May 27, 1996               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 15


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

This afternoon I asked the House members if we could, at the beginning of our session take a moment to reflect on one of our officers of the House who is having his birthday today. It just happens that the Sergeant At Arms, Mr. Cyril Kirby, celebrates his 80th birthday today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. H. HODDER: It is indeed a rare occasion that we have an officer of the House who has the honour of serving the House on his 80th birthday. Mr. Kirby joined the House in 1979 as the understudy to the late Mr. Bert Hemmens and he became the Sergeant At Arms in 1981, and he served the House in an exemplary and dedicated manner.

I should point out that Mr. Kirby is a Second World War veteran having served in the 166 Royal Artillery in North Africa and in Italy from 1940 to 1945. He is married to Thelma whom he met while he was overseas, and who comes from, I think, Australia. They have two daughters and a son. I want to point out as well that Mr. Kirby and I share a little bit of commonalty in that he was born and raised on the Burin Peninsula in the beautiful town of Lamaline. I am sure that the minister would be delighted to know that. She already knew it, I am sure.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of the House if they would today offer their congratulations and wish Mr. Kirby many, many more years of service to the House and good health.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House would like, of course, to be associated with wishing the Sergeant At Arms many happy returns on this 80th year, eighty years young. He does not look eighty years old down there, he looks eighty years young.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kirby has served this House since 1979 when he apprenticed under the late Mr. Hemmens, and I am sure he would agree with me, that you could not have a better teacher than the late Bert Hemmens was. He also served, of course, with the 166 Royal Artillery in the Second World War and distinguished himself there as he has in this House for the past seventeen years so it is with great pleasure that we, on this side of the House join with the Opposition House Leader, and I am sure every member of the House and every person in Newfoundland, to wish him many happy returns and indeed, many more years in serving this House in the exemplary fashion that he has done.

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to do this today. Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would, of course, want to be associated with the remarks of the Member for Waterford Valley and the Government House Leader in congratulating Mr. Kirby on attaining the age of eighty and thanking him publicly and recognizing his many years of service to the House. Outside of the House of course, Mr. Kirby has been very active in the 166th Regimental Association and I have had the occasion to join with them in celebrating their annual remembrance and activity service on a couple of occasions. So I would join in acknowledging that service and thank him for his service and I expect continuing services in this House for years to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. KIRBY: I appreciate what you have said and (inaudible). Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before getting into the routine proceedings, I would like to welcome to the gallery sixteen Level 1 students from Queen Elizabeth High School from the District of Conception Bay South and the District of Topsail. They are accompanied by their teachers Miss Jeanine House and Miss Shirley Squires.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well, I want to acknowledge the presence of Mr. George Fizzard, Mayor of Grand Le Pierre from the District of Bellevue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: I wish to clarify some of the misleading and misinformed information which has been generated through the media within the last few days in response to government's new market value pricing policy to Crown lands.

First, let me state that the new policy only applies to commercial, residential and recreational cottage leaseholders and it is a positive move forward in that people will be granted outright ownership to the property, rather than continuing a leasing arrangement.

Government has initiated this new policy for a number of reasons, namely: 1) We want to continue government's objective of reducing regulations and red tape and making it easier for the public to deal with government, by implementing a lease/purchase agreement whereby people will own their land after 5 years. This will in fact be an interest free loan. 2) The new system will ensure a consistent policy framework throughout the Province. (3) We want to replace the old arbitrary pricing system with one which is based on market values prevalent in local areas. (4) Government needs to assure itself that it is receiving fair value for the land resource base of the Province and for the people of the Province generally.

Let me be clear, the new policy does not apply to people or organizations who have been issued leases under Section 9 of the Lands Act, for example, churches, schools, cemeteries, municipal buildings or municipal parks.

Quite a bit of confusion has arisen over the cost to current leaseholders. I wish to correct some of this misinformation. 1) Government is moving to a lease purchase option. 2) People with cottage leases issued prior to October 31, 1991 will be given the opportunity to convert their leases to grants. For cottages this will be on the basis of $2,500 less the rentals already paid, for example a person with a cottage lease issued in 1985 will get credit for the 10 years paid and in effect will be paying $1,750 to receive an outright grant (i.e. $2,500 less $750 for lease rental payments). 3) For people with residential leases issued prior to October 31, 1991 the rate is set at $1,500 less rentals paid. I would like to point out that existing residential leases are locked in at $50 per year and should the lessee choose he can continue to lease for the remainder of the 50 year lease term. On the negative side should they apply for a grant after the deadline date the value for the land will be set at market value and there will be no credit for rent that is paid. 4) For individuals with leases issued after October 31, 1991 they will be given the opportunity to convert grants on or before their five year anniversary date if they have met the conditions of their lease. Usually this means the individual has constructed a cottage or dwelling within the five-year development term.

Mr. Speaker, if individuals don't take advantage of this option or fail to meet the terms of these leases, then cottage owners will face an annual rent increase and the new pricing policy will apply. That means their annual rent will increase in accordance with the new policy of 20 per cent of the assessed value.

The new market value policy will be based on leased-purchase option and on assessed value. As I just said, the leaseholder will be required to pay 20 per cent of the assessed value for five years, after which a grant will be issued.

In the case of residences in municipalities with assessments, government will consider issuing the grant at the assessed value or $1,500, whichever is more advantageous to the leaseholder. In most cases, the new policy will result in less of a financial drain on home-owners.

It should be made clear that fees for most remote cottages, agriculture, aquaculture and resource-based cabins will remain the same.

To combat the problem of illegal occupation, government is currently considering a new policy which will make it quite costly for people to continue to occupy land illegally. Let me say that government is quite committed to dealing with this problem and we will implement this new policy vigorously.

I would like to inform the public that within a short period of time each leaseholder will be contacted by my department to fully explain the options and they can then choose the option that is most advantageous to them. In the interim my officials are available to answer any questions that any leaseholder may have.

I will conclude by stating that land ownership is a privilege and it should not be abused. We are trying extremely hard to be as fair as we possibly can to everyone in the Province to allow leasers the opportunity to take advantage of the old fees.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

First, I would like to thank the minister for a copy of his statement. I received it only about three or four minutes before the House opened. It is quite lengthy, and to respond properly I would like to have more time to review it. But anyway, a few comments.

The minister said he wished to clarify some of the misinformation which has been generated through the media. That begs the question: Whose fault is that, other than the departments? Also, the policy applies only to "commercial, residential and recreational cottage leaseholders and it is a positive move forward...." I would have to say: In whose opinion? Certainly not in the opinion of the leaseholders, I would think.

The minister talks about making it easier for the public to deal with government, "by implementing a lease/purchase arrangement whereby people will own their land after five years." This leaves the impression that it is to the public's benefit. If he is changing the policy as much as this, it has to be to the benefit of the government, I would assume, in taking in another $6.2 million of revenue. Basically, I would say, this new policy is nothing less than a tax grab, or a money grab, on the cabin-owners and property-owners within the Province.

The minister says: We want to replace the old, arbitrary pricing system. At least with the old system the people knew what they were getting before they applied for their Crown land, and they knew how much they would have to pay. With this new system it is up in the air because of the 20 per cent appraised/assessed value.

The minister goes on to say that people with cottage leases issued prior to October 1, 1991, will be given the opportunity to convert their leases to grants, an opportunity they have right at this present point in time. This is just trying to cloud the issue.

On the negative side, the minister said, should they apply for a grant after the deadline date the value of the land will be set at market value. We have people now who, when they apply for the Crown grants, or apply for the lease, they may have spent $10,000 or $15,000 to put a cabin on the land; and now they have conditions that purchase to convert to a grant changed midstream.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: To combat the problem of illegal occupation, he is going to bring in a new policy. I am very curious to see what the new policy will be and when it will be implemented. I am wondering: Are we getting to the point now where we are going to start - according to this document, and the announced policy on Crown land cottage developments, and getting the leases converted to grants, I am wondering if down the road the policy on occupying illegal land is going to be as hard on the public as this. Are we now going to start stringing people up for occupying Crown land?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

I ask the minister: Why did he not appeal to either the federal Transport Minister, David Anderson, or the President of Marine Atlantic, Rod Morrison, prior to the close of bids on Thursday, to allow the Newfoundland Dockyard to submit what would have been a winning bid on the Coastguard vessel, Henry Larsen? Why, when he was supposed to be closely monitoring the Dockyard, did he let those 80 to 100 jobs go to Halifax, whose bid was $40,000 more than the one prepared by the Newfoundland Dockyard?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how the hon. member twists this now to become the Minister of Industry's problem for a federal Crown corporation. I will say this to him that the negotiations were to proceed along a parallel track with respect to an employee takeover. While that was underway and information sessions were being held a committee of union officials was struck to be a steering committee to look at how best to make the transition from a federal Crown corporation to a privately held and owned corporation by the union. This involved a whole raft of decisions dealing with things such as share structure, how the corporation would be set up, how the assets would be transferred, what the capitalization would be, what the pension plans would be, all those kind of things.

Now, with respect to the hon. members question as to why I did not intervene, a letter from the President of Marine Atlantic clearly states, to the dockyard senior management, that they clearly had permission and authority to proceed with a range of bids, including and specifically the Larson which was a repair bid which easily could have been won by the dockyard.

Now, if the hon. member thinks that I somehow have ESP or that I can prophesies the future, who could tell that within one hour and forty minutes of the bid being submitted a FAX was sent down by the President of Marine Atlantic to withdraw that bid. I could only go from the letter I saw which is dated May 26 which clearly points out that the bidding process was allowed. In fact they identify a number of them. I think in that process they also identify the Iroquois and one or two other vessels. I just cannot remember right now.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to finish his answer.

MR. FUREY: The point I am trying to make is that there was a withdrawal by Marine Atlantic some hour and forty-five minutes before the actual bid went through. I find that despicable and I said so publicly.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If he found it despicable he should have done something about it because Mr. Morrison sent a letter to the dockyard telling them they are not permitted to bid over $500,000 unless it gets approval from the board. That is my understanding of the letter that went. They are aware of that, the minister is aware of that, and he is aware of those conditions.

Now, when asked a year ago in this House, on May 29, 1995, how aggressively he was pressuring Ottawa to allow Newfoundland Dockyard to remain competitive, the Premier said at that time: 'This is not a one person government. There are thirteen other ministers in the government and they are in touch on a constant basis.' Now, will the minister confirm that as of Friday afternoon when the contracts had been awarded he was just then attempting to contact the federal Transport Minister about the decision to prevent the dockyard from bidding on the Henry Larsen contract?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, of course. You can only react as you are told and as the evidence is provided to you. Now, I was told that within an hour and forty-five minutes of the bid being submitted that the President of Marine Atlantic, under his signature, Mr. Morrison's signature, withdrew the bid. Now, am I supposed to be able, through ESP, to foresee this? Of course not, and of course we are aggressively pursuing it.

I have met with the facilitator on a number of occasions, Mr. Baker, who is doing a superb job bringing all of the factions together, management and unions, and the federal government, et cetera. The only thing I can say to you, Mr. Speaker, is that I have written to the federal minister. I will be speaking with him, either later today or tomorrow morning. I met with the Chairperson of Marine Atlantic this morning. His own caucus colleague from St. John's South attended the meeting for a period of time. I met with the unions. I find this outrageous. I find it a slight to the yard, to the workforce, and to the people of the Province, and I still say it is a despicable and treacherous act.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is right, he closed the barn door too late, like he did on the Marystown bids and other bids, by not having a hands-on approach to what is happening in this Province, and it is costing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians hundreds of jobs. Now, when prior to Friday, I asked the minister, had you been in contact with Rod Morrison about the dockyard? When prior to Friday? Will you confirm that we could have won this contract and brought eighty to one hundred jobs to Newfoundland if you had been on top of things and talked to Mr. Morrison prior to the close of bids and the decision to pull the Dockyard's bid?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition's simulated outrage doesn't change the facts. The facts are very clear. I've met on a number of occasions with Mr. Baker who is facilitating this orderly transfer and takeover from Marine Atlantic to the unions as an employee takeover. I can't predict what people are going to do. I certainly can't predict what they are going to do within two hours of a bid being submitted.

I can confirm for you that some six days previous to that Mr. Morrison had written to senior management, had authorized that bidding could be allowed in a number of areas, including the repair and refit of the Larson. I can confirm to you that it could have been done for $40,000 cheaper than the shipyards at Halifax. I can confirm for you that eighty jobs could have been put in place, and I can confirm for you that it is an outrage to the Province, it is an insult to the Dockyard, and we aren't afraid to take the gloves off, even with our cousins in Ottawa. I have done that and I intend to keep that up.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Baker is not facilitating the tendering process and the jobs on the bidding process. That is not part of his mandate, I understand. The gloves should have come off earlier in the process to monitor it.

I understand that any decision that the Dockyard bids that is in excess of $500,000 must be approved by the Marine Atlantic board of directors. But board chairperson Moya Cahill said this morning she had received no contact from either Mr. Morrison or from you as minister. Will the minister confirm that had he been on top of things he would have appealed Mr. Morrison's decision to the Marine Atlantic board of directors and gained eighty to 100 jobs here for Newfoundland?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition's question is totally ridiculous. I mean, to say that somebody could foresee that a bid would be prepared and within an hour or two of it yanked out from underneath the management of the Yard, I mean, who in this House could have foreseen that? It is an absolutely absurd and stupid question.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister knows well the bidding process doesn't happen in a minute. It is a long process of getting quotes and putting together a bid. They know if it is under or over $500,000. They know if it is $2 million or $2. That is a very inexcusable answer the minister gave.

