March 28, 1996             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 6


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, we have not had the opportunity to pay tribute to two former members of this House and Ministers of the Crown who passed away since this House was last in session. Val Earle who passed away on February 1, and Ank Murphy who passed away on February 18. Both served their Province with distinction in the opposition benches and on the government side.

First elected in 1962, Ank Murphy served as opposition member and became Leader of the official opposition in 1970. Following the change in government, he served under Premier Frank Moores as Minister in the portfolios of Provincial Affairs, Social Services, Provincial Affairs and Environment and Consumer Affairs and Environment. He retired from politics in 1979.

Mr. Murphy was one of the founders of the Boy Scout Movement in this Province which has benefited so many of our children in the years since then. He was also a very popular sports figure, serving for years as President of the St. John's Amateur Baseball Association and earning membership in the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame.

I would like to note that, Mr. Murphy, who served as Member for St. John's Centre was a good friend and caucus colleague of Senator and former PC Opposition Leader, Gerry Ottenheimer, the brother of our current Member for St. John's East who is a close member of their family.

Val Earle began his career in private business, working his way up to President of Earle Sons and Company Limited of Fogo, and later establishing Val Earle Limited. He was the first President of the Newfoundland Fish Trades Association which he helped formed and a director of both the Newfoundland Associated Fish Exporters of which he was also President and the Fisheries Council of Canada.

He was the Commissioner for Canada on the International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries and served as President of the Newfoundland Board of Trade and the St. John's Rotary Club. He had a colourful political life as a cabinet minister under both the Liberal and the PC Administrations. When first elected in 1962, he served as Minister under Premier Smallwood in the portfolios of Education, Public Welfare and Finance. In 1970, he crossed the floor to the PC Opposition and following the election in 1972, he served as Minister under Premier Moores in the portfolios of Economic Development, Public Works and Services, Municipal Affairs and Housing and Finance.

Both these individuals have made an important contribution to this Province as members and as ministers and as well, beyond this House. I ask the Speaker to send condolences on behalf of the members to Mrs. Geraldine Murphy and Mrs. Jean Earle and their respective families.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. the Leader of the Opposition has done an outstanding job giving a summary of the history of the lives of these two outstanding Newfoundlanders and we on the government side would like to align ourselves and pay tribute as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join with the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology in offering public thanks for the careers of these two men who served the Province in this House of Assembly. I know both of them, and I know their families.

I would like to join in asking the Chair, through the Speaker, to send our condolences to their families, and our thanks for their public service.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I regret that I was late arriving in the House, and came in the middle of the remarks by the Leader of the Opposition, but I would like to join as well in associating myself with the eloquent remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, setting out for all of us for our reflection, and indeed to take this moment to again appreciate the tremendous work and contribution of both of these individuals, both as members of the House, as advocates and strong voices for their constituents during the years they sat here, but equally as important but no more important as members of the Cabinet in various administrations in seeing that the welfare of the Province was represented properly, and that progress was made for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, those of us who serve in public life know that it is an occupation fraught with many slings and arrows, and a great many disappointments. I think it is appropriate, on occasion, for those of us who are here today, as we see those who have gone before and have passed on, that we take a moment to reflect and to express our appreciation for their work, and in particular our appreciation for their families who, during their time of service to this place, in this place, made their contribution as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Before we call the routine proceedings for the day, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the public galleries forty-one Grade V students from Park Avenue Elementary School in Mount Pearl, accompanied by their teachers, Donna Warren, Tina Boudreau, and Sharon Glover.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well, I want to welcome thirty-seven students from Canon Richards High School in Flower's Cove, along with their teachers, Mr. Levi Squires and Mrs. Lillian Dredge, and two chaperons.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: And I want to acknowledge the presence of a former member of the House in the galleries, Fabian Manning, who was the former Member for the District of St. Mary's - The Capes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are to the Premier.

There has been much talk of late about RST and GST harmonization. We favour eliminating red tape and duplication for business, but tax harmonization must be done right.

The federal minister recently said that he expected to have an agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador and the other Atlantic Provinces by the end of March, in three days time. I ask the Premier if he now has reached an agreement on RST and GST harmonization with his counterparts.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question and for his interest in this important matter. To be very direct, no. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have not reached an agreement with the Government of Canada for the harmonization of the provincial sales tax and the federal GST. We have been engaged in discussion both at the official level and at the ministerial level with the national government and, Mr. Speaker, those discussions are ongoing.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: My next question, Mr. Speaker: Because this Province has the highest retail sales tax rate, we stand to lose the most from harmonization. It has been reported that Ottawa is considering a $500 million to $700 million compensation package for the Atlantic Provinces, to be spread over three to four years. Will the Premier ensure that there is a long-term solution to the loss of revenues under harmonization, or is the Premier going to be bought off by a chunk of money from the Federal Government that we may pay for dearly down the road?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I know that the Leader of the Opposition is not cynical by nature and that he is an optimist. Therefore, it is with great surprise that I hear him consistently over the last couple of days - and I know this is being foisted upon him; it is not in his nature - putting questions that always conclude with a doom-and-gloom scenario.

The Leader of the Opposition has just said that Newfoundland and Labrador stands the most to lose from harmonizing our provincial sales tax regime with the federal sales tax regime. What he has not said is that Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest sales tax regime, the highest bar none, in the country, and that the combination of the provincial sales tax as currently constituted, 12 per cent, with the federal sales tax, 7 per cent, gives us an effective sales tax of nearly 20 per cent - 19.84 per cent.

If the Leader of the Opposition is telling me - I am sure he is not - that he wants the government, that he recommends this House, wrap our arms around a 19.84 per cent sales tax regime and defend it, no matter what happens, and refuse to enter into any discussions which could effectively and dramatically lower that regime, then I am surprised, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would not want the Premier to be surprised, because I don't support that and I don't want us to be guinea pigs either, in a pilot project that is designed to give the impression that GST has been eliminated. Now, I ask the Premier: will he ensure that groceries, prescription drugs, electricity and other essential items that are now exempt from RST will continue to be exempt under harmonization?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, the Leader of the Opposition cannot comfortably resume his seat after that statement. You cannot stand and say I am against the GST. I noted that when it was brought forward by - I believe it was a gentleman by the name of Mr. Mulroney, supported and endorsed by people by the names of Crosbie and McGrath and others. I don't recall - public record will show - a large sign of protest from that side of the House at that occasion, or from the sitting Conservative Premier of the day. So it is not enough to say I am against something. The question is what is the Leader of the Opposition for? Are you for -

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you for?

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, I am for looking for any kind of dialogue and any kind of discussion that might have the effect of lowering the sales tax regime in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador from the highest regime today in Canada, an effective sales tax rate of nearly 20 per cent - but that involves negotiation. I could assure the Leader of the Opposition that any negotiation we are involved in will always be, as it must be, fully to the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are for a reduced harmonized rate in this Province, I want to make that clear, but we are opposed to putting our groceries, prescription drugs and other such essential services that affects the disposable income of low-income Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I ask the Premier - with harmonization we will not need separate GST and RST collections - can the Premier tell us how many jobs are on the line here and will he ensure that the tax collection jobs now will stay in this Province and not be siphoned off to other provinces?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, now, Mr. Speaker, this is getting interesting. The Leader of the Opposition has now told us he is not for the current regime, he is for a harmonized regime and he wants a lower rate. Now we need to know how much lower the Leader of the Opposition would go, because he has just told us he doesn't want to broaden the base. That means there would be a revenue shortfall. So is he suggesting in the absence of that revenue that large portions or chunks of the government be discontinued? If he is, which parts of the government would he shut down?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question today is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The Leader of the Opposition today asked questions of the Premier on harmonization of the PST and GST. Of course, he skated around that as usual. I would like to continue on with the same line to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

The GST rebate to municipalities is 57 per cent of the 7 per cent paid by municipalities. The intent of the rebate is that municipalities pay no more under the GST structure than they previously faced under the manufacturers retail tax system. The Province informed the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities that it is pursuing harmonization. The federal minister was pushing harmonization last week in his meeting with the Premier, and the Premier confirmed that here today. Has the minister or his department prepared financial analysis of the impact on municipalities, and if so can he share the analysis with the House and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs I'm glad to answer the question. First of all, there has been no agreement. That was the first question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. I gave a very clear answer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: The Leader of the Opposition - you should listen to your Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

PREMIER TOBIN: He asks good questions on occasion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: The first question he asked was: Has there been an agreement, and will there be one by the end of the month, I think was the question. You pointed out there were only a few days left in the month. The clear answer was there has not yet been an agreement. Given that there is no agreement and none has been negotiated, concluded, arrived at, initialled, it is very difficult to then give you impact statements.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is skating again as usual. He never answered the question. My question again to the minister is this. The rebate is 57 per cent of the GST paid by municipalities. If harmonization occurs without commitments to the principal of no greater tax burden to the municipalities it would mean, for example, a loss of $15,000 for the town of Torbay, $9,000 for the town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, $114,000 for Stephenville, approximately $1 million for St. John's. The approximate total for all the municipalities in the Province would be as much as $3 million. My question: Will the minister assure that harmonization will not add more tax burdens to the financially stressed municipalities? You don't need an agreement to answer that one, Mr. Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I submit you do need an agreement to know what the impact of the agreement is. I would ask the member who has asked the question to think about his question for a little while.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis on a supplementary.

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Premier, you are soon going to have to get your skates sharpened.

Mr. Speaker, the minister skated around questions the other day regarding cuts to municipal operating grants. He is skating again today - the Premier is skating today - over the effects of harmonization to municipalities in the Province.

Again I will ask the minister: Will he, as minister, start supporting the major municipalities in the Province, such as the Cities of St. John's and Corner Brook, and the smaller towns in rural Newfoundland, and stop pulling the rug out from underneath them at every opportunity?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have an absolutely superb Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and he served this Province with distinction for many years, and will continue to do so in the years in the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, I have to say to the member that you are asking me, and you are asking ministers, and you are asking members of this party, to respond to hypothetical situations that I know inadvertently, because it would never be your intention, would cause municipalities, based on the question and proposition you put, to lose sleep tonight, because you have set out this great big scenario of millions of dollars of lost revenue, municipalities being hard done by, on the basis of an agreement that does not exist and a negotiation that is not yet completed. And because I know the member opposite is genuinely concerned for the welfare of Newfoundland, and would not want to cause a moment's lost sleep on the part of the mayors and municipalities of this Province, I want to reassure him that his proposition is ill-founded. There is no agreement yet. There are discussions.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis on a final supplementary.

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

I will say to the Premier that there are mayors in this Province today who are worrying about the situation with respect to the harmonization of the GST and the PST. I have a letter here dated January 19th from the Mayor of St. John's concerning fears that they may lose as much as $1 million.

Will the Premier, in his negotiations with Mr. Martin, the federal Minister of Finance, assure and work towards the fact that the municipalities in this Province will not be struck again by this administration with respect to tax increases with the GST and RST harmonization? Or will you allow the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to answer that one?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I have been involved with municipal government now for almost twenty years, and last year I had to do what all other ministers in the previous government had to do for the good of the Province, and make some severe cuts to municipal operating grants to municipalities around this Province.

I said in the House when I announced the cuts, if my hon. colleagues on the other side who sat with me a year ago remember, I said it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as it related to my own home community of Carbonear, and all the communities that I would like to think I represent as the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

I will say to the hon. member that I will, as the minister, do everything I possibly can. If and when there are negotiations, if and when there is a deal reached with this government and the federal government as it relates to harmonization of the GST, I will do everything in my power that I possibly can do, taking into consideration a number of things - the financial ability, I suppose, of the Province to begin with - and most of all I will say to my friend, and say publicly to municipalities, I will continue, like I have in the past three years, to do my utmost for municipalities in this beautiful Province that we live in.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the hon. the Minister of Justice, and my question is: Can the minister confirm for this House that there is a move afoot to close subdivisions of the RCMP in the Town of Gander, in the City of Corner Brook, and in the Town of Labrador City?

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

MR. DECKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm that. I do know that the RCMP have been asked to make some cuts in their budget. They have done some rearrangement with the administration, but I would have to take that part of the question under advisement and report back to the hon. gentleman.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

If there are cuts to the budget, Mr. Speaker, I once again ask the honourable minister how many jobs are in fact on the chopping block, if in fact there are cuts in the budget, and is this just another example perhaps of federal jobs relocating out of this Province to other provinces in Canada, in all likelihood other provinces in Atlantic Canada?

