June 10, 1996             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLIII  No. 25

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: As minister responsible for Workers' Compensation in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I am pleased to present to the House of Assembly the 1995 annual report of the Workers' Compensation Commission.

The Workers' Compensation Commission is responsible for operating a no-fault work injury compensation program that provides benefits to workers injured on the job and to dependants in the event of a fatality. The Commission has an independent board of directors consisting of seven members with a chairperson and an equal number of employer and worker representatives.

The Commission reports to the Legislature through me as the Minister of Environment and Labour. The annual report presents the Commission's financial statements, claims statistics and funded position. The funded position is the amount of money the Commission holds in reserve to cover the cost of claims for 1995.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell my hon. colleagues today that the Commission's funded position has increased from 59.2 per cent in 1994 to 66 per cent in 1995. Such an increase means the Commission is in a better position to pay the future benefits that workers are entitled to. This increase represents a substantial improvement from a low of 42 per cent reported in 1991. It is anticipated the unfunded liability will be eliminated by the year 2012.

Mr. Speaker, the improved funded position was due to a number of factors including fewer claims accepted in 1995 compared to 1994, a 10 per cent reduction in the average weeks paid for current year temporary earnings loss claims, and a 21 per cent reduction in average weeks paid for prior year temporary earnings loss claims, increases in the assessable payroll in the Province and an 18 per cent increase in the Commission's assets, Mr. Speaker.

The report states, and I concur, that the improvements realized throughout the year were possible because of the co-operation shown to the Commission by workers, employers and health care providers in the Province. I am confident that this co-operation will continue so that additional improvements can be realized in 1996.

Mr. Speaker, also, the Injured Workers Association has been doing some good work in advising the Workers' Compensation Commission. They have been in to meet with me a couple of times and have contributed greatly to the improvements that have been made.

Thank you.

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

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

I thank the minister for providing me a few minutes beforehand a copy of the Statement he was about to read. Mr. Speaker, a few factors he decided to leave out: the reality is that there were fewer people working in the fishing industry, as one example, fewer claims made there, fewer people working in the construction industry, an industry that has higher claims, fewer jobs. The other factor in terms of the Workers' Compensation Commission, he mentioned that the Injured Workers Association, worked hard in advising the Workers' Compensation Commission. It is too bad that the Workers' Compensation Commission does not take the advice that has been provided by the Injured Workers Association, and I hope when the minister announces his Legislation Review Committee of the Workers' Compensation Act that he will also announce that a member of the Injured Workers Association will be sitting on that review committee.

Thank you.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of the Statement.

I am delighted to see that the financial position of the Commission has improved but I am sorry to note that it is done as a result of a decrease in the amount of funding to workers and a decrease in the amount of people actually employed.

It has been shown by the City of St. John's in particular, that by beefing up your Occupational Health and Safety rules and your commitment to Occupational Health and Safety, you can decrease the claims and decrease the cost of workers' compensation. This is the approach that should be taken, Mr. Speaker, not the reduction of benefits.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Premier.

Premier, you now have had time to review the Newfoundland Supreme Court of Appeal decision on the award of a multi-million-dollar contract to Trans City in violation of the Public Tender Act. Premier, you were not a part of this, and I ask you to be careful about being drawn into this mess. Do not be part of a cover-up. Will you order a judicial inquiry?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that he, the Leader of the Opposition, ought to be careful.

The Leader of the Opposition has just used the words `cover-up', and I would say that the Leader of the Opposition, if he takes seriously his role in this place, would want to provide either in the House or outside the House, and preferably he would want to do it in both places, any information that in any way, shape or form would indicate any criminal activity on the part of any individual involved in the issuance of this contract. And frankly, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, because as I said last week, I believe him to be an honourable man, that he would want to think carefully before he continues to use those kinds of words.

As I understand it, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, there is nothing in the decision handed down, which is one of a question of liability, that suggests any wrongdoing or impropriety or criminal activity on the part of anybody. This is a question of whether or not the Public Tender Act -

MR. E. BYRNE: Was violated.

PREMIER TOBIN: Yes. The Public Tender Act, in the judgement of - in a public, by the way inquiry, called a court case, has been fully complied with, and if it hasn't been, has there been a liability suffered by an individual involved? That is the question dealt with by the court and frankly, you can't have a more public inquiry or examination of the facts than a matter that has been dealt with, not once but twice before the courts, and so, no. On the basis of what I have seen, I see no basis for a commission of inquiry simply for the sake of having a commission of inquiry with all of the attendant costs that would go nowhere.

Now, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, if he has any evidence, if he has any evidence whatsoever, of any wrongdoing, table it here, right now, today, and repeat it outside these doors of the Chamber.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not going to be diverted by the Premier trying to move away from the decided liability. You did not decide whether there was political interference. Now, Mr. Justice Orsborn, in his original statement said, `Much of the evidence suggests unusual conduct. Some questions, particularly related to the document trail, remain unanswered. Viewed as a whole, the evidence before me is sufficient to raise suspicions that the award of the contract to Trans City Holdings was influenced by factors unrelated to the substantive contents of the bid.' Now, Premier, do you know what these factors were that influenced this bid process and can you now tell us?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect to the Leader of the Opposition, I say to the Leader of the Opposition if he has an allegation or a charge to make, either inside the House with the protections of the House or outside the House without the protection of the House, he should make the allegation. I will tell him that if he has an allegation to make and some evidence to bring forward, we would be happy not to have a Commission of Inquiry but to refer the matter to the RCMP for an investigation and for charges to be laid if charges are appropriate but let's not malign reputations by innuendo, sitting in your chair safe from any prosecution, safe from any liability yourself when you are not prepared to go outside and make specific allegations and name names.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know the Premier to be an honourable man. Premier if you do not know what those inappropriate factors were, referred to by the judge, that influenced the contract bid, don't you think you should know? Don't you think the people of Newfoundland and Labrador should know? So will you call an inquiry?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am saying to the Leader of the Opposition that if he has any evidence, any suggestion of any criminal activity, he not only has a duty, he has more than a duty, he has an obligation to make that information public here and now. He has an obligation to call the RCMP and to report such information and to call for an investigation. Mr. Speaker, if I were in possession of information of that sort, which clearly the Leader of the Opposition is not, I would not call for a Commission of Inquiry I would call for a criminal investigation. You either now, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, have to put up on the subject or I suggest, with all due respect, the people who aren't here to defend themselves and whose reputations are being maligned, put up or shut up.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is trying to divert from the real issue. In view of the fact that the highest court of this Province has made a finding that there was a bad faith award of this infamous contract, the Trans City Holdings, and in view of the fact that the court has concluded - on page 34 of the judgement - that the contract was made on the basis of an undisclosed preference and in view of the fact that this amounts to a startling revelation of bad faith, involved in the handling of public funds by ministers of the Crown -

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

MR. SULLIVAN: - for hidden purposes. Will the Premier acknowledge the seriousness of these findings, and the absolute necessity to hold a public inquiry to disclose the reasons for these preferences and the mishandling of public funds?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Leader of the Opposition again, I ask the Leader of the Opposition to think about what he is doing here.

We have two matters that have gone before the courts. The court is as public an inquiry as you can have. The proceedings are open to the public, all of the evidence is available publicly, and findings have been made. Nobody, during the course of that process, has made any suggestion that I know of - and I would be happy to be corrected, and if you are reading the mind of the judge - that there is any reason for the RCMP to be called in to do any kind of investigation of a criminal nature. That suggestion has not been made that I know of.

If, for one moment, the Leader of the Opposition believes that to be the case, he has not only a duty but an obligation to give that information he has, or believes he has, to the RCMP and to call for a criminal investigation; but I say to the Leader of the Opposition, it is easy for all of us to sit here in this place and make reference to an administration that is no longer here, and the members of that administration who are no longer here, to call into question their integrity.

Now, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, I ask you here and now, in a public place, the most public place in this Province, name names; name one name; make an allegation; make one allegation. Substantiate this character attack that you have now launched on people who are not here to defend themselves.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will get to that in a minute, I say to the Premier.

Will the Premier give assurances that he will forthwith confront the ministers in his Cabinet who are directly implicated in the disposition of these public monies in bad faith for questionable purposes to ascertain the appropriateness of their continuance as members of his Ministry?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I wish the Leader of the Opposition would come up with his snorkel out of the gutter long enough to name one name, to make one allegation, because the Leader of the Opposition right now is engaged in character assassination; he is engaged in innuendo. He has not yet, through several days of these kinds of questions, produced one name of one individual he believes is guilty of some wrongdoing. He has not yet produced one substantial piece of evidence, or even an insubstantial piece of evidence, either in this House where he has total immunity, cannot be prosecuted, refused to go outside the door of the House last week and name one name or make one allegation, but he continues to sit there, and I think in a fashion that shows a lack of backbone, making allegations but refusing to put down one substantial fact. Now I tell him, if he has real information this Premier will act, but I won't act on the basis of allegation, innuendo, given in such a cowardly fashion. I ask him to stand up and be counted now if he has something substantial to say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will get to that in due course, I would say to the Premier. Is the Premier prepared to assure that the public inquiry mandated by these findings will include an inquiry as to whether the bad faith that was practised gives grounds for the scrutiny of ministers' conduct? Is he prepared to acknowledge that the court decision does not bring the matter to an end, but rather dictates a further inquiry?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the only thing that I'm prepared to acknowledge is that the Leader of the Opposition knows no bounds in his pursuit of a cheap headline, including the total abuse of his position and his immunity in this place. The purpose of parliamentary immunity is to allow members on all sides of the House to speak without fear or favour, but that right that we enjoy to speak without fear and favour also confers upon us a certain responsibility.

I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition - I've repeated it many times in this House - I believe him to be an hon. gentleman, I believe that he wants to act for the public good and in the public interest, but I say to him to cast aspersions - because he knows he is talking to a premier who was not in office, not part of this Cabinet and not part of this administration, not part of this caucus at the time these events took place. He wants to say to me: Oh, but Premier, since you weren't involved let's just throw out a big broad smear and call for a public inquiry and smear the reputations of all those who were here. I say to the Leader of the Opposition it takes no courage to make those kinds of allegations. What it takes is some integrity to substantiate them or to apologize for making them.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Three ministers of this government - the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - sat on a committee that rendered advice and made decisions on the award of this contract, the one that violated the public tender act and raised the judge's suspicions about inappropriate influence. Is the Premier prepared to give a report to this House within forty-eight hours of the fitness of the ministers involved to continue in their posts?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have to stand up and tell the Leader of the Opposition that I have confidence in each and every member of the Cabinet, and I have confidence in each and every member who sits on this side of the House, and I question whether the Leader of the Opposition really is fulfilling his obligation and his responsibility with this kind of innuendo.

I don't know; perhaps this foreshadows what we can expect from the Leader of the Opposition, but he really ought to ask himself whether or not this kind - well, members opposite can giggle, but he ought to ask himself whether this kind of innuendo, this kind of -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Yes, and now tell us, I say to members opposite, what the specific allegation is.

I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to make his report to the RCMP to specifically indicate what crime he thinks has been committed, to pass along the evidence, and to call for the police investigation, because the Leader of the Opposition now is in the mud, he is in the gutter, and he hasn't the courage of the allegations he is making to back them up with substantial information.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Three ministers of this government, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, sat on a committee that produced a Cabinet document that I have here, Appendix to Works, Services and Transportation 91-,91, a document dated forty-four days before the contract was awarded, a document that recommended re-tendering the contract, a document that we are told never made it to Cabinet and never surfaced until part-way through the court case.

Why will the Premier not hold a judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of the questions unanswered about the minister's actions, left unanswered by this civil court case?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition can repeat this comment over and over. He can repeat this cowardly accusation over and over. Until the Leader of the Opposition has something more than these kinds of comments, which are not founded on any sense of fundamental justice, or any respect for process, but rather only on a desire to produce a cheap headline, until the Leader of the Opposition can do something more substantial than that, I am not prepared to stand here and see the reputations of people both here or not here - no longer here - maligned by the Leader of the Opposition.

I tell the Leader of the Opposition, in public life we all have to stand up to an incredible degree of scrutiny, we all live in a glass bowl, but we should all expect that if our reputations are going to be called into question, if individuals are going to be maligned, that those who make the accusation at least stand and substantiate it, because it is very easy to stand here when you have Parliamentary immunity, when you cannot be sued, when you cannot be held liable, and make these kinds of accusations. I challenge him to go outside that door and make those accusations, so that people present in this Cabinet, and people no longer in this Cabinet, can respond to him in a proper place.

Last week when you were challenged, you walked outside the door and lost your tongue. It will be interesting to see what happens today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the Premier, what I say in this House I will repeat outside the door, and I say the members -

AN HON. MEMBER: You didn't last week.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is on public record.

AN HON. MEMBER: What were you saying?

MR. SULLIVAN: Premier, it is on public record. It is in the court records there, and it is public, and I will say anything that is there in public, and I will name the fourteen members of Cabinet. I know several are in your government, and I made reference to it.

Now, I don't consider it a trivial matter when tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money was wasted to give a bid to friends of the Liberal government. That is not a trivial matter.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: And you were found liable by the highest court in this Province, and that is not trivial, I say to the Premier.

Now, are you afraid to have an open, public inquiry by an impartial body empowered to summon witnesses and documents, and get to the bottom of this seamy affair? What are you afraid of, Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if I thought there were any reason to have an open, public inquiry, or I thought, more importantly -

AN HON. MEMBER: There is.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, the fact that the members opposite say there is, and that they would like to have one, is not a reason. You have to produce something more than the desire and the want and the notion that you would like to go fishing for the summer to substantiate a public inquiry. Public inquiries cost a great deal of money. The reputations of people affected should not be played with for some trivial, partisan reason.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, if there are substantive reasons, good and valid reasons, solid information that the Leader of the Opposition or any other party wants to bring forward that would justify a Commission of Inquiry, we would have a Commission of Inquiry.

More importantly, if there were substantive reasons brought forward to suspect any kind of improper or criminal activity, we would call in the RCMP instantly. I suspect that the courts, which have dealt with this matter on two occasions, would have caused such action to occur. But to have the Leader of the Opposition standing and maligning reputations, making statements that cannot be substantiated, merely because it guarantees you are going to have a headline in the paper tomorrow or you are going to have an article on the television or on the radio, to do that, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, takes no courage, takes no character and takes no integrity.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Attorney General is primarily an officer of the Crown and is, in a sense, an officer of the public. An Attorney General is also the head of the Bar and represents the Crown in all matters in which rights of a public character come into question. I ask the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General for this Province once again, Mr. Speaker, in the interest of independence and in the interest of not only justice being done but also being seen to be done - and that is the issue, Mr. Speaker - would he remove himself forthwith from any further involvement in the decision-making process as to whether or not a public judicial inquiry ought to be held in this matter?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the member who has just put a question, what I said to the Leader of the Opposition. If there is reason, valid reason, if there is information that the member has or the Leader of the Opposition has, I invite them to take a short cut, to place a phone call to the RCMP, to place in evidence before the RCMP any valid information which would warrant any further activity by the RCMP and subsequently to bring about any further court action which the member might believe is reasonable in the circumstance.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't have any information available to me, as Premier of the Province, which would warrant that kind of action. I have been asking now, over several weeks when this matter has come up, for the Leader of the Opposition or perhaps the member who has just spoken, who is a member of the Bar, to produce either in the House, with all of the protection of the House, or outside of the House - the member cannot be charged in this place; nobody can drag him before a court and seek any redress in this place. He has the total protection available to a member here and now. If something needs to be said, will the member stand now and say it or will he apologize for maligning the reputations of those against whom this attack is directed?

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is the decision of the Court of Appeal - page 34 of the decision of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Newfoundland, the highest court in this Province. It refers to, for example, protecting the integrity of the bidding system, discusses the terms good faith and bad faith and what these terms mean in contract law. I now direct my question, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier. In view of this decision doesn't the Premier view the decision by the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice not to withdraw and therefore to totally disregard the principles of the doctrine of conflict of interest as unacceptable? Will he now step in, Mr. Speaker, and make the appropriate decision to ask for the removal of his Attorney General and Minister of Justice from any further involvement in this Trans City affair?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I ask the member again - the member has reached across, the Leader of the Opposition has given him a stack of papers -

AN HON. MEMBER: A court decision.

PREMIER TOBIN: - a court decision, and he has rifled through the papers and managed to make reference to a few words on the bottom of page 34. I remind all of those who are listening, as I have said to the member, I say again: If you have an allegation to make, make it. You have the full protection of this House. If you have information that ought to be communicated to the RCMP for further investigation, communicate it. The member opposite is a member of the Bar, and I say to him, he has quickly learned the game of an unsubstantiated allegation, but he is also a member of the Bar, he understands that reputations should not be maligned without cause or reason. I ask him to join the Leader of the Opposition outside this place and to make a specific allegation. And I tell him, when he makes one that is substantial, I will see that whatever action is required is taken. If that is to call in the RCMP, the RCMP would be called in. If a Commission of Inquiry would do any good, beyond a political fishing trip, that would be looked at; but so far, all we have had are accusations by members opposite and absolutely no evidence whatsoever to substantiate those accusations.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I ask the minister if he would inform the House if there will be another opportunity for the 112 commercial salmon licence holders in Newfoundland and Labrador to have government buy back their salmon licences.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I haven't had the opportunity over the last three or four days to have a chat with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or any discussion with him regarding the buy-back of salmon licences. Certainly, will the Province be participating in buy-back? No, we will not, in any financial manner whatsoever. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has stated his case very clearly, but no doubt I will be having further discussions with him to see what position - how firm it is, and will there be any change in the future. From the full understanding I have, there will be no change in the minister's position.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand, Minister, from talking to fishermen around the Province that salmon stocks have increased significantly since the moratorium on the commercial salmon fishery was introduced some four years ago. I ask the minister if he would consider supporting a sentinel salmon fishery to see exactly what the condition of those particular stocks really is.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, it is very clear the information the hon. member has is exactly that, of a few fishermen. There is no sound evidence that I have seen about the return of the commercial salmon fishery. There is a lot of research and a lot of counting going on on a regular basis.

Could a sentinel fishery take place? That again would have to be a decision of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for Canada. It is something that we will discuss in all the fishery conservation matters that are coming up in the next year. To jump out and say there should be one? I am not prepared to do that. I am not prepared to make any comment before I have fully discussed anything with the federal minister. But we have to be very concerned. Conservation is number one in all fish stocks, and until we are satisfied that the fish stocks are sustainable to a commercial fishery, then we will just hold the line and make sure that conservation places first in any decision that we make.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, it seems as though all the effort and interest these days in talking about this particular stock is directed towards the outfitters and the recreational fishermen. I ask the minister if he would assure the House today, if this particular fishery is allowed to be reintroduced, that he would lend his support to ensure that the commercial salmon fishermen out there today will get their fair share, as well as the recreational fishery.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the outfitters, as the hon. member refers to, is in the recreational fishery that is supported by both levels of government for the reasons why and the number of fish, that catch-and-release program.

Would I support a commercial fishery? If I were totally satisfied that the salmon stocks were renewed to a sustainable harvest, yes, we would support it. But we have to remember, nobody can guarantee us that. The evidence is not there to support a commercial salmon fishery, which the hon. member is asking for. We would like to see every Newfoundlander and Labradorian who could possibly be, involved in the fishery, if all the fish stocks were there to a sustainable level, but that is not a fact. The fact remains that we want the stocks to be there to the satisfaction of its being a sustainable commercial industry. Only when evidence is very clearly put forth by all the people - the fishermen themselves, the scientific community - and the decision can be made with total confidence that the stocks are there to sustain a commercial fishing harvest; only then will I say I will support it.

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

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

My question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, also.

A lot of people around Newfoundland and Labrador today are upset, frustrated, and appalled again to hear that a food fishery will continue again this summer in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. This minister - I would like for him to tell the House and the people of this Province that he is discriminating against Newfoundlanders when he does not allow a food fishery in this Province.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am happy that I am Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Newfoundland, but I wish, at the same time, I had the power of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for all of Canada but I don't; I have the responsibility for Newfoundland and Labrador.

The hon. member knows full well I don't have the right to make that decision but I do have the right as a Newfoundlander and as a minister, to be concerned about the situation of our cod stocks. What happens in PEI and New Brunswick is of little concern to me as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Newfoundland and Labrador. What I am concerned about is the future industry in this Province; satisfy me that there is enough fish stocks out there to sustain a commercial fish harvest and I will make whatever representation to the federal minister that is necessary to support a recreational fishery. Until then, we will hold the status quo.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I am quite aware as the minister knows that the decision comes from DFO in Ottawa, which came from the now Premier who was the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans at the time, not to allow a food fishery in this Province. I am not talking about a commercial fishery I am talking about a food fishery.

Now, can the minister also confirm to me that St. Pierre & Miquellon, only three miles off the coast of the Burin Peninsula, are allowed to have a food fishery this year? As a matter of fact, they were allowed this for the last couple of years and they have never been turned down for a food fishery in that area, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I was just reminded, and quite rightly so, that this was a major issue in the most recent election. Evidence is very clear on what the people of this Province support. Look on this side and compare it to over there, it is very clear where the numbers are.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to remind the members opposite, we have tens of thousands of people in this Province not working. Thousands of people coming off the TAGS Program, where do they turn for employment? We have to be conscious of the fact that people in this Province look forward to a future in the fishing industry. Are we going to be so careless as to say that recreational cod jigging comes before people working? I am not going to be a part of that.

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

MR. SHELLEY: I can assure the minister that he should ask the former provincial Minister of Fisheries which I made an issue of this in my district where he is now.

Now I will ask the minister again: Why are the people in St. Pierre & Miquellon, just three miles off the coast of the Burin Peninsula, allowed to go out and jig a fish to eat? We are not talking about a commercial fishery, we are talking about a food fishery. Are you telling me they are different stock or are we just blatantly being discriminated against?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to tell him it is a different stock at all, nor am I going to tell him and to argue over the fact. I don't hear the hon. member opposite talking about the destruction to the cod stocks that the seals are making. We argued over the years, were seals eating fish or not?

The hon. member stands day after day talking about recreational cod jigging, no concern about the stocks regrowing, no concern about conservation measures, no concern about people working; simply putting a jigger in the water and hauling a fish out of the water to put in a frying pan. This goes to show you, Mr. Speaker, why they sit over there and we are here because we are concerned about the future of this Province and not going out having fun on a weekend.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, I ask that on tomorrow I will be granted leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the conservation and protection of our environment is of paramount importance to our lifestyle and heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS it is the duty of government to implement and maintain adequate regulations and enforcement to deal with the disposal of solid wastes throughout the Province; and

WHEREAS there is a stewardship requirement on the part of companies which package consumer and other products consumed in our Province;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the House of Assembly encourage the Ministry of Environment to implement a packaging waste program that will ensure a reduction in the amount of solid waste committed to our landfills throughout the Province.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On the last day the hon. Leader of the Opposition asked several questions about the agreement between the federal and provincial governments on the $130-million variation of Term 29.

I have to table with the House two letters. One from the hon. Paul Martin, the federal Minister of Finance to myself dated May 15, 1996 setting forth the terms of the agreement and also a corresponding reply by myself to him of the same date.

He also made reference to the Newfoundland Additional Financial Assistance Act. We mentioned at the time that it is our understanding that there need not be an amendment to the act and that it could be done by agreement, and that is in fact the case if we believe the Department of Justice, in which I have some degree of confidence. As the hon. member may know, but may not, Term 29 allows for a variation of the terms by agreement, which is essentially what we have between the provincial and federal governments, so both those letters I am about to table, and if the hon. member has further questions I would be delighted to answer them.


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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand in the House today once again to present a petition on behalf of the Crown land users who wish to voice their opposition to the change in Crown land fees. Again, I remind the minister that during our meeting last week there were approximately 300 people and many of them had a chance to voice their opposition to this publicly. Many of these people are unable to cope with the burden of having to come up with the money to purchase their Crown land on such short notice, and the people who are unable to come up with this type of money on such notice, some of these people are also in the position where they are unable to purchase their land over a five year period. This is an unnecessary burden, one of many unnecessary burdens brought forth in the most recent provincial Budget, and I am proud to stand in the House today and present this petition on behalf of the Crown land users.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I had the privilege of attending the public meeting that was referred to by my colleague the Member for St. John's South last week, at which some 300 people attended and participated in voicing their concerns with respect to recent changes in government policy concerning Crown grants and Crown leases for both recreational cottages and residential leases. As this House is aware, and as was made public, the minister was indeed in attendance and attempted to answer many of the questions and concerns that were raised by those individuals present.

