 million out, nothing for the people of this Province. We will have hospitals built but at an extra cost of possibly $40 million in the long haul. We had the Economic Recovery Commission, people are still waiting for some results from the Economic Recovery Commission, still waiting; hundreds of thousands of dollars spent again, maybe millions over the past few years; nothing, Mr. Speaker, to show for it. Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, another fiasco, still waiting, ENL, Employed Noble Liberals and that leads me to the subject of patronage.

When this government ran for election, I remember the Leader of the Opposition at that time, which is the hon. Premier of today, saying that he did not believe in patronage appointments and his words were, I think, `unconscionable' and `fairness and balance' and what have you, his famous words, words that he is always using. But what do we see now? a list of patronage appointments probably reaching up over 100, Mr. Speaker. So that is the type of thing this government have accomplished over the past few years. Basically, they have accomplished nothing other than assisting their friends who helped them get elected in the first place.

Now, the EDGE legislation itself, when it was brought in - again it was perceived that maybe it would help the Province somewhat; no way could it offset the job losses we have seen in the fishery, no way would it offset the job losses that the actual government themselves - only last week, they let go 400 people and in the resolution, the `whereases', the Member for LaPoile refers to 600 new jobs, a potential for 600 new jobs and yet, we let 400 people go last week in the government itself, so what they are doing on the one hand, they are taking away with the other hand, Mr. Speaker. But the EDGE legislation itself, other than how much it cost to bring in that legislation - but I would imagine it would probably be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultants' fees, government employees and what have you.

I brought this up with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and at that time, there was a magazine, a business magazine that was on planes, Mr. Speaker, for people to read when they were sitting around doing nothing on a plane type-of-thing, occupying their time, and in it there was an article from one of the southwestern states - I can't remember which state now; but in that magazine - and I gave a copy to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - was a new program that they had put in place down there that was called the EDGE Program, Mr. Speaker, EDGE, exactly the same as this government put in place, almost word for word, what they were proposing with respect to municipalities and ten-year tax breaks and all -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I can't hear you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: They were, they were. - so I gave it to the minister and I said: you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and you could have had this for a phone call or if you were sitting in a plane reading - and I think that is where it came from. I honestly believe that the Premier or the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology read that, had a brain wave and brought in the same thing here, went out and paid people hundreds of thousands of dollars for the same thing they could have had for nothing, Mr. Speaker, for a phone call.

Anyway, with respect to the resolution itself, as I said, the Member for LaPoile referred to the potential for 600 jobs. Now, are they going to be permanent jobs or will they be gone when the EDGE legislation or the assistance they are getting from government runs out? Are these companies here now because they want to be here or are they here taking advantage only of the EDGE legislation? That's a question that needs to be asked, Mr. Speaker. How permanent are the jobs?

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

MR. MURPHY: I say, probably the member is asking questions of himself and there is no possible way that he will get a sensible answer.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, I am not.

I am asking question of the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, he can answer the questions, he is the one who is pushing it. He is supposed to have created the potential for 600 jobs, and he is over there now, trying to be smart. With respect to the 600 jobs, we know full-well that what I am asking is the simple question, will those jobs be permanent jobs or will they be ended after they get the benefits from the government and then pull up the stakes and take off out of the Province, Mr. Speaker?

Also, in the `whereases', the Member for LaPoile refers to the closure of the groundfish fishery by the Government of Canada, that has been a negative effect on the economy. Now, Mr. Speaker, the TAGS Program has been cut, it is being cut monthly now, people have been dropped off TAGS. And the problem I have with that, is that the government here in this Province are not opposing what is going on with respect to the Federal Government. We have the seven federal members for the Province, referred to now as the silent seven, accepting everything that comes from Ottawa.

I stood in my place here before and said that the people on that side of the House are nothing but a bunch of `yes' men for the Federal Government.


MR. J. BYRNE: A bunch of `yes' men for the Federal Government, and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations can say `now' all he wants, but those are the facts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, yes, he is over there with the employment insurance program that is supposed to be brought in, and the hardships that is going to create for the people of this Province I don't think can be calculated, can be realized or understood at this point in time until they actually start happening.

We had members on that side of the House stand in their places last week and actually make comparisons with respect to the 400 hours if they work it over a ten-week period, over fourteen or thirty, whatever the case may be, depending on the break in-between, and people in this Province can end up getting as much as $20 or $30 a week on UI. What is going to happen is, it is going to have to be subsidized by Social Services, unless this government stands on its feet and starts telling the Federal Government they are not going to take it. They have to get some backbone, and they do not have the backbone anymore. That is my problem with this Administration.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations that their record does not show that the people of the Province should put any faith in you people sitting down. That is the problem, you have been sitting down on your fat fannies too long; that is what I would say.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, in -

AN HON. MEMBER: Thank you.

