May 22, 1996               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 12


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we get to the routine proceedings for the day I want to welcome to the galleries on behalf of all members, a number of groups including twelve ABE students from Skills for Success, 50 Parade Street, St. John's, along with their instructor, Donna Adams. As well, we have twenty-five students from St. George's High School in the District of Trinity - Bay de Verde and twenty-five students from Whitbourne High School in the District of Harbour Main - Whitbourne, along with their instructors, Jeff Seymour and Jean Elliott. In the gallery, as well, we have Mayor Cliff Moores, Mayor of Anchor Point.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to -

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. the minister requesting leave to address the House? Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS BETTNEY: Thank you. I would like to bring to the attention of members of the House a matter concerning - do I have leave to continue?

MR. SPEAKER: I had not called Statements by Ministers, so I was just wondering if the hon. the minister is making a statement. This is a statement? Okay, fine.

Statements by Ministers

MS BETTNEY: I was ahead of myself - sorry.

I would like to bring to the attention of members of the House a matter concerning constituents in my district. We have been notified from one of the schools in the city of Mount Pearl, the Mount Pearl Senior High School, of a great achievement that has been attained by members of the Mount Pearl Senior High School Show Choir. These young people from the city of Mount Pearl have been fortunate in being able to attend an international show choir festival which was recently held on a cruise ship, of all places. We heard over the weekend that the Mount Pearl Senior High Show Choir were successful in winning a gold medal with a superior rating performance in this festival. They were competing against six other countries in this international festival, and I think it is a very high achievement for these young people. It speaks well of our education system and the music system that exists within the school but it is certainly a very high tribute to their skills and to the dedication and the excellence that they bring to this. I would simply ask, on behalf of the House, that we relay congratulations to the Mount Pearl Show Choir, to their director and their school principal on this achievement and the excellence that they have shown on behalf of our city and the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

I want to join with the Member for the District of Mount Pearl to again endorse, on behalf of my colleagues on this side of the House, her comments and her congratulations to the students at Mount Pearl Senior High School and Mount Pearl Junior High School, who, of course, formed one team for what is called the Mount Pearl Show Choir. They have been, as the member has said, in the sunny South, and we all know that they have performed very well over a number of years. It just goes to show the great talent we have in Newfoundland and Labrador and, in particular, of course, the talent in the city of Mount Pearl. So, I want to again join with the minister, offer congratulations and to wish these students well in all their future endeavours.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. Does he have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with the minister - the Member for Mount Pearl, and the Member for Waterford Valley, in congratulating the Mount Pearl Show Choir on their achievement. It is an achievement not only for Mount Pearl but for all of Newfoundland and Labrador to have this recognition on the international level. It indeed shows what talent we have and what ability we have here in this Province and it is certainly nice to see that kind of talent recognized on the international stage.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Social Services.

Does the minister know the impact of cutting 6 per cent in funding from transportation assistance, the effect that it will have on social assistance clients, particularly those who need transportation for health reasons?

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

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

We are well aware of the impact that any cuts have on social assistance. We were faced with a number of choices in the Budget from rollbacks to eliminating and reducing services in particular areas. We are aware of some of the hardships it will cause, but it was all a matter of choice and I think, in the overall Budget, we are very pleased that we were able to do the types of services that we are providing with as few cuts as possible.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If I heard the minister correctly when he presented the Budget on May 16, he stated a modest increase in social services.

I ask the minister: Will she confirm that her department sent a memorandum to all district managers on May 16, on Budget Day, telling them that the budget for household furniture for recipients of social assistance has been cut approximately in half, and only in an `emergency' situation will a client get a new stove to cook on or a mattress to sleep on?

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

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

Yes, I am aware of the memo that was sent around to all the districts to notify our people. We try to communicate as soon as possible on any issues related to the Budget or any other matters affecting the constituents that we serve. There is a significant amount of money still in the Budget and while we are aware that it may not meet all the needs, most people do, in fact, have furniture and beds. We are trying to counsel people that when we do provide this furniture, they have to make it last for a period of time.

Some people, in fact, come for a new bed every year, but some people make it last for seven, eight, or nine years. So we are trying to implement some counselling and do the best we can with the services we provide.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Will the minister confirm that her department's May 16 memorandum told regional managers that government is going to be reducing and even suspending funding for social assistance recipients in its rigorous efforts to claw back income tax refunds?

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

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

As has been previously addressed in the House, the issue on social assistance clawing back - as the hon. member referred to - income tax is not a new policy. It is something that we have been doing over a period of time. There are a number of provisions available to people who are receiving income tax. Newfoundland has one of the more generous policies across the country by already allocating $100 per family for those who receive income tax rebates. This is more generous than most provinces, and for those people who have spent the money, there is an overpayment provision in place.

It is something that we are very much aware of, and it is a policy we are trying to be more consistent in applying. It is not a new policy and we will continue to implement that policy.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The memorandum indicates that emphasis is going to be on suspensions and reductions rather than overpayment recovery. I ask the minister: Would she confirm that her department has discontinued funding immediately, effective immediately under regulation aid for special education needs in cases of illness, or in cases where the age of the children has, until now, warranted additional income for the support and the proper maintenance of the family?

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

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

When any person comes to social assistance to receive benefits, they sign a contract which allows those people to give the department the opportunity to look into the monies they are receiving and other benefits. It is based on this that we are retracting the money that they are not receiving through the proper means.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are also to the Minister of Social Services.

In the Budget allocations, under the subhead entitled Child Welfare, item 3.1.01, in comparison to the 1995-'96 allocations there is a cut of $491,800 in the total amounts to be paid on behalf of children who are in the care of the Director of Child Welfare, or who reside in foster homes, group homes, or other living arrangements. What possible rationale can the minister offer to support these cuts to the most vulnerable children in our society?

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

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

Well, as my hon. colleague knows from the previous session of the Houses, part of this money would be allocated to the Presentation House, which is now closed. Another portion of it is allocated to the Humber Valley Co-op, which is currently closed. Another portion of that funding is allocated to a particular organization which we have not had the opportunity to contact, and out of fairness to that organization we would prefer to follow the proper channels, identify the issues, and deal with the people affected before we discuss it in the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

In the memorandum to the district managers, the minister states the allocation of these programs has been made with the understanding that under no circumstances are they to be exceeded and, of course, by implication if they are exceeded then there will be cutbacks.

Does the minister recognize that she was just recently advertising for new foster homes? And does it mean that children who have needs may potentially be deliberately left in family situations where they are at risk, and this would be done in order to keep the departmental budget on track?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I again will refer to the previous session when similar questions were asked concerning the care of children. The reason we are consistently looking for foster homes is to address the need that we have for adolescent children, which is a need that was not previously met in our discussions and continues to be one of concern for all of us.

We will always try to place children in their natural family environments whenever possible. We will always try to reunite natural families whenever possible, and we will continue to do that in the interim by providing foster families who are able to provide the resources needed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: My question today, Sir, is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The minister is well aware of water and sewer needs in my particular District of Conception Bay South and I don't really need to spend a lot of time on this particular issue. He certainly is, or should be, well-versed in this.

I would like to ask the minister today: Some time ago your department held discussions as it relates to public and private partnerships and funding for water and sewer systems, especially as it relates to Conception Bay South. Water and sewer delivery is a key issue of concern in my district. I would like to ask the minister how things are progressing on this issue, and what discussions if any are taking place at this particular time?

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I think most of us in the House at least realize that in the Budget Speech by the hon. Mr. Dicks there was reference made on a number of occasions to the possibility of pursuing the idea of public-private partnerships.

About, I guess, three weeks ago the town of Conception Bay South made a proposal to my department as it relates to the completion of the water and sewerage in the town of Conception Bay South. After that there was another presentation made to my department and to other Cabinet ministers, other departments, as it related to that project. We have as of today received an official notification that we will have to address, I guess, as soon as possible if we are to proceed with this project, or if we are not to proceed. We need to address it as soon as possible. Other than that, other than the fact that it is a public-private partnership idea where the private sector will be funding up front this particular project - that is what is being suggested to the government - but with some attachments or with some conditions like guarantees from the provincial government.

The hon. Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has discussed this with me on two separate occasions. As you know and as we all know he was into a pretty extensive budgetary process in the past couple of weeks, as we all were. We didn't have time to address the question but he assured me yesterday that as quickly as he can possibly get to this, he will get to it. I am sure that sooner or later, within the next couple of weeks, we will be able to make an announcement on whether or not we, as a government, think that this is a feasible project.

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

MR. FRENCH: Yes, Mr. Speaker, would I be right then in assuming, Mr. Minister, that within the next couple of weeks there should be a written submission going forward to the Town of Conception Bay South and maybe even forward to this House?

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

MR. A. REID: I would imagine, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member being a new member in the House, I think some of his colleagues who are a little older realize that if there is going to be anything done in -

AN HON. MEMBER: Nobody older, a little wiser.

MR. A. REID: - little older in regards to experience. They realize that if there is a decision made on your particular district you will know yourself, first of all. When we make the decision on whether or not this project is feasible in regards to financing and what it would mean to the Province, yes, we will definitely have to let CBS know almost immediately and at that particular point in time I will be at least telling you and my other colleague who has been arm twisting me for the past three weeks, as well as yourself, to get this project done. I will make the House aware of the decision when it is made.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Mr. Minister, the Budget presented on May 16 cut municipal operating grants by another 10 per cent and fire protection grants to St. John's and Corner Brook by 20 per cent. Corner Brook and the St. John's Regional Fire Departments have seen reductions in staff in recent years; 90-93 per cent of the St. John's Regional Fire Department's budget is expended on salaries. The regional fire department is being cut by approximately $425,000; much of this cut will have to be taken out of salaries. Has the minister or his officials done a study on the impact of the indirect lay-offs or job losses not mentioned in the Budget?

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, Corner Brook and St. John's are the only two cities, towns, villages in Newfoundland where the Province provides funding for fire protection. In the case of St. John's we provide $2 million a year as a direct grant to the city, $2,500,000 as of Thursday past.

With the process we went through in regards to trying to save money to accommodate the Budget shortfall but at the same time trying to maintain programs in other departments, I felt it necessary - and my colleagues in Cabinet concurred with me - to reduce the amount to Corner Brook and to St. John's at least for this year. I am not sure what will happen next year. I am hoping that at the end of the day maybe in two or three year's time we may be able to reinstate it, I doubt it but I am hoping that it can happen. I cannot apologize to St. John's and Corner Brook for doing this; both St. John's and Corner Brook are capable of recovering that lost revenue a lot easier than some of the smaller rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we did. We did not do any studies to see what the impact would have on job losses. It is a question that I will have to deal with on an individual basis with the Mayor of St. John's and Corner Brook. I have already met the Mayor of St. John's yesterday. We discussed it. I am meeting with the Mayor of Corner Brook tomorrow afternoon and at that particular point in time, I guess, he will inform me of what this means as it relates to layoffs.

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

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

Mr. Minister, the St. John's Regional Fire Department was downloaded to the municipalities a few years ago with no planning basically or very little support. Before the Budget and in recent years, fire stations in St. John's and Corner Brook have closed. Staffing in the St. John's Regional Fire Department has been reduced by 27 per cent in the past ten years with an expanded area to protect. Isn't the minister fearful that fire protection for the public is being reduced in these areas and in fact, safety of the fire-fighters is in question with an ever declining fire-fighting staff?

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, it almost sounds like he is trying to lay a guilt trip on me or something here today. Boy I am telling you, you are going to have some job.

I take amusement out of the fact that he did suggest that there has been continued reductions for the past ten years in the St. John's Regional Fire Department. What year was it we downloaded as you said, the regional fire department from government to the City of St. John's?

The other point I will make to you is that for years the City of St. John's was lobbying every year, and the members from St. John's, previous members from St. John's, were lobbying to have the fire department passed on to the City of St. John's. They were asking for it. They were saying for years that the government shouldn't be into it. After a period of time the government - not this government, the previous government - decided to pass the responsibility of the fire department for the northeast Avalon over to the City of St. John's.

The City of Mount Pearl opened its arms and said: We will be a part of this. Just last year, after I suppose a thousand tries by a previous minister, the present Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, a little fellow from Carbonear, comes in and gets Mount Pearl and St. John's to sit at the same table, and on the end of it actually put their hands out and shook hands and said: This is a great idea. This northeast Avalon regional fire service is a great idea and we are going to work together to make it work in this particular area. Mr. Speaker, it is working.