The minister indicated Friday that he understands that Marine Atlantic has also prevented the Dockyard from bidding on some work to be done on the Sir Humphrey Gilbert. I ask the minister: Why is he not being aggressive in contacting Marine Atlantic's board of directors and the federal minister, and what did you do before now to try to get those eighty to 100 jobs that could be upcoming on the Sir Humphrey Gilbert bid?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, look, I would love nothing better than to see the Dockyard recapitalized, see the workforce take possession of these assets, see the marketplace be chased in an aggressive manner, and to see all kinds of work created down there. But I don't have a magic wand. Nor is this Dockyard fully in the control of the Province. We are in control only in this regard, that we have an indirect debt that is liable to be paid back to the Province in the order of some $8 million. I'm quite prepared to look at any business case that will show that this can be sustained. The Province has said, and we have gone on the record, that we will look at any way to creatively finance and help the Dockyard get up on its feet, and we are prepared to look at any balance of debt that is owing to the Yard.

Once again, let me point out and say for the record that the federal government was quite clear in its Budget last year. The end year for the Dockyard was December of last year. It was announced that it would be closed. The then-Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the current Premier, intervened personally, asked for an extension, got a second extension, and got a third extension. Why? Because we wanted to put in place a reasonable and fair opportunity for the employees of the St. John's Dockyard to take it over, to manage it in an orderly way, to create a proper transition, and to give it a fair shot at building a new future for themselves.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister is trying to facilitate and help the federal government in putting the last nail in the coffin and sealing the fate of the Dockyard here in St. John's by taking a laissez faire attitude toward it.

I ask the minister: What if anything has he done to ensure the Dockyard will be allowed to bid on the Sir Humphrey Gilbert as I just mentioned or importantly, on the Iroquois - the Canadian Navy Boat on which there is an anticipated $2 million-worth of work needed to be done? Will he ensure and press upon Marine Atlantic to ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians - that this Dockyard can bid on those two very important projects that could employ up to 400 Newfoundlanders?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, here we are some nearly six months later when Ottawa has placed before the workforce a time frame and they have asked on a number of occasions for a firm expression of interest. The workers told me this morning that they are just about ready with their legal advice and with their consultants Coopers and Lybrand, to present the parameters of a business case that would sustain the Dockyard well into the future. That will be brought by the facilitator, Mr. Baker, to Ottawa perhaps next Thursday. I have placed a call to Mr. Anderson; I want to talk to him as the minister who is directly responsible for this Crown corporation to intervene with respect to those two bids, the Sir Humphrey Gilbert and the Iroquois. Their problem is they are not prepared to enter into long-distance contracts that could create further debt and aggravate the situation at the Dockyard. What makes this particular bid so scathing and unpalatable is that it was a thirty-day contract which was within the time frame of the negotiations for an employee takeover and it certainly could have created jobs, and that is why it is despicable, unacceptable and treacherous.

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

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

My question is for the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

Mr. Minister, on May 16 you announced a new pricing policy for Crown land based on provincial assessment and fair market value appraisals. The Budget indicates additional revenues to your department under this new policy of $6.2 million. The lease rental will be 20 per cent of the market value of the land and the lease can be converted to a grant at market value price. Since he had to come out today with a Ministerial Statement to try to straighten out a few points, can the minister indicate to the House what the increased average cost would be for a residential grant and/or a cottage grant, also the increased costs to lease residential and cottage lands?

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

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, I certainly would not be able to answer his question right away. I would be willing to take the question back to my officials and have them develop the information that is required to answer that question.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, with this new Budget, applications for Crown land has gone from $50 up to $100, we know that; documentation preparation from $150 to $200; residential lease from $50 a year to 20 per cent of the market value which obviously the minister and people in his department do not know at this point in time; recreational cottages, from $75 a year to 20 per cent of the market value.

A new cost to the applicant may be the appraisal. The Budget estimates indicate an increase in salary allotment for Crown lands at $390,700; that looks to be ten people at approximately $39,000 per year. Mr. Minister, will the applicant be responsible to contract the appraiser, as is now the case for land surveyors, or will the department be hiring assessors which will offset the estimated revenues? And will the cost of assessment be passed on to the applicant?

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

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, in areas where assessments are going to be required, the department will be using assessors from the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. There are a number of situations that arise - there are areas of the Province where no assessments are being done, and in these cases, the grants will be issued and the leases will be issued on areas based on $2,500 rather than assessments. In other areas as well, in the remote cabin areas, this will be based on basically a $75 fee up to $150 fee depending on the size of the cabins on those lots.

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

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

My last question, which I would like the minister to address when he gets on his feet, is with respect to the $390,700 for those ten people, who they may be and what they will be doing. This new policy forces the existing leaseholders to apply for a grant by October 31, 1996. These leaseholders are seeing conditions of their lease changed mid-stream and may not be able to afford the dramatic increases as announced.

Mr. Minister, what process are you putting in place to collect these increased rates from those who possibly cannot afford to pay and, will we actually see eviction notices or cabins being taken to satisfy this money grab?

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

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, we certainly will be in a position and we are dealing with the issue of having to pay all the money before October 31, 1996. There may be areas where we can deal with extenuating circumstances, and in response to the other areas, we will not be taking cabins away from people who currently hold them if they are unable to meet the deadline of October 31, 1996.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Education.

There has been a tremendous outcry from students, teachers and parents this weekend about the government's ad hoc approach to the evaluation of students, which is a fundamental aspect of our educational system in this Province.

Will the minister own up to a succession of errors and today, reinstate, in this Province, both the Public Exams and the Public Exam Marking Board, at least for this current year of 1996, so a sense of order and sanity can be returned to the last several weeks of this present school year?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is complete sense and order.

The Roman Catholic School Board for St. John's today exercised its authority under the Education Act to allow for the option for students who want to write a final exam, to do so. For those who are comfortable with having their year evaluated on their work to date, they are allowing that option as well, and for the department, we will accept the evaluation from the professional staff at all of the schools in Newfoundland and Labrador at Level III and the university in Newfoundland and Labrador, the colleges in Newfoundland and Labrador and universities elsewhere will all accept those. There is no reason for any confusion or concern by the students other than, people for political reasons, might try to create, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, the minister should know that the 1992 Royal Commission report wanted the government to move in a direction of consistency and higher standards.

Will the minister acknowledge that any decision as fundamental as the way students are evaluated - a concern raised by parents, teachers and students repeatedly in the last several days over all this Province, and not in an ad hoc fashion, not at the eleventh hour, not with money as its primary focus - that any decision should be made thoughtfully and carefully, to ensure maximum consistency and standardization?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If there is any concern that I have sensed in monitoring the situation over the last few days, it is because some people in their professional capacities as leaders of school boards, superintendents otherwise, some teachers at the school level, have been suggesting, inappropriately, Mr. Speaker, that students should be concerned about the status of their evaluation because their marks and their grades and evaluations may not be acceptable for post-secondary entrance requirements. That is not the case, Mr. Speaker. It has been verified not to be the case and it is a non-issue at this point in time. There will be no reinstatement. It does not need reinstatement, and all we have to do is, get the rest of the school boards to follow the lead of the Roman Catholic School Board for St. John's today, let their students know exactly whether or not they will be writing a final examination so that they can continue their studies for their year-end evaluations.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, hasn't the minister been listening? Has he not been listening to the public outcry in this Province since this announcement was made last week?

Why doesn't this minister listen, Mr. Speaker, and what is so fundamentally wrong or so intrinsically wrong with altering a decision, reversing a decision, a decision which affects so many people in this Province and when it is clear that this is what the people in this Province want? What is so terribly wrong with reversing a decision?

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

MR. GRIMES: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, absolutely nothing wrong with reversing any decision that deserves or requires reversing.

The two issues that were raised consistently since last week were, whether or not marks may be accepted, it is a non-issue, no need to reverse a decision about a non-issue. Every mark submitted to the department through the evaluation of schools will be accepted by post-secondary institutions in the Province and across the country.

The other issue that has been raised is whether or not there are appropriate standards in place. We trust the professional teachers of the Province to make every evaluation decision from Kindergarten through to junior high school in all the courses in Level I, in all the courses in Level II, in all the courses in Level III - some eighty of them - except for eighteen. We are willing to trust the teachers of the Province to evaluate all of them based on their professionalism and the fact that we will accept the marks, the post-secondary institutions will accept the marks that other provinces don't do a public examination, that it is not required to guarantee standards. There is a provincially-based curriculum that every professionally trained teacher teaches and makes an evaluation on that basis. We are totally confident that the evaluations will accurately reflect the ability of the students to master the concepts that are in the courses they have studied. They will be accepted at the post-secondary level, and there is no need for anyone to be concerned, and no need for any reversal of the decision.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is also for the Minister of Education and has to do with the cancellation of first-year university programs in rural Newfoundland.

During the election campaign, the Premier told the people of this Province that the government could, if need be, borrow up to $50 million, $60 million, or $70 million to meet the deficit shortfall. Will the minister now admit, following our Budget and the commitment to borrow only $14.8 million, that, in fact, for budgetary reasons there was no reason to cancel the first-year education programs outside of St. John's and Corner Brook, and Lab City, and that this decision was made, in fact, for other reasons to do with the minister's agenda or the government's agenda?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister has no particular agenda. The government has a particular agenda in education, that is, to provide the best quality of affordable education in the maximum number of areas and sites that we can.

With respect to first-year Memorial, we have eliminated the options. They are now polling through the Central Regional College and through the Eastern Regional College the prospective students themselves, to see whether or not they want to continue on with a first-year option to the point that they are willing to pay an enhanced registration fee, or whether or not they will have a slightly different model of first year than they had in the last years. The government has decided that we are slightly overextended on the post-secondary side. One of the areas where we are overextended is in the area of first-year university and, as a matter of policy, we would not offer first-year university in those locations into the future, but if they, themselves, can come forward with some other model that is cost-efficient and effective, then we are certainly willing to look at their proposals.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, on a supplementary.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, at least the minister has acknowledged that it is not being done totally for budgetary reasons but rather policy reasons. Is he also prepared to acknowledge that the further you get away from St. John's, the less access a student will have to post-secondary education at the university level, and the cost will increase? Is he not prepared to admit that his government's decision, which was not made for financial reasons because of the deficit, that that decision will have the effect of increasing the cost of first-year university to students outside of St. John's and Corner Brook - either increasing that cost - or diminishing the access that high school graduates will have to first-year university in this Province?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just so the record shows, I did not indicate, as the hon. member suggests, that these are not made for fiscal reasons, all of these decisions were made in the context of developing a complete Budget which was presented by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, a week-and-a-half ago, in this Legislature.

The Minister of Finance pointed out at that time that since the position of the Province had changed, even from the time of his public consultation, the advice of the lending agencies and of our bond raters was that we borrow the least amount possible. As a matter of fact, zero borrowing would have been preferable, not even $15 million. So it is incorrect for anyone to suggest that I am saying this was not done as part of a budgetary reason.

The whole issue of whether you are further from a particular location and whether that contributes to a lack of accessibility, to opportunity, Mr. Speaker, is one that has some merit but is not the main criterion for students making their decision.

In Central Newfoundland as an example with respect to first-year university, last year in the group from high-school graduates who looked at Memorial University and other universities as a first-year option, 15 per cent of the students in that range chose first-year in the three sites in Central, 16.5 per cent chose St. John's, even though there was an opportunity available in Central Newfoundland, and another 4 per cent chose mainland universities, despite the fact there were opportunities available in three centres in Central Newfoundland.

So it isn't a matter of it being accessible and that dealing with the opportunity for students. Students themselves make their own choices in many events based upon the programming and the institution that they want to attend.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just one final supplementary: Would the minister tell the House which portion of the $8 million that the government proposes to save by cutting out these programs comes from the first-year university program? I know the announcement was made at the same time as the announcement to make administrative changes to the college structure and system, but I don't think that the minister broke down the $8 million into the two parts. How much does the minister plan to save by removing the first-year university program to rural Newfoundland?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The point of the question, I will get to it very briefly, in looking at a specific amount for first-year university in six locations where the government decided not to offer the option again, is one issue. It is nice to try to identify a particular amount for one particular action. The reality is that the government in a budget read by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board ten days or so indicated where we made $290 million worth of adjustments in all program areas within the government, and one of those was in Education.

With respect to post-secondary education we talked about $3.5 million to be saved because of the reorganization in the college system from five colleges and five boards to one college and one board and one headquarters. Another $2.5 million is attributed to savings that will be attributed in this particular process to the fact that we will not be putting additional funding into the system to offer first-year university at six campus locations in Central and Eastern regions of the Island of Newfoundland.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is also for the Minister of Education. St. John's is not getting school bus services when most municipalities are, even the larger ones. This doesn't seem fair to parents and students in St. John's. Metrobus schedules do not always coincide with school hours. Many St. John's area parents cannot afford to pay Metrobus fares of $10 a week per child. Many parents do not have the luxury of taking school children in private vehicles, and many students, especially younger ones, cannot walk the great distances in rain, snow and shine across busy roadways.

