May 24, 1996                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLIII  No. 14


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

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

Before we begin the routine proceedings, I would like to welcome to the galleries on behalf of all members of the House eight adult basic education students from the Career Academy on Higgins Line, accompanied by their instructor, Patricia Morrissey. I would like to welcome as well, thirty-six Grade VII students of Coaker Academy from the District of Twillingate & Fogo, accompanied by teachers, Edgar Hunt and Douglas Small, and chaperons, Trudy Boyd and Donna Butt, with bus driver, Edward Luff. Also, thirty-four Grade IX French immersion students from O'Donel High School in Mount Pearl.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I gave an update to the House of Assembly on the situation with respect to the elimination or possible elimination of the public examinations and the Public Examinations Marking Board. At that time, I indicated that government had anticipated that the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association would co-operate in light of the serious financial situation faced by the Province and the reasonableness of our request. I regret having to inform the House today that the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association has informed me officially that it is not prepared to reconsider the position it has taken with respect to marking the examinations. Consequently, teachers have indicated that they will not mark public examinations this year.

I am most disappointed, and the government is most disappointed, that the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association has taken such a firm stand and has directed its teachers not to mark these examinations. Government has decided, in light of this decision, that we have no choice but to announce today the elimination of the public examinations for this school year. Schools, in consultation with the school districts, will decide on the method of final evaluation for all students who would have taken public examinations in the eighteen courses that were to be tested. The Department of Education will expect schools to submit a final mark based upon a 100 per cent assessment done by teachers in the schools. As I pointed out yesterday, Mr. Speaker, this is exactly the norm in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and largely the case in New Brunswick as well.

We have already been in contact with Memorial University with respect to this matter. The Senate at the University has authority on admissions standards. The University will be provided with a set of marks for each student on which to judge admissions. We will ask the University to convene its Senate Committee as soon as possible to deal with this matter on an urgent basis. We do not anticipate any problems with admissions at the University, nor do we anticipate any admission problems with the colleges.

In order to allocate scholarships, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education will be offering students an opportunity to write a scholarship exam, which will be administered at a scheduled date by schools throughout the Province.

Mr. Speaker, it is with considerable regret that I have to make this statement today. Certainly, it was government's intention that the public examinations would proceed but using a different method for marking the exams. The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association have seen fit not to co-operate, consequently government is left with no option but to eliminate the public examinations for this year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. LUSH: A good announcement for students, they will love it.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I thank the minister and his department for receiving a copy of this a few moments ago but similar to yesterday, it is again with distress, Mr. Speaker, that I must respond to a Ministerial Statement. It shows once again a haphazard attempt to co-operate with stakeholders of education in this Province. It once again, Mr. Speaker, throws the plans of thousands of students in this Province into complete disarray.

The questions I have to ask, Mr. Speaker, are: Where is the planning? Where is the much beloved consultation that this government has promised for months and months? The serious questions that have to be asked include, Mr. Speaker: How will grading now be done in our high schools throughout the Province? And the issue that I raised yesterday, Mr. Speaker: What about standards? The issue of standardization is important to schools, it is important to students, it is important to those institutions who accept the graduates from our high schools in this Province. This is completely unnecessary. It throws and cast blame on the teachers in this Province and that is completely unfair. With adequate planning, with adequate consulting, this problem would not have arisen. It is completely unnecessary, and it again is a sign to me as education critic that we are in a state of crisis in education in this Province, both at the post-secondary and secondary level.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Once again we are dealing with a crisis but it is a crisis created by the government, and the people who have not been considered in this, and by the government's cavalier attitude towards these people, is causing great distress, and that is the students. The students are the ones who are affected by this, and the students are the ones who are gravely concerned about this.

I have a petition I will present a little later and elaborate further on the student's concern about what is going to happen to them about the public exams. I think the sad story is how it is going to affect the students and how they are not consulted or have no input into this process.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the discovery of lucrative mineral deposits in Labrador is a harbinger of prosperous things to come for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. With increased mineral exploration in that area, however, environmental concerns have been raised about such things as fuel drum handling and site clean-up by exploration companies. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to outline for my hon. colleagues, some of the measures government is taking to ensure that mineral exploration in Labrador is carried out in an environmentally responsible and sensitive manner.

Currently, Mr. Speaker, there are twenty to twenty-five mineral exploration companies active in Labrador at about forty sites. It is difficult to be precise about this number because the nature of work requires that companies move around frequently. Six of these companies are drilling at present and each company is operating diamond drills at three of the five sites, on average. The remaining companies are doing air and ground geophysical and geochemical surveys, sampling and prospecting. All activities are generally helicopter supported and there are six to ten temporary camps in operation at any one time.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that this level of activity in a large area of Labrador presents a challenge for ensuring proper environmental controls. And, to that end, three departments are pooling resources to meet this challenge: they are the Departments of Environment and Labour, Mines and Energy, and Government Services and Lands. This government is also committed to fully involving the Labrador Inuit Association and the Innu Nation in this process. A regulatory system is already in place, Mr. Speaker, and some of the controls included are: Environmental Guidelines are included in the Mineral Exploration Permit issued by the Department of Mines and Energy. These guidelines set out the proper environmental practice for camps, site access, drilling, blasting, fuel storage, etc.

Permits referenced in the Environmental Guidelines must be obtained from agencies including the Water Resources Division, Environmental Management Division, Government Services Centre, Occupational Health and Safety, and a couple of other departments.

There are periodical inspections of drilling sites and camps by officials from several departments to enforce the rules, both during operations and for site restoration.

Mr. Speaker, while we have such controls in place, I believe there is room for improvement in a number of areas. I want to inform my hon. colleagues today that, since early this year, my department along with the Government Services and Lands Department and the Department of Mines and Energy have formed a committee to review the current processes and make recommendations and possible improvements.

This committee has been looking at the effectiveness of fuel drum control systems, to make sure companies transport and store drums properly and return them after use. They are also examining surveillance issues to determine what further measures may be needed in this regard. We will be receiving and making further decisions based on this committee's recommendations in the near future. I would like to be absolutely clear in stating that the government views environmental protection very seriously, and will take whatever action is required to ensure that violations of its policies and regulations are effectively dealt with.

Mr. Speaker, I also think it is important to offer positive reinforcement to those mining and supply companies who are operating in an environmentally responsible manner. As well, I applaud and encourage the participation of the Innu Nation, the Labrador Inuit Association and local communities and their residents who report problems to government in a timely fashion. In the final analysis, Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the forging of these positive partnerships is a true sign that Labrador mineral exploration and environmental protection can, and will go, hand in hand.

I also, Mr. Speaker, want to thank the Member for Torngat Mountains who has been working with the three ministers on the committee to work towards further improvements in monitoring environmental controls.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is important I say to the minister, to put regulations in place, it is also very important to see that these regulations are enforced; and we have had cases in the recent past where there has been a violation of regulations there and action had to be taken.

The minister admitted that it is even difficult to know how many companies are there and in what sites. That makes it even more difficult to monitor and to regulate those particular sites. The environment of Labrador is a very sensitive environment, there are hundreds and hundreds of companies coming in to Labrador over the next several years and the companies which will be there with no discoveries, who run exploration programs but do not have any sizeable finds of commercial activity and will be long gone, it is important to have an ongoing monitoring situation on those particular companies, it is very important.

The ones who have discoveries, the Diamond Fields and now the Incos, it is very easy then to be able to monitor those particular ones because they are going to be here, it is going to be long term and will be very lasting but the five and six camps are changing on a continuous basis there, and government needs to have the manpower and the regime in place to be able to monitor those specific activities, not just putting regulations and committees into place, but being able to have on-site inspections on a regular and a more formal basis I say to the minister, it is very, very important, and to ensure that the environment of Labrador that is sensitive will be left in a condition that is acceptable and that is not going to take in any way and have any adverse environmental effects or affect the pristine beauty of that particular part of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to congratulate the Member for Torngat Mountains for getting his government to wake up. The activity in Labrador, the mining activity, mineral activity, that has been going on is not news to the Minister of Environment and Lands; that has been going on for the last year or so. The Member for Torngat Mountains had to lambaste this government in this House to let them know what was going on there to get them into action.

Now, I am glad that the Minister of Environment and Labour has responded, and I hope that the measures that he has taken actually work. I hope that now the situation will be in hand and that action will continue to be taken to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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 Health.

Eleven months ago, on June 29, the government announced its intention to proceed with major changes affecting the Janeway, the Children's Rehab, and the Grace Hospital, and to have these changes completed by the fall of 1998.

In the fall of 1995, the minister said repeatedly in this House that he would be in a position to release the plan and the cost of this restructuring by the end of December, 1995. Here we are, eleven months later, and still no plan has been released. I ask the minister if he can tell us: Where is the plan?

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

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

I recall the questions, and I recall the answers given, and the hon. Leader of the Opposition is correct in indicating that I had hoped to have plans that I could lay before the House and the people of the Province by this time at least outlining clearly what the new capital construction costs would be to build the new Janeway and to do the renovations at St. Clare's and the Health Sciences Centre to accommodate the move of obstetrics and gynaecology, and the other procedures, over to those sites.

I have to tell him, though, that I don't have that precise plan at the moment in front of me inasmuch as the Health Care Corporation, which has a responsibility to move forward with this restructuring initiative, are at the moment about to receive from the William Nycum people who are doing the new programming, his work. They tell me that by the end of June they should be in my office with preliminary plans as to what they see the new construction looking like, exactly where it will be built at the Health Sciences Centre, the modifications that will have to take place at St. Clare's, and so on. So, in that circumstance, the planning that I had hoped to have a month or two ago is basically behind schedule to the extent that it will not be done now and in my hands until some time in June.

I have to also however say to the hon. member that whilst we are taking a little longer to do the programming and planning in a proper and orderly fashion, that the completion date for the restructuring is on schedule. We anticipate that it will be done by December 1998. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, there is a distinct possibility that some parts of that restructuring schedule can in fact or will in fact be able to be moved up as a result of us taking the appropriate amount of time to do the proper planning prior to going forward with the actual physical construction.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: No doubt the capital construction cost of this consolidation is going to be enormous. By earlier standards and options it was in the vicinity of hundreds of millions of dollars. But by the minister's own admission here in this House of Assembly he indicated that it would be in the range of $75 million to $100 million. The minister stated that last October in this House.

If the move is to be completed in two years from now, when does the government plan to start allocating capital expenditure to this construction? Where does the government plan to obtain the money? In other words, I ask the minister: Will he ensure that it will not come from the $903.3 million that he guaranteed will not be taken from health care over the next three years?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the preliminary figures that I indicated to the House last year still are the preliminary figures that I would indicate today. I had some discussions with the Health Care Corporation over the last month or so and I asked them in a cursory way, rather than giving me a formal estimate, because the work is not quite completed yet, the planning, what the new figures looked like from what they have seen so far. They indicate that $100 million plus or minus should take care of all of the capital adjustments that have to be made, both at St. Clare's and at the Health Sciences.

In terms of how we will finance that and where the money will come from, we will determine that in consultation obviously with the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and the Cabinet when we have a pretty well concise and exact figure. I would point out to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition that there are no shortages of consortiums that have come forward to me, and no doubt to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, offering various types of proposals that would see us raise the money for the construction outside of direct government borrowings. I'm not at all satisfied that the Province will go in that direction or that we will not go in that direction. But once we get the hard planning done and once we get the actual cost, we will sit down with the Health Care Corporation, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and government and we will make a decision as to how we are going to proceed.

The bottom line is this, that we will achieve a 30 per cent to 40 per cent savings on the operational costs of the buildings that are going out of existence or being closed down, the Janeway and the Grace. That translates into a savings on operations of about $25 million to $30 million a year. That amount of money inside the space of five years will be more than sufficient to pay for all of the adjustments capital-wise that we have to make and thereafter we will have in perpetuity considerable savings that we will be able to direct into hands-on direct patient care and health care. That is the objective of the restructuring, to do more with less and do it better in the meantime in terms of the health care in the Province for the people of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hope the proposals he is entertaining will be a little different procedure than the Trans City proposals that this government dealt with before, I will say to the minister. I ask the minister: Will he guarantee that the money needed will not come from the $903.3 million that this government committed to provide for health care services over the next three years? Will he guarantee that it will not come from that amount of money?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That is a rhetorical question that has not only been asked twice already this morning but in the past. I've said very clearly, and government has said, that we will achieve operational savings of roughly $25 million to $30 million annually as a result of the restructuring in the St. John's area. The savings that we achieve on operations will in the first instance be used to take care of the capital expansion and redesigning that we need to do to accommodate the down sizing and the adjustments to the sites. Thereafter, that operational savings - once the capital has been taken care of - thereafter that operational savings will be available on a continuing basis to be used in direct hands-on patient care.

The concept is to finance the capital from the operational savings we achieve by getting off the Grace and Janeway sites and that has been the plan from day one. It was announced June 29, last year. I have said that consistently every time the question has been asked in the House and the answer is unchanged.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

According to the minister's figures then, $75 million to $100 million it could cost, they will save $25 million to $30 million, so the balance - the $50 million extra, $60 extra million - must be going to come from the operating budget apparently or new capital financing, one or the other. So the minister has not given a commitment.

Now in the Red Book Premier Tobin promised that: The Janeway will be relocated to a dedicated area adjacent to the Health Sciences Complex. Six days after the election on February 28, Sister Davis of the Health Care Corporation of St. John's said: It will not be a new building as such but a new area of the Health Sciences that will be renovated. So which is it, Mr. Minister, adjacent to the Health Sciences, in the Health Sciences or does the government still know for sure?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, if we had the complete programming package in our hands we would see exactly what the requirements will be for new space and then we will plan exactly where that space will be located at the Health Sciences and how it will be contiguous to and tied in with the existing Health Sciences Complex. I guess the best example I could refer to again, as we have on previous occasions in this House is this, we have moved, over the past two years, the H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Clinic to a new site adjacent to, attached to, integrated with the Health Sciences Complex over there. What we have accomplished is not a separate building or something standing fifty feet away from the physical structure of the Health Sciences but we have provided for an integrated service that has given this Province the reputation of having one of the best cancer clinics in all of Canada.