Now, the down sizing part, or the down sizing question, is not a question that I can address. I will have to address the down sizing of every department I suppose in the Province if I had to address the one in St. John's. St. John's is quite capable of finding the dollars they need to put back in, the $500,000 that was taken from them. St. John's is quite capable of finding that $500,000, so if they find the $500,000 I'm assuming there won't be any down sizing.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the minister, it is because of the down loading that there is a down sizing in staff. I would also say that if St. John's and Mount Pearl requested the fire fighting service they also requested the funding to go with it.

Anyway, my third question. The grants under the cost-shared program for fire fighting equipment and upgrading of old equipment has been wiped out altogether this year. Last year it was $250,000. This small amount of money is mostly utilized by the volunteer fire departments across the Province. Doesn't this minister see that this cut as (a) a threat to the safety of the smaller towns, (b) a slap in the face to, and a threat to, the safety of the volunteer fire fighters themselves? I would just ask the minister would he consider to reinstate that $250,000 for rural Newfoundland?

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

MR. A. REID: Rural Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker. Not only rural Newfoundland. Out of that $250,000 we had last year and the $1 million previous to that some of that went to St. John's, Corner Brook, Mount Pearl, Clarenville, Carbonear, Gander, St. Anthony, a number of other places.

I say to the hon. member - and I've been asking this question for some years - why should we as a government, why should the rest of this Province, be subsidizing two fire departments, one in Corner Brook and one in St. John's, when we are not subsidizing any other fire department in the Province. That is the first question.

The other question you asked me was: Do I feel bad about it? Yes, I feel terrible about it. To be quite honest about it, I do. I fought and I argued for more money to be put in the budget for fire departments in this Province, but it came down to a choice of social services, health, education, and I had no other choice. But with that said, I've already notified all communities - a letter went out today to all the communities - expressing a concern. If communities have concern about fire fighting they have the option to come in to me and I do have some money in a budget - notice I said "a budget" - that will assist municipalities with fire fighting problems or capabilities. I can't say how much I have because that hasn't been determined yet, but if it is a case where a town council or a fire department can prove to me that they need a piece of equipment then I will certainly look at that, and probably supply the necessary funding for them to purchase that equipment.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question today is for the Minister of Education. School bus service which has been provided to the students of Shea Heights area for more than twenty-five years has now been discontinued. The reason being given is that the St. John's Metrobus service services this area. However, a school bus will travel directly through the community of Shea Heights on its way to Blackhead to pick up two or three students in Blackhead. Will the minister investigate these exceptional circumstances and intervene to permit the twenty-five or thirty students in the Shea Heights community to be given bus service as well as the community of Blackhead?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If there are exceptional circumstances as indicated we will certainly look into it.

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

MR. OSBORNE: The minister will acknowledge that the Metrobus fare of approximately $2 a day, roughly $10 a week, quickly adds up and can be extremely burdensome on a family that is already trying to live on a very tight budget. I see very little cost to the Province to allowing the bus that is passing through the community of Shea Heights to stop and pick up these twenty-five or thirty students. I ask the minister: Will he, on a compassionate basis, allow these students in Shea Heights to avoid paying substantial costs in bus fare, and save the money to take the school bus?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The issue with respect to school busing within the boundaries of the City of St. John's is being applied to give uniform, consistent application throughout the city. It is being announced now as a budget measure. In fact, it is a measure that should have been introduced some three or four years ago in these areas where there was a school bus service provided within the city where incorporated, because every other area in the city limits of St. John's where there is an adequate Metrobus service to accommodate the students, that is what they have been using for years. School busing in the City of St. John's has been the exception, and now we are trying to make sure that it is the standard throughout the city. If there is an exception, as the hon. member points out, we will certainly look into it.

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

MR. OSBORNE: The Metrobus, Sir, that passes through the community of Shea Heights stops on Water Street. These students will have to take a transfer. The students in Shea Heights surely cannot be expected to walk to and from school, especially in inclement weather. Won't the minister recognize that these students will now face added pressures in getting the education that they need? Since when is it more fair to abide by strict guidelines than to make simple, compassionate exceptions? I think that the plan for a better tomorrow is leaving these students behind. Why is it so difficult to intervene and let these students get the school bus as it passes down their street?

I ask the minister to please take this into consideration. Let these students keep the school Metrobus fares in their pocket and perhaps use it on some much needed lunch fare.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again I will repeat the answer. The intention is to provide a consistent level of service for everybody within the boundaries of the City of St. John's where there is an adequate Metrobus service provided to accommodate the students' needs, and if there is an exception, as the hon. member seems to indicate, we will certainly look into it. If it requires some additional or extraordinary attention, we have been providing that in circumstances in the city now. There are special transportation initiatives for students in the city with special needs that are continuing, and if there is a special case for anyone in the Blackhead, Shea Heights area we will certainly look at it. The preliminary information that we have had to date is that there is no such special case. They will not be disadvantaged any more so than any other student in the City of St. John's who has been using the Metrobus service for the past twenty-five or thirty years, except in a few areas like Shea Heights, Brophy Place, and a few others that are now going to be treated exactly the same as the rest of the city.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The federal fisheries minister announced on Wednesday past - that is a week ago - that the total allowable catch for the 1996 caplin fishery for Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence areas will be 40,000 tons, down somewhat from last year's quota. The federal minister also got rid of the fifty count provision which was in place last year and which required the closure of the caplin fishery in areas where the fish are so tiny that there are more than fifty in a kilo. In other words, there is nothing to prevent the catching of tiny caplin this year. Does our own fisheries minister agree with the harvesting of small caplin to protect our caplin markets? And is he at all concerned about the impact that harvesting caplin might have on recovering cod stocks?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In answer to the first part of your question, am I in agreement with the minister?... Yes, I am. Am I concerned about the impact that catching caplin will have on recovering cod stocks? I am concerned about recovering cod stocks and about fishermen earning a living in this Province, but I am more concerned about five million seals eating 640,000 ton of caplin a year.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the minister is moving to protect markets rather than moving in a direction that will allow our cod stocks to replenish and go back to sustain our rural Newfoundland communities as has been in the past. Two wrongs, I say to the minister, do not make a right.

It is ironic that the federal minister will permit the harvesting of tiny immature caplin which our cod depend on for food, but will then turn around and reject a limited food fishery in Newfoundland which would take only about 2000 tons of cod, barely the amount of a cod by-catch. The Newfoundland Government was strangely, blatantly silent last year in the face of discrimination.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member is on a supplementary and I ask him to get to his question.

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister: Is it true that all that is about to change? I ask the minister: Is he about to make a pilgrimage to Ottawa to convince the federal minister to open our food fishery for this coming summer?

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

MR. EFFORD: The answer to the last part of the question is, no, I am not going to Ottawa, nor am I going to phone Ottawa to try to convince the federal minister to open a food fishery in this Province until we are satisfied that the cod stocks are there in sufficient numbers to allow, first, a commercial fishery and then a recreational fishery. We are more concerned about the commercial fishery in this Province.

As to the tiny caplin the hon. member is talking about, if he would take time to read the scientific research that was done, he would find it said that there are sufficient numbers of caplin to allow a caplin fishery which will have no impact on the food chain for cod. Also if he would take time to read further down through the scientific research that was done, he would find that the size of the caplin has nothing to do with the quantity nor the numbers of caplin in the ocean - it has to do with the age of caplin. He should also be reminded that when caplin reach the age of four to six years, it dies anyway.

Now, I would rather see the Newfoundlander be allowed to catch a few caplin just to earn enough money to get through these desperate times, than see the caplin perish and die. Scientific research has given us enough information to know it is not going to have any impact on the food for cod.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South on a final supplementary.

MR. FITZGERALD: I cannot believe what I am hearing. This is not the same member, the champion of the people, who stood in this House years ago and said we should stop believing in scientists and believe in the fishermen, believe in the real scientists. Here he stands today in protection and defence of those very same people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary and no preambles are required. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister if he will believe the real scientists, the fishermen who are out there today, and not rely on the people who are educated from a couple of books?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, having performed in the role of Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and recognizing a far better minister when I see one, in the Member for Port de Grave, I want to stand and reassure the member opposite, who I know is genuinely - I can tell by the tone of his voice - genuinely concerned about the future of the stock. He ought to be aware, as the minister has just pointed out, that the previous federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans last year on the fifty count rule, asked the science branch of the department to do an analysis of the age and size of caplin to find out whether the continuation of the fifty count rule, which was only put in, in the first place, at the request of industry, was necessary. That analysis was conducted and completed in time for the incoming federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. Mifflin, and it is on the basis of that analysis that we now have a caplin quota this year.

Now, with respect to the member's attempts to try to make a campaign cause out of the food fishery, I think, the member and his party did a very good job making that an issue in the last election and the results are here, of course, for all members of the House to see.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has elapsed.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before we continue with the routine proceedings, I would like to welcome to the gallery, fourteen students from St. Kevin's High School in the Goulds, and Bishops College in St. John's; also thirteen students from Cobourg, Ontario, along with their instructors, Barbara O'Keefe and Roberta Fuller.

As well, we have in the gallery the Mayor of Twillingate, Mr. Harry Cooper. I would like to welcome him on behalf of all members, and we have a former Member of the House of Assembly, for the District of Placentia, Mr. Nick Careen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition signed by 760 residents of the District of Ferryland, and to petition the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to approve funding for replacement of a bridge and the construction of a new bridge for the upcoming season.

I understand the Premier is now giving an apology.

Mr. Speaker, this particular petition concerns an area in my district that is of major concern, and I will read the prayer of the petition further, that: We, the undersigned, believe that the bridge called Long Run Bridge, is totally sub-standard, should have been replaced years ago and is a hazard to the motoring public. It is located in Cape Broyle on Route 10, the main highway servicing the Southern Shore of Ferryland district and was constructed in the early 1950s. It is approximately 125 feet long and is only 20 feet wide from rail to rail on a main highway leading into my district.

The approaches to the bridge -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will read the prayer first, I say to the minister. The approaches to the bridge are inclined and curved, with trees and embankments preventing a clear view of the bridge. And I will just illustrate, Mr. Speaker: The bridge is only twenty feet wide and sometimes with snow clearing, snow piles up inside on the bridge, making it not passable when two cars meet; there is a turn on both sides, it is at the bottom of an incline in both areas, and there have been numerous accidents in the past in this area. It is considered unsafe. I know, the local people and people in the department are cognizant of the fact that it is a hazard, it is a danger to the motoring public and something, Mr. Speaker, needs to be done about it.

I ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to take a very serious look and I am sure her departmental officials will conclude that it is in major need of repair and replacement. So, Mr. Speaker, this area, is a danger; there have been numerous accidents in this area in the past. It is, I am sure, a priority in my district in road construction and that has been confirmed by the department on their priority list. They have been several years requesting work to be done in this specific area. People in the entire district have signed this petition, 760 people, and there have been numerous other calls and requests to have something done with this part of the highway. I now refer again to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and I ask the minister to take a serious look at the particular petition I am presenting.

It is a bridge that is twenty feet wide, when the standard width of a main highway, I think, is twenty-two, and it is almost impossible to meet vehicles there on the main part of the highway. It is recognized, I know, as a priority by her departmental officials, it has been on a list for a number of years, but no money has yet been allocated. There have been numerous accidents in that particular area, it is at the bottom of a hill on one side, a steep hill with a turn leading into the bridge; the opposite side has a sharp turn, you cannot see oncoming traffic from either direction. It is a danger, a concern; it is prioritized as a need in the area.

I request the minister to take a look at this specific area and I am sure her departmental officials will confirm exactly what is here in this particular petition. So I ask the minister if she would consult with her officials in the department and look at repairs to bridges that are presenting a hazard. They are not luxuries. It is a hazard to the motoring public. The number of people moving into this area has been increasing by three-fold in the past number of years. With new opportunities in tourism in the area and an archaeological dig in Ferryland, there are thousands of people coming to that area on an ongoing basis, and the bridge is a very major concern. I ask the minister if she could address that in an appropriate manner, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise today in support of the petition presented by my colleague, the Member for the District of Ferryland. I have had many discussions with him concerning this particular area and I would ask the minister to make sure that her officials, at the earliest opportunity, go up and have a look at this bridge. It is certainly in need of widening. As my colleague has said, there have been numerous accidents in this area, and I would implore her and her officials to go up there and to allocate the necessary funding to see that these repairs are done.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a second petition in what I hope to be a long line of petitions on this particular issue of the food fishery. I will read the petition prayer again.