Shouldn't the government at the very least, in order to provide everybody with their full and fair share, provide funding for the Metrobus services in St. John's to lower the cost of Metrobus fares to school-aged children in St. John's and area as other municipalities are being funded for school busing?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the question, but I believe the hon. member knows that the actions taken with respect to busing in the limits and the boundaries of the City of St. John's were taken to reduce money from the Budget, not to put money into the Budget for busing. The idea of paying for bus passes for students in St. John's would increase the busing cost for students in the City by several million dollars.

What we have done instead is treat every student in every neighbourhood within the boundaries of the City of St. John's the same. That is, in the City of St. John's which is the only municipality in the Province where there is a fully scheduled bus service that can handle the needs of the students, that they go to and from the school - the question was: Why should five or six neighbourhoods in St. John's have a school bus service when all the rest of the neighbourhoods in St. John's were paying for the Metrobus to go back and forth to school, or making their own arrangements? Within the City of St. John's there is a totally consistent application as of this decision.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

I would like to advise hon. members that we have, in the lobby, a photographer who is available to take some pictures. If hon. members would like to avail of the opportunity to have a picture taken with the Sergeant at Arms, you can do so over the next little while.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I rise to present the annual report of Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation for the years 1994 and 1995.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I herewith table four special warrants as follows relating to expenditures of last year, the hon. members will be pleased to note: First of all, the special warrant of $1,700,000 to provide funds to allow the electoral office to hold a general election.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Fortunately, the Opposition does not get to vote on these, Your Honour.

A special warrant of $300,000 to provide funds to allow the electoral office to prepare for a general election - that was in last year's Estimates, and one is not anticipated this year - a special warrant of $3,300,000 to provide additional funds in support of the persons with the disabilities component of the Home Support Services program in social services; and, finally, in the Department of Health a special warrant of $800,000 to provide additional funds for the drug subsidization costs for indigents and senior citizens.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS Inco has acquired Diamond Field Resources and the huge nickel, cobalt and copper discovery at Voisey's Bay; and

WHEREAS the Voisey's Bay nickel resource will be the lowest cost nickel resource in the world; and

WHEREAS the investment in employment opportunities flowing from this new mining opportunity is a major step in the economic future of this Province, and the region of Labrador in particular;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, given that Inco has committed to the construction of the mine, the mine mill, the smelter, and the refinery, that this honourable House strongly endorses a policy of directing Inco to fully assess the economics of any and all smelter and refinery sites in the region of Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

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

I wish today to rise and present a petition on behalf of a great numbers of students in the St. John's region, in particular students representing Mount Pearl Senior High School, and also on behalf of the students who are located in the following schools: Prince of Wales Collegiate, Brother Rice High School, Holy Heart of Mary Regional High School, Gonzaga Regional High School, Queen Elizabeth Regional High School, Booth Memorial Regional High, Mount Pearl Senior High, Beaconsfield High School, Holy Spirit High School, and Holy Trinity High School.

Mr. Speaker, the prayer of the petition is that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular the Minister of Education, would listen to the students before they start making decisions relative to public examinations. These students have formed themselves into a student education alliance. They want to have their voices heard, and they are demanding of the minister that the minister pay attention to their concerns. They are concerned that with the cancellation of public examinations, and the elimination of the provincial marking board from the provincial Budget, that this is going to have implications for the standard of education, and have the result of de-standardizing the educational evaluation process in the Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister met with some of these students on Friday afternoon, and we saw the results of that in the public media. These students have said loud and clear that they think that this particular decision of the government was made in some great haste, and they are asking the minister today to reinstate the Public Examination Marking Board and the Public Examination method of evaluation and they believe that that is in their best interests. They believe that is being fair, that that is what they had planned on doing it at this time of the year. They knew in September, they were told that was the evaluation process and now, at the eleventh hour, the minister says: No, no, we are not going to do it that way.

Now, Mr. Speaker, how can we expect the students of this Province to have faith in the governmental system if they find that at the eleventh hour the whole structure of their evaluation process has been dramatically changed? This note which was written by the Student Education Alliance reminds the minister, and I quote from it: in the Liberal Red Book, on page 67, it says: A new Liberal Government is committed to dialogue and discussion on all elements of implementing educational reform before decisions are made.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what happened to page 67? Wasn't that page in the minister's Red Book? It certainly was in other people's Red Book. Then in this particular situation, the students of this region are saying to the minister, they want you to engage in a dialogue, don't implement these major reforms until they have had a chance to have a dialogue with you. It is their education, it is their future and they want to be part of any decisions that are affecting them, and while we as adults or as seniors or as teachers or as parents might say that we might not always want to dialogue with youth, in this particular case we should hear the voices of youth. They are saying: Listen to us. We want to be part of any decisions that you make.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have concerns about valid assessments; we have concerns about predictability of evaluation, we have concerns about standardization; we have concerns that the young people of this Province are losing faith in the method of evaluation, so I ask the minister today, on behalf of the students from all those schools that I have mentioned, if he would listen to what they are saying and be prepared to act on it and be fair and reasonable with the students of Newfoundland and Labrador who are in their third year of the high school program.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today in support of the petition that has been presented to the House by my colleague, the Member for Waterford Valley.

It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that the people in this Province have spoken. All one has to do is listen to the public airways, read the articles and letters to the editor in the various print media throughout the Province, and I am sure the Minister of Education has received numerous phone calls and letters and faxes by concerned parents, students and teachers on this particular issue.

I mean, Mr. Speaker, before me, I just had a joint release by the Western Avalon R. C. School Board and the Avalon North Integrated School Board registering their disapproval and disgust with the decision that has been made by this particular government. I have a news release by the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association dated May 23, registering its disgust with respect to the cancelling of professional marking of any public exams and this of course, was prior to, Mr. Speaker, the decision made on Friday past, with respect to the cancellation of Public Examinations.

I have a letter here as well, a press release from students from Prince of Wales Collegiate, who are deeply upset with the fact that there is cancellation of public exams, that even prior to that decision, Mr. Speaker, there was no satisfactory system put in place with respect to marking, and disapproves as well, Mr. Speaker, with the fact that there was no consultation, no discussion, no attempt, Mr. Speaker, to have all appropriate parties meet and try and resolve this very important issue which the minister has indicated.

Mr. Speaker, the Student Education Alliance appears to be a growing movement. My colleague, the Member for Waterford Valley listed the schools: Prince of Wales, Brother Rice, Holy Heart, Gonzaga, Queen Elizabeth, Booth, Mount Pearl Senior High, Beaconsfield, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, representation from practically all schools within the immediate region. This Student Education Alliance is an important movement, it is a growing movement, and I understand that within the next several days, their force and effect will be heard.

I certainly support the petition that has been brought forward by my colleague and I call upon the minister to once again, at least listen, and hopefully give serious and strong consideration to a reversal of decisions which have been made, decisions which I submit have not been in the best interest of students, decisions that have been made within the last few days which do not reflect clearly what is in their interest as students and as future and meaningful members of our society.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a couple of comments with respect to the alleged petition; I will not call into question the format. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments, so I am assuming the petition is in good shape.

There are several points I would like to make, Mr. Speaker. Having received a notice from the Student Education Alliance just prior to coming to the House of Assembly today, and having looked at it, they did talk about -

MR. H. HODDER: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, when the minister rises he uses words like an `alleged petition'. I rise on a point of order to ask the minister if he can prove that the petition is out of order? He is carrying on as if the petition was not in order and that there was some movement on this side of the House for us to circumvent normal procedures. I want to assure the hon. minister that this is not an alleged petition but a petition sent to the hon. the House of Assembly. This is the alleged minister, this is the nebulous minister, if you will recall. He is talking about nebulous language, one of the words he used a little while ago. I say to the minister, he should refrain from casting negative aspirations on the intent of the petitioners.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order. There is really no point of order, but all hon. members should accept the word of other hon. members. If a petition is presented here, then it is assumed that the petition is in order, and unless it is proven otherwise we have to accept it.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My humble apology if I suggested that I did anything other than accept the word of the hon. members.

The issues raised in the note to me from the Student Education Alliance with respect to de-standardizing the education evaluation process, and their concerns about that: As I pointed out earlier in Question Period, there is no reason for students to be concerned. As a matter of fact, the Roman Catholic School Board of St. John's today provide an opportunity for their students, if they want to write a final examination to supposedly enhance and improve their total evaluation for the year; they have the option to do so. It will be interesting to see how many students actually sign up to write the exam.

All ratings done for students to date, right up to, and including this point in their careers, have been totally done by the teachers and totally acceptable to the students and their parents, and I find it a little bit surprising now that people are suggesting that in the final few days and the final few courses, after a thirteen and fourteen-year school career, they are suggesting the same teachers whose evaluations they were more than willing to accept for years are now no good and should be called into question.

With respect to consultation, Mr. Speaker, in this very document, the student group themselves make this comment. They say: `Though we recognize the fact that no formal student group existed in the past to be consulted,' they suggest I should have consulted with them. But it is kind of difficult to consult with 100,000 students in the high schools of Newfoundland and Labrador when there are no student representatives to dialogue with.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, in presenting the petition and supporting it, talked about page 67 of the Red Book. The reference on page 67 of the Red Book has nothing to do with examinations. It says: `The new Liberal Government is committed to dialogue and discussion on all elements of implementing educational reform.' Everybody, Mr. Speaker, knows that that has to do with Term 17, and the visit that we are going to make tomorrow to Ottawa. It has nothing whatsoever to do with public examinations, first-year university, the closure of campus or any of those issues. It has to deal specifically with education reform, the constitutional amendment, nothing else, Mr. Speaker. So it is a nice try by the Opposition to try to ride something that they think is a little bit of a pony; but the pony has stopped, the school boards are making their decisions, there is no pony to ride. My advice to the students is study for your exams. If you want to write them, exercise the option given by the school board. Get your final evaluation, it will be accepted. The standards are just fine, Mr. Speaker, there is no reason to be concerned. It is a non-issue.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition. I apologize that I did not send it over to the Minister of Education to get it approved.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: To get it corrected, I say to the member, or approved but, Mr. Speaker, I think it is in order. There have been many presented here before. I will not read the full prayer of the petition; I will just read part of it. Petition to the House of Assembly. To the hon. the House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, that:

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power has asked the Public Utilities Board to approve an increase in electricity rates - and, Mr. Speaker, it goes on to state several more whereases and therefores.

It is a feeling being expressed by some people in the district of Bonavista South and Trinity North with the fear of their electricity rates being increased by 4.9 per cent with the applications now before the Public Utilities Board and about to be heard in the next couple of months.

Mr. Speaker, it is unheard of that we would consider allowing a utility today, with a monopoly on supplying a service, to come forward and look for another 4.9 per cent rate in electricity fees, considering that this same company, this same utility, made a profit of some $28 million last year. When you consider the people who are going to be hurt most because of this rate increase and when you consider another increase about to be bestowed on them by the Minister of Finance with the harmonization of the GST/PST of another 8 per cent on top of their utility bill, you are seeing the people of this Province paying an extra 13 per cent to 14 per cent on their utility bill, a cost which relates into approximately $60 to $70 a month with somebody using electric heat today.

Mr. Speaker, it must be wonderful to have a business where you can go out and advertise and do all the things that you need to do in order to promote your business and get the jump on the oil companies, the only other competition out there for heat, and just throw it right back at the consumers of the Province to recoup your costs, recoup your losses and continue your profit margin to $28 million to $30 million annually.

Mr. Speaker, I call upon the House to intervene. It was brought up at the Estimates Committee meeting with the Minister of Mines and Energy a few nights ago and he indicated that he was not about to intervene on behalf of the taxpayers and the residents of this Province. He was going to allow the Consumer Advocate, Mr. Browne, to carry the load and whatever it was that they decided to do after he made his submission, it was okay with them. Mr. Speaker, I do not accept that. I think we were all elected here to look after our constituents, and one way of looking after them is to protect them from the giant companies like Newfoundland Power and other utilities that are out there today providing, not only - well, it is an essential service but it is a service of great necessity. It is not something where you have a choice to do other things. The people who did make a choice to go out and cut firewood to provide for their heating needs, now all of a sudden are being penalized as well by this utility, and the people who use less electricity are going to be faced with a higher percentage of increase.

Mr. Speaker, this is totally unfair, totally unacceptable. I call on the government of the day to speak out, and the Government House Leader to speak out for his constituents, and allow the poor people out there today who just received a hit from the government Budget, just received a hit from the Department of Social Services in having their emergency funding taken away from them - Mr. Speaker, I had a call this morning from somebody who had depended on that $61 in order to be able to buy some extra food and to take their son to the graduation on Friday night. She called this morning when she had visited her social worker and was told that that $61 for food was not there anymore. As a result, the few dollars that she had tucked away and saved to take her son to graduation would now have to be spent, and he would be deprived of going out and graduating with his fellow students.

This government have not shown much compassion in the past and I am not surprised that they are not showing it now.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I call on the government to make fair representation and to intervene and say enough is enough. I think this company will continue to provide a service. We are not in fear of them pulling out the next day. Allow the people of this Province to continue to go out and supply food and shelter for their families.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I am pleased today to rise in my place and speak on behalf of the petition presented by the Member for Bonavista South, and to support the petition of course. That is one petition presented today of many petitions that have been presented in this House of Assembly over the past little while. I expect there will be many more to be presented in the coming days and weeks and months as long as Newfoundland Power is persistent on getting a rate increase.