We intend to provide appropriate space at the Health Sciences that will be added to the present Health Sciences Complex such that at the end of the day the children in this Province, the paediatric services of this Province will also be, continue to be, amongst the highest in terms of standard and best in terms of quality of care that will also be delivered anywhere in Canada. That is our commitment. If he wants a picture to see exactly what the new building will look like and where it will be attached to the Health Sciences, I am afraid he is going to have to wait until we get the pictures drawn but I can assure him that our commitment is no less resolute to ensure that paediatric services will be enhanced, not diminished, in both quality and quantity.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We will know next year, in the next fiscal year, how we are going to spend $75 million to $100 million the minister said to erect a building. He must be going to put up a tent if we are going to do it within a few months before the deadline. It must be a tent he has in mind, I say to the minister.

Now one of the foundations of the minister's estimate of the cost of relocating the Janeway, the Rehab and the Grace itself is the belief - stated by the vice-president of the Health Care Corporation of St. John's - that a fourth boiler could easily be added to the existing central heating system at Memorial University which services the Health Sciences Complex. Now the vice-president admitted in a recent interview that there is not even a guestimate of the cost. Now the assistant director of University Works said the job is not at all minor. It is a very major upgrading, I say to the minister. Does the minister today really know the cost of upgrading the central heating plant, to accommodate the added demands, eleven months after his announcement?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the first part of the question, no, we are not proposing to put up any type of a tent. The hon. member and his party would be familiar with tents, would be familiar with canvas constructions, and would be familiar with things that are put up quickly but that do not last very long. We are not in the business of tent erections in terms of quality health care. I deduct from that comment, from the hon. member, that their plan, had they been over here, would probably be to build tents in order to deliver health care but we are not in a temporary business. We are in a permanent, long term, modus operandi, in terms of health care in the Province. The construction that we put over there will do not only us but will do you, as a Newfoundlander, proud, Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member.

Now, as to whether or not there is capacity in terms of the steam heating plant at the university to take care of the new construction that has to be done over there, that will be determined in the process of doing the hard planning after the programming is completed. A figure of $100 million, give or take a few million dollars, to do the new construction will include the cost of everything that has to be done, including the enhancement, if necessary, of boiler plants at the university, or from wherever else we have to draw our sucked steam to make sure we have heat and appropriate services at the new site.

AN HON. MEMBER: You won't be growing cucumbers with the steam heat.

MR. MATTHEWS: We will not be growing cucumbers with hot air or with the steam. We will be providing good health care services and I will undertake to assure the hon. member that when he gets his invitation to the opening of the new facilities he will be proud to be there, and he will be amongst the forefront in saying he was part of the House that provided it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind hon. members that Question Period is not a period for debate. When we get long questions with long preambles we tend to get long-winded answers, so I ask hon. members to abide by our Standing Orders which say that questions should not be preceded by preambles.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are also for the Minister of Health.

MR. FRENCH: On June 29, 1995 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. FRENCH: Well, if you would listen you will hear - the announcement affecting the Janeway, the Rehab, and the Grace Hospital estimated a workforce reduction of approximately 300 positions. This would result from hospital consolidation and that by 1998. Does this government know the number and type of health care positions on the chopping block today?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The health care system in the Province, including that considerable portion of health care services that are provided within the St. John's region under the Health Care Corporation, has been under extensive restructuring for the past three or four years. There have been considerable job changes in terms of complements of people that we have needed to deliver health care. It is an ongoing process of trying to accommodate where there is need for less people in the system through attrition and to ensure there is the least possible disruption in terms of people's actual employment in terms of being laid off.

We do not keep or monitor on a day to day basis exactly what the movements are in terms of employment numbers in the Health Care Corporation, but let me say that on a percentage basis by far most of the jobs that have been affected in the St. John's area through restructuring have been at the management/administration level. We have lost probably 25 to 30 per cent of our managers in the system whereas, I believe, it is about 6 per cent of front line workers, or unionized workers that have been affected in terms of membership. The number of jobs continues to change; the adjustments are ongoing and will continue to be so until we get the whole system readjusted.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. minister to take his seat.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South on a supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that was a very tentative answer. The statement on behalf of government that approximately 300 health care jobs will probably be lost by 1998 prompted the then head of the nurses' union, and now the Minister of Social Services, to say: we believe that with the current under staffing that is existing in our hospitals and nursing homes that a further reduction has to impact the quality of patient care.

Will the minister acknowledge that the then head of the nurses' union knew exactly what she was talking about when she said that the quality of patient care will be hurt by these deep cuts in the health care system?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: To be more informative for the House, and in response to the hon. member's question specifically, I will undertake to provide to him and to the House, at the earliest possible date, exact figures as to what the job complement was when we announced restructuring, and what it is as of today in the Health Care Corporation. I have no difficulty in providing those employment figures. I believe it is important that the answer be given accurately and that the people of the Province know, so I will undertake to provide that specifically in terms of job numbers on all accounts in the health care system.

Now, as to whether or not the hon. the Minister of Social Services knew what she was talking about, I have to tell you, Sir, that she not only knew what she was talking about then; she always knows what she is talking about. She is probably one of the most efficient, proficient, and otherwise capable Ministers of Social Services that this House has ever had.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: And the fact that she is a colleague from the area of St. John's makes her no less competent or incompetent, but certainly it adds to, in my view, the quality of the ministers on this side of the House and the government in general. She is doing a superb job. She always knows what she is talking about, and if she said something last year that you have difficulty with, I suggest you meet her one-on-one, and you will get the fright of your life and a pleasant surprise to boot.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I couldn't agree with the minister more because, being a new member, from what I have seen I believe the minister is probably a very, very good breath of fresh air.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in talking about the job cuts, the Health Care Corporation promised the exact numbers will be determined through an extensive planning and consultation process with union and professional associations, but NAPE said they did not make much of an after-the-effect consultation process by a non-elected and anonymous board.

The head of the nurses' union, and again the Minister of Social Services today, to date we have had no input into what has happened. Won't the minister acknowledge the validity of what the nurses' union head stated at that time, that the government would not be moving as quickly with such a bottom-line mentality if it wasn't forced to? Won't he admit this massive restructuring of one of our most important sectors was undertaken not only without advanced planning, but without consultation, without the people who work on the front lines really understanding the care delivery?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: You didn't, that's for sure.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: You got that right, because you could never answer anything like that.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The proposition that the hon. member puts forward could not be, if he tried from now until the end of his current term in the House, a more inaccurate characterization of what has happened in the restructuring in the St. John's area.

The facts are these: That the Health Care Corporation has had extensive, ongoing, cordial and successful collaboration and discussions with NAPE, with CUPE, with the nurses' union, with the allied health professionals, with the doctors, and with all other disciplines in the health care system to the extent that all of the adjustments virtually that involve labour unions and labour groups have been successfully discussed and agreements reached such that there has not been one suggestion of labour interruption or strife, or discord or disharmony over at the Health Care Corporation's operations because of the way they have gone about doing business. They have gone from one union to two in terms of NAPE and CUPE; it has been a very smooth transition. They have made adjustments with the nurses because of different things being done at different sites, and nurses having to move, and all of it has been done without the slightest hint of labour strife or discord or disharmony, and it is one of the models - rather than of something not being done right, it is one of the models of how labour and government can work together in this Province when there is a process of ongoing and extensive consultation. We take our hats off to Sister Elizabeth and to the Health Care Corporation for the magnificent job they have done with respect to dealing with their employees and staff issues.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. In the recent Budget, funding for agricultural shows and exhibitions has been cut to less than half of last year's Budget. I wonder if the minister would inform the House as to which exhibitions will not be funded and which exhibitions will go ahead, as provided for in last year's Budget.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. In answering let me say to him that we were faced, as he knows, with some very tough decisions that had to be made on what we would fund and what we would not fund. The show that we have cut out, and we hope that we can get private enterprise to become involved in this show, but the one that we have cut out is the annual livestock show that takes place at Memorial Stadium. As I understand it, the rest of them - but I will get him more accurate figures - but as I understand it, the rest of the shows in the Province have not been in any way affected by what we are doing.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If you talk with local vegetable growers, they will tell you that the biggest problem confronting their industry today is marketing. I ask the minister if he is aware of this problem, and if so, is he at all concerned, since this recent Budget has totally wiped out all funding for agricultural marketing and development programs.

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

MR. TULK: We are very much aware of how important it is in this Province to do marketing. The hon. gentleman over there on the other side should be very much aware of how important it is to do marketing for agricultural products, too. There is a place up in Mount Pearl that I understand failed because of marketing efforts by a former government of which this member was a supporter.

Put that aside, Mr. Speaker. Yes, we are very much aware of that, but again I say to him that in the budgetary process that goes on it is fine and dandy for the hon. gentleman to stand up on the other side and ask: Have you done this and have you done that, and are you aware of this and are you aware of that? Yes, we are aware. We are going to work very closely with the agricultural community to ensure that its products are marketed, and marketed in the most efficient way possible.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister if he would support some kind of protection as it relates to the sale and marketing of locally grown Newfoundland vegetables. As the minister is well aware, at a certain time of the year when our own local vegetables are on the market, we get vegetables predominantly from the area of the Province of Prince Edward Island being dumped into this Province and the price of vegetables of our own local growers is being driven down. When their own local vegetables have been consumed, then you find that those vegetable prices go through the roof.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister if he would invoke some kind of protectionism so that we can look after our own local growers first and look after the people from other provinces and their growers second.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, after that long speech given by the hon. gentleman, let me say to him that I have seen governments in this Province try to protect Newfoundlanders for years. No, we aren't in the habit of being protectionist, but we will help Newfoundland farmers and we will help Newfoundlanders in all walks of life, I say to him, become very competitive. And when we do that, let me say to him, they do not need to be protected from anybody, including the gentleman on the other side.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is also for the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. With regard to the forest industry, we are all aware - I am sure the minister is aware - of the devastating effect insect infestation could have if we do not detect the problem immediately and deal with it immediately. It is not the budworm this year, it is the hemlock looper. Could the minister update us on the latest conditions with the hemlock looper?

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, yes, we are very much aware again of the devastation that the hemlock looper could very well cause in the forest industry in this Province this year. Of course, I would also tell the hon. member, as he probably already knows that the biggest infestation that has occurred is on the West Coast of the Province, particularly up the Humber Valley. We are taking whatever measures are necessary to protect the forest on the West Coast so that people in this Province can enjoy the kind of living that they have made from the forest and to protect the forest ecosystem. As a matter of fact, I say to the hon. gentleman, we are putting a substantial amount more cash into the Budget this year, one of the very few areas that has seen an increase in the amount of funding available, to make sure that indeed the forests in Western Newfoundland on the Springdale Peninsula are protected so that the hon. gentleman and his people have a means of making a living.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to hear the minister is so concerned, because it can be a very serious problem, as the minister knows.

Now, in the past, Mr. Speaker, the minister knows also the fact that the expertise that did the research on the hemlock looper in particular was done by the forestry centre here in St. John's. Can the minister tell me now that that will continue to be done by experts here, in Newfoundland and not in New Brunswick?

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

MR. TULK: Yes. Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman, I don't know where he has been.

Yes, we regret what went on with the National Forest Service in this Province but I have to tell him that there have been press releases and statements made over the past months by the Premier and by a number of other people, that we are going to establish in Corner Brook, right in the heart of forest country, a centre of excellence equal to none in this country. We are going to ensure, absolutely -

MR. FITZGERALD: Will that be before or after (inaudible) university (inaudible) in Grand Falls?

MR. TULK: What's wrong with old (inaudible)?


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

I have recognized the hon. the Government House Leader; I ask hon. members to do the courteous thing and give the hon. member an opportunity to answer the question.

MR. TULK: We are going to ensure that that forestry centre is built. As a matter of fact, we have put it on a fast track and I understand that we will be calling tenders for it in the fall and that the hon. gentleman will have his forest protected; we will protect the forest for all of Newfoundland. We will have the greatest expertise that this country - Do you want me to sit down or do you want me to answer the question?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Alright, I will sit down.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I am much aware of the forestry centre about to be planned for Corner Brook and also aware that the minister said that it will be on fast track for Corner Brook. The question is, and I will ask the question again: The expertise that was here in Newfoundland that had a lot to do with the research for the hemlock looper - and I know the minister has congratulated that group on doing such a good job with that. Will that same expertise stay in Corner Brook in the new centre or will in fact, the expertise now be coming from the centre in New Brunswick?

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

MR. TULK: I am not going to take up the time of the House with such foolish questions.

The truth is I have already answered. The answer is yes, yes we will provide that and more. We will provide whatever is necessary to ensure that the forests in this Province are protected and if the hon. member wants me to, I will put that in writing to him and send it over to him and I will put it in big letters.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I want to table the report of the Public Tender Act exceptions for February 1996 - the last one for me.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act", (Bill No. 8); and also, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Provincial Parks Act", (Bill No. 7).

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Public Accountancy Act", also I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Provide For The Safety Of The Public With Respect To The Use And Operation Of Elevating Devices, Amusement Rides, Pressure And Electrical Systems".

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Legal Aid Act", (Bill No. 12).

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Establish The Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board, And To Provide For The Certification Of Professional Fish Harvesters".

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Until we have some order here, the Chair will not proceed with the routine Orders of the Day.