The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador known as the Fightin' Nfld'ers: We, the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, do hereby petition the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to support our petition to do one of the following: (a) Open a Food and Recreational fishery to all Newfoundland families; or (b) Close the Food and Recreational fishery to all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday, this is one of many petitions I plan to present to this House on the food fishery. It is that time of year again when the people in this Province consider it is about the right time to make a decision if they can go out to jig a fish this summer to eat.

In the line of questions today to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and then to the Premier, they talked about scientists and scientific research and so on. Of course, we all abide by the information we can get from scientists. But it is really funny that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would stand and talk about the scientific research coming out of Ottawa when years ago he stood and talked about how we listened to the scientists for too long and that is why we have such big mistakes in the fishery of today. So when we should listen to the scientists and when we should not, that is the question.

Now, the question comes down to the food fishery: Is it really to do with conservation of fish stocks or is it to do with perception and image? My guess is that it has nothing to do with conservation of fish stocks whatsoever, that the 1,500 tons estimated, 2,000 tons, some say, according to DFO officials it is just a guesstimate of 1,500 to 2,000 tons that were caught in the experimental food fishery of the past. Fifteen hundred tons to 2,000 tons, Mr. Speaker - seals eat twice that amount in one day. That is enough for a feed of fish cakes, my hon. colleague, the Member for Ferryland says. That is about the size of it, too, Mr. Speaker.

The real question here is not conservation, it is about a perception, it is about an image. That is what it is about, this food fishery, no more than that. The now-Premier, who was the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans at the time, and who made this decision, used excuses from the last experimental fishery. He said: First of all, they are getting small fish. What I decided to do, instead of talking to the scientists out of Ottawa, was to take a little trip around my own district and ask fishermen what they thought.

First, they asked me: What fool is out there catching his fall fish in August month? And with all due respect to the Premier, if he talked to the fishermen, I am sure they said the same things to him. It is not in August that you go get your fish for the fall. It is in September and October that you get your fall fish; that is the best time for catching fish in the bays, when you are talking about using hand line and jiggers, and it is better fish - October, usually.

On the second point, of course, the argument was: Well, look at all the people who are coming in without fish, or coming in with small fish. The Premier knows again that if he talks to the fishermen - because I went out with fishermen and I got my ten fish. But I also saw next to me -

PREMIER TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I'm very serious about this. Mr. Speaker, I can tell the Premier that the food fishery wasn't the only issue in my election. I can tell him that I didn't do surveys to see who supported it. I do not know if it is 10 per cent of the Province supports it or 20 per cent. All I know is that the fishermen I have talked to believe they should be able to go out and jig a fish to eat if there are fish in the bays.

The second part of the argument the Premier used, as the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, was: They are getting small fish, and some people are not getting any. He was right. Because the doctor who was in the boat next to me came over to us and said: Boys, where do you anchor off? In other words, in practical terms, fishermen will tell us, the politicians in this House, you can go out for a month of Sundays in a boat, and go jigging fish, and if you don't hit the berth lands off that coast you will never get a fish. I say that to the Premier, in all due respect. In all due respect, a fisherman will tell the Premier, and he knows it, that you can go out and scoot around in the best kind of equipment, the best kind of a boat, for a month of Sundays, but if you don't know the berth rights off Petty Harbour, and the hummocks off Fleur de Lys, then you don't get the bloody fish, and that is what happened. There were too many people going out in this Province who did not know where they were going, and what I am saying to the Premier is that was an unfair assessment of the monitoring of that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: If the Premier is asking me that question, I will say the criteria we can settle with the consultation of people in the industry. The criteria should include consultation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Premier, if he does decide - which is the right thing to do - to open up a food fishery for this Province, which I believe in my heart and soul is the right thing to do, then he should consult fishermen, not Ottawa and bureaucrats and DFO. Go talk to some fishermen who think about the right way that we can go about a food fishery. Let's not close it down for the wrong reason, which was scientific research. We are talking about offshore masses; that is why the moratorium is on, not for in-bay stocks, when you could go down off Round Harbour, off your wharf there, and catch a fish, and now you are not allowed to do it. When a man goes with nine fish in his boat... 1,500 tons, seals eat that in a day. One dragger catches that in half a day. It has nothing to do with conservation, this decision on the food fishery; it has to do with perception and image.

The people of this Province who want to go out and jig a fish to eat with a hand line are the last people who should be told they are not allowed to fish. There is a sentinel fishery, there are all kinds of monitoring going on with the fishery right now, and I applaud any government for doing that - we need to do that, and do it better - and what a great way to monitor the fishery in this Province. What a great way to monitor the fishery; open a food fishery, have people who catch fish say where they caught them, how big they were, and do a report. At the same time, I will throw this to the Premier, a suggestion - they are always asking: What would the Opposition suggest?, well, here is the suggestion - open the food fishery; let them catch their small amounts of fish that they were catching, and also have them, as part of the criteria, do a monitoring process so that every fisherman or every person who catches a fish will report back to DFO and give them information, so we will kill two birds with one stone, I say to the Premier. We will let the people go out and catch fish to eat, which won't hurt fish stocks - I am convinced - and, at the same time, ask everybody who catches to do a monitoring process, to report so we know there are fish in that bay, in that part of the Province, and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good idea.

MR. SHELLEY: This idea, by the way, is not my idea. I would like to say it was, but it came from sitting around with a bunch of fishermen saying: I would like to jig a fish. I will tell them what I catch in the bay, how big the fish are, and we can help the federal government do a good monitoring process in this particular issue.

I don't believe for one minute, and if I did, Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't be standing in this House, unless I can be proven wrong by `scientific research', if I can be proven wrong that the small amount of fish that were being caught did not hurt the conservation of the massive stocks off the offshore. We are talking about in-bay stocks. I have asked DFO officials, I have asked the Premier's former fisheries department and so on: Can you give me the scientific research that shows the difference in in-bay stocks and offshore stocks? Can you give me the scientific research on coastal Newfoundland and off Quebec and off Nova Scotia and so forth?

By the way, Mr. Speaker, this petition in particular talks about the discrimination that they believe is still there, when you can go to Prince Edward Island on a holiday and jig ten fish and you cannot jig one here in Newfoundland, and I believe we should be allowed to do that.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak in response to the petition, because I have been, on many occasions, in another Chamber wanting the opportunity to come and respond to the proposition being put forward by the member opposite.

Now, the member ended his comments on this petition by suggesting that there are still many people, including those who signed the petition, who believe - and he chose his words very carefully, believe - they have been discriminated against. The reason many people believe that there has been discrimination is that the member - albeit, of course, inadvertently; he wouldn't do it deliberately - has contributed to that belief that they have been discriminated against, and other members, and sometimes on several sides of the House have contributed to that belief that there has been discrimination, so let's deal with the first issue, this notion of discrimination, and deal with it factually, because in this Chamber - I would ask members to listen for a moment - in this Chamber all of us will, on occasion, find ourselves tempted, in the middle of very difficult circumstances, at a time when unemployment is high, at a time when 40,000 people have qualified for TAGS in this Province, at a time when 27,000 people are on the TAGS program, at a time when - depending on whose numbers you believe, Stats Canada or the revision by the Executive Council - thousands more have lost their jobs, it is always easy and very often tempting to stand and portray matters in such a way as to illicit applause and approval by suggesting that people, who are displaced, that they have been discriminated against.

I say to the member that he has a responsibility to examine all the facts. This member has said in the past, on many occasions, that Newfoundland is the only Province where a food fishery is not available and the member knows, he knows as I stand here looking at him, that that is false. He knows that is false and on each and every occasion when that statement has been made, he has known it to be false. The fact of the matter is, that ever since the food fishery in area 4RS, that is the gulf coast of the West Coast of Newfoundland - 4S being the North Shore of Quebec, an area that the Member for Labrador knows very well - ever since area 4RS has been closed - 4R the West Coast of Newfoundland, 4S the North Shore of Quebec has also been closed for that entire time frame and why is that? Because the 4RS gulf cod stock is one stock, it is not two stocks. It is one stock and you cannot close a food fishery on the West Coast of Newfoundland and not close the food fishery on the North Shore of Quebec. Mr. Speaker, the facts will show that all the time that we have had a closure of the food fishery on the coast of Newfoundland we have equally had a closed food fishery along the coast of Quebec. Now if the member wants to have a parliamentary debate about parliamentary niceties I am laying the plain facts on the table.

Second point, Mr. Speaker, the reality is the member has tried to make this an issue for the last several years. He has tried to make this a cause. The fact of the matter is I believe that the majority of people in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and a solid majority want governments, whether they are federal or provincial, if they are going to err in their management of fisheries resources to err on the side of caution. What possibly would get into our minds, after 500 years of history, for the first time in 500 years to not be able to engage in a commercial fishery, to have spent the last seven years on TAG programs, NCARP programs, to see the first signs of recovery and those have to be the brooding stocks to rebuild our fishery to have the member up saying that every last living, breathing person in Newfoundland and Labrador, whether they have ever seen a salt cod in their lives, have ever been on the water, have the right now to go out and catch a fish. Is that what the member is saying? He wants to take the cod out of the hands, take the future away from the fishermen of the Baie Verte Peninsula? He wants every person who lives in urban Newfoundland, who works in Confederation Building, to steal the future from the fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Is that what he wants? Well that is not what we want on this side of the House. We will stand with conservation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, first of all he said that I put forth falsehoods. I (inaudible) even used that; the Speaker can look that up.

Mr. Speaker, he still has not answered the question. He asked for the time to stand in the House to confirm his position, he twice so far put forth falsehoods that I have said. I would like to ask the minister still to answer the questions that I asked during my five minutes. Well you have been rambling on for so long that you have not answered it. Inshore/offshore stocks, 1,500 tons in conservation and so on. You have not answered it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind hon. members that we are on a petition not Question Period. There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand today to support the petition as put forward by my colleague from Baie Verte and I don't think he was deceiving anybody. In fact, I think it is a perfect situation where the Premier has been away too long. He has become a city slicker, Mr. Speaker, and not in tune with what is happening out there in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. When you talk about the food fishery and you look at some of the rules and regulations that DFO have implemented, it shows they are not talking about conservation, but it is the silliness that is involved.

I would like to ask the Premier, what conservation is there in catching out of a herring net a cod fish which is dead and then having to throw it away? Where is the conservation there, I ask the Premier? This is the kind of thing that is happening in our fishery today. We are not allowed to go out and jig a cod fish, we are not allowed to go and take a cod fish out of a net, bring it ashore, and then use it for food. We have to throw it away. The Premier said the decisions are made on the side of conservation. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is certainly not conservation to me.

Mr. Speaker, it has always been our heritage, I suppose, as Newfoundlanders, to be able to go out and jig a cod for food, and I firmly believe when you listen to the real scientists who are out there today, the fishermen of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, if you listen to the fishermen, you will find there is still an ample supply of cod out there today, so that we can still have a cod food fishery, which takes less than the normal by-catch of other species of fish around this coast.

It seems totally unfair when we go and take our own native Newfoundlanders to court, charge them, take their boats and take their engines, while we allow other people to go out and fish, which I think, and the fishermen in most cases think, is the same stock of fish that we have swimming in our bays around the Island portion of this Province. It is certainly evident today who is making the decisions on the other side of the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have to interrupt the hon. member. It being 3:00 o'clock, we have to proceed to Orders of the Day.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With that I will clue up because I am sure there will be lots of other petitions presented on this same topic and we will have lots of chances to respond.

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: It being Private Members' Day, the resolution on the Order Paper is from the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Before standing yesterday to present this private members' resolution dealing with the cutbacks at the university, I gave it some considerable though over the weekend. Opposition, as everybody knows, stands at any point in time and tries to hold government accountable in terms of decisions they have made. A year-and-a-half ago, or about two years ago, when another Budget came down, I stood in this House on a private members' resolution dealing with post-secondary cutbacks, particularly, to the elimination of the grant portion for students, and particularly, the impact it would have on the increase of the debt load on individuals trying to attain a post-secondary education, especially those people who, not coming from wealthy backgrounds or wealthy situations and who had no other choice but to apply for student aid and to remain on student aid for the lifetime of their program. I though about that over the weekend and again looked at what has taken place with the university over the past seven years, the number of cutbacks they have had to endure, and government, in facing its own fiscal crisis, has had to come to terms with, to deal with and try to spread, I suppose, as much as possible, the pain and suffering, or the elimination of government money to as many government departments and agencies as possible.