There has been a request from this side of the House and from other people to the Minister of Mines and Energy to make a presentation to the Public Utilities Board, and let the Public Utilities Board know the government's position with respect to a rate increase for Newfoundland Power. The government members opposite will say that they should not interfere with the process, but they did not mind interfering with the process when there was a commission in place to go around this Province with respect to the electoral boundaries. At that point in the time they made a presentation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Another day, another dollar.

MR. J. BYRNE: Another day, another dollar. They made a presentation to the commission with respect to the electoral boundary changes, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I have made a note to the Public Utilities Board that I wanted to make a presentation to them with respect to the rate increase proposed by Newfoundland Power. Since that time, I have received from the Consumer Advocate and the PUB a mound of information. It is probably a foot-and-a-half high now up on my desk. Information is coming in all the time. Basically, I have notified them that the information we have is plenty for me to make a case that Newfoundland Power should not get a rate increase. The bottom line is, of course, that it is just morally wrong. Newfoundland Power received profits last year of $27 million. I think that is quite sufficient in these hard times that the Province is going through. Of course, the government of the day, in the past few years, has certainly contributed to that problem.

Also, the tax harmonization that is being proposed will have an impact upon the amount of money that people will pay in the Province for power - 7 per cent. I noticed the brochure that was sent around by the government saying that the electric bill of a person who now pays $75 and who now pays $7.58 tax, that will go up to $10.96. That is roughly 50 per cent of the taxes that are paid now for - well, $10.96 up from $7.58 is $3.40, somewhere around there. So, in actual fact, if we have a rate increase plus the tax harmonization rate increase next year we will probably see more people in the Province getting threats from Newfoundland Power about having their electricity cut off because they cannot afford to pay it.

I know of an individual recently who had Newfoundland Power come to his house and read his meter. What they do now, of course, is often times they will do estimates. They won't come to the house at all; then they will do estimates. One house that I know of they estimated, I think, from $65 up to $150 per month. If Newfoundland Power is looking to get more money in their coffers type of thing, I am certainly sure that this is taken advantage of pretty often. If they can come in and estimate a rate increase of 100 per cent for sure on certain houses in the run of a month, if you take in 20,000 or 30,000 or 40,000 or 50,000 houses in the Province, that can add up pretty quickly.

Of course Newfoundland Power, when they first started, looked for a rate increase of 4.9 per cent, and when the consumer advocate got involved they dropped it down to 3.9 per cent, and now it has dropped even further. So basically what I believe is that it calls into, for Newfoundland Power, a question of credibility; how well did they do their studies beforehand, to say that they needed this 4.9 per cent increase? We have seen representatives of Newfoundland Power in the media saying that basically - from my perspective the bottom line is that they did not do a proper study, a proper analysis of their costs in supplying the power to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. As I said before, to me that alone should give the Public Utilities Board reason enough to refuse Newfoundland Power's rate increase this year. This has been going on for some time now, and possibly if this continues to go any further it will be next year before we see a rate increase anyway.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the people involved, the Public Utilities Board, and possibly the Minister of Mines and Energy, to make a presentation, and just let them know that we are not really satisfied with the process that Newfoundland Power has put in place and has followed over recent days.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main - Whitbourne.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WHELAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to rise in this hon. House today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Lush's Road in the community of Marysvale in my district. The petition reads as follows:

WHEREAS Lush's Road, in the District of Harbour Main - Whitbourne, is in great need of extensive upgrading and paving; and

WHEREAS the above mentioned road is used as a bus route for transporting children to and from school; and

WHEREAS the people of this area of the Province feel that safe passage of the children cannot be granted due to the poor condition of the Lush's Road;

THEREFORE this House of Assembly should call upon the provincial government to fund the repair and pavement of the Lush's Road in the Town of Marysvale, District of Harbour Main, and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I am quite familiar with the road in question. I have been down there -

AN HON. MEMBER: Been down that road many times.

MR. WHELAN: Yes, I have been down that road many times.

The condition of the road in the wintertime is atrocious, practically impassable, one of the very few gravel roads left in the Province, and I believe the prudent and economical thing to do with this particular road would be to pave it. I am sure that within the matter of only a few years they would not only save the cost of paving it but they would provide a very valued and a very essential service, a very basic service, to the children and the residents in general of the Lush's Road in Marysvale.

I call upon the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to take a hard look at this with a view to resolving the problem of the people on Lush's Road to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, rise in support of the petition presented by my hon. colleague opposite. It is one of many roads in the Province that are certainly in need of paving and upgrading, and anywhere where children have to travel I think is where we should be giving consideration first and foremost.

I would certainly be negligent if I did not support this particular petition. We had a great crowd out the other night for a meeting there.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many?

MR. FRENCH: Oh, I don't know; there was just a numerous crowd.


MR. FRENCH: Oh, no, more than that.

AN HON. MEMBER: One hundred and fifty.

MR. FRENCH: Yes, and probably more than that again.

We have many of these roads throughout the Province, in my own district and, of course, in the hon. gentleman's district - I am sure there are many more - so I would like to rise and offer our support to this particular petition. As I said earlier, anywhere where children have to travel on the school bus I think first and foremost we should be giving priority.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to present a petition by the residents of Shea Heights on the school busing issue, and the prayer will read as follows:

We, the residents of Shea Heights, wish to petition the House of Assembly to oppose the discontinuation of the school-bus service to the community of Shea Heights. The cost of the Metrobus service can be burdensome on a family already trying to live within a very financial, limited means. There will be very little cost to the Province to have the school bus stop in the community of Shea Heights on its way to or from the community of Blackhead. The Metrobus schedule, in some cases does not coincide with school hours as I may point out is the case in Shea Heights; it stops every hour on the hour. The students would have to make a stop on Water Street to get a transfer and take a second bus under the Metrobus system in order to get to school. So I ask the House to accept this petition by the residents of Shea Heights.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to rise and support the petition from residents of Shea Heights presented by the Member for St. John's South on the issue of school busing. It is one of those issues that I have presented a number of times to this House, Mr. Speaker, and has to do with the reverse of the kind of thing that most people in this House talk about how this government treats rural Newfoundland and discriminates against rural Newfoundland.

We have here, Mr. Speaker, a very good example of how the government in this Province discriminates against young people and students who live in the City of St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Port de Grave, the mouth from Port de Grave, doesn't want to hear about the discrimination against students from St. John's who have to pay their way on the school bus while residents of his district travel to school for free on school buses provided by the Minister of Education, so it is time, Mr. Speaker, that this issued is aired publicly, that the students in St. John's are being discriminated against by this government in the manner of school busing.

They are required to pay, or their parents are required to pay the cost of the Metrobus in travelling to and from school whereas, students in Mount Pearl or Conception Bay South or Port de Grave or Twillingate and Fogo, travel to and from the schools - and Bonavista North too, Twillingate and Fogo - The former Member for Fogo represents these people as well, and in these districts, Mr. Speaker, school busing is provided by the Department of Education at no direct cost at least to the students involved, and that, is a system of discrimination that has gone on year in and year out in this Province without so much as a comment by the government.

Now we have had a few occasions, Mr. Speaker, when particular situations have arisen which we have raised in this House, students from Quidi Vidi and Quidi Vidi Village having been denied access to the school bus because a Metrobus happened to change its route and go down there to the Quidi Vidi Village, and that caused problems for students because they couldn't afford to get on this bus and ended up having to walk a mile or a mile-and-a-half to school regardless of the weather because they couldn't afford to be on the bus.

This is the kind of example of how students in St. John's are treated differently from students outside of St. John's because only students who could afford to travel the buses in St. John's could get on a bus to school, whereas outside of St. John's school buses are provided by government without regard to a person's ability to pay and I think that is unfair and that ought to change and there are some very straightforward and simple solutions offered by the Member for St. John's South and I support the residents who have signed the petition and I support the prayer of the petition.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a couple of comments with respect to the petition, particularly the comments made by the hon. Member for Signal Hill -Quidi Vidi.

He has made the point repeatedly in the House, Mr. Speaker, and at least he should be given absolute marks for consistency in the point of view that he presents with respect to school busing in the City of St. John's versus elsewhere in the Province. He has been consistent since I have had the experience of sharing a seat in the Legislature with him, Mr. Speaker. I would suggest however that the deputy mayor of the City of St. John's would have a completely different story to tell and a tune to sing if in fact the Province ever were to institute school busing in St. John's and the revenues that the City of St. John's depends upon for the metro bus service from students in all other areas were to disappear you would hear a completely opposite representation then being made to the provincial government from the City of St. John's if we were to provide yellow school busing in the city and the revenues that they currently get, Mr. Speaker, were to disappear.

With respect to the Shea Heights issue and Blackhead, I think the real answer, as everybody in this Legislature knows with respect to Shea Heights and Blackhead, is not to be busing students down in a metro bus or otherwise from Shea Heights into other schools down in the other part of the City of St. John's. I am surprised that the residents of Shea Heights and Blackhead are not petitioning the government to have them all go to the one school in Shea Heights, St. John Bosco, Mr. Speaker, which has exemplified itself in the last couple of years as a school of superior quality. They have been recognized in a number of different polls and a number of different criteria referencing as an exceptional school in the Province, Mr. Speaker, in the city. The real answer, with respect to busing for Blackhead and Shea Heights, is not to be busing people past a marvellous facility in Shea Heights to other schools in the city but to use it as a neighbourhood school - that everybody here says they support - and everybody in Shea Heights and Blackhead could go to the school in Shea Heights rather than have to worry about whether a school bus or a metro bus is taking some of the students from Shea Heights down into other schools in other parts of the City of St. John's.

So when we get through the education reform agenda, Mr. Speaker, I am sure you will see a whole different scenario with respect to busing in the City of St. John's, busing with respect to Blackhead and Shea Heights and neighbourhood schools. The parents will have their say, Mr. Speaker, as to whether or not they want to put their children on a metro bus and go somewhere else in the city, pay for it themselves or go to St. John Bosco in Shea Heights which is one of the top quality schools anywhere in the city.

Orders of the Day

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could move motions 8 to 14 inclusive for first reading.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Portability of Pensions Act". (Bill No. 13)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Education to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act And The Education Act". (Bill No. 8)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Provincial Parks Act". (Bill No. 7)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands to introduce bills, "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". (Bill No. 10)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Accountancy Act". (Bill No. 11)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Legal Aid Act". (Bill No. 12)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to introduce a bill, "An Act To Establish The Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board And To Provide For The Certification Of Professional Fish Harvesters". (Bill No. 9)

On motion, Bill Nos. 7 to 13 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 1, the Budget debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion No. 1, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to address a few particular points today regarding this alleged Budget of no taxes that we have seen coming out every single day and what the real Budget is all about. We will get an opportunity now. Today the minister had to get up and try to clarify some public concerns on this new taxation policy, $6.2 million in tax hikes on people who have cabins, residences and other types of cottages scattered around Newfoundland and Labrador. We were told there was going to be no particular taxes in this Budget. We have seen a $6.2 million tax that comes under a heading of a new market value pricing policy. People entered into long term agreements. They have put considerable money into their cottages, thousands of dollars and now they have changed the rules in mid-stream. It is only fair that people who have entered into agreements and have been occupying these cottages should be given the opportunity to continue into an arrangement, whether it is five, fifteen, or fifty years, and not have the rules change in midstream, causing undue hardship on people, who probably since they occupied the cabin, lost their jobs and are receiving an unemployment cheque, maybe a TAGS cheque, or other forms of income. It is very exorbitant to have to pay $3000 out now to buy a cottage into which somebody, just two weeks ago, has invested maybe $2000 and they do not have the available resources to do it. It is not playing ball, it is not fair game, especially for people who are in their fifth year of this lease, their last year, who have no extra time left and have to exercise that by October 31 this year. It is not fair to these people, it is unfair taxation. You can call it what you like, it is a taxation on people who have residence on Crown lands, people who have cottages and so on, that they built as part of their leisure time and put considerable investment into it, in many, many instances. The minister indicated no taxation.

The minister, today, in his Ministerial Statement, said that the new policy only applies to commercial, residential and recreation cottage leaseholders. I am wondering what other leaseholders are out there, if they are not commercial, not residential, and not recreation cottages? How many other categories are there that it would apply to? I do not know of any others. Maybe the minister could let us know when he gets an opportunity to speak in the Budget debate.

Mr. Speaker, we have a Budget deficit now, a structural deficit of $87 million that was only improved by $3 million in this Budget. Last year, if I remember correctly, there was a $90 million structural deficit.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why are you complaining (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not complain, I say to the minister. I indicated at that time that any new people who wish to acquire Crown land, or new cottages, are going in under a set of conditions that they know so they have the option to avail of it or not. What I am complaining about to the minister is changing the rules after the game has started. They are not playing ball with the people out there. All through the Red Book they were promised a new era of consultation in this Province. They were going to consult with teachers, students, and parents when they cancelled public exams. They were going to consult with holders of property in this Province but on March 16 they announced a whole new set of rules in a game that people had been playing for the past twenty years. A new tax has to be built in - that is the type of consultation.