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

MR. DECKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I do not think these are examples that the honourable member is putting forward. I think he is comparing two totally different things. The fact of the matter is that all the various government agencies - the police forces, both the RCMP and the Newfoundland Constabulary, have been asked to deal with the fiscal problems and in many cases the problems that we had in this current fiscal year. The honourable member will know that school boards, hospital boards were all asked to make some cuts in their budgets and I assume that what the honourable member is talking about are some of the cuts that the RCMP has to make. They are putting forward several suggestions. At this time the specific cases he is referring to, the detachments in Gander and Corner Brook, I am not aware of what he is talking about. I do know there is some desire on the part of the RCMP to change the detachment from Deer Lake to Pasadena, but I do not know specifically what the honourable member is talking about actually.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If in fact there are cuts, I ask once again the Minister of Justice, how will this affect the overall concern of policing generally in this Province and indeed the protection of the public, particularly in those communities, Mr. Speaker, where cuts may in fact take place?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am confident that the RCMP and the Newfoundland Constabulary are able to provide all the policing that we need and they are adequately funded, but just like any other agency in the Province they have to deal with the fiscal realities that we live under, so I would suggest to the hon. gentleman that there is no need for him to lose any sleep over this issue. The policing is quite adequate in this Province, as it will continue to be over the foreseeable future.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Minister of Social Services. Will the Minister confirm that the Department of Social Services was found liable in December of 1995 for departmental neglect in monitoring a foster home in Conception Bay South? Will the Minister also confirm that the department has been ordered by court to pay the complainant $15,000 and that the complainants foster brother was ordered to pay $5,000 for physical and emotional abuse against the complainant and further the foster parents were ordered to pay $10, 000 for their parts in the physical and emotional abuse suffered by the complainant?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

The case to which the honourable member refers to is currently under a publication ban and it is the policy not to relate any circumstances which may identify the family, so in this particular case I will not be answering it as directly as you have asked.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

You will note I did not identify the complainant nor did I identify the foster home in question. Will the minister also confirm that these allegations of abuse were made in 1991 and that the Department of Social Services continued to permit this foster home to operate? Despite decisions reached by Justice David Riche and the penalty imposed on December 18, 1995 this foster home was still operating three weeks ago and may in fact still be operating today?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Again I am not going to refer to the specifics of the case, but to put your mind at ease this foster home is no longer operating in the functional capacity as a foster home, as I am sure you are aware.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I couldn't give you the exact date, but since the court decision has been made known to the department, that home is no longer operating as a foster home and is now operating as an alternate family home.

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

MR. H. HODDER: My supplementary is to the Minister of Health.

Will the Minister of Health confirm that the Janeway Hospital, in connection with the same complainant but involving a different foster home has settled out of court for $40,000 after allegations that hospital personnel knew or should have known of physical and emotional abuse suffered by the complainant but failed to report these substantive allegations as required by law?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not absolutely certain that the proposition that he puts forward is exactly as it in fact is, so I will take the question under advisement and provide the information to him.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Virginia Waters.

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. NOEL: I am glad to see the members acknowledge my maiden question in the House.

I understand that the Premier has received a communication from Councillor Shawn Skinner, Chairman of the St. John's Municipal Council Civic Centre Committee, requesting a contribution from the Province in the amount of some $8 million toward the construction of a civic centre in the city. I wonder if the Premier has had an opportunity to consider the proposal, particularly in view of the light of the questions being raised as a result of concerns about whether the Maple Leafs are interested in continuing a franchise in the City? Councillor Skinner assures me that they have no concern about that and the City is still prepared to contribute some $17 million toward the estimated $30 million cost of the centre.

I wonder if the Premier will be able to respond to that, please.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question.

Indeed I have received a representation from the City of St. John's querying the Province's position with respect to the proposed civic centre for the City of St. John's and I would say, Mr. Speaker, that the Province's position is, for the moment, until we have had a chance to do further analysis as follows, I intend to arrange to meet with an appropriate representative group from the City. Clearly, we are not in a position today to give any commitment of provincial government's participation in this project.

I can report that it was the position of federal officials and provincial officials some months ago in looking at this project, but until such time as a commitment from the City of St. John's, a firm commitment, could be ascertained, until such time as the firm commitment of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization toward extending their presence in the City could be ascertained and until a business plan could be solidly ascertained, governments wouldn't be in a position to determine whether or not they could participate. In principle, I think it is something that we should look at.

Clearly, Newfoundland is a very attractive location for a great deal of the convention and other business traffic that circulates around North America and around Canada; clearly, for the moment the Province and indeed the City is limited in what we can offer by way of a host facility, having said that and having said there should be an interest at the end of the day, we have to insure that the taxpayers dollars, as scarce as they are, are being fully and properly spent, Mr. Speaker, and so we will carry on the assessment. For the moment I can't say more.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question today for the Minister of Health.

During the last provincial election there was a great deal of concern, Mr. Speaker, concerning the closing of hospitals in this Province. The concerns were raised regarding the move of the Janeway facility, were prevalent during the election campaign and continue to be so today.

Prior to Christmas, the Minister of Health in the former Cabinet indicated that he would present a plan outlining the proposed move of the Janeway and the effects that it will have.

I ask the same Minister of Health today, if he could present that plan to us.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the question.

Back on June 29 of last year, we announced jointly with the Health Care Corporation that there would be substantial site reduction and restructuring of programs in the city. We indicated at that time that we would hope by the end of the year to be able to bring forward a plan that would detail or give further details as to exactly what new construction might have to take place and what program adjustments and transfers might have to occur.

What I have said to the Health Care Corporation in the first instance is this, before you bring forward anything for public reflection or before government's consideration, I want you to do diligence to the major and significant question of restructuring in St. John's and take whatever time you need to ensure that your planning and the processes you are following will lead to a good outcome at the end of this whole process. The fact that they have not come to me by the end of December with a picture of a new Janeway in no way dismays me. As a matter of fact, I take some comfort in it, to this extent, that I know they are giving full consideration to the issue and when they do come with a plan for a restructured system in St. John's, it will be a good plan that you will be able to support, that the people of the Province will be better served by.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, on a supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, it certainly appears to me, anyway, on this side of the House, that maybe there is no plan. Can the minister tell us, then, how much money this government will save by moving the Janeway Child Health Care and how much it will cost to do so?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I indicated to the hon. the Member for Ferryland, my critic in the last government, the basis proposition is this, that any time you relocate a facility, any time you take a facility out of existence and transfer those programs to another facility, you generally save in the order of 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the operating budget of that facility. That has been the experience of Vancouver, Windsor, Halifax and other areas where a similar restructuring has happened. So, to your question about the Janeway, I think the budget down there is about $41 million a year and 30 per cent of that will be about $12 million. We will save that much, not theoretically but in fact, when the conclusion of the transfer occurs.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, on a supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to ask the Minister of Health - I understand at present there is an expenditure at the Janeway for $350,000 to initiate repairs to the particular hospital. I just wonder, are those repairs necessary at this particular time if we are going to close the hospital. Is the expenditure of that money really necessary at this time?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member, I believe, refers to the relocation of the functions of the Rehab Centre to the Janeway for the next two or three years on an interim basis until such time as we make the full transfer to the new Janeway at the Health Sciences site. To answer your question directly, it is a good expenditure of money. We will save considerably more by making the transfer of services from the present Rehab to the Janeway for the next two or three years than we will spend in the renovation to accommodate them in - it is not just for the sake of moving them but it will accommodate them even for that interim period, in better space, providing them with more adequate and appropriate programs and services.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the new Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, on his request.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the first question just to get an update, very simply, on the announcement made just prior to the election by the Premier, on the centre for Corner Brook, the status of that, the construction and the number of jobs that will go into that centre in Corner Brook?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Let me thank the hon. gentleman for his question.

PREMIER TOBIN: He has been waiting a long time to give this answer.

MR. TULK: I have been waiting a long, long time, yes, Mr. Speaker, to give this answer, indeed I have. Let me assure the hon. gentleman that I am sure we will get lots of questions from him in the future, as time goes on.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier, in the election, as I understand it, yes, gave a commitment that there would be a centre for management with the forest eco-systems in the Grenfell Campus at Corner Brook and I think there should be an expenditure of some $5 million that was announced. Let me assure the hon. gentleman that the officials of the department are looking forward to seeing that centre of excellence go in place as we attempt to manage the forest eco-system in a far better way than perhaps some other people who have managed the fisheries eco-system off this coast. The hon. gentleman - well, it started to get management when the Premier was the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: You want to get the last question. Let me say to the hon. gentleman, we realize fully that the forest eco-system, the wilderness eco-system in this Province, are on the edge. This facility in Corner Brook at the Grenfell College will go a long way to seeing that indeed the forestry and the wildlife and so on in this Province is adequately taken care of. We look forward to its construction. We have to remind him that there are going to be a fair number of jobs created in the construction industry as a result of it.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Close. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for his first answer, although he did not answer the question. I asked him how many jobs would be going into the forestry centre in Corner Brook as compared to the centre that was here in St. John's that was closed down. Apparently, what we are going to see in Corner Brook is really - although I applaud the announcement for Corner Brook, and a forestry centre certainly should be in Corner Brook. I ask the minister: How many jobs will there be in comparison with what we had in St. John's in the centre, and also, what expertise will be lost in the centre in Corner Brook that is actually going to now take place in New Brunswick?

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. gentleman, it is the hope of the government, obviously, to add expertise, not to take it away. This government thinks positively, not in a negative fashion. We are hoping to add expertise as a result of this move in Corner Brook. Obviously, all those matters will be a subject of negotiation and are presently under negotiation.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I have two reports I would like to table. The first is the Report of the Public Tender Act Exemptions for the months of November and December, 1995, and January, 1996. The second report that I would like to table is the Annual Report for 1995 from The C.A. Pippy Park Commission.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Mr. Speaker, today it gives me great pleasure to stand in my place and present a petition on behalf of - there are 807 signatures on the petition, mostly from the District of Cape St. Francis, and it deals with the rate increase to Newfoundland Power. The wording of the petition is as follows:

To the Honourable House of Assembly of Newfoundland in Legislative Session, the petition of the undersigned residents of the District of Cape St. Francis, that:

WHEREAS recently Newfoundland Power has applied to the Public Utilities Board for permission to raise its monthly rates by approximately 4.5 per cent;

WHEREAS it serves to increase already significant profits for Newfoundland Power;

WHEREAS it will decrease the ability of many to pay for basic electrical service;

WHEREAS by charging more for monthly services it punishes those who make an effort not to waste electricity, or use alternate energy sources;

WHEREAS an increase at this time is not only unjustified but unfair to Newfoundland Power customers;

THEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do whatever is required to prevent an increase in Newfoundland Power electricity rates, and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray. Dated March 28, 1996. And, Mr. Speaker, I signed this petition.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that this petition actually was prepared and put together by an individual by the name of Mr. Kelly, who lives in Torbay, and he was quite concerned when he heard about the rate increase, or the proposed rate increase. He phoned me, and I suggested that he get a petition. Mr. Kelly from Torbay, as I said, put the petition together, went to all the different public outlets in the district, and in Pouch Cove, the stores and areas in Pouch Cove, and the same thing with the stores in Flatrock. He also went to the various areas in Torbay, and up in Airport Heights, in Penetanguishene and that area, and Bauline. He left the petition there for a week, and ended up with 807 names, which is quite substantial, I would believe, from a district of 10,000 or 12,000 people.

As I said, he was quite concerned and he was upset. He believes that the rate increase for Newfoundland Power, the proposed rate increase, if it is approved by the Public Utilities Board, is morally wrong, and he believes that corporations such as Newfoundland Power should start bearing some of the responsibility and some of the weight that has been heaved upon the people of the Province with respect to the economic downturn.

Newfoundland Power - and he brought this to my attention in the first place; he is the one who made the point, I suppose, first to me - Newfoundland Power, over the years, has been promoting the conservation of energy, and we stated that here a number of times in this House of Assembly this past week or so, and that Newfoundland Power, or the people who promoted the conservation of energy, now what they want to do is give a differential rate increase to the people of the Province, and the consumers, especially the people on the poor end of the scale who would have a hard time paying for this.

As I said the other day, I know people in the district, and in my district, and I talked to some of the other members on this side of the House, actually, and they know of people who went through an extra expense to put in extra installation in their homes, in their attics, and in their floors, and in their walls, type of thing, and now they are being asked, quite possibly, to pay for insulating their homes and trying to save money in the long haul.

As I said before on a number of occasions, Newfoundland Power received $28.7 million last year in profit. Now, I find that to be quite reasonable in these economic times for any company or any corporation to receive that type of profit after they have paid their bills and paid dividends to their shareholders.

One point I would like to make at this point in time with respect to this petition. I was planning on - actually I was half I guess in thought to adding this to the petition that is ongoing in various areas of the Province today. I believe that there is an organization now that was planning on having a petition this weekend in all the stores in the malls in and around St. John's. It is hoping to have a large number of signatures to that petition to be presented to the House of Assembly. I would imagine a copy of the petition would be presented to the Public Utilities Board. I would encourage the public, anybody who has access to this petition, to sign the petition and let the Public Utilities Board know and understand the feeling of the people in this Province with respect to Newfoundland Power's request for a rate increase. Maybe the Public Utilities Board for the first time since the Board was (inaudible) -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: Just in conclusion, Mr. Speaker. I would like to say, maybe for the first time the Public Utilities Board will refuse a rate increase to Newfoundland Power based upon the size of the petition, basically, that it will receive in the very near future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand to support the Member for Cape St. Francis' petition today requesting that the Public Utilities Board deny and not grant the request by the Newfoundland Power company for an increase of 4.9 per cent at this time.

Yesterday in this House we debated the whole issue, many speakers on both sides. I believe that the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile may agree with me in that what we passed here yesterday was a unanimous resolution to ensure that the government of the day, and that Cabinet ultimately, give whatever power and resources are necessary to the consumer advocate to ensure that no increase is passed by the Public Utilities Board.