Mr. Speaker, the one thing that stands out in my mind today in looking at where the university's budgetary allocation was in 1989, and where it is today, after the Minister of Finance gave his Budget Speech last Thursday, is, we have come to a situation, and the university has come to a situation, where the actual course offerings, the number of degree programs that we are in a position as a society and as a Province to offer, is becoming jeopardized.

Yes, we can look at a 10 per cent increase in tuition fees, and while I do not agree with that for one minute, students will have to bear the costs because of the Budget Speech of this government. But what is unacceptable, Mr. Speaker, what is truly unacceptable, is that, people today at university who are in their second, third and fourth years of three, four or five-year programs, may find themselves not able to graduate upon their own route or upon the way they wish to within the allotted time, but may be forced to wait two, three and possibly four semesters to find the courses they need.

Now, this is not rubbish or gibberish made up by myself as a member of the House. I have talked to university officials and I have always talked to university officials since I have been a member of this House. I monitor what is happening at university; I have in excess of 600 students in my district who attend Memorial University, who attend other post-secondary education institutions, and therefore, it is important for me, as member, to be as up to scratch as I can on that situation. But what we are looking at, what the university is looking at over the next three years, is the reduction of $8 million on its current allocation for this year.

The university, over the last year, and over the past six months, made significant strides, I say to the minister, towards cost-cutting measures that would not affect the health and safety of the people at the university, that would not affect in a great or dramatic or catastrophic way, the amount of course offerings available to students, but they have cleaned up their own house. The minister, in Question Period yesterday talked about: the university can trim some fat administratively, a nickel and dime here and there. Memorial University, Mr. Speaker, has trimmed its fat. It has trimmed it since 1989 - there is nothing left to trim.

What the university will be forced to trim over the next three years, will be degree-granting programs, will be the number of course offerings. We will look at, Mr. Speaker, and we will see the university making decisions on: Will we offer these five credit programs this semester so that 500 or 600 or 700 people may graduate or, will we wait until the following semester to offer it? And it may well be that the only choice they will have at their means, is to put that off, because if they don't, it may mean the elimination of entire departments. And if hon. members in this House think that this hon. member is joking when he talks about that, I urge them to pick up the telephone and phone administration officials, talk to Dr. Arthur May, President of the University, go over and sit down with him as I have done and let him lay out before each and every one of you individually, what the situation is. Mr. Speaker, that is why I put forward this private members' resolution today, to talk about that.

Let us investigate a little bit further what has happened since 1989. Since 1989, tuition costs for students in this Province have gone up 140 per cent - 140 per cent. That is an incredible and dramatic increase. Has student aid or grants - there are no grants, but has student aid accumulated accordingly to offset the high cost in terms of tuition costs that have happened since 1989? No, it has not, but what has happened? The amount of money available to students has increased in terms of debt load but what we called a grant portion which many of us, including myself went through. I went through university on student aid, I have right now about twenty - I think it is down to about $14,000 or $15,000 but it was a $26,000 student loan, and a portion of that was grant, but that was eliminated two years ago in the name of budgetary measures, and we swallowed it.

Students swallowed it, absorbed it, moved on, and what was the impact of that decision alone - that somebody today, if they did a four or five-year degree program at Memorial, would not come out owing $24,000 or $25,000, but would come out owing $44,000 to $50,000 for the same program, as a result of that minor decision that the Minister of Education at the time talked about.

What will happen over the next three years as Memorial's budget is continually reduced for the next three years? The Minister of Education stood up yesterday and eloquently attempted to say: Well, it is still going to be the lowest tuition cost in all of Canada, and for that we should be thankful. As a private member in this House, Mr. Speaker, I am always leery about being compared to the rest of Canada. He neglected to say that we have the highest unemployment rate in all of Canada; he neglected to say that we have the highest number of people per capita on social assistance in the rest of Canada. If we stand a chance at all of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and out of the situation that we are in today, it is not going to be because we eliminate and downgrade the amount of money available to Memorial University of Newfoundland. Because that is not an investment in the future. That is putting a burden on the backs of the people we will depend on ten to twenty years from now that they will not be able to shoulder.

What else will happen as a result of the budgetary cutbacks announced by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board? Maybe as a result of less course offerings we are going to see many students not going to Memorial but opting out to go to universities in other parts of Atlantic Canada. There is a great majority, Grand Falls and west of Grand Falls, who do that right now, who opt to go to Acadia, Mount St. Vincent's, Dalhousie, St. Mary's. These are the places where students from Newfoundland and Labrador are going, and are going to go in greater numbers if we do not take a serious look at what we have done and what the impact of it will be.

What we will save money on today may cost us dearly in the future. When I see the budgetary cutbacks announced, I understand fully that government find themselves in a situation, but I am convinced that we can find the $8 million within the Budget that the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board just released to ensure that the levels of funding we should be guaranteeing to Memorial can remain at that level, until enrolments at the University and post-secondary level reach such a level that we do not need the level of funding there right now.

I would like to talk about declining enrolments because they are very important, and to put in perspective what declining enrolments will mean to Memorial University, and certainly, other post-secondary institutions - but this private member's resolution dealing with Memorial - what it will mean next year and the year after. Declining enrolments this year, next year and the year after at Memorial will have very little impact because the enrolments will not decline significantly. Therefore, the amount of revenue required by the University to sustain the number of courses and degree programs should remain constant. But the Provincial Government, beginning four years from now, or after the third year announced by the minister, will begin to see enrolments at University decline significantly, and it doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure it out.

This year, the number of graduating students from all over Newfoundland and Labrador will be 9,000. Four years from now, or five years from now, the number of students graduating from Newfoundland and Labrador will be 5,000, down about 40 per cent. Now, as that smaller number filters through our post-secondary systems, the costs associated with ensuring that they have a universal - or at least that accessibility is open to any and all who wish to go there, the very premise that Memorial was founded upon, that it will not cost this Province nearly as much as it is costing right now. We are going to see and begin to see an accrued savings as a result of declining enrolments, four years down the road.

I will just clue up my opening remarks by saying that I am looking forward to hearing other private members and other hon. members stand in their places and debate this motion, and to put forward what they believe and what they see, and to offer any new information or research that I have overlooked or do not have at my disposal, that would call into question remarks that I have made in this House, and the remarks associated with this Private Member's resolution, but I will say this: I would be very surprised if any hon. member in this House has taken the time, or will take the time, to go meet with the university administration and officials there, who are completely open to meeting with any member in this House, and see first-hand the choices that are on the table of the administration of Memorial University, and what the dire consequences of those will be, and I am sure that not an honourable member in this House could disagree that the academic integrity of our institution, Memorial University, is what is in question because of the budgetary cutbacks.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great privilege and honour to speak to this resolution. I listened to the presentation of the hon. member, listened with great care, and have no doubt about the sincerity of his remarks; however, I cannot help but observe over the past little while the kinds of resolutions that hon. members have introduced, and invariably they relate to government policy, a program, a policy that government has accepted, and the Opposition expect members to turn themselves inside out to do a turn about face to support their particular resolution.

The credibility of this resolution can only be measured by looking at other resolutions advanced by members of the Opposition. Wednesday, a rather important day for Private Member's resolutions, one would expect that all of the resolutions would not be in reaction to something that the government is doing. One would expect that some of the resolutions would give us some idea of where the hon. members are going, what their policy is, and I have seen precious few of these kinds of resolutions.

Now, the matter that we are dealing with is a rather important issue, education. Nobody doubts the value of education. Nobody doubts the kind of effort that this Province, or any province, or any country, should put into education. We all believe in maximizing our educational effort. We all believe in maximizing the full development of all our young people so that they can be better equipped to meet the challenges of a changing world. I don't think anybody would disagree with that. Nobody would disagree with the goal. I guess where we disagree is with the process of how we reach that goal.

We are living in a real world, a world with fiscal problems, and this Province more than any other. The question that we are wrestling with is how we attain our goals, more specifically how we provide services of an A1 standard in comparison with our ability to pay. Now, the hon. gentleman seems to assume as well that education equals dollars, or maybe turn the equation around, that dollars equal education. In other words, the more dollars you spend, the better will be your education. Of course, that is not true. There is a minimum value, there is a minimum amount of money we must spend - there is no question about that - to equip our educational institutions, and dollars we should spend on salaries, programs, the whole bit. I don't think any of us have arrived at what that dollar value should be, so we have to take it in the context of the Province's fiscal position. Now, I have not heard members opposite tell this government how they should establish their priorities. I have heard hon. members opposite reject any cuts in social services. I have heard hon. members opposite object to any cuts in health care. Today they are objecting to cuts in education. Now where are the cuts going to be? Facing the tremendous fiscal restraints that we are now facing, what choices does this government have? Hon. members are saying don't touch education, don't touch health, don't touch social services. These are the items of big expenditure in this Province. If we don't touch these what else is left to the government? What else is left? Now I tell hon. gentlemen or hon. members opposite that we have a problem and we are all part of the problem and I could also tell them that we all have to be a part of the solution. If we are to solve this problem, if we are to deal with this economic fiscal problem that we face the solution here in this House amongst all the members.

We cannot afford, Mr. Speaker, to squander our present. We cannot afford to destroy the present because if we do there will be no future for anybody in this Province and this is what this government is trying to do, under difficult circumstances, to ensure a future for our people. If we don't deal with the fiscal problems that face us now, I can tell hon. members there will be no future. So we have, in a responsible manner, to force all of our departments to look at themselves, to fine tune what it is we are doing so that we can offer our people the best that we can in services in accordance with our ability to pay. That is the problem. That is what we have to address and, Mr. Speaker, it certainly is not untrue for education any more than it is for any service industry or any public service that a government is responsible for. So I say to hon. members opposite, we do have to be responsible in this matter. We do have to exercise some degree of responsibility in establishing priorities where the government sees fit to reduce expenditures and to cut expenditures so that our people will suffer the least.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I suppose if we could do it, the ideal thing would be to have free tuition. I suppose that would be the ideal thing if we were moving far enough left on the scale. We did that at one time in this Province. That is probably part of the problem that we are experiencing today. No question, that has to be the aim of every government. It must remain the aim of every government to ensure that our students are getting a world class education and to get a world class education we must provide world class institutions and I believe that is the commitment of this government. That is the commitment of this government to the people of this Province to provide a world class education to our students. It does not mean that we have to offer the broad spectrum of education to every subject and every field that is available. This is a problem that has been faced, not only by this government, by governments right throughout the Western Hemisphere, right throughout the world to look and see what type of education our students will need in terms of the money that we have and cut the cloth accordingly.

The hon. member mentioned that maybe some of our students are going to have to look at universities elsewhere. Now that has been the case ever since I can remember. There is that element of choice because we don't offer all of the programs that can be offered, nor will we in the future be able to offer all of the programs available, all of the educational programs that students would want to pursue. We have always had a large number of students going to universities on the mainland, from Vancouver or Victoria to Halifax. We have already had that. I have had friends who have attended many universities right throughout Canada, there is nothing wrong with that. That is why we live in Canada, but I tell you what, Mr. Speaker, they will not be going there because tuition is cheaper. They will not be doing that. They will be going there because that is their choice; because they think the university will offer a better program. That is why they will be going there, Mr. Speaker.

MR. E. BYRNE: What world are you living in? Programs are cut, courses are not offered, so what choice do students have? No choice.

MR. LUSH: The hon. gentleman sounds like a fatalist. That is not correct, not correct to say, that all of the programs will be dropped. We believe in the creativity and the innovativeness of the people at Memorial to be able to do what has to be done and still offer our people a quality education within the fiscal restraints that we have imposed upon them, within the monies that are available to them. We believe in their creativity. We believe in the innovativeness of these people at Memorial.

Our people have to accept the challenges that we face as a result of the fiscal and economic malaise in which we live. Just recently, I think, if hon. members will recall, they saw a program on Here and Now which highlighted Gambo, my own district. The people there were without a swimming pool. The swimming pool had deteriorated over the last several years. What did they do? Did they just lie back and wait for money from government? They knew they could not get it so they decided to take care of it locally. They took care of it locally, and with the contribution from the people and the volunteer work they were just baffled by it. Today not only are they going to develop their swimming pool, but they are also going to have an outdoor skating rink behind it. If they had to wait for that money from government they would be waiting a long time. They knew it so they decided that they themselves would take the thing in hand and went about providing a service, a vital service for the young people and the adults of that area. That is the kind of innovativeness I am talking about. That is the kind of creativity that our people are going to come up with to face the economic challenges that we face.