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

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

I am pleased today to rise and present another petition on the recreational food fishery and I would like to say that I was delighted -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your protection from the other side.

Mr. Speaker, I will read the petition: The petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, known as the Fightin' Nfld'ers, ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer - is this proper now, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister if it is okay - 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: to open a food and recreational fishery to all Newfoundlanders or to close it for other Atlantic Canadians.

Wherefore your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to support -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I am very reluctant to do this but I am convinced, having heard this for about the fifth or sixth day now, that that petition that the hon. member presents is not in the proper format order for this Legislature and should not be entertained.

MR. SHELLEY: It is in the right form. I have already checked it out.

MR. GRIMES: It is not in the proper form (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is not amused by the bantering back and forth here on this particular issue. I have not recognized the hon. member yet because of the bantering back and forth. This has to stop. I ask members, please, to follow the rules of the House.

MR. H. HODDER: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, this petition is phrased according to the rules of the House. It is addressed `To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in legislative session convened.' All of the petitions presented in this House are properly addressed to the House of Assembly, that is the rule, that is what this petition says. Therefore, this petition meets all the criteria stated and unstated and follows the conventions that have been practised in the House for decades. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, this petition is totally, completely, 100 per cent within the rules and follows all the conventions that have been followed in addition to that.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has not seen the petition. I can only take the hon. member's word that it is in proper form. I don't know if the Clerk has had an opportunity to see it or not but we will allow the member right now to present his petition.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

What a load of foolishness that the people in this Province have -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: I would be inclined, as the Speaker has ruled, to take any member of the House at his word, but I would question it, because we have had this petition five or six times before, and when the hon. member has introduced this petition repeatedly, he has never used that particular wording that the Opposition House Leader just used and it has never been attached to the petitions that he has presented in this House before. Normally, I would not object, but if we are going to have petitions which are serious, they should be in the proper format. I would ask, with all due respect, Mr. Speaker, that you would have the Table check the format of the petition that he is actually reading from, has signatures attached to it and is being presented to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order - is the hon. member speaking to that point of order?

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to the point of order, this is the exact petition that I presented yesterday - well, yesterday we did not get to petitions - the same petition I presented yesterday. I did not read the first line maybe, is that what the minister is saying? Do we have to read every line in the petition? The petition is signed properly and it is in order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order.

The Chair will just take a brief moment to have a copy of the petition presented.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: It is the same petition as yesterday, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, this petition is, no doubt, in order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure that people in this Province, fishermen and people who want to go out and jig fish for the summer, are not as worried as the minister is that the `I's are dotted and the `T's are crossed. The intent of this petition is to speak on behalf of hundreds of Newfoundlanders, maybe thousands, like I told the Premier yesterday when he spoke on this petition, or the day before.

I don't know what the poll says about how many people want a food fishery or not. I support it on the principle that a food fishery should be allowed in this Province if it is allowed in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. That is why I support this petition, Mr. Speaker. I don't know what the popularity of the petition is and I am not too concerned about it. If there are five Newfoundlanders in this Province who want to go out and jig a fish to eat, ten fish or so, they should be allowed to do it.

I support the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture when he says that we should have more seals -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Let me finish the statement now. If he would increase the seal quota in this Province, Mr. Speaker, I support that. That is where we should be getting the extra fish for a man to go out to catch a fish to eat.

The Premier, who was the former federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand in support of my colleague's petition, which was interrupted. Knowing full well what the intent of the petition was and what the spirit of the petition was, I think it doesn't speak well for the member and the minister who interrupted and took away the member's time in allowing him to speak on behalf of his constituents and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in presenting this concern here in the people's House. It has always been our heritage and it has always been part of our diet, it has been part of our culture to be able to go out and jig a codfish.

I for one don't listen - I am not too concerned about what some of the scientists out there are saying about the state of our cod stocks. I don't think we should go out with draggers, I don't think we should go out and set nets or set traps, but I do think we should be able to go out and catch a meal of fish with a hook and line. I think maybe you might even be able to do like I said before, do away with the jigger. Because when something is caught on the jigger, in most cases it is destroyed. There is nothing wrong with going out and catching a meal of fish to support our families, to allow it to be part of our diet as people have done for years in this Province.

I know the minister deep down inside agrees with the food fishery. He may not preach that theme here in the House of Assembly but I know, in conversation with other people, that the minister had planned on making a pilgrimage to Ottawa to talk to his federal counterpart up there - I know that, I know it for a fact - in order to get the food fishery reinstated. Because he, too, who represents a rural fishing community, knows how important it is to the people of this Province to be able to go out and take as simple a thing as a codfish to provide for their families.

I fully support the Member for Baie Verte and his petitions, and the people who are sending those petitions forward. It was a big issue in my district in the last election. It was an issue in the Member for Terra Nova's district. He may have won the election, but I guarantee you, he didn't win it because he came out and didn't support the food fishery. He won it because of his past performances, and he would have won it much bigger had he taken a stand on the food fishery and come out and supported it. The minister as well can't stand here in the House and say it is not an issue in his district.

Sure, we have to be conservative, Mr. Speaker. We know that we have to look after our stocks. We know that the sea is the lifeblood of rural Newfoundland, and we cannot possibly take a chance on destroying this industry, but I don't think we are going out and talking about hundreds of thousands of tons. In fact, the amount of fish that was taken in the food fishery that was done as an experiment a couple of years ago was less than the by-catch of most fisheries here in this Province. And if we are really, really sincere in looking at replenishing our stocks and allowing them to go back to what they were in the beginning, where we could go out and support rural Newfoundland, then I think it is about time we looked at some of the activity that those larger companies are taking part in. and I think of the shrimp fishery.

The minister must know full well what I am talking about. I commend him for bringing in the experimental fishery with the shrimp pots, because I think this is one way of doing away with the wastage that is happening up off the Coast of Labrador, and up off Greenland today, to the cod stocks. All you have to do is talk to the people who work on those draggers and they will tell you about the tons and tons of juvenile codfish, juvenile turbot, juvenile flounder, that is dragged up in those nets that they use and shovel off the decks of the boats, and here we are, saying `We won't allow you, Newfoundlanders, we won't allow our own people, to go out and jig a codfish because you may destroy the cod stocks'. I think we should take it a little bit further and look at where the problem rises.

Also, Mr. Speaker, why are we the only Province in Canada that is not allowed to take part in a cod fishery? Can somebody stand up over there and intelligently tell me that the fish we have here around the Coast of Newfoundland are not the same fish, not the same stocks, that might swim across and go over to Nova Scotia, go over to Prince Edward Island, go up to the North Shore of Quebec? No, they cannot do it because I believe, and the fishermen believe, the true scientists out there, that they are the same stocks of fish.

I fear that the minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - is probably listening to the federal minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a minute to clue up?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

MR. EFFORD: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to make note that leave has been taken away by the Minister of Fisheries.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I will begin by saying how I feel about it. There is no Newfoundlander, including the whole of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, who would rather participate in a food fishery, or be able to go out there and jig a codfish, than this gentleman right here. Nobody would rather do it than I would. I am out in boat every single weekend that I get free; the first thing I do when I hit Port de Grave is get the boat ready and take off for the weekend. I tell you, the hardest thing that I have to do is to go over the jigging grounds in Conception Bay, that was the lifeblood of Conception Bay, and see the scarcity of fish on the bottom, when I was used to seeing them plentiful, when fishermen could earn a living.

The Member for Bonavista, the Member for Baie Verte, I visited their two communities in the last month - six hundred people in the hole, in total frustration, and don't know where their future lies in the fish plant. And here is the hon. member, who sat in the audience there and tried to play politics that night, saying now that we should implement a food fishery when we don't have a good count of how much fish is in the ocean, and if there is going to be any commercial fishery in the next five, ten, or fifteen years, and his people down there don't know if they have to move to Fort McMurray or to Toronto or to Montreal, somewhere to find a job. It is very irresponsible.

I think what the hon. member should have been doing is standing up in this House and making sure that we have accurate information on how much cod is returning. What is the age of the cod? Can we go out and start, in the next two or three years, a hook-and-line commercial fishery? That is the type of attention we should be paying, with emphasis on the cod stock, not going out there on the emotions of three or four people from St. John's and Kelligrews who want to get out there on the weekend, at the expense of who knows who. They don't care about the lives of people out there in rural Newfoundland and the tens of thousands of people who are depending on social programs and TAGS which is now coming to an end, don't know what they are going to have to do tomorrow, having to get money from Social Services.

There is where your petition should be coming here in this House. Whether they fish in Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick, Mr. Speaker, is not an issue. What is an issue is the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: That is the issue we should be concerned about. Whatever we can do, conservation measures, short-term pain for long-term gain. If I have to do without jigging a fish to eat and I have to go to a supermarket to buy one, I will do that for the short term. Hopefully, in a year or two, the codfish will be at sufficient numbers that not only can we fish them commercially, not only can the fish plants be re-opened, not closed, not only can the boats be untied, not tied up, all up on the slipway, that you and I and everybody else will be able to enjoy the leisure and the pleasure that we have enjoyed for so many years while this Province lasts. I am not going to support something that would be to the detriment of the future of this Province at the political nonsense carried on by the opposite crowd.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: That is not what you told the reporter from The Evening Telegram.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition. It is: To the hon. House of Assembly in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned residents of the District of Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS a modern and well maintained transportation infrastructure is essential to ensure a continued and an increased tourist traffic flow around the Province resulting in a vibrant tourism industry; and

WHEREAS a modern and well maintained transportation infrastructure is essential to ensure quality products are delivered to markets outside of and within the Bay d'Espoir - Connaigre region; and

WHEREAS a modern and well maintained transportation infrastructure is essential to ensure a safe and timely transport to medical facilities in Central Newfoundland, to employment opportunities in other regions of the Province and to provide social connections to other parts of the Province; and

WHEREAS Route 360, known as the Bay d'Espoir Highway, and roadways in the Bay d'Espoir area have been left in disrepair and in desperate need of upgrading and resurfacing; and, as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by more than 2,000 people from the Bay d'Espoir - Connaigre region. Really, what they are saying is that the Bay d'Espoir Highway is the lifeline for the people in the Bay d'Espoir - Connaigre area. That road was paved some twenty years ago. Really the infrastructure I guess, or the roadbed itself, was not up to today's standard. When the road was put through there was no logging on the Bay d'Espoir Highway, but now you have the heavy trucks pulling eighteen, twenty cords of wood from northwest Gander up the Bay d'Espoir Highway. The roadbed itself couldn't stand that and the pavement has become really poor. Therefore, the people in that region have a very difficult road to travel.

However, I must say that over the last number of years the government, through the Roads for Rail trunk road agreement has done considerable improvement to the highway. In fact, there were thirty-eight kilometres done on the Harbour Breton section, there were eighteen kilometres, I believe, done on the Trans-Canada Highway going into Bay d'Espoir, and there are another sixteen kilometres being done this year to that particular road as well. That will give us in excess of about sixty kilometres being done by the trunk roads agreement.

However, there are still sections of the highway that need to be done and it is really rough. The people from the area - basically as I said and the petition says, it is a lifeline to Central Newfoundland. Because we depend on Central Newfoundland for health care. The ambulance services that run from the Connaigre into Grand Falls, it is more than two hours drive. The road condition is inhibiting that in many instances. It also is an inhibitor to the tourist trade in the Connaigre area and the Bay d'Espoir area as well.

So these people who have signed this petition represent all of the communities down in that particular area. Basically, they are petitioning, as I said, government to speed up the process of doing the road. The money is there to do it. They are saying: Let's do more than sixteen kilometres a year, let's do it as fast as we can so that we can have a good transportation system for the residents of the South Coast who have to come into Grand Falls to do business, and tourists coming into the area and so on.

The Bay d'Espoir area has become a beehive of activity within the last year with the increase in the aquaculture business, and in fact, in a meeting with the minister and a number of ministers this week, one of the proprietors of SCB Fisheries was saying that every day this year, there is a tractor trailer load of feed going in to Bay d'Espoir. So we have 365 tractor trailers of feed going in to the Bay d'Espoir area to feed the aquaculture industry there. So that is really a lot of use of this road, and the more use it gets, then obviously, the rougher it will become.

We are looking forward to government's continued action in upgrading this in making this road, as we said, a superb and first-class trunk road agreement as a part of the Newfoundland and Labrador transportation system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise in support of the hon. member's petition. I noticed while he was speaking he mentioned the Roads for Rail Agreement, especially as it relates to tourism. I guess, sometimes we have to go back and look at exactly where the agreement came from and I guess we should remember who was the federal minister at the time when this particular agreement came into being.

I know the hon. member is the Premier's Parliamentary Assistant and he sits next to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation on the other side, so hopefully, he can do a bit of arm-twisting and a bit of bending, and hopefully he can bring his petition for the residents of his district to a very successful conclusion. I support the hon. gentleman's petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Is he speaking to the petition?



MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to take a couple of minutes to reflect on what my hon. colleague was saying about the need to do further work on the Harbour Breton road this year.

The one thing that we have to be very aware of - and this government is very aware of it, and the past government since 1989 has been very aware of the need to have an effective transportation system for the future economic development of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole.

What has been highlighted here this morning in presenting this petition to this hon. House, just highlights a particular region of this Province that needs further work done on the roads to make the transportation an effective and efficient system because of the economic development in that particular region, not unlike the rest of the Province. But I can say, Mr. Speaker, that the government is very aware of it, the department is very aware of it. It has been pointed out by the member for the district, that there has been a number of kilometres completed to date, I think it is fifty-four kilometres, there is a total of 203, I think. At the end of the day, when the Roads for Rail Agreement will be completed, there will be a need to do further work on that road, because there is not enough in the present agreement to complete that section of highway. But I can assure you that whenever there is money available, that section of highway will be a priority on the list of government.