I trust that the resolution that was passed by this House yesterday is taken seriously by Cabinet, and that the consumer advocate Mr. Browne is in fact given all the financial resources necessary, all the human resources necessary, by this government through whatever department he may need people or finances from to ensure that he brings the best possible case before the Public Utilities Board and then brings the best possible experts to it.

Failing that, the Minister of Mines and Energy has said in response to questions in this House that we as members of the House should not prejudge what the Public Utilities Board is going to do. At one level I know he is right, and I agree with him, that we shouldn't prejudge what the Public Utilities Board will do in the upcoming months on this particular request by Newfoundland Power. But if history proves itself and bears itself out to be true, then I can tell you that the Public Utilities Board will grant some form of increase to Newfoundland Power. Since 1977 any increase that has been requested by Newfoundland Power at the Public Utilities Board, the Public Utilities Board has accepted that Newfoundland Power has needed an increase and has provided them with an increase. It may not have been to the level that it initially requested, but nonetheless it did get an increase.

I would like to serve notice on the government today that if the Public Utilities Board on this issue grants any increase - a 1 per cent increase, a .5 per cent increase or the 4.9 per cent increase - that as energy critic who represents and articulates the views on this issue for our party, we will be asking Cabinet to overturn the decisions of the Public Utilities Board. It is as simple as that.

I think what happened here yesterday when all members unanimously, I might add for the record, who were in the House yesterday when it came time to vote on the resolution or the amended resolution, supported that resolution as put forward by myself, and in particular the amendments that were made by the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island. But I want to be clear to the House and to the public at large that we on this side support a zero increase. We do not support any increase in power rates. We look forward to the Public Utilities Board saying no. If it does not happen here then we will look forward to the Cabinet of this government saying no to that.

Thank you very much.

Orders of the Day

MR. TULK: Order No. 2, Mr. Speaker, Committee of Supply.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (P. Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

One of the benefits of speaking on Interim Supply and I guess in the Committee stage is that it gives members, all members, an opportunity to get up in ten-minute intervals and discuss many issues that this Province is dealing with, many issues that people in the Province, particular sectors of the Province are dealing with and certainly it gives, in a parliamentary sense, members of the opposition a chance to talk about recent government initiatives, restructuring of government, how that will take place over the next little while and especially when we are dealing with a new government.

I had a conversation last night with somebody who said: When is the House going to close, how long will it be open? My answer was, that I don't anticipate it to be opened very long, based upon the reasoning that there is a new government being formed, that they have not had the opportunity really, to focus their minds in terms of hard-core legislation that can be debated in detail in the House, legislation that may impact energy policy, legislation that may impact upon social services recipients, legislation that may impact upon a transshipment facility for this Province and certainly, Mr. Chairman, legislation that may impact upon what royalty schemes may or may not be coming up in terms of the Voisey's Bay development.

But in the next few minutes, I would like just to focus in on the new Department of Development and Rural Renewal, and to say to the new minister that she has a tremendous challenge ahead of her. But, there are some highlights, Mr. Chairman, in terms of what that new department can do, should do and what I think most people would hope, Mr. Chairman, will have tremendous success.

One notable feature in the new Department of Development and Rural Renewal, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that we see Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador that has been taken from the Industry, Trade and Technology portfolio and we see the Employment Services Division taken from the former Department of Employment and Labour, and as I see it, Mr. Chairman, and I hope the minister can correct me if I am wrong, but I see it as a pretty bold policy move when we talk about Employment Services leaving Employment and Labour and going in to a Department of Development and Rural Renewal, and I am not sure.

I have done some research on it over the last week or so but I do not think that since Confederation really, and in modern times anyway, since the 70s, that employment programs have ever been put in the department responsible for economic renewal, and I think it is a wise move. I think it is a move that if used properly, Mr. Chairman, will pay big dividends to employers in this Province, will pay big dividends to the people of the Province generally and here is why.

The bureaucracy is something that we have all been hamstrung by from time to time. Even ministers, believe it or not, most people in the general public do not believe that ministers are hamstrung or held up by the bureaucracy but they are, and I have seen tremendous proposals go before Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador that could have created economic wealth, that could have created jobs, were initially approved but in the short-term failed, because there was no assistance there with operational capital or there was no assistance there with labour and what we see right now under one minister is the opportunity on the one hand to stimulate business, no matter where it is in the Province, but on the other hand to support that business through employment programs, when and if it is necessary, especially in the formative years.

So, I wish the minister well. I first met her I believe in 1983, when I was on the student union at the University and at the time she was the Director of Public Relations. I believe that is true, is it? I think that was the position you were in. In terms of what that focus will bring and what you should bring to it, I suggest to you that you have an opportunity to link directly under one control, to marry the services of ENL with the employment services programs that now fall under your jurisdiction specifically, that will hopefully lead to better economic times and at least for people who have tremendous ideas, who are ready to go to work, but need some help in the first twenty-four to thirty-six months and there are many, many examples, but operationally new businesses that need to get off their feet can have the best idea, they can have the best capital plan, they can have the best physical structure.

When it comes to operation and operational capital whether that be in terms of salaries that need to be paid out, this is where most new businesses from my experience, and I have had some experience in the creation of new business, this is where most new businesses fall and get into trouble. I think that if we can use employment programs like the graduate employment program, like the job bridges program that places women into non-traditional roles, like the student employment program and many others that are at the minister's disposal. If we can use that and those programs and match them more with businesses to use them as somewhat of an economic lever, then I think we will have more success on the one hand with new business that is starting, but on the other hand we will see long lasting effects from the employment programs.

If there is one criticism that is circulated in this House about employment programs since I have been a member, it has been from time to time when opposition members, including myself and even government back benchers and in some cases ministers, but not publicly certainly, we have talked about the need for an emergency employment program and the criticism has been that that is only a bandaid solution, it is a short-term solution, it is not a long-term solution. I think that in putting the Department of Employment Services again in with the new department that the minister has a terrific opportunity and I hope that she not only takes full advantage of it, but seeks to take full advantage of it from the business community, because I think and, I should say I know that used properly as an economic lever and matched with the skills that are there and with the businesses that hope to be there, I think they will have more success in terms of creating wealth, specifically in rural Newfoundland, but in all parts of the Province as well.

One of the other interesting things while the Minister of Education is in his seat is that in this particular Bill No.2 members of the House have been asked to grant, I guess by Friday has been the request from the Government House Leader, we could be here until Saturday sometime from what I understand from the Opposition House Leader, he is not really prepared to go 12:00 p.m. tomorrow, but $1 billion - some odd million to the Province by Friday.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I have not said that. I certainly did not say that you were not nice though. For the record Mr. Chairmen, I did congratulate the Minster of Forestry and Agriculture and the Government House Leader on his appointment and assured him that as his member in the House of Assembly that if he wants to bring any concerns forward to me I will hopefully and adequately represent him in the House, but the Minister of Education -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: But the Minister of Education, Mr. Chairman, has a terrific and a horrific challenge in front of him. I do not envy the job he has been put into because the salesman of the government in the view of the Premier has been taken out of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and now his feet has been nailed to the Provinces floor, he will not be taking flight from here to Bonn or Germany or Paris to sell Newfoundland and Labrador, but he will be taking flight from here to St. Anthony to Swift Current to Little Heart's Ease to sell the closure of schools and that is the job that he has before him. That is the job, Mr. Chairman, that the Minster of Education has before him, but I know he is up to the challenge, I know he is up to the challenge. First stop Kilbride.

I should say to the minister there was another Liberal candidate like yourself who was going to make a first stop in Kilbride also, but he made three stops, this was his third stop, Mr. Chairman, and the wave came in. The Premier was in place in my district, stood up in the Goulds Recreation Centre up in the high school, hired the local cheer-leading team, made a significant donation to them and said: If you need water and sewer, if you need pavement, send me a representative. That's what the Premier said on one occasion in there. I'm glad, I can say to the Premier, that I will have the chance to talk about municipal infrastructure in my district with the Premier, personally but here was the representative they sent, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I say to my hon. colleague from Ferryland, that I do not believe that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation at the time, the Member for Port de Grave would be that political and that partisan. He never, ever, ever demonstrated that in this House while I have been here anyway, never. Never, Mr. Speaker, have I heard that.

But back to the Minister of Education in terms of granting Interim Supply. The largest issue that his department faces is far beyond - there are many issues. I should not try to attach importance to one over another but there are many significant issues that his department faces. Within the post-secondary institution level the re-configuration of what the community college structure will look like or the bigger question, Mr. Chairman, will there even be a community college structure? The former Minister of Education and now the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for the Province knows exactly what I am talking about, knows exactly. How many unsolicited proposals by - at least two private companies that he talked about in bringing to the former Premier's office. There were more than two. There were two significant ones though but the former minister knows exactly what I am talking about. What will be the impact of HRD? Lack of funding to the community college to people who want to attend community colleges. The impact of that will be real. It will be swift and it will be significant. The former minister also knows -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


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

CHAIR: The hon. member has leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: But the former minister knows that the scaling back of funding to individuals at the post-secondary level, particularly at the community college level, will be real, it will be significant and it will be swift in terms of the impact it will have on this Province. Not only that, Mr. Chairman, but what will be the fallout of it? The associated costs for people who leave high school who want to further themselves post-secondary wise to gain new skills, to create new opportunities for themselves, to position themselves for a life which is enhanced by family, which is enhanced by a job, which is enhanced by earning a living and feeling productive will be seriously diminished. What will be the costs that students will have to bear? What sort of debt loads, Mr. Chairman, will these people have? What will be the impact upon family, immediate-wise and extended family members? Thus, Mr. Chairman, what will be the impact upon communities?

I suggest to the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal that her new department has a significant role to play in terms of what happens in the Department of Education at a post-secondary level, at the community collage level and what that new community college structure will look like. It will be ultimately important for all of us to ensure that post-secondary programs are accessible, are as cheap as possible and open to as many as possible but I am not so sure that that is going to happen.

The news on that will come out through the obvious means; press conferences, news conferences, questions in Question Period but in one way or another it will come out, we will dig for it. Whether you give us the information, that is another story, that will be up to yourselves but we will get it one way or another. We will find out the information, dealing with post-secondary education and what the cost will be.

Another question that the Minister of Education has to answer, Mr. Chairman, is this. Last year it was anticipated that Memorial University's budget would be downgraded or would be asked to take another cut by about 10 per cent to 15 per cent. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it is. What the University would in effect be required to do would be a combination of three things. It would be a combination of lay offs of some 400 to 500 people, laying off or completely eliminating some departments within the campus. The Department of Psychology could be gone. Med school could be closed altogether. Maybe the Department of Engineering, maybe the Department of Religious Studies. These are realities that Memorial University is going to face and is facing right now in terms of its administration. This is not fear-mongering, this is fact. This is based upon meetings that I've had personally with administrators, student leaders, on campus.

The other thing, the third option that we could see as a result of claw backs and cutbacks, is a significant increase in the cost of tuition. Maybe about, from what I understand, between 15 per cent and 25 per cent. Not one of these measures alone will offset the devastating impact a 15 per cent cut would have on Memorial. But all those measures taken together - lay offs, dramatic rise in tuition, and closing down of some departments - would have to be taken to ensure that the target of a 10 per cent or 15 per cent decrease in Memorial University's budget could be met, and met in an expedient way from a budgetary point of view.

There is another option. The former minister probably is more in tune with it than the present minister because he has had to deal with it. Presently Memorial University is not allowed to borrow. It has to operate on the grant that is provided, it has to operate within that grant. It cannot borrow one dollar over that grant. Administrators, the president of the University and the administration around that person at this time, has asked and requested that the University be allowed to borrow for the next two years, maybe three, to get itself out of this budgetary jam that not only the University is facing but all departments are facing. That as a result, in about three to four years Memorial University would be in a better position because of declining enrolments that it would not need to do so.

It has requested and looked at a one-time stop-gap measure that would offset the dramatic and severe consequences of what a 15 per cent cut would do for the students, faculty, staff, and in effect what it would do to the local economy in terms of the spin-offs that are associated with that campus, which are significant and very positive.

The Minister of Education has that challenge before him right now. I think that what he brings to his Cabinet colleagues and ultimately what Cabinet decides and what the Premier decides, and I hope that on that day when that issue comes up that the Minister of Justice is in Ottawa meeting with other ministers of justice from across the nation. Because I think I know for sure what his view on what Memorial University's borrowing would be.

The other significant challenge that lies before the Minister of Education deals with the viability criteria of what schools will be. During the election there was much talk about consultation, there was much talk about an open process whereby people in this Province, parents, teachers, NTAs, PTAs, would have an opportunity to come to open meetings, open the door of the Premier and in that all of his ministers and members, to talk about what they see as being the priorities for education. We have to get on with the job and we have to get on with it soon. I hope that the Premier lives up to his commitment, and the government live up to its commitment, of consultation, because there are many people who are concerned about what type of education is going to be offered to them in their communities and to their children.