MR. J. BYRNE: So I take it I don't get any leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: In conclusion, I will just say that I support the intent of the resolution.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have just a few comments. In all fairness to the Member for LaPoile's resolution, which is an exceptionally good resolution, one of the better ones, I would suggest, in this sitting -

AN HON. MEMBER: Better than the one we had last week.

MR. MURPHY: You got that right.

I say to speakers on both sides, the Member for Kilbride and the Member for Eagle River, we all got up and treated the resolution properly, the way it should be treated. The Member for St. John's East Extern, for whom I have a lot of respect, addressed most of what he had to say on innuendo, hearsay, maybes, ands, ifs, buts, or ors, threw in a lot of old stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with the resolution. He knows that. He contributed absolutely nothing to the debate here this afternoon. All he got on with was old political gobbledygook. That is all he got on with, and he knows it.

If he really felt that this legislation, and he and his party supported the initial EDGE legislation put forward by this government, what the member is saying now to really make it happen is that we need the involvement of the Federal Government, and we want to send a message off to the Federal Government from this House that we expect their support, we expect this consideration, when new industries who qualify under the provincial EDGE legislation come forward, whether it be in aquaculture, silviculture, secondary processing, or whatever. That is what the resolution is, and that is what we all should speak to, and that is the message we should send, not to get on with a whole lot of political rhetoric that means absolutely nothing to the resolution, and I am really surprised to hear the hon. member with his dissertation.

The hon. Member for Eagle River got up and made a few little remarks, and that is fine, nothing wrong with it, but to take the time he took and do nothing only criticize other issues away from this issue, then it is totally inappropriate and not correct. I say, Mr. Speaker, when the member rises again on a resolution - I am only offering him sound advice, I call it - what the member should do is speak to the resolution, speak on behalf of his constituents, speak on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, put some positive steps forward, and we will all benefit.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's South, who just finished speaking, mentioned that the members opposite supported this legislation when it was introduced into the House - and they did. I accepted that, Mr. Speaker, with some reservations because looking back at the track record of different government departments - and I am not talking about government departments that are there today under a Liberal Administration, but also were there when we were there, especially when I was there from 1985-1989.

One of the concerns - I think the minister now is not in the House, the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture is not in the House. One of the glaring inequities that I saw when this piece of legislation was introduced, was the one pertaining to Crown land. Now, it said unserviced Crown land can be provided to an EDGE corporation for a nominal fee. An option to purchase the land for one dollar is also provided.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we know that there is a good number of businesses in this Province today operating on Crown lands that cannot get a grant, no matter how much money they offer. I am speaking primarily about the agricultural industry in this Province. You cannot get a grant on agricultural land in this Province. You can offer what you like for it, you cannot get a grant. You can get a fifteen-year lease, what they call a short-term lease, or you can get a fifty-year long-term lease. Not only that, you pay much more then a dollar for the rental on that land every single year - in fact, somewhere in the vicinity of a dollar an acre for a piece of wilderness out of which you have to cut an industry. So that is one glaring example of an inequity with regard to starting businesses in this Province and people who are already into the business. Because nothing is exempt from this, Mr. Speaker. If you come in with a viable application and submit it to the board, a board comprising of government officials and non-competing private sector representatives, they evaluate each application and make a promise that the decisions on all applications are made within thirty days. That is one of them, and I can go on and on into that but I have only a few minutes.

One of the other things that I have to get into, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice brought in legislation to the House pertaining to subordinate legislation - to do away with regulations in the Province and so on and sort of streamline it. Rightly so, but we can do away with all the regulations we like, Mr. Speaker, if there is no money for people who want to start a small business or any other business in this Province today, then there are no jobs.

I would have to refer to the banks, the big banks in this country today, Mr. Speaker. We can bring in all the regulations, we can bring in all the EDGE legislation, we can make all the regulations and adjustments we can to try to accommodate and try to make it easier for people to start a business in this Province, but the banks in this country today, Mr. Speaker, have got small business brought to their knees, and not only small business, but the ordinary person and individual in this country today. What choice do we have when we go for a loan? What choice do we have to go for a car loan, for a student loan? They got you you know where, Mr. Speaker, they got you. You pay or else you do without. Once the people go to the banking institutions today in this country they usually get a loan for a mortgage, then a car and so on. They sort of get in with a certain financial institution and they cannot get out of it because they are hooked. They have certain payments to make and they get back there, they go back and they ask - no sympathy, no compassion, absolutely nothing. You pay what we ask or else we will take everything you have.