Having attended that meeting, Mr. Speaker, it is clear what people want first and foremost is time. There was not an extremely violent opposition to the rate proposals or the rent proposals. What people want is time. They see the October deadline for 1996 as being far too short, far too unreasonable, and does not allow the average Newfoundlander who is affected by these Crown leases to come up with the funds that are required in satisfaction of the policy which has been purported by the government.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, in support of this petition I ask that the government, through the minister's department, reconsider the time element. This is what people want, that and nothing else. They want an opportunity to be in a position to raise sufficient funds so they can pay off the balance of their leases over an extended period of time, and then it would seem to me in response to, from the concerns that were raised last week, it would seem to me that the majority of individuals who attended that meeting would accept the changes, if in fact time was credited to them.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I ask once again that the minister take seriously the wording of the petition and take seriously the objections of literally thousands of Newfoundlanders who are caught under these changes, and will take seriously the recommendation that there be an extension of time to allow these average down to earth, hard working Newfoundlanders the opportunity to come up with sufficient funds in timely fashion.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition that reads: To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador:

WHEREAS many Newfoundlanders who do not use Newfoundland Power delivered electricity to heat their homes and instead use wood furnaces because they cannot afford to do otherwise, and

WHEREAS differential rate increases, while penalizing the poor for not using electric heat would do nothing to provide them with the money they need to pay for electric heat so as to increase the company's competitiveness, but will force many to dip into their food budgets to pay for the electricity they need for lights; and

WHEREAS Newfoundlanders on low and fixed incomes, who use the smallest amount of electricity since they have the fewest electricity-run amenities, and it is therefore the poor who will bear the brunt of a differential rate increase;

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

Mr. Speaker, this again is a petition being put forward by the people of my district speaking out against the application by this giant utility to look for a 4.9 per cent increase in electricity rates. This is coming from a utility that has a monopoly in providing a particular service, a utility that made $28 million in profit last year, now applying to the Public Utilities Board for another rate increase. One of the reasons they use to justify that particular rate increase is that they have not had a rate increase since 1992. That is certainly no justification to go out today and bestow this hardship on so many of our native Newfoundland and Labrador people who can ill afford to face another increase in their electricity rates. It won't be uncommon for people to be paying well in excess of $400 a month for a normal home if they are heating their house solely with electricity.

The other thing that we have to keep in mind when we consider this rate increase that is being sought by this particular utility is that it was only a few short years ago that when you got your light bill, you got your utility bill in the mail, there were all kinds of little stickers put in with it encouraging you to post it on the fridge door, put it on your light switch, make sure you turn down the thermostat to a certain level at nighttime, encouraging us to conserve energy, which is still, as far as I am concerned, an excellent idea, but now this particular utility company is going out and penalizing those same people that they were requesting to do the conservation of energy just a few short years ago, because the people today who use less electricity are going to be saddled with a higher percentage increase than the people who go out and use a greater amount of electricity. So they are penalizing the people they had encouraged to conserve and use less a few short years ago.

Mr. Speaker, many of the older homes in rural Newfoundland are not insulated as well as some of the new modern homes, and it is not uncommon for those people to be already saddled with electricity bills or hydro bills in excess of, like I said, $350 to $400 a month. When you consider the harmonization of the GST and the PST, then you are going to see those same people, many of them living on a fixed income, if they are fortunate enough to have an income at all other than social services, paying $55 to $70 a month more on their electricity rates. This comes after the fact that the Minister of Social Services decided, in her wisdom, when this particular Budget was brought down, that she, in turn, was going to take away $61 a month from all the people out there who had a special need, whether it was for their health, or whether it was to provide funding to pay for a commodity which is certainly essential; it is not a luxury any more. She has already taken back $61 from many of those people, and now those same people, the poor and the suffering, the lowest income earners in this Province, are going to be faced with another $60 or $70 a month increase, a cost that they cannot afford.

Mr. Speaker, when you drive by the roadside in the wintertime, and in the spring, and in the fall of the year, and you see people with their trucks parked, and you see them in the woods bringing out firewood, they are not doing that because they want to have some exercise.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: They are doing that because they have no other choice. They have no other choice but try to supplement their heat bills.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

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

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

I rise again today, as I have now on a number of occasions, to support the petition brought forward by my colleague, the hon. Member for Bonavista South.

Mr. Speaker, today in his comments the hon. member mentioned the impact this proposed increase would have on the very group of people that need their members to speak up for them. Those people who have fallen through the economic net. Mr. Speaker, many of these people are unemployed and have been unemployed in some cases for many, many months and indeed in some cases many, many years. These people find themselves in a very awkward position. These people are being told that next year their cost of electricity may go up even higher than it is now. Mr. Speaker, these people have little understanding nor should they have understanding of the position put forward by Newfoundland Power.

Mr. Speaker, these people know what it is to do without. Many of them have been waiting many years to have the kind of homes that some of us take for granted. Mr. Speaker, as the member has just said, these people very often live in the older homes. They live in various parts of St. John's and Mount Pearl and throughout this Province, in homes that are not properly insulated, in homes that are very poor in terms of the quality of construction and in terms of the kind of windows and doors that they would have. Mr. Speaker, these people don't have the luxury of going out and just fixing these things. They don't have the financial resources to do so and now in the last while we know that their situation is becoming increasingly more acute. Now they have to stretch their disposable dollars even further because of the actions of this government in removing the $61 of emergency funding. So, Mr. Speaker, these are the people who the member is talking about today. He is putting a plea out that we consider the very poorest families in our society and that we have not failed to hear their voices and hear them loud and clear because in reality, when we help out the very poorest people, then we are ensuring that our society functions in a meaningful and progressive manner.

So, Mr. Speaker, I say to my hon. colleague it won't matter how many more petitions he presents he will find a voice on this side of the House that is supportive because it is the ordinary Newfoundlander out there who is concerned. We are not talking about those people who can afford. We are talking about those people who worry every day about feeding their children, about getting their children ready for school in September, about trying to put food on the tables and now they face the prospect of an increase in their electricity. So, Mr. Speaker, we implore the House to listen to the prayer of the petition, to listen to the impact it will have on the people out in the Province who cannot afford any further increases in their cost of living expenses and to do all we can to ensure that their voices are heard when the application comes before the review commission and the Public Utilities Board.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I rise again of course to present another petition, as I have done every single day since the House has opened. I will read the petition for the sake of some members of the House.

To the hon. House of Assembly convened in Newfoundland and Labrador the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, known as the Fightin' Nfld'ers, Mr. Speaker - not many in this House I would say according to Question Period today - ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer;

We, the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, do hereby petition the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to support our petition to do one of the following; open a food and recreational fishery to all Newfoundland families or close a food and recreational fishery to all other Atlantic Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, as you read today's headlines in this paper I cannot see how one member in this House of Assembly cannot support a food fishery as long as (1) that Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick -

MR. G. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Finally, we have somebody speak and say something, the Member for Twillingate, what I have been saying for two years now, finally somebody spoke a little bit of sense over there. That is exactly what the petition says, I say to the Member for Twillingate. Mr. Speaker, just to add a bit of fuel to that fire today, just think about it, in St. Pierre & Miquelon, three miles off the boot, the Burin Peninsula, three miles I say to the member from the Burin Peninsula, they can go out and jig a fish, and we can't do it in Newfoundland.

Now, it was bad enough before when the discrimination was over P.E.I. and Nova Scotia and so on. Who believes that the fish know what the boundaries are, that when they get to the line they stop and swim back? Who believes that, Mr. Speaker? Then, of course, they say it is different stocks. I have information from DFO that tells me that fish that were tagged off the South Coast of Newfoundland were found in the Bering Strait. Who tells those fish where to go? Nobody does.

We are being blatantly discriminated against. And to make the matter worse, to read this today is appalling and disgusting that anybody only the Newfoundlander - and the minister says it is the job of Ottawa. He is right, but how the heck are we going to fight Ottawa in this if our government, our own Premier, our own Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, do not stand up as Newfoundlanders? Fightin' Nflders, it says. Imagine, you can go in a boat three miles off the Burin Peninsula, out in French waters, they say, off St. Pierre - Miquelon, but we can't do it here. Maybe we should all learn how to speak french and take our boats off from Burin and go to St. Pierre to fish.

What ridiculous nonsense is going on here! It is blatant discrimination of our own Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. And the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture keeps diverting attention away from it by saying I am talking about a commercial food fishery. I am not talking about a commercial fishery - I am talking about a food fishery: catch ten fish, go eat them. I am not talking about processing, we are not talking about any biomasses offshore, why we are in this moratorium. I don't support any government, the previous federal, Tory, Liberal, whatever they were, who put this fishery in a mess to begin with. What I am supporting is the Newfoundlander, the eighty-year old man who looks at me and says: I can't go down over that hill and catch a fish to eat when there is plenty of them in the bay.

Mr. Speaker, I was told just a few minutes ago, that just last week, off the Baie Verte Peninsula, in a lump net there was cod galore - and a seventy-four pound cod caught in that lump net. There are fish coming from somewhere. I was just told that today -a seventy-four pound cod.

MR. TULK: Good!

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, it is good, I say to the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. So come to your senses and open up a food fishery so that a man can go out and jig a fish, and don't be so darned ridiculous! It just doesn't make sense. Like I told the Premier and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, yes, it was an issue in some districts and it wasn't an issue in some other districts. I don't really care. I don't even know what the popular support for this is. Maybe only 10 per cent of the population supports it. It isn't a popularity contest. I started this three years ago when it happened first. I don't know, maybe 5 per cent support it.

The principle is, if Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec, and now people from another country, France, in our own waters can go out and jig a fish, then Newfoundlanders darned well should be allowed to do the same thing. That is the point, and not to deflect it by talking the foolishness the minister talks about with the commercial fishery. It really upsets me, Mr. Speaker.

I got calls again today. People from all over - I am telling the members on the other side of the House, because they know I am presenting petitions every day - from all over the districts. Maybe it will become a big issue or maybe it won't. The principle will remain the same. We don't want bus loads or another demonstration. God knows, we have enough of them out there. We don't want another demonstration out there. Just dig down into your hearts and do the right thing as a Newfoundlander, as a fighting Newfoundlander.

You know, besides the point that it will put a meal of fish on the tables of people who need it to eat - and if you don't believe that, go out to rural Newfoundland and visit some homes. If they can get thirty or forty fish to put in their deep freeze, that will help them through a miserable winter that they are going to have. That is one point. The second point is, it will boost morale in this Province, and God knows, we need some support and morale boosting -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: - around this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: So, for two very strong reasons, every member here should support it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I have sat and listened to my colleague, the Member for Baie Verte for the past two weeks presenting petitions on the viability of a food fishery in this Province. I have also sat and listened to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Government House Leader stand up and whack him over the head with the notion of conservation - that somehow, a person on this side of the House, because he supports a food fishery, he is not a conservationist; that somehow, because he articulates on petitions that have been given to him by people in his district, he is somehow not preaching conservation, and that he is politicizing the role in this House.

Mr. Speaker, after what I have seen today and heard in the local press and on t.v., I am compelled to stand up. By what notion does the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture believe that he has the monopoly on care and concern for the people in this Province? The people in Baie Verte and Kilbride are just as important as the constituents whom members opposite represent. The notion here that people in Quebec on the North Shore, that people in P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick are allowed, on the one hand, to go out and use a food fishery for personal use, with the caveat that it is only for personal use, and that people on the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, and any of us today in this House can go to Point May, steam three miles off the coast and catch a cod and DFO officials are not allowed to prosecute us, that that is somehow right, that that somehow makes sense - by the mere fact that the people on the rest of the coast of this Province cannot, something is wrong, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the people of this House and the people of the Province, what is sauce for the goose should indeed be sauce for the gander. Now, either there will be a food fishery in Atlantic Canada or there will not be a food fishery in Atlantic Canada.

The Member for Twillingate said the people in PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick should not be allowed to have a food fishery, and that I would agree with, there should not be a double standard. The reality is that politics sometimes is a deadly game and this is an example of how deadly it can be. Politically, the Federal Government cannot afford to send a message to the rest of the European fishing nations and the fishing community of the world that says that 24,000 Newfoundlanders are allowed to go out and catch fish for personal use.

Now, that is the problem here - but it is politically okay, politically correct, for the people in the rest of the Atlantic Provinces to do so. There is something fundamentally wrong with that, and whether members in this House support a food fishery or do not support a food fishery is not the issue. The issue here is whether there is going to be an equal standard applied to each and every Canadian in the Atlantic Provinces. That is the issue, and the lack of commentary from this government on this issue, on the basis of discrimination, frankly is appalling. There is an onus on government, being government, elected to be government, to stand up and say to the Federal Government on this issue, if there is going to be a food fishery, if there is going to be a catch limit of ten fish per person per trip out, then it will be applied equally to each and every person in Atlantic Canada, or otherwise, the converse is true, Mr. Speaker, that if there is not going to be a food fishery for people in this Province then there should not be a food fishery for people in other provinces. That is the principle that is being compromised in this case.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before moving order of the day, I move that this House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that this House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m., carried.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 3, the Concurrence Motion, Social Services Committee and Resource Committee - the Resource Committee first.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 3, the Concurrence Motion, Social Services Committee.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte adjourned the debate.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I get up to make a few more comments in the Resource Committee debate. I made quite a few remarks on Friday and I will continue with more today. Some of my colleagues want to say a few things. I finished off on tourism, and will pick up on the same point. I agreed with the minister in our meetings that it is the untapped industry of Newfoundland and Labrador, and I think with the Cabot 500 Celebrations onstream that indeed, Newfoundland will be a site for the world, not just for Canada, but a worldwide site for tourism, and there is so much that can be done, especially in rural Newfoundland.

Of course, our best resource, as I have always said, is our people, so that we can get people to come to the Province and see what we really have here. Also, to encourage - and I have said this to the minister, to encourage people in rural Newfoundland to look at what we have around us and try to take advantage of that, Mr. Speaker, with outfitters, tour boats, and the whales and the icebergs, of course, that we talk about so often. In my district things like Copper Creek Mountain which was just developed, a new park in La Scie, and so on.

There are so many things, that we as Newfoundlanders should encourage rural Newfoundlanders to look at tourism from a different side. We have always looked at the fishery, the forestry, and so on, but everybody can't go back to the fishery, and of course, things are tightening up in the forest industry so we have to look at some alternatives and tourism is one of those. Newfoundlanders with their hospitality and so on have much to offer the rest of Canada and to the world, so we have a lot to do in that department. I want to talk about forestry and mining when I return again, but right now I will sit down and let my colleagues make some points. I will return to this debate a little later on in the day.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure for me to stand today and talk on the Resource Committee. I guess I will start off with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, then I will move on to Industry, Trade and Technology.

The Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation: We had a lengthy discussion, actually, during the Resource Committee sitting on the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; overall, I think it turned out relatively well. I know that there is a number of areas within the tourism department where they have had cuts, such as the Salmonier Nature Park, but I am not quite sure why they are cutting that area. That was brought up in the House, as well, during the Ministerial Statement on the Salmonier Nature Park, on the opening of that park.

Tourism marketing in the Budget has taken a cut; it is down almost $500,000 and that, you know, is a little discouraging considering tourism is one of the up-and-coming industries in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is an industry that we are going to have to rely heavily on in the coming years, especially with the struggling fishery and so on.

Tourism planning also took a heavy cut; it is down almost half of the revised numbers from last year. You know, again, that is a little discouraging considering, again, that tourism is going to be one of the most important industries in our Province.

The Arts and Culture centres, as well, have taken a hit. The Arts and Culture centres are down almost $300,000 and the Arts Procurement Program, as well, is cut from $120,000 to $100,000 that is a drop of $20,000 over last year, again, a little discouraging considering we are doing everything we can or we are supposed to be doing everything we can to stimulate interest in the Arts community. It is good to see that we have taken a cut on Marble Mountain, however, that has been an area where we have pumped in several dollars in the past and it doesn't seem to be paying back, so I am glad to see that the government is taking the initiative to have restraint in that department.

Overall, I guess the tourism department, while it is has taken a number of cuts, we are starting to expand in a new area such as the Parks and Trailway or the Linear Park, which is encouraging as well. This park spans the entirety of the Island and I guess, gradually, over the next number of years, we will develop the Linear Park so that it can be utilized and all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can seek the benefits of the Linear Park. I am sure that, as well, will be quite interesting and would be a great tourist attraction for anybody who likes backpacking and that type of thing.

In the Industry, Trade and Technology sector, that was another area that, well, of course, you all know I am the critic for that area as well. That is another area that I found quite interesting during the discussions at our Resource Committee meeting.

The EDGE program, it appears, is producing some benefits to the Province. It is helping with job creation and there are a number of companies that have applied for EDGE status and have been granted EDGE status, so that is quite encouraging. Voisey's Bay, as we all know, is going through some turmoil right now with the Diamond Field Resources and the Inco takeover regarding their pending lawsuit out of Texas, but Voisey's Bay promises to be a great employment generator and a great source of income for the Province for many, many years to come, as does, Hibernia, and hopefully, the prospects of Terra Nova coming on also.

The Marystown Shipyard was a topic of hot discussion in the House over the past couple of days, whether or not the government - I have not heard the announcement today, but it is rumoured that there is an announcement today on the $45 million loan guarantee. Hopefully that was granted to the Marystown Shipyard to keep that up-and-running, to keep that alive.

The Newfoundland Dockyard was again an area of hot debate, an area of interest in the House over the past couple of weeks. I guess we are waiting now on the federal minister, David Anderson, to come back and let us know whether or not the Newfoundland Dockyard is actually going to be granted the right to stay open until they iron out the details of an employee takeover. It is unfortunate they were not granted the contract on the Henry Larsen, or not permitted to bid on the Henry Larsen; however, we will hope that gets resolved in good faith, and that the federal minister and Rod Morrison will both allow the Newfoundland Dockyard to continue to operate, as that again is a very important area in our economy. It is a basis of anywhere from 400 to 800 jobs, and it is a potential for great economic spin-off to the City of St. John's and to the Province as a whole.

Also in the area of industry, trade and technology, it is quite encouraging to see that the government are working very closely with Newfoundland Telephone and Memorial University to develop the information highway and the fibre optics network across the Province. I feel that if we are going to compete, especially into the new millennium, that we, as a Province and as a people, have to invest heavily in technology and fibre optics, as the information highway is going to be definitely a source of great employment into the future, as we can see now with many calling centres opening up throughout North America and in Atlantic Canada. Hopefully within the coming years we will start to see our fair share of calling centres in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador as well.

We also touched on the Argentia base during the Resource Committee discussions, and my colleague brought up the cleanup of the Argentia base just last week in the House. We will hope that the proceedings with the federal government and the American government turn out in favour of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we will receive enough funding from the American government to do an adequate cleanup of the Argentia base as well as other areas that the American government occupied during the First and Second World Wars, and I guess in subsequent years from that.

I guess another area that has been in the news lately as well is the trans-shipment site. It appears there were discussions and media releases just this morning that Labrador is out of the running for the trans-shipment site, which is kind of unfortunate, I guess, for the people of Labrador, as they are actively fighting for their fair share in our Province; however, I guess as long as the trans-shipment site is placed within the Province that would be a benefit.

Moving on to the Department of Mines and Energy as well, the Department of Mines, during our Resource Committee discussions, was quite interesting. I found it very informative. The Department of Mines is not an area I am as familiar with as I would like to be, as it is not one of the areas that I am a critic for; however, we did go over in great detail a number of areas in the Department of Mines, such as Voisey's Bay and the Baie Verte site, as well as the oil out on the West Coast and so on. It all seems to be very prosperous looking for the future. We will hope that we can manage our resources a little better in the future than we have been managing them in the past, and hopefully the Department of Mines and Energy will pay great dividends to our Province in the years ahead.

In the fisheries department, that's another area, I guess, today with the food fishery and so on. It appears from fishermen out fishing that they are starting to catch much larger cod than they have over the past few years. Hopefully this is an indication that our cod fishery is starting to come back. However, in the fisheries department there are several other species of fish that the Province has been actively pursuing and looking at developing the fishery for the other species of fish. While this is encouraging I think that we most especially have to look forward to secondary production of the fish product here in our Province as opposed to sending it off to Asia, the United States and European countries for secondary processing. It is terrible when we go into the supermarket and we buy a species of fish that we catch here off our own coastline and it is actually produced in Ontario, down in the United States or, as I have said, sometimes even in Europe. That is very discouraging to Newfoundlanders when employment is an area that has been suffering now over the past number of years and we can look for ways of producing greater employment here. We should be looking at opening up industries to produce and have the secondary production on our fisheries and that type of thing.

We are putting a lot more money into the forestry section. We are putting a lot more money this year into the spraying of different insects and so on, which is encouraging, and we will hope that that will pay off as well in the future as our pulp and paper industries here are a source of great employment also. One thing that I find kind of peculiar is in the forestry section, we have the Salmonier Nature Park again which is - one would think that that would be confined solely to the tourism division.

The wildlife conservation and habitant section in our Budget this year had an overall increase of $143,000. Most of that was in the salary section and in purchasing and supplies. I guess that is encouraging if it actually means that we are employing more people and not putting up the actual amounts that we are putting out in salaries.

The wildlife research area in the Budget had an overall increase of almost $500,000 and most of this was in transportation and communication. I find that a little odd but I guess I wasn't overly satisfied with the answer we got during the resource committee meeting on forestry resources but I guess that is an area that is still open to question.

In the salmon enhancement area in forest resources, again an area you would think would be solely confined to the fisheries but in the salmon enhancement area we had an increase in the grant and subsidy. So I guess that would mostly pertain to the forestry outfitting companies and the outfitting companies perhaps in Labrador and so on which is a great area of employment as well and tourist generation for people coming in from the United States and other areas of the world to take advantage of our environment and our fisheries.

I guess overall the resource committee meetings, as they were the first resource committee meetings that I have attended, being a new member, I found to be very educational and while I asked many questions and got many answers there are still some questions that are left unanswered but as I mentioned it was very educational. Next year when I sit at these resource committee meetings or whatever committee that I should be sitting on at the time maybe I will be better prepared to put together some more questions in search of the answers.

A lot of times the Resource Committee and other committee meetings that we have, as I'm sure many of my colleagues have found out, are sometimes more informative in the fact that you get straight answers to many of the questions, and you get a sincere answer from the ministers and the ministers' staffs. Whereas in the House a lot of times they tell you that they will take it under advisement. They will put it off and you get a run-around answer. In that regard I found the Resource Committee meetings were very helpful.

The Resource Committee I guess as a whole was satisfied with the answers and what came out of the Resource Committee meetings. However, as I've mentioned there are some areas that are still unanswered and areas that we were told we would get back to. I'm sure that the ministers will do everything that they can to get back to us with those answers, the answers to the questions that we asked during the Committee meetings. We will hope that through the course of this year, and I guess through the course of the Budget, that we can stay on track and we won't have to dip into the $30 million that we have put aside in reserve. We will see how well the present Administration has planned ahead and how well it has put its numbers together. I guess time will tell on that.

Other than that, I guess I will pass it on to my colleague and he can ask some questions on the Resource Committee meeting once we have done. I thank you for your time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to add a few comments on the Budget debate as it relates to the resource sector which took in I think it was five different headings. I must say, the meetings were very well conducted and very well attended. I don't know if there was anybody absent. I think most of them went to the limit. Some of them could have went much farther, but the ministers - even the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture - what a different man in a meeting where he has his staff and where you take him outside the House setting. A different man altogether, and I congratulate him for that. Very partisan in here and likes to shout and holler, but a real pussycat when you get him out and get him with his staff. That speaks well for him I guess, because it shows the other side of him.

In fact, I went to a news conference he had a couple of weeks ago when he announced the new king crab fishery. I never saw the minister any more accommodating. Offered me a piece of crab and was there: Roger, can I help you with this? Or: Do you have all the information, or do you need that? A different man altogether. I guess the difference, and I suppose what it was, it was leading up to the excursion that he was going to take last weekend when he talked about getting out of here in a hurry and going out and getting aboard his boat.

I will tell this little story before I go on with the debate. How the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, he was the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation at that time, and he knew very well what the roads were like, and that is why he would never drive over them. You would never see the minister driving his vehicle over a road. He always took the helicopter or he took his boat. Last year it was he went out in his boat and decided he was going to go down and tour Bonavista Bay. Got down off King's Cove and he had some trouble. Didn't have a clue where he was. He thought he was coming into Torbay, until one of the fishermen from King's Cove went out and towed him in. As you know Mr. Minister of Health, the fishermen out around the bay know how to repair their boats and they know all about diesel and outboard motors. They went out and towed the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation into the harbour and they spent all day repairing his boat for him. He never offered them any money, he never offered to do them anything in kind. I suppose he said thank you, but that is all they got out of it. They got the boat in order again and away he went, out the bay. Then, we had to go back and bring him down to look at our roads a couple of months after that. We took him down to King's Cove to look at the roads and passed by the same fishermen who had towed him in, and he didn't even say hello to them. And they made a solemn vow, then, that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation could get broke down, or need to be towed in, they didn't care if he sculled ashore; I tell you, they won't tow him in anymore, after the reception they gave him when he flew down there in helicopter and wouldn't help them with their roads, wouldn't help them solve any of their problems whatsoever. In fact, he got on in a very partisan way and there for awhile, even started talking about the Sprung greenhouse.

One of the headings that comes under the Resource sector is mines and energy. I brought this up to the minister there in conversation, and in Question Period, and the thing that concerns me in my district, one of the things that concerns me, is the prices of gasoline, especially in the lower part of my district, down in Bonavista. The minister goes on to say that it is set by the individual distributors; they are the people who control the prices at the tank, as far as one being sixty-three cents and the other being sixty-two, or whatever.

I notice there is a petition going around down in my district now because down in that particular area, the cheapest price you can get gasoline is in excess of seventy cents. I think it is seventy-three cents a litre for gasoline, ten cents a litre more expensive than you pay here in the city. There for a while, at one particular time, even from Clarenville down to Bonavista, there was a difference of something like six or seven cents a litre. I don't know who controls the prices but I have a suspicion that it is the oil companies themselves and not the individual distributors.