I was in Swift Current about two weeks ago. I talked to a number of people in Swift Current. We talked about how they would like to build homes there; they have small children there, are in a position to build homes, but are waiting to see if Swift Current is going to have a school, or if they are going to be bused to Clarenville. It may not seem significant to most members, but it touched me in an unusual way, having known some of the people there, and we talked about it at length, that, you know, it makes sense. Why build a home in Swift Current when you have to put your five-year-old on a school bus to travel back and forth to Clarenville each day? And that is a mild example compared to some of the other situations that we, as a Province, and we, as a government, are going to face over the next two years.

If I could provide any advice to the Minister of Education and the government, I would say, do what has to be done. Do it in such a way that people are affected as little as possible, but be up front. Lay your cards on the table so that we can deal with what is, not what we think it is, deal with the reality of the situation. People want to know.

The same is true with the new Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Our capacity - many, many people in this Province, and I would hope that each and every member in this House, would know, and should know, that our capacity to the process has far outstripped out ability to catch and to keep up with the resource that is there; but for the last three years, and maybe four - certainly precipitated by the closure, the moratorium on the Northern cod stocks - but, for the last three years, communities in this Province have lived in hope and fear of: will their plants remain open?

Many communities along the Southwest Coast, the Northern Peninsula, the Northeast Coast, are wondering today: two or three years from now, will their plant be alive? Will it remain open? And will it have access to a stock? But the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture - and I believe the Member for Port de Grave, if he were best suited for any portfolio, it is for the one he is in presently. But he has tremendous, tremendous challenges facing that department, the department he administers. And he has to begin the process right now to start travelling this Province from community to community, to start informing people of which plants will remain open in this Province and which plants will shut down.

In Marystown and Fortune, will two plants remain open there? When we move into Harbour Breton, will that plant remain open? When we get into -

MR. RAMSAY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, that depends.

MR. RAMSAY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: It is an excellent idea, I say to the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile, let the market decide, but let us compare apples to apples. If we are going to let the market decide, then we had better start ensuring that when the stock returns, especially in his neck of the woods where we could be looking at a fishery by as early as next spring, or next winter, who gets access to the stock? Will it be opened up? Will certain companies get a total allowable catch and others not?

AN HON. MEMBER: History will have to play a role in that.

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, if history plays a role in deciding who gets access to the stock, then if the Provincial Government, or the Federal Government, make a decision on who gets access to that stock and how much, the Federal Government will be, in effect, deciding who will be working at which plants and in which communities. It goes hand in hand. You cannot provide FPI with a stock, for example, or access to the stock, or total allowable catch, and expect them to take all their fish that they have caught and process it in other plants, I say to the member. It does not work that way. But if we are going to throw our hands up, as members in the House here, and say, `Let the market decide on where processing capacity will take place; let the market decide what plants will remain open, or what plants will close down,' then I think that we shall have behaved like forty-eight Pontius Pilates and washed our hands of a situation that we were elected to get involved with.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: What I am talking about now in terms of with the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is that it is a big challenge that he has. I am willing to participate in a process, if he is willing to initiate it, to look at what is best for processing in the Province, and what is best for the Province in the long view. I have no problem with that. What I am talking about is the challenge that lies before his department. And I will say again, if there is any portfolio that the Member for Port de Grave is suited to, I think it is the portfolio that he is in now. That is my viewpoint.

MR. FITZGERALD: I think he would be too partisan (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I don't know. He seems to have demonstrated a kinder, gentler side to him in the last week. Maybe it is just too early to tell, is it?

MR. J. BYRNE: Who are you talking about now?

MR. E. BYRNE: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. FITZGERALD: He should never be there.

MR. E. BYRNE: Should never be there?

MR. FITZGERALD: Should never be there.

MR. E. BYRNE: But it is a concern and it is a danger, and it is a road in making those decisions that is fraught, Mr. Chairman, with many pitfalls. I think we have to be wary of them.

In terms of energy - you are still going to let me go on?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, go ahead.

MR. E. BYRNE: I will keep going if you let me go on. I am still operating under leave, I believe, am I?

In terms of the Department of Mines and Energy -

CHAIR: It is my understanding that the member is speaking under leave and leave has not been withdrawn.

MR. E. BYRNE: Okay.

MR. TULK: Just don't be nasty.

MR. E. BYRNE: In terms of the Department of Mines and Energy, it is a department that has the biggest responsibility. The Department of Mines and Energy today has a bigger responsibility, believe it or not, I say to all members, than it did fifteen years ago. The opportunities in the oil and gas industry are tremendous. We are, as a province, in terms of that industry, not even born. We are still in, what most would agree, an embryonic state when it comes to oil and gas. Talk to any oil and gas analyst, talk to people who have operated in this business for twenty, twenty-five or thirty years, and talk to the people who have come to this Province to offer their advice, technology, and to make money as well in the oil and gas industry, and they will tell you that we are on the eve of an oil and gas explosion in this Province.

We have to ensure, Mr. Chairman, in the greatest possible way that the net benefits from that industry come here. There is no way today that we should be talking about the closure of Marystown. There is no way today that we, as people in the House of Assembly, should be talking about the sale of Marystown, scaling down its operations, or otherwise. What we should be saying is that whatever work is going to be done in fabrication or other work that needs to be done in this Province, or can be done in this Province related to our oil and gas industry, should be done in Marystown or should be done in the Newfoundland Dockyard - nowhere else.

Mr. Chairman, that has to happen; that has to happen right now. There are many - I believe there are in reserves about 20 billion barrels of oil.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: And Port aux Basques. I'm sorry, I say to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, agreed. I think that the three larger companies, the three companies that are into that business in this Province should have the opportunity to compete, but it takes a local preference policy. Do you know today that companies in Quebec can come in and tender bids associated with the Newfoundland Hospital and Nursing Care Home Association, can come in and sell beds to the Health Sciences, can sell beds to the Grace, but companies from Newfoundland are not allowed to make a bid on the same services in the Province of Quebec? Why does that situation exist?

That is what we have to get at. We have to ensure that there is a local preference policy not only in place but more importantly that there is a local preference policy enforced. In terms of oil and gas, the technology transfer has not taken place over the last several years as it should have taken place, but the opportunity is not lost. There are still tremendous benefits not only in employment - not only in work, not only in royalties that will accrue to this Province, and not only in the supply effort, but there is a tremendous opportunity that still exists for a technology transfer to take place on the one hand from other specialized regions of the world to people in this Province that we then can take and sell to the rest of the world.

That is an important aspect of this industry that we must keep our hands around. If we lose control of that at all, then what have we done? We have really thrown our hands up and we have accepted work for a period of ten to fifteen years and the jobs that it has created, but we haven't looked beyond the tip of our political noses if we let that happen. That is something that we must, as I said, keep our arms around, keep our hands on, keep our grips on because if we do not, the opportunity will be lost, it is not going to happen for ever and a day. But in that industry there lies tremendous opportunity and I think that we must ensure that the questions are asked in this House, that the legislation is debated, that the people of this Province get the best deal that they can possibly get.

I will have to sit down Mr. Chairman. Some of my colleagues on the right are about to withdraw leave. I know some are anxious to get up, so with that, I look forward to getting back into the debate on Interim Supply later on this afternoon and talking about some other areas that I see where there are challenges and where I think we can all play a role that will positively affect the people of the Province. And I guess that is what we are all here for individually, to positively affect the people within our districts.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairmen.

Well, Mr. Chairman, I am glad to rise today just for a few minutes to make a few comments and to continue along with the conversation I had during Question Period with the new Minister of Forestry, who is now on our side of the House. Maybe it is the proper place for him, Mr. Chairman. I will be asking a lot more questions of the minister on forestry. Of course, the questions that were raised today are very serious concerns, not just for us, as members in this House, but many people in the logging industry and the forestry industry have some very grave concerns about the forestry in this Province. Mr. Chairman, many people say also that often it seems like we put it on the back burner and it is forgotten about or it does not seem to be urgent. Well, Mr. Chairman, many people who are involved in the forestry industry will tell you, there are some very serious concerns and it is too bad that the previous Minister of Forestry did not take it so seriously.

Mr. Chairman, as you talk to people in the industry, of course they still raise the concern that we will raise here in the House, and that is whether we have a sustainable industry, whether we are going to see this forestry industry go the same way as the fishery.

Mr. Chairman, there is a good comparison between the fishery and the forestry in this Province, when we compare the draggers to the harvesters and right on down the line to when we talk about a man not being able to jig a fish these days, the same way we are going to end up with the forestry industry, where we are going to tell people sooner or later, you will not be allowed to cleave a junk of wood for your fire. That is what we are going to get down to.

There was an old story of three gentlemen back in 1949. It was in a t.v. program, a black and white film that I saw - I guess it was on the NTV Reflections program. I will always remember the story of the three men sitting there; the three were to vote in the next couple of days for or against Confederation. The older gentleman said he would vote against Confederation, the two younger men, about age thirty, said they would vote for Confederation. And the biggest argument the older gentleman had for not joining Confederation was, he said: `If we vote for Confederation, you will see a day in the Province when you will not be allowed to jig a codfish.' And, of course, the two younger men laughed. They said: `Don't be silly, boy; we will never get to that stage in Newfoundland! You have to vote for Confederation.'

Now, Mr. Chairman, you have to ask yourself a similar question as we look at the forestry industry, and the comparison is simple. If we continue to rape our forests as we did our fishery, then we are going to see a day in this Province in the not-too-distant future when a man is going to say: I am not allowed to go and cut a stick of wood to put in the fire - the same as we cannot jig a fish. Who would have ever thought, even ten years ago, five years ago, that we would not be allowed to go out and jig a fish in Newfoundland! Mr. Chairman, that is why, since two years ago, eighteen months ago, a year ago I have supported a food fishery in this Province. And I continue to support a food fishery, for the simply principle that that is what made Newfoundland - that what brought us here, our forefathers, was to fish. And now we look around the Atlantic Region and we see Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec - I was in Price Edward Island last summer for a holiday and I could not believe that here I was, a Newfoundlander walking around Prince Edward Island, and I was told: `Yes, boy, go jig a fish if you want, you are allowed to over here' - a Newfoundlander on Prince Edward Island. Now, Mr. Chairman, who would have ever thought that we would come to that stage in our history when you were not allowed to jig a fish for food!

Mr. Chairman, the message to the minister, from not me, from the Province, from the people in the industry, is that unless we get our act together and unless the forestry centre in Central Newfoundland that you talk about so much - unless we get a plan in place, unless we control the bigger companies, Abitibi and Kruger and unless we start taking seriously the problem we have in the forest industry, then we are going to see a day, and it is going to be a sad day in this House of Assembly, when this forestry minister or some other forestry minister will have to stand in his place and announce a moratorium in the forest industry. That will be a sad day, Mr. Chairman, unless we take heed and act immediately - and I don't mean six days down the road or five years down the road, I mean immediately. The plans have been in place for a better monitoring of the forest industry in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, with that said, we start to talk about Labrador and going into Labrador, not only for minerals now, we are talking about going into Labrador for the forest industry. And the Labradorians are saying it loud and clear: before you set foot on the land in Labrador for the forest industry, you had better get your act together and do a much better job than you did on the Island portion of this Province. It is no good for these big companies to come in and rape the Island portion of the Province and say, now we want to move into Labrador. They had better show that what has been done on the Island won't happen in Labrador.

Mr. Chairman, I don't think it is too late but it is getting close to crunch time when we talk about the forestry. Any man or woman who goes into the woods for any reason, for a walk, hunting, to cut wood or to work as a logger - for any reason - will tell you that our forestry is in bad shape. Our forests here in Newfoundland are in bad shape and the question is, can we sustain a forest industry? Are we going to have a forestry ten years from now if we continue the same practices as right now, Mr. Chairman? That is what we have to consider and that is why there are points to bring forward in this House so that the minister can hear them, so the government can hear them and we can continue to address them. It is not a threat to the minister. All it is, is a point where we draw attention to the forest industry. Let us stop putting it on the backburner, so that people are not urgent on the matter. It is an urgent matter, I say to the minister, in all seriousness.

The monitoring in forestry in this Province has to come to a head where we say finally, is it sustainable? Is the route that we are going sustainable? Are we going to have a forest industry for our children and for future generations? We cannot be thinking about two and three years down the road. We have loggers that have come to me saying: We don't know what we are doing next year. I have had loggers in my district - and, Mr. Chairman, my district, in particular, as the minister knows, is probably the birthplace of logging in this Province - the Green Bay area and also the Baie Verte Peninsula area. Many loggers have been in those areas for years and years, Mr. Chairman, and they are very concerned in that they don't know what they are going to cut next year or the year after. What we need are long-term plans.

The minister has mentioned already that we are looking at five-year plans but we are a year past due already and there are no plans in place. Now, unless we start to put long-term plans in place - Mr. Chairman, it takes forty to fifty years for trees to grow, unlike the fishery. We are hoping that the fishery may return somewhat in the next two or three years and we will have a small fishery. The fish will grow again.