The small business person today to come in - if you want $200,000 and you have $400,000 to show them or $400,000 in assets, no problem. Come on in, Mr. Woodford, sign on the dotted line we will give you $200,000. Sign it over because we want to make $1 billion in profits every year. We want to make sure that our shareholders are satisfied. I think it is getting to the time - I only hope and wish that we could beat it into the heads of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the rest of the people in Canada to go to their credit unions, make use of their credit unions. Borrow your own money and put your own savings and profits back into where you are borrowing from, so you can go back and get it at a lower rate, or get something. The banks - there has to be something done, Mr. Speaker. Because if small business - government can bring in what they like, like I said, small business is strangled. They will strangle small business in this country today - you do not have a chance.

I remember week after week when I started a business back in 1970, 1971, come Friday evening I could not make the pay - you had the payroll to meet. You had ten or fifteen men to pay. Every now and again you would get into a jam. The bank wanted its money, this one wanted his money, you got paid last. The employees had to be paid. You would call the bank and say: I have a cheque coming in Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, will you please cover my account until next week? And I'm telling you, you had some arm-twisting to do. Even though you had a good credit rating, you had a good working relationship with the banks, they would give you absolutely no break at all - nothing.

AN HON. MEMBER: And then turn around and tell you (inaudible) a billion dollars.

MR. WOODFORD: - And then turn around and tell you this year alone - I can go back over others. Over $5 billion in profit? And that is justified? when you see families starving to death? when you see cars being repossessed because a man or woman is out of work for two months? where a student comes out of university for six months, and has to start paying back a student loan? Out of what? If they don't have a job, where do they get it? But the bank says: Come in, I want to see you. They have access to Revenue Canada, they have the high-powered legal representation. One letter intimidates the student, intimidates the ordinary person who has a car loan or a house. There are people paying for houses amortized over twenty-five years, paying for it for fifteen, sixteen years, hard-working business people, and all of a sudden with a stroke of the pen because they are out of work for so long: I'm sorry, but we will have that house.

They make their profits on service fees. Before anything is done with your account when you get your bank statement, what is there? Four dollars for this, $2 for that, $3 for something else. I saw the other day a small business paying the regular service fees and it was told - it had another account there; got a letter from the bank saying: Instead of the $3 a month service fees now, we are going to charge you a flat rate of $12 a month, whether anything goes through this account or not. Your account is there, we will charge you $12. Now, it takes a .43 cent stamp to send you out a bank statement, and it takes less than that to just flick it off a computer, but it wants $12, whether there is one cent or nothing goes through that bank account.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: They are reducing their employees, they are into the hi-tech part of it. They are paying for that. They are down in Mexico. Now they are looking to get into Peru. They are looking to get into all the southern states and southern countries, the have-not, and we are paying for it. We are the people who are paying for it and it is about time we stood up and took notice. Because some of the people in this Province are going to have to be - we have to do it, it has to be done through us, because a lot of the people today are very leery about financial institutions, especially if they are not a bank.

They are leery of trust companies, they are leery of credit unions because they figure that if they don't go to those people they are not protected. We are the people who have to tell the people out there that they have just as much protection under a credit union as they have under a bank. The Canada Deposit Insurance Company covers all your deposits through the credit unions of this Province up to $60,000 on each and every account, the same as the banks.

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is up. I have to give the hon. the Member for LaPoile his right time to clue up. Another thing I would say before I sit down, if I might have a minute. The UI fund, I heard the other day the federal minister announce they are going to cut seven cents off the employers' fee, $4.20 down to $4.13, the employee from $3.00 down to $2.95, and at the same time we have a $1 billion surplus in the UI fund, and as of 1997 we will have a $5 billion surplus in the UI fund, and as of the year 2000 we will have a $10 billion surplus in the UI fund. How is the federal government going to reduce their deficit, Mr. Speaker? All they have to do is use the money from the UI fund, employees' and employers' money, absolutely nothing to do with government. They are going to use that to decrease their deficit, big deal, on the backs of the workers of this Province and of the rest of Canada.