I know there is a mark up there and I think it is an understood thing what return is expected on a gallon of gasoline, or a litre, but it seems that the oil companies decide what the price is going to be, and as a result of that, many of the consumers out there today are paying very, very unfair prices for gasoline. I don't think it costs an extra eight or ten cents a litre to ship gasoline to Bonavista as compared to St. John's, for example.

I know the oil companies have changed the way they do things as far as distributing gasoline is concerned. At one time, the local distributors had holding stations and the tankers would come and fill up the station, and that distributor then would take it in his own truck, carry it around and distribute it to the individual gasoline dispensers, but that doesn't happen anymore. It is now all done by tractor trailer. The tractor trailer goes and fills the tanks up at the distributorship and I don't think, or at least I am not convinced, that there should be that much of a spread in gasoline prices from one area to another at such a short distance. It appears to me that the consumers are getting a raw deal and now they are starting to speak up and ask questions as to the reason why.

Mr. Speaker, another topic that, I suppose, continues to come up in this House, and the minister again seems to want to have a hands-off approach. He has justifiable reasons, I suppose, at least they are justified to him, as to the reason why he shouldn't intercede, and that is the petitions you see being brought forward as it relates to Newfoundland Power, a utility in this Province that is operating a monopoly and looking for a 4.9 per cent rate increase. Some of the reasons and some of the justifications they use in seeking this particular increase are certainly not justified, especially when you consider the economy that we are living in today, when you look at what people's incomes are and what this particular utility made just last year, a profit of something like $28 million.

Mr. Speaker, we all realize that a particular utility like this expects to have a certain return on their money in order to generate investments, in order to create economic activity within the company itself, but I can assure you that their 13 per cent in excess return on their investment should certainly be an ample return on their dollars.

When you look at the utility company in New Brunswick, the largest Crown corporation in the Atlantic Provinces, coming out and saying that they are going to make changes in the way that they do business; they want to be the utility company of choice rather than the only utility company, rather than having a monopoly in the area. And they are saying: We are not looking for a rate increase, we will not be going out and laying off people; we are not talking about privatization, what we are talking about is doing business in a different way, running a leaner, meaner business and providing a service to the people so that we will be the choice of the people.

Mr. Speaker, that is not what is being done here. When you see some of the cutbacks that this particular utility company has brought about especially in rural Newfoundland, this past number of years, when you see the number of people whom they have laid off and when you see the number of people whom they have moved from one particular area to another in order to maintain costs, which is important, you should never forget that, Mr. Speaker, they certainly should not be looking for a rate increase with that kind of profit and with that kind of a return on their dollar today.

I know, in the area where I live there were always two Light and Power employees stationed there and if you had a problem, if there happened to be a fire or if there were some reason why a house had to be disconnected, all you had to do was pick up the phone and within half-an-hour, they were there. It was a service that they were providing and it was an excellent service. Now, all of a sudden, in order to get the same service, you have to call Clarenville, twenty-eight to thirty miles away, Mr. Speaker, and until they get a fair amount of work, if it is something to do with street lights in the town, until there is enough out to warrant them making a trip down, they don't want to be bothered with it; you still the pay the price.

If you have 100 street lights and if you are paying a set fee for them, you don't see ninety-eight on the bill this month and sixty-eight the next month, it is still a 100 whether they are shining or whether they are gone out, but they will decide when they come and when they repair them and how often it is done. They would decide that and in the case of an emergency, then you have to wait for that particular utility truck to travel from where they are located, which, in this particular case, is Clarenville, all the way down on the Bonavista Peninsula, and in the winter, that can be a trying experience sometimes, at best.

We talk about Hibernia, the Hibernia project, where there are so many of our Newfoundlanders working and doing very well, making good money, and it makes me happy every time I drive by there to see the glow in the sky or see the cars going back and forth there, because it is one of the very, very, few bright spots in this Province today. I don't know what would have happened to this Province if we didn't have Hibernia, when we see so many of our people being able to work keeping our economy going and creating a little bit of optimism, Mr. Speaker, especially in the area where I live. It is the only ray of hope that is there, and the people there are making very good money and it seems like the government of the day stands up and refers to the thousands of people out there and so they should, but I think we could have seen a lot more people working at Hibernia. I don't think it should ever have been allowed to have people out there working seventy, eighty and ninety hours a week, Mr. Speaker, making seventy, eighty and ninety hours a week, making double-time when they should be working forty hours a week.

Mr. Speaker, if it is a private company and somebody is willing to go to work for sixty hours or eighty hours and it is private dollars being spent, then there is nothing wrong with that. It is none of anybody's business. That is between the private owner and the individual working for him, but when you are talking about taxpayers' money being spent and you are talking about people working and making in excess of forty dollars an hour while other people who are very capable, quite capable and quite willing to take part and do exactly that same job for straight time, then I don't think that is being very fair. So if we had 1,200, 3,000 or 4,000 people working there I think we could have had more.

I have had calls from people working on the Hibernia project who worked twenty-eight and thirty days without a break, twelve, fourteen, sixteen hours a day, and went and asked for a day off but was told: If you take a day off, don't come back tomorrow. I brought that up, Mr. Speaker - in fact, I brought it up here in the House in the last sitting and put out a news release on it. The next thing I knew, the fellow in charge of public relations at Hibernia called me and told me I didn't know what I was talking about. He called me from a cellular telephone. We had a conversation and I told him that I did know what I was talking about. I told him the sources of where it came from. I didn't name the individual but I told him the department he worked in, what they were doing there. And that particular night, I had five phone calls from people who had picked up the telephone conversation, and said: You are one hundred per cent right in what you were saying, because here are other incidents. So to me, Mr. Speaker, sure it is a wonderful thing to have thousands of people working out there but we could have had more. Instead of people making forty dollars an hour they could have been paid twenty dollars an hour, which they are all pretty well getting in straight time work out there and they would have done very well.

Then this same individual called me back and said, `Boy, we can't hire any more people because we don't have any accommodations. We don't have any accommodations there for people to stay.' So my answer to him was, you tell me how many people you want to hire there as labourers or any other trade that I am familiar with, and I can assure you that I know of lots of people who would be willing to take their lunch can and return home every night.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: It doesn't matter what they are, I say to the minister, every Newfoundlander should have a right to go to work and every Newfoundlander has the wherewithal about him to go out and try to find a job to put bread and butter on the table. It is human nature, it was bred into us, I say to the minister, to want to work. It was bred into us, as Newfoundlanders and that is why I think we all find it so difficult when we have to leave home to find a job, that we can never settle down. Because there is always a place here in this Province when after you do your days work, you can still, having the initiative, go and do other things, whether it is to improve on what you have or to increase what you have in your community. There is always something for you to do if you don't mind supplying the elbow grease to do it.

So, Mr. Speaker, those are some of the things that we have to look at when we speak of Voisey's Bay and we see the many opportunities that will surely be there for many of us. It won't be an opportunity there for all of us, that will never happen, but some of us will get a job there and will do very well. But we should make sure that we identify what it is that is going to be happening there and we should make sure that we have our own native Newfoundlanders trained and prepared to take on whatever jobs are available there. Because that hasn't happened at Hibernia either, Mr. Speaker. Many of our people there - and I suppose you can't shout loud about it because as Newfoundlanders we have always been very transient people. We have had no other choice in order to find a job but to go to Toronto or to go down in the States around the Eastern Seaboard or out to Western Canada. We have always had to do that, Mr. Speaker, there has never been enough work here for all of us to be able to stay at home and find a job. We have, most of us, gone away, and have done very well. I suppose that is why we have to be a little bit careful sometimes when we talk about not allowing other people to come into the Province and take advantage of our jobs. That is why we have to be very, very careful, but, Mr. Speaker, in most cases you will find that as Newfoundlanders went to other places, and took part in jobs, and as they were hired, when work became scarce, because they were travellers, and because they were from other jurisdictions, they were always one of the first to get laid off. They were the first to get laid off because people knew they were from another Province, and especially if they were involved with a union agreement. That is the way it was. But out at Hibernia, and I am sure the minister can back me up in this, many people have come here to go to work on the Hibernia site, many contractors, and they align themselves up with a Newfoundland contractor to give it the local content, especially as it relates to some of the commissioning work out there, brought in their own people and allowed them to go to work while our own Newfoundlanders were out knocking on the door trying to find a job.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: But there were no people supposed to come there and do hands-on work. The only people who were supposed to have been brought in were supervisory people, or people -


MR. FITZGERALD: From my understanding. You can correct me -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) where did the Newfoundlanders go?

MR. FITZGERALD: That is what I -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) Ontario, or wherever there are jobs. (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Minister, that is exactly what I am saying, but there is also a site agreement, a union contract. The site agreement out there - I know; I worked there; I worked there for two winters - that is why it has been successful. That is why they have not had any problems out there with the work content done by Newfoundlanders, I say to the minister, compared to some of the frightening things that you had heard about work that was done in other countries and brought back here. I don't know if it is true or not, but you hear all kinds of stories, but the work that was done out there by Newfoundlanders was second to none, I say to the minister, and we had Newfoundlanders out there quite capable of doing the supervision work as well, and if we did not then I think it is shameful on us by not making sure that we had our own people trained and our own people being able to access the courses and the information in order to prepare them for Hibernia, because we were not prepared.

As we speak here today and we talk about the hundreds and thousands of Newfoundlanders who are unemployed, we have people out there working from other provinces who are brought in because we do not have our own tradesmen qualified enough, or enough of them in this particular trade, in order to go out and access the work there. I am talking about the insulation trade right now, and the same thing with some of the other trades as well, some of the welding trades that went ahead there.

If we are going to ever survive here in Newfoundland, and if we are ever going to take advantage of the Voisey's Bays and the Hibernias and the Terra Novas and the White Roses, then we have to prepare ourselves and we have to identify what opportunities are there and make sure we train our people for them. That is the only way that we are going to survive, and I think the onus is on us, as a government sitting on the other side the onus is on each and every one of you, to identify the needs for those particular industries and to make sure that this kind of thing is not allowed to happen.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I am not finished.

Fisheries and Aquaculture was another topic that came by for discussion, and some of the questions that were brought up, and one of the concerns of the people out there, is the processing sector. The minister continues to say: I wish I was the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Then I would be able to answer your questions because I would be in a position to make the decisions that would be effective. Well, the minister has every right, and he is in the position to make the decisions as they relate to the processing sector, but what is he doing? He is sitting on his butt and allowing that to go by the wayside as well, saying: Leave it alone; I am not going to make the decision. I am not going to tell you which plants are going to open, which plants are going to close. We are not going to get involved in that.

MR. EFFORD: Are you suggesting that is (inaudible) worth of fish?

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, what I am suggesting is that the minister should show some leadership.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister should show some leadership, and if there is too much activity in the processing sector then the minister should identify where the excess is. The minister should identify where the excess is and go out and have public meetings. This is the process that should be taking place now. Involve the people. That is what should happen.

Mr. Speaker, it isn't allowed to happen. Here today we have people who are laid off from our fish plants, they have been off now since 1992, four years they have been off, and they know no more about their future or where they are going than they did back on that July day they were told to go home because there was no job for them. They don't know. I think they have a right to know. I think the onus is on the minister to go out and involve the players. Talk to the people out there.

MR. EFFORD: Brian Mulroney and John Crosbie (inaudible)!

MR. FITZGERALD: It doesn't matter who caused it, Minister, the problem is there. The problem we have is trying to get it solved, not worrying about who caused it. If you are going to go laying blame on everybody's doorstep and saying you are lily-white yourself, then how are we ever going to get out of where we are today?

The minister should show a little bit of leadership there and deal with the things that he is capable of controlling himself. He should go out, Mr. Speaker, and involve the people. Identify the need there, identify the area where we expect the fishery to be vibrant again, identify the plants, and say: Here is what we are going to do here and here is what we are going to do somewhere else. Not to do what he is doing, hiding behind over there in his own little kingdom and hoping that the problem will go away or the fish will come back or the people will all go to British Columbia. Because that won't happen, Minister. We have to go out and we have to involve the stakeholders and we have to involve the people. When we start making decisions don't go and say: Because there is a plant in one place and there isn't one somewhere else then you must go.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Unlimited time, I say to the minister, because I'm making sense in what I'm saying. Minister, it isn't enough to go down to Bonavista and drive around the plant and see a few scales off or see a bit of wooden siding there and say: Boy, that is an old plant, I don't think that one should stay open, sure that is all wooden siding. Then drive up another ten or twelve miles and say: This is the one that stays open, and I don't know why you are complaining because you have to drive eleven kilometres to go to work. Minister, you are missing the point. That isn't the way it is at all. You are missing the boat, Mr. Speaker. The minister is missing the boat.

What he has to do is to go out and find out how long that plant had been there, find out what they have done, find out what they put back in the industry. Why should the plant in Bonavista or Port Union have to close when Mr. Joe Smith up the street just recently got issued licences to open up another plant? If you are going to make decisions like that then take the last in and make them the first out, I say to the minister. Look at the people who are there, look at what they have contributed, look at what they have to offer, look at the area where they fish and where the fishery will be when it does return. That is the way those decisions should be made. Not go and make some guess because somebody told you that the plant should close or the plant was old or something else.

Don't get dictated to by the processors either, I say to the minister. When you go out to make your decisions - and I'm sure you are going to do that - I'm sure you are going to put a board in place and you are going to go out and get all the information you can, because it will eventually be laid at your doorstep. That is where it will be laid. You will have to make the decision. I don't know if you will be around at the time to make it. I don't know if you are going to get all tangled up in this web now that is happening here. You can see it unfolding. There will be four or five in the front bench moved back. They will be moved back, Minister. Whether you are caught up in that web again I don't know. Right now you are clean, you've kept your nose clean since the last time you got into a little bit of trouble. But the potential is there for the minister to be moved back again. There is no doubt about that.

Minister, you haven't seen anything yet. Wait till you see the phase-out of the TAGS program, and you sitting here and saying: We aren't allowing you to go fishing because scientific evidence tells me that there isn't enough fish out there to support your livelihood. That is when you will see it. That is when you will see the true Newfoundlander speak up, when you go and try to take away his livelihood and say that you can't go out and do what you ordinarily did, and we aren't going to support you any more, we aren't going to give you a pay cheque. Now you must go to the Department of Social Services.

I say to the minister, that is when he will have to make a decision, because you are dealing with a very proud, hard-working group of individuals that you know and I know are not going to stand for that. They are going to want to go out and do what they normally did, and they are going to want to be able to take part in this particular fishery.

The minister gets up and talks about the food fishery, and he ties it all in with the commercialization of the same thing, and I am the first one to agree with him. If it came down to either having a - and the word I don't like is a `recreational' fishery. That is the one that bothers me. People talk about a recreational fishery. There is a big difference, a vast difference, between a food fishery and a recreational fishery, but when you hear the stories today of what is happening out there, and the amount of cod that is around our shores, you have to believe part of it.

One of the biggest fishing enterprises from the minister's district called me the other morning about this thing with the Newfoundland fishermen landing up in Nova Scotia. One of the biggest fishing enterprises -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, no, fishermen, one of the biggest fishing harvesters -

MR. EFFORD: Called you from my district?

MR. FITZGERALD: Called me from your district and questioned some of my thoughts on it because he wasn't sure where I was coming from, but he understood after - he understood quite clearly what I was saying - and he went on to talk about the amount of codfish, and the amount of salmon that is out there. I don't think he has a salmon licence, so it wasn't a situation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Oh, I know him, and the minister knows him, and he knows him very well. In fact, I would say he is probably a big supporter of the minister's.

Mr. Speaker, he went on to talk about the codfish that he saw that are on the Grand Banks, and what he has been finding when he is out there taking part in other fisheries. He said he has never seen the like since he has been fishing.

When you hear tell of people, Minister, going out on the wharf and taking their rod and reel, a little wharf that when the water falls you can walk around it with a pair of goat rubbers on, being able to go out and cast out a lure, I say to the Member for Twillingate, and have to pull it in around and catch fish like that, that is a good indication -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: There you go. That is a good indication that there is something happening; and, Minister, I don't believe that it is only the bay stock. That is an argument -

AN HON. MEMBER: What are goat rubbers?

MR. FITZGERALD: You know what goat rubbers are; you wore them many times, I am sure.

You know, Mr. Speaker, that is something we have not seen before. You could always go down to the wharf and fish for conners, and you could fish for tom cods and a few black-backs, flat-fish, when the caplin would be in, but you would never get codfish off a wharf. You would never be able to go out on a rock and cast out a lure and bring in fish like that - unheard of. So I don't know what is happening out there. I don't know if it is a situation where the stocks have replenished to such an extent that the fish have no other choice but be swimming around shore in order to find something to eat, or if it is a situation where we should believe the scientists in saying that the little bit of fish you see around the wharf in Clarenville, or down in Bonavista, or in Stock Cove, or in Twillingate, is the only bit of fish that is in the bay. I don't believe that. When you hear this fisherman calling and saying that out on the Grand Banks he is experiencing the same thing, then there is something happening.

When we talk about the salmon fishery that they closed down, I think there are 112 commercial salmon licences left in Newfoundland and Labrador, but the only thing you hear tell of is the recreational fishery. That is the only thing you hear tell of. Nobody speaks about the fishermen who went out and caught salmon as part of their livelihood, as part of their income. What we talk about is tourist dollars. We have to get such an outfitter so many salmon licences, or we have to give him access to so many rivers so that he might be able to bring in some tourists from the United States to spend their money.

There is nothing wrong with that and we should encourage it. It is good business and I am glad that they are doing very well but we should never allow it to happen at the total expense of the commercial salmon fishermen. We should never allow it to happen where those people who always took part in this particular fishery in order to put bread and butter on their tables - and some of them made some very good money, made some very good dollars in the salmon fishery - we should never take it completely away from them and not allow them to go back and take part in that particular fishery again at the expense of those people just to build up another trade.

Aquaculture, Mr. Speaker, another industry that is happening right here in this Province. I suppose it is something that is happening because we could not go out and take part in the fishery so we had to look at doing other things. One of the natural things to do, I suppose, is to take part in farming fish. If you cannot get it in the wild then you farm it. The minister holds great hope for this particular industry and I do as well. I think it is going to give us a whole new industry. I think it is going to provide many of our people with a chance to be able to survive and live in their rural Newfoundland communities but, Mr. Speaker, I question the sincerity of governments again, as it relates to this particular industry because it is not an industry that you can go and take part in today and start realizing money tomorrow. It is not like going and opening up a convenience store where you open the doors, here is the product, come in and buy it and you are making money. That is not the way it is.

For most people to take part in the aquaculture industry, you are talking about a fairly large investment of money and you are talking about an investment that you will probably not see a return of any kind for probably two, three or four years at least and here is this same government that is saying that we believe in aquaculture, coming out there a short time ago and saying that we are going to be taking some services away from you now. We are not going to allow you to be able to access the water studies, the water testing that would normally cost me, if I had a farm, $7,000 or $8,000 that was provided by government now that is being taken away. So how sincere are we to go on one hand and say what you are doing is good, what you are doing is going to give you an opportunity, it is a new industry, we will help you and take every bit of support away from them that we can, give them no help along the way and most of the people you will find will throw up their hands in frustration and say that this particular industry, that I thought was going to be there for me, is an industry now that I cannot afford to take part in. That is what is happening out there today. I don't think that government has the commitment, I don't think that they are putting the commitment into this particular opportunity that they should. If they did they certainly would not be taking away this extra spending in order to give the aquaculture industry a boost in the arm. Something is needed.

One thing I would commend the minister for, and I know he did not do it, it was not his baby, if you would, and that is the professionalization of fishermen. He stood up here in the House and tried to take full marks for it and said what a wonderful thing it was and it is a good thing. That is what happens when you consult people. You don't get any negative feedback from over here. You don't get it from the media. You consulted people or somebody did. I don't know if it was the minister but somebody consulted people and the result was a good piece of legislation, not the same tripe and not the same foolishness that the same minister brought forward. He did not know what he was talking about and did away with vehicle inspections, I say to the minister, something that he will always live to regret because it is going to be brought right back in the House again. I was talking to the minister the other day and he is going to be re-introducing it in the House, and it will go through with flying colours and the minister will hang his head in shame and know that he was the one who was responsible and he was the one who kept the lights burning in this institution here, night after night, when we were telling him how bad and how negative it was but he wouldn't listen to the people.

This particular piece of legislation that his predecessor brought in, this piece of legislation that the former Minister of Fisheries and Agrifoods brought in is a good piece of legislation; it was done with consultation with the union, the fishermen and I believe, I firmly believe minister, that if you use and take advantage of this group of people whom you are going to put in place here, that they could be the people who would be a great source of information for you; they would be able to tell you what the fishery is all about and they could enlighten you, and make you a different person if you cared to listen, but I suppose you won't, you will go on in your own ways with your head up and your nose down and pay no attention to anybody other than to think you know it all yourself but, you will see the light one of those days.

Mr. Speaker, the other foolishness I suppose, that is happening within the Department of Fisheries today, is this process of having to go to a fisheries office and buy a seal license. Now, who ever heard tell of anything today, I suppose you could almost consider it a pest, as far as our people getting back to work, who ever heard tell of having to go and buy a license -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: What's that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Adopt a seal program.

MR. FITZGERALD: Adopt the seal program yes. Buy a license and only be allowed to go out and kill six seals, and the minister stands here and he talks about the destruction they are causing and talks about the billions of tons of fish they eat and how they grab the fish and eat the liver and they give the fish the shake, and they knocked everybody who took part in the program in trying to save it, but minister, you are trying to save it yourself.


MR. FITZGERALD: You are trying to save it yourself. Why do you need a license to go out and kill a seal? Smarten up b'ye. You should be down on the beach handing out ammunition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.


MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

MR. EFFORD: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion -

MR. EFFORD: No leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: I will rise again, I say to the minister.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to begin my few remarks - one of the issues that the hon. member raised about the processing licences and harvesting in the Province, if you are going to stand in the House of Assembly and use the time in the House of Assembly to represent the people in the Province as a whole, what I would like to see is the hon. member at least being somewhat productive and somewhat, in some manner, passing some information along that we can at least use in making a decision.

Now, what the hon. member was talking about was the number of fish plants that we have here in this Province. This is an example of the processing in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Each and every one of those buildings is owned by companies or a company. In other words, somebody has invested a substantial amount of money in each one of those plants. Now, we know where they all came from, as a result of Tory decisions made for the seventeen years while they were in power in this Province, where most of these numbers of plants came from, another Tory decision.

Now the hon. member is saying that I should go out and point at the owner of one of these plants and say: You, close your fish plant.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I didn't say that.

MR. EFFORD: That's what you said, it is recorded in Hansard. You, close your fish plant; you lock your doors. Somebody who has invested a lifetime's earnings, probably a family fortune in some cases, into a processing operation here in this Province. That government should place itself in the position of saying: Mr. Smith, or Mr. Jones, you close your door.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to say to the hon. member opposite, for seventeen years of Tory government that is the type of attitude that we had over there. Never anything sensible, nothing productive. Counter-productive is the word we use. Nothing ever for the best interest of the industry, and haven't got any further with it today. An example of what is happening in the Province and we are supposed to go out there and tell these people: Close your doors.

What I would rather do is wherever the opportunity rises is to go into an area, a region of the Province where there is a possibility of operating a fish plant in a multi-special operation, can sustain full-time employment, to people living in a particular community or region of this Province where there are species of groundfish or species of underutilized species available, shellfish available, to make an operation sustainable to the long season, long-term operation. That was never ever done in the past.

Processing licences were given out in the past with no thought and no planning into the future operations of what we have around this Province going into it, and never ever was there any firm consultation with the operations, with the community, with any interested parties on what was available. It was based on a particular need or a particular request, in most cases favouritism. In a lot of the cases favouritism of what was happening in the political circumstances of the day.

This government is not going to operate in that manner. This government is going to operate in a manner which is going to be in the best interests of all of the people involved in the industry for the long term. If that requires a decision in working with 10 per cent, 15 per cent and 25 per cent or all of these plants in making sure that decision if fulfilled, then sobeit. But no way are we going to walk into any one of those regions or areas or communities around the Province and say to any one of those people: Your doors are closed.

Let's talk about the other issue that the hon. member raised, crab licences. Here we have the number of crab operations in this Province, all on the northeast coast. We have seventeen licences, from up in (inaudible) right down around to St. Mary's. Then you go up the Burin Peninsula, you go right around the South Coast, Southwest Coast and the West Coast, right up to St. Anthony, and not one licence. Not a licence in all that area. That is the type of operating in the crab processing that is going on here in the Province.

One of the major problems that arises out of that type of decision making is we have crab being caught over on the West Coast, and over on the Southwest Coast, and up in St. Anthony, and trucked for twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen hours to get to a processing plant on the Northeast Coast. As a result last year, because of that happening, we had 40 per cent of crab going into the market processed dead. This is one of the reasons why we have a major problem in the pricing of crab today, because we are never concerned about establishing a prime product in the market. Get in, make a quick dollar, and who cares about what happens tomorrow.

We have to bring some controls into the area. We have to regionalize processing, we have to make sure that the shellfish - the main factor is processing it alive - not handled in the manner in which it has been handled for the last number of years. Thirty thousand metric tons of crab last year, 40 per cent of the crab processed dead, 12,000 tons of crab, processed junk, went into the market. We wonder why crab went down from $2.50 a pound last year to an offer now under negotiations of $0.75 to $0.90 a pound. We have to take the responsibility. We ourselves are not careful and interested enough about a product, a fish, a species of shellfish that we take out of the ocean, that we handle it with maximum care to get the best benefits out of it.