Mr. Chairman, the trees don't grow that fast, and with the fishery, we could not count the biomasses. That was the big problem the scientists had, they could not count for sure where the fish were in the sea because they kept moving. Well, Mr. Chairman, we don't have that excuse for the forest industry. Trees are in one place - we can count them, we know how many are there. If there is not a tree growing back for everyone that is cut, you do not have to be a mathematical genius or go to Ottawa like we did with the fishery to find out that sooner or later we will have a decrease in the number of trees here. The forest industry will not be sustainable, and not only that, Mr. Chairman, we cannot blame the foreigners like we did with the fishery. We cannot come in and say the foreigners took away the forestry. The Province has the jurisdiction of our forest. The Province can control what the two main companies in this Province do. They can monitor, and if it is not being done right, there will have to be changes. It is going to take a strong political will to do that but it has to be done before it is too late for our forest industry and before the sad day comes - and we all hope it does not - when we have to have a moratorium in the logging industry, the forest industry in this Province. That would be a sad day, Mr. Chairman.

So the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods has a big job ahead of him, and he is new in the minister's post. He will have his time, I say to the minister, he will have his time to show us examples - us as a Province, us as Newfoundlanders - to say that the forest industry is not heading in the right direction right now and that there needs to be long-term plans. He has to show us, and I, as the critic for forestry in this Province, will be watching very closely and asking questions here in the House to make sure that he follows those plans, Mr. Chairman. If he comes off the rails on either side we are going to be there to remind him that the forest industry in this Province is a renewable resource that has to be sustained and we have to watch it very closely.

The other portfolio that I shadow, of course, is the mining industry. The mining industry you hear lots about, because it is in the news all the time - Voisey's Bay and (inaudible) in the Green Bay area, we have the Captain William Jackman find, we have the Nuddick Pond find, we have the Pine Cone find and so on.

Although we all think great things about Voisey's Bay, Mr. Chairman, we cannot forget the smaller companies who open up these small mines and employ eighty and a hundred people. They are just as important. A lot of small mines make up a big mine. The thing about a big mine, by the way, is that once it is over, it is over and a lot of people lose their jobs, but if we have a lot of small mines in the area, it helps in long-term employment for a lot of people.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Just a few minutes, Mr. Chairman, to clue up.

As far as the forestry and mining are concerned - and my last critic portfolio this session is the portfolio for Development and Rural Renewal. Mr. Chairman, this is a very interesting portfolio. This is one that every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian will be watching very, very closely. I have already congratulated the new minister on her appointment as a new minister of this new department, but very simply put, I say to the minister: Rural Newfoundland is hurting; hurting very badly; they need some help. They need the help of the government and not be choked by bureaucracy and red tape with which they have been choked for the last ten, fifteen years, Mr. Chairman.

The minister has already referred to the red tape that we see in rural development for small entrepreneurs, small businesses, which really make up what this Province is all about. We always talk about the big Hibernias and Voisey's Bays and so on, but the minister knows and everybody in this House knows that the real Newfoundland is made up of the small-time businesses, the young people, the entrepreneurs, the small businesses that employ four and five people. And, Mr. Chairman, the minister knows, I am sure, in her travels along with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, that there are many bright Newfoundlanders who have very creative minds and who have come up with very good ideas.

Mr. Chairman, in my short time here in this House of Assembly, in two-and-a-half years, I have had many young people and good Newfoundlanders come forward with great ideas, not great, big ideas just small ideas to employ three, four and five people. But we all know what the end result usually is, I say to the minister, and it is that they are lost in the bureaucracy. They get choked with red tape. And what happens to that great idea? It dies. The ideas die, Mr. Chairman, and that is the real shame of it. Newfoundlanders who are creative, who have the entrepreneurial spirit and who want to succeed, who do not want to rely on welfare and unemployment - not like Mr. Young said in New Brunswick a few days ago, he believes that we are depending on unemployment, that that is our attitude.

Well, Mr. Chairman, Newfoundlanders want to work. In general, by-and-large, Newfoundlanders want to work. And the seasonal workers like the loggers and so on who go away to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to scrape up another few weeks work, tell Mr. Young these people are not going on a holiday, they are going to get what they have to get to support their families, that is what they are doing. They are going to do what they have to do to support their families, because they live with dignity; and Newfoundlanders have for years. Mr. Young is out of touch if he thinks that it is an attitude problem we have. We don't have an attitude problem, we have a job problem. There are no jobs. We had a group from HRD come down before Christmas and present us with the great UI changes. The statistics were on the wall and everything was so hunky-dory, they showed us all the great statistics and the history of Canada's unemployment, like we needed to know that.

We don't need anybody to tell us about the history of unemployment. So, after an hour and fifteen minutes of a presentation of the great statistics and so on, I said: `I have one question for you.' And he asked: `What's that?' I asked: `Where are these jobs that you keep talking about?' It is not a problem that we don't want to go to work here, the jobs are not there. So what we need to do is, free Newfoundlanders to use their creative minds and their ingenuity to go out and make a living for themselves. And in this portfolio that the new minister has taken upon herself, her main thrust and her main aim must be to free Newfoundlanders who have creative minds and want to build for themselves. They don't want the handouts of welfare or UI or anything; they will tell Mr. Young what to do with the UI, they don't want it. That is the reality in this Province.

MR. RAMSAY: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Pardon?

MR. RAMSAY: There is a new name on the Province.

MR. SHELLEY: Newfoundland and Labrador? Yes, I certainly know it, because I lived in Labrador, I say to the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile. I lived in Labrador, and I know all about the Labrador needs, and I know about their concerns. And let me tell you, the Labradorians are going to speak loud and clear very, very soon. I can tell you that the Labradorians are going to speak loud soon. If any more resources are going to be raped away from that part of this Province without full benefit, you are going to hear loud and clear from the Labradorians.

You talk about the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians having great entrepreneurship and ingenuity, Mr. Chairman, there are many of them in Labrador - and I have talked to them - with great business ideas about the outdoors up there, and the potential it has for eco-tourism in Labrador and so on. The ideas go on and on and on, and those same people come to the government, not for a load of money, just for a little bit of help, just a little bit of assistance to get them started and get them on their way. And what happens? They get choked with red tape, their idea dies, and they give up. It is called apathy. They don't care anymore. They tried to do everything they could, but they could not get anywhere. That is why this minister, in her particular portfolio of rural development, has to start listening to those people, has to help them, give them a boost, so that they can go on and become productive members of society.

AN HON. MEMBER: Give them the boost, not the boots, hey?

MR. SHELLEY: That is what I mean, the boost and not the boots, as the Member for Kilbride just said. It is so true. I have had so many young people come to me from eighteen or nineteen to thirty years of age, with great ideas, excited, wanted to take on a challenge, and three weeks later I see them again, after they have travelled to ENL - Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, or the Economic Recovery Commission, and they come back with sad faces and say, `I have to give up. I can't go any further. I can't get any help.' That is what this minister has to take on. She has to open the doors for these people and let them use their creativity so they can make a living for themselves and be productive members of society, and not sit back without work.

Mr. Chairman, there is one more comment I want to make before the day is over here, and I will probably get up again before the day is over, and I brought this up during the debate on electoral boundary changes. This year, or this term, this election, I picked up eleven communities from the Green Bay side of the Baie Verte Peninsula, eleven more communities, and I welcome those communities, and I have made some good friends there in the last few weeks; I have gotten to know a lot of people.

AN HON. MEMBER: And you got a good vote there.

MR. SHELLEY: And I certainly got good support from that part of the district, big support.

AN HON. MEMBER: Big time.

MR. SHELLEY: Big, big time support from that part of the district. I am very proud.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Paul Shelley wave out there.

MR. SHELLEY: That was the one break in the wave out in Central Newfoundland, but it was certainly a break.

I want to go on record in the House today as saying - and I said it during the electoral boundary changes, I will be making a formal request -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was a red wave. It was your red wave.

MR. SHELLEY: It was my red wave.

Mr. Chairman, I will make a formal request - I did it before, during the electoral boundaries - that the name of my district should be Baie Verte - Green Bay. There is no doubt about it. Just before the election, before the changes, we were just talking about making sense of all these electoral boundary changes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Green Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Okay, I will just explain to the minister. The district previously was called Baie Verte - White Bay; it was just the Baie Verte Peninsula and one community of Great Harbour Deep, which I am sad to say I lost that community - I had very close ties with that community - one community on the White Bay side, so the district was called Baie Verte - White Bay. Now, I have the Baie Verte Peninsula and eleven communities on the Green Bay side and it is just called Baie Verte. Now, we all know the smart answer was from the former House Leader, that Baie Verte -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Up to Little Bay Islands.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, the great area of Little Bay Islands. I had a great trip to Little Bay Islands. It is a beautiful part of the Province. There is great potential for tourism down in that area, and great, friendly people; I got to know them very quickly. I tell you, I have been invited to more homes... But, Mr. Chairman, they cannot figure out why Baie Verte - White Bay it was called with just Great Harbour Deep on the other side, and now we have eleven communities on the Green Bay side and it is just called Baie Verte. I will be making a formal request that my district will now be called Baie Verte - Green Bay, as it should be called, or Green Bay - Baie Verte, whichever way they want to make it up, because twenty-one communities are now on the Baie Verte Peninsula, and there are eleven communities on the Green Bay side of the district.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Nippers Harbour?

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, Sir. I am glad the minister asked me that. The traditional town, the community of Nippers Harbour - I have many friends in that area. As a matter of fact, I will tell the minister this: I won a large can of beans in Nippers Harbour, and I will tell you how I won that can of beans. When I first arrived on the scene just two-and-a-half years ago, running against Mr. Small from that area at that time, a very staunch Liberal, the first day of the election I decided to go to the staunchest Liberal community in my district which is Nippers Harbour. Or it was, I should say. Mr. Chairman, I walked into that store, not known to anybody, and the gentleman there, who is a very staunch Liberal, asked me: Who are you? I told him my name. He said: You haven't got a chance of winning this district. I said: Very good. So then I shook hands with everybody else in the store. He said: You haven't got a chance, you should stop campaigning now, don't waste your time. I should have too, because I lost twenty pounds by the end of it. I still had my weight then. I said: How much do you want to bet? He looked around the store and he pointed to the can of beans. He said: That is a can of beans. If you win, you can have that can of beans. I just picked up the can of beans this election. I went to see the supporter and he now supports me. It is through a lot of hard work in the last two and a half years, and he does support me.

Liberal communities - and there are - by the way, for the minister's information, or he probably knows. The District of Baie Verte has been traditionally Liberal and it always has been. As a matter of fact, Tom Rideout, who was the previous member, was a Liberal and elected a Liberal. I'm pleased to say that I'm the first Tory ever elected for the District of Baie Verte - White Bay. Previous to that it was Bill Rowe, and then Fred Rowe, his father.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, he was elected a Liberal. He crossed the floor and ran as a Tory but....

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Tory roots.

MR. SHELLEY: Tory roots. The first bona fide Tory elected in my district, Mr. Chairman. The district is basically Liberal: Fred Rowe, Bill Rowe and so on. I remember putting up signs when I didn't know any better, I guess, when I was twelve years old for Bill Rowe and Fred Rowe, and of course the former House Leader was White Bay South.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, I wouldn't (inaudible). His daughter Tanya was a great supporter of mine in -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, you know Tanya. Tanya is a great outspoken girl in Nippers Harbour who helped me tremendously, Mr. Chairman. The Nippers Harbour count this time was tremendous. As a matter of fact, if I'm not mistaken, it was the biggest count ever out of Nippers Harbour for me in that district. Also, such places as Middle Arm and also Pacquet which are -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, as a matter of fact I didn't get the three votes in Tilt Cove, Mr. Chairman, but I -

AM HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) forestry.

MR. SHELLEY: We certainly are, but the minister has tracked me off a little bit. We certainly were talking about forestry, which is very important in my district, I say to the minister. He knows he will be getting a litany of questions on the forestry in times coming. I did the minister a little favour today so he shouldn't say too much. Remember, that is just the beginning. There will be many more questions on the forestry in the not too distant future. If you don't shorten the answers, or at least give an answer, I won't ask any more. I will go to the Premier. So there is your warning today.

Mr. Chairman, I do have an enlarged district now, I do have thirty-three communities. I'm very glad to welcome the new communities in my district. I will be formally requesting that my district now be called Baie Verte - Green Bay. I think it just makes logical sense to name it that way. I'm hoping to travel around that part of the district a bit more this summer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That should be the first order of business. I agree with the new minister, that we change the name of Baie Verte to Baie Verte - Green Bay, or Green Bay - Baie Verte, whichever.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: It should be called Baie Verte - Green Bay. Don't make the same mistake as the last House Leader who made the joke by saying Baie Verte is Green Bay, because in French, that is the French name, green bay. You wouldn't use that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, you wouldn't do that. I knew the new House Leader wouldn't - we are not going to start the `Bring Back Ed' chant, don't worry about that. We certainly won't do that.

Mr. Chairman, it is a great district now to be representing. I'm glad to get to know the people in the Green Bay side. They have some very serious concerns with road construction in that area. They have been left off the list for a long time. The new Minister of Works, Services and Transportation who is in the House today and she talks about fairness and balance, and I'm sure that the minister will treat all districts equally, and that people will get road construction. I'm very pleased -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: A lot, 1,500, 1,600.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: It was close enough. I'm still expecting a thank you letter from the Premier for my win in the Baie Verte - Green Bay district. I'm still expecting a thank you for displacing the former Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture. I'm sure that is forthcoming. Mr. Chairman -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, that is what I figure. I say I'm going to get a few thank you letters from over there for the job I did in Baie Verte - Green Bay on behalf of the Liberal Party.