Consultation on heath care. The minister stood in the House here last week, the Minister of Health, after what the Minister of Finance said in the Budget, that there would be $903.3 million put into health care, and the Minister of Health has stated now in this House, that out of that $903.3 we are going to take money for the expansion or the restructuring of health care here in the City of St. John's. He indicated it is going to come out of that, the operational monies we have here in the Province.

That is not what people were led to believe. They were led to believe it was going to be a capital expenditure over and above the current account expenditures under the particular department, so people are being told one thing and government is delivering on something entirely different. We have borrowed certainly on our future and we have not made wise decisions by not consulting people out there on those decisions.

It is important, I think, to put some faith in the people who are in the education system, and in the health care system, by consulting on what avenues you should go. Maybe to eliminate public exams is an appropriate decision at this point in time, but that is not the question here, the question is to announce on May 16 when students now, at this time of the year, some of them are very distraught with the announcement they are finding through the grapevine. Teachers did not know the situation and were unable to explain it to them, or to the parents, last minute, ad hoc decisions, that have not been well thought out, and in all probability maybe very poor decisions. They have not taken the time to consult with people and get real solutions to real problems that are out there.

This government must plan for the future and not simply hope for the future. That seems to be the trademark of this government, to sit out and hope for the future and not plan to accomplish. It is like making a promise with no intention of keeping that promise. It is time we put some integrity back into the process and not try to sell people on one idea to get elected and then try to deliver something else a little later.

This year, we have seen in our Budget a forty-two (inaudible) advanced borrowing under Term 29. We are seeing $45 million current account and capital total deficit this year in the Budget, bringing us to $87 million before we even start next year. Next year we are going to receive $60 million less under the Canada Health and Social Transfer. That brings the amount up to a $147 million shortfall, not factoring in other sources of revenue. For instance, personal income tax would be expected to decline next year. This year they are showing an increase in personal income tax because it is revenue from two years ago when we went through a very rapid period of growth and job creation at Hibernia. The effects are being felt this year in personal income tax. Last year's performance will reflect next year, and this year's, the year after, if we look at a two-year lag in applying the appropriate totals to our personal income tax.

So we cannot expect better times ahead, we can expect more tough times ahead. We have to face those realities out there today and tell the people, not try to sell the people a bill of goods and raise false hopes out there when things are not going to be rosy, and we are going to be facing a tremendous shortfall next year, even before we start the budgetary process.

I was delighted to hear this past week some good news for this year that wasn't revealed here in the Budget, in the economic forecast. In fact, the economic forecast indicated here that there would be a substantial decline in housing starts of 8 per cent, down to 1,575 from 1,712. I was very pleased to hear last week their announcement that there is going to be an improvement in housing. There are going to be more housing starts, up to approximately 1,800, which us roughly, I think, close to a 6 per cent increase in housing starts, which would be positive. And hopefully, the spin-off effects from that will show some positive effects on the economy this year. We want to see prosperity out there, we want to see development out there, we want to see new housing, new taxes to government. We do not want to see more debt, of course, but we want to see wise use of government dollars that have not been spent with any planning process at all.

Sometimes when you do not plan, the money is directed in the worst possible fashion. Very seldom is money wisely spent when there is no planning attached to it. Ninety-nine per cent of the time it is a poor decision that has to be revisited again. We have had to revisit decisions that this government made in the past. We have had to come back and do it right, or try to do it right the second time, when the effects and the damage were so great that we never got the real benefits that could have been accrued by spending it wisely in the first place.

There are numerous areas in this Budget - and there is reference made that it is costing us a considerable amount of money through bad decisions by this government. One particular one I will refer to here, in the Consolidated Revenue Fund, is 1.2.01. There is a $77,200 payment every single year now to a fund for Trans City, to buy back those leases that we give out to the highest bidder - not to the lowest bidder, the ones we give out to a higher bidder. Now, this Province is going to be putting aside every year for thirty years - it is costing us between $30 million and $40 million more; 50 per cent more than Sprung, this Trans City deal has cost us. Churchill Falls is costing us $800 million ever year, a poor deal, equivalent to thirty Sprungs, almost, every single year. There is just a whole array of bad decisions for which we are paying the price.

We do not want to see any more. That can only be done when the government come to this House, put forth their initiatives or legislation and allow it to be debated properly, pointing out flaws. I say again, we did not have an opportunity in the past to debate Term 17 here in this House. I made reference to that last week. We did not have an opportunity. If we are going to debate any particular thing, regardless of how we feel on it, this House, that is duly elected, should have an opportunity to be able to stand and debate the wording of a resolution, as the people in Quebec give their people in a National Assembly to debate the resolution on separating from this country.

The education of our people is one of the most valued, particular resources and areas that we should be concerned with. It is of the highest priority. It is important to ensure that we have dollars that are spent wisely to ensure and secure the future for our children. Not having an opportunity to come here to this House and put forth those particular points is totally unacceptable.

The minister, today, with reference to Public Examinations again - it is an issue of concern to students in particular. Governments always say, and I have heard the minister and the Premier of the Province say, it is the students that we should be concerned about. When he is debating Education reform, it is the students, and still, he announces something that has left the students bewildered and very upset with the elimination of public exams at a very crucial time, when they are under a fair amount of stress as it is, late in the school year and worried about their academic standing, wondering whether they will be admitted to a college or university and going through this turmoil now that is unnecessary, unplanned and should not have happened.

We have seen in this Budget, a whole array of licensing fees and tremendous increases in taxation. In addition to the $6.2-million tax on land here in this Province, we are seeing another $12-million increase in various fees that this government have established. That is an indirect form of taxation. No new taxes, they have indicated in the Budget, when at the very minimum, there is a tremendous new number and list of licenses and fees. In addition to the two major, direct tax measures that were implemented, there was the high income surtax, which is an area in which we can realize some extra revenues and the financial corporation capital tax. There is a whole array of other taxes, other fees and other licences that have been inflicted on people in this Province who are not in a position to be able to cope with many of them.

In fact, many of these increases in fees and licences are going to be counterproductive, and talking about being counterproductive, I think we just need to look at our total revenues and look at the Budget items listed, and our sources of revenue, to see where we have reached in tax being counterproductive. Let us look at retail sales tax - and this is an important thing on harmonization also - retail sales tax, we are going to take in $24.4 million less this year than last year. We are to the point where the economy has slowed, where there are less retail sales - and this is even without harmonization - we are going to be down $24.4 million less because of a contraction in the economy and less sales. So we have reached a point of maximum taxation in that area.

Personal income tax, in this Budget, has listed up by over $29 million because - and I understood it is relegated to two years ago - there is a two-year lag in applying the specifics on personal income tax; that is why that tax is up, not down. When you look at the increase in the price of gas and gasoline tax in this Province, we are going to take in less revenue than last year. Corporate income tax, $12.3 million less than last year and that tells us that companies are struggling, they have lower bottom lines, they do not have as high taxable income and that is a drastic decline from sixty-two down to fifty; that is almost a 20 per cent decline in taxes from companies this particular year. Maybe a lot of that is coming from the EDGE legislation, that is possible, but I think a lot of it is coming because EDGE companies are ones that did not pay taxes the previous years anyway, they are new companies, new ventures. A decline of 20 per cent in corporate income tax is an indication of the performance of our economy and we have reached the taxation levels also where we are getting negative results.

Tobacco tax, $1.6 million, again we are down in revenues from tobacco tax. The only tax we see that has increased are the mining tax, and the royalties, and they went up by a very nominal amount and when the minister tables his new legislation in the future we hope to inflict prosperity on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, I would say. We will inflict prosperity.

MR. TULK: That is Mulroney Government.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and I could add, Mr. Chrétien is not inflicting prosperity on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. If we look at what is happening with this EI legislation, we can see this EI legislation is not inflicting prosperity, that laisser-faire agenda to shut down the Newfoundland Dockyard is not inflicting prosperity, not allowing them to bid on contracts that are important, not allowing them to be able to bid and to be able to employ people that would make it more viable as an employee takeover if it is up and running and creating a lot of work, it is much more enticing. Who wants to take over a dockyard that has no work, that is not allowed to bid, that has to get start-up costs and is not operating at a particular capacity?

We see the payroll tax is down another $6 million again this year. When you look at our areas of taxation, look at our revenues, the only tax we see that is basically increased - and that is not a real figure because there is a two-year lag on personal income tax, and that is the only one that is up, over $29 million. The affects of income tax - in two years' time we will that. In other words, in reality, almost every single level of taxation in this Province is down.

Add to that next year - or subtract from that, I would say, on the expenditure side - the $60 million less we are going to get in the Canada Health and Social Transfer next year. Add the $87 million structural deficit we have to combat, and add the down side of harmonization next year where we are going to have to make up millions more. In later years of the program we are going to have to make up in excess of $100 million shortfall in taxation. We are not in for a bright future unless the economy really moves forward within the next period of time.

We do hear from forecasters now that in 1998 and beyond, we can hope to have, I think, a 6 per cent growth in the economy. That is very positive, a 6 per cent growth and a 7.5 per cent growth, I think, in 1999 and beyond. Those are positive signs. We certainly hope that this will make up some of the shortfall we are seeing here built into a structural deficit and reduced levels of taxation, but it will not make up all the difference. That is why it is so important that we need to look ahead a little further. We need to have a four-year to five-year plan.

I say to government ministers, there should be a plan to deal with the economy. There should be a long-term plan giving realistic projections of our revenues and our expenditures in the long term. We can forecast those. We know what we are going to receive for the next several years. Obviously, they can tell us what we are going to receive in the next several years under equalization payments. They are going to go up fairly significantly. Canada Health and Social Transfer are going to go down at a faster rate than those particular Canada Health and Social Transfer also.

I want to refer to some of these figures just to give you an indication as to where we are heading over the next few years. Canada Health and Social Transfer last year was $427 million when you combined those two areas. This year it is $340 million. That is $85 million, $86 million less. Next year, it is another $60 million. That is $147 million reduction in direct revenues into this Province in a two-year period. That is going to have a dramatic impact. We are going to see the following year another $18 million reduction in Canada Health and Social Transfer to the Province, and on and on for the (inaudible) year after, right on down until it hits the low level in the year 2003 of $233 million. That is a drastic decrease in money coming into this Province.

On the other side of the coin, on equalization, it is going to go up progressively over the next while, but in real dollars it is not going to be very dramatic, and it is not going to offset what we are losing under the Canada Health and Social Transfer. That is based on population projections of today, not allowing for declines in our population in the future that is going to exacerbate the problem and result in less equalization because of reduced population. It is going to result in less transfer under Canada Health and Social Transfer because now we are moving from a basis of need and equality, health care and education for all Canadians. We are moving to a system now that is going to be funded, at least part now, 50 per cent, based on population, and in the future it will move to a population base.

We are going to find that with the geography of our Province, without the population base of our Province, we are going to find it costs more to deliver services per capita to this Province than in almost every single other area of this country. That is going to have a drastic impact that is going to be felt in the budgetary process here in the Province unless we start to deal with the reality.

We have all contributed in the past. All governments have contributed to the debt. Every single premier and government since Confederation has contributed to the debt of this Province. Some have contributed more significantly than others. The interest on the debt continues to grow. I mentioned it the last day: 42.11 per cent growth in the public sector debt since 1989. Granted, a good chunk of it in interest based; there still has been a decrease. Each year there has been borrowing on a fairly large scale, I think, $250 million one year with the previous government here, and last year was the first year we did not have to contribute to our net debt overall; it was the first time in many, many years.

Overall we have seen tremendous negative impacts on education in this Budget. That is the one area that has been hit harder than any other particular one, and it is occurring at a time when it is important to have this access to education. It is important for people around Newfoundland and Labrador, in all regions of the Province, to have equal access to getting an education. The closing of five college campuses, and university courses in six locations around the Province, was a very quick, ad hoc decision, as many members here in the House can attest to, I am sure. I have heard many of the members indicate that they did not find out until two hours and three hours and one hour before the announcement, and some did not find out at all. That is not an acceptable thing for a government that promised in its Red Book, and preached, consultation with stakeholders in the process. It is an unacceptable procedure that is affecting the lives of children here in the Province, and putting undue hardship upon families in the financial means to be able to educate their children.

Most people feel, when given advance notice, if it is a cost cutting that is going to give efficiency in the system, be able to retain money in the system to provide services that are important, and higher priorities, that is one thing. One particular aspect of that is that we have not been given that opportunity to be able to put forth those proposals and to discuss particular changes. We have seen it with the minister here last week in the House in health care, for example, with ambulance operators. We have seen that there is an increase, in some cases almost 100 per cent, almost doubled, in the fee that users are going to have to pay; it is a tax on the sick. If you increase ambulance fees, it is a tax on the sick. Everybody cannot afford to pay it. Because they cannot afford to pay, ambulance operators cannot collect it, community ambulance people out there have to raise funds for their services cannot collect it, what is happening? Government is taking that out of the grant, out of the money they are giving to operators - I should not say out of the grant - taking it out of the kilometres they are paying to community ambulance operators and private ambulance operators around the Province, so that is passed directly down to the user and is a tax on the sick of this Province. The minister indicated there are no new monies in the government coffers. There is $8.1 million extra in government coffers in extra revenue that is budgeted here, in the Estimates here in the Province.

That is not what the minister said in the House, and that is not acceptable either; to tell you it is not there when we know it is there is very misleading to this House, I must say, to tell us something is not there when we can see it in black and white there; and the minister admitted, off the record, the next day that it was so, but when he stood in his place he did not do that.