The attitude is not to rush in and make a quick decision to satisfy somebody's mood for a given time. Put the proper planning in place, plan for the future, plan for the best interest of the industry. I remember back when I was in the Opposition sitting over there where the hon. members are now talking about the quotas of groundfish that the then federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of the same stripes and colours as the side over there now made a decision. Wouldn't take scientific advice, wouldn't listen to the fishermen, all they wanted to do was double the quota. In other words if scientific advice came down that we should catch 100,000 ton put it up to 190,000 ton. Who cares about the fishery of the future? All we need to do is satisfy a few friends close by today.

The other thing the member was talking about was the recreational fishery, the food fishery. I cannot imagine how he can stand in the House day after day, after day, in his goat boots. Where he got that terminology - in the fishery you put on goat boots to go fishing? Just imagine now, goat boots to go out fishing. Now, that is a good mixture.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is a goat boot?

MR. EFFORD: I ask the hon. member to explain.


MR. EFFORD: It is hard to believe. It only goes to show how serious we really are about the real problems. For anybody to argue for a recreational or a food fishery, whatever terminology you want to put on it, before a commercial fishery does not make any sense to me. A commercial fishery is absolutely necessary in this Province. The hon. member is right about one thing, about the TAGS program, that people coming off TAGS are going to demand the ability to go out and earn a living. If that's into the fishery then you cannot argue with people, they must have the opportunity to earn a living. Will they go out and support anybody in Newfoundland today fishing for food, recreational purposes, enjoyment or pleasure ahead of an opportunity for them to go out and commercially harvest fish I cannot imagine. I cannot place myself in the position of supporting that unless we know there are sufficient stocks there first.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. EFFORD: The hon. member makes a good point. He makes a good point. I am not going to argue. I intended to touch on that and was looking for the point.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. EFFORD: No, that is what I was going to say.

Mr. Speaker, there are facts here in this article that may or may not be accurate, but I am as concerned as any other member in this House. When people from my hon. colleagues district up in Seal Cove - Fortune Bay can sit on the wharf, in their kitchens, or look out over the garden fence and see people three miles off jigging cod in a French zone gives me a lot of reasons for concern. I also know, it is not, as quoted in this article, a decision by the federal minister. It is not, it is a decision that arose out of the Canada/France Agreement when the corridor was given to France to fish in that zone. They were approached by the federal government in the Canada/France discussions about Newfoundland's problem with the moratorium. France agreed not to have a commercial cod fishery but they have not paid any attention to the recreational or the food fishery.

AN HON. MEMBER: That food fishery just happening in their corridor, right?

MR. EFFORD: It is just happening in their corridor, that's right. Well, again I am not absolutely sure about it, but it is something that I am going to check out. The federal minister is also very concerned about it. How do you justify Newfoundlanders looking out their back door and watching other people jigging cod when they cannot? There is no wire fence going from the top of the water down to the bottom stopping fish from swimming around or saying these are French fish.

I understand that, and I think you have to be reasonable, logical and rational in trying to get people living in this Province, because like I said the other day in response to a petition presented, at a naval reunion last week I talked to an eighty-four year old veteran from Trinity Bay, who happened to be in my district, and he said: I went overseas and fought for the freedom and the right to live in this country and friends of mine died on the battlefield beside me, I'm eighty-four years old and they will not allow me to jig a codfish. I understand what the hon. member is saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: But we have never disagreed. What we have to be concerned with is: What are the stocks? How many fish are there? Then we come down to the basic question that arose today: If there is no fish there, and there is not enough fish for a commercial fishery, how can we say that the Quebec, or St. Pierre and Miquelon people should be able to go out and jig fish for recreational purposes?

I am not going to stand in the House of Assembly, as minister, and say I agree with it. I don't agree with it. If there are fish enough there for the people of St. Pierre and Miquelon, then there is enough for the people of Seal Cove. I have no argument with that - there is something wrong - but I, as minister, have to be concerned about the future of the fishery of Newfoundland when it comes to the commercial viability of those who need to work and earn a living from the fishing industry. That is first with me. I, personally, would love to be able to jig a fish. God, it kills me to go over the ground and look on my sounder and look at the fish down there and I can't put a jigger over, but I am a Newfoundlander too. The law says you cannot, and if I do then we all know the price you pay, whether you are minister or whether you are a civil servant. There were a number of people arrested in my district last week. There were people arrested last week, and boats confiscated because they were out jigging fish, but now two miles or three miles off shore here we are jigging fish; something is wrong.

I wanted to make that point, because in answer to questions in the House of Assembly you cannot really, logically, get to the whole issue. There is a concern here, and I am sure the federal minister is concerned.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: As I said, how accurate all of this is, I will have to take it at face value until I have the opportunity. I intend to do that, if not today, definitely before tomorrow afternoon, to get some answers as to why all of this is happening. I understand the pressure is on, and I understand people all over the Province are making a real issue out of this, and I understand people's traditional rights here in this Province. People want to jig a fish, people want to eat fish, but then people also want to work in the fishing industry.

To just hold up this again, Mr. Speaker, when we see all of those fish plants around the Island, that represents an awful lot of people unemployed. If every one of those plants represent 100 people, and we have 200 plants - 20,000, is that right? Two hundred times twenty equals 20,000 people. There are the number of fish plants in the Province.

Now, if we went up to Ontario and said those number of industries were going to be closed down in the Province of Ontario, you would have riots in the streets, but here is the reality.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: There would be riots.

Here is the reality of what is happening in Newfoundland. We do not really have a focus on the seriousness of the problem. We have made many, many mistakes. Look at what we caused to happen in this Province of ours, and still we are not willing to grasp it; still we are not ready to address the real problems. This is why every time there is a petition or comment made about the food fishery I look at this picture, and I look at all of the faces that could be working in all of these plants, and I say: Here I am, asked to support a recreational or a food fishery and I have 200 plants here in the Province representing 100 people each, 20,000, not now working. That is the real issue, and except for the crab how bad would it be?

It comes down to the question: Is there enough fish out there? Well, the answer is, we do not know for sure. We think there is not. Now, what really makes my job more difficult is this right here. I am saying I am supporting the federal minister in his decision. I am supporting him in his rationale and in his logic of not having a food fishery, and then they come on us with this. Now I am really concerned.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will get some answers, and I will deliver them as soon as possible, those answers for all the people on both sides of the House, because it is a real issue, and I will not support anything other than what is right for the best interest of the people living in Newfoundland and Labrador, regardless of who it upsets, and I think everybody knows me full well for that.

To touch on the other point about the new licences that people were expecting to be given out in the processing sector, there is a reasonable rationale and logic for more licences to be considered to be given out in the processing sector, but here is the principle under which I am going to operate as minister. Only those present licence holders in the underutilized species, or groundfish or whatever, who can demonstrate where they can operate a multi-species operation - a multi-species operation - in where there are now problems with employment in the fishing industry, can demonstrate to us a multi-species - which means long season employment. I can't say full, year-round employment, but the longest possible season. Only those people will I consider even giving any consideration to giving out another crab processing licence. But if they can demonstrate to me where the need is that this will be sustainable in the community, we will not be operating for six or eight or ten or twelve weeks, we will give maximum employment to the best of our ability with all the other species, only then will any consideration be given to expanding a licence.

Do we have a problem in the crab processing? We have many problems. Quality, number one; cartel, number two; controlled by too few, number three. Ten, twelve years ago we had a TAC of 12,000 tons. Today we have a TAC of 37,000 tons with the same number of processors. Something is wrong. There is no logic in it. I'm saying to the people of this Province, the fishermen: If you are going to go out there and catch crab, and you want to get the best possible price for it, when that crab comes out of the ocean handle it with care. Don't walk on it, don't put it down in the hold without ice, box it, handle it and control it. They have to do that. We are going to insist on it. When it gets into the processing the same thought and care has to be put into it.

Can we do anything about it? Yes. If they do not conform with the regulations of quality control and the maximum benefit we can lift the licence. Would I do it? Yes I would do it, regardless of who is the holder of those licences. If they do not start thinking of what is best for the industry, derive the maximum benefits for the best interest of all, for the long-term, the future, not just to grab a quick dollar, we will remove them out of the processing sector very quickly. We probably need to do that to set an example for the rest of the industry because people are not listening. Even to this day we have people out there who are not willing to conform with the proper icing, the boxing and handling of fish. Even to this day, as we are talking about losing 30 per cent to 40 per cent last year, multi-millions of dollars of crab being lost, multi-millions of dollars being lost on the price to individual people, and still they are not ready, still they argue: You are wrong by imposing new regulations about quality controls. Still the fishermen and the processors are arguing. But the time has come that someone has to say enough is enough. You want to stay in the industry, you follow these rules, or you are out of the industry.


MR. EFFORD: Greed? Quick dollar, greed, that is what it is all about. That caused the Province to have the mess that we have here, to have all those plants around the Island today not operating because of the manner in which there was no real interest put in for what is going to be best ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road. Short term. Members opposite just said, it, greed. Make my quick buck, who cares about the next guy, so I can get my bankbook and my bankroll. The end result is - instead of red and yellow there we should have black, doom. Because that is what has happened, caused by the moratorium.

We haven't really felt the hardship of people's lives. Just imagine if the crab fishery had not been there, or take it the next step, worse than that, if there had been no NCARP or TAGS program. Just imagine what the mess in this Province would have been. Luckily we got some dollars to support the people by - not very high - the high expectations that they would like to have working for themselves, but at least sustain them to a level where they could enjoy the basic needs of life.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to take up any more time of the House of Assembly. I wanted to get those points across because this goes beyond political talk back and forth in the House. It is a very serious issue. We are going to deal with it on a day-to-day basis.

I will just take one minute. There is another issue, shrimp. Now, there is a real problem in this Province. Last year in excess of $80 million worth of shrimp - never mind the Flemish Cap out in 3M - caught off the Labrador Coast. Except for FPI there was absolutely no processing in Newfoundland and Labrador whatsoever. Most of those vessels - and I will repeat because there is a little mix up in this report, I am quoted as saying foreign owned - most of those vessels are Canadianized. In other words, they now have Canadian citizenships. Where do the crews come from? They are now Canadians because they are Canadianized. Who's not working on most of those ships? Newfoundlanders. Who's not getting jobs in the processing? Newfoundlanders. It is being done somewhere else - $80 million and we have people in this Province not working. If it was happening anywhere else in this world there would be riots in the streets.

Mr. Speaker, it is time now that we took this problem, addressed it and we derived a maximum benefit for the people of this Province. What I am saying, as minister, is you cannot take away now from what companies have already signed up. Any increase in quotas whatsoever must go to Newfoundland fishermen with the caveat: if it is harvested on or off our shores it is processed by our people. No longer should we be supporting or putting up with this type of thing, $80 million going out of this Province and no benefits to Newfoundlanders.

We are worrying about if we got money, make work programs, if the new regulations of EI is going to be able to allow a person getting enough weeks of work how many man hours of work is lost in an instance like this? It is not only one year it is each and every year. Each and every year this is happening and most of the licenses are held by Nova Scotians. Let us go up to Nova Scotia and do the same thing. How long would you be on the wharf? Just long enough to put one foot there and you're gone.

Yes, it is, Mr. Speaker, it is very, very serious. So we have two or three major problems; return of the groundfish, a better control of the crab industry and definitely have more control on the shrimp harvesting in our shores. Will it happen? Yes it will, Mr. Speaker, because this government intends to make it happen for the best interest of the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have to rise and make some comment about what the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture just said. I agree with him in many instances. The reality is that that minister does not have the power that I wish he had because it comes down to the fact that we don't have the control over the resources that we need to have as a Province. We do not have it. We have control over the processing sector but we, as a people in this province, do not have control over what the total allowable catches are in any fishery, whether it be shrimp, crab, codfish, herring, sea urchins or whatever the case may be, that has ultimately been the problem.

In 1981, I remember as a student in university doing a project, it came up here and the then government of the day, under Peckford, called for a one year moratorium on the northern cod allowance and what happened? Processors in the industry went mad and said he was cracked. The government has gone off their rocker. There is no need for a moratorium in 1981 on the northern cod stock. Fishermen said the same thing, plant workers said the same thing and Richard Cashin, President of the Fisheries, Food and Allied Works Union of the day, said exactly the same thing. It is too bad we did not listen then. The real rape of the northern cod stock took place in the mid to late 1960s. When it was uncontrolled there were no total allowable catches. Vessels up flying under any flag, whether of convenience or country, whatever it was, could go up there and did go up there and raped, pillaged and plundered. Look at where we are today as a result of it.

The reality is, and as I said before, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Newfoundland and Labrador, no matter what side of government you sat on, no matter what year, whether it was ten years ago, today or ten years from now, unless we have the final say in what total allowable catches are - it is only then that we really can start matching the power in the minister's office through the minister on behalf of the people whom he or she represents, can we start matching decisions of processing and total allowable catches to ensure that we realize maximum benefits in terms of not only harvesting and secondary processing - that is where it has to be.

It is about being in control of our own house, in our own house all the time. We have been fortunate in the last four or five years, beginning with John Crosbie, then other Newfoundlander ministers such as Tobin, then Minister Tobin and now Minister Mifflin. I am not going to get into the details. I am trying to keep the discussion at this level. We have been fortunate that for the first time, in a string of years successively, that we have had a minister in the federal seat, as cabinet minister of fisheries, that is from the Province who has at least had some understanding, who has been more acutely aware then former ministers from BC, Ontario, New Brunswick who really had no understanding, no inkling or really any compassion for what the fishery meant to this Province.

The minister is also right when he says that we haven't seen yet what would happen if 20,000 people who lost their livelihood had no form of income, whether it be as high as they wished or not as high, we haven't seen it yet, but when that begins to disappear, we have trouble, and it is beginning to disappear. You see the federal bureaucrats at work in my mind when you see ideas floated out that there is really $300 million to $500 million not in the TAGS budget so we have to correct that problem.

The problem that must be corrected is the attitude in Ottawa - that is the problem that needs to be corrected. For years, successively, the fishery in this Province was used politically in the international game of give and take, in terms of the ability to get wheat into European markets and what did we do? We gave thousands upon thousands of metric tons away to ensure that the farmers on the western side of the country could get their wheat into the European markets; on whose back? on the backs of the people of this Province. But I want to say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I didn't want to delay the argument.

In terms of the food fishery, when we see an article come out today and see the information, where our tax dollars are being used to subsidize tour-boat operators in other Atlantic Provinces to say: Come and catch cod, we will show you where they are best to catch, what times of year they are best to catch, it infuriates me. It is two laws, two different forms of: yes, you will, if you live here you can catch cod, if you live here you can't; something is fundamentally not right about that and no member in this House can stand up and say there is.

When you go down off Point May, and I know the area well, three kilometres off and watch people catch cod, it is the same codfish that we are not allowed to catch, and that sort of activity is allowed to go on and continue, and you wonder why the members here or other members, or people in Newfoundland in general question and continue to question? None of us in this Legislature have a monopoly on what we believe to be right or a monopoly on our ability to impose what we think is right. This is a serious issue and should be taken seriously and Ottawa is not moving enough.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I will sit down, and thanks for the opportunity.

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

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

Of course, I want to continue with some remarks. I have started on the Resource debate and the different portfolios of Fishery, Forestry, Tourism, ITT, Mines and so on. But, Mr. Speaker, first of all, I have to make a few comments with respect to what I just heard the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture say. To be quite frank, I am glad to hear some of the things he is saying. I know, especially for the new members here, it is nothing new that I have been talking about the food fishery. I have been doing that for two-and-a-half years, since it first started and when it closed down, and what I am encouraged to hear the minister say today, is that he is also appalled that the story we heard today is, in fact, true.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I can only tell the minister and the hon. members, I did research it as much as I could; of course, he has more resources, and he can check it out, but as of what I know right now, off St. Pierre and Miquelon, they do have a food fishery this summer; not only that, Mr. Speaker, they have had it since the moratorium came in. People in St. Pierre Miquellon have had a food fishery since this moratorium started, and as the Member for Kilbride just said: Can you imagine the gall - I mean, every one of us should be infuriated with the whole idea, not only adding salt to the wound of my argument. Of course, maybe nobody does agree with the points I have been making on the food fishery for the past while but, Mr. Speaker - the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, you see, obviously, he doesn't keep in touch with people in his district or he is not talking to real Newfoundlanders, I don't know what his problem is, but he has missed the whole point. He sits next to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and then he throws a spanner into the works because the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has had an intelligent conversation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, first of all, the sentinel fishery, if you take the reports from different parts of the Province, there will be different readings on them. If you also listen to fishermen, and every now and then I think we should listen to fishermen or go and talk to people in rural Newfoundland, they will tell you different from that. They will tell you totally different from that, and I don't mean one or two fishermen, I mean hundreds of them. Just today, two men drove in all the way from Middle Arm in my district. They talked to men yesterday morning about fish in lump nets like they have never seen before and one, a 74-pound cod fish caught in a lump net. There are fish in the bays. And the argument has always been the same.

First of all, my point, number one, was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: The evidence is there, go out and sit down on the dock and they will show you the fish that people are catching in their lump nets and the fish they are seeing in the bay.

AN HON. MEMBER: We will send a dragger in for a day up around (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, you see now, Mr. Speaker, that just shows you how far out of touch the minister is with the fishery in rural Newfoundland. The minister said, if I got this right: `I will send in a dragger,' to see how much fish we got. That is the whole darned problem, they are sending in the draggers. Go back to the food fishery, and I keep saying in all sincerity. A food fishery means throwing a jigger over the boat and jigging up a fish. Then we made this big mountain out of a molehill. I am telling you that right now in this Province has never been a better time to open a food fishery for two practical, sensible, sincere reasons. One is so that people who are into hard times, and all members here admit to that, that there are families out in rural Newfoundland who are really finding it tough. Say if we opened it for two weeks, they could get thirty or forty fish, and that is thirty or forty meals. It makes sense for them to catch a fish to give their family, Mr. Speaker.

The second point I would like to make: right now, this Summer, if we came to our senses and allowed a food fishery, what a boost it would be to rural Newfoundland for people to be able to put their boats out, even if they go out and don't get one. I spoke to people the first time we tried this food fishery, who were not fishermen but they went out and because they didn't know where to go, they didn't get a fish, but they said they enjoyed being on the bay. Their friends were down visiting, tourists were coming in, and they liked to go out in the bay and jig a fish, but now what do we have? We have an eighty-five year old man down in Snooks Arm who fished all his life - and there are only five families who live in the community - and if he goes down with that jigger, gets in the boat and rows out 100 feet offshore, he is a criminal. It is just too far-fetched. I just can't believe it.

Then we look at PEI and New Brunswick and here it is in black and white. It is a fact that a federal agency, our Federal Government, our Canadian dollar, our tax dollar from Newfoundland is paying a company to print brochures to encourage people to come and fish in PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Just stop and think about it, Newfoundland tax dollars that we are paying federally every day are paying to have a brochure printed to encourage people to go to PEI, Nova Scotia, and Quebec to fish. We are the originator of fish in North America - Newfoundland. We are the first ones cut - the man who jigs a fish with a line. I can't think that anybody would believe that to jig a fish with a line is going to hurt the recovery stocks. It is just so foolish and irresponsible.

I say to the minister, who was out of the House but he is back in now I am glad to say, to make a point, and I am glad to see some light on it to be quite frank about it. The minister has more resources than I do, but I did call fisheries officers and External Affairs in Ottawa, and so on, and from what I gathered from the phone conversation, I say to the minister, and I know he is going to check it because he said he would, that he has told me - and I will give the name to the minister if he wants to speak to the official, that there is a food fishery in St. Pierre and Miquelon and it has never stopped. I say to the minister in the House today that I was appalled and could not believe it when I heard it. I have been upset enough that the other Atlantic Provinces have been going ahead with a food fishery, but when I heard this today, and just to try to visually picture people down on the Burin Peninsula who look out - where they often go to St. Pierre for their visits for other reasons, to look out and see a man jigging a fish. He can leave the Burin Peninsula and go across the water three miles and jig a fish. There is something principally wrong with that.

Now, if they are going to come in and shut down St. Pierre and if they are going to shut down PEI, and Nova Scotia, and say, no, there is a moratorium on, and we all have to do our share, there is danger in fishing the stocks, Mr. Speaker, I support it, I do not want a food fishery in Newfoundland, but as long as they have that food fishery open, I am not convinced.

I would like to ask the minister another thing, because he has the resources to do it, and I couldn't get a straight answer on it, but here is a point I want to make, and I ask him to look into it. There is no definite scientific research on bay stocks and biomasses, the reason why the offshore is closed down. Fishermen will tell you, and I know I use that a lot, but fishermen will tell you that in the inlets and in the bays there is a different stock. What it is, is a break-off from the main stock. They go in those bays and spawn and so on and the bays fill up with fish. It is not a biomass that go into the bays. The biomass stay in the proper places, but because of that, and the minister agrees, because of that I encourage a food fishery.

We are talking about break-off stocks that go into bays and inlets so the bays are filling up with fish, they really are. The best evidence and the best scientific research is to go out to Fleur de Lys, Ming's, or whatever place is in your own community, go out in the boat with the fishermen and ask them to show you where the stocks are. They said they can see them over the boat. We should really come to our senses for the two reasons just named, to give people a bit of help to feed their families, number one, and number two, it would really boost morale around rural Newfoundland this Summer, if nothing else, boost morale so that people will say, this is wonderful. It will take their minds off their problems for awhile even, and that alone would be a great boost.

God knows, we need a boost around this Province right now, and if this Premier or this minister can stand up in the next couple of weeks and say there is a limited food fishery, here are the criteria - which I am sure that we can sit down and work out with logical thoughts and mind - that there is a food fishery opened, I am going to tell you right now, would be a nice boost. It is not going to solve our problems. It would be a nice morale booster for people of rural Newfoundland, for tourists and so on but the main thing is that a Newfoundlander who has fished all of his life, does not have to look down at that water, in his boat, and feel like a criminal because he is going to sneak down and jig a fish. There is something wrong with that. So I would ask the minister to first of all confirm my story. Like I say, I have it from my sources and the minister has his own sources, that indeed you are allowed to fish for food in St. Pierre & Miquelon and that indeed there is a brochure going around Canada, paid for by us Newfoundlanders, to encourage people to go to other Atlantic Provinces and Quebec to fish for cod. Imagine, we are paying for it, it is incredible.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I also want to make mention of some of the points that the minister said and I do say it and I confer with my colleague from Kilbride that indeed we have to get back on the right track but I have no time for this thing the minister talks about: well here are the mistakes of the Tories for seventeen years - who cares? Then they bring up Sprung, I mean we have to get past that somewhere along the way. Sprung was wrong. It was wrong for Tories and it was wrong for Communists. I don't care what party it is, if it is wrong it is wrong. The same thing with the crab plants, if that's wrong it is wrong. I am not going to go around lugging baggage belonging to some Tory Party that was elected seventeen years ago. I don't really care. I was twelve years old, who cares? I wasn't thinking about it then. I am not going to be attached to a Tory Party that fooled up the crab industry. He is right, the minister is right, it was greed. It was like the cookie jar, a child will keep going to the cookie jar unless his parents stop him and they manage in the House. The same thing happened to the crab industry, everybody saw the gold in front of them. Just go to it boys, open it up, do what you can. It was wrong. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. We have to get on the right track for it. So he is on the right path with that.

The shrimp industry, now that is really one that I think every single member of this House supports the minister in doing whatever he can with it. It was a $100 million industry last year in Newfoundland, apparently and 80 per cent of that or 90 per cent, I don't remember the factor but it was an astounding number. The profits all went outside of Newfoundland, incredible. We have been watching that go out for years. So yes, the minister is on the right track, in the professionalization and so on but we have to maintain it because we don't have the luxury, Mr. Speaker, any more. If we make the same mistakes quickly we will collapse much faster. We have gone for 500 years and we are going to celebrate our 500th birthday next year. We have gone for 500 years and it slowly crept up on us. The whole collapse of the fisheries slowly crept up on us over the years and we are just starting to rebound on it now and realize our mistakes. You learn from your mistakes and then you go on but, Mr. Speaker, the caution is to the minister and he knows it, we have discussed it, that the proper steps have to be implemented now and put in black and white so people will follow them. It is no good having regulations if we don't enforce and follow them. They are as useless as the paper they are written on, Mr. Speaker. So the minister has a golden opportunity, as I see it, as the new Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, to put in place measures for management that will never see this happen again because if he does not, it won't be another 500 years that we will see an entire collapse, it will be two, three or four years. That is what will happen, Mr. Speaker.

So on the argument on the food fishery, this has just added salt to the wound today, to realize that we sit on this island and Labrador, and see a foreign country just off our shores avail of a fishery that we were deprived of in the history of this Province, what we are all about, why we came here, why we are celebrating next year with John Cabot, that is the reason we came here. It is hard to believe that we sit here today and a foreign country, just miles off our shore, are allowed to avail of something that brought us here and we are not, that really, really bothers me, Mr. Speaker. It is a principle of the whole issue. It is right there in front of us. It is discrimination against our own people that lived off this. Always keep in mind when you try to - if you do think about the issue, keep in mind always - not the processor or even the young fellow that wants to go out and jig a fish - just keep in mind this sixty, seventy and eighty year old man that fished all of his life in Newfoundland, who lives out in a quiet rural community now, on a sunny Saturday morning, and these old skippers are usually up 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., like they did all of their lives, and worked hard, they look out at that bay, and just to have that pleasure, that feeling again. It was like their whole heart was ripped out when this fishery was closed down. It would be a tremendous morale booster.