Now, I want to make a quick mention about the statement made by the member opposite in referring to the Roads for Rail Agreement and the minister of the day and the government of the day who brought that in. I also want to add something to that. If a decision had been made for the best interest for Newfoundland and Labrador we would not have given in so easily on the amount of money that we got. They bought our railway for $800 million. It was not sufficient, there was not enough money in that agreement to replace and rebuild the highways in this system that would cover all transportation needs because of losing the railway. Sufficient monies should have been put into the system to complete the whole Trans-Canada, the rebuilding of the Trans-Canada and all the trunk roads.

In the case of this particular highway, at the end of the agreement there will still be a need and no monies to complete another 100 kilometres of the road, and that goes right across the highway and we can take any section of road. We should have gotten more money for the Roads for Rail Agreement, and if this government had been in power, Mr. Speaker, we would have gotten more money.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: An excellent deal.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse-au-Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in the House today to present a petition on behalf of the 500 residents of Cartwright, Black Tickle, and Paradise River, Labrador, in support of keeping their RCMP detachment open.

It says: To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the communities Cartwright, Black Tickle, and Paradise River: We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the closure of the RCMP detachment in Cartwright.

Well, I guess, Mr. Speaker, one can only assume that there will be reductions in policing services when you have a cut to that division in the Province, but one cannot assume that there would be services cut in areas where there is minimal policing services in remote areas of this Province where you have isolated communities, as there are in Labrador.

The residents of these communities have been receiving only minimum policing services as Canadian citizens, and now they are being forced to have to deal with services that may become non-existent. Eliminating the police detachment in this area reduces the overall budget for the RCMP by only $200,000 in my estimates, which is a minimal savings for that department, but a loss of services that provide protection and enforcement to people of this Province in rural, isolated communities.

The RCMP is proposing that their detachment in Mary's Harbour serve the residents of Cartwright, Black Tickle and Paradise River. Already that detachment services eight isolated permanent communities and twenty-three seasonal communities. They are served by only two officers. Complaints of policing services have been registered from areas that are presently served by that department. People and communities along the Southeast Coast of Labrador have been lobbying to have policing services increased, and yet, with this cut we have seen services decreased.

Policing of this nature cannot be done adequately without proper boat facilities and air patrol, and as we all know, this is quite expensive in Labrador. At present, we have two officers serving, as I said, eight isolated communities, and what they are proposing is that these officers now serve eleven permanent isolated communities, in excess of twenty-six seasonal communities. It cannot be done and it will not be done. It is not being done under the present system and with more area to be covered; it will not be done under the new system.

In reviewing the Budget estimates, from my understanding, it appears that the RCMP budget for 1995-1996 was $39,728,000 and so many dollars, and that was revised at somewhere around $37 million. This year's budget is estimated at $36 million and, to me that indicates only a cost reduction of about $1 million to the RCMP. And from the cuts that have been coming out of Labrador as a whole, it seems like the RCMP there will be saving in excess of $600,000, so I have to question how much of the burden of this cut we are going to bear?

As everybody in this House knows, in Labrador we are handicapped. We are handicapped in our own land when it comes to protesting cuts in this Province. We cannot gather on the steps of Confederation Building and launch a lobby to protest what we do not believe is right because we live in a isolated area of this Province, and as many people know, it seems that we always get hit the hardest and we cannot come back because we are not accessible to the people who make decisions.

I feel that there are other areas of this Province where cuts could have been made in policing services and I have to question, for instance, the water patrols on the Southeast Coast of the Island and if there was something that could have been down scaled there. To me these types of services affect fewer people directly. I also have to question the Northern Peninsula of this Island, and as much as I hate to make comparisons to other rural areas of the Province I feel it is necessary in this case. When you look at the Northern Peninsula from St. Anthony down to Rocky Harbour you have five RCMP detachments in a 350 kilometre radius. You compare this to the Labrador Coast, where you have over a 400 kilometre radius of isolated communities with no road transportation to be -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS JONES: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that we have an area of 400 kilometres that is totally isolated with no roads and we expect to police that entire area with two officers in a one-remote location. I have to ask where the fairness in policing service is to the Labrador isolated communities of this Province? For seventy years this area has not enjoyed the basis privileges of police protection, first under the Newfoundland Rangers and then after Confederation, under the RCMP. I guess the reality is, is that if there is a crime committed in these communities or if someone decides to go on a rampage we are looking at possibly a full week before RCMP officers can get into this area. We have to deal not only with travel conditions but also with weather which plays a big part in travel in Labrador.

I am asking that the Minister of Justice and his department please understand the geographical conditions and the natural obstacles and challenges that are faced by policing these communities. I ask that he understand the basis rights of the people who live in these isolated communities of Cartwright, Black Tickle and Paradise River and how their lives are affected by this decision. I ask that he look also at the unfairness in the decision that has been made to close the Cartwright detachment and what an injustice that this is doing to the people of that area. So I ask that he reconsider his decision and keep the RCMP detachment in Cartwright open.

Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am rising in support of the petition so ably presented by the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au-Clair.

The issue that is being raised here, Mr. Speaker, is one that is very fundamental. The question put before this House by the petition is whether or not the safety and security of the people of that district of the community of Cartwright and the other communities on that part of the coast is as important as the safety and security of someone who lives in St. John's, Gander, Labrador City or in Roddickton. That is the fundamental question that is being put to this House by the member and I am pleased that the member has presented this petition. It is about time that the residents of that part of the Labrador Coast had someone speaking up for them in the House of Assembly instead of getting on with political rhetoric and gamesmanship.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Political rhetoric and gamesmanship is what we had heard before but now we have someone presenting the true concerns of the people for what their communities need. I think the case has been presented quite clearly and adequately by the member to ensure that people who have a need for their security in Cartwright, in the other communities that were mentioned, who have no access to policing service, except on a very delayed basis.

If an incident occurs in these communities, it can take - as the member said - up to a week, sometimes a couple of days for a response to come from the RCMP. That is not good enough, Mr. Speaker. That is not good enough when the police forces and the amount of money that this government is spending on police forces, both to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and in the contract with the RCMP, the amount of money that is available for justice and policing is there, that it should be distributed more fairly to ensure that in rural Newfoundland - it may cost more per capita to have adequate policing services in rural Newfoundland, there is no doubt about that but that, Mr. Speaker, is the nature of the Newfoundland and Labrador distribution of people. That is the nature of our Province and if we are not going to ensure that the security and safety of individuals is adequate in rural Newfoundland then what we are saying to the people of this Province is that if you want to live there, well, you are on your own and you take your own chances.

I don't think that is right, and I am not going to get into some fancy rhetoric about resettlement, disguised resettlement. What I am talking about here is basic fairness to the people who live in this Province and who want to continue to live in rural Newfoundland, but are now speaking out and are prepared to demand that government be fair to the communities on the Coast of Labrador, just as they are supposed to be fair to St. John's or Corner Brook, or other parts, even, of rural Newfoundland.

I know the member was hesitant to compare to other parts of rural Newfoundland, but I think she made an adequate comparison when she talked about the fact that in certain parts of rural Newfoundland road transportation makes it easy for police personnel to carry out their police work in a larger area. In the Northeast Coast, where roads are adequate transportation is there, whereas on the Labrador Coast the only way to travel from community to community is by airplane, by boat, or by snowmobile in the winter, and this provides a very different type of environment for police work.

Mr. Speaker, I know the Minister of Justice is not here to respond, but I hope someone on behalf of government can respond to those concerns and seriously reconsider the decision that has been made and redeploy the budgetary monies so that the police operations on the Labrador Coast are not impaired, and that this decision is reversed.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to the petition presented by the hon. Member for Cartwright - L'Anse-au-Clair, and want her to know that I associate myself with the concerns that she has raised. Inasmuch as a non-resident of her part of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador can empathize with and associate with the concerns of Labrador, I do so.

For many, many years I have had great concerns about that great part of our Province, having living and taught - granted, not in the coastal area but in Churchill Falls - for five years, that there was a great admiration and great affection developed for Labrador during that period of time. I want to say that I lived in Labrador during a time of great upheaval, during the time of the New Labrador Party, and I fought rather vigorously and zealously for Labrador, encouraging local members, local people like herself, to get involved in politics so they could present with zeal, and with a great feeling for Labrador, the special needs of that part of the Province.

I am delighted with what has happened and with what continues to happen in Labrador over the past number of years with the great members that we have had representing the area. All of them, each in their own way, have been doing a magnificent job in terms of bringing the needs of their area to this House of Assembly and creating a greater awareness for the special needs and the special concerns for Labrador. And this government has demonstrated its concern; this government has demonstrated that it intends to treat Labrador, the Labrador section of our Province, with the same degree of equity as they are treating other parts of the Province, and I believe the onus is on all of us to ensure that all of this Province, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the full potential of the Labrador section, the Island part of this Province, is developed to the good of the people for the good of all of our people, and I would hope that the Minister of Justice, and I am sure he will, will read Hansard and particularly read the petition presented by the hon. member to ensure that if there is some injustice in this particular case, if the people of her particular area, the area she mentioned, Black Tickle and Paradise River, if these areas are not being served adequately by the RCMP of this country, then I believe he will see that matter is corrected and that it is remedied. It is my advice to him that he look very seriously, as I am sure he will, to ensure that in terms of police protection, and indeed in terms of all public services, that Labrador is well represented, that Labrador is well serviced with respect to the public services of this Province, that it doesn't feel neglected, that it feels that it is indeed being treated as an equal partner in this great Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope, and I know that the Minister of Justice will address the concerns. If there are at all any irregularities, any kind of inadequacy with respect to policing in that part of the area, I am sure that it will be corrected and rectified.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of high-school students from St. John's. Three hundred and thirty-four students have signed this petition. It concerns the issue of public examinations and marking. The petition reads as follows. It isn't in the exact form that the House requires, but both sides of the House have agreed to waive any objections to the format of the petition. It states as follows:

That the recent public exam crisis has caused much concern and disturbance for students. Public exams provide a provincial standard of education. This standardized evaluation has provided equal opportunity for all students to receive scholarships and meet entrance requirements for university. A marking board has always successfully determined each student's abilities and rewarded them fairly. If the marking board is done away with there will be a great injustice to students writing public exams and the school system. We as students propose the re-instatement of the provincial marking board.

Mr. Speaker, obviously the petition is a little late, because not only has the government affirmed its wiping out of the marking board, it has now announced this morning that it is going to wipe out public exams.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: This was done yesterday. It was done yesterday, Mr. Speaker, as part of an effort by students to have some input into this process. There is an accompanying letter from a student who quite articulately sets out the concerns that I think need to be listed to and heard in this House. This student says as follows: The government has always emphasized the importance of youth and the roles they will play in the future of this Province and country. The decision government is about to make - this is dated yesterday - is a big one and will affect thousands of students. Please listen for our input because it is our futures you will ultimately influence.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think any listening went on at all. The minister seems to have taken the opportunity to do a little NLTA bashing, blame it on the NLTA, but not listen to the students and listen to the real concerns of students as to what they want. What this student says is: Nobody has really asked the opinion of the students throughout the ordeal. We are the ones being affected by the changes yet decisions are being made which will influence our futures without our input.

The student explains it quite well. She says that the levels of teaching and learning in different schools throughout the various areas of our Province are at different levels. Some schools cover more subjects in greater depth and detail than others. Teachers mark their students at different levels of difficulty. If the marking board is done away with how will a provincial level of equal marking be determined?

These are the students. This is not the Department of Education saying: We must have standards. This is not the bureaucrats saying: We want to make sure that students are treated fairly so we will have a standardized education, so that teachers in one school won't mark their students up to show them off to the rest of the Province, and another school with a different standard, perhaps a more rigid standard will mark their students down. It is not the Department of Education saying: No, no, we must have said it. This is the students themselves saying that they want to have a standardized test that allows them to be able to have an equal opportunity to do well, whether it is for the purposes of scholarships or the purposes of entrance and competition for places at universities.

This is the student speaking. I have talked to a number of students, and they are very concerned. These are genuine, hard-working, sincere students who are preparing at this time, this last few weeks, concentrating on preparing for these public exams. We have all gone through this in our own lives. It is not a very pleasant experience, having the anxieties associated with getting involved in examinations, particularly public exams, and I suppose students find a little bit more trepidation involved when the exams are not coming from the teachers that they know but are coming rather from the Department of Education, but it is a measure that they are prepared to put themselves through because they are ambitious about their own futures, and we have done everything that we can to try to make them ambitious about doing well in the education system that is offered to them, and doing well in the future and to, at this point in time, in a matter of a week or ten days or two weeks before the public exams are about to start, to throw a monkey wrench into their futures, into their preparation for exams, is a very disturbing thing. Clearly, the government has not listened to the students; it has not even asked their opinion.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: If I could have just a minute to finish, Mr. Speaker, they have not asked their opinion, and I ask the Minister of Education if he would sincerely, on behalf of these students, seriously reconsider what he is doing here, and look to what these students say, and consider his decision.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I am very pleased to rise today and support a petition offered to the House by my colleague on the right who, of course, is offering a petition on behalf of the more than 300 students who yesterday, when they heard the news, took the initiative to circulate a petition among themselves.

Mr. Speaker, if there is an example of consultation, an example of listening to what people are saying, the people who are directly affected... I say to all hon. members in this House, if this were 334 people from the Board of Trade, or they were 334 businessmen who wanted to have input into a decision, then this House would be all ears and listening, and the government would be saying: My, we have to listen to the hundreds of business people, or the hundreds of adults out there. But we have here our youth, we have here our future, and we say to all hon. members, before you go too far in this, listen to what the young people who are directly affected are saying, and we know that they want to have a say.