Mr. Speaker, it is not a time for the fainthearted, it is not a time to sit back and bemoan the financial problems in which we find ourselves. It is time to accept challenges. It is a time for people to come forward and get together and solve those problems for the benefit of the people of this Province. That is what we are expecting. That is the kind of reaction we are expecting from our people.

Now, the Opposition seem to be like a rudderless ship blown around by every wind and wave. As I said today it is education they are complaining about, tomorrow it will be social services, and the next day it will be works and services. I tell the hon. members they are going to have to develop some kind of focus. They are going to have to develop some kind of perspective so that the people will know what they stand for. We know what they are against. It is not sufficient to know what you are against; we have to know what the hon. members are for. As I said, if we were taking this particular resolution in isolation, yes, we would be able to say that this is the priority of the Opposition, but it is difficult to know their priority when as I said tomorrow they will be talking about social services, they will be talking about health.

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman were to have attended Memorial last year he would have paid, according to these statistics here of September 14, 1995, he would have paid $2300 at Memorial University. If the hon. gentleman decided to go to the University of Prince Edward Island he would have paid $2800, a difference of $500. Supposing he decided to go to Acadia he would have paid $3400 in tuition, a difference of $1000. Supposing he decided to go to the University of Cape Breton the tuition fee there would have been $3000. Supposing he decided to go to Dalhousie where many of our students go, he would have paid a tuition there of $3095. In the fifteen universities in Atlantic Canada, Memorial in 1995 had the third lowest tuition in all of Atlantic Canada, the third out of fifteen universities. To hear hon. members talk you would think that it would be an exorbitant excessive rate and they could go to the mainland and get tuition free, or else get tuition much cheaper.

I think possibly the only province wherein tuition is lower than Memorial right now as a province as a whole would be in the Province of Quebec. In the Province of Quebec the fees are marginally lower than in Newfoundland, than in Memorial. Outside of that, every one of them are asking much higher fees for the tuition. Not a matter of $200 or $300 but more in line with $600, $700 and $1,000, depending on the university.

I know that is not the only factor that one would use in establishing whether or not tuition is equal and proper and just for all our people. One would also use the unemployment figures and the salary per capita and all of those kinds of factors. But looking at the Maritime region, which is not too much dissimilar from Newfoundland, I think we will find out that our tuition fee is not that excessive. I for one do not subscribe to the theory advanced by the hon. gentleman that all is going to be doom and gloom, that we are going to have courses cut all over the place, that there will be no more opportunity to get degrees in this Province, that Memorial University is going to be downgraded to some kind of a high-school institution or something.

No, Mr. Speaker. The intention of this government is to ensure that Memorial University is a world-class institution that is still offering education to our students that is going to be of the highest quality and is going to train them to be productive and contributing citizens of the future. That is the commitment of this government and that will continue to be the policy of this government. Despite the gloom and doom offered by the member opposite, that is not going to change the mind of this government. We are not going to be derailed; we are not going to be taken off the course of offering top-notch services to our people in every area. We intend to make this Province a better place in which to live. We intend to make it a better tomorrow.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to rise in support of the private member's resolution so ably brought forward by my colleague the Member for Kilbride. I can assure the member opposite, indeed the members opposite that cuts in education, and specifically cuts in post-secondary education in this Province, are matters which are of deep concern to members on this side of the House. It is a reflection of this concern that this private member's resolution was brought forward today.

I'm surprised at some of the commentary referenced by the previous speaker with respect to the appropriateness of this type of private member's resolution being brought forward to the House of Assembly. One has to question: If education and educational matters cannot be brought forward and are not considered to be issues of importance to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in our society today, what type of issue can be brought forward as part of a private member's resolution? If issues such as accessibility to post-secondary institutions and in particular our only University, if issues relating to post-secondary education in this Province cannot be brought forward or indeed cannot be the subject matter of a private member's resolution, what else is there? Clearly this is an issue of importance to all Newfoundlanders, and that is precisely why my colleague the Member for the District of Kilbride saw fit to bring forward to this House the subject of accessibility and the integrity of post-secondary education in this Province.

Let's look at the provisos. This ought to act as a reminder to all members of this House, in particular members opposite, why it is indeed important that a private member's resolution such as this be brought forward in this manner.

WHEREAS ensuring ready access to high-quality post-secondary education is crucial in developing a productive workforce and building a vibrant economy. Clearly, such reference, Mr. Speaker, makes it clear that the very essence of our society in this Province, and indeed any hope that we have as a Province and as a people, rest on its educational accessibility to members of our society and indeed, to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I am going to continue with the next proviso: AND WHEREAS the Provincial Government, and having reduced Memorial University's operating budget in real terms by substantial amounts in recent years, has announced in this year's Budget, as announced by the hon. Minister of Finance and Treasury Board last week, that the University's total grant will be reduced by $8.1 million this year, next year, a further $3 million and the following year a further $3 million, in excess of $14 million, Mr. Speaker, being reduced from Memorial University's operating budget.

Clearly, this is an issue which has to raise the concern of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian, and that is reflected in the news releases, the news reports, the members of the faculty of Memorial University, those involved in the teaching profession, in particular the Professional Teachers Association, anybody who has a vested interest in education in this Province, has reacted quite severely to the announcement of in excess of $14 million being cut from the operating budget of Memorial University within the next three years.

Mr. Speaker, this institution is an institution which, as all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians we are proud of and hopefully, in the future we will continue to be proud of. Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, it is our only university; it is the only university in this Province to which Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have access - granted we have a variety of campuses scattered throughout; it is an institution of higher learning excellence; it has excelled particularly in the number of faculties and disciplines. For example: Marine sciences and marine technology; for example in the area of earth sciences, the geology department has historically proven itself on the map in terms of educational excellence.

Recently, Mr. Speaker, again the Department of Business or the Faculty of Business at university has excelled where our students have competed nationally and internationally in various competitions and have done exceedingly well. This is a reflection of the status and indeed the excellent status which is enjoyed by our Faculty of Business at Memorial University. Within the humanities, the Folklore Department, the Department of Second Languages in particular French and Spanish, and other departments within the humanities at Memorial, they have excelled internationally in terms of writings and in terms of various periodicals, and members of the various faculties at Memorial have been recognized as academic scholars in a variety of departments at the university. So indeed, we have an institution for which we can all be very, very proud; we can all be very, very proud. My concern, Mr. Speaker, is: how long will we be able with pride to say that we continue to have an institution of academic excellence? How long, Mr. Speaker, can we continue to say that, and that is the thrust of my concern and, Mr. Speaker, that is why I am proud today to speak to this Private Members' Resolution.

Mr. Speaker, in a document which was released entitled: Post-secondary Indicators, 1995, in fact, it is a publication by the Department of Education and Training and is dated in February of 1996. It lists concerns, this is a publication presented, published by the Government of this Province and it, in a very honest way, I would submit, Mr. Speaker, brings forward concerns that the department in and of itself has recognized which exists under the current situation at Memorial University. This is prior to, Mr. Speaker, the announcement made by the Minister of Finance last week. This is prior to the proposed reduction of an amount in excess of $14 million over the next three years.

I would just like to mention some of the concerns and I repeat, Mr. Speaker, these are concerns which I feel have been made in an honest way, by the government of this Province, illustrating to the public of this Province, where areas of concern lie. I would like to refer to just several of them. Fewer than half the undergraduate students at Memorial University complete their degree five years after they first enrol. The average annual graduation rate over the period 1985-1993 was approximately 46 per cent. Public college participation rates in Newfoundland for both males and females lag behind national rates. More males than females enrol at levels of all adult basic education programs in the private training institutions yet fewer males graduate from the program.

During the academic year 1992-93 and 1993-94 students borrowed, on average, $3,000 annually from the student loan program. The majority of the loans, some 58 per cent, were issued to university students where one student in two had a student loan. The number of applicants for student's loans, as well as the level of student indebtedness in the Province, is growing. Again, this is a reflection of the status at the university in 1995.

Although tuition is still low, compared to many other parts of the country, the financial burden on students, due to the low per capita income in this Province, is among the highest in Canada. With this sort of revelation, Mr. Speaker, being made and again in a forthright manner being put forward by members opposite, it can still find a way to reduce Memorial University's budget by some $14 million.

Although tuition is still low compared to many other parts of the country, the financial burden on students, due to the low per capita income in this Province, is among the highest in Canada. That is a significant finding and that shows precisely why the students of our Province need particular attention, Mr. Speaker.

Whereas the level of post-secondary participation by females almost tripled since 1972, participation by males grew by less than 50 per cent. Although, a more modest increase in participation rates would be expected for males, given that their rates were historically higher, such a low rate of increase is still a concern. Again, an issue of accessibility, Mr. Speaker. Again, an issue or a question which has to be asked, why is it so many young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not taking advantage of an educational institution, of an academic institution which has excelled itself worldwide? Why?

The percentage of youth in Newfoundland receiving university degrees is lower than in any other Province in this country. That is a startling statistic. The Province is losing many of its educated people and it is this particular point, Mr. Speaker, which I would like to reflect upon. The point, Mr. Speaker, is that we have what we commonly refer to as a brain drain. We have young Newfoundlanders, educated Newfoundlanders who find, out of necessity, no other resort but to leave this Province. During the five years between 1986 and 1991 more people left the Province than entered it. More people left the Province than entered it during that five year period. Of the out-migrants, more than 45 per cent had a post-secondary education. So the problem is clearly not only one of accessibility and the option to secure a post-secondary education, but the problem is equally: What are the advantages, and what are the opportunities out there for young Newfoundlanders who find within themselves an ability to get an education?

This is a critical problem which faces Newfoundlanders and Labradorians today, and it is a problem which has to be seriously addressed by members opposite, and that cannot be done, I would submit, by the elimination of five colleges within rural Newfoundland, or, in fact, three in rural Newfoundland and two in the city of St. John's. It cannot be done by the abolition of first-year university in so many centres throughout this Province. It cannot be done by reducing a budget to our fine university by an amount in excess of $14 million.

Education has to be given priority by this government. Last week we saw evidence of the Education department being the single highest department hit by budgetary cuts. The education of young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is essential if we are going to progress as a Province, if we are going to progress as a people, and if each individual young Newfoundlander and Labradorian can have a feeling of self worth. It can only be done when the educational opportunity is there, and when the educational opportunity is taken, and I would submit that the direction of this government is to counter that; it is to frustrate the educational opportunity that does exist, as minimal as it might be.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker - I understand my time is up - it is with pride that I second, or I speak to this resolution that was made by my colleague, the Member for Kilbride. It is an important issue. I have to take exception to points that were raised by the hon. the Member for Terra Nova. Education is critical, educational opportunity must be uppermost in the minds of this government, and every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian, hopefully, when the attention to where educational accessibility is available, when that matter has been given appropriate attention, then and only then can Newfoundlanders and Labradorians seek the educational opportunity they so richly deserve.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: And colleagues.

MR. RAMSAY: And colleagues.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is very interesting. I suppose, if you were to look at the Opposition's performance to date, the Opposition would have everyone in the Chamber believe that they are not required, as an Opposition, to give us any indication of how they would do it. It seems to be that they, as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition - they like to call themselves the P.C. Opposition; prior to the last election that is what they called themselves, the P.C. Opposition - maybe now they will change to Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition because the P.C. Opposition, as they called themselves, did not seem to work as a political tool which they were trying to use. Even the placards around the House of Assembly and elsewhere had P.C. Opposition marked on them, as a bit of a change. When the Opposition was the Liberal Opposition, it was called Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Now, it is the P.C. Opposition. So they are Progressive Conservative Opposition, a party which, by virtue of the history of conservatism, would have one think that they would balance the Budget more quickly than we would, that their intent during the last election, which was fought and won by this side of the House, was to balance the Budget over the course of their tenure of government.

Now, if they were to perform this noble feat of balancing the Budget in this period of time - and it is not outside the realm of possibility that the government may achieve a balanced budget this year if we are to achieve some other fiscal savings or if we were to be able to avoid utilization of the $30 million contingency fund, if we are able to achieve some $18 million in other growth in our economy or if we were able to realize $18 million of savings, then we would achieve a balanced budget this fiscal year. So we would probably have gone beyond what the Opposition has stated that they would do.

They, of course, would not use the Term 29, I think it is, money, the $8 million per year that we managed to leverage into a large sum that has allowed us to protect health care. They wouldn't use that, so we would just wonder how they would manage to balance the books this year without having taken some very radical measures.

MR. TULK: You know how they would do it, the same way they did it from 1982 to 1989 - close down hospital beds.

MR. RAMSAY: Similar to some of the things that have been done from time immemorial, I suppose. At one time we were able to grow in the building of infrastructure.