I wouldn't doubt if a lot of these old skippers would not go out much. Maybe they might go out one day or two days, maybe a couple of days if it is open for two or three weeks, but knowing that he could do it without being charged as a criminal.

A man in my district, one of the first people arrested there about a year-and-a-half ago, another man who fished for thirty-odd years, he came out of the courtroom, picked up his head, looked at everybody and said: You know, I used to be a fisherman; now I'm a criminal - just like that, because of a law, with nine fish in his boat. That is what he was arrested for, nine fish, imagine.

Mr. Speaker, I think we should really review our thoughts on this issue. I said to the members earlier - and I wish I had enough money to do a poll on it - I don't even know if a majority of the people in my district, as I stand here today, support a food fishery. I don't know that. Maybe 80 per cent are against what I am saying, but I am supporting a principle - maybe it is a minority - a principle that I will support to the end.

I remind the now Premier, the former Minister of Fisheries - of course, the Minister of Fisheries reminded me today that they are not the federal government; they make the decisions. Well, Mr. Speaker, if your own government, your own federal minister, and your own provincial minister, and your own Premier are not supporting you, where do you start? How do you get started anywhere if your own government is not supporting you on a principle like this?

Yes, I realize it is a federal decision, but the provincial minister here - and I am hoping that the few points I just raised with the provincial minister, if he looks at the research on the bay stocks, and also investigates this situation with St. Pierre & Miquelon, I hope he is going to change his mind and say: Yes, if those fisheries are allowed to happen in Atlantic Canada, and St. Pierre & Miquelon, then I think Newfoundland should have one. If he says: No, St. Pierre & Miquelon, you cannot fish, and P.E.I., and so on, then fair enough; I don't support a food fishery either. All I am saying is, be fair to everybody. Follow with a little principle.

Mr. Speaker, there is nobody more sure in saying what I am about to say: If I thought for one minute, or the minister can show me, or somebody, that this small food fishery - and that is what we have to keep in mind; it is not a commercial fishery - the small bit of fish that is going to be caught by a food fishery, was going to hurt the recovering stocks and damage some recovery that we were about to make, I would not support it; I would never stand in this House again and support a petition on it. I would never do it. I don't believe they will, I believe it is a small bit of fish, it will boost people's morale and give somebody a bit of food to eat. So, Mr. Speaker, I will leave with that issue but I am glad to hear the minister's remarks today and that he is going to look into some research on this and follow it up; and maybe, even change his mind. Now, that's a thing for the politics of the 90s, isn't it? To be able, after going one way on one issue to keep hearing information flow, keep listening to what people are saying and stand up and say: yes, I have reconsidered it, the points are there, I can support it. That's a strong politician to me, Mr. Speaker, that's what I think the politics of the 90s are all about.

No matter what issue you were on, on whatever side, if you keep taking information coming in, surely, we do it in our everyday lives. You might have thought one thing one way when you were a child or when you were younger, but as you grew and matured and learned more things about it you changed your mind about it. There is nothing wrong with that, and I would be the first one to stand up and commend the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Premier, if he had the gall and the gumption to stand and say: yes, we should reconsider this. People in this Province should be able to go out and jig a fish.

So, Mr. Speaker, I stand strong on that, and today I was really and sincerely infuriated when I saw that release about our tax dollars paying to promote cod fishing in Quebec, PEI and so on, in a booklet and at the same time, here is St. Pierre & Miquelon down there jigging fish just off our shore. It is a dreary day in this Province, Mr. Speaker, when we have to stoop to that level, to discriminate against our own people, I mean, that is the real shame here.

Now, Mr. Speaker, he also spoke about, and I didn't like this comment today to be quite frank about it, when, in Question Period, when the minister said: why, he never talks about the seals. Mr. Speaker, if you get the Hansards from the last two-and-a-half years in this House, and I am sure many members have heard me talk about seals and how much fish they are eating, how many times have I said: You know how many fish seals eat in a day?

AN HON. MEMBER: Not once.

MR. SHELLEY: A thousand times I say to the member. How many time have I made this quote, and I will even quote it again. I said: Do you realize that the food fishery is not even half of what a seal eats in one day? That is what I have said over and over and over and the member knows it too. So, Mr. Speaker, that is an issue that is going to come to the forefront; the House will close and time will go on but it will come out again. It is a principle issue that government members are going to have to stand on in their districts before it is all over, I can assure you of that.

Mr. Speaker, on another -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: A thousand, maybe.

Now, Mr. Speaker, another issue I would like to raise here now and of course in the resource debate and of course, I have been following it for the last two-and-a-half years and it is a tough one, it is the forestry sector, Mr. Speaker, forestry and the Member for Humber East knows all about. I have said it so many times before in this House and the problem we have with it, and I say to the Member for Humber East: I have had this problem and maybe, you can help me. It seems like the forest issues are always put on the back burner and the media does not grab it because it is not exciting, nothing is closed down yet.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, we are that close I believe to crises proportions with the forest industry in this Province. Just today, Mr. Speaker, we had a meeting in my District of Baie Verte, fifty-six men will not work this year who worked for the last fourteen - because they are bringing in harvesters to do the work instead and ten people are going to work.

Mr. Speaker, I am telling you, it is coming. They barred off the roads on the Baie Verte Peninsula today. They said: That's it. They drove in last night, drove all night, and they were here this morning. I am telling you, what I have been saying in this House for the last two-and-a-half years I will say again: Our forestry industry is heading the same path as our fishing industry if we do not make some drastic moves to change it. I have said it to the Minister of Forestry now, and I have said it to the previous one; the whole analogy is incredible. The analogy is incredible when you talk about the fishery and the forestry. We have used the technology and what is it again, greed? You see the statistics on forestry. We have, I think, 60 per cent less people working in the forest industry in the last twenty years, but more trees being taken out. So the number of people working in the industry has declined dramatically; the number of trees has increased. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that there are more people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out; it is simple logic, and the statistics prove it - they are in front of every single one of us, if anybody wants to look it up - that there is a tremendous decrease in the number of people working in the forest industry, but the companies are making more profits and there are more trees being cut, but less people. What is happening there? They are squeezing out the loggers, the sawmill operators, more profit, more harvesters, and the forest - well, look at the result, the end result. Go into the woods.

I know a lot of the members here on both sides of the House travel in the woods in the wintertime and the summertime. We don't need an expert to come down from Ottawa to go in the woods and tell us what the problem is. Take your skidoo; go for half an hour and you will see the devastation in our forest industry, and what a shame it is.

Yes, we planted the one millionth tree seedling a little while ago, but there is a lot more to it than that. We are harvesting at a capacity that is not sustainable, simply put. It is not sustainable, and it is going to be a real, real shame - and I have said this 1,000 times, as the forestry critic - it is going to be a real shame for a Minister of Forestry - maybe this minister, maybe the next Minister of Forestry - to stand in this House with an announcement that one of us will have to respond and say: Mr. Speaker, today we are announcing a moratorium in the forest industry. That is what is going to happen.

You talk about an analogy; you know right now where we can't go out and jig a fish to eat, they are going to stand up and say: I am sorry, but you cannot cut a junk of wood for your fire. You are going to have to use oil or electricity. That is where we are headed. And I have used this story before of the four men sitting around a table, black-and-white film clip from the archives, from Jim Furlong. I always remember seeing that story of the four gentlemen sitting around the day before the vote in 1949. It was a film clip. I should try to find it again. Four gentlemen sitting around.

The older gentleman saying: No way, I'm not voting for Confederation, and of course the three younger ones who were in about their thirties or forties were saying: Yes, we have to vote for Confederation, boy, that is what is going to save us. The old man was sitting there; No, I'm not voting for Confederation, I'm voting against it tomorrow. They asked; Why? The old-timer said: If you vote for Confederation you will see a day in this Province where you won't be able to go out and jig a fish to eat. Of course the three younger men laughed at him. They said: Don't be ridiculous, it will never get that bad. There is plenty of fish and everybody is making a living off it. That is what brought us here. You will never see that day.

Time after time I ask myself; Did that old skipper really know what was coming down? Did he see a resource that was going to be mismanaged? That is why I talk about the forest industry, because I tell you, the forest industry has a long proud history in this Province too. A lot of times the people talk about the fishery. Yes, it is the backbone of this Province, but I'm going to tell you, there is a long proud history of forestry. The number of people who work in the logging industry, the sawmill industry in this Province, who feel all governments, all parties, over the last twenty years, have put the forest industry to the back burner. They are afraid of it. The same thing is happening now.

Of course you go talk to an old-time logger. He will say: Boy, I'm telling you what, we are heading in the wrong direction, there is going to be trouble. Look five and ten years ago, the fishermen, said the same thing: Now boys, if we don't slack back, if we don't get a management plan in place, we are going to have to close down that fishery. What did the scientists say out of Ottawa, what did the former Minister of Fisheries say at one time?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That is right. Mr. Speaker, we all stood on the soap boxes and said; We have to take control of the fishery or it is going to be too late. The analogy of the forestry is the same way, but we have a couple of things to remember. First of all, if we do have a moratorium in the forestry it takes forty to fifty years for a tree to grow. We are hoping that we are going to return to a commercial fishery in, who knows, four or five years. But that is fifteen to twenty years. If the forestry goes down it is gone for forty to fifty years, maybe forever. That is the problem. Yes, they regrow, but it takes a long time to grow a tree. It doesn't take so long to grow a fish.

It is a legitimate point. If we do close down the forest industry we are going to have to wait for a long time. Of course, we have an advantage in the forest industry over the fishery. Two advantages, as a matter of fact. First of all, we control the forest industry totally. We control it. We control the management plan of forestry here in this Province, and as far as the scientific research goes, trees don't swim around, they stay in one place. We can count the trees, we know how many are there, and it is only a small land mass, really in comparison, relative to it.

I say to the Member for Humber East - by the way, I say that in jest, because when I first made that point, made the analogy to the fishery, the then Minister of Forestry, now the Member for Windsor-Springdale, after my explaining for about twenty minutes the comparison between the fishery and forestry, stood up and said, well, all I know is that trees don't swim.

MR. MERCER: What a bright boy!

MR. SHELLEY: Now, that was the remark made by the Minister of Forest Resources and Lands. There were no rocket scientists there, Mr. Speaker, I can guarantee you. That was the response I got, I say to the Member for Humber East. That was the response from our Minister of Forest Resources and Lands. The Member for Humber East, I think, draws from my comparison of the fishery and forestry. Many people say it, that the comparison in forestry and the fishery are very, very similar. We used the advanced technology, just like the draggers we have the harvesters, and we have the same thing, big companies coming in trying to get fewer people working and use more machinery - the fishery and forestry, the same thing.

Mr. Speaker, we have to start asking some very serious questions in the forest industry. Yes, we need Kruger, and yes, we need Abitibi, and so on. I have no problem with that, Mr. Speaker. We need profitable big corporations, sure, like anybody does, but there is a balance and there is a fine line. We encourage Kruger and we want them to make profits, and that is why they are here. They are not here to be nice to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and Abitibi, the same thing.

Mr. Speaker, I commend them for being here in this Province and operating, but sound management planning and balance are needed to make sure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians not only get their share of profits from our resource but that they work at our resource; not bring in technology that is going to move them out of a job and at the same time kill the industry. That is what we are seeing, Mr. Speaker, and it is heading in the same path and it is scary. I can say to all members, like I said to the Member for Humber East, we have put it off. Oh, there is nothing really happening yet, the media don't jump on it, we are just talking about loggers and that, but wait until they close down the forest industry, wait until we see trucks across the road. Then we will make a big news story of it, and that is the real shame of it, that we don't act on it immediately, do something about it.

I am glad to see the Minister of Forest Resources and Lands come back in the House because I am sure he would be very interested in the points I was making and he would agree with me one hundred per cent on everything I said. I know that the Minister of Forest Resources and Lands would agree with everything I said so far, so maybe I should repeat it all again. It only took twenty-five minutes, didn't it?

AN HON. MEMBER: You have twenty-six minutes gone now.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, with respect to forestry, it is a tough one, I say to the Member for Humber East, and I know he is very interested in the forestry industry. I know he has followed it very closely, Mr. Speaker, but it is a really tough, tough job to get a forestry issue on, to get up - and if you ask a question on it, they blow it off. You might see it in the last page of the paper, because it is not a crisis, it is not in front of them now. Well, Mr. Speaker, as of today - and the minister knows because we just had a meeting with some of them this morning, loggers and sawmill operators and so on - barred-off roads on the Baie Verte Peninsula, and they said: Enough is enough. Fifty-six men could possibly be out of work this year while harvesters move in.

We have to make the point, Mr. Speaker, as a Province and as a government, to stand and say we have to review this whole mess. I know the minister agrees with me.

MR. TULK: About what?

MR. SHELLEY: We are talking about forestry now and the harvesters and taking away the jobs and so on. We know it is a problem and the minister - we had a quite sincere meeting today with loggers from my area. He knows how they feel.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I say it as a compliment, by the way. First of all, as a recognition, that is what the minister's job is. It is incumbent on him to recognize the problem. If you have a problem with alcoholism, drugs or anything, Mr. Speaker, the first thing in curing that is to recognize it and then you do something about it. So, Mr. Speaker, the first step for the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods is to recognize it, realize the seriousness of it and to act upon it so that we can do something about it, so that this minister can send a message and this government can send a message to all those loggers and sawmill operators out there: that you have a place in the forest industry. That is the message that the minister has to send, that is the message the government has to send, that you sawmill operators who supply so many jobs in this Province and you loggers who do the hard labour work in the forest industry, you deserve a place in this industry. It is a great industry, it is a long proud history and they deserve to have confidence in the government saying: we are going to make sure we do everything possible so that sawmill operators, loggers have a place in the prosperous, long proud history of forest industry in this Province. That is what we have to send. That is the message and that is the challenge for the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods and the government. It is at a critical point, I say to the minister in all sincerity, and I talked to the men the other day and again today - he knows it. Big investments, Mr. Speaker, they worked all of their lives in the logging industry and they are seeing the machines come in and just push them out. We all know, in the sawmill industry in particular how many jobs - that is labour, that is numbers of people working. Those are the real jobs in the forest industry, Mr. Speaker, that allowed us to survive, and the analogy to the fishery could not be better in that situation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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


MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The point on the forestry, that is where the real jobs are, in the forest industry, Mr. Speaker, the manual labour, that manual job where you go out and cut the tree down yourself, and you do the work yourself. I worked in the forestry industry, I tell the minister. I worked cutting logs in Labrador for awhile, in the Smokey Mountain area. I was up there for a few years, and I can tell you that these people worked long and hard, and they are very proud of what they do, and they are right now scared, scared of the future. They see the same thing happening to them as what happened to the fishermen. Like I said, the man who used the hand line, well, it is the same thing as the logger who used the chain-saw, or the bucksaw, if you want to go back that far, if you want to talk about real workers, the people who really toiled in the forest industry.

That is the challenge of the government, and we need now more than ever to send out a strong signal to the companies, Kruger and Abitibi, and also send a signal of hope to the people in the industry who have been there for so many years, that: Yes, we are aware of the situation; yes, we are going to do something about it, much to the same effect that the Minister of Fisheries stood up today and recognized the problems. He stated them, and he said: We have to show that we are going to move in the right direction. That is what he did. He said: We are going to make sure we move in the right direction.

Mr. Speaker, it remains to be seen. Like I said, if, two years from now, we can look over at the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Forestry and say: Yes, you said you were going to move in the right direction. You have put some good things in place, you have implemented a good plan, we will stand up and applaud. I would stand up and applaud; that is what I would do. I will tell the minister that.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: It is in Hansard here now. If I can turn to the Minister of Forestry in two years and say: The jobs are back on the Baie Verte Peninsula -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: There are men down on the Baie Verte Peninsula now who say that they want to see a plan in place; they want to be assured that they are going to be working in the forest industry on the Baie Verte Peninsula. Now, I say the Baie Verte Peninsula. Of course, that is indicative of the entire Province, whoever avails of the forest industry; that is what I am talking about. I just use that as a specific example.

The minister has a golden opportunity set in motion, the proper management plan, so that we don't hit that crisis, and so that he doesn't stand up and make that infamous announcement some day here in this House of Assembly that we have to close down the forest industry. That is what I am saying, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have to lean in that direction and go forth from that. That is the point I want to make on the forest industry. I have some more remarks on mining and tourism in a few minutes, but I will leave it to one of my colleagues to make a few more remarks.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


June 10, 1996            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLIII  No. 25A

[Continuation of Sitting]

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again on the resource committee debate and I am proud to do so.

Just to start off, one of the items I neglected to mention the first time I was up was the Bull Arm site. Now, this is a world-class facility, probably the only one like it in the whole world actually, and it is a fascinating facility. We have some Newfoundlanders and Labradorians trained and working in this facility and no other people in the world can do what they do. It is unfortunate, however, that some of the work that was done in Marystown and indeed, on the Bull Arm site, had to be sent out when our own people could have done this work, completed it and boasted to the world -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Oh, thank you, I am.

They could have boasted to the world that they had this expertise that nobody else in the world had. They could have sold this technology to the world and yet we had to cut them short and send some of the work to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and what have you. When the topsides came in from Korea and Italy we had to put our men to work to repair the faults in it. So we could have done this work right here in Newfoundland and been able to boast to the world that we had the technology to do what most of the countries in the world could not do. We spoiled it because we had to send this technology out to other countries and other parts of Canada even, so this is shameful. We should be ashamed of ourselves for doing such a thing.

To get back to my point on the Bull Arm site, this site is a world-class facility. Within a matter of a year or two the Hibernia project is going to be completed, they will be out drilling and we will hopefully be gearing up for the Terra Nova project. But this facility is not geared towards the Terra Nova project; two different structures are being built. So we have to try to market this facility now to the rest of the world. We have to try to bring some other industry into the Bull Arm site and make good use of this. It is a facility that surpasses any other facility in the world, I am sure. If we cannot make use of this facility again we have a resource that will just go to waste. The technology and the people that we have trained to work in such a facility, that will go to waste. It would be shameful if we were to lose that.

Hopefully, with the Terra Nova well coming on stream we can again develop technology, train our people and put them to work on the Terra Nova project. If we can do that and keep the work here in our Province, as opposed to sending it off to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and so on - hopefully, we can train our people so that we can start selling this technology as well to the rest of the world.

AN HON. MEMBER: An excellent idea.

MR. OSBORNE: It is an excellent idea. We can start to be the world leader in offshore oil production, training for offshore oil production and the production of the facilities for the offshore oil drilling. So I think we have to put some serious concentration in now to make sure that we take full advantage of the potential of the Terra Nova well. Because we lost out on the Hibernia project, and other provinces and other countries picked up in the areas in which we lagged and fell behind. We had the technology, we could have done what was necessary to be done on the Hibernia project - so it is a real shame.

As well, with the Voisey's Bay spin-off, there are a lot of jobs, there is going to be a lot of technology required in our Province, and if we develop the courses and the training for these projects we can put our men to work here at Voisey's Bay and keep them employed here. And once the technical side of the project is completed we can sell that technology to the world. Right now, Inco has one of the largest nickel finds in Sudbury. Well, the Voisey's Bay find is much larger than the Sudbury find, and if we can master the technology here in Voisey's Bay - it is known as the largest nickel find in the world - we can start selling that technology to the world. We will have the expertise here in our own people to sell that technology to the world, and Newfoundland can be a leader in nickel mining as well as other types of mining and so on.

We have to take advantage of that and we have to make sure that the smelter stays here. I know that there are some Asian and European countries now trying to get the smelter and refinery for Voisey's Bay in their countries. We have to make sure that we keep that facility here in Newfoundland and Labrador, and again, take advantage of the training and technology that it would bring to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our greatest resource here is our people. We might think that it is mining or we might think that it was the fishery or the oil industry, but it is the people, and we are losing the resource because some of our well-qualified and capable young people are moving away to find employment elsewhere. If we can keep the technology side of Terra Nova, Voisey's Bay and so on here in Newfoundland, then we have something to sell to the rest of the world. Instead of -

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, he is actually reading his speech. Are you reading your speech?

MR. OSBORNE: Am I reading my speech? Do you want to read the speech? Come over on this side.

MR. EFFORD: No, you shouldn't read it. Oh my god, I wouldn't be caught over there.

MR. OSBORNE: I know you wouldn't. We wouldn't have you here.

MR. H. HODDER: We don't want him. He is damaged goods.

MR. OSBORNE: That is a fact, damaged goods, a tarnished reputation over there. One of these days now when we are over on that side of the House you will only wish you were back there.

MR. TULK: Your hair will be back by that time.

MR. OSBORNE: My hair will be black?

MR. TULK: It will be back!

MR. OSBORNE: Oh, it will be back. Well, `Beaton', that is only a couple of more years.

Anyhow, the Marystown facility, as well. There were great promises during the election of natural gas conversion.

MR. EFFORD: Seventy-five billion (inaudible) worth of fresh fish to keep the plants open.

MR. OSBORNE: Yes. There were great promises during the election, for a natural gas conversion at Marystown. When are we going to hear a Ministerial Statement giving us this great news? We will hope it is soon. I would say that was a promise that died on the election shelf. I mean, that is another technology. During the election, the Liberal Red Book and the rhetoric - they promised, on the Marystown natural gas conversion: We are going to have it and we are going to be selling this technology to the world. I would love to see it! I would be the first one to commend the Premier and his colleagues if we could get that here in our Province - a great source of employment. I haven't heard tell of that since the election - that was the last time we heard it.

Now, to go on - interprovincial trade and the tax harmonization. With the new tax harmonization now, I am wondering how that is going to affect interprovincial trade. The trade barriers will probably be eliminated and you will see industries like Molson's and Labatt's that are brewing here, only to mention a couple of them, but you will see industries move off to the mainland because there are no trade barriers left. That will be more Newfoundlanders out of work. That is one of the areas with this tax harmonization now that probably hasn't been studied well enough. We are going to lose more industries. We are just going basically to ask them to leave the Province because it is more economically viable to operate out of Halifax. When these breweries here are employing several people and they are just going to leave, because we haven't ironed out the tax harmonization and interprovincial trade to the point that it should be. I hope that the Premier and his colleagues are going to make sure, with the tax harmonization and interprovincial trade, that we don't lose industries such as the breweries, and Browning Harvey, and that type of thing.

To get into another aspect - a matter I brought up a couple of months ago was that of St. John's harbour, and the clean-up of the St. John's harbour. I know that St. John's harbour, ACAP, met last weekend and are still concerned about the harbour. We were promised by the Minister of Environment and Labour that he would look into cleaning up the harbour, and we haven't heard anything on that since. Hopefully, he will be coming to us with a Ministerial Statement one of these days -

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. OSBORNE: How much what?

AN HON. MEMBER: To clean up the harbour.

MR. OSBORNE: How much to clean up the harbour? I think it is $120 million, they are saying, for a sewage treatment plant.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right; now, what about (inaudible)?

MR. OSBORNE: Well, it has to start somewhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Well, if you don't start putting money aside for it now... We have to start somewhere to put money aside for it, I say to the hon. member. We have to start somewhere to put money aside for this. If we never, ever, put money aside for it, if we keep saying we will put it aside when we can afford to, we will never have it. We have to start today to put money aside for the harbour clean-up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) start yesterday.

MR. OSBORNE: We should have started yesterday; we should have started ten years ago, but it is too late to talk about that now. Let's start talking about cleaning it up today, putting money aside right now.

The St. John's harbour is another area for potential tourism, and it is disgusting to see what is floating around the harbour. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We should have the harbour cleaned up. Put a plan in place now to clean up the harbour, instead of waiting for ten or fifteen years.

On the topic of clean-up, the Waterford River will not cost nearly what it is going to cost to clean up St. John's Harbour, but the Waterford River is a constant source of pollution in the St. John's harbour, and that is probably a good place to start. Clean up the Waterford River and beautify it, and make it a place that we can be proud of, instead of having raw sewer running into the Waterford River every day. It is disgusting the way we are treating our natural waterways and so on. If we could clean up the Waterford River as a start, and make that a mandate over the next couple of years, then that would be a great start to cleaning up the St. John's harbour.

On the story now of the St. John's harbour and so on, you look at Fort Amherst. As I mentioned to the Minister of Tourism during the talks we had on the Resource Committee for tourism, Fort Amherst has been left idle. Now, I know it is a federal facility - it is a federal historic site - but we, as a Provincial Government, should take the initiative in getting the Federal Government to start caring for that facility. That is a tourism destination, and it is one that has been left idle and just left to rot away over the past twenty or twenty-five years,to the point that if we don't start to do something about it soon, and repair it and put it back to a good state of repair, that is going to be a historic site that we are going to lose. It will be gone; we will never get it back again.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I know that the hon. the Government House Leader is not overly concerned about tourism, but I don't think it is that funny. We should take serious steps towards refurbishing the Fort Amherst historic site.

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible) the St. John's harbour. The Minister of the Environment told him that two months ago.

MR. OSBORNE: Well, what has he done about it?

MR. H. HODDER: If the Member for Topsail wants to speak, we will humour him.

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, that is a fact. If the Member for Topsail wants to speak, we will give him time. We will give you time. Stand up. Instead of bellowing something across the floor, stand up; I will give you some time.