We have seen cutbacks, and I won't get into them today, we have seen tremendous changes in social services. When we were told there was going to be a marginal increase in budgets, we find out the same day that there are cutbacks in that specific area again. That is just another part of the procedure, another part of the direction, we have been told, that there are going to be no significant changes - improvements. Still, we are going to see pulled out of health care over the next while, while they guaranteed the total amount over the next three years of $903.3 million, the minister admitted here in the House that the restructuring of the Health Care Corporation of St. John's, and any capital expenditures, is going to come out of this allocation that has been given there. That is basically what the minister said in this House, and that is not what people have been led to believe, and next year, or the year after, or whenever this money is needed, we will be finding that will be the case and there will be a whole other group of people upset with this, and there will be a big uproar down the road when the effects of this Budget kick in.

Many effects of this Budget are kicking in now; they are starting to be felt by people around the Province. I received many, many calls this past weekend - I know my caucus members indicated, and maybe some of the government members - had calls from people who had Crown land and leases and cabins there, who are wondering what is happening. I had four within an hour-and-a-half span on Sunday when I was home, dealing with this particular map. There were many, many others. I spoke with people who had calls representing different groups, and many other people who were looking at pursuing it aggressively and getting to the bottom of this. They had called the department and the department does not know. The minister said today, contact his officials in the department to get answers on these things. People called the department as late as today - this morning they called the department to ask questions and the people over in the department, many of them, do not know. They have indicated they don't know, they don't have the answers.

So they made an announcement and they don't know how they are going to deliver what the fee is, the structure and what they are going to do. How do you expect people not to be confused when they see something in the telegram this weekend - I made reference to it on Budget Day. On Budget Day I said there is another $6.2 million grab. I discussed it on Thursday on the open line program. I discussed it here in the Budget back on last Friday. The minister indicated that he has not had any complaints. He has not heard anything about it from Opposition MHAs either. I talked about it in the House on Friday, on Open Line on Thursday, the day the Budget was delivered in the media. Out in interviews with different media I discussed it and made reference about this $6.2 million. How many more times do we have to indicate that it is there, before people are going to pretend that they hear what is being said?

So it is important to face reality and to come out and tell the people. Give them the facts. People still don't know. The minister today didn't know when asked questions. Officials did not know. We called this morning on behalf of constituents to find out things and they had called but couldn't get answers. People are really alarmed and upset. They are wondering what is happening. There should be a specific plan. If you are going to make a change it should be discussed. There should be a plan. We should be able to know the fee structure and what it is going to be. We should know the specifics. We should know how it is going to be carried out or there shouldn't be a plan and it shouldn't be announced. It should be done beforehand.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That's right, I agree. We have one sensible member - I don't feel entirely safe with the Minister of Health behind me but if somebody could keep an eye on the minister for me while I am addressing some of the major concerns in health care here that the minister has failed to address here in this Province, some of the pressing concerns.

AN HON. MEMBER: If you fall I will catch you.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will make sure that I will not fall. As Abraham Lincoln said: I have slipped but I have not fallen.

Like I said to the ministers here on Friday, you should go down to the manufacturers show and I say it again to the minister. I am not sure if the minister heard the comment.

AN HON. MEMBER: What's he doing over there?

MR. SULLIVAN: He likes it so much over here, he enjoys the company, he likes our policies, what we stand for. He used to be over on this side before. He was a member of the 500 Club. Brian Mulroney's 500 Club and now he wants to come back to the roost again from where he started, I say to the minister. He is really comfortable. Doesn't he look relaxed over here?

AN HON. MEMBER: What do you mean he was?

MR. SULLIVAN: He still is? Maybe he will get some of this $20 million lawsuit, is it? Maybe he is waiting to get his returns too, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) but he was a member.

MR. SULLIVAN: Certainly one of the displays at the manufacturing show was Dalton's Casket Manufacturing up in my district who are producing an excellent quality, made in Newfoundland product employing local people in the community. Actually people who came off the TAGS program, people have gone to work from the TAGS program and working at this business to try to diversify the economy in the local area there and have done a tremendous job. It is those types of initiatives that we need to have in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Did anybody have an opportunity to watch, a couple of weeks ago, Leading Edge? If you watched the program on TV they did a very good, extensive interview with Mr. Dalton pertaining to his business when he started out. He went out to a Newfoundland funeral home and the person said come back in a year. He said if you are still in business I will buy from you. Well that person who made that statement had a display down to the manufacturing show trying to sell headstones. I told Mr. Dalton that if I saw him there I was going to say to him: Very interesting, if you are here next year I will buy one from you. That's the type of initiative we need - people get out there, promote their product, work at it. It has taken a lot of time and a lot of effort. He needed to back it with resources from another business he had. Sometimes the support base is lacking but in this instance there was reasonable support I must say.

We need to be able to use those initiatives to promote and diversify those types of businesses here in Newfoundland that are not competing with other businesses in the Province that can bring in new growth, new dollars and can tap into markets outside the Province. So I think it is important to be able to generate anything that we can export that brings new dollars into our economy and just does not circulate the dollars within our local economy. Although it is important, too, very, very important that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians support our own initiatives, our own products here in the Province. That has been highlighted, `manufactured right here', I think that is a good idea and a good proposal, to let people know what is manufactured here in Newfoundland and Labrador so that people can buy it when they have a choice between local and some other product. It is normal, it is good for this Province, it is good for employment in this Province, it creates jobs here, and I would prefer to see jobs created here in Newfoundland and Labrador than created in any other part of this country, or this world.

Mr. Speaker, there are many things in this Budget. I am sure the Government House Leader would like for me to go on for days. Maybe he might agree, because I do have certain pressing commitments, maybe he would give me leave to come back after I do some provincial business out of the Province on Tuesday and Wednesday, maybe I could come back and pick up on Thursday.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I do have some pressing commitments today I say to the Government House Leader. Maybe if I ask leave now to come back and start on Thursday I will get leave of the House. Would that be possible?

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I certainly would not. In fact there are so many things there that I could use up seventy-five hours all my own on things that are hidden in there. I have volumes of things that I have not even looked at I say to the minister.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: I have committee ones besides. These are things that are not going to be done in committee. There are a few things mentioned there that maybe the Government House Leader may be able to answer. There is going to be a review of all commissions and agencies to look at three things. Does the program serve a valuable public purpose? That was one of the things they were going to look at, and that is fair game. Can the program be provided more efficiently and effectively? Certainly, I think we should be doing that on an ongoing basis. The third one though has me a little puzzled, is the program affordable? That is one that is not really a decision for people within government and a committee of public servants to make that determination.

MR. TULK: (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Or the other ones would be recommendations, too, I would assume. The political process is going to decide these. But if it is affordable really comes down to the basis of political priorities.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, economics can be political. If you want to put more emphasis on social as opposed to some other area that is a political priority, so if they are affordable I cannot see how we are going to pass judgement on that particular one. I can see if it is serving a valuable public purpose, no doubt. If it is going to function efficiently and effectively we should be doing that, but the affordability of a program comes down to a political decision of whether we politically want to pay the price to have that program at that cost. That is what it comes down to. The minister there is even nodding in agreement, I think.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He looked down. Well, I am very sorry; I did not mean to put the minister on the record. Maybe he was just nodding. Maybe I was putting him to sleep and I did not realize it. Maybe that was the reason why.

Anyway, some of the other areas I am going to address a little later, certainly when we get to estimates here in the House. There is one point there that maybe somebody could answer. I just want clarification. Under the consolidated revenue fund, I made reference to it earlier but I did not get an answer, so I will repeat it again. There is one particular part there, $77,700, under consolidated revenue fund, 1.2.01, if not when we get to executive council I can ask that. I am assuming that is the Trans City one, the debt expenses for Various Facilities, it says, $77.200, the fund they are putting aside yearly to buy out the lease at the expiration of thirty years. That is $77,000 a year times thirty years. Would that be roughly the ball park figure?

Anyway, the minister is nodding there as if he is in agreement. That is a big price to pay there, over $30 million. I think it is a net cost to us of over $30-some million more. Looking at the figures the former Minister of Finance had, the costs are about $100 million I think on the three facilities when we could have delivered them much cheaper. The former Minister of Finance who is trying to salvage the Dockyard.

With that I will conclude my remarks on the Budget. My colleague is eager and ready to go.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to have yet another opportunity to talk about the so-called good news Budget introduced by this government. Introduced on May 16, my birthday actually. It wasn't the best birthday gift I've ever received, I would say to the Speaker and to the members of this House. The fall-out from the Budget we are just seeing in many areas.

People in my district, people who I've talked to over the last two months since the election, are seeing now in the Budget what they were told different during the election. What people were promised during the election was a philosophy that would not see an approach that would cut our way to prosperity. What people were told during the election is that everyone would get their full and fair share.

It is too bad that one person who ran in this election was not elected. A Liberal candidate who promised everything under the sun during the election. Because if he had been elected maybe we wouldn't have seen the type of Budget that we have seen today. We wouldn't have seen the dramatic cuts to post-secondary education; we wouldn't have seen the dramatic cuts to health care. Although the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board in his Budget Speech, alluded to the fact that there were no tax increases, which I will get to throughout the course of my half-hour on the Budget debate.

Just let me show you, let me articulate, and let me read in for the record some of the promises that were made during the election. I will say to my colleagues on all sides of the House, maybe they heard some of the similar promises, and maybe they themselves made some of the promises. Let me give you an example in one district: My pledge to the voters and citizens is - here it is - I will pursue the concerns which affect our post-secondary education students. It is too bad that candidate is not in the House today. He was going to pursue the concerns of our post-secondary education students.

Here is the other promise he made: I will press for answers and solutions on the status of the Newfoundland Dockyard. Maybe the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Premier should have taken advice from this candidate who ran for their party and pressed long ago for not only answers but solutions to the Newfoundland Dockyard. Because if they had we wouldn't have seen eighty to 100 jobs disappear today in this region of the Province. Which is as important as any other region, I may add to my colleagues in the House, to the economic well being and the prosperity of this Province.

Here is another promise, a beautiful promise: I will be an active participant in educational reform. An active participant in educational reform, this candidate was going to be. Here is another beautiful promise: I will be a strong voice for health care restructuring.

AN HON. MEMBER: Like who, like who?

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on, there is more to come: I will work with all levels of government to get our fair share. Municipal services such as water and sewer and road grading will be addressed effectively and immediately. That is what this candidate said during the election.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Government House Leader has asked who he was. I have to refer to a button that he had during the election which said: Tulk and Tobin, dynamite, written under but what he failed to say to everyone else is what things he was going to blow up in the Province, Mr. Speaker. A big button that said: Tulk and Tobin and written underneath it, dynamite, but they failed to say what parts of the Province post-secondary education institutions they were going to blow up. They failed to tell people in the Province in terms of increased rates and university tuition, increased rates in Crown lands. Dynamite alright, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. TULK: He got it wrong, Mr. Speaker. The button went like this, round. It was a beautiful button and up here was Liberal, down here was dynamite and then it was Tobin and Tulk, TNT and if he wants to know what we blew up, it was the Tory Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, he may have blown up -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: He may have blown up the (inaudible) -

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

There is no point of order. The hon. Government House Leader took advantage of the opportunity to elaborate a little bit, to give further clarification.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride,

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate my hon. colleague, the Government House Leader, getting up and clarifying a situation but what he failed also to articulate was that, while he may have blown up the Tory Party, there were still nine land mines left for him, I can assure you of that.

Here is another promise. Now, Mr. Speaker, this is the one that is most laughable. Here is a great, great Liberal promise. It was part of the Tobin philosophy, if we can all remember, early in the campaign: Don't talk about issues get in, press the flesh, promise what they want, and talk to them after about the issues. That is exactly what happened.

Now, listen clearly to this, Mr. Speaker: I will articulate loudly and clearly your concerns on UIC reform; Premier Tobin has already met with the new federal minister and reforms to the UIC bill are starting to take place. I support Premier Tobin's efforts and I will continue to lobby for the rights of our seasonal, temporary and part-time workers.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is too bad and it is very sad, Mr. Speaker, that, that person couldn't articulate and lobby as he said he was going to do because, probably, we wouldn't have those concerns; and another promise, Mr. Speaker, another promise -


MR. E. BYRNE: One second, one second. Mr. Speaker, there is more, there is so much more. Mr. Speaker, as the Government House Leader has already indicated, he said I am his member, but what he failed to tell everyone was that six months prior to the election, he was talking to different people in the district considering going to run in the District of Kilbride, but he didn't, Mr. Speaker, he did not.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: On a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government -

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman is wrong again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I haven't recognized the hon. member yet.

MR. TULK: Sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is wrong again, as usual. The truth of the matter is that there were an awful lot of people in Kilbride who wanted me to run for the Liberals and figured I would take the seat and I said: No, there is a young gentleman in there who needs to be elected again so that he can get his pension. I don't need it, an old gaffer like me, I don't need it, I will go out and take on Bonavista North. Now that is the truth. That is exactly what I did for you.


MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, again, one for the game, one for the game, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. member speaking to the point of order?