MR. TULK: There were more hospital beds closed down in this Province from 1985 to 1989 than there have been before or since.

MR. RAMSAY: Anyway, just to go on from this. We have to wonder just how the Opposition have put this forward. What is their purpose in putting forward this? Is it so that they can stand up and say to the university population: Look, we are against the tuition increase, the government is for the tuition increase. By laying down this kind of resolution that does not necessarily provide constructive solutions for the benefit of the people of the Province, this is one way that they have put forward to attempt an embarrassment of the government, to say that they can point the finger at the government members and say, they are for a tuition increase and we are against it.

I think the people will see through this. The people of the Province have gone beyond the pettiness of private members' resolutions on times. Many of the private members' resolutions are, of course, things that are very necessary, very timely. In this case, though, we have a situation where we have to achieve fiscal savings. We have a difficult situation where the finances of the Province have to be brought into line. What do we do? When we consulted with the people of the Province we were advised by people throughout the Province that they wanted health care protected over and above everything else. That seemed to be the key factor in public consultations that the people of the Province wanted to be protected. So we listened to the people, we have implemented policies that the people of the Province wanted us to implement. That is the first case in point.

Secondly, the people of the Province want us to reduce the overall waste in the system. If we have what some would refer to as the poorest - I would say, the Province in the Dominion of Canada that has the largest potential. Let us stop talking about ourselves as being the poorest province of the country, and talk about ourselves as having the largest and best potential of any province in the country. If we look at our potential and we talk about what it is we intend to do, can we, at this stage in our evolution as a Province, afford to have and continue to have the lowest tuition in the country by a wide margin?

Not to suggest that we think that tuition should go up - because I am sure if we could afford it, if we had other sources of revenue, then we would do whatever we could to achieve the possibility of free or marginal tuition. But we have to keep in line with what is happening throughout the rest of the country, and the tuition increases - albeit they will have to be some burden to the students involved, the university education that students can achieve is still a tremendous value. The unemployment rate among university graduates is 5 per cent, in the most recent correspondence that I saw, from one of the think tanks that had done a recent analysis on educational achievement.

So you have a select group in society who have had the privilege and have worked hard to gain a university education or post-secondary achievement of some form, where they have diplomas or university degrees, have an unemployment rate below the national average.

Now, of course, the situation in Newfoundland and Labrador, if the student has training in a specific area and is unable, as a result of that education, to get a job or to find a career opportunity here in the Province, may have to go somewhere else - that is often the case; but also, on the other hand, we have people who have to come to this Province and fill jobs for which we have people who are untrained in a specific discipline as well, so it is a bit of a trade-off there.

Now, what would we call the value of Memorial University to the people of the Province? Well, one thing, when it was instituted as I think it was Memorial University College at the time, and down on the Parade Street campus - I think that was probably where the hon. the Government House Leader attended and maybe this gentleman across the way there, the Opposition House Leader which, after that, became the Fisheries College following Memorial's being built on Prince Philip Drive. At that time, Memorial was the only place, I suppose, that the majority of Newfoundlanders who aspired to a university or college education would seek. I know, the former Premier spoke of not really even knowing much about what university was, as was the case throughout rural Newfoundland.

Now we have come to a situation where, and this is very disheartening, Memorial has not done a very good job of selling itself to the people of the Province. We have university students throughout this Province who feel that they have no choice but to go to a university elsewhere to achieve the education that they want. In some cases, it is because the program offerings are different and they had selected a program, but in other cases, it is purely because they see Memorial as something that is second rate or what have you. For what reason I am not sure, but Memorial has not, I would suggest, done a very good job of selling itself to Newfoundland as its captive market.

There are people who come to Memorial University from all over the world and attend programs there. It has world renown in certain area of course offerings and program offerings; it has world renown as well with some of the programs that it implemented and its recent achievement in the area of MBA competitions through the School of Business. But, to the average student, and I know, in my own family, I have arguments time and time again, telling them that: look, Memorial University is a solid, really good university, it does have this kind of reputation, and you would be well-served to go there, but instead, they choose, for some reasons, to go to different universities and I suppose you cannot argue with that, they have the power of their own choice. But we do offer this and this university's grants from the Provincial Government that assist them in offering the programs they offer and help maintain a service to the people of the Province and to others besides.

So, if we look at what is happening here, the government is taking a decision which will possibly see the university raising their tuition rates. Now, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it is reality; I suppose you would have to say. The reality of the situation is that we have to find the savings in the education program somewhere. The majority of the education program is in the form of employees, teachers' salaries etcetera, grants to institutions, and to find those savings, it will require that the university be cut.

Now, the Opposition touts it as being $14 million in cuts. Over three years, is the part they forget to say. It sounds like a much larger figure when you don't talk about over what period of time it is. Now, I think it is three, four and five thereabouts, or three, three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half, something along those lines in each of the next three years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Eight, three and three; okay, so it is $14 million in total.

The university, in some cases, has been isolated from the fiscal situation that government has gone through. All one has to do, in some cases and we don't want to suggest that one should not develop good quality infrastructure but if you look at some of the developments on university campus, over a period of time, they do have a lot of discretion in their spending power because we, as a government, do not dictate to them how they spend their money. There is an element of arms length operation, with the university, in the way that they spend their funds. Again, we don't have the full access, through the public accounts committee, to their expenditures to put them under full public scrutiny. We have the Minister of Education who can bring that to bear but there are other things I think we have to look at.

What can we suggest to Memorial University that would assist them in finding these savings? I would suggest first and foremost that they would be required to accept the first year technology program equivalency for all of the technology programs throughout the Province, that they would be required to give this equivalency. That in turn would save them money because there would then not be a requirement to continue offering the full plethora of programs to those who have already completed similar programs at other post-secondary institutions. There seems to be a very strong reluctance on the part of Memorial, Senate and others involved, in allowing this first year equivalency for Newfoundland based programs and yet, in most cases, they will accept the first year technology program equivalency for other Atlantic technology institutes, schools and colleges throughout the Atlantic provinces. So it does not make sense that you would accept equivalency for others and not for your own. Now if there are issues that have to be addressed on that specific problem maybe they should address them or maybe government should dictate, by virtue of legislation or other means, that the university should do this. That can relieve some of the pressure on the programs at the first and second year level that would allow equivalency.

Another thing that was suggested to me recently by someone who used to be involved in public life in the Province, this individual suggested that maybe there could be an Atlantic university which would be nothing but a paper institution and that institution could get into the granting of degrees based on the mix of programs that a person had from the various institutions. So if they had two senior years from Memorial and they had their two years of technology background from another program that an Atlantic university degree be granted to that individual on the basis of an evaluation of those programs or maybe they could have a - suggest that they then do four more university courses, five or whatever might be an appropriate amount to give that full rationale mix of programs so that a degree could then be granted as an Atlantic union type of thing that is run by the variety of different universities throughout Atlantic Canada because there is but one tax dollar and as we, as Canadian taxpayers, are supporting Memorial University, we are also supporting Dalhousie University, we are supporting UNB, Mount Allison and all of the various universities throughout Atlantic Canada as a part of your federal taxes. So we have to make sure that the Atlantic universities are offering programs that benefit all of the students. In my particular area of the Province students are much more likely to go to Cape Breton, UCB.

Just to conclude, Mr. Speaker, these students I think do need to have Memorial sold to them better so that they will be interested in staying here and utilizing the services. We have to get that first year equivalency or second year equivalency brought in. Finally, I think we have to do whatever we can to see to it that the students are provided with the best overall educational opportunities within the confines of available monies so that the people of the Province and the students of this Province can benefit from this point onward as they have in the past and can help build Newfoundland and Labrador and create that better tomorrow because it is not going to be created for them by government. It is each and every individual involved in the educational system essentially, going to have to do their part to create it for themselves. I think that is the message we have to get out; we have to become much, more self sufficient.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. member on leave?

MR. RAMSAY: No, I am finished.

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

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

If my hon. colleague wishes to have additional time there isn't any difficulty in our being helpful and co-operative. We always want to be helpful and co-operative and share suggestions with the government.

Mr. Speaker, I speak to this resolution today because it has been a priority of the Liberal government from the time it got elected in 1989 to have a strong focus on education. I recall hearing Dr. Warren who was a candidate for election in St. John's North when carrying on his campaign and offering himself as a candidate indicating that he would have a prominent position in the new Liberal government if the Liberal government got elected.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we all know that Dr. Warren did get elected, and we know that Dr. Warren became the Minister of Education, so we know that in 1989 when the policy manual was being drawn up at that time for the Liberal government there were strong words in the policy manual which we have, the campaign 1989 policy manual, and it talks about the strong commitments that the Liberal government would have in the area of education.

Let me quote a couple of comments from the campaign manual of 1989. It says our economic, social, and cultural development depends on improving the quality of education available to our people. Newfoundland and Labrador cannot hope to participate fully in Canada's twenty-first century if we continue to neglect our responsibilities in education. Now, let me continue with the commitment to university and post-secondary. It says, `University and technical training facilities must relate to the Province's social economic direction, and services should be coordinated to avoid inefficient use of effort and resources.' Note this comment. It says, `Post-secondary facilities will be expanded to allow more students of rural areas to participate in career development without being penalized by the high cost of accommodation and transportation.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is where the Liberal government got its mandate to expand the community colleges, and that is where they got their mandate to go out and expand those facilities where we offer first year university courses in various parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, as part of that commitment in 1989 there was a commitment to build a university campus, a full scale university campus, in central Newfoundland, and we know what hope that gave to the people of Central Newfoundland. It certainly was a very high priority for the government and, of course, we know that many people in Central Newfoundland voted for the Liberal government because of that particular commitment.

There was also a commitment in 1989 that the Grenfell College in Corner Brook would be upgraded to be a full degree granting institution, and, of course, later on that college was amalgamated with Fisher Institute and it did achieve that status. There is a strong Liberal mandate in education. It is there and we know what happened. Dr. Warren got elected, he became Minister of Education and one of the things he did along the way, by 1990 he had developed a White Paper on education.

Mr. Speaker, I just happen to have the newspaper for October 6, 1990 and let me again read some of the headlines from this particular paper of October 6. This obviously talks about the commitments of Dr. Warren and his Liberal government at that time and what was going on.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: I remind the Government House Leader to watch his blood pressure. Yesterday you were talking about Sprung and all that kind of thing, so today we have to remind you that you have a past. You haven't got much of a future, but you definitely have a past.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would say to the hon. member, let me quote from the paper. This is October 6 1990. This is after there had been a white paper on educational reform in the Province, that is, post-secondary changes, and there had been 115 submissions across this Province. Some in Lewisporte, I would say to my hon. colleague, some on the Burin Peninsula. From all across the Province, 115 groups made submissions in response to the white paper. What did Dr. Warren say back in 1990 on October 6 as reported here? He said that he was still committed to the triple E in education. Do you remember the triple E? The triple E in education talked about the three Es, and they were; equality, excellence and efficiency.

When we see today students throughout this Province who were being told in the Liberal mandate 1989 that they could have their educational facilities in their communities, in Lewisporte, in Grand Falls - Windsor, in Burin, in Carbonear and all over the place, and now we find that commitment, which was made in 1989 and was brought forward by Dr. Warren, now we find that the government has reneged on it absolutely.

I just wanted to again make a couple of quotes here because Dr. Warren applauded the initiatives of the Liberal government. He said: What a wonderful initiative it was to be able to expand the college system, to be able to go and to meet the priorities of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. He made it clear that all University programming of course would remain under the control of the Board of Regents for Memorial University where it should remain, and he said that first-year programs would be offered in many parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. We at that time in the Opposition - at that time I wasn't a member of it - applauded that particular move. We believe in bringing a quality of education right out to rural Newfoundland where it belongs.

I just happen to have here with me another book. This particular book is called Ready for a Better Tomorrow. In this particular book you would expect us to build on what Dr. Warren said. We would expect ourselves to be saying: This was the beginning of a process; we are going to build on it because we are all ready for a better tomorrow. Let me see what is in here. Let me have a look at what it says. On page l it says: "A key element of our Platform is partnership. We are committed to an open, on-going process of dialogue and discussion in decision-making."

I want to know about the discussion that took place with the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island before they decided to close the Bell Island campus. I want to know the discussions that took place with the Member for Burin - Placentia West before they decided to cancel the University program over there in the Burin campus. I want to know what discussion took place with the Member for Windsor - Springdale and what partnerships were there.