Talking about tourism, you go into the provincial parks: over the past year, they implemented putting showers and so on into the provincial parks - it's starting anyway, which is a good sign. Because, if we are going to bring tourism into our Province, the way we say we are going to market it, and all facets of tourism, then we want our provincial parks to be of national quality. So I think it is a good thing that, over the past year, we started looking at putting shower facilities into the provincial parks. Up to that point, I think it was only Terra Nova Park probably that had shower facilities and an area where campers could go in and shower and freshen up and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the ferry rates.

MR. OSBORNE: Going from there into the Gulf ferry rates: that is another area now of great concern.

We are marketing our tourism and asking people from all across North America to come and experience Newfoundland, the great hospitality, the scenery and so on; yet, we are making sure that the Gulf ferry rates are gone to the point where the only way it is feasible for them to come here is to take a plane. It is soon going to be more expensive to take the ferry than to come in by plane. I realize that the Gulf ferries are run federally but I am sure we can take some initiative to make sure that, as a link to the Trans-Canada Highway, we can look at the Gulf ferry rates and maybe, lobby the Federal Government to keep them reasonable. I mean, the cost of taking the Gulf ferry now to go from Newfoundland to North Sydney is astronomical. it is becoming beyond reach.

Cape Spear, another area now within my district, is a national historic park. The funny thing about Newfoundland - we talk about creating employment. A gentleman who lives in my district, two years ago, set up a mobile chip van close to the Cape Spear historic site and they drove him out of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good point.

MR. OSBORNE: That is a fact, they drove him out of it; he is not allowed to operate a chip van. Now, there are no other restaurants out there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: No, there is more than that, almost 300,000 visitors went to Cape Spear last year - 300,000 visitors and there is no where out there for them to eat.

AN HON. MEMBER: Keep your numbers straight now (inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Can you tell me? I know what it is. Can you tell me? I ask the Member for Topsail. Because if you can't offer any logical information, well -

Almost 300,000 people visited Cape Spear last year, and there are no facilities out there for dining. A Newfoundlander took the initiative to set up a mobile chip van, out near Cape Spear and they drove him out of it. He employed five people; he brought up picnic tables, garbage containers and kept the area well manicured and groomed so that people would feel good about stopping there for a bite to eat, and what happened? They drove him out of it; he wasn't allowed to set up there.

Now, those were five jobs, where we said: `I am sorry' - because of a silly regulation - `you are not allowed to set up here. Yes, we would love to create employment but we are not going to let you set up here.' It is crazy. We talk about creating employment and that's the first thing - we create enough red tape, that is the only employment we create. The people put in place to create bureaucracy, to keep people from seeking gainful employment and starting their own businesses. It is unbelievable.

Another area I would like to touch on is the tax on mining companies. I mentioned earlier the EDGE legislation and so on, but one of the areas where Newfoundland is probably going to miss the boat, if we don't take care, is the mining companies setting up in Labrador and the way we tax the mining companies, or put taxes on the minerals coming out of the ground. We have to make sure we get our full and fair share of the minerals coming out of Voisey's Bay for every Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

While it is great to see initiatives such as EDGE and the EDGE program working, I don't know if we should extend it so far as to include mining companies and resource companies, companies that come in from the mainland and take the resources, make great profits and by the time their EDGE grants are just about up, so are they - they are gone.

MR. EFFORD: They are taking it out of the ground until it is all gone.

MR. OSBORNE: They take it out off the ground until it is all gone.


MR. OSBORNE: What do you propose we are going to put in the ground?

MR. EFFORD: Well, that is a good question.

MR. OSBORNE: That is a good question. You raised it - I would like an answer.

MR. EFFORD: They are laughing at us down South.

MR. OSBORNE: That's a fact.

Now, the Labrador forestry is another area, and forestry in general. You get the pulp and paper companies taking trees and I see very little initiative on the Provincial Government's behalf to make sure there are proper seedlings put back. As my colleague mentioned earlier, if we don't start taking care of our forest resources and putting seedlings back, and making sure it is looked after, we will lose that resource as we did the fishery.

I hear the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture quibbling over something over there; I don't know what it is exactly. He is probably praying - praying I will sit down. Well, I am not ready to sit down yet.

I think we should start putting seedlings back to replace the trees we are cutting down for our pulp and paper industries, and make sure that it is government-implemented, that there is a proper number of seedlings put back to replace the trees that are cut down. The forestry is a renewable resource but it is only renewable as long as we look after it and take care it, so we have to start looking after our renewable resources.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was quibbling there a minute ago about the phase-out of TAGS. I don't know what they are going to do with our poor Minister of Social Services, but as these people come off TAGS, and if we don't generate enough employment to keep these people working, then they are going to have to resort to social assistance. What a drain on the government economy, I say! I don't know what we are going to do with all these people coming off TAGS. Maybe the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has some ideas for those people.

Fish licensing fees are another thing, and not only fish licensing fees but the cost of any license. The cost of going out to catch a moose or something like that, those fees have gone up. The cost of everything has gone up. It was an no increase in taxes Budget but they increased everything. They said there was no increase in taxes but they increased licenses, they cut out school buses, they cut out colleges. Holy smokes!

I ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture what we are going to do with the sealing industry?

MR. EFFORD: What am I going to do with you? is the question.

MR. OSBORNE: Now, if you could harvest a few more like me! What are you going to do with the sealing industry? The seals eat half or more than half the cod that are out there.

MR. TULK: It is too bad you don't go the way of the Great Awk!

MR. OSBORNE: Is that right?

MR. TULK: Extinction.

MR. OSBORNE: I will go the way of the Great Awk. I wonder.


MR. OSBORNE: The economic zones.

MR. EFFORD: You `townies' stick together (inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: That is a fact.

MR. EFFORD: Do you have your notes?

MR. OSBORNE: You have some over there? I'm just about run out now. If you can bring some over I would appreciate it. Is that right? He took up a petition for the fishermen?

MR. FITZGERALD: Send over your petition.

MR. OSBORNE: Bring them over! The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture mentioned earlier the shrimp industry here, I mean, a fantastic shrimp industry, but FPI was the only processor to process shrimp.

MR. EFFORD: I doubt if you would get the gunboat (inaudible) shrimp.

MR. FITZGERALD: It is all tied in together.

MR. OSBORNE: It is all tied in together. It is all fisheries. Can't you figure that out? You are the fisheries minister. It is all tied in together. The shrimp fishery here, I mean, we aren't processing - only, what? 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the shrimp that was caught here last year was processed. Only 10 per cent or 20 per cent maybe of the shrimp that was caught here last year was processed, 5 per cent. That is ridiculous! The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture should be ashamed of himself.

AN HON. MEMBER: What a shrimpless minister we've got!

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, what a shrimpless minister! He should be ashamed. We are talking about creating employment, generating employment and creating industry here.

You look at the shrimp industry. That is a prime example of where we can create industry and employment. Look at the potential for employment and industry in the Province and we are letting it go. I would like to ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture a question, if he can give me an answer: What are we going to do about the shrimp processing? Are we going to try to create more employment or are we going to let all the foreigners process the shrimp?

MR. EFFORD: I tell you, I'm not God.

MR. OSBORNE: He isn't God? He isn't a fisheries minister!


MR. OSBORNE: I ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture: What are we going to do to create industry by processing our own shrimp here?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Today's paper, look: A shrimp-sized headache for Efford.

MR. OSBORNE: A shrimp-sized headache for Efford. It is more than a shrimp-sized headache, I would say it is a whale-sized headache.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Pardon me?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Is that right? It is all because we don't do our own processing of shrimp right here in Newfoundland.

I'm running out of time. I have four minutes left.

MR. H. HODDER: Start reading from the Red Book and the Dow Jones will go down another fifty points.

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, that is a fact. You want the Dow Jones to go down. That would be red. They would all be red.

The Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, now, in the meantime, our nineteen economic zones - or was that changed? Is that twenty now or nineteen? Nineteen, I think. We have nineteen economic zones. We had the election of the members for the nineteenth zone just a week and a half ago here in St. John's. These nineteen economic zones, hopefully they will do more than just rural development. I mean, we have a lot of area here in Metro as well, and hopefully, these nineteen economic zones will do something to stimulate the economy here in St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I am sure it will. We will hope that those economic zones bring good news to our economy. I will have to sit down now because my time, I think, is just about up.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me the time to speak, and your patience. Thank you very much.

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

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

I want to commend my colleague first of all, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe someone from over there would want to speak.

MR. SHELLEY: Would somebody from the other side of the House like to make a few comments?

I want to commend my colleague -

MR. FITZGERALD: There is one member over there who has spoken, so far, on the Budget - the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. SHELLEY: I say to the minister, you know where to hit, I will tell you all about the cucumber pickle book, you won't have to tell me and if you want any advice on the cucumber pickle book, ask your colleague, the Member for Humber Valley, he knows all about it; we don't know anything about it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my colleague, the Member for St. John's South for really laying it to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and putting him in his place.

MR. SULLIVAN: Trans City is over $30 million.

Trans City is over $30 million, Mr. Speaker, there is your answer right there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Paul Shelly was (inaudible) cucumbers.

MR. SHELLEY: That's right. I didn't know anything about cucumbers, I never did endorse it or believe in it or anything else.

AN HON. MEMBER: And he was paying for (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, and you were a financial (inaudible) - the Minister of Wealth was the financial (inaudible) of the 500 Club. The great member of the 500 Club, he still has his card and I understand he carries it in his wallet all the time, a big, blue card with P.C. - just waiting for the tide to turn, and as it gets closer and closer to an election, you see it all happen. You see people falling off the bandwagon all over the place.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) up against Phil Warren.

MR. SHELLEY: He was going to take on Dr. Warren and show him his stuff. Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, I didn't.

The great Minister of Wealth came in with his P.C. 500 club card. I don't have one of those, Mr. Speaker, I never could get up there. I paid $10. for luncheon one time, but I never -

MR. EFFORD: What? (Inaudible) your pocket.

I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, at least we have our hands in our own pockets. The big difference with the people on this side, Mr. Speaker, and with members on the hon. side over there, is that they have their hands in somebody else's pocket all the time.

The Minister of Wealth, when he saw all this coming he cast in his cabin, Mr. Speaker, for his condo. The Minister of Wealth and Health. His cabin is Isle de Sol and is not on Crown land, I understand, Mr. Speaker, his condo down South.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's South made some very, very good points, especially by putting the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in his place. He was left speechless a few times by some of the comments made by the Member for St. John's South and he has not said a word ever since, so it will take him a little while to shake off the comments, but I am sure he will rebound. We will just have to try to keep the Member for St. John's South in his seat for a while so that he doesn't disturb the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. He really gets him upset all the time. Every time the Member for St. John's South gets up, the minister is worried and he tries to find an excuse to leave the House because he knows he is going to get blasted and be put in his place -time after time after time. And I must say, there are times, not very often -

MR. SULLIVAN: His sugar level drops rapidly.

MR. SHELLEY: His sugar level goes right down.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's South made some very, very good points, he is very sincere in his thinking and he makes some very logical points that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture can't really handle sometimes, but he knows that he is right. He knows he is right, and he knows the bandwagon will turn the other way one of these days and everybody will be jumping on the other way.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) send Bud Hulan after you.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much for that. Is that a promise, I ask the minister? Would you put that in writing?


MR. SHELLEY: I had a long, long, thank-you letter from the - or I should get a lot of thank you letters from hon. members opposite. The only people who are not -

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Finance gave you (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, the heavyweight was coming down. The very close friend of the minister's, he said, the big heavyweight from Cabinet - guaranteed Cabinet minister, guaranteed to be Cabinet minister for the rest of his political career - was coming down to take on the rookie in Baie Verte.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). Can you deliver a smelter?

MR. SHELLEY: I tell you one thing I won't deliver, that is a snow maker. That is the first thing that was coming down to Baie Verte.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No comment, Mr. Speaker. But I can tell you, from the first days entering Baie Verte, and me growing up there, knowing that we average sixteen to eighteen feet of snow a year, the snow belt of the Province, right up through there, and the first thing coming was a snow maker. I said: I hope it is portable, because I guarantee you, my mother told me she hasn't seen a winter like that in fifty-eight years there, and I am sure that once we use it this winter they could ship it out.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) he needs a smelter; all he got was a smelt!

MR. SHELLEY: Then, the former Minister of Fisheries, today in the House, told me all about the combine harvester he bought for the West Coast; he was going to harvest grain.

AN HON. MEMBER: The only thing he didn't promise you was the 2006 Olympics.

MR. SHELLEY: I think he was getting to that. If the election had gone on for another week, I think we would have had a bid in on the 2006 Olympics.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, when I heard that in the early days of the campaign, I said, `Thank you', and we moved on from there. Then we started with the smelter. There were more smelters going - I expected a smelter to come down the Baie Verte highway on wheels, just for a few days, and go back up again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, there were a lot of smelters going around. There were a lot of smelters and refineries and so on.

MR. SULLIVAN: The same one and move it around?

MR. SHELLEY: The same one, a smelter on wheels, one month in each district; we are going to keep moving it until it settles down in one place.

The former Minister of Fisheries was going to bring in the combine harvester, of course, and compete with the wheat people out in Saskatchewan. He was going to take them all on. For the members who were not here, he told me about how he got on the harvester and how he -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I will wait until they are finished, Mr. Speaker - protection.

I would like to ask the Minister of Forestry now: Where is that harvester? The 1975 John Deere harvester, going to take on the wheat industry, going to build up the wheat industry in the Province?

He said: `Come out - the Member for Baie Verte, I want you to come out and harvest some wheat. I want you to harvest grain.' Of course, the reply was: He might be harvesting grain, but he doesn't have a grain.

MR. SULLIVAN: He rented it out to Saskatchewan, didn't he?

MR. SHELLEY: He rented it out to Saskatchewan and sold it off.

I am just giving you some idea of what happened during this campaign. I was shocked, too, I say to the Minister of Forestry. I was shocked; I could not believe it, the things that were happening. But the days of the election are past. It was the strangest election that has ever taken place in this Province, some people say. It rolled in and rolled out; and now, three short months later, people are saying, `What happened here'?

AN HON. MEMBER: He thought the Flemish Cap was something to wear, right?

MR. SHELLEY: The Flemish Cap, yes, it was a toss up.

AN HON. MEMBER: He thought the Flemish Cap was something to wear.

MR. SHELLEY: I want to make sure this is on the record now, that all of these comments are coming from other colleagues; they are not coming from me. My colleagues on both sides of the House are reminding me of the combine harvesters and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's true, isn't it? Poor old `Bud' thought the Flemish Cap was something (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) so close to the truth I wouldn't argue.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, the days of the election have passed us by; of course, everybody knows the history and the things that happened during the election, and it was a strange election, in the dead of winter. As a matter of fact, probably the best comment I heard during the election - maybe some of the other members did -


MR. SHELLEY: I have to get this story in before I finish - the comment made by one old timer during the election was: `What are a bunch of fools like you doing, going around knocking on doors in the middle of winter, two-and-a-half years before an election should take place?' Mr. Speaker, maybe in that statement alone there is something we should all think about, and really what happened in the election of 1996. What was the real reason behind it? I think what is happening, Mr. Speaker, is that in the next few months, it has already started in three months, that we are going to see the real reason behind the federal election, the winter election of 1996.

AN HON. MEMBER: Federal election?

MR. SHELLEY: The provincial, I'm sorry. The provincial election of 1996 - we are going to see the real reason why the rush, why the hurry to get the election over with. It is all starting to come out - in dribs and drabs, Mr. Speaker, slowly but surely, it is all coming out. Oh yes, I say to the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, I did figure it out.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We have the Concurrence Motion of the Resource Committee and I believe the three-hour time limit is up at this point. Unless hon. members want to continue, we will put the motion.

On motion, report of Resource Estimates Committee, carried.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 3, Social Services Concurrence Debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Concurrence motion, Social Services Committee.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure to introduce the concurrence motion relative to the estimates that were considered by the Social Services Committee.

At the very outset, I would like to thank the members of the committee for their participation in the review of these estimates - representing the hon. members opposite, the Vice-Chair, the Member for St. John's South and the Member for Waterford Valley.

On this side of the House we were represented by the Member for Torngat Mountains, Twillingate & Fogo, Burin Placentia West, Harbour Main - Whitbourne and we did have some cameo appearances by some other members, notably the members from Labrador West. Even the Member for Kilbride showed up on one occasion and the Member from Trinity North became almost a regular, he filled in for us so many times. It would seem, Mr. Speaker, that this particular combination of members work extremely well unlike sometimes here in the House. I believe that the degree of frank and direct answers by the ministers was, in many cases, related to the almost non-political and the cordial manner in which these questions were posed.

I would also like to point out that the Member for Waterford Valley not only did a very admirable job in his questioning but he also did a very excellent job in obtaining information for another committee on which he serves, namely the Select Committee on Children's Interests. His ability to do two jobs at one and the same time was most impressive and I always admire an individual who can always do two jobs at one and the same time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MERCER: Well, I always believe that compliments are in order when they are due.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, you get `by leave' from me.

MR. MERCER: On the lighter side, however, I must say I would be remiss if I did not make mention of the fact that during consideration of the estimates of the Department of Education, we came to learn the four most dreaded words in the english language when the minister always prefaced his answers by saying, `Very briefly, Mr. Chairman,' and then proceeded for at least fifteen to twenty minutes on virtually every question.

AN HON. MEMBER: We got four questions in for the whole three hours.

MR. MERCER: Yes, I think it was something in that order. Maybe four.

As previously reported to this House, Mr. Speaker, the Social Services Estimates Committee considered and did approve without amendment the estimates of five departments: the Departments of Health, Education, Social Services, Justice, and Environment and Labour. The estimates of these departments totalled in excess of $2 billion, or some 62 per cent of the total provincial Budget. It is interesting to note that as a percentage of the total Budget, these estimates are on a par with the expenditures for these same departments in 1995-1996.

In reviewing the estimates of the Departments of Health, Social Services and Justice I was pleased to note that these departments are finally embracing fully the computer technology as a tool to better allow them to serve the needs of the total person. After all, I guess everyone understands that people's needs for health care and government financial assistance are not separate and discreet needs. Rather, they form part of a continuum of needs that are essential to day-to-day living. A common data set that can be used by all departments will go a long way to ensuring that government programs neither operate to the detriment nor to the preferential benefit of specific individuals.

As has been said so many times before in this House in the last several weeks, many difficult choices had to be made by government in preparing the estimates of these departments. The decisions made to reduce expenditures within the Department of Education were perhaps some of the hardest decisions that this government will have to make during its tenure. On the other hand, the decision to increase expenditures in the Department of Health and to hold the line on expenditures in the Department of Social Services are examples where government sees its priorities, namely, putting the health and the welfare of its citizens first.

As difficult as some of these decisions were, they are but a prelude to the many difficult decisions which will have to be made and the many choices which will have to be made by those who will charged with implementation of this Budget. For example, this past weekend, I attended a meeting of the board of directors of the Western Community Health Care Corporation. While the members of this board were quite appreciative of the fact that the total budget of the Department of Health had been slightly increased, and while they were quite appreciative about the fact that they will be guaranteed the 1996-1997 level of funding for at least the next two years, they were also very concerned by the fact that a three-year status quo budget in reality means a budget with declining spending power. They are fully aware that over the next three years they will have to make some very fundamental decisions if they are to live within their allocations.

In making these decisions, the board has informed me that it is going to embark upon a very extensive process of public consultation, a process that will take into account the informed comments of residents throughout the Western region. As part of this consultation process the board has also invited MHAs to become involved. The board is to be congratulated on this type of a decision. For while the cynical might say that the board is simply attempting to spread around some bad news, I would prefer to think it has made a conscious decision that the magnitude of the decisions that it has to make is such that the people who are most directly impacted upon must be involved in this decision-making process.

From my own past experience in public consultation, this is a process which is fraught with many dangers. If it is done well and if it is prefaced by a sincere desire to make people fully conversant with the issues, and if you are perceived as being truly interested in what these people have to say, then the end results can have widespread acceptance and they will stand the test of time. If, on the other hand, the public consultation process is simply a facade to implement predetermined decisions or becomes a form for crass political debate then the process will go nowhere and will be much worse off than before we began.

With these few opening remarks, Mr. Speaker, I move adoption of the committee's report and I look forward to the ensuing debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I would like to thank one of my foremost prominent constituents for the pounding on the desk that he just gave me when I arose.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I don't say, Mr. Speaker, I don't say.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the debate that is going to take place in the next three hours dealing with the Social Services Estimates. In particular, would like to focus in on a decision made by the Department of Health and the Minister of Health in eliminating the subsidy to MUN Faculty or the Faculty of Medicine school at the University.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if all members truly understand what is about to happen at Memorial. We are about to go from the lowest tuition for med school students in the country to the highest overnight. So what is the impact of it? Mr. Speaker, the effects of the budgetary cutbacks in this particular area are severe, immediate and immense. The Faculty of Medicine's principles and assumptions regarding tuition increases, which was a report of the ad hoc committee of admission policy and tuition which was put forward in 1995, basically said they believe that when it comes to tuition increases that the increases should be reasonable, comparable and, if possible, gradual. In this case, Mr. Speaker, the increases at the med school in the University are neither reasonable nor comparable and they are certainly, by definition, not nearly gradual. In 1995, tuition fees at Memorial are the lowest in the country right now. And as I said, if they go up to the proposed $8,000 per semester, up from, I might add, about $2,500 it will represent an increase of about 220 per cent to 230 per cent overnight.

Now, many people but forward the argument, and I have heard it, that med school students can well afford to accept that extra burden because they make larger salaries. They are in a better position when they get out of med school to take advantage of higher paying jobs over the long term. And that is right, on the one hand; but these increases, in terms of admissions, will eliminate the opportunity for many people who cannot afford to go but through student loans, etcetera who are able to go now, it will eliminate the opportunity for many students in this Province to be able to take advantage of getting into med school, even if they have the necessary criteria qualifications. Mr. Speaker, these increases will limit those people who can go to med school to those who can afford only to send their students there. But what are the real costs?

Financial assistance in this Province has always been inadequate. There is a massive gap between students total expenses each year in med school and the maximum financial assistance available through the Canada and provincial student loans. Mr. Speaker, the numbers I am about to put forward are assuming, of course, that each and every student who goes to med school can afford or is in a position to get the maximum student loan - many are not. The vast majority, about 65 per cent to 70 per cent, are not in a position to get the maximum student loan because of other criteria which influences their applications. As a matter of fact, many of them, about 70 per cent to 75 per cent, are in a position only to receive about, I think, 65 per cent to 80 per cent of the maximum allowed.

The total expenses for a four-year period, for a med school student, averages out to $60,767, a considerable sum of money. Right now, the total assistance that is available - and that is assuming, of course, that each and every med school student gets the maximum amount available to him - would only come up to $44,000 which would be a difference of $16,000, that is, if we look at a tuition increase of up to $6,200. But if we look at a tuition increase which is what is being proposed at the Board of Regents on Thursday, a tuition level of $8,000, the total expenses over four years go up, Mr. Speaker, to about $67,767.76. The total assistance available remains the same, but the total unmet need over a four-year period was $23,737.

Coupled with that, Mr. Speaker, student loans are not available for married individuals going into med school whose spouse is working. Student loans available for single students with children are grossly inadequate and any independent sober analysis of student loans available for single parents going into med school certainly would bear out that comment I just made, that their unmet need is much, much higher, and resident salaries are inadequate to reduce the debt load during the postgraduate period. It is as simple as that.

There are additional concerns, Mr. Speaker, that this House must take into consideration. Degree requirements for admission were introduced recently, I believe last year, in 1995-'96, and as a consequence of this introduction or this new regulation, students entering med school are much older and have accumulated much more debt before getting into med school, in some cases up to $40,000 before even getting into med school, and they are looking at accumulating another debt of about $60,000 or $70,000. There are no work opportunities beyond first year for med school students. Beyond a one-month vacation at the end of the second year, there are no opportunities in the second, third, or fourth years of medical school in order to earn money in order to offset accumulating debt.

Clinical clerk stipends are to be cut. That is another recommendation going to the Board of Regents. Clerks receive right now a monthly stipend of $210.00 a month in recognition of services provided during clerkship. Current plans, as I have just indicated, the proposal going before the Board of Regents on Thursday would see the elimination of that stipend. It is not an significant sum of money but an important sum of money to somebody who is on financial assistance or on student aid while going to med school.

Mr. Speaker, another important fact in being a med school student, especially when you get into the second and third years, is access to a reliable vehicle. Third year and clerkship curriculum travel requirements are incompatible, to say the least, with the public transportation system. For many students, it means that a vehicle must be purchased, something that is reliable, not a state-of-the-art or something that is four or five years old. In many cases, it is what we would call an old bucket of bolts, but as long as it gets them from point A to point B and it is reliable enough - but it does mean, Mr. Speaker, that students at med school, when they reach this level, must purchase that vehicle to ensure that they get to the requirements demanded of them by the program they are in.

Now, the Minister of Health, last week when I asked questions about this, said the increases in Memorial's suggested or proposed increases would only bring the tuition at med school up to comparable levels across the country, and then, Mr. Speaker, I -

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

MR. TULK: I wonder if the hon. gentleman would agree that we adjourn at six o'clock and come back again at seven? Would he want to adjourn debate until seven?

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Sure. I accept that there has been an agreement, so I will be back at seven and we will go at it then.