We know the chaos that went into the system in 1994 when, at the end of the year, we had to change strategies on evaluation. We know how frustrating it was for students then, and after studying all year, to find ourselves on 24 May now saying that we are going to cancel public examinations, this is an injustice. This is contrary to the principles of fairness, of evaluation, and for consistency; and for the students who are directly involved, this cancellation here, as the member has said, means that their perceptions of fairness, their perceptions of what is right, have been neglected by the minister in making this decision.

The minister knows that the level of teaching and the learning at different schools means that we do have different standards. We may not want to admit it. Years ago we had the "D" factor put in. The "D" factoring evaluation said: We will make adjustments.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you as a former chief reader in the public examination system, I have seen schools where students had twenty and twenty-five marks added because the standards in their schools were a lot higher. I've seen schools where twenty and twenty-five marks were taken away from students because the standards in these schools were not that high. So therefore, if we don't have some kind of measure that makes fairness and balance into the evaluation system, we will destroy the integrity of the whole evaluation process.

I say to the minister, in those provinces where they did away with a uniform evaluation system they are moving back to a general evaluation system. Therefore, what we say to the minister is he is right when he quotes Nova Scotia, he is right when he quotes Prince Edward Island, but he should look at British Columbia, he should look at Alberta, he should look at Saskatchewan. He should find out what has happened in Ontario, and see what happened in Manitoba when they let all the schools make the decisions. What is happening in Manitoba is contrary to what the minister is saying here. Look at what is happening across the country. We are doing something now that other provinces have done and have said: No, it is the wrong thing to do.

Before we go down that road of destroying a provincial standard let's make sure that we don't do it and then have to backtrack on it afterwards. I say to the minister, he knows the importance of having a provincial standard, he knows what to do. Listen to the students. These are the people who are saying to the minister: We want a standardized process; we want to know that our marks compare favourably with all others. The parents are saying: We want to know that a mark that is obtained in school A is equivalent to marks obtained in school B, and the marks obtained in one community are comparable to marks obtained in another community.

When a child goes to university he or she wants to hold up his or her marks and say: This is the mark and it has been graded on a provincial grade and compares with all others, not only in my school but throughout the Province. On behalf of the students I say to the minister: Don't dismiss it. The students are speaking. You have prided yourself on consultation; now show that you really intend to walk your talk. Don't just talk it, but now walk it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments with respect to the petition. I'm delighted that my hon. colleague who just spoke was a chief reader at one time. I wished only that he had read the petition and made his comments relevant to what the students were asking the government to consider.

The point was missed by both the presenters with respect to the petition. The prayer of the petition basically was that the government re-instate the marking board. We fully agree. Which is why we made the decision today that if there was going to be a public examination then the ideal would be to have a marking board so that we could have the kinds of independence that the hon. members just spoke about.

We had, because of budgetary reasons this year, decided that we would ask instead the teachers to mark the actual examinations themselves. Because as the president of the NLTA said this morning - if anybody listened to his interview earlier, before we came to the Legislature -, he indicated quite clearly that there is no need on any educational grounds to have a separate public examination system, and that there was certainly no need to have an independent board marking them. That the teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador are the highest qualified, best trained total teaching force in the country.

Also, that because they are entrusted with every evaluation decision about a student right from kindergarten, every single evaluation of a student that is done from the time he or she enters the school system until he or she completes Level II, and until he or she completes any of the courses in Level III except for eighteen out of eighty, every decision made about the competence of a student in Newfoundland and Labrador as to whether or not he or she has met the standards for a course or not, is totally entrusted, 100 per cent, to the teachers of the students in the school.

The president of the NLTA was saying: Why was there such a big deal in any event about now singling out eighteen courses out of eighty? Not even the full range of courses at the graduating level, but why was there a big deal in any event about singling out eighteen out of eighty courses and saying there should be a common exam? There are merits to a common exam, but not enough obviously to sustain it, Mr. Speaker. Secondly then why you could not expect and trust those teachers to mark that exam when every other decision made about the progress and the acceptable work of a student from kindergarten, through primary school, through elementary school, through junior high school, all through Level 1, all through Level 11, and for all of the other courses in Level 111, except these, that the teacher's word was accepted as being completely acceptable, completely within reason, and completely what everybody in the Province would understand that a professional, unbiased and meeting the criteria of the provincial curriculum guide, would then give an indication as to whether or not the student has met the criteria successfully or not. Now, all of a sudden we try to use language like crisis, that there is a crisis because of the fact that this year, and in future years, we will not now have a separate public examination for eighteen courses out of well over 100 and some odd that a student does at the high school level, but there will not be separate examinations, and because teachers could not agree with us to mark them this year, rather than put the students through an exercise of writing an examination that would not be marked we have come to the conclusion that there will not be a public examination.

I am glad the petition is here, Mr. Speaker, because I can make the point now in the Legislature that I made in the scrum outside the Legislature. Students should not assume that this means there will not be final examinations in those eighteen courses. What there will not be is the same final examination done by every student on a public exam basis. Most of the school boards in the Province, which is why we have made the statement today, require as a part of their evaluation process, a final examination in the course as part of the school evaluation, and now the school boards and the teachers have to decide, between now and June 7 when the examination period would start - and any teacher, as the hon. members opposite would know, can prepare adequately and appropriately a final examination in a course that they have been teaching all year in a day or two without hesitation.

We have all done it and it is not a problem. They are not saying it is a problem, but they have to decide and they have to let the students know whether or not there is going to be a school based examination to replace the public examination, because that is what the students need to know more than anything else. There is no crisis, Mr. Speaker, and there is no difficulty for the students, there are no difficulties with acceptance at the post-secondary institutions.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I stand to present a petition to the House of Assembly. To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in Legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador:

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power has asked the Public Utilities Board to approve an increase in electricity rates; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power, since it has a monopoly in the delivery of an essential commodity in this Province is not at risk of becoming non-competitive;

WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to request that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador do whatever is required to prevent an increase in Newfoundland Power electricity rates.

Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue. When we opened the House first after the election was over Newfoundland Power had asked for an increase of the Public Utilities Board of about 4.9 per cent, and we passed in this session in this Legislature an all-party resolution that gave the consumer advocate of the Public Utilities Board all the resources he would require to do the job on behalf of all of us as consumers and rate payers to ensure that an increase in power rates would not occur, but what happened since that time? This government entered into an agreement on PST and GST harmonization that would see an increase of 8 per cent across the board on electricity rates, outside of the Public Utilities Board and outside of Newfoundland Power's increase, without any consultation whatsoever.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, if Newfoundland Power is granted an increase of what they have requested to date, of 2.9 per cent, that at the end of the day, sometime in August or September, each and every one of us in this Province, people sitting in the galleries and ourselves as ratepayers, all of us as consumers of electricity rates, will pay an additional 10 per cent. But, Mr. Speaker, there was no consultation. Government had no intention of consulting with people on the GST/PST harmonization that would see an increase in power rates, just as they did not consult with students, just as they did not consult with teachers or the NTA or parents on cancelling public examinations. Mr. Speaker, that has become and is fast becoming a hallmark of this government, zero consultation. Say one thing on the left hand and do a completely other thing on the right hand. Mr. Speaker, I will tell you now that the people of this Province are catching on pretty quickly and that the time will come when the Minister of Education, other ministers and people in government, that if they don't start practising what they are going to be preaching then that will catch up to them very fast. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support the petition of my colleague. Again, as he has stated, it was down to 2.9 per cent now we are going to be faced with roughly another 8 per cent increase in our light bills throughout this Province and I think that is a disgrace. We passed a resolution in this House that we would give the consumer advocate all the power he needs and still it will probably end up somewhere in the range of 8 per cent to 10 per cent increase if this is allowed to go ahead.

I think again, Mr. Speaker, and I have spoken on many petitions as it relates to light and power and we intend to keep bringing them and bringing them and bringing them until somebody finally gets the message that this side of the House at least, are dead opposed to any increase. I guess in the consultation process, as my friend has said, there has been none, there probably will be none and that will be the format as we continue on down the road.

So again, Mr. Speaker, I support the petition. I think it is a disgrace to the people of this Province that they are again going to be faced with such a large increase in their light bill and heat bill and with the number of lay offs that we are going to have - and these are not even into their economy yet or into our economy we have not really seen the effects of what these lay-offs are going to do to this Province. We have not really seen that yet, Mr. Speaker, 1,000 now but when we work out the numbers and see what that generates into, it will be really something else.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think it is a disgrace again, that this utility is again looking for another increase and I think it should be stopped. If we have to change the act then we should change the act of the Public Utilities Board so that this House, if we have to come to that, so that this House can say no. Some people in this government sometimes seem to understand the difference between yes and no but I think we have to put in a formula where there has to be something where we can say no to these people. They make exorbitant profits and I think it is time that it is stopped.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Motion No. 1.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion No. 1. The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means to consider the Raising of Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was speaking on Tuesday when I adjourned debate on the issue. I was touching base on some issues of importance in the Budget and it is unfortunate again today, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Finance is not here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has ruled before that it is unparliamentary to refer to the presence or absence of any specific member in the House of Assembly. I will ask the hon. Leader of the Opposition to refrain from that.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that certain people are absent today that could possibly answer questions I may want to ask.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) that is wrong what you are doing and you know it is wrong.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. TULK: The Chair has already ruled that you are not to refer to people. You cannot, in this House, do indirectly what you are not prepared to do directly. Now what the hon. gentleman is trying to do - now the truth is too, Mr. Speaker, that there is a Hansard in this House and the ministers who are absent, who are out and about the country on Her Majesty's business, will read Hansard and there will be ample time for them to answer the hon. gentleman's questions. So what he should do, is get on with posing the questions, they are recorded, they will be read and in every way, shape or form as this government and every minister over here do, they will be answered, I say to the hon. gentleman.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. the Leader of the Opposition speaking to the point of order?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, Mr. Speaker. I was not aware that there was a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: There was a point of order raised by the Government House Leader. The Chair has already ruled that the referring to the presence or absence of specific members is a violation of the rules of the House, it is unparliamentary, and the member has been asked to refrain from using that practice.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will certainly refrain from referring to any member who is absent specifically, I will do that. I asked the Government House Leader, the other day - I had numerous questions of which he took note, and I did not, Mr. Speaker, get any answers there. The Premier indicated yesterday he would like to know, he stated in this House yesterday, where we stand on certain fiscal matters. I indicated, and I said across the House that I did indicate what we would do in a particular instance and what we would not do in a particular instance in reference to this Budget and that is on the record since Tuesday, and I have further comments to speak to the specific points here again today, and maybe the Government House Leader or the appropriate minister can respond in the absence of any particular minister here which is the appropriate procedure, I understand.

MR. TULK: We are not in Committee.

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Government House Leader, I understand quite well we are not in Committee but that still does not deny me the right to asking questions and getting leave to get answers to these questions. If the minister does not want to use leave to give answers, that is fine with me, I would just continue and ask them anyway and, Mr. Speaker, in line with the orders of this House, I understand I have been recognized, not the Government House Leader, who should be setting the decorum and standards for this House here, and I would like the courtesy and opportunity to express my views as it pertains to this Budget here in the House today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask that the hon. Leader of the Opposition be extended the courtesy that he has requested.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, as the Budget was being read on May 16 - and I want to touch on the area of social services for a few moments - it was read in the Budget that the social assistance caseload in this Province will continue to increase this year because there is going to be lower employment, an anticipated amount actually of 9,000 in the projected forecast that this government provided in the economy and the appropriate table that corresponds, the exploration of TAGS benefits for many individuals, 1,674 as of May 11 have been eliminated from this program. Numerous others, well in excess of 2,000 people will have been dropped from this program by the end of December, will increase the social assistance caseload, and I understand the minister stated that they are anticipating about 10 per cent increase from these people because of those situations there, the minister stated in this House.

Also, the reforms to unemployment insurance have been indicated that it will cause an increase in the social assistance caseload and the reforms on UI or EI reforms as they are called, will have a devastating impact on the economy of this Province and on revenues coming into this Province and will increase by the minister's own admission the number of people who will be availing of social assistance in the Province this year. In fact the minister said: this will increase our assistance costs by about $6 million, the minister indicated in the Budget that we can expect to have a need for six million more dollars because of those specific factors that were mentioned in the Budget and I mention them on page 18 in the Budget.

The minister went on to say the budget of the Department of Social Services will not be decreased and will, similar to the Department of Health, receive a modest increase this year. So we are looking at a modest increase in total dollars, not in real net gain to the people who are on that program, which we were certainly led to believe when the Budget was being read, but on the same day, on the very same day that the Budget was being read a memorandum went out to district managers in Social Services and the heading is called: Impact of Provincial Budget on Income Support Programs for the Fiscal Year 1996-1997.

The memorandum went on to say that social assistance was granted a budget allocation of approximately $250 million, and employment opportunities a budget of approximately $8 million. It said: These allocations to these programs have been made with the understanding that under no conditions are they to be exceeded. There is a specific reference made, Mr. Speaker, and a change in direction from what was happening before, and prior to the Budget. It said that income tax refund policy will be continued and rigorously enforced. It said: In future greater emphasis will be placed on suspensions and reductions versus overpayments.

People who are on social assistance - and I was told of a case of $900 approximately, I think it was, owed, whose benefits we are told are going to be suspended for the entire time until the amount of money they receive would be made up for by Social Services.

I said to the minister, and I said to another minister in the House here before who was going to pass it on to the Minister of Social Services, I suggested how we should deal with this as a solution. Because it is not just to criticize what is happening but to offer a solution. I say again to the minister who is here today, I indicated that many people go on social assistance during certain intervals. Many may not be long term. I will use a specific example that I used in the House here before.