Obviously the Premier when he signed this document - and it is signed by the Leader of the party, the current Premier - he talked about an ", on-going process of dialogue...." When did it happen? I heard a member say that the member only had two hours' notice before they were told: This is what is going to happen in your community. So much for dialogue, so much for a process. The election was over and the Cabinet members said: Boy, don't tell the back benchers, they can't keep their word, they might let this slip out.

Where do we have here the evidence of dialogue, the evidence of consultation? There wasn't any. We all know what happened. The members were told at the last minute what was going to happen and then they were told: Keep your mouths shut, don't say anything, it isn't nice. You have to stay loyal to the party. You can't be loyal to your constituents; you have to be loyal to the party. So the party system says: We have you in our grips now, and you cannot speak up.

I didn't hear the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation say a single word about cancelling the courses out in Gander. When we had the big demonstration in Carbonear, we saw the example of all the empty chairs, and they said: Where are our members? They were all not there.

We know that the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, give him credit, he had the nerve to turn up. Obviously it was against the direction of his leader, but he had the guts and the audacity to turn up and to face his people. Some of the other members, of course, did so as well, but where was the consultation? Where did it happen?

Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at the red book for commitments to post-secondary. I am reading through the first page; it says, `Ready for a Better Tomorrow'. Commitments on education, nothing on page 3, nothing on page 5, nothing here about educational changes at all. Where is the commitment? Where does it say we are going to cancel all the colleges? Where does it say we are going to close out the first year education courses in rural Newfoundland completely, with the exception of Corner Brook and Labrador City? Where is that? I have been looking through here, I read through this, a very, very... Well, it might be after page 40 - I am on page 40 now - so I am going through it to see if there is anything here about closing those college campuses. No, there are advanced technologies there. Just one second, I think I have found the part where it gets mentioned. Here it is where it gets mentioned. It is on page 51. I will read it. It says: A new Liberal government will support initiatives to enhance and extend the reach of distance education by creating a Chair of distance education at Memorial University and establishing a distance education centre of excellence to provide leadership and direction.

Now, nobody understood that this commitment to distance education meant that all the students from other parts of the Province are going to have to travel further distances to get into post-secondary. That is the only commitment where it talks about education and anything connected to the post-secondary; we are going to make a commitment to distance education.

Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that nowhere in this document is there any reference whatsoever to the changes that this government brought in as soon as they got elected in terms of post-secondary education. It is not there. It is omitted, and one can only assume that if it was announced so quickly after the election that the omission had to be a deliberate omission. You just don't omit something like that without doing it deliberately. Of course, what we are saying is that there was a conspiracy of silence here, an absolute conspiracy of silence, to have this left out of this red book.

Mr. Speaker, what we obviously have here is a government that has no mandate at all. They have everything here, down to how many thumb tacks they are going to have in certain departments, but they do not have anything here about -

AN HON. MEMBER: No plan.

MR. H. HODDER: No plan whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, what we have, of course, back in 1989 there was a plan. Back in 1990 the White Paper of Dr. Warren said: We have a plan; however, when Dr. Warren left the plan was scrapped. Unfortunately Dr. Warren, the captain of that great ship that was reforming things at that time, when he left the commitment to education left as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe that is why he left.

MR. H. HODDER: Maybe that is why he left. He saw that there was a difference between what was being spoken and what was being delivered.

Now, obviously, in this particular case, in this particular book, there are no spoken words at all. Therefore, they are not committed to make the changes, of course, but they did not tell the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in spite of the Premier's comment where he says: A key element of our platform is partnership... where is the partnership? Where was the consultation? It did not occur. The Minister of Fisheries didn't even have the nerve to go to his district when there was a rally and a protest in Carbonear. The empty chair is all we saw on television.

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Fisheries gets the nerve to go out and speak to his people, he will find out that the people out there certainly are not satisfied with his decision making on the changes to post-secondary and cancelling first year university courses after spending $1.8 million to get it set up over there.

Mr. Speaker, what we are saying here is that this government has no mandate to make the changes it has made. They did not speak about it; they did not dialogue on it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make my comments.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I must say, I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments with respect to the Private Member's resolution presented by the hon. Member for Kilbride. I understand it was seconded by the hon. Member for Baie Verte, I believe. It is always nice to know that our colleagues are interested in the lot of students in Newfoundland and Labrador. I would particularly like to compliment the last speaker in terms of the Opposition House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: He did a good job.

MR. GRIMES: He did a very good job, actually, I must say, in his presentation. I think, having seen him perform in the House now for a number of years, I very much more so enjoyed listening to him today. I think a couple of years ago I used to find him very boring, to tell you the truth, but he was very good today actually. He is getting much better. I can see why he was re-elected the last time. He has honed his skills to a very high degree. He is getting much better at it. Maybe he is investing some of his additional salary as the Opposition House Leader into some Dale Carnegie course lessons, or something like that, but he is doing a really good job, I must say, and not only in the presentation but in the substance as well. I commend the hon. member on the points made, and all the speakers today.

I wanted to spend - I am almost forgetting the rules here now - I think it is fifteen minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GRIMES: A couple of minutes extra, because I know the hon. members opposite would like to take a few notes.

I would like to deal with some of the actual points raised in the preamble, if I could, to the resolution, and point out the view with respect to why the government differs in its opinion to some of the points raised in this Private Member's resolution. Certainly it begins, I guess, with the start of the preamble, `WHEREAS ensuring ready access to high quality post-secondary education is crucial in developing a productive workforce and building a vibrant economy', you will get nothing but absolute agreement from all members on this side of the House that that is exactly what we hope to accomplish with respect to the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly at the post-secondary level, and we would hope that the post-secondary education offerings in the Province, both at the college system and at the university, which we are talking about more specifically today, would always be flexible enough to meet the needs of the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are graduating from high school, but the other component as well, the continuing change in trends, because there are a shrinking number of high school graduates who are looking for opportunities at the university and in the college system, the shift, though, has turned into a whole other category of lifelong learners, people who are going through career changes and so on, and are looking for specific training options which are more readily available in the college system, the public college system and the private college system, but also people going back to university, part way through careers, and making career changes and adjustments, and taking seriously the lifelong learning aspect, and swelling the roles of the university beyond the first year level and beyond the level of high school graduates. So we certainly agree with the preamble that we want to assure ready access to high quality post-secondary education, and that it is crucial in developing a productive workforce and in building a vibrant economy.

Afterwards, the preamble goes on to suggest that: WHEREAS these deep cuts - and here is where we start to take some exception to maybe some of the language - WHEREAS these deep cuts, coupled with rising costs, will oblige the university to consider such significant measures as further tuition fee increases, program cuts and course offering reductions... A couple of points with respect to that part of the preamble.

These, by any stretch of the imagination, are not deep cuts for the university. The grant in aid for Memorial University, just going from the top of my head - I guess we will deal with it in more detail, probably, in the Estimates - the grant in aid in the last year or so has been about $111 million or $112 million, somewhere in that range, that the Province, through the Department of Education, provides to the university to offset a good part of its administrative costs and its programming costs. They raise the rest, Mr. Speaker, from tuition fees, other fees that they charge and so on at the University.

To suggest that in this case $8 million, which is $7 million operating and $1 million in capital, is a deep cut in a contribution of over $100 million, if you look at it from another point of view it is clear that it is less than 8 per cent. It is a reduction in the 7 per cent range. I think everybody remembers and does understand why these reductions are being considered in the first instance. Because of the fact that there have been some changes in transfer payments from the federal government to the Province, and we are trying to accommodate them and set the provincial priorities and make sure that we can adjust to those things that the federal government has to do to make sure that government stays solvent and is on a firm financial footing, and we too want to stay solvent and stay on a firm financial footing.

With the federal government making some necessary adjustments it is clear I think that if we were to pass along the level of reductions that used to come to the Province earmarked under Established Programme Financing for post-secondary education the reduction would be in the range of $13 million or $14 million immediately. What we have done with the University is rather than have a deep cut, which is what is described in this preamble, we have worked with them on a three-year program. Whereby we have given them some very necessary time to plan for the reduced level of grant in aid from the taxpayers. So that they can make some adjustments and accommodate this reduction in their own budgets and in their own program offerings, without having to have major impacts with program reductions or tuition increases.

Rather than pass along a $13 million or $14 million reduction in one year - which if we just flowing through the kinds of reductions that came from the federal government that is what we would have done. That is what was done in some other provinces, and I will return to that point in just a minute about the kinds of increases that are happening in tuition across the country. Because other governments have decided to pass along the federal reductions straight through to the universities in a single year without any accommodation that we are providing here in the Province of Newfoundland.

We have gone through a three-year program, $8 million this year - instead of $13 million or $14 million, which would be a rather deep cut; we have gone about a little over halfway this year - further reductions in the next two years, to give the University some time to plan and organize themselves over a longer range period, which is what they asked for. Rather than go in one fell swoop and cause very difficult impacts at the University we are phasing it in over three years. They have asked for that accommodation. Everybody understands that they like everybody else would prefer no reductions whatsoever. But once the government listened to the people in the public consultation, decided not to increase taxes because that is what they told us, just like in the Strategic Economic Plan a few years ago. It wasn't the government going out and suggesting to people what it was that we as the government thought they should do. They came to us and said: You should concentrate on things like aquaculture, tourism, information technology. So we put that into a strategic economic plan on behalf of the people because that is what they asked for. We are following that plan still today.

With respect to the pre-Budget consultation, people said: Don't tax us any more. They said: You people, between yourselves, the federal government and the municipalities, you are taking more than enough money from us now. Live within your means. If you can at all by living within your means, don't make any reductions in health care if you can help it at all, try to maintain the line in social services, and if you can, hold the line in education too.

The package of all of them was obviously too much for us to accommodate and there were some reductions that the government agreed to make in education. Some of them of course are passed along to the University. But again, just like in health care giving a three-year fixed budget so that they can do some planning, we gave a three-year funding cycle to the university.

The university does not have to go around, Mr. Speaker, wondering how much money they are going to get next year or the year after. They now know what their grant in aid is from the government for three years. So they have a real opportunity to plan, in a rational way, rather than try to react, in one fell swoop, to all of these reductions in a single cut. So we take exception and we don't agree, Mr. Speaker, in that preamble note where it says: AND WHEREAS these deep cuts will cause these things, they are not deep cuts, they are reasonable reductions that will give the university an opportunity to do some real planning over the next three years and minimize the impacts upon the students.

The other thing that has happened with respect to that, Mr. Speaker, is that we have had discussions with the university and they have agreed that to the greatest extent possible, they will follow the lead of the government. Because the government itself, even when we have had to make reductions in areas like Education, which is unfortunate as all of us in this Assembly would agree, but when we could not hold the line on every program area and had to make some reductions in some areas, and we chose Education instead of Health Care and instead of Social Services, when we couldn't hold the line everywhere, the university agreed that they themselves would follow the lead of government and make sure that they do the maximum amount of savings and efficiencies on the administrative side; they will look at the President's Office first, and see whether of not they need the full-staff complement in the President's Office.

They will look into the Deans' Offices in the different faculties and see whether or not they need the full staff rather than go down to the programming level and take out actual professors and lecturers in the classes and have to reduce program offerings to students. That will be a last resort, and then, beyond that, Mr. Speaker, the other last resort will be to absolutely minimize the increase in tuition because they are very sensitive to that. We all understand that there have been tuition increases over the last number of years, that we are inching up there, we are still, in this Province, far and away, the best post-secondary education bargain in the country bar none.

We have a nationally and internationally acclaimed university and we still have the lowest tuition rates in almost all of the country. And where there are exceptions, there are good reasons why, and I will point those out in a few minutes. But what we have done now, is have a university agree to work with us over a three-year plan, following the lead of the government to make administrative savings and effect efficiencies there wherever possible, and to minimize any direct impacts on the students themselves.

The whole notion with respect to a possible further tuition-fee increase, Mr. Speaker - I just might point out what the options really are for students in Newfoundland and Labrador when we talk about Memorial University; 1995-96, a full year's tuition at Memorial University: $2,312, two full semesters, full course load of five courses per semester. If we go into Atlantic Canada, Mr. Speaker, that compares to $2,820 at the University of Prince Edward Island, plus the fact that Newfoundland students would have to make the choice to go there because of some programming difference and also bear the cost of driving/flying to Prince Edward Island, paying the living expenses in Prince Edward Island, comparing to leaving some other community in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, and coming to St. John's/ Corner Brook, because, as we pointed out, we have already indicated, unfortunately we have had to reduce the options in other areas.