MR. SPEAKER: The House is recessed until seven and we will resume business at seven.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Before we clued up at the supper break, I was speaking to the Minister of Health regarding the increase in tuition fees for med students. Questioned during Question Period the other day, he stood up and said: Well, all we are doing is bringing med school fees on line with the rest of the country. And in making that statement, he demonstrated to me that at the time, he was more concerned about a quick come back on his feet, and showed no knowledge whatsoever as to what the rest of the country charges for med school fees, Mr. Speaker.

Let me indicate for the record what the med school fees are for the rest of the country, bearing in mind that 1996, the proposed fees that are going to the Board of Regents on Thursday, will take tuition fees from $2,508 a year up to $8,000 a year.

Now, at Dalhousie University, for 1996-'97, med school fees will be $5,715, about $2,800 less. In Laval, $2,978, about $5,000 less; in Sherbrooke, $3,005 about $5,000 less, at McGill -

AN HON. MEMBER: What about UOT?

MR. E. BYRNE: I am getting to UOT. In McGill, $2,193 about $6,000 less. University of Ottawa -

MR. MATTHEWS: For a full year?

MR. E. BYRNE: I am talking about per semester, comparables, apples and apples, Minister.

MR. MATTHEWS: Eight thousand is for a year, not a semester.

MR. E. BYRNE: This is a year, right here, per year, one and two, first and second year; it is all right here, I can send it over and he can read it, too, if he likes.

University of Ottawa, $3,363 per year.

MR. LANGDON: Per semester.

MR. E. BYRNE: Per year. Would you like to see it? I say to the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune. You can have it. Would you like to come over and get it? It says per year.

Queens University, $3,658 a year; University of Toronto, $3,680 per year, last year, and going up 10 per cent to 20 per cent this year, which would only bring it up to about $4,000 per year; McMaster, $5,012 per year; Western Ontario, $3,794 per year; University of Saskatoon, $4,572 per year; University of Alberta, $3,886, next year, $4,086 -

MR. MATTHEWS: Grossly underpriced.

MR. E. BYRNE: - University of Calgary, $5,246 per year and the University of B.C., $4,180 per year. Mr. Speaker, raising tuition fees at the med school to $8,000 a year is not comparable by the standards that I have outlined here and the research that I have; the minister knows that full well.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do you agree with differential fees in the professional schools?

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let me go through what it costs a med student, year by year. Tuition proposed for 1996, $8,000. C.S.U. and health insurance, $99 per term times two terms, $198. Maximum shelter allowed under student aid, $3,116. Maximum food allowed under student aid, $38 a week times forty-one weeks, $1,558. Maximum miscellaneous, $37 per week, $1,517. Maximum local transportation costs allowed under student aid, $12 times forty-one weeks, $492. Books, $735 allowed; instruments, $650; graduation fee, $250; hepatitis-B vaccine, $80; photocopying, $60. MUN medical students society fee, $20; Newfoundland Medical Board student registration fee, $10; orientation fee, $25, and fee to recover cost of hand-outs, $25. Total expenses: $16,736.

Maximum allowed, $10,619, a difference in the first year of $6,117.95. Again, Mr. Speaker, that is assuming that you aren't a single student or a single parent going to med school. It is assuming that you are married and your spouse is not working, and it is assuming that under the rules set out by the director of student aid and the regulations set out governing student aid that you will get the maximum.

Year two. Let's go through it again. Expenses for a second-year medical student.

MR. MATTHEWS: Don't bother to read it, I have it on my desk.

MR. E. BYRNE: You couldn't have had it on your desk, Minister. You wouldn't have made the decision that you did if you had that on your desk.

He could not have had it. If he did he would have showed certainly a greater understanding, a greater knowledge base, of what the rise in tuition would be. It certainly wasn't reasonable, it certainly wasn't comparable to the rest of the country, and it certainly was not introduced gradually - which a committee launched by the Department of Health suggested that they do, an ad hoc committee dealing with med school, that three criteria would be met in terms of tuition increases.

It would be gradual, comparable and reasonable. It states - here it is, yes: The Faculty of Medicine's principles and assumptions regarding tuition increases, November 21, 1995, which the minister has, states that increases should be reasonable, comparable and gradual. Report of the ad hoc committee on admission policy and tuition.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) reasonable.

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) reasonable.

MR. E. BYRNE: You have made some broad, sweeping assumptions if you consider that reasonable.

Second year increases. Tuition again, $8,000; $98 for a health plan, $198 two terms; maximum shelter, $76 times twenty-eight weeks, $2,128. Maximum food allowed, $38 times twenty-eight weeks, $1,064. Maximum miscellaneous, $37 per week times twenty-eight weeks, $1,036. Maximum local transportation, $12 times twenty-eight weeks, equalling $336. Books, $670. Photocopying, $60. Total expenses: $13,492. Total assistance available - now get this: almost $14,000 for second-year fees - total assistance available from the Province in the form of a student loan, not grant, a loan which a student has to pay back, has no other choice but to pay back: $7,252, a difference of $6,000. Unmet need for a second-year student, $6,240.

Now, how is it that a student coming from a meagre background, from lower economic conditions, whose parents are not working, who can't afford to send that person, whether it be a man or a woman, through med school, and that student is depending on student aid, how can they meet, how can they get along, with what this government's Budget has done to them? They can't. That is the only assumption that we can make, because there is no other assumption to make. When all other financial sources are drained or not available, and one is completely dependent upon student aid, as I was when I went to university, there is no other recourse but to drop out. That is what these tuition increases would do.

The third year medical student - I will stay with the same student through, now: Expenses, $8,000 for tuition; health plan, in the third year you do three terms, as the minister knows - well, I am not sure if he knows or not, I will tell him anyway - in the third year you do three terms, not two, so $99 for health insurance, student union fees, for three terms $297; maximum shelter, $76 times thirty-seven weeks, $2,812; maximum food, $38 times thirty-seven weeks, $1,406; maximum miscellaneous allowed, $37 per week times thirty-seven weeks equals $1,369; maximum local transportation, $12 times thirty-seven weeks, $444; books, $750; cost of travel to electives, $1,000; photocopying, $60; total expenses with tuition increases would amount to $16,138 in year three. The total allowed, total maximum assistance available from the Canada Student Loan is $165 per week times thirty-seven weeks equals $6,105; provincial student loan, $94 a week times thirty-seven weeks, $3,478, for a total of $9,583. Maximum unmet need again is $6,555, which is almost the amount that tuition is going to increase. I could go on about the unmet need in year four, through all the categories I have gone through; it is $4,824.81.

I find it unacceptable that a government that promised consultation, that promised to deliver, whatever people wanted them to think they had to deliver, told them they were going to deliver, that when it came to a budget increase or a budget slashing, that nobody only ministers knew - the same minister as was there before. This wasn't a problem that found itself overnight. It wasn't one that all of a sudden appeared out of the closet. It was one that people knew and government knew was coming. That was the reason for the snap election, no question about it. If it had to happen after the election -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, I caught on way before. The day that the former Premier announced - I think it was December 28 - I said: Look out; we are going to be at the polls before March 1 rolls in, guaranteed. I got my troops ready right away.

The now Premier, the Premier-elect then, was out here eleven o'clock calling the election, and I was out knocking on doors, phones in, posters up, signs up, ready to go. But that is the reason why the election was called, I say to members here. They know that, and know it full well, but the fact remains, and I hope the minister gets an opportunity to stand up and address this because he knows that the figures I have put forward here for other med schools are correct, and he knows full well that an increase in tuition that is being proposed by the Board of Regents based upon the elimination of the monies from the Department of Health in the Budget is neither reasonable, nor comparable with the rest of the country, nor is it gradual.

MR. MATTHEWS: What is the (inaudible) of the University of Toronto dental school for this year?

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: What is the tuition at the University of Toronto Dental School this year?

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, I say to the minister, the difference is that we do not operate a dental school here.

AN HON. MEMBER: And we are not in Toronto.

MR. MATTHEWS: Answer my question.

MR. E. BYRNE: One second now, I will answer it. If we are comparing apples to apples, when you look at the med school expenses at the University of Toronto, tuition, and med school expenses, tuition, in terms of Memorial, based on what is being proposed at the Board of Regents, the University of Toronto is a much lower tuition cost. In terms of dental school, what is the dental school requirement?

MR. MATTHEWS: I will say one thing for you; you will make a good minister if you ever get up (inaudible) to answer a question like that. The answer is $8,000.

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, that is dental school. We don't have a dental school here. That is like saying: What is the cost of taking the - what are the assistants to lawyers called?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Paralegal. That is like comparing tuition costs for a paralegal course to the University of Law School in Dalhousie.

MR. MATTHEWS: I hope your friends in the dental clinic do not hear that disparity.

MR. E. BYRNE: In terms of apples and apples, is what I am saying, dental school and med school are two different things - he knows that. The minister knows it full well.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to undergraduate tuition fees, this is a government that has a high priority in Education in this Province, I can tell you, absolute priority. The students of the Province got their full and fair share on May 16, let me tell you. They are about to get it again at the University on Thursday, when the Board of Regents meets; $12.8 million, the University is looking at losing this year, a reduction of $12.8 million deficit, that is what they have to come up with, based upon a clawing back from this government in this Budget.

What will it mean? What does it mean to students? What does it mean to parents? When the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board went around the Province and said to people: we want your advice on what we should or should not do in the Budget, did they tell him that they wanted an increase in tuition fees? They said, no new taxes, and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board was up and said: We listened. We listened full well, we didn't introduce any new taxes; but, now, you have to understand, when we give money to the University, that is their envelope of money, we don't have anything to do with it after that; that is the spin, that is your envelope of money, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology said, but we have nothing to do with tuition fees going up 40 per cent to 45 per cent for undergraduate degrees, absolutely not, had nothing to do with that. We had nothing to do with tuition fees going up in med school, that is their envelope of money.

It has nothing to do with Crown lands going up, no that is not new taxes. That is not new taxes folks, that is just a better deal for all you cabin owners because someday you can own the land, there you go. That is what government is saying: no new taxes but we are going to introduce a system whereby we are going to charge you $2,500 or $3,000 more per year, but you can own your land - not a bad deal. Next year, what is going to happen? Will I predict it now? People were laughed at, my colleague for Cape St. Francis was laughed at, but you watch next year, you own a $50,000-cabin up in Deer Park, property taxes, poll tax maybe, it is coming. The Minister of Government Services and Lands - would that be correct? It must have been laughable the other night for Opposition to hold a meeting on Crown lands and the minister showed up, from what I understand, showed up to an Opposition meeting -

AN HON. MEMBER: He was looking for information (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: He was looking for information, took his Deputy Minister with him, his ADM and said: Boys, what is all this about? Tell us. The cabin owners came out and told him what it was all about. He couldn't answer a question: I will have to defer that to my deputy; I will have to defer that to my ADM. I believe one fellow shouted out: What are you even there for, if you can't answer a question?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me? Who?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Is that right?

So, Mr. Speaker, that is the type of - say one thing on one hand, do something else on another hand, that we have seen. The reality is simple. This Budget has kicked many Newfoundlanders in the pants. It has kicked in the pants those who can least afford it; it has denied, I think, opportunities for younger people to excel, to get new skills, to be able to produce and generate the revenue and to participate in the economy that we believe we are going to need if we are going to pull through the next five years.

When more and more young people hop on the bus, hop in a car, hop on a flight and head west across the straits because the opportunities that they thought were here are no longer here and they leave as a result of that, we are all losers, everybody in this Province is a loser, and no matter what the Minister of Health says, no matter what the Minister of Education says, the Premier or any of us say, put down the partisan swords; the fact of the matter is that any society that starts booting its young in the pants, specifically, with a Budget like this, will pay the price in the long run in a very, very negative way.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the Department of Education and some of the decisions that have been made recently by the minister - we have been led to believe by statements from the minister and the public relations officials, that this is something that, all of a sudden happened; that there weren't really any problems back in November or October, that all of a sudden we woke up one morning and we had a $290 million deficit. What has been demonstrated, Mr. Speaker, is a complete lack of planning by the Department of Education. And if it hasn't been lack of planning, maybe it is complete lack of understanding by the minister. All you can get is: Boy, we had to make choices. `Had to make a choice,' I say to my colleague, the Member for Bonavista South, that is all you hear today, isn't it?

MR. FITZGERALD: That's right.

MR. E. BYRNE: That is all you hear. Had to make a choice about this, had to make a choice about that. We all have to make choices. The world is full of choices. Too bad the election wasn't held today. I would make a bet the people of the Province would make another choice. Too bad.

Mr. Speaker, with those few comments dealing with the Department of Health and specifically dealing with the tuition increases in med school, I will sit down and look forward to getting back up in the next half-hour to an hour or so.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to rise in this Concurrence Debate to deal with the Social Services report of the Estimates Committee.

This year, for the first time in my five-and-a-half years in this House, the government have chosen not to appoint me to any committee. I don't know why they did that. I know that on various committees I have been on in the past, I've had an awful lot to do. The reason I've had an awful lot to do is because it seems that government members on these committees, in many cases, saw their role as one of not doing anything - basically supporting the government line and the government position and not digging into the detail, analyzing, criticizing, improving, hopefully, the circumstances that are presented to them, whether it be a piece of legislation or whether it be the estimates of a department.

I was just reading, while I was waiting for an opportunity to speak, a very interesting commentary in the Memorial University Gazette. It was an introduction to one of the honourary graduates of Memorial University this year by Dr. Pryse-Phillips, and then the speech given by the person who was given an honourary Doctor of Laws degree. This person was and is a woman of great distinction in this country, a woman who has, as part of an organized group on a national basis, fought for social justice and for a patriotic vision of Canada, recognizes it as unique and different. I am speaking of Maude Barlow who once served in the prime minister's office with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

She has left the Liberal Party to carry on the fight for social justice. She gave a very good speech. I was just reading it. I wasn't there to participate in the program. My point is, she has left the Liberal Party because she believes that she had to carry on the fight for social justice outside that party. I am also reminded in thinking, particularly today after the funeral I attended this morning along with a number of other members of this House of Assembly, of another Liberal who had, as his major fight, the fight and advocacy for social justice for his constituents, for people in this Province.

As I was thinking about that here this evening, Mr. Speaker, I wondered, looking across the way, how the members opposite could be part of a governmental process and a Budget process that is presiding over the kind of treatment given to the citizens of this Province in the areas of health, education, social services, and environment and labour, because of the changes that are in this Budget. What I find, from all the members opposite and all the speakers we have heard since the House has come back this session, is that there does not seem to be any sense of shame about what they are doing.

The Minister of Social Services, prior to coming into this House, was an advocate for her fellow-workers in the nursing profession, just as before Steve Neary got involved in politics he was an advocate for the miners on Bell Island, for his union, and for the people he represented on Bell Island. The Minister of Education had, as part of his background prior to entering politics, the representation of his fellow professional workers in the teaching profession, and comes to this House with that kind of a background; yet, these people can sit in this House, sit around the Budget.

I want to talk about social services for a moment first - because it is an area where we see in this Province a very great need - and anybody whose job as an MHA brings him into contact with ordinary people. And I say that because I am sure some of these members opposite must not come into contact with ordinary people or they would know. Any MHA whose work brings him into contact with ordinary people knows what the consequences of these Budget measures are on people who have to survive on social assistance.

I did a calculation a couple of weeks ago before the Budget, and I used it as part of a commentary that I made on CBC, to try to determine what has been the effects of inflation on the rate of social assistance since the Liberal Government took power in 1989. I went to the Newfoundland Statistics Agency and got the figures from them. I did not make them up and I did not go anywhere looking for somebody with an axe to grind, and say, how would you calculate this or how do you figure that? I went to the government's own statisticians and asked them: Okay, let us say we take 1989 as the base year, now, how much is the dollar you had in 1989 worth today? What is the percentage difference? We went year by year and added it all up.

Based on St. John's and Newfoundland statistics, not Canada, not Vancouver, or Chicoutimi, Quebec, and the effect of inflation on the buying power of a dollar since 1989 was 17 per cent. So I asked this person from the Newfoundland Statistics Agency would I would be exaggerating if I were to say that people who had been on a fixed income from 1989 have really had effectively a 17 per cent decrease in their income? The answer to that was, no. So I took those figures and applied them to the basic social assistance rates that had been available to people in this Province since 1989, and was able to say, and I am able to say today, that social assistance recipients in Newfoundland have had a 17 per cent cut in the rates of social assistance since 1989.

We may also have noticed that there has been probably a 600 per cent increase in the number of food banks in Newfoundland since 1989 as well, and figures that have been released by the people who operate food banks are constantly telling the public how many people use food banks, what percentage of the people use food banks, how many people on social assistance use food banks, and not only people on social assistance, but people who have jobs.

I had a call from one family, a husband, a wife, three children, and the man, the husband, worked for the government - he worked for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation - lived in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, and was still required, in order to feed his family, to go to a food bank.

What sympathy does this type of person get from this government when the time comes for the Budget? They play a game of blind man's bluff, and pretend that they don't know anything. All they know is how much money they have on a piece of paper, and how much they have to spend. They don't know anything about politics; they don't know anything about social justice. They don't want to know about the Canadian health and social transfer. They don't want to stand up and fight and advocate for the people of this Province. They don't want to do anything except -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: What we have is a group of politicians who have ignored the reality of what is happening to people in this Province and, in fact, have effected a further decrease, chopping people on social assistance by a further $61 after already requiring them to undergo a 17 per cent cut.

One of the minister's explanations was: Well, you know, we asked these people what was the $61 for anyway, and they didn't know. No, they didn't know, but they knew they needed it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It is supposed to be for an emergency. Well, most of these families suffer an emergency every month, and the emergency is that the social assistance rates are not high enough to allow them to live - that is the emergency. And it is a continuing, ongoing, monthly emergency -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Sorry, Mr. Speaker.

MR. HARRIS: - a continuing, ongoing emergency for people on social assistance.

I put a challenge to members opposite to stand up and tell us how they feel about what they are doing to people on social assistance. The former Minister of Social Services, whose funeral we attended today, would not be afraid to stand up and speak out for people who are on the lowest rungs of Newfoundland society, who are being pushed further down by this government.

If we want to talk about choices, choices, choices, yes, there are choices to be made; but there is not one person in this House who is suffering and being made to suffer by this Budget the way the people on Social Services are being made to suffer by this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now, you know, the `minister of wealth and health' over there can talk about something else because this doesn't bother him, doesn't affect him. He doesn't seem to have the burden of shame, Mr. Speaker. This government is ignoring the needs of those who are most dependent upon it.

MR. SULLIVAN: A modest increase, he said in the Budget Speech.

MR. HARRIS: Well, they may have increased the budget for Social Services, but that doesn't make any difference to any individual Social Services recipient, Mr. Speaker, not one single bit of difference. In fact, for them, their particular budget has decreased, thanks to this government and the previous government, by 17 per cent since 1989. That is how much this government has done, and the Liberal Party since 1989 has done, for the very lowest rung of Newfoundland society.

We can judge the success of how they have improved society by how they have looked after the people at the bottom. How have they looked after the people at the bottom? It is not how have they looked after Tom Hickman. How have they looked after the people at the bottom? that is the test that we have to look at. I am not concerned about legality or illegality. What I am talking about is how has this government and its predecessors looked after the very bottom rung of people in our society. They are very good at looking after certain friends but they are not very good at looking after those who depend on government for their very livelihood, for shelter, for food on their table, for clothes on their back, for an education for their children.

That is why they can, without any shame, without any alternative plans, without any compensating measures, contemplate an increase of two or three times in tuition fees for medical students; why they can without any alternatives or compensating measures, contemplate the shutdown of university courses in parts of rural Newfoundland, which might be the only opportunity for some individuals to get to university. They don't seem to have the same spirit of improvement of society that has directed certain people in the past who believed that the Liberal Party stood for something different than the management of choices, the management of decline, the management of making things worse for ordinary folks.

Mr. Speaker, that is the problem we have today. We have seen governments across this country all reading from the same hymn book, all singing the same tune, not looking at making improvements in the relationship between various elements of society. We have society breaking apart because the elite, the wealthy - those who have power are having more, those with less are getting less.

I want to ask members to be honest if they think that there is equality of opportunity in this Province. Is there equality of opportunity in this Province when you have University fees so high, and the idea of the kind of debt that people will have to go into to go to University is so high that only certain people can contemplate the idea of getting a full and decent education.

It hasn't changed an awful lot, I suppose, in the last twenty years but I remember when I went to university, Mr. Speaker, there was a very clear difference between university students in terms of the kind of debt they were prepared to tolerate, or be intimidated by, I guess. I mean, the idea of a young student today thinking that they might have to come out of university owing $25,000 or $30,000 or more - it is more than any amount their parents have ever owed for a house, in many cases. So those students who are in that category, that group, whether they are on social assistance now or whether they are from working families, or from fishing families whose parents are surviving on TAGS, do they really have an equal opportunity to participate in post-secondary education, when the debt load that students are facing at the end of four or five years is more, perhaps, than their parents have ever borrowed in their whole lifetime?

It may well be alright for certain individuals, students whose families are wealthy or professional. It wouldn't be terribly intimidating to a doctor's son or daughter to go to university and pay high tuition fees for medicine because their parents would probably be in a position to help them out. They wouldn't necessarily have to borrow at all from student loans, wouldn't necessarily have to go into the big debt. What we are going to see is a weeding out of people who have to struggle financially as well as academically, and only those, or more of those, who are from the elite will have the opportunity to pursue this type of professional career.

That is the kind of society or the direction over which this government is presiding in this Budget. I am glad I am not a part of it, I would not want to be a part of it. And if I were, if I happened to find myself over there, in a situation like that, I would wonder why I even bothered to get into public life. But I do not detect any of that over there, I am sorry to say. They defend their position; they say: We had no other choice, we had to do this, the devil made me do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier made me do it.

MR. HARRIS: The deficit made me do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Same thing.

MR. HARRIS: Same thing. The devil, the deficit, same thing.

The end result of it all, Mr. Speaker, is that people are suffering.

I know I am over here on the Opposition side with, in this case, Progressive Conservatives. I was reading an article in the paper the other day about another fellow named Harris who in Ontario leads a government which is also cutting social services, not in the kind of slow, sneaky way this government has but -

MR. H. HODDER: Very upfront about it.

MR. HARRIS: Very upfront about it - the Member for Waterford Valley is very proud of him for being upfront about it. He is very proud of him for being upfront and honest about what he is doing.

MR. H. HODDER: I said, at least he said what he is doing - very straightforward.

MR. HARRIS: The reason he is doing it though - he tells people the reason he is doing it is because of the deficit but the real reason he is doing it is to pay for the 30 per cent tax cut he wants to give to rich people.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame on him.

MR. HARRIS: Shame on him! But you know, unfortunately, he also has a different standard for himself, of course, when it comes to achieving results from government and -

MR. TULK: Who is that?

MR. HARRIS: The Premier of Ontario. His party, using tax dollars, looked after him to a certain extent, provided him with -

AN HON. MEMBER: If you were in Ontario and you paid a 30 per cent tax -

MR. HARRIS: Provided him with golf - this is what I read here in the paper. I don't know if it is true, maybe the Member for Waterford Valley could help us out. Maybe it is not true but I am told here that the taxpayers of Ontario, indirectly through the political rebates to the PC Party in Ontario, looked after certain expenses of Mr. Harris, including his North Bay Golf and Country Club dues; certain dry cleaning for $1,000; $7,000 or $8,000 to upgrade his Toronto accommodation and other monies coming from taxpayers' dollars while, at the same time, his attitude and his government's attitude is, we will slash welfare payments by 20 per cent as this government and the previous government has done nearly over the last eight or nine years. We will have to lay off civil servants, like this government is doing, and we will adopt a different type of program that does nothing for the lower ranks of society and tries to do its best to look after those who are already doing very well.

So I am wondering, Mr. Speaker, where is the passion and where is the compassion on the government side of the House? We have lots of rationalizers, we have lots of explainers, we have lots of defenders of the status quo, we have lots of people who are quite happy to say that someone else has to suffer but I do not hear the fiery speeches about how we are making things better for people, Mr. Speaker. I do not hear the fiery speeches, I do not hear the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and housing talk about how he is improving life for rural Newfoundland. I do not hear the minister talking about how he is improving social housing programs for people in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, there is a bully over there. He is not -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, I am just telling you (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: He is a bully, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, I am not.

MR. HARRIS: He is a bully, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: He wants to throw the Red Book out (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I have a book to throw at him. There is the book, Mr. Speaker, the Red Book. Well, Mr. Speaker, I do not know how much it cost. It cost a lot to print - it is glossy, it has spiral bindings. It cost a pretty penny. I do not know whether Tom Hickman paid for it or not. If he did pay for it, I know where he got the money, Mr. Speaker, because this government in its previous incarnation, made sure he had plenty of money to throw around, whether it be at the Liberal Party or anywhere else.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, there are three parties in this Province but there is only one party - if that is true. I understood that people seeking nominations for the Liberal Party used to go around and get people to sign things, and they would reach in their pockets and pay all the membership fees. They do not charge the individuals, they pay them on behalf of the individuals, because if they charged people two dollars they would not have any members at all, none.


MR. HARRIS: And in order to prevent anybody from running for the leadership, they wanted to charge them $10,000, the highest of any party in Canada. They were afraid they were going to have a contest, Mr. Speaker. They were afraid that the secret plan being written in this book - speaking of this book, when was this book written? that is what I want to know.