I said, in June for example, last June if a family has to go on social assistance because their UI has run out, or because of a special need - they cannot find a job, whatever the circumstance may be -, that person receives social assistance. Let's say from last June up to now they are still on social assistance. That person gets back this year, based on last year's income, an income tax refund of $300, we will use as an example. That money was earned prior to the person going on social assistance. If the person went on social assistance and owed $500 to a company for furniture or owed $1,200 to a bank or several thousand dollars to other people, social assistance will not make those additional payments for these people, for these debts they incurred prior to going on social assistance.

So I say: why should social assistance take the revenues that they had relegated to that period before they went on it, and clawed back from Social Services, when they could use that money to retire debts they had previous to going on Social Services?

I say that is callous, it is improper, it is unfair, and it is not playing the game. I say to the minister, it is not proper and something should be done about it. I asked the minister before, but the Minister of Education and Training told me he would take it up with the minister there and discuss it with the Cabinet colleagues to deal with this specific problem. I think it is a concern. I think it is unfair to expect a family on social assistance with $300 or $400 a month to lose three months' benefits because they got an income tax refund if the refund is not relegated to the period in which they were on social assistance.

Revenue Canada recognizes income and it applies that. It is applied, and for UI purposes generally, to the period in which it is earned rather than in which it is received. If I work on a job and I receive a cheque three or four weeks later after I finished from the job, for that period in which I finished, it is relegated to the period you earn it, not in which you receive it. An income tax refund means that that person while they worked contributed more than they normally should have contributed based on their own personal family circumstances and deductions. So why should we be doing this?

I say every single instance should be investigated, and where there are callous decisions made they should be revisited and looked at in light of the information and the facts presented on each individual case, and I hope the minister will do that. I don't think that is too unfair a request.

Also, let's look at other realities there apart from that issue. If a person is on social assistance, he is getting the minimum level on which you can survive. For a single person it is $89 a month. Now, try living on $89 a month. A family gets $390 a month, give or take a few dollars; I don't have the exact figures here. It used to be, I think, $383, probably $390 now, I am not sure, but it is in that range. If you lose two months income because you got a refund - now I know people are going to bingo - I will use an example, if people go out to a bingo and they win $700, someone calls in and says they won $700 at bingo, they will deduct that from their social assistance, claw all that back. Do they deduct the expenses earned in earning that? If they spent $20 to earn that for the last eight weeks, $160, do they deduct that from their revenues, their expenses? As an example, I am just using - when you look at real income to people, you should look at expenses associated in earning income. That is recognized as a fundamental part of our income tax system. It is a fundamental part of our operation.

Now, I know of instances where people - it is not the role of the system either and I am not supporting, at all, passing out cheques to people on social assistance who have other incomes. I think social assistance is a last resort for people who do not have financial means. If people have debts - and I think we should be looking at this - if people have debts incurred prior to going on social assistance, there should be some consideration given, I say to the minister. If they do get a gift from a family member - I know one in my district; I went to an appeal board because they got a trip - a person who had never been on an airplane in their life -to England, and that person went, but had to get deductions because of that. Because the only other relative that that person had and they wanted to see the person, I guess the person was getting older, an opportunity to see that particular relative and that is cutting it very, very fine when someone wants to give you a trip out of compassion for a family member and to come back and claw back proportionate amounts. Besides, if you are given a minimum amount that you are told you can live on, then clawing back things below that minimum amount, if there is an intent on the person to defraud the system, that is one thing and that is something that has to be enforced, it has to be enforced. It is very important. We cannot have people out making use and living under false pretences and drawing from our system. That is not proper, it is not fair and I don't support it at all.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, certainly I would not mind. I will certainly give leave in time to do that. I just want to mention another - okay, I will just take one minute and then I will sit down.

Another point, I will just say to the minister also, basically with reference to what the minister has mentioned, and I have read it in newspapers, that they uncovered about $3.5 million that they saved because of what we call welfare cops - the initial ten, I think we had seven earlier. Now to the minister, I would like to know too, if that is possible? Have we recovered all that money or is that only identified savings? Can we really collect that? Is that for people who are on social assistance and their long-term and we will never get that money back? Have we identified it and what have we collected? What has been the return? What has been the return on the jobs paid, the staff and the resources they collected? How much have they collected? How much are we better off on the bottom line as a result of that? Now I am not condoning people abusing the system. In fact, I am very strongly opposed to that, but I want to know what are the real net line savings and budgetary impacts that it will have because of that announcement and those extra positions that have been added.

I will give the minister leave - I understand she is on a busy schedule - to hopefully address a few of those points.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services, by leave.

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

I would like to try to answer some of the comments and questions you have raised. I don't know if I will be able to address them all in totality because you have raised quite a number this morning.

I would first like to start by saying that the memo to which you refer, this memo that was sent to district managers from our director, was not an absconded memo. It was, in fact, sent to your office by myself, on my direction, so that you would have the information. There is no planned destined operation going on here. What we are doing is open for all to see and it will be something that I would like to continue to do so that you will have the information as we are sending it out to the system.

With respect to the impact on social services recipients as it relates to TAGS and unemployment, we have estimated about a 10 per cent increase to the social assistance rolls from the TAGS recipients. At this point it is still preliminary because many people are still living in families who receive TAGS; their partners are receiving TAGS, which means they would not qualify. We have yet to see the impact of the unemployment insurance, and I think that we have built in some mechanism for dealing with an increased number through an estimated cost of about 1,000 new recipients. So the 10 per cent was with respect to TAGS, in which we are anticipating about 300 new cases, and we are allowing for about 700 from other sources. I think we also have to factor in the out-migration that may also impact on our declining numbers.

I think one very important factor which has not been addressed today is the positive impact which the minimum wage will have - at least we are expecting it will have - on the number of people who will require top-ups during the year, so we are very pleased with that initiative, and we feel that will have a very positive impact.

With respect to the income tax recuperation, as I have mentioned earlier, one of our initiatives this year is to look at our whole income support process. We will be looking at all our policies and procedures as they relate to income tax. But I have to be very honest; it is a source of revenue which we feel we have no choice but to collect. It is a policy that has been on the books for some time, and while I recognize the specific incidences you referred to, about people who have collected a recuperation of income tax refund prior to receiving social assistance, our whole intention while providing social assistance is to provide the basic services, and until we are able to look at that more closely to identify a different approach we will be enforcing the policy.

When you make reference to a more strict enforcement, and we will be terminating and suspending cases, that is because we have given ample notice to people who will be receiving income tax refunds. We feel that they sign a contract when they come onto social assistance; they are aware of the requirements that they have to report monies. They do have an exemption of $75 for those personal gifts and exemptions. In addition, they have $100 exemption as a family to the income tax rebate, and that is more generous than most of the provinces in Canada. If you look across the country you will see, in fact, that Newfoundland is one of the more generous provinces in how it actually has applied its income tax rebates to social assistance recipients. Many of them do not allow any form of rebate at all in light of the $75 or $100 rebate.

Let me think; is there anything else I would like to - you talked about the actual money that was recuperated, and I will refer to the $3.5 million. We feel a lot of that is able to be recuperated. We feel that of the $3.5, we have gotten $1 million back. We are actively pursuing $2.5 million, and we feel with proper interfacing now with the Federal Government and with other sources we will have, in fact, we hope, even more money recuperated from the income tax rebates.

I hope I have addressed some of your questions.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly thank the minister for providing the information she did. I think, if I understand correctly, you indicated $1 million out of the $3.5 million has basically been collected - would that be correct - and there is $2.5 million being pursued?

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

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

I would say that is the actual amount of cash that we have received. You asked what our expectations were on the hopefulness of collecting the remaining amount. We are very aware of some of the difficulties posed in collecting a lot of these overpayments, but we do feel confident that we will collect the other $2.5 million, and we are also confident that with better interfacing and also with more, I guess, close monitoring - you mentioned that we would be closely monitoring our books. In fact, we have been giving notice to our district and regional managers that we would be looking at it on a month-by-month basis, so we are confident that we will recoup more of that money.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So what the minister has been saying is that, they have identified not $3.5 million, they have not received $3.5 million in savings, they have received $1 million and they have identified 2.5 more that they hope to receive. I think that is fairly factual from what the minister said. What I read in the newspapers that the welfare cops are out there, and have accomplished savings of 3.5 million for government, is not entirely factual at all. They have recognized savings of $1 million and they have identified 2.5 others that they are going to make every effort to try to collect.

It is going to be difficult to try to collect $2.5 million from people if they are long-term social services recipients. Where are we going to get the money? I expect to get an answer and hopefully, when they do read Hansard, I will find out what has been the cost of those, I think, seventeen welfare cops now to collect a million dollars: how long have they been there, what is the cost of paying these people, and how much are we saving, if at all?

In reality, from what I have heard today, they have been on the job I think it must be into the second year now, as our current social services critic - I think they must be into their second year at least now, those welfare cops - and if we have only received a million in savings by deductions, I just want to know what is the difference between what we are spending and what we are receiving. And I understand $2.5 million out of this $3.5 that was published has been saved now in the Budget and been announced is not actual money received, it is only identified money, and that is certainly something different from what we were led to believe.

Also, I have another point I am going to mention. I know the minister had to leave but I will just make mention anyway, and that is, under a particular section regulation 8, it is a major concern. I know the Government House Leader has been in that capacity before and he understands, I guess, the Social Services regulations there. Regulation 8, the point there with $61, empowers, sort of the frontline people to make decisions. I think one of the movements the government has been progressing towards is to give more frontline decisions and they have removed managers from certain offices now and there are less district managers. Many offices now do not have district managers, so decisions are coming from frontline workers. So what this memorandum does, on the day the Budget was being announced, they are now taking away that $61 under Regulation 8 of additional assistance that the frontline worker, the social services personnel has, the decision that if they know somebody does not have food in their cupboard, if the person needed a battery for a hearing-aid, the kid who goes to school without a lunch - and I know of instances but I would not get into specifics, I don't want in any way to identify individuals and individual cases with whom I have spoken over the last few days.

Those types of decisions now have been taken out of the hands of frontline workers and they have cut that $61 except in mortgage or rent top-ups. If they had to take $30 of that $61 for a mortgage or a rent top-up and the remaining dollars now are gone and the mortgage and rent top-up are going, too, that is what this memorandum says and that is going to impact severely on families who do not have the ability to be able to properly budget even the small income that they receive and where their kids are going to be denied certain things. And I know instances; I can name specific examples, Mr. Speaker, of kids who have gone to school hungry, who had to get a lunch through social services. I have spoken with people in the field and my colleagues have received calls as late as yesterday. I talked to another one of my colleagues who had calls from people in his district and who are on social assistance.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nine schools (inaudible) operate school lunch programs.

MR. SULLIVAN: Nine schools have to come with school lunch programs. There are people, many people who are going to school hungry in this Province. I think it is an estimated 40,000 people, the figure that was used - who are going to school hungry.

Now, the regulation that provided the flexibility to the person who is out in that community, out in the front lines who would know if a case is legitimate or if it is not, a person who is living in the community and providing the service is the one now who has had that power taken away from him and he doesn't have the flexibility to give that extra $61 or even $20 or $30 or $10 whatever the need may be, it is not there any more and that is very frustrating. We have been told that there are going to be certain front-line decisions that have to be made now and we are going to have less bureaucracy and less in management there, that we would save and we could use it on front-line decisions.

We have seen a stripping of basic things that are important to maintain a normal, functioning individual, and to assist people with additional and special needs. That has been removed and I think that is unfortunate.

Just to look at what is a necessity today. Do you consider a refrigerator a necessity today? Some may consider it a necessity, but social services does not. In fact, a refrigerator cannot be provided to a family. I know a person who is a diabetic and there are certain types of food he had to eat. He lived with one other family member who was attending post-secondary school. There was no store nearby at all that provided the basic things. He could not get fresh food in the house and was not able to have a selection of the basic needs. He was given a fridge through the generosity of a social worker, who had a second one. And that person was I consider in certain instances - and medically, they said you do not need it now to be able to maintain drugs at a certain temperature in this instance. And if medical evidence indicates it, fine, we cannot dispute medical evidence, but sometimes you have to come down to a bit of common sense on front-line decisions when people are being denied those basic things. If it is not considered a necessity do not provide it. A stove is considered a necessity, but now they are being told - this is what they are being told now under this memorandum that came out on Budget day. It was slipped out quietly to the managers around this Province when the Budget was being read and talked about fantastic and modest increases in social services, a 50 per cent reduction. We are going to be cut back by approximately 50 per cent.

If a person does not have a bed or a mattress to sleep on, or a stove, there is a strict enforcement of a 50 per cent reduction. They are going to take $1 million out of that. The minister indicated, I think, in a media scrum the other day that some have a bed or a stove that lasts only a year, and I said, give me instances. If someone has a bed or a stove that lasts only a year, there is something wrong. If there is abuse in the system, deal with it, but do not deprive somebody who has a twenty year old stove that is not working, has one burner working on a stove, and cannot get some repairs, or be able to provide the basic necessities.

These are some of the things that are being hit in this memorandum. It is going to be devastating on front-line decisions in certain families. I do not think it is acceptable when the impression was given that it is fantastic. These are only some of the many things. I am not going to get into all of them.

I will touch on another one, transportation. A person on social services who wants to get to hospital or to a doctor and they do not have their own transportation. Now, many of these people have certain illnesses, medical problems, disabilities at certain levels, and that is why some of them are on social assistance, because they cannot pursue the normal types of jobs that other people can. Many are on it for that purpose, and they maybe denied because of this cutback. They could be denied the opportunity to be able to get a taxi or pay someone to take them to a doctor. There is a cutback in transportation for those things. They were announced. It said, details will be provided shortly. The policy of the provincial transportation system is going to be modified now and we have to come up with savings. It stated here overall, that no way are these budgets to be exceeded. If you do not keep on this overall budget we are going to cut within specific areas here. That is very loud and clear. These are some of the many, many items.