MR. E. BYRNE: No point of order, I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, respectfully.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, once again, the minister failed to articulate in a clear fashion exactly what took place. He was considering, Mr. Speaker, because of his absence in his own district and because of not presenting petitions and putting one Department of Fisheries back into the Cabinet, that he was considering looking at other options and one of the other options, Mr. Speaker - there were many other options and I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, and respectfully submit to the House, that one of the other options was running as an Independent, an Independent Liberal. But times changed. On December 28 his good friend, the then Premier, Premier Wells, left, and as he exited this House and the Cabinet table, it allowed for the Government House Leader to reconsider his decision of not only where he would run, but decide to run again because the great Tobin train was coming down the track.

AN HON. MEMBER: And what a job it did.

MR. E. BYRNE: And what a job it did, but it allowed the Government House Leader to sit in the -

AN HON. MEMBER: It got him elected.

MR. E. BYRNE: After the election was all over with and the dust had settled, the Government House Leader got elected, appointed to Cabinet, and ultimately became Government House Leader. He knows I thought it was a good appointment. I personally phoned him and left a message on his machine, and said -

AN HON. MEMBER: His member called.

MR. E. BYRNE: His member called. As an MHA for my district, I keep abreast of all my constituents and their activities, and when congratulations are in order I offer them sincerely and wholeheartedly. I phoned the Government House Leader at the time and left a message on his machine. I congratulated him and said it was long overdue, I believe I said.

AN HON. MEMBER: You did so, and I agree with you.

MR. E. BYRNE: Then the Government House Leader phoned me back and left a message on my machine and said: Thanks for the call, and I agree wholeheartedly with what you said.

Mr. Speaker, while we play in fun and have some fun about some of the things, there is an underlying serious message in what I am talking about. During the election, in my district the Liberal candidate promised people everything. He promised the people in my district that the serious, serious problems that affect certain parts of my district would be corrected effectively and immediately, and the prayers and the hopes that that candidate, and in particular that Party, played upon during the election will come back to haunt them. I say that in all honesty because I believe it will.

When we look at the Budget, the Budget is not all bad. It is not all bad, but there are serious concerns, I think, that must be articulated, and we will see throughout the course of the week and the next couple of weeks in the area of education, particularly in the downgrading of $8 million worth of grant money to Memorial University, and what that will effectively mean. What we will see over the next two to three weeks - and I predict it, it is coming; it has no other choice but to come, as Memorial grapples with the unexpected and high cut in terms of its operating grant, that we are going to see a huge increase in tuition right off the top, we are going to see less course offerings being available at Memorial in terms of degree-granting programs for the students of this Province especially, I would predict, we will see that happen more acutely in the professional schools such as medicine, pharmacy, education, and business; those are the areas that will be hit the hardest.

I am also going to predict that on top of those tuition increases, that by September of next year, or the fall or the winter after that - probably the winter of '96 - we are going to see a different sort of system put in place for university credits. No longer will you pay for four and get five courses, that what you are actually going to see is a back door approach, or a front door approach, that will essentially mean differential fees, but that will be left for the debate when and if that information becomes available - I suspect it will becoming available a lot sooner than later - but what this Province is moving towards is really, really serious, and the trend that we are on is even more serious if you look at it from where we are in the last twenty years, where education has gone, and try to predict and look ahead to where we are going.

We are seeing, in a time when this Province is in need of economic stimulation, both directly through business and indirectly through government legislation, a time when we need more jobs, we need the ability to create more revenue, and we need the ability to do these things simply to fund the social services that all of us want, such as education; but God help us if we come to a point in the next five years when only the people who can afford to go to university - because as tuition increases and costs escalate, and administrations and organizations and arms of government and agencies of government try to come to terms with that and introduce user fees, or higher costs - and when I talk about the University specifically - and at the same time our ability as a province, or the Province as an arm in terms of extending it to students in the form of student aid, doesn't correspond in the increases, well then one thing is going to happen. The gap between those who can pay and those who can't will widen even more; will widen to such an extent that only those who will be able to afford a post-secondary education will be the ones attending.

Right now, for example, the maximum that a student can get per semester at Memorial is $4,400, and that is if they meet all the criteria. Not every student gets $4,400. But that is the maximum. If we see a time when access to the professional degree disciplines comes to a point where they are higher than what student aid is willing to give, then we have to take a serious look. What we have to ensure now and respond to - and government has, I think, the obligation to respond to it - is that as a result of Budget cuts on the one hand that may drive tuition up, may take the amount of course offerings that are available, lessen those, and actually jeopardize the integrity of Memorial. If we want students to continue to pursue an academic education on the post-secondary level on the one hand, and we want them to get, we had better make sure, Mr. Speaker, that the funds are there for them to do it. The only arm through which government does that right now is through the student loan program.

I would suggest to the Minister of Education that as the fall-out from his budget from his department comes through that he take a serious look and monitor what is happening at the college level and the University level to ensure that no student is denied access to post-secondary education because of funds. Government has the ability to increase student loans if it sees fit. Remember, it is only a loan. Government many times hides behind the adage: We can't afford it because we don't get reimbursed. I'm not so sure about that. Most students who are on student loans, they are exactly that. They are loans that have to be paid back at a significant interest rate which government realizes at the end of the day. That is one area that I've touched on that I think is important.

The other area is an area where the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune - he introduced a private member's resolution a couple of weeks ago dealing with aquaculture and our investment in it. I would suggest that, and I suggested at the time, I supported his private member's resolution, and would like to speak on aquaculture a little bit more.

Aquaculture is an area where we have an opportunity to generate revenue. Because if we don't generate the much-needed revenue that we all need then we will be in worse shape than we are right now. But the opportunity exists not only to generate revenue on the one hand, through increased sales and increased production of fish products of all kinds and natures, but the ability for us to put it through a secondary processing sort of capacity. The ability for us to sell value-added products to the rest of the world, to get it into every outlet we can get it into, to be recognized for developing a high-quality product at the cheapest price possible with a guarantee of supply, is essential. That is just one of the areas that I would urge government to look at whenever it can to promote more in a greater fashion.

The reality is, every dollar we invest in aquaculture today we get back ten-fold in years to come. There is no question about it. ACOA took a hit on the chin recently from the Senate committee I believe on banking, looking at ACOA. It suggested that ACOA shouldn't be investing in things like aquaculture. Aquaculture takes a long time to get a return on your investment. That is the reality of aquaculture. It takes a four- to five-year period just to start reaping some modest returns on the initial investment. If places like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency don't invest, or don't have the wherewithal, or the ability, or are allowed to invest in regional development such as aquaculture, well then, we are all in serious shape.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, that I did not see in the Budget and that does not seem to be emanating from government at all is the notion really of an Atlantic Canada Venture Capital Fund. There are many, good small business ideas and there are business people in this Province who, through no fault of their own, do not have the adequate cash or resources to start up a small business. Government budgets are shrinking. The ability to get grants one time from Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador from ACOA is over. Our ability to get loans are becoming more diminished in terms of our capacity as a small business people, our capacity to get them is becoming harder but the biggest thing that small business people in this Province face, in opening up a small business initially, is the first twenty-four months. It is the time when the business will either fail or succeed, not based upon the idea, not based upon its ability to withstand the marketplace over a long period of time but based upon its lack of capital, based upon its lack of cash-in-hand to go through those initial twenty-four to thirty-six month lean years while you are developing a market, while you are developing a client base and while you are getting the word out.

There are other places in this nation and in the world that have had great success with venture capital funds. Venture capital, by its very nature, is high risk, but that is what it is for. It is to provide an opportunity for people who have a good idea, who can carve out a niche in the marketplace for themselves, who can create wealth and at the same time stimulate the economy if they only had the opportunity and the wherewithal to access the ready resources.

In many ways we are not talking about millions and millions of dollars going into one, two or three projects. We are not talking about mega projects. We are talking about the $50,000 or $60,000 that somebody needs today for this year. We are talking about the $250,000 that is required for a two-year market plan, to get out our products, to get out ourselves and sell it. Mr. Speaker, those are areas that I do not see coming from government but I would recommend strongly for government to take a good look at it, from a policy point of view, because I think it would reap huge rewards for all sectors of our economy and in particular, it would reap huge rewards for rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, we live in an age where the bottom line seems to be the only line. If we are going to pursue activity in terms of services I would like to talk about the Department of Health for a moment. I recently just finished a book about demographics as the baby boom generation moves through our system and is moving on towards becoming seniors in our community. Governments across Canada right now are gripped and in a crisis about how to come to terms with health care spending. We are not only rationalizing our system, which on the one hand may be good, and trying to produce efficiencies which, as an objective, is long overdue and is necessary, but we must be always concerned that we don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Fifteen years from now the majority of this Province will be in need of health care, more so than any other time in this Province's history. We live in an age where the population is aging, the birth rate is lower and as that aging population moves through the system, health care will be the first service to really feel it. The amount of money that we are spending today, I predict, will pale by comparison to what we are going to need to spend fifteen years from now.

New Zealand has a great attitude about health care. People who are involved in the health care system now are trying to provide, to the best of their ability, the services to seniors because the population is aging, but they have taken a very pro-active approach in terms of what health care will be like fifty years from now. They have started, at age two or three, with children in New Zealand - they have started promoting the idea of good nutrition and the idea of good health. They have introduced - at not only the school level but at the family and social services level - a basis lunch allowance where kids can go who are in a situation where they are poor to ensure that they get good nutrition and to ensure that they get quality lunches. They are trying to instil upon the generation that is coming up the need for good health, the need not to smoke, the need to live in moderation in terms of drinking habits and the need, ultimately of good exercise and good nutrition because they believe that fifty years down the road, such initiatives will pay huge dividends.

In one instance, I think the health minister there predicted that health care spending in the next fifteen years will increase on an average of about 20 per cent to 25 per cent in their budget. But fifty years from now, given the same group of people under the same situations, they are predicting that health care costs will be down by as much as 60 per cent to 70 per cent as a result of the initiatives they are taking right now with people between the ages of two and five, trying to instil habits in a society of healthy thinking, healthy ways of life, and essentially, healthy eating habits.

Those are areas, I think, that we cannot underestimate, the importance of providing those habits to young people, because they are the people who will not only generate revenue as we come up through the system, but they also are the people who will cost governments and society as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, one of the interesting comments made by the Minister of Finance during his Budget Speech is that he promoted in a large way the budgetary consultation document, and how this government opened up its books to the people of the Province, and went across to hear what they had to say, and he said directly - and if I am misquoting him I apologize, but I don't think I am; I think I will capture the spirit of what he said - that the people of this Province said they were overtaxed, and we listened. I believe the Minister of Finance did say this. The people of the Province told him that they could be taxed no more, and, he said: We listened, and as a result there will be no new taxes.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen in the last couple of weeks what no new taxes means, we have seen Crown land rates soar. The Minister of Government Services and Lands stood up today and read out a Ministerial Statement. And the impact of that policy change upon people will be immense. In the Budget Speech, the minister said that people on low and fixed incomes, and middle incomes, were tried not to be hit as much as those people who were in the higher brackets, and to some extent he went a long way. He introduced an extra 1 per cent on banks in terms of their charge of operating in this Province - he could have introduced another 10 per cent and I don't think they would have felt it - and on higher incomes above $60,000, a laudable goal, an objective that we all look forward to and should bring in increased revenue.

The fact of the matter is, there are increased taxes in this Budget, associated with this Budget. Whether you like it or not, directly or indirectly, that is the case. For example, in the case of Newfoundland Light and Power, as a result of GST/PST harmonization, there will be an extra 8 per cent on energy bills in this Province, not only on light bills, but on home fuel, on heating fuel - an extra 8 per cent. Crown lands is one. As a result of this Budget we are going to see an increase in university tuition costs. If somebody gets sick or is hurt and needs an ambulance, we see an increase in ambulance fees. At every level throughout government, both directly and indirectly, we will experience an increase in taxes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I say to the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, Are you up after myself?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you.

As usual, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition House Leader has things well in hand, a super individual, super organized.

I only have a minute left, because I wanted to just -

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I will have another opportunity to move on from there.

Just to say to the Government House Leader, he indicated in our initial exchange that there were many Liberals in the District of Kilbride after him to run, I think he said. Before I sit down, I can say, the same is true for me.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand in the House today to talk about the Budget, and the many, many hidden tax increases when it comes to Crown lands, increased costs to operate insurance licences and real estate licences, increase in licence fees for hunters, school busing cuts, college closures, the cuts in first-year university courses and so on, it reminds me of a good meal, a spicy meal; it goes down well, but it repeats on you several times over.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does?

MR. OSBORNE: Your Budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: Our Budget? Sure, I thought it (inaudible) like a rock.

MR. OSBORNE: No, no.

There is an increased burden on people with Crown lands. I have had several calls at my home over the weekend, Crown land lessees concerned about the high cost of buying out or continuing to lease on Crown lands, and a lot of these people who are going to be forced to pay $500 a year for the next five years just cannot afford to pay this fee. You know, a lot of these lessees have put a lot of money into rebuilding cottages and summer homes and so on, and this is a very heavy burden on these families.

Again, on college students, with the closure of colleges and first-year university courses, there is an added burden to these students, many of whom are going to have to face the increased costs of coming to St. John's to continue their education.

The discontinuation of school bus services - the Minister of Education made note earlier that we should put a fleet of yellow buses on the streets of St. John's. I don't think this is necessary, but maybe, an increase in a subsidy to the Metrobus service in St. John's, as St. John's is not given any subsidy now for school busing services. You know, many families now in St. John's, even families who have never had school busing services for decades, have a burden of paying two dollars a day for Metrobus services when students in smaller, rural communities get school busing for free.