Some of those things are going to have to be addressed by Legislatures in this country and the sooner the better. If we are going to help small business, and if we are going to do anything with the member's resolution, and I support the resolution, but I can say today pretty well categorically that the federal government is up there saying... so what? This will never see the light of day in the Chambers of our Parliament in Upper Canada, it will never see it, Mr. Speaker, but the only thing about it is we have to keep hammering at them because they listen to nothing or no one. They get in and then they just forget the people who elected them.

I agree and I support the member's resolution and am looking forward to the vote.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for LaPoile speaks to close debate.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Twice, Mr. Speaker, in the last two and a half years we have finally met a complete consensus in this Chamber. This is the second time and having had some involvement with both it might have something to do with my personality, I being the kind of individual that is pretty easy going and not often deterred in the way I carry about my duties as an MHA.

The hon. members here on this side should, as the hon. Government House Leader often says, hold themselves in patience. It is something like that.

MR. ROBERTS: Hold your soul in patience.

MR. RAMSAY: Anyway, to conclude I do want to say that the key is that the people of this Province do need the extra benefit of local assessment opportunity and the benefit of new outside investment opportunity coming here to the Province to help offset the problems associated with the closure of the ground fishery.

The EDGE program is a successful program that has been implemented with the support of all members of the House of Assembly. By agreeing to this, and if we can only convince our colleagues in Ottawa that this is the key element of our economic platform, then we should proceed with this kind of measure, and it should not pose any great problems to other provinces of the country. If it does then we will try and accommodate those by virtue of negotiation.

I hope the Premier will be able to impress upon the Prime Minister over the next number of days, as he meets with him, some of the aspects of this being very important to the people of the Province. With that, Mr. Speaker, and a note of optimism for all of the people who are out there, who need work, for the people who are very much the kind of individuals who want to go out and make their own way in life, that this kind of measure will offer them some hope for the future, and with that, Mr. Speaker, I will be seated and we will allow the course to progress.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

All those in favour of the resolution say `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

Resolution, carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: That was an easy call, Mr. Speaker.

We will adjourn in a moment or two and when we come back tomorrow, I remind hon. members, we will deal first with the Provincial Offenses Act which is Bill No. 47 and then we will deal with the Committee stages on the three bills that were reported out today by the Social Services Committee, those are Bills: 36, 40 and 41 and then we will deal with the Mineral Impost Bill and when that's done we will go on into the Hydro discussion, Mr. Speaker, which will conclude of course at some point tomorrow evening whenever hon. members opposite are minded to do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bills 36, 40, 41?

MR. ROBERTS: Bill 36 which is the Investigation of Fatalities Legislation; Bill No. 40 which is the Leaseholds In St. John's Act and Bill No. 41 which is the Conflict Of Interest Non-Elected Public Office Holders Act and the Mineral Holdings Impost Act is Bill No. 21, and I hope

MS VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We will deal with that first. The Provincial Offences Act is Bill No. 47.

MS VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, no problem at all I say to my friend from Humber East. We will begin with the Provincial Offences Act, which is a second reading and it is Bill No. 47 and it is Order No. 37. We will then go into Committee and deal with the Committee stages on Orders 25, 26 and 28. Those are the three I just mentioned: The Fatalities Investigation, Leaseholds Act and The Conflict Of Interest For Non-Elected Public Office Holders Act. We will then go back and do a second reading debate on the Mineral Impost Bill which is Order No. 30, Bill No. 21.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That has been distributed for many weeks.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm told in fact it was distributed before we rose for the summer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Bill No. 43 is not yet distributed. It will not be called for debate tomorrow. I hope we will have it in the House tomorrow. That is the mining and mineral rights tax act. I have what I hope is the final draft of it here now. We will not be calling it for debate tomorrow, nor on Friday. We will carry on with the Hydro bill, and after we finish the Mineral Impost act tomorrow then we will go into the Hydro debate. When that is finished, well, we will see where we get on from there. We will see what kind of temper we are in when we finish second reading of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 7:00 tomorrow night?

MR. ROBERTS: I'm largely, Mr. Speaker, in the hands of the Opposition. Because once we invoke the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I agree completely, and I can only acknowledge that my friend for Burin - Placentia West shares many good qualities with them, and one of them is the largeness of his spirit, of his intellect, of his concern, and of his bulk.

I say to my friend for Grand Bank, when we adjourn tomorrow night is essentially in the hands of the Opposition. There may be one or two who wish to speak on this side, but I suspect there will be -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The closure vote must be taken by 1:00 a.m., that is correct. The House will then -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Given the quality of the Opposition, probably yes.

Mr. Speaker, if there are no more straight lines to be served up to be knocked back across the net I will move the House adjourn until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.

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