Rental assistance for single persons, development of computer interfacing, he talked about child support, household furniture and equipment. He talked about ten new special investigator positions. If it is going to get savings for government where somebody is defrauding this government and are not being up front, more power to him. Put ten or twenty out there if it is going to save money, but not on people who are genuinely out doing something that is not against the law, and they are not aware of it. We see them nickel-and-diming, finding every avenue now to claw back income tax refunds, many unjustified, some justified. It has not been done for years so why all of a sudden are we applying a blanket policy on those people's rights? There should be individual decisions made on those specific items, but that has been changed.

In summary, on this memorandum, it said: It is government's intention that all Budget allocations for 1996-'97 are essentially fixed budgets. If it appears that the overall Budget is likely to be exceeded, then further program adjustments will be necessary. We must therefore all do our utmost to operate within our overall allocation in order to avoid a critical situation later in the fiscal year.

So these are some of the things mentioned there. I only elaborated on very few of those points, that I mentioned, that are going to have an impact on people out in the field today. Talk to people out in your own districts. You talk to social workers and financial assistance officers and talk to district managers out in your districts around this Province and ask them what impact this memorandum is going to have. They will tell you the impact it is going to have and for government to tell us that we are going to be getting increases in social assistance still. There is not much public sympathy out there in instances when we talk about increases. Government announced modest increases. There are no increases in social assistance this year. There are cutbacks in social assistance this year. There is an increased caseload with a marginally increased budget that does not even allow percentage wise, for that increase. There are less dollars per capita, on the caseload for social assistants this year than last year. It is here all in the Budget and by the ministers and by their departments own statements, confirms those specific points.

Yes, the former minister is now back. The person who ran away from the vote yesterday in the House of Assembly has now made his reappearance, I say to the member. I say to the Member for Windsor - Springdale, if he wants to make an issue, he is leaving again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has ruled many times in the last couple of days that it is a violation of parliamentary procedure to refer to the absence or the presence of any specific members in this House of Assembly and the Chair will not tolerate it any longer.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, if it was improper to refer to a member that was here, who I was speaking directly to, I will apologize if it is improper. I was not aware that it was improper to refer to the Member for Windsor - Springdale or by their district I refer to them, if that is improper when the minister was still in this House, the member was there, I apologize if it is improper. I was under the understanding that it was proper and if the Chair wishes to indicate that it is improper then I will certainly refrain from doing that in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: It is improper to refer to the fact that the member is absent, is present or is leaving and the Chair accepts the apology.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With reference to another particular area of concern in the Budget. The Minister of Health yesterday said something in this House, a statement that was very misleading. A very misleading statement and I am going to use an example of that for ministers in this House. It bothers me when a minister stands in this House to say something that is not accurate. The minister stated yesterday that the extra increase - the Minister of Health made a reference to it in this House yesterday that the increase in ambulance fees is not going into the coffers of government. Now what is happening and I will use an example, ambulance operators in this Province were paid a fee. A $40 patient fee was charged or user fee - or $50 or $60 -depending on the length of the ambulance run. They decided we are only going to have one fee now of $75. So what has happened now, what the government department has decided to do, they are going to deduct that increase if an ambulance - and I will use a specific example, if a person up in Ferryland gets an ambulance ride into St. John's and used to pay $50 now it is $75.

The Department of Health will now deduct from that ambulance operator an extra $25 from the fee they would pay based on the kilometres, which means the department is now taking that $25 increase, $35 in some cases, and is staying within the coffers of government and that is not proper. That is not what the minister stated in this House yesterday and I contend it is not an accurate statement. That was confirmed, I heard it yesterday. I left this House yesterday evening; I heard it this morning, the same basic thing that the Ambulance Operators' Association indicated that it is taking out of their pockets. It is going into government coffers. In other words, ambulance operators now have been made tax collectors for government. In many instances people who use an ambulance service, everybody cannot afford it, sometimes people avail of ambulance service from roadside accidents. Some with people on social assistance or with very low incomes who are on the borderline, and many of these people pay ambulance operators a fee, and some cannot afford to pay it all at once; they may make it in instalments, and they may never collect some. It is estimated, I think, up to 40 per cent.

I also spoke to community ambulance operators to see what the position is with those who are not private operations, and they have a big problem in trying to collect that fee from people; it is a community operated ambulance.

What government is going to do, and I say to members that I cannot see how you consider it fair; they used to pay a kilometre each to those operators in the past, so the increase in fee now, what they are doing is deducting that from the kilometres to those operators, and saying: Operators, you collect it; then you will get as much money as you did before. But the money is going back into the coffers; government is guaranteed its money. They are deducting this increase from the kilometre fees those operators get, and operators cannot get to collect those fees in many instances, so they are going to actually have less income for operators as a result of this and there is going to be more income into the coffers of government. In fact, it shows in the Budget, I say to hon. members, that this Province is going to collect an extra $8.1 million in recovery fees from the Royal Ambulance Service here in this Province, an extra $8.1 million; and they talked about putting extra money into the hands of ambulance operators. That is incorrect; that is wrong. It is an inaccurate statement, and the minister did not come clean, and he misled the House yesterday in trying to tell us it was something different. It is not an acceptable thing at all.

Now, the Minister of Education also - it was announced in this Budget, for public examinations - stated it would cost $650,000 to correct public examinations in this Province, and he stood in the House and eliminated that from the Budget without consulting the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association, without consulting with people out there who deliver exams, who correct exams, who do it outside their own time, if they want to - they would get paid for doing this - without any consultation whatsoever. Then he stood in the House yesterday and put a gun to their heads and told them: We are going to co-operate with you on the unfunded liability in the pension plan - that is what he said - we are going to co-operate with you, and you are not going to co-operate with us. In other words, it is the same as saying: Well, if that is the way you want it, let your pension fund run out of funds in 2005. That is the same basic thing they are saying to the teachers in this Province. Then he stood today, one day later, this morning, in this House, and he indicated that there are going to be no public exams, and he tried to convince us in this House that there are only eighteen courses out of whatever, eighty courses.

The minister did not tell us in the House this morning that those eighteen courses of public exams are all Level III courses, and they are all basically core courses, that are the ones that are considered for admission to colleges and universities, and the majority are core, and I understand the courses offered. I taught high school for twenty years; I am familiar with all of these courses. I am familiar with the core courses and what are non-core, and the minister was also misleading this morning to try to convince us that only one-quarter of them have exams anyway; it is not really relevant.

Very few people in Level I write a public exam, hardly anybody. A certain number in Level II write exams, depending upon the courses, and most of the courses are written by people who are doing Level III. The courses that you write public exams in are ones that have been considered as core by this Province, that are needed for admission, mathematics courses, and language courses, and literature courses, and your basic science courses, and numerous other courses, some social study courses, and others.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you saying that the teachers in the classroom are not qualified to correct these?

MR. SULLIVAN: Not at all. I think teachers are highly qualified to correct the exams. What I am saying is that teachers should not have been given an ultimatum yesterday on what they are going to do for exams this year. They found out about it when the Budget was being read, and they were sitting in the gallery - the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association. That is what I say is wrong. Teachers are qualified to correct them. There are teachers here in this House who corrected them before. I sat on a marking board before. They select teachers to correct them based on what they perceive to be adequate qualifications. They make up exams; that is not the problem. If they were consulted and said there would be no public exams, we would like to have a full school evaluation now, you would be responsible for 100 per cent of that evaluation. You do it already in some courses; we are going to do it in all courses. I don't think we should have people sitting in the gallery here, stakeholders in education, representing 8,000 teachers here in this Province, and be finding out things that are happening that are directly affecting them without consultation. That is not what we were promised, what teachers were promised back in February as they campaigned around this Province. They were promised consultation and discussion and input into a new era for a better tomorrow. That is what they were promised. Not decisions affecting people's lives without any input whatsoever. If they want to go to 100 per cent school evaluation it is not the question there, I'm not questioning that at all. I'm not questioning the number of public exams. I'm questioning the consultation process and dealing with people up front.

The teachers might be delighted, if they were properly consulted and work out arrangements to dispense with it. But we can't be making haphazard, ill-conceived decisions on matters so vital to the future of our students and our Province on a budget process that didn't involve input. We went around the Province, talking about consultation on areas. Then you strike down an area that they had no input into. That is not acceptable, that isn't proper, it isn't what they were told they were going to get. They are getting something completely different than they were promised.

I think it is time to look at consultation. It might have been done anyway. Had there been cooperation we might have saved more money than $600,000. There could be substantially more. But it is not going to come from confrontation. It is only going to come from consultation.

I would like to touch on another issue again. The minister's response to me this morning in this House raised some issues here that are really very disturbing from what we were led to believe. We listened to the Budget on May 16 in which we were told that the health care budget over the next three years is going to be fixed at a certain level, it is not going to be cut back in actual dollars, $903.3 million. The minister said today - and certainly it is the conclusion I've drawn; I'm sure other hon. members here in this House would draw the same conclusion - that the restructuring of the acute care institutions here in this city, the restructuring of these which should be under way now - if we are going to consolidate by 1998 we should be in motion now. We have wasted eleven months coming up with a plan of what it is going to cost.

Can you imagine? Eleven months trying to decide how much we are going to build on, what the cost is of putting an extra heating plant if we need it at Memorial University to heat the extra space that we need there. He thinks we might get it from the efficiencies now in the system, efficiencies in heating by being more energy conscious. If we are going to get it from efficiencies tell us how much we are going to get from efficiencies, how much of an addition we need, what the costs are going to be. Do you have to wait eleven months to find out what it is going to be? If a government can't tell us a rough estimate of what it is going to cost in eleven months after making an announcement, it shouldn't have made the announcement in the first place.

It should have said: Here is a plan. It should have discussed it with people. It had proposals before, ten options. What it was told, to be able to accommodate the services that are out there today it would take $300 million to be able to combine, to restructure, the health care system in the City of St. John's. The minister says $75 million to $100 million. He said, on October 17, $75 million to $100 million here in this House. Then he says today that out of the $903.3 million we are going to guarantee he indicated we are going to take some of that capital, what we are going to use in capital, to put that extra facility there. It is going to come out of that operating budget, which means we are going to see front-line cutbacks in health care.

He said something today that was completely opposed to what we were led to believe for the last several months, and we still don't have a plan. We still don't know. What they are doing now - and I don't know the rationale behind it; maybe it is a sensible move, but to me it doesn't look sensible - is that the Rehab Centre is supposed to go into the Health Sciences. They have spent tens of thousands of dollars now relocating it to the Janeway to move it all in 1998. Shouldn't there be a plan, a rationale, to what is happening?

Maybe it would work the better as a unit with the Janeway, and there could be advantages, but I think it is incumbent upon the minister to tell us that. Say: Look, we are spending $220,000 to move it to the Janeway now, and we are going to have to tear it down or get rid of it in two years' time. Isn't that money wasted in our Budget if it isn't toward a directed end or a part of a plan? We need to see a plan of what we are going to do with our hospital system here in the city. I want to see efficiencies. I am not convinced a move is the best thing, and I'm not opposed to having the Janeway in a different location. I am opposed to having a Janeway interacting with an adult hospital. The down side from a medical perspective is going to be very dangerous.

I have been led to believe that that is not going to happen, we are not going to have adults and children mingling in waiting rooms together, emergency rooms, there are different medications and dosages required for adults and kids, that the margin of error is much higher and the downside is extremely dangerous there and could result in death in certain instances; but, we need to be told what the plan is, we need to be told how it is going to be carried out and we need to be told the dollar value that is going to be involved in this and that is not too much to ask, that is the responsible way for a government to go but I have not seen anything very responsible.

I will give you an example of just how they have bungled this whole issue. I went to Memorial University last June and listened to the announcement back on June 29 that they were going to close the Grace Hospital, the Janeway and the Rehab Centre and were going to combine them into two acute-care facilities here in St. John's. That was in June, no mention of an extension or anything. Public outcry occurred and Mr. Tilley, Vice-President of the Health Care Corporation made a statement in the ensuing month that there will be an addition; there will be a separate Janeway on the site of the Health Sciences Complex. Then later, I tried to pin the minister down in the House and he did say it, we are going to have, I think he used the word, an addendum he said or it is adjacent to, in the House - then they talked about and I asked in Question Period today - some of the university, the Director of Works there, and the Vice-President of the corporation on issues regarding the capital cost and they are completely different perspectives. One thing says only marginal and the other says it is going to be an extremely major cost.

The Premier, representing the Liberal policy platform, indicated that we are going to have basically a separate Janeway Hospital attached to or adjacent - I couldn't get the exact wording, I have it there and it is in the Liberal Red Book - and six days later, when the election was over, Sister Elizabeth Davis said it may not have to be a new building it could be within the one building. Can you imagine people's confusion in the health care system and around the City of St. John's, when every month it is a different story?

There is a different story every single month; that is the type of planning I have seen for the past few years. It is a lack of planning, conflicting information from month to month, reacting to explosive situations, fiscal firefighting, that is what it is doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: Knee-jerk reactions.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, knee-jerk reaction to a situation that should have been prevented by having a well-thought out plan in advance that would avoid those unfavourable situations arising. It has not occurred and it personally disturbs me to see a lack of planning, I say to the minister and a waste of government and taxpayers dollars out there, it is equally disturbing because -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. I believe strongly in a long-term plan I say to the minister; I believe very strongly that we have to set our sights ahead while I say to the minister he should stop believing and start putting it into action, I say to the minister. Belief, is only the first step, putting it into action is the next step and I haven't seen it. The minister beats around the bush, doesn't answer the questions, has contradictory statements. Sister Elizabeth Davis statements are contradictory to the minister and to what was announced; numerous conflicting statements that - who is in charge? In what direction is the health care system going? We have seen a lack of planning and a lack of prudent use of our taxpayers' dollars. I don't want to see one single dollar wasted in our system because the dollars are too scarce. The resources are too scarce to have them wasted.