Mr. Chairman, I'm sure that the minister will look at all areas of the Province with fairness and balance. She knows, I guess, now that I am already reviewing the areas around the Province and in my district in particular, there is a lot of gravel roads and dirt roads. Of course, with -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) budworm.

MR. SHELLEY: There is no more budworm on the Baie Verte Peninsula, but I can tell you that the minister knows, especially if it changes the school system and so on now, Mr. Chairman, and the talks of forty-minute drives and buses for school kids and we know what parents have been saying about a five-year-old, a six-year-old getting on a dirt road and travelling over bad roads and buses that are not good enough these days. It is just not fair enough, and I know that I will be having a million discussions with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to let her know first hand, what the road conditions are in the Baie Verte - Green Bay area and that she will have people who will look at those roads and assess them and agree with me that those roads have to be upgraded and some paving be done.

I am also very pleased, Mr. Chairman, that the Baie Verte Highway will continue this year and so it should be. It was signed in 1989 under the former Premier, Tom Rideout and John Crosbie at the time and has gone ahead this year, after many petitions in this House and many times being raised in this House, it has finally gone ahead and so it should, and I guess in some ways you could say the squeaky wheel gets the grease but last year it went ahead twenty kilometres and this year, another twenty.

I am very saddened to hear, Mr. Chairman, and I have to get it confirmed, that the stretch of highway from Springdale to the Baie Verte Junction has been cancelled or postponed this year but I am not sure if that is true at this point. I hear that it is possible and I am certainly going to be asking the minister what happened to that, why it is delayed or why is it cancelled or whatever the situation is with it, but that is a stretch of highway that should be finished as well as the many trunk roads in the Green Bay and Baie Verte areas that need upgrading and paving, I will be pushing for those.

Also, Mr. Chairman, water and sewer in my district is of utmost concern for a lot of residents and in this day and age people should have at least decent drinking water and they deserve those services. Those are some of the ideas that I will be raising in the next session of the House and there are many concerns in the district that I will put forward to the various ministers and I am sure I will have further discussions with all of them.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, you will hear it now, look out.

Mr. Chairman, I have to say to the Member for Baie Verte, he came over and asked me could he speak next and said he will be up five minutes; it was twenty-five or twenty-seven minutes so I won't do that anymore.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to say a few words on Interim Supply. I have been up on my feet a few times before this past week on Interim Supply but before I get into that, I was just noticing the Order Paper. I hope this is not a sign of things to come from this administration. In the Orders of the Day, of course, we have the Committee of Supply, Resolution and Bill No. 2 respecting Interim Supply and on the back page, second reading of a bill: "An Act To Amend The Law To Give Effect To Certain Recommendations Of The Commissioner For Regulatory Reform". That is all we have so far, Mr. Chairman.

This House of Assembly has been opened now over a week; the official opening I think was last Wednesday and that is all we have so far, Mr. Chairman, the Interim Supply Bill to be discussed in this House of Assembly, so if that is a sign of things to come from this Administration, boy, this Province is in for some hard times, I would say.

Now, Mr. Chairman, with respect to Interim Supply itself, the time is getting fairly short with respect to Interim Supply and getting approval by the House for Interim Supply, March 31, I believe is the time it has to be approved in order for the government to continue with the normal proceedings and running of government. I would say that the people of the Province are getting quite concerned as to what may or may not happen. It is only tomorrow I suppose as someone mentioned here the other day that maybe we will go on into Saturday and whatever it takes; Monday is April 1st so hopefully we will get something done by then to get it approved.

Civil servants in the Province today, Mr. Chairman, are concerned I suppose that they will get their pay cheques next week. Hopefully, they will manage to get approval of the Interim Supply by then but I suppose, when you sit back and look at the Interim Supply Bill itself, you have to sit back and be responsible and realize how important it is to have the Interim Supply Bill approved. We have the winter weather conditions still upon us and of course, we have to have the roads cleared and the glitter sanded when we have sleet and rain and what have you, although we had a poor example of that the other night when we had sleet and we had the trucks in the City of St. John's out sanding roads, a full hour-and-a-half before the provincial trucks were on the highways. I believe I heard the number of forty-five accidents because Works, Services and Transportation was slow in getting their people off the mark with respect to sanding the roads this past week.

We have to have money in place, of course, for the running and the operations of the hospitals. We have to certainly see that the money can be spent on the health care in the Province, the Health Care Corporation, of course, of St. John's has to maintain the Janeway, and we had some discussion today on the closing of the Janeway, or some questions on it, very serious questions. We have yet to receive any answers from the government with respect to the full-fledged plan of the - I don't know how you would term it - I suppose the restructuring of the health care in the Province, and in particular in the St. John's region where we have the Janeway itself being closed, and the Grace Hospital being closed, although it has been announced now, I believe, that they are going to delay the closing of the Grace for at least a year.

With respect to the Janeway itself, and the closing of the Janeway, I personally believe, and have said from the beginning, that the Janeway should be a separate entity. I believe those words were first used at a public meeting back last summer, maybe June or July, where the Opposition Health Task Force had a public meeting at the Holiday Inn. I believe maybe there were 100 or 150 people at that meeting, and the people at that meeting were quite concerned about the closing of the Janeway.

I said at that meeting that the Janeway should be a separate entity, and only after a lot of pressure was put on the Minister of Health, who was re-established as Minister of Health by the new Premier, and a lot of pressure put on, that he decided that the Janeway should be a separate entity. They decided that they would maybe build an extension on to the Health Sciences Centre here in St. John's, and maybe share some services. I believe that was the intent in the beginning, that they would share services with the Janeway and the adult centre, or the Health Sciences Centre. Of course, the people did not believe that would be a good idea because if you have an emergency situation, you have children in an emergency situation, they are in enough panic and enough stress as it is without seeing adults coming in from a motor vehicle accident and what have you, adding further stress to those little children.

The Janeway itself, I believe, has to be a separate entity. It has to have the staff who are used to dealing with children, who are trained to deal with children, and I don't see any sharing of services, as such. Well, that is not quite accurate to say, I suppose, that I don't see any sharing of services. I can certainly see sharing of the operations of the - what would you call it - the financial operations of the institutions themselves, or the administrative operations is what I am looking for.

Again, I suppose, we have to look for savings. I have to agree with the Administration on that, but not necessarily to the effect that it would hurt or have a negative impact upon the children at the hospital, especially sick children.

We also have to have the money in place for the running of schools and other areas of the government, but schools is one area I would like to talk about for a few minutes. As I say, the Opposition would certainly not unduly delay the approval of the Interim Supply Bill - I am convinced of that - because our leader has already stated that we would be responsible on that issue, and on all issues with respect that come before the House of Assembly, but with respect to the schools I would like to say a few words, I suppose, on the education reform, or what has happened over the past year or so.

The previous Premier basically, in the last election - not the Premier today; the previous Premier, said during the election that he would not go for the constitutional amendment.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who did?

MR. J. BYRNE: The former Premier, before the last election, in 1993, made a statement that he would not go for a constitutional amendment. He would look for an agreement between the churches and the government itself, and the people involved, but a few days after the election, of course, he made the announcement that he would be going for a constitutional amendment. Then he brought legislation to the House, and he said that he would have a referendum.

AN HON. MEMBER: And he pulled it through.

MR. J. BYRNE: And he pulled it through. He did manage to get 53 per cent of the people of the Province.

I say to the Government House Leader that it was strange, in my district, in the old district of St. John's East Extern, the result was exactly the same as it was within the Province. It was 53 per cent in favour, and 47 per cent against educational reform. Now, I was in a situation where I had to vote on the referendum in the House of Assembly last fall, and I gave some serious consideration to what I should and should not do. I was one of the few MHAs who voted against the results in their district.

The reason for that, Mr. Chairman, was the fact that I believed that there was no need for a constitutional amendment to change a bus schedule. I believed that most of the results that the government could have had it could have had without having a constitutional amendment. Most of the results that it wanted it could have had without a constitutional amendment. The government decided to go for a referendum, and sobeit.

When the vote came in in my district, as I said earlier, I sized the situation up. I was of the opinion that maybe I should go with what the majority of people in my district supported, or voted for, but I had to sit back and look at it and say: Was the government up front with the people of the Province? Did it give them all the information? I don't believe that it was up front. Because when we were in the House of Assembly last fall I remember the former Member for St. Mary's - The Capes standing in this House and asking for the schools viability criteria. He asked a number of questions to the premier, and the premier of the day - he was just as good I suppose as the present Premier at skating - skated around the issue and he would not answer the question. He didn't have it, of course, because he didn't have the school viability criteria.

What other issue was up at that time? There was another issue that we did not get the answer to - the legislation itself. We asked that the legislation be presented, that the people of the Province would know and see what they were voting on. Of course the legislation was not prepared, or we were told it was not prepared, and it didn't come before the House last fall. The people didn't have it for the referendum. When they voted they were voting on what they believed the Premier was saying, that they would have a consultation process and what have you, and it would be a new reformed, revitalized education system in the Province, and it would be to the benefit of the children in this Province.

Once the legislation came out and they looked at the busing criteria and the new schools viability criteria, they were quite shocked I would say to learn of what the previous Administration was trying to put through. I feel good about the fact that I did vote no at that point in time for those very reasons. We have now people in the Province getting pretty upset that their schools will be closing because the numbers were down. From what I know of it and from what I read of it, it is pretty complicated for a school now to remain a uni-denomination school, or a religious denominational school.

Here in St. John's two weeks ago I believe it was I attended a public meeting at Gonzaga High School with over 500 people in attendance. The Member for St. John's East spoke at that. He is a former student at Gonzaga High School, as I am a former student of Gonzaga High School. I graduated from Gonzaga in 1970. I have a son attending that school this year.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

CHAIR: The hon. member has leave, but if I could have the attention of the House for a few moments.

It being Thursday I would like to inform the members of the House of the three questions that will be debated in the adjournment debate, commonly referred to as the Late Show.

Number one, the Member for Cape St. Francis: I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Premier and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs re: my question on GST and RST harmonization.

Number two, the Member for Baie Verte: I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods concerning my question on the forestry centre.

Number three, the Member for Waterford Valley: I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Social Services concerning my question on the closure of Presentation House.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the members opposite for leave for me to continue my few words with respect to Interim Supply.

As I was stating, I attended a meeting last week at Gonzaga High School here in St. John's, and the main theme of the meeting was to keep Gonzaga Jesuit. We have had Jesuits at that school since it opened in the early 1960s. As I said, I graduated in 1970 and I have a son there today. Some of the people who were at that meeting - I know one of the speakers who spoke at the meeting, one of the invited speakers mentioned - actually at a public meeting - that he voted in favour of educational reform but if had known the schools criteria viability and the legislation that would be forthcoming he would have voted, more than likely, no. I believe that a lot of the people of the Province were hoodwinked. They were hoodwinked by the previous administration with respect to education reform.

Now I have a situation in my district that I brought up before - and I would like the Minister of Education to address it in the very near future. It is an opportunity to show cooperation between the churches, between government and it is an opportunity that can be done very, very soon without even a constitutional amendment, without any changes in education legislation, Mr. Chairman, and that is the fact that in Pouch Cove now we have two elementary schools. We have Pouch Cove Elementary and we have St. Agnes with very low numbers in those two schools. The buildings that they are in are getting to be very old. There has been money set aside, for a number of years now, to do a study and an engineering plan, what have you, to bring the two schools together to create one school for the area.

Last spring I had public meetings with the parents of the St. Agnes School, the teachers of St. Agnes School and I had meetings with the RC School Board. After that meeting I had a public meeting with the parents of Pouch Cove Elementary and I also met with the Avalon Consolidated School Board. At that very meeting we knew there was $75,000 ready to be spent to design and to study the location of where the new schools should go. Should it go in Flatrock? Should it go in Pouch Cove? Should it go in Bauline? Should it go between Flatrock and Pouch Cove, in Shoe Cove? At the meeting in Pouch Cove Elementary the parents that very night, with this board present at that meeting, voted that the two schools should come together.

Now we have a situation close to St. John's where we could have two elementary schools come together to share services. What would happen? The two buildings that are there now, Mr. Chairman, as I said, are getting old. The gymnasiums are not in good condition. St. Agnes does not even have a cafeteria. The classrooms themselves are small. This is just not a good situation for the children, although it is a very good school. I go down there quite often to the school and attend functions there. The calibre of the students who are in that school is really quite extraordinary considering the facilities that they do have. The teachers themselves are quite committed to the students and it is the same thing with Pouch Cove Elementary. I have attended different functions there and I have attended concerts at the elementary, for the smaller kids and again, it is a school with quite a good record. So to bring both of them together would be a great accomplishment for any administration.

I will be approaching the Minister of Education for funding for that school this year. We are looking for anywhere from $3 million to $4 million for a new school. The thing that we have to do, Mr. Chairman, is to get - what seems to be causing the problem at this point in time, in my opinion, is that it is a territorial thing now. I remember a few years ago when the children at the elementary school in Flatrock had to go to Pouch Cove. The school at Flatrock was closed and the people in Flatrock were quite upset that they would lose their school because oftentimes the school in the community is the heart of the community. They lost their school and the children were bused to Flatrock.