I feel that, you know, the Minister of Education should look seriously at subsidizing Metrobus services to decrease the cost of busing to students in the St. John's area, and as I have mentioned in a previous statement, would probably give these students extra money for much needed lunch. The increased costs in insurance licences will be passed on to the consumer again as a hidden tax. The insurance brokers here in the city, as a cost of operating their businesses, have to recoup this cost and, as a result, we are going to have to pay higher insurance fees - again, another form of a hidden tax.

The real estate license increases, the members of the Real Estate Board here in St. John's and throughout the Province, are going to have to pass this on to the consumer, down the line, the cost of running their businesses, so again, as I have mentioned, an increased tax, a hidden tax to the consumer. Everywhere you look in this Budget, no matter what direction you look in, it was a sugar-coated Budget with several hidden taxes that the consumer has to ultimately pay and it is a burden on the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The only places that have made much sense in the Budget are cutbacks in wages here in the House. As far as I can see, we are finally starting to look responsibly - if we want the frontline workers to take cutbacks and rollbacks and wage freezes, we should set the example. As I have mentioned, this Budget is a sugar-coated Budget. There are several areas within the Budget that offer hidden taxes and tax burdens on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is unfortunate that many people in our Province have to dig deeper into their pockets in many areas that they never thought they would have to pay increases. And another thing, the closure of hospitals, the Grace Hospital and the relocation of the Janeway Hospital, you know, these are coming at hard times as well with so many layoffs and cutbacks in civil servants. The Grace Hospital is slated to be closed soon and you know, this has been a hospital that has operated for many decades in St. John's and offered a very fine service to the people in St. John's, and indeed, to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is going to increase the amount of waiting time to get in for minor surgeries, it is going to create longer waiting lines in emergency rooms, and less hospital beds again.

The Budget, as I have said, has been very difficult on many people in the Province, it has hidden difficulties. It has been a very nice Budget on the surface but a very hard Budget for the people of the Province to accept, and the longer we go on - I see the Minister of Education is yawning. I hope I am not boring you too much.

MR. GRIMES: No, it is your buddy over there who is bored.

MR. OSBORNE: He is yawning, a chain reaction.

As I said, as time goes on, the people of the Province are going to find more and more wrong with the Budget, more difficulties they are going to have to face, and much harder times ahead for people on limited budgets, and especially in smaller rural areas where the economy is in a constant decline.

AN HON. MEMBER: `Harvey' is really good now.

MR. OSBORNE: `Harvey' is?

AN HON. MEMBER: `Harvey' is after getting real feisty.

MR. OSBORNE: We have to be feisty these days to combat such a difficult Budget, A sugar-coated difficult Budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: A smoke and mirrors Budget.

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, a smoke and mirrors Budget.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Is someone from your side going to speak on the Budget?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I am delighted to rise this evening and make a few comments on this Budget that the government have brought down, resulting, of course, from the lengthy consultation process they had with all the people in the Province. We recall from their election booklet, a great booklet the colour red, called Ready for a Bitter Tomorrow. Of course many people will notice there is a misprint on the front page. They stuck an `e' in here. It should be `i' before `e' except after `c' and that kind of thing, so they just happen to have the word wrong. They intended it to be an `i' but it turned out being an `e'. I thought the Minister of Education would have certainly done a proof reading because the intent was -

MR. GRIMES: I was Minister of Tourism at the time.

MR. H. HODDER: He was Minister of Tourism at the time and that was because he thought he was leaving town. He was all ready to leave town, and because of what he has done to Central Newfoundland since then, many people in Central Newfoundland wish he had left town. The situation is that the hon. the Minister of Education happens to be minister for substantial numbers in my extended family, and, of course, they know what has happened in Central Newfoundland relative to education.

Now, the Premier when he was going through this book of the colour red, made all kinds of commitments here. I made note the other day of a few of those. This afternoon the Liberal Party would want us to look at the second page. If you look at the second page of this book you will see that here are all the commitments they intend to keep, but the page is blank. The first page has the statements by the Premier and then on the next page everything is blank, so this indicates the kind of real commitments that the Liberal Party wanted to have the people of Newfoundland and Labrador remember. Now, Mr. Speaker, I did not want to get into any of the particulars on this particular booklet because we all know that it was a gimmick, it was a way to get attention, a way to have people remember when they went to the polls and said how about when they remember and so this booklet here is very lengthy. It has eighty-four pages if you count the blank pages at the back too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the Blue Book?

MR. H. HODDER: Would you like to have a copy of the Blue Book as well? Well it is a lot shorter. This is the fluff document and the other book, the Blue Book, is the stuffed document. So you either can have fluff or you can have stuff. The majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians decided that they liked the fluffy document that came from the Liberal Party. However, in some districts, nine districts to be exact, people liked the Blue Book. Now, Mr. Speaker, we know what happened, people went around from door to door - there were a few seats that we felt pretty good about and there were a lot of hon. members on both sides who did a lot of hard work, some of them didn't but, Mr. Speaker, we know what elections are all about.

Now, Mr. Speaker, after the election it turns out that the Minister of Finance went around the Province and had his public consultations and we know what that meant. That meant going in, supposedly to listen to what people would say and to set the priorities. Now, Mr. Speaker, they came back with an amazing statement, they said health care is the number one priority. Well the public opinion survey done by the Liberal Party weeks before the election said health care was number one priority and yet it took the Minister of Finance weeks and weeks of going around to all those hearings to find out what had already been known by everybody. They said the second priority would be concerned with education and educational reform. So therefore after many, many weeks of dialogue the Minister of Finance decided that the number two priority was education.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that for many, many people there has been a lot of misgivings about the government's agenda as contained in the Budget and we have gone through a lot of this material in the estimates committee. We talked of the memo that was sent out by the Minister of Social Services in which she talked about the impact of the provincial Budget on the income support programs for the next fiscal year. Last week the hon. Leader of the Opposition in his questions brought out many of those concerns. He addressed the issues that were there. The fact that not only is the minister determined to go and live within the Budget but it says quite clearly here that under no circumstances are these Budget estimates to be exceeded. In other words, if we happen to go over Budget then somebody is going to get less or fewer dollars as a consequence. The statement makes the conclusion - it says right here in her statement - that further notifications would have to be made to the programs `if' budgets are not adhered to. Mr. Speaker, that means of course that the minister intends to do a little more poor bashing and cutting back on programs that are offered to the very poorest of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Then she proceeds to talk about income tax refunds and she says that the income tax refund policy be continued and rigorously enforced. Of course she said: In future greater emphasis be placed on suspensions and reductions as opposed to overpayments. In other words, if you happen to have difficulty with your income tax refund, don't expect anybody to say to you: Pay it off over three or four months, or some number of weeks. Expect them to say: I am sorry, you have $700 in your refund. Now, there is no income for you until that whole $700 has been expended.

Mr. Speaker, we have to say to ourselves: Is that fair? Is that reasonable? Is that what this government was all about when they got elected? The gap between what the talk was in the election and what the walk is now is substantial. When you went door-to-door, you were walking door-to-door and you were saying one thing, and now when the election is over there is a wide gap that separates your walk and your talk.

Of course the smooth talkers, obviously the better ones, are on that side of the House, because they happen to have the majority in the Legislature. So we have to question the election process and, of course, what has happened since then. We have heard comments made about other things in social services. For example, we have the household furniture and equipment component. It says in the memo that the minister sent out: The budget allocation for household furniture has been reduced by $1 million - one thousand, thousands - out of household furniture alone. This reduction of about 50 per cent will require a major adjustment to the whole policy of the department. In the interim, it says that household furniture is to be given out to social service recipients on an emergency basis only.

Mr. Speaker, we know there are people in society who have more. Some people fall through the economic net for causes that are their own. Some people however, the great majority, fall through the economic net because of reasons that they cannot help and they have no resource but to rely on the Department of Social Services.

Mr. Speaker, we know that many, many years ago when another Liberal government was in office, back in 1928, Richard Squires, how he sent out his inspectors to harass the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In my family I can tell you there are stories of what happened in 1930, and what happened to people who were on welfare. My mother was raised in such a family, and I can tell you she tells me stories of how they lived in 1930. I can tell you that going to get a welfare cheque in those years was not exactly great, when your father is dead and your mother has four small children to be raised on six cents a day. That is what happened in the depression years, so therefore my background is obviously very, very influenced by the experiences that I come from in my family history. I do not make any apology for saying in the House about that kind of influence on my background. Those are my roots and I will always be a strong voice in this Legislature for those people who happen to be down on their luck or have circumstances that cause them to depend on public assistance.

Mr. Speaker, we also had comments made here about rental assistance for single persons. That is virtually done away with, so in the future if you are single and need help from the government you only have one place to go in St. John's and that is the Wiseman Centre. You are being turfed out. You are told if you are a single person to go to the Wiseman Centre and if they cannot help you then you are out on the street. That is what this says here. The Salvation Army operate that centre and we believe they are a great organization and have a great social philosophy, but when the government depends on those social agencies to sustain our people in basic necessities then we have to say to ourselves, what have we really come to as a Province? What have we really come to as a people?

I noticed that the minister when she was talking a few days ago on television said that in the future we would have to be looking to social agencies, and we would have to have extended family support. Of course we do not disagree with having access to family support, but what we do have trouble with is when government says that is an expectation. That is what you are suppose to do, the minister would have you believe.

Mr. Speaker, I want to get to a few other items. My colleague the Member for Kilbride just talked about the impact of the Budget on the college system. Now, I do not want to go into all that again this afternoon, but we have to say that when throughout the election we heard the Minister of Municipal Affairs standing up in Carbonear before hundreds of people, so he said, he would have you believe it was thousands but it really was only several hundred, that was when he made that famous derogatory, mean, comment about the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and you know, was so unkind that it really doesn't deserve to be repeated here in the Legislature this afternoon.

But, the minister got up and praised up the fact. He said: I put $1.8 million in Carbonear for post-secondary education and he said: I am some proud of that and everybody applauded and the band was leading them and we watched on television as the band came in, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, was there and they had this big band marching them in and of course, they showed it all on television you know and it seemed like a great, big affair but then, a few weeks later, we watched on television, as we saw the cutbacks announced and then there were empty chairs. There were empty chairs. Here is the spot for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and it was empty; the minister was nowhere to be found. Then we saw the spot for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and that was vacant as well and all down the line, it had something to say about the Premier's commitment about consultation, ongoing dialogue.

Well, we assumed that on the afternoon in question none of those ministers was available, they had busy schedules that kept them out of their district obviously but that is not what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador believe. Now, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to comment on a whole range of things here. We do have some very obvious concerns. There was some talk about the $30 million contingency fund and, Mr. Speaker, we are not against a contingency fund; we know that all budgets have a need for some flexible expenditures, but in this case we want to make the statement that $30 million of a fund that nobody has said that, that's the way - no specifications as to the way it might be spent, and no commitment to come back to the Legislature when it comes to expending that money.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we want to say today that we don't greatly object to that $30-million contingency fund, if there were a commitment stated in the House as to the way it will be spent, so that we can ask questions about it, have a dialogue about it but what we have now is a blank cheque given to the government for $30 million. So, Mr. Speaker, we have some difficulty with that.

Mr. Speaker, we also have some difficulty of course with borrowing down the money that has been brought down from the federal government. Again, the money that is under Term 29. There is of course drawing down money from the future. In essence what we have done - whether we agree to it or not and that is another issue - what we have done is that we have borrowed from our own children and while we recognize that that is an option and I would admit that it certainly was something that the ministry should have considered but state it for what it is. In other words, it is a borrowing from the future, it is a borrowing on our children - over the next twenty years, seventeen years or whatever it is, we are really borrowing from the future. What we have of course in the past, is done a lot of borrowing from the future and we know that there have been many -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Well, I say to the hon. minister that 42.1 per cent of our present debt was incurred by the Liberal Party and his team since 1989. Mr. Speaker, there certainly was considerable debt that was brought on from the Smallwood years. John C. Doyle, tell about how much money went to John C. Doyle, I say to the Minister of Justice, talk about that. How much money went to Trans City and how much money you lost on the Upper Churchill, talk about that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that since 1989 we have an increase of 42 per cent in the provincial debt that has occurred in the last seven years. Now, Mr. Speaker, that tells you something. Here was a government that said it was going to be fiscally responsible but of course as we know, Mr. Speaker, that you cannot be fiscally responsible if you are responsible in just seven years for 42 per cent of our debt that has been accumulated over the last - well since the last forty-seven years. So, Mr. Speaker, in seven years the government party on that side has accumulated 42.11 per cent of our total debt. You were elected to handle the problems of the government and while you people, on that side of the House, lambaste everybody, you won't take any responsibility for those things for which you should take responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, with these few comments I will adjourn the debate for today.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before adjourning until tomorrow, I am hoping that on Thursday we will be able to call the professionalization bill for fishermen, I tell the Opposition House Leader.

Tomorrow we will be debating the Budget Speech again, and on Wednesday I give notice that we will be debating the Private Member's resolution put forward by the Member for Labrador West.

Having given all that wonderful and great information, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, May 28, at 2:00 p.m.

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