I am going to touch on a few other areas of great concern. I am going to touch on the misconceptions we have been told. No new taxes: There are no new taxes, no direct taxes but, we have been crucified with over $20 million in indirect taxes. Look, if you are going to put it there, say, we have $20 million extra we are going to take in in taxes and tell the people. Don't try to tell the people one thing and the next day something else comes out. When a person goes down to get a small game licence and has to pay eighteen dollars instead of three, that is how they found out there was a new increase in fees; when a person who wants to get a drivers permit, it was fifteen dollars it is now thirty and when they do a road test it is fifty dollars and if that seventeen-year old who is doing Grade X1, that seventeen-year old is in Level 11, and a family who is on a very marginal income have to pay another fifty dollars if they don't pass the road test the first time, we are looking at $130.

AN HON. MEMBER: What minister would do that, increase licence fees?

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Government Services and Lands. Motor Registration comes under Government Services and Lands. It is a part of the Budget presented by the minister there. It is a part of the overall Budget put forth by government. I said put it up front.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: They are ashamed. Maybe they are ashamed; maybe they are very much ashamed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. I'm not talking about the fees, I'm talking about telling people that there are no increases, and there are. That is where the shame should be. Tell the people we have indirect increases! So what? People will believe. If you are upfront you tell them whether it is good news or bad. People understand we are in tough economic times. What people don't like, I say to the minister, is being told one thing and being delivered something different. Because people understand that, they know that. You cannot fool all of the people certainly all of the time. You may fool some of the people some of the time. That isn't being proper, it isn't being upfront.

We looked at just some of the fee structures here. There are numerous increases that we were led to believe weren't going to happen. The Crown land one alone is going to take in $6.2 million by government's estimate. That is going to be an extra tax. We are told there aren't going to be any taxes. There is going to be a tax on land. There is going to be an increase in fees. At a fair market value you pay for a particular assessment and you pay for - the licence just to apply now is $50, I think, plus your GST. Now it is going to be $100, an increase. So there are some of the things that people are not being told up front to expect.

We have other fee increases in numerous other particular areas. We have increases for almost every particular item, like a driver's road test I mentioned, permits, application fee, Crown lands. If you want to get married now it is double the price. I'm not sure whether $10 will be a deterrent, but we are told there is no increase. If you want to get divorced I guess it costs a lot more, but if you want to get married it is going to be double. We can see they are still not making it too expensive to get into that particular arrangement, but it is becoming very expensive to get out of that particular arrangement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The Member for Bonavista South says we should double that one, maybe we should increase that one. At $20 in many cases you get a bargain; in other cases I guess you don't get a bargain. They are the ones that probably cost in the long term.

MR. H. HODDER: Why put up marriage licences when that money is kept by the marriage licensee? It is zero revenue for the government.

MR. SULLIVAN: They will probably be hiring marriage licence issuer cops now to make sure they are going to report that income.

MR. H. HODDER: Why is it in the Budget anyway?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well maybe, I say to my colleague, it increases because maybe there are less people getting married now, so it is not profitable for the marriage licence issuer to even bother with it. By increasing the fee now, somebody would have to do that service. That is their contracting out service, I suppose.

I see the minister across from me now getting comfortable in his new position. Ambulance fees, I say to the minister, you said in the House this morning that - and I used the example here a few minutes ago - by increasing the fee from the $40 to $60 range up to $75, I will use an example of a $40 fee - I can use $60 if you want, but I will use $40 - and the fee is increased to $75, what is going to happen now, if the department was going to pay that operator $100 in kilometres fee, it is gone up by $35, they are now only going to pay that ambulance operator $65 for that trip. Can the minister confirm that? I will use the example again. I know yesterday you were two questions behind, so I will just slow it down again. I know I might be stunned - the minister said - but I will just repeat it once more.

AN HON. MEMBER: The answer is yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister said the answer is yes, so that is worth repeating again. That is not what he said this morning in Question Period. In fact, I said him in Question Period: The increase in fees to ambulance operators, that same amount of money that the fee is increased, is deducted from the kilometre payment that they get, which means, if the ambulance operator collects it or not, government gets that money for the increase; it is going into the government coffers.

The minister this morning said: No - in the House, it is in Hansard; you can go back and read his comments - he said: We are not getting increased revenue because of it.

Well, I say to the minister: Where is your major increase in provincial revenues listed in the Estimates here, the $8.1 million, coming from if it is not coming from increased money in the government coffers? It is there in the Estimates. If he wants to see the page there, and pointed out where it is, we will find it. I am sure the minister knows that quite well.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read The Evening Telegram, Loyola, it is right here. Sullivan repeatedly asked Matthews in the Legislature whether the increase in the flat rate charged to ambulance users will flow directly into government coffers. The minister repeatedly said no (inaudible) the opposite.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is not correct.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what the paper said.

MR. SULLIVAN: Because they were quoting the minister, and that is my point. The minister said government will not get any extra revenues because of this, and I am saying they are listed here in their Estimates as getting $8.1 million more, and here is how they are going to get it.

I am going to mention one more point again for the minister to make sure it is clear. If a person in Bay Bulls calls for an ambulance, it cost $40 last week, but the user pays $75 today. If the ambulance operator was going to get $100 for that trip yesterday, when he gets his cheque now from the department for that trip, the department deducts the $35 for the increase and that operator only gets $65 from government, which means government only pays out $65 now, and not $100 for that trip. That is $35 in government coffers and that is why we have an increase of $8.1 million in provincial revenues recovered against ambulance operators. That is factual, I say to the minister.

MR. MATTHEWS: You asked me if the money was going to flow directly into the government.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, because you are deducting it.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, it is going to flow into the hands of the operators.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is directly, because you are deducting it from the operators, so it is directly into government. It does not come out. That is correct.

MR. MATTHEWS: That's indirectly. You asked me if it was going to flow directly.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is direct because government pays the operators a kilometre each, and by deducting it from the operators, it is directly in to government. It does not matter whether the operator collects it or not. If the operator cannot collect that $75 because the person cannot afford it, the operator gets nothing and the government saves $35 on the trip. That is improper, it is wrong, it is a decrease to ambulance operators, and it is an increase in government revenues. That is the bottom-line.

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Well, you have done a lot of practice so you should be really good at it, I say to the minister. He has done a tremendous amount of practice. I wonder could we delay that trip to Ottawa until a week later because I have another several days of comments on this Budget. Maybe the House Leader might give me leave to pick up where I left off when I get back.

MR. TULK: You got (inaudible) a few nights ago, too.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, we have been here before. We have been here in the nights before. We are not opposed to nights, I can tell the Government House Leader. We can be here around the clock if we have to. I am sure the Government House Leader realizes that the seventy-five hours on Budget debate, whether I speak or somebody else speaks, is all adding up anyway. I am sure the ministers are very eager to hear some of the misleading statements that are out there, that we want to correct for the record here in this House. I am sure they are very eager.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is unparliamentary.


MR. SULLIVAN: Deliberately misleading would be unparliamentary. I would never want to say anything is unparliamentary in the House. It was mentioned by the Speaker today. I think it might be the first time that he made the point and I was not entirely certain whether that was parliamentary or not. I don't make a habit, I say to the minister, of making unparliamentary statements in this House since I have been here and I hope to keep it - and the minister can vouch for that. I believe strongly in keeping a proper decorum here in the House and I think the Government House Leader should be the person who sets that decorum for the House, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MATTHEWS: I think you are going to have a good influence on the rest of them over there.

MR. SULLIVAN: I hope so, I say to the minister, I certainly hope so. If I cannot have any influence on them, I say to the minister, I won't be in this position here very long. I will probably vacate it in the near future if I can't do that.

MR. MATTHEWS: But you know I am a good prophet, don't you `Loyola'?

MR. SULLIVAN: You probably are. Yes, I remember the minister, too. He predicts so many things, thousands of things, but he does hit on one out of a thousand. That is still a very low batting average. You have not been very good on your prediction, I say to the minister of health care restructuring in St. John's. You have not been good on your prediction of ambulance operators in what you are doing to them and doing to the user fees on patients who cannot afford it, I say to the minister.

MR. MATTHEWS: `Loyola', it wasn't hard to predict that you were going to (inaudible) in the meantime.

MR. H. HODDER: But now, don't forget the part in Corinthians where it talks about sounding brass and tinkling symbols and gives the prophesy signifying (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I bet the Minister is right sometimes. He is right sometimes. On matters of major importance, the minister is usually right. I hope he is going to be right on our health care restructuring for the benefit of the people who are using those facilities. I hope it is going to be right. He has been sitting on it for eleven months now and he cannot even get a picture to show me. He said in the House today: I would like to see the picture. He is eleven months trying to get me a picture. I wonder how long is he going to be trying to get a building? No wonder I came to the conclusion that he must be going to set up a tent and as I said - yes, I think he is doing that everyday. His answers are tentative. They keep changing every single week, no wonder he has a tent.

MR. MATTHEWS: The hon. member has an historical attachment to tents; you can't get them out of your mind.

MR. SULLIVAN: No we don't.

MR. MATTHEWS: They spring up everywhere.

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell the minister, I got elected in 1992, more than three years after Peckford was long gone from here and every member here came in after me. My former colleague, I guess, colleague in the House of Assembly, the Member for Humber Valley knows what it is like. Maybe I will give him leave if he would like to explain all about the Sprung deal that they supported and the people of his government, not mine, not our government here. I would not spend one cent on a project that I did not think was going to be viable and justified. I don't agree with it. I don't care whether it was Peckford, whether it was the Member for Humber Valley or whoever it was, it is no justification and I will not support it. I don't agree with some of the decisions that the Peckford administration made on finances here in the Province and I don't agree with some of the ones that former Premier Wells -and I will say again for the record - time is running out - that the total public sector debt of this Province has increased by 42.11 per cent since 1989, I would say to the minister.


MR. SULLIVAN: Still increased! If we go back - it is still increased!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 42 per cent since 1989.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right. It did federally, and I would say yes, and it happened - over $200 million deficit when you contributed also. This was the first surplus you had, so you contributed to the deficit every single year since you got elected, I say to the minister. Also, federally, if you want to look at the federal issue, debts were incurred way back in Trudeau's time, the former Premier Smallwood. The debt is growing faster now than it ever has before. It is growing at a faster pace.


MR. SULLIVAN: Is this the question period that we are going to have after Question Period?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) chickened out.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I didn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, you did.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I didn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read the Telegram. The Telegram (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Read Hansard.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Telegram (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes they did. I don't agree with what they said. I indicated outside of Question Period, read Hansard. I read it. I disagree with that. It is inaccurate, and I stated here it is inaccurate. I didn't chicken out. I will answer any particular questions that you want to have during my Budget discussion. I said that. I will do it, and tell you what the fiscal plan - what we would do. I wanted to have an exchange with ministers on aspects here. They have tried to circumvent that with your members and denied the right for members to get up and talk because it isn't in Committee. I understand it isn't in Committee. I would be generous in giving leave for people to get up there. I think that is something to find out. And I have indicated on many instances -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I know, I read it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Sullivan backed down.

MR. SULLIVAN: I know, it is there, I saw it there. I don't like it. I dislike it as much as you like it, because it is not accurate. I say it is not accurate.

The Government House Leader is getting very anxious. He doesn't want to be here all night, so, with that, Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave for a moment to just make an invitation to every member of the House of Assembly who is still here today, and may be staying in town for the weekend. I have just done the official opening of the Newfoundland Manufacturers Show, the seventh annual show in St. John's, the seventh annual show for the Province. They are at the St. John's Curling Club down on Mayor Avenue. The president asked me to try to bring an invitation back to the House today.

AN HON. MEMBER: We have one already.

DR. GIBBONS: You may have them, but he said remind people the show is on. It is absolutely gorgeous. They have the biggest show they have ever had. In 1995, manufacturing in this Province totalled $1.5 billion. It is a big industry, and in 1995 we showed a 14 per cent increase over 1994, the best increase in Canada from 1994-'95.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: Whether you are looking for a headstone or a casket, or some ice cream, or whatever you want, I think you can get it today down at the Curling Club, because there are some marvellous, marvellous products down there, and the first two people to come to me, I even have two free passes.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had intended to be there at ten o'clock, and with discussion yesterday I did not get to finish my comments on the Budget, and I had a colleague go there. I am going down myself, personally - I intend to - after the House concludes. There are some very interesting, as the minister said, caskets there - one for my district. We will all need one, so why not order one, I say to all members, and promote business here in Newfoundland. The casket business is not a dead business, I can assure you, in this Province, and we will see increases in the future. If these budgets keep up, we will see it at an accelerated pace, I say to the hon. member.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if I could, in relation to the casket, I will tell the Opposition Leader that last Saturday evening I looked over some papers that my grandfather had left me, and I saw in there the price of his casket; it was $98. I will tell you, the price of caskets have gone way up now, so we may be better off if we bought it today for twenty or thirty years down the road anyway.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn the House, there are a couple of members, I believe, who are going to celebrate birthdays on the weekend. I am not going to give their ages, but I understand the Minister of Social Services and the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile will celebrate birthdays on the weekend, and I am sure we all want to wish them many happy returns.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Will we stop the clock?

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn until Monday at 2:00 p.m. When, again, I take it, the Opposition House Leader will take up the Budget debate.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Just for the record, too, with birthdays, my colleague from Kilbride did not get a very good birthday present - his was on May 16, I say to the Government House Leader - a very poor birthday present on Budget day.

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