Now we have a situation where those children are still going to St. Agnes and if we can get this new school built - some of the parents in Flatrock believe that the school should be in Flatrock and the parents in Pouch Cove want the school in Pouch Cove. So that is the situation that we are in now at this point in time with respect to the schools. I am wondering if the Minister of Education should get involved here and lend some support to try and bring these two schools together, to get a new school and show the co-operation between the government, the school boards and the parents of those communities?

Now, the former Minister of Education was, I believe, put in that position so he could cut, cut, and cut some more, and he was quite good at that. Now, the new Minister of Education, I believe, was put there because he seems to be more conciliatory. He seems to be a bit more of a person to co-operate with the schools, and with the parents, and with the teachers, and co-operate with the different churches involved and, of course, the government itself, to try to come up with some kind of a solution to the problem and the crisis we have today. I would say to the Minister of Education that this would be a good time, a prime example of showing his negotiating skills, to get involved and get this school built in the Pouch Cove, Flatrock area, to meet with the people involved, and to come up with some solution.

The engineering study, when first started, looked at a number of sites. I think they started out with six or eight, and they picked out a couple, but now, because of the - how will I put it - probably the territorial thing, maybe - they are looking at a couple of others now - but, from my perspective, I tried to stay as neutral as I could on it, and I still stay neutral. All I want to see happen is that the site be picked, the site that is going to be - the engineers are being paid to pick a location for the benefit of all concerned, for the benefit of the parents in Bauline, for the benefit of the parents in Pouch Cove, for the benefit of the parents in Flatrock, and most of all for the benefit of the students. Which is going to be best for the students? Which site is going to be the most economical? Which is going to be the best for the students, where they will have to travel the least back and forth?

Mr. Chairman, the bottom line is that we desperately need a new school in that area. The bottom line is that we need a school for the students which is going to be best situated for the students involved, and whether that be Pouch Cove or Bauline, or Shoe Cove, or Flatrock, or what have you, it is very important that we get this done and get it started. It has been delayed for much, much too long. If we started to construct tomorrow, or if we had approval tomorrow to go ahead, the children would not be in the school this year. It would probably be September of 1997 that they would get in there, or maybe even longer. So the sooner that we do something with respect to that school, the better it is for all concerned.

Now, I don't want to abuse my time by leave, but there are a few other things I would like to mention while I am on my feet, and since we are talking about Interim Supply, and it involves the expenditure of monies, this is another very important issue that I had to deal with when I was running for election this time around in my district, and that is, of course, an arena for the area of Cape St. Francis.

A number of years ago, when I was Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, probably in September, or the fall of '87 maybe, I went and approached all the municipalities in the area and tried to get them to come together to cost-share the funding of an arena for St. John's East Extern at the time. I was referring to the arena as the Northeast Avalon Arena. I approached all the municipalities in the area, and we did not get the support of the towns to come together at that point in time. There were two towns, I think, that were - no, one town, really - the Town of Torbay was quite prepared to go ahead and, as Mayor, I approached the Town of Pouch Cove and they declined. I approached the Town of Flatrock; they declined. I approached the Town of Bauline; they declined. Then I brought it to my town, the Town of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, and I could not convince those people to get involved at that point in time, and the money was there. I honestly believe the money was available at that point in time, and we could not get funding, and we could not get the support to get the funding; and that boiled down to territorial at that point in time. If the arena was not going to go in a specific town we were not going to get support for it, so it fell by the wayside.

A few years later when I became the Member for St. John's East Extern, at that point in time, I approached all the towns again as the MHA, and I convinced all of the towns to get involved. That is when the infrastructure program was under way. I convinced all the towns to come alongside and to cost-share the infrastructure program. I had public meetings in my district, got a lot of support for an arena in the area, and the people of the area were quite pleased that we had convinced the towns to come alongside and to cost-share an arena with the provincial and federal governments.

But sad to say we did not get approval. The reason being, I would assume, is that under the infrastructure program it was only six months before we made our application that there had been an arena approved for the St. John's area actually, in Kilbride. The arena in Kilbride was approved for $1.6 million, I believe, and we were looking for somewhere around $2 million. I did a lot of work on that for the Northeast Avalon Arena. I did a lot of the research. We got an engineer involved, we put together an excellent package, probably a quarter- or a half-inch thick, and made a presentation to the infrastructure program, and met with the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation at the time and met -

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Good point, I would say to the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island. I had a meeting with the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island and got him to come with me to go to Portugal Cove, a town in his district at the time, Portugal Cove-St. Philips, to try and get support from those people. They declined, but I had the member convinced. I had the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation convinced. He thought it was an excellent plan. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs thought it was a great plan. The federal member thought it was a great plan. The people in ACOA thought it was a great plan, probably one of the best that the Province had ever received.

It was probably the most feasible, the most viable, it was an excellent location, we could draw on over 30,000 people. The location was Torbay Road which could draw on Northeast St. John's. We will get people from Portugal Cove, we will get people from Mount Pearl, the whole area. It was the best package from my perspective that this government could have received at any point in time for an arena, Mr. Chairman, but we did not get funding for it.

That came up during this election, that we did not get an arena. After we were refused by the infrastructure program and the people involved I went then and approached private industry to put the arena there. I honestly believe that the arena is viable. Personally, if I had the money myself I would put it there because I know it is a money-making deal. We have to be a bit inventive now with respect to what you would put in the arena, attach to the arena, but I think that it will be a facility that will be a regional facility. If you wanted to run it as a business type of thing we could easily probably attach a Tim Hortons to it or a McDonald's, or something of that nature, and have a going concern and a facility.

I approached private industry to see if I could convince private industry to put the facility there. Maybe go to ACOA and get some funding or Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, and what have you. The time is getting short on that now. Actually, since this election I again met with private industry.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, speaking by leave. I'm not being nasty yet. So I have it in private industry now. I have two different groups looking at it. They are looking at the viability and the feasibility of an arena on the Northeast Avalon. If they don't support it I'm then going to try to put it there through some kind of a fund-raising effort. We already have $15,000 raised for the arena, Mr. Chairman. I think that was with just one fund-raising event. We have a committee in place of about fifty people, representatives from each town who fully support the arena. I fully support the arena and the municipalities support the arena. But at this point in time with all the cutbacks that have been coming and the down loading from the provincial government to the municipalities, they would find it quite hard, I suppose, to fulfil their commitment.

I think if we could get some kind of a good fund-raiser on the go - I've been offered land to put up, and build a house, put the house on it, and put it up on tickets, in Torbay. We have other fund-raisers planned. We are going to have another meeting in the very near future. This is something I believe the Northeast Avalon should definitely have. The people are there to support it and they want to support it.

I could continue. I don't know if someone else is planning on getting up after me.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, go on to 4:30 p.m.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, another issue that I could speak on I suppose with respect to the Northeast Avalon would be the condition of the roads in the Northeast Avalon. Again, we are talking about Interim Supply and this is the spending of money and what have you that the government will be putting forward. Normally, Interim Supply, I suppose, is just to deal with the ongoing expenditures of government and not any new capital projects. Well in the District of Cape St. Francis, the roads in the district, I am getting to the point now where I am sick and tired of bringing it before the House of Assembly and talking about the roads in Cape St. Francis.

I had a number of meetings with the previous Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, with respect to the roads. I had a number of the representatives of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation with me; I have driven over the roads on a number of occasions with these people and pointed out the poor condition of the roads in Cape St. Francis, the road down to the Marine Drive. We often hear people talking about the scenic Marine Drive and I mentioned it before, bringing tourists to St. John's and driving the scenic Marine Drive. Well now, Mr. Chairman, the scenic Marine Drive is in such a poor state, that the guard rails are falling down, there are holes in the road, bumps in the road and I mean, it is getting to the point now, where it is an embarrassment to drive over the road, and to say that we are going to bring down bus tours and drive the scenic Marine Drive is almost becoming a joke, so I am looking forward to getting some funding this year from the new minister.

The previous minister was quite blatant I suppose in his - how shall I put it?... in his bias, he was quite blatant in his bias of the Liberal districts getting all the money, and I would have to say the District of Cape St. Francis or the previous District of St. John's East Extern has had very, very few dollars for capital works on roads in that district. Now we have had a bit of maintenance here and there. Actually, last year the road to Bauline was in such poor condition, I took the Regional Director around and I demanded that something be done with that road, and what they did, I mean, I couldn't believe what was actually done with the road.

They brought down some of this gravelly type asphalt and threw it on the bumps and ran a grader over it and rolled it in, which made the road worse than it was previously, Mr. Chairman. So I would, as I said before, like to meet with the new minister, hoping that the new Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and some of the people in her department will actually drive with me over the roads in Cape St. Francis and she will see that the roads, which are so close to St. John's, are in such a poor condition, she will have no choice but to put some money into that district this year.

Now, I can't emphasize the bad condition of the roads too much. The road going into Shoe Cove - the Windgap Road in Flatrock is in pathetic, pathetic condition. I am getting calls on it all the time as the member; I am tired of phoning the Works, Services and Transportation at the White Hills about the roads in my district.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I will just get off that for a few minutes. As the critic for Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that is a department with which I am quite familiar. As I said earlier, Mr. Chairman, I am a former mayor of a small town, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, and was the mayor for seven years and had a lot of dealings with the employees in the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Mr. Chairman, I have had a lot of dealings with the planners in the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and last fall of course, in their cutbacks, they let go a number of the planners over there and I am not sure but I think there were fourteen planners let go from the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs; I have a lot of rackets I suppose you could say with the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

I remember one of the first meetings that we had as a council and we had the senior planner over at the meeting and I actually had to ask the planner to leave because we had had a previous meeting with the minister of the day and we had to come to an agreement on a number of issues and when the planner came to our town, to the council meeting, everything we had agreed upon was reversed, so what did I do, Mr. Chairman? I asked the senior planner to leave the council and go back and confirm it. Anyway, he left the meeting and he did confirm what he had said the previous night on the next day, so again, I had to have another meeting with the minister of the day and set the record straight and everything that we had agreed upon of course, was confirmed by the minister and the deputy minister at that time. So from that point on I had a lot of dealings with the planners in Municipal and Provincial Affairs and normally, when I went to these people, I pretty well got what I wanted with respect to the town plans in my area.

When we were putting together the town plan for Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove. We had one of the better town plans around, Mr. Chairman, because of the cooperation between the planners at Municipal Affairs, myself as mayor and our town council in looking ahead to what we wanted in the future, Mr. Chairman, and by sitting down and doing some good plans. We had a workable plan. We had problems with the St. John's urban region subdivision regulations, Mr. Chairman, and we finally got those rescinded last year. After three years of opposing them I finally got those rescinded.

I think I have taken up enough time, Mr. Chairman, from the leave that the Opposition has given me so I am going to sit down now and thank them for the opportunity to speak and I am sure I will be up again on Interim Supply.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

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

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before we get to 4:30 I will ask that the House give me leave to put forward the results of the meeting of the nominating or striking committee under Standing Order 84.1. We have met and I would like to report.

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

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the members of this side are pleased to grant leave to the Government House Leader to present the report. There have been consultations between both Caucus' and we will concur with the leave and with the motions he is going to make.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, by leave.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, as a result of the meeting of the striking committee I move that the Public Accounts Committee consist of the Member for Kilbride, Terra Nova, Harbour Main - Whitbourne, Grand Falls - Buchans, Trinity North, Cape St. Francis, Conception Bay South.

I would further move, Mr. Speaker, that the No Fault Insurance Committee consist of the members for Humber Valley, Labrador West, Twillingate & Fogo, Placentia & St. Mary's and Bonavista South.

I would further move that the Childrens' Interest Committee consist of the members for Port au Port, Burin - Placentia West and Waterford Valley.

I would move that the Government Services Committee consist of the members from Topsail, Trinity North, Port au Port, Placentia & St. Mary's, Cape St. Francis, Conception Bay South and Kilbride.

I move that the Resource Committee consist of the members from Labrador West, Humber Valley, Humber East, Grand Falls - Buchans, Bonavista South, St. John's South and Baie Verte.

Finally, I would move that the Social Services Committee consist of the members for Humber East, Burin - Placentia West, Harbour Main -Whitbourne, Twillingate & Fogo, Torngat Mountains, St. John's East and Waterford Valley.

On motion, report received and adopted.

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

MR. TULK: We have agreed that we would like to proceed and call it 4:30.

MR. SPEAKER: So we will call it 4:30 and move on to the Late Show.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, we agree that we will call it 4:30 and that we would now proceed with the Late Show.

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Mr. Speaker, today I asked a number of questions of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and the Premier saw fit to answer. I don't know why that would be, unless he felt that the minister was not capable of answering, or that he was running a one-man show on that side of the House. In the meantime, the answers that he gave to the questions were answers to questions that were not asked, so I am going to just say a few words on it now.

Basically, I was asking about the harmonization of the GST and the PST. The question was: Has the minister or his department prepared a financial analysis of the impact on municipalities? If so, can he share those analyses with the House and with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities?

The Premier got up - would not allow the minister to get up - but he got up himself and said basically that: we cannot answer that question because we don't have an agreement.