The University of New Brunswick, Mr. Speaker: $2,610 for the same offerings, leaving the Province, incurring extra expense compared to $2,312 in Memorial University. The University of Toronto, $2,451, only $100 or so more in tuition but then, a Newfoundland and Labrador student based here, would have to decide that he is in a program that is significantly different, it is something that is not offered at Memorial University that they need to do some place else or, if they are taking a program that is offered here and they decide to go to the University of Toronto, then they are going to pay the extra money as well as the extra travel cost and the extra living expenses as well. $2,452, Mr. Speaker, at the University of Waterloo.

We can go out to Manitoba and come close. The University of Manitoba: $2,328, only eight dollars more, but again, a student would have to decide that it is in his best interest to leave his home Province, travel to Manitoba, incur the expenses of going to Manitoba, be further away from his home town and his families and still pay eight dollars more; $2,550, Mr. Speaker, at the University of Saskatchewan; $2,529 at the University of Alberta and we have had - these are picked, Mr. Speaker, because there are Newfoundland and Labrador residents in every one of these institutions today because they have chosen to go there, largely for programs that are not offered at Memorial University. I think everybody here understands there are different specialities in different universities.

We could go to the University of British Columbia, and you can actually get tuition at the University of British Columbia cheaper than Memorial, $2,312 at Memorial and $2,295 at UBC. You save $17.00, $8.50 per semester, and you have to travel across the country to the University of British Columbia to get there, incur those extra expenses, live there, do your course work, and save yourself $8.50. Or you could go to Simon Fraser University for $2,310, save $1.00 a semester, and incur the cost of going across the country. All of us know that it is easier to travel across the Atlantic Ocean and go into Great Britain and all of Europe, and probably to Russia, faster and probably cheaper than you can get to British Columbia. So if that makes sense, then that is the kind of rate we are looking at.

Do you want me to carry on with just a couple of more comments?

By leave if I could, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: If he deals with the real issue.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and the other point - it is true, because there is another issue in this as well, by the way, that is being debated at this point in time in the meetings I have had with representatives of the CSU and so on, and that is the whole notion that even in Newfoundland and Labrador $2,312 is a standard tuition but the whole notion of differential tuition for different types of courses is on the scene as a debatable issue right across the country. It is in most universities now. It is in Memorial in a small way and will likely be an increasing type of notion at the university, that for general arts courses and so on, the tuition would be lower than for speciality-related courses, in the engineering field, in the medical schools, and so on.

I think the hon. member opposite who has the motion here understands and knows the concept very well from his days at Memorial where it was a fledgling concept a few years back but is now very much in vogue across the country, and will be very much in vogue at our university that we are very proud of as well. This is an issue that is coming of age in the whole area of post-secondary education and university education throughout the country.

We contend that it is basically not true that the higher tuition fees - because there are likely to be higher tuition fees, we do not know how much yet. Understand the point we make, that our reduction in granting aid to the university is less than 8 per cent. They will have to determine what efficiencies they can make through other means, and they will then have to determine what they are short in tuition. I believe every student in Newfoundland and Labrador who currently is, or is a prospective university student in the next year, expects the tuition to increase. We hope it is minimized, and we have asked the university to follow the lead of the government; they suggest they will. It will be their decision, though, to make in the not-too-distant future.

We do not think it is true at all, based on the numbers that are here, that this will force Newfoundland and Labrador students to go elsewhere for a university education, unless they are looking for course options that are currently not offered at the university. Because there is no indication that the university is planning on taking whole course options out of the curriculum and out of the syllabus anywhere in the near future as a result of any of these kinds of options.

Mr. Speaker, in looking at the motion, I am delighted that the hon. member brought it forward as a private members' resolution to give us an opportunity to pay some particular attention to what is happening at the university and to the plight of the university students now, and prospective university students in the next few years. It deserves this kind of attention but, in the meantime, I have had to encourage members on this side of the House, as my colleague who stands next to me and spoke first did, and also the other speakers from this side, that despite the resolution, despite bringing attention to it, we are not in the position and will be voting for a resolution that suggests that government should change its Budget decision and leave the grant unaltered in the next three years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am just going to take a couple of minutes because my colleague wants to finish off with his comments. I would like to stand in support of this resolution. I think it is a very timely resolution to bring before this House with the measures taken recently as they affect Memorial University, and also first-year courses in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we can talk about numbers back and forth. The minister made some good points and we realize that. There is nobody in this Province who does not realize the problems with the transfers from the Federal Government, the problems we had with our own Budget in this Province and so on. But aside from the numbers, Mr. Speaker, what we have to raise as an Opposition - and to speak to the point that the Member for Terra Nova brought up - is that as an Opposition we raise points of concern. The implications that we try to see down the road - we all try to speculate and see, once you make a decision on Budget, what the long term would be. I guess, as a government, as an Opposition, as any member in this House of Assembly, all members are obliged to do that. When there are decisions made in Budget, we try to see what the impact would be down the road. I think, as an Opposition it is our job to try to raise those concerns, to try to see, in the future, what the effects would be on people in this Province.

The Red Book, the Blue Book or whatever book it is - they all say the same thing. Every politician, I am sure, in this House and any House in this country would agree that the answer to anybody's economic recovery, especially in Newfoundland, is our education. Mr. Speaker, although the minister has mentioned about people leaving this Province to go elsewhere, I am more concerned about the people in the Province who are going to give up on an education because it is getting out of reach for them. Now, we all talk every day about social assistance, we talk about the unemployment lines and so on. It is one continuous cycle. If people in this Province, our young people are not encouraged and every effort put forward so that education is accessible and they can afford it in this Province, then what we have is a continuation of the cycle of social assistance and unemployment that we do not want to see. The whole point to any budgetary change, when it affects education, Mr. Speaker, is, in the long-term, bad for this Province. That is the point that we make on these changes.

Now, how high the tuitions will go, as the minister said, we don't know but they will go higher. So every dollar that they go higher, Mr. Speaker, it gets further out of reach of low-income people who decide to go and get an education. I am not talking about the people who are going to leave the Province to go to Winnipeg, B.C. and so on. Most of the time, those are people who can afford it and can go travel the country. My biggest concern is with low-income families who, although society thinks they will not make it, they decide they are going to try to make it.

One very important point, Mr. Speaker, is the accessibility of first-year courses around this Province. I know, Mr. Speaker, I don't need experts, nor does the minister or any hon. member need experts to tell them that parents try to encourage their kids to go do the first year at home, you are nice and close to home and try your first year. Many times, Mr. Speaker, their children turn around to them and say; no, university is not for me, and sobeit. That is the way it goes, but there are many people in this Province, parents, who encourage their child to go do first-year university courses in Grand Falls or an hour away somewhere else, but some are close to their homes. The parents are delighted when that young man or young woman turns to them and says; `Yes, I tried that first year, I think can handle university, I am going to go on.' What it is, Mr. Speaker, is a stepping-stone for the people who are just deciding whether they should continue an education in this Province.

Now, the more people that we get, Mr. Speaker - you talk about suggestions to the government - my suggestion is that the more people that we can get involved in first-year university courses outside St. John's and turn them on to education, then that is the goal of any government, any Opposition, any member in this House, and that is why, Mr. Speaker, it is crucial.

When we talk about budgetary restraints, we look at the long term effect down the road. Are we going to continue the cycle where we discourage a young person from starting university, where he ends up back on social assistance or back on U.I., or are we going to do everything in our power, as any government or any Opposition, to encourage these young people to continue their education? The people that I am most concerned about are not the people who are going to British Columbia, Harvard or anywhere else. I am talking about the people out around the rural communities of this Province who are trying to decide if they are going to go to university and now they are finding that it is further and further out of reach - low-income families.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: But according to the Member for Terra Nova we were supposed to be - government.

So we offer suggestions, Mr. Speaker, and we hope that the minister responsible, who is a lot more responsible than - no, I won't say that part - that we put forward constructive criticism when we talk about religion and a better tomorrow or whatever your theme is, is that the answer to this Province's economic recovery is in our young people; that they go and get an education, whether it be a carpenter course, whether it be a scientist or whatever it is, Mr. Speaker, that they do some type of education. The worry of any budgetary - and the brain drain already started on the other side earlier today when the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture admitted that he was brain drained. Of course he must have been brain drained because the Premier had to butt in and take up for him. It must have been a brain drain because there was a muzzle put on him.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, it is a very serious issue. I support the resolution. I really believe besides people leaving the Province that we should remember that first-year courses and accessibility of education at a cost that we can handle in the low- and middle-income people of this Province, those are the young people who we have to encourage to take that extra step. Go ahead, do your education and be a productive member of society in this Province, and not have to leave somewhere to find that education, is to do it right here. That is why these budgetary decisions have to be looked at in the long term and that is where I believe we have missed the mark. We will see increased tuition, we will see inaccessibility to rural Newfoundland, and we will see Newfoundlanders leave this Province because they can't get their education here or they have to go look for work.

I will leave it to my colleague to wrap up with his conclusion.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: First of all I would like to thank all hon. members for participating in the debate. I would just like to make a few remarks on -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) amendment.

MR. E. BYRNE: I didn't expect it to be amended but I would like to make a few remarks.

The Member for Terra Nova got up and gave an eloquent speech but it wasn't the first time I heard it. As a matter of fact I witnessed that speech first-hand in Clarenville when about 200 people showed up, and it got about the same reception out there as it got on this side, about two or three months ago. I'm not so worried about the comments made.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand fully the comments that have come from other members. But the point has been missed. The Minister of Education missed it as well.

We can harp about University tuition in this Province being the lowest or amongst the lowest across the country, and that may be true. It may be that students can absorb another 10 per cent tuition increase. I personally wouldn't agree with it but it may be that. But the minister, if he wants to look in isolation and put on his political blinkers, and say: What we have only done this year represents less than a 9 per cent or about an 8 per cent cut in Memorial University's budget, he is not being entirely forthcoming with this House.

If you look at, and if we take time to look at, the amount of cuts that the University has been forced to bear since 1989, in particular in the last three years, then you will see clearly, and all members would see clearly, the result of these budgetary cutbacks, but the minister did harp on the main point. He talked about students having to leave this Province for other universities for many reasons, most of which they now leave because courses that are not offered at Memorial, or programs of study - it could be law, it could be public relations, it could be whatever - they leave because they want to - it could be journalism - that they want to go to other institutions to take advantage of those courses of study or programs. But the reality is this: If we continue the onslaught of Memorial University's grant, then there will be less course offerings at Memorial, and as a result of less course offerings there will be less degrees or opportunities for people to pursue or attain a degree in this Province and, as a result, more people will leave the Province to attain university degrees. It is that simple, and that is the point, and the ultimate point and primary point, of this resolution.

I think that we should have another look, that there may be more efficiencies we can find within government's total Budget - I am not suggesting we go out and borrow more, but we have to look within the Estimates to see if we can find an additional $8 million this year, because three or four years from now the problem that we are discussing today will not be a problem. There are 9,000 students right now who are graduating from high school this year, and next year and the year after, but in year four we will look at 5,000 students graduating from high school in this Province, and the amount of money necessary to provide the same course of study and the same programs that now exist at Memorial today will not cost as much to do.

All I have asked in this Private Member's resolution is very simple; let's have another look within the Budget. Let's reinstate the grant as it existed last year to ensure that the next three years, which will be rough times for Memorial until declining enrolments kick in, that the amount of courses that are now offered, that accessibility that is now there to course offerings is maintained and the academic integrity of Memorial University is not damaged in any way.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the House ready for the question?

Motion defeated.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the House ready to call the vote?

All those in favour of the motion, please rise.

CLERK: Mr. Hodder, Mr. Shelley, Mr. Edward Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Ottenheimer, Mr. French.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

Order, please!

Could we please have order while the vote is being called?

CLERK: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Walsh, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Education, Mr. Lush, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Penney, the hon. the Minister of Social Services, Mr. Langdon, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour, the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the hon. the Minister of Health, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Ms Hodder, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer, Mr. G. Reid, Ms Thistle, Mr. Sparrow, Mr. Wiseman.

Mr. Speaker, ayes 8 and nays 26.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion defeated.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Motion to adjourn?

MR. SPEAKER: We don't need a motion on Wednesday.

MR. TULK: No, no, but I want to tell the hon. gentlemen what -

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, before I adjourn the House the hon. member would like to speak.

MR. TULK: Tomorrow we will be back at the Budget Speech. I would imagine that the Leader of the Opposition will go on for several more hours until the wee hours of the morning.

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