The problem is, we need these questions answered. He missed the whole intent of the question. We need the questions answered because we do not want the municipalities in this Province to be penalized if the harmonization occurs, which we know that the federal Minister of Finance is pushing. He is pushing that Atlantic Canada come on side first so he can put some pressure on other provinces like Ontario, who are opposed to it. So if the Province comes on side, the concern is that the municipalities in this Province, if they don't have an agreement worked out before they sign the agreement type of thing, overall, that the municipalities will end up paying that 4 per cent now that they are being rebated.

He skated around the issue - for what reason, I don't know, it is a simple question: Has he prepared a financial analysis, yes or no? And we did not get an answer. It is something, to me, that would be the first thing you would look at if you were minister of a department that is dealing with all the municipalities in this Province; that you would sit down and say, `Now what impact will this have on the municipalities'? These municipalities have been hit so hard over the past number of years.

As I said earlier, I was mayor of a small town for seven years, and in 1993 - the last municipal election was 1993, I believe, November of 1993 - I had my mind made up a year previously that I would not be running again in 1993 for the town council because of the cuts that the towns were receiving up to that point in time. We had the changes to the municipal operating grants, the process whereby the towns would receive x number of dollars for the municipal operating grants. There were changes made to that by the minister at the time - I think it was the minister who is there now - without consultation with the towns or the municipalities in this Province.

I remember having a public meeting, or a meeting of the municipalities, at one hotel downtown, on a Saturday I believe it was, and the people went to that meeting almost ready to string up the minister of the day. So if the minister is serious, surely, god, he has to sit down and look at the impact it will have. If we have now the municipalities in this Province being cut - what was it, 22 per cent the minister said last fall - to the municipal operating grants, which in actual fact was 28 per cent because the government did some fancy footwork with the numbers again. It was 28 per cent that was cut last fall for 1995-'96 and 1996-'97, so the Premier did not answer the question.

My second question to the minister was: Will the minister assure that harmonization will not add more tax burdens to the financially stressed municipalities? Again, quite a straightforward question but, no, we did not get a straightforward answer from the Premier. No, he would not answer the question. I don't know if he is trying to hide something, or what is coming down the tubes with respect to harmonization of the PST and the GST in this Province but, I am telling you, now we are looking at somewhere around $140 million that it could cost this Province.

Again, just watching the news - and the public are quite aware of this - what is the federal minister proposing to the Premier? What is he going to do? Is he going to give us some kind of a lump sum settlement in the very near future and get us over the next three or four years, and then the people of this Province are going to be hit with a burden? You can very well say that you can come from virtually 20 per cent, because they add the 12 per cent on top of the 7 per cent when they are calculating the provincial tax, so it is 20 per cent.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker? In cluing up, let me say -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up. Does the hon. member have leave?

MR. J. BYRNE: Just one second.

AN HON. MEMBER: One second.

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay. I will say that the Premier deliberately skated around this issue to hide something from the people of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, first of all, to try to zero in on the question here as it was phrased by the Chairman earlier, I believe it referred to the dissatisfaction with respect to the Premier's and the minister's answers on the harmonization of GST and the retail sales tax.

My understanding of the minister's and the Premier's earlier response is, that these are still in the discussion stages and that everything to do with the discussions right now is simply evolving and that there is nothing at this point that we could put forward by way of factual information to provide the kind of specific analysis that is being requested here.

I want to assure the member and other members of the House that government is well aware of the concerns of municipalities; they are aware of the current structure and what it means to municipalities and that all of those matters will be taken into consideration as these discussions on the harmonization evolve. So, at this point, there is nothing further that I can add to the previous responses that were provided. These discussions will obviously continue, every attempt will be made by government during those discussions to insure that all of the concerns that people in this Province would have, whether it is from the municipal level, from the social level or otherwise, will be adequately and fully given consideration before any decision is reached.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The first question I had today for the -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I tell you why I was thinking of that, Mr. Speaker, it is because today I asked the minister his first, maiden question and I realize he was waiting for seven years to finally answer a question.

MR. TULK: How long?

MR. SHELLEY: Seven or eight, how many years?

AN HON. MEMBER: Where have you been (inaudible)?

MR. SHELLEY: He has been waiting a long, long time to answer a question. He was sitting so far back, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, I finally asked his maiden question today as the minister, the first question on forestry so far for this session, Mr. Speaker. And it was a very important question, having to do with closure of the forestry centre here, in St. John's last year. And, to let him have his chance to stand up, he and the Premier of course, and discuss the big announcement that the Premier just so happened to have made two weeks before the election.

It just so happened that he made the announcement in Corner Brook that there would be a forestry centre in Corner Brook, and like many members on this side of the House, the minister knows that I, of course, encouraged that and applauded that and I promoted a forestry centre for Corner Brook many times in my position as critic for forestry. I think there should be a centre for forestry in Corner Brook. Of course, it is the hub of the logging industry, like Grand Falls in the Central Newfoundland area, so I am glad that the forestry centre is going out there. But the question to the minister today, Mr. Speaker, was asking him to tell me in comparison to the forestry centre which we had here in St. John's -the comparison in the number of jobs and the expertise that would be lost to New Brunswick who would now do the expertise for so much of this Province as it concerns forestry in this Province.

One of those in particular, Mr. Speaker - and I am sure the minister is aware or he should be aware that, of course, the hemlock looper research which was done, very successfully, I might add, by the people in the forestry centre here in St. John's, which saved this Province from what could have been a disaster years before, and, of course, last year there was more spraying done - that that expertise now, the question was: Is it still going to be produced now in Corner Brook or in fact such expertise as that which is specific to Newfoundland, are we now going to see it being done by people in New Brunswick?

So, Mr. Speaker, on one hand, I applaud the minister and the government, and the Premier for the announcement of the forestry centre in Corner Brook, yes - and we all applaud that - but the question is the number of jobs. Is there a decrease in the number of jobs that were here in the St. John's area with the forestry centre? More importantly, besides the number of jobs in this particular case, more importantly as it counts to the forest industry in this Province, will the expertise that is specific to the Newfoundland forest industry also now be taken on by the new forestry centre in Corner Brook, or will we see it being monitored by experts in New Brunswick who do not know, I say to the minister, the Newfoundland forest as well as people here in this Province?

We have the expertise here in this Province. There is no reason to centralize. It is another indication of centralization of services in Atlantic Canada again. We are seeing that more and more - the taxation building, the RCMP, and now the forestry centre. Now we are going to have it left with about seventeen to twenty-five employees, as I understand, from this forestry centre here in St. John's. Now we are going to be scaled down in the number of employees, but most important is the expertise which is specific to Newfoundland and which is vital to the sustainability of forestry in this Province. That is the question that I asked the minister to answer today, and I hope he will respond to it now. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman - I thanked him for his question today, and I thank him again. He is all perturbed about whether in fact this government led by this Premier is going to ensure that the expertise to take care of the Newfoundland forest is in place. He stands up in this House time and again. He struck on to something last year. As a result of a couple of members on this side, myself included, telling him about the fish resource, how it had been destroyed, he struck on to something last year comparing fish to trees. He hasn't yet got past that stage of comparing fish to trees. He suddenly discovered this afternoon that trees don't swim. He suddenly found out. He said: You can count trees. You can't count the forest.

MR. SHELLEY: That was the last minister (inaudible).

MR. TULK: Now, you can count trees, that is what he said this evening. He comes off about announcements. He wants to take a little dig at the Premier about announcements. Well, let me take him back a few years. i have to say to him that seven years -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: I was here sitting in this House when the hon. gentleman was in diapers. As a result of that I want to give him a history lesson. I want to tell him about a former premier who I think sat right there at that time. His name was none other than Frank Moores. He talks about announcements during elections? Frank Moores was a great guy, he really was, but I will tell you something, he was also a good con artist. He goes up on both sides of the Straits of Belle Isle and decides that he is going to spend $110 million of taxpayers' money to blow two holes, one on each side of the Straits, to make us believe he was going to put a link across the Straits. Do you know what he used, Mr. Speaker, to make the explosion that much bigger? Robin Hood flour. He filled up the holes with Robin Hood flour. Cost us $110 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Frank Moores. His premier, his mentor.

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible), Mr. Speaker.


MR. TULK: Make him deny Frank, now.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte, on a point of order.

MR. SHELLEY: On a definite point of order. Relevancy, Mr. Speaker, and no mentor was Frank Moores to me.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, he has denied over there. They couldn't wait for Lynn to leave, now he has Frank denied. Well, I am going to ask him now if he will deny Peckford, the guy who went around and passed out fishing licences, processing licenses. Do you want a few processing licenses? If you do, vote Tory - who went down to Terra Nova when the Member for Terra Nova retired and said: If you elect my member that will be forty-five members in the House for the PCs. And he said: That member will get one-forty-fifth of the Budget, but if you elect a Liberal you will get nothing. Now, does he want to deny him as well? So the hon. gentleman with the history and the legacy of his party, he should be very careful about the comments that he makes.

The hemlock looper and the budworm. The gentleman loves the term budworm - but the hemlock looper and the budworm.

Now, Mr. Speaker, he stands up all concerned about the number of trees that are left in the Province. Let me give him another history lesson, 1979-1980 -

MR. GRIMES: Come on, Mr. Speaker, relevance.

MR. TULK: This is very relevant, 1979 - I say to the Minister of Education we are going to need every bit of expertise that we can get to undo the damage that that crowd done and that is the relevance.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. gentleman that 1979-1980 was a time when our forest really needed some protection. Now, Mr. Speaker, do you know what that crowd did? They put a moratorium on spraying, no spray and as the Member for Humber East will tell you, with his great expertise - and I consult him every day, he is like the oracle - as the Member for Humber East will tell you, Mr. Speaker, that is when the whole infestation took off and really destroyed a large number of trees in this Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier, in his wisdom -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave, Mr. Speaker, by leave.

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

MR. H. HODDER: The Government House Leader should be in the entertainment business.

MR. TULK: Who?

MR. H. HODDER: You, I mean this should be the Thursday afternoon free-for-all.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Oh no, we could not give you leave, you were beating up on my good friend here.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I want to try to get back to a serious point relative to the closure of Presentation House. My friend the Minister of Social Services, I know that today she has been meeting with some of the people in connection with Presentation House and that she has had discussions earlier today with some of the people in connection with that particular house or that is my understanding. I may or may not have my information correct.

However, I want, Mr. Speaker, to ask the minister if she would further comment on the mandate that was given to Presentation House and the need for an emergency shelter in the greater St. John's region? We have no objection to the cutting down of institutional child care. However, we certainly have concerns that it may be possible for a child to be taken out of a home and put into some accommodations that may not meet that child's interest and in the rush of doing it there may be errors made that may further compound the child's difficulties.

I want to point out to the House that three of the children that were placed there in December are still there or they were there up to a few days ago. We don't deny that there is a problem; that the minister has to face difficult problems in assigning children to particular homes on very short-term and often in very traumatic circumstances. However, we wanted to ask the minister - when she said the other day in the House that she had given some considerable time - she indicated that the decision to close out Presentation House was actually made in the autumn. Well it was not until February that Presentation House became aware of that particular decision. In fact, they had a guarantee in their contract that there would be a three month notice period and the reason why it got extended from March 31 until May 4 was to meet the conditions of the contract.

That is not a very good way to conduct a relationship with a group like Presentation House. They deserved to be notified further in advance, in particular if the department knew since last autumn that they were going to close Presentation House, then why wait until February to notify them? And why go in last autumn and sign an agreement with them on a parenting program? It appears to me that the Presentation House people have not been treated very fairly. At a time when decisions were made to close them down, we had the same department going and saying, `Let us implement a very worthwhile parenting program'. And that does not seem to be very consistent.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to just return to that question and give the hon. minister a chance to respond, and probably to indicate what the future of Presentation House is in more definitive terms than she has been able to do up to this point.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

Just to go back over some of the comments that I made earlier in the week, you know that the Presentation House is an emergency shelter for children under the age of twelve. As you also know, the need for these types of shelters for those children under the age of twelve has diminished. Our problem area lies in trying to find suitable housing arrangements for children over the age of twelve, more particularly older teenagers, and that continues to be a challenge for our department.

You are correct; the decision to close Presentation House was made in the fall of 1995, and there is a process issue, and that had been addressed by extending the notice period - I will admit to the process issue - however, as a government that is open to consultation and interested in hearing all of the issues and facts, as you have indicated, and as I indicated earlier in the House this week, we are meeting with officials. We are meeting with interested parties in relation to the Presentation House, and we will be looking at the closure very carefully because, as I mentioned before, the mandate of this department is in assuring the best interest of children and making sure they are put in a proper environment in not only emergency situations but in any situation which requires our services.

There is a parenting program in place right now, a pilot project. This project is in place for two reasons. One is to enable these children to re-orient themselves into a natural environment rather than to disrupt them and put them in another environment. We hope we will be able to put them back in their natural family home very shortly, and that process is ongoing. The second hope of this pilot project is that the results, if favourable, will be transferred into a foster home environment.

I will conclude by saying that the government, and in particular the Department of Social Services, recognize the valuable contribution of Presentation House. We acknowledge that contribution, and I say before we make any decision, we will continue to make those decisions based on the best interests of children.

I hope that answers your question.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.