AN HON. MEMBER: When was it printed?

MR. HARRIS: I do not see any publication date here. Oh, it says January 29, 1996. It was written in two days. It took two days to write. They called the election on January 27 and on January 29 they had this book written. What a crew, Mr. Speaker! What a crew! Ready for a Better Tomorrow. They did not want to have a convention because their plan, their quick fix, get to the public, get to the people, lay on the PR, let us do it quickly before the Province gets wind of what we are up to.

Let us not tell them about a Budget. We do not want any Budget. We do not want to say tough choices for the day, and the people on the bottom are going to go lower. We do not want to say that. We want to be upbeat. We want to be positive, but we do not intend to do anything positive. We want to be positive, we want to sound positive, we want to look positive, but have we got plans for you -bad plans for you. We do not want you to know about them because we are going to talk about being ready for a better tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, some people are hungry today.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Burgeo - LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: The major junior hockey team on the West Coast, I have a play in that, too.

Anyway, we are talking about the concurrence for the Social estimates. Mr. Speaker, these estimates, I suppose, are indicative of government's overall direction. We have gone through the process of being looked at by committee. They have given the report and ultimately said that committee has passed the estimates without amendment.

Now, just a general comment, I suppose, on government policy. Honourable members opposite would have the public believe that we are a bunch of evil, three-headed monsters over here, that we do not have a social conscience, that we ultimately are out to cause harm to individuals and to the Province in general. That only holds so much water, because the Opposition will always try their best to have the people of the Province think that everything and anything the government is doing is wrong. To think that the alternative measure is something being offered - I suppose this Opposition should be no different from any other. Should they offer an alternative? Should they look to their cousins - their right-wing cousins, I suppose you could call them. Maybe that would have been a better tack for them to use. They were going to balance the Budget in how many years? Over the course of their mandate, the general Opposition, Her Majesty's Opposition, was to balance the Budget in four years. How they intended to do it - I think they intended to do it in the final year with some windfall. I do not know if they intended to win the lottery themselves, or how exactly they were going to do it, but their criticism of the government's Budget is so far and away from the Blue Book, the one penned by one former employee of Employment and Immigration, I think, whose penmanship was so notable in the drafting of that blue document. They wave about the Red Book but they do not even show the Blue Book at all. It would be interesting; do you have a copy of the Blue Book? The Blue Book would be a fantastic comparison to what has been happening here.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Blue Book has no cover (inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Are you talking about `the emperor' having something missing? I think it might be an appropriate analogy.

Mr. Speaker, looking at what the Opposition is offering the people of the Province, I think we would be all far better off in this Province if the Opposition were required to put forward their propositions as to how they would do it. They make suggestions, and they come up with criticisms, and to criticize is certainly admirable if you offer an alternative, but to criticize for the sake of criticizing is something that no one on the government side could get off with, something that no one in government could do. We certainly have to substantiate. Of course, government has, I suppose, the benefit of the officials of government and the functioning of the machinery of government to assist it in developing its policies once in office, and maybe Oppositions just do not have that kind of backup to do an adequate job of presenting the alternative. That is a possibility; I can understand that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Jesting aside, the hon. members opposite -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: - well, well, buy chicken, I would think, at this stage in our evolution; it is no longer, well, well, buy liquid refreshment, as it was at one time for these evening sessions - but chicken or other, I don't know if they had pizza or chicken over there.

What is it, I suppose, that one would call on the government to do? We were asked by the people, through the public consultation process, to make certain choices and certain priorities in developing a Budget. To consider the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Call a public meeting in LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: A public meeting in LaPoile? I was asked by a member of the P.C. Party on the plane on the way out on Friday if I could help her find some people to form an executive out there, so I do not know if that would be appropriate that you should be asking me about calling a meeting in LaPoile. She asked me if I knew of any good Tories out there that I could suggest to her to help form a P.C. executive.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, back to the matter at hand, we would have to look at just what it is that the people asked us to do. They suggested that they did not want taxes raised. On that matter, to the people of the Province, the government have delivered, we did not raise taxes. There were certain fees that did increase. We do not want, in this Province, fees to be nuisance matters for people. In some cases, people would think that all fees would be nuisances. But a fee should be a revenue generator first and foremost, I suppose, and we should generally make sure that any fee levied on any aspect of government function at least pays for the cost of administering the paperwork associated with the same. A part of this, of course, with the new policy on Crown lands, is a case where we have taken a close look at it and implemented a full cost recovery program, plus we have decided to get the maximum amount out of that natural resource here in the Province, the Crown lands of the Province, to the benefit of all of the people of the Province and that, Mr. Speaker, is very necessary. Once that is completed, there will be ultimately, I would think, not as much need for administrative activity in that department and that would then make that specific department much more efficient.

In other areas, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology has decided to focus its economic development activities in the areas to which it is best suited. It has decided to focus on winners, I suppose. It is kind of hard to say there will no longer be support for those areas of our economy which have proven to be ineffective in creating and stimulating economic development but there comes a point in our evolution, financially, where we have to put forward a certain amount of support for initiatives which will generate economic activity in the Province and not continue to try to be all things to all people in the economy, those in the entrepreneurial side and all of the different business activities and ideas that government would like to support. Support for those becomes quite a bit different, Mr. Speaker, and it becomes something where government supplies support of a marketplace of a climate where businesses can function effectively with reasonable levels of taxation, reasonable supports where government can help stimulate and assist in the marketing, product development of products and services and assist through the provision of general support through trade show activity. Assistance with that area also can help in building the linkages between new companies and our educational institutions. Those linkages should assist us in developing new high-tech products, new products for various industries and, moving on from that, hopefully creating stable employment for a lot of the people involved and eventually working towards a very solid economy that is firmly founded, on a solid base for the future. This kind of activity is where the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology should be going.

Some of our other departments - the Department of Social Services has made some very key decisions that will help them save certain monies out of their total pay out in the run of a year. Some of it very difficult and in fact, along with members of the Opposition, I also have experienced a lot of difficulty with the particular changes to some of the policies where people who are suffering situations and very genuinely, I might add, people having a lot of difficulty with receiving less money than they had in the past. That, Mr. Speaker, is very difficult. The more difficult thing would be to allow us to change or, in the overall, affect the basic social assistance support. The basic support must be there for the people of the Province who are down and out and need that assistance, and those who, through no fault of their own, may from time to time require the support of the Department of Social Services.

We must protect the integrity of the basic service and this is not without some, I suppose, extension to the changes to the Canada Health and Social Transfer. Because if you extend it, ultimately, we will receive a set amount of money this specific fiscal year that we have to translate into making sure that we do not overspend on that account now. A social assistance employee was telling me yesterday that it has changed the culture within the department significantly. Because, to him, what they used to do was they would spend money and when it got near to the end of the year they would figure out how much more they would spend than they were allocated. No longer are they looking at it this way. Now they are looking at the issue as spending the amount of money they are allocated, and that is it - no spending beyond. They must live within their budget subheads as well, and that is certainly a different way of dealing with social assistance.

I suppose there comes a point at which we know the cheques will no longer be able to be met by the bank. We have to draw the line, because those sources that we used to receive 50 per cent dollars on the CAP from Ottawa, funding 50 per cent of any expenditures under social assistance, are no longer available. There is a basic amount of money available in the program. Once we exceed that we would have to find those monies elsewhere within the provincial revenue sources. Based on that, Mr. Speaker, we have no choice. The choice that we made was that we have to find certain efficiencies in the department. The way we found them is through these extra allowances that have been allocated. There are consequences, but there are certainly more difficult consequences if we were to use inaction as opposed to taking the active approach in dealing with that.

In other departments, on the social side, we have to look at the Department of Health. On this the people's biggest concern throughout the Province to the public Budget consultation hearings was that we maintain and protect health care as the key and most important area of government expenditure. Mr. Speaker, we delivered on that. The government said yes to the people who came forward. A general opinion was that we should protect the health care system. That is not to say there are not efficiencies and economies that can be found. Even though our reorganization of health care and health care delivery over the past seven to eight years has found certain efficiencies, there is still a lot of work to do. We have the professionals in the field. Those hospital administrators and others who provide us with advice are doing their best to make sure that we deliver the services to the people so that the basic health care service - again, similar to the Department of Social Services - continues to be delivered in a way in which the people of the Province are afforded quality health care with reasonable distances to be travelled between any primary location and ultimately the place where they may have to receive the health care needs that they demand.

There were other changes that had to be made to the ambulance system throughout the Province. That was one area with some controversy attached. Ultimately, the monies from that, as opposed to a government subsidy, the onus has now been placed on the ambulance operators to collect a larger portion of their fee. A fee structure has been raised so that now, on the short calls, the calls within, I think, fifty kilometres, they will have to collect a larger portion of their total fee which is now $75 throughout the Province.

There is one inequity in the system that I see, Mr. Speaker, and it is something I feel government should address, and that is the inter-hospital transfers. If a person transfers from, to use an example, the Charles LeGrow Health Centre in Port aux Basques in to St. John's, they have to pay the $75 ambulance fee. If a person transfers from the Carbonear hospital to the hospital here in St. John's, they have to pay the $75 fee. If a person transfers from the Grace or St. Clare's to either the Janeway or the General, they do not have to pay the $75 fee. Also, there is a very questionable collections record at the General for ambulance fees that are assessed to patients who use the General Hospital ambulance program.

Those are things that have to be addressed because it is an inequity. The continuum of care - and I have spoken to the minister about this - is such that if a person is in the health care system and is transferred from a hospital outside the capital city, as a part of their continuum of care to that capital city, they have to pay; while a person who is within the city who has to transfer from one to another does not have to pay. That inequity should be rectified. I think that would probably realize certain other savings that may assist us with training needs and other needs within the ambulance system to help us offer better trained ambulance technicians and those who can stop - the first line of defence is a key, along with health education. That would be a key to keeping health care costs down to a minimum. I think that is very important, and all of us have to do what we can to support that kind of initiative.

Also, in the Department of Health we have improvements to the overall focus on education, tying in the education of people with respect to their own health. Preventative measures implemented by the department will reap benefits down the road. If we can have lifestyle changes - and I guess there are more than a few of us in this Chamber who could certainly use some advice in that area. The lifestyle that you live when you are working in this kind of profession, means you are often eating out. Probably the meal we had tonight is an example. And that kind of lifestyle activity certainly does not help you in being a good example for lifestyle and health care, preventative maintenance, so to speak, or any kind of preventative measures that would help keep the health care system from being burdened by our health problems and others throughout the Province in the future.

Another department that we would look at in the social sector is, of course, education. The Department of Education was one in which we had to do certain things with the college system, as has been put on the public record here in this Chamber through questions and answers in Question Period, and other measures had to be taken with respect to some of the community colleges in the system. I must say that the Minister of Education visited the District of Burgeo & LaPoile on Friday, visited the local campus of West Viking College and was very impressed by the offering of courses there. We offer a variety of courses, and those courses certainly are forward-thinking and looking towards the preservation of that institution. We have a variety of people taking up these courses who hopefully will be able to find jobs once they complete the various trades and professional designations that go with those different course offerings.

Looking at not just welding but plate fitting, we have one of the best programs in plate fitting. Each and every graduate of that program has found work, from what I'm told, at one time or another, at a lot of the different shipyards throughout Atlantic Canada and elsewhere. We have the non-destructive testing program where students are taught materials technology and learn how to test. In fact, I think some 90 per cent of the testing that was done on the Hibernia project was done by people trained in Port aux Basques at the West Viking College. Those are the kinds of courses that we need to look at for the future, because they are talking about high quality programs where the individuals who are trained have good opportunities in the future in their own chosen area of the workforce.

Mr. Speaker, beyond that, looking at primary, elementary education and secondary schooling here in the Province, the Province has made a number of decisions, some controversial but all for the right reasons. The ultimate preservation in the education system, along with all the other aspects of the social side of the equation, is to preserve the financial side so that we can continue to support the social needs of the people of the Province. Now, we have also -and I think this is very important. The work of the Opposition House Leader and others -

AN HON. MEMBER: Good speech, sit down.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, I will work towards a conclusion now. The hon. members opposite have done a lot to assist the provincial program on children's welfare. Their report on childhood development throughout the Province, a key part of what we do in the future, will lead into the unveiling of a strategic social plan, as was mentioned by the minister. As well, Mr. Speaker, we have to look at how we then take the program review - now program review is going to be very necessary, because at one time, what used to happen - the way I look at it anyway, is government was created to act as stewards and assist with the spending of the government's money. People or individuals would say, okay, we need a certain service, we need health care. Therefore, we have someone go in and look after the expenditures of health care and we tax in order to support that. But what government has done - government has become a mechanism which was supporting the structure that has been built around government, and that has to change. The structure around government has to become secondary. The support of what the basic services are that people need and are willing to pay for, has to be the paramount principle on which government is based.

So in order to make government smaller, Mr. Speaker - and not just making it smaller for the sake of doing so - we have to change our thinking and not say, `What are we going to do to support the mechanism of government as a people here in the Province?' We have to change that, Mr. Speaker, change it into, `What is it that the people of the Province want to be maintained in the area of public services?' Based on that, Mr. Speaker, from there we then decide what it is we preserve and maintain, how much are we willing to pay for it? Are we willing to maintain the current tax structure and system and then have these services, that which we can afford to continue to pay for in the future? This program review mechanism will be very, very key to the way that public services are offered in this Province in the future. As we go on into the future, I think that will be very key. I hope the Opposition members play a key role in this because they can play a part, and I intend, as a member of this government, to play a part. Mr. Speaker, that certainly will be a key part of how we offer public services, and making sure that government is responsive to what the people of the Province want, that it is affordable and that we, the taxpayers, can continue to pay for, that we can afford to, and that we offer the basic services that are necessary here in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I think program review is going to be an exercise unlike any other that has ever been offered here in the Province, and it will certainly be that which I think will give us good quality public services on into the future.

Mr. Speaker, the program review mechanism is one - other situations we have looked at, and really we have done quite well. If you look at the financial side, considering the fact that we had a $300 million deficit this year, and bring in a Budget, and the Opposition, no matter how hard they tried, could not get a huge public outcry about our Budget. Now, is it a problem with the Opposition, or -

MR. FITZGERALD: What about all the demonstrations that took place?

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, it was good. It was healthy democracy, and that is what it is all about. But the Opposition - I am not called with complaints. The day immediately following the Budget, I never had a complaint. I went to my district immediately following the Budget and received nothing but... There were some people who had some problems with it, but generally they were not beating down my door, saying it is a terrible Budget. Considering that you had a $300 million Budget deficit, and you people in the House of Assembly - and this was mentioned to me, the fact that we took an 11.6 per cent cut out of our expenses here in the House was a good signal, and the Opposition can share some of the praise for that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RAMSAY: They do share that, because as members here, they are involved in very few of the decisions, but on that one I think we deserve to applaud the Opposition for going along with that. The fact that we have made this place more efficient, and made it run more smoothly, I think, is a key to offering some congratulations to the Opposition on assisting us with that end of it. No one likes to take money out of the way they operate and serve their constituents, but we have led the way and I feel that in this, the hon. the Member for Kilbride, and others -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, I gave a picture of that to John Efford last year.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the time. I thank the Opposition for being so attentive and listening to these remarks here tonight, and look forward to their concurrence on this motion.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I was waiting anxiously while the Member for LaPoile was speaking, because we were -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do up your shirt.

MR. H. HODDER: Do up my jacket, you mean.

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment briefly on a number of the issues that have been raised. First of all, I want to make note that in the Budget the government announces the withdrawal of the $61. That $61 is under Regulation 8 of the Department of Social Services. The minister said in the House here today that it applies to 4,000 families, or about 8,000 people. That makes about $2,900,000 or $2,500,000 or something like that. I want to say to the government, last year we could have saved that $2.5 million quite easily. Because last year, the report of the Auditor General, referring to the Department of Social Services, points out where it wasted money.

Let me comment on the Auditor General's report last year. It said - talking about the integrated delivery system for computers in the Department of Social Services. If there is one area where there was absolute mismanagement of public monies, it had to be in the way in which the computer programs were introduced in the Department of Social Services in recent years. In fact, the Auditor General said: In 1988, government contracted a firm of management consultants to complete an operational review of the Department of Social Services. Then, in 1989, it says the government, of which some hon. members opposite were members, they prepared a proposal to develop a management information system known as Integrated Delivery System, called I.D.S. In October 1990, a steering committee was established to manage and monitor progress of the development. It included representatives of the Treasury Board Secretariat and Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited.

Mr. Speaker, by March 31 1995 what had happened? It says here in the Auditor General's report: When the system received Treasury Board approval in 1989 it was estimated to cost approximately $3.7 million for the software development only and be completed in four years. Subsequently, estimated costs projected it to 1999 increased to $32.7 million in December 1992, and to $47.9 million in January 1995, with an estimated completion date in 1997. The $32.7 million and the $47.9 million includes the cost of hardware, software development, staff training and operation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: The Department of Social Services. This is a group that just chopped social assistance people by $61 per family per month, and here we are saying something it was estimated in 1989 that was going to cost about $3.7 million, by 1992 they had spent $32.7 million, and by January 1995 they had spent $47.9 million.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have asked ourselves: Where is the priority? Where are those magnificent computers? Last year, we had an hon. member stand and say to this House that they were so well integrated into the delivery system that messages that were going from the group home in Whitbourne were being faxed to a construction firm down in Labrador City. Mr. Speaker, after repeated calls to have it corrected it still didn't get corrected. In fact, it took a ministerial intervention to have it changed. They are so technologically advanced, it says here: Although the I.D.S. project was approved in 1989, the project still remains substantially incomplete after spending $10.3 million.

Mr. Speaker, let us face some realities. This report here says that there were alternatives to cutting social services people in 1996. It was called simply - go back over what the Auditor General says. The Auditor General says here that $50 million potentially has been not spent in a useful manner by the Department of Social Services.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is here. It says: Many of the weaknesses and issues identified in the Social report of 1989 are still unresolved. This is the Auditor General's report for 31 March, 1995; and if there is one substantive embarrassment that this government has, it is the money that was spent on computer programs in 1989-1995. It really is a substantial black mark on this government's record to bring in a computerization program.

The truth of the matter is that the Auditor General, rightfully, tells the government in her report that there was substantial variance in what was intended to be delivered and indeed what was being delivered; and who pays the price?

We know that $2.5 million this year is cut right out of social assistance, and here we could spend almost twenty times that, fifteen times that, on a computer system that did not even work - it did not even do anything - so we have a lack of organization. The Auditor General says here that the money spent on the computers did not deliver the projects -

MR. TULK: Who was this?

MR. H. HODDER: This is the Auditor General's report.

MR. TULK: What did it say?

MR. H. HODDER: It says the work that was intended to be done by the computer system indeed has not been done.

AN HON. MEMBER: When was it started?

MR. H. HODDER: It started in 1989, and the work began here, it says, in October of 1990. It says a Steering Committee was established, so up until October, 1990, there was no work done on the project at all. It was after the Liberal government got elected that this project was actioned, so nobody could say that the Liberal government did not have a chance to have any input, or to change this. Indeed they could.

Look at the Auditor General's Report - there is an awful indictment on government's decision-making; and at the end of the day, the people of this Province in social services - we know who is paying the price.

So there were alternatives. We did not have to balance our Budget on the backs of the poorest people in the Province. They could have spent a lot more wisely in the last four or five years in that same department. They did not have to take money from some other department; they could have spent more wisely in that same department.

When the minister was making statements in the press in late May she was, in fact, referring to a memorandum that went from the Director of Income Support to all of the district managers in the Province, and the instructions to the district managers are very, very explicit - they tell us precisely what she wants done - and it says here, from her office: Social assistance will be granted a budget allocation of approximately $250 million, and employment opportunities a budget of approximately $8 million for the 1996-1997 fiscal year. These allocations to these programs have been made with the understanding that under no circumstances are they to be exceeded.

Then she says: In the event that there are some overruns, things change, we will have to make further cutbacks because at the end of the day we are going to balance this budget. Don't look for any more money, regardless of your needs. So if we have an increase in need, then we are going to have to cut back on everybody else in the system to be able to help out.

So, Mr. Speaker, what she says here is, `The budget allocation assumes that the following savings reductions will be realized,' and she says, `...in the event it is projected and overrun is inevitable, further modifications will be made to the program.' What she is saying is that regardless of how many people are added to the social services list because of continuing high unemployment, regardless of how many people are coming off TAGS or the down-sizing of the economy and all of these things, regardless of all of that, we are going to make sure that we stay on budget.

So, Mr. Speaker, what is being said in the minister's own words is that we are going to stick to our guns, we are not going to overspend in our budget, and I'm sorry folks, if more of you get poor then we are just going to have to divide by a higher number and you will all get less. That is what the minister is saying. She says it very directly. She says that is how the mathematics is going to work and so therefore what that says is, folks we will chop you $61 now under Regulation 8 and if things don't work out and more of you become poorer, then we are going to have to chop you some more after that again.

Mr. Speaker, there are comments made about the income tax refunds. In fact, what is said is that income tax refund policy will be continued and rigorously enforced. Mr. Speaker, in future, the minister says in her memorandum, `...greater inference will be placed on suspensions and reduction versus overpayment.' In other words, if you happen to have any money that might get clawed back don't expect it to be prorated. You might not have known about it, but like the gentleman I talked to the other day who found out that he had $800 and he was told, `Sorry, you might have the money spent but until we use up that $800 there is no more help for you.' So he went from getting his regular monthly income from social assistance to having zero until that $800 had been achieved.

Mr. Speaker, to illustrate to you how very small the department can be in its policies, I talked to a senior citizen - she is a retired person, not a senior citizen - she is fifty-eight years old. She told me the following story, that she was getting a Canada Pension disability and in January she got a one-dollar increase. Do you know what? Her income is being supplemented by Social Services and didn't the department clawed back the one dollar! She got a one-dollar increase in her Canada Pension disability allowance and the department changed her income support by the one dollar.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that to me shows how small, miserly, stingy and mean this government can be. When you say to somebody who got a one-dollar increase in their Canada Pension disability, then she correctly reported it, she made mention that there was a change and then promptly she was told: We are sorry but now we have to claw that back. Therefore, her next cheque from Social Services was deducted so that she could get that one dollar per month for the three months that was involved, so she lost three dollars. Now, of course, she loses one dollar every month after that. Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of decisions that I think are not very well received by people who are out there in the general public.

Mr. Speaker, then we come to household furniture and equipment. Today, I talked to a colleague in the House, a member of this House, who told me that he had been to visit a constituent. He told me about the fact that what was - the request was for some basic furniture. In this particular case, the lady in question needed a special chair because she suffers from a lot of back problems. She has had many surgeries. And she was told: No way, you cannot have anything. You are lucky to have what you have. She was told absolutely not, there is no money to give you money for a special chair so you could be more comfortable than you would be without it. So she was turned down and turned away. Then I had a dialogue with the member here who told me that this was a very stressful thing for his constituent. But that is the kind of thing that is going on.

In the household furniture part of this Budget it says the following: `The budget allocation for household furniture has been reduced by $1 million.' In addition to the $2.5 million saved on Regulation 8, another million dollars is taken out of the furniture and equipment part of the Budget. This reduction is about 50 per cent of the allocation that has already been put into the budget for this particular category. It says: This will require a major adjustment to present policy. In the interim it says, `Please ensure a system for household furniture is provided only in emergency situations.' The question is, nobody has told the front line workers what constitutes an emergency situation.

Mr. Speaker, then, of course, we come to the infamous $61 a month. I have received, in the past several weeks, calls from all parts of the Province. In fact, as members would know, it is a part of the task of being the critic for this particular department. In many cases, when members opposite are called by their constituents, and the constituents may not be satisfactorily pleased with the response, they very often then call the Opposition. I get a lot of calls in that way. Today I talked to people from the St. Barbe district, two in fact and I talked to people from the LaPoile district today, two in fact. I talked to numerous people in St. John's today as well, and I talked to people from the Gander district. Mr. Speaker, the one thing that people are saying consistently over and over again is, `I don't know how I am going to make things go without that $61.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased on Friday when the minister in a CBC interview said, `Maybe not everybody will lose that $61. Maybe there is some way in which some people can still qualify for additional monies because there may be other openings.'

Mr. Speaker, I am most anxious to find out what are the other programs? The minister said she is going to cut $2.5 million but on CBC on Friday she said, `Oh no, it might not be that, there may be other categories.' I want to find out what those other categories are. I wish that the minister were here now so that I could say to the minister, stand in your place and tell us what are the options? Are there alternate programs? What are they? How do you go about accessing them? We would like to know what those other programs are. How much of the $2.5 million are we going to put back to people or are we just simply out there playing a game? Are we just simply, again, playing a game with the poor people of Newfoundland and Labrador?

I can assure you that I am going to have great difficulty with that because in the CBC interview on Friday the minister clearly said, `Well, not everybody is going to lose the $61, they may qualify for other programs.' For example, she mentioned the people who have diabetes, they may have a food supplement and whether they are getting it because of that then they might qualify under some other category.

So I want to find out from the minister, what are the other categories? What are the alternate programs that she was talking about when she was on CBC television on Friday afternoon? Because in this House, the minister has not said there were any alternate programs. I do not know of any alternate programs. I know that some people might have been misquoted. They should have been quoted into a different program, but they were quoted under Regulation 8 - that might be the case. If there were simply anomalies they were trying to correct, then we should not mislead the people.

Today people called me to say: We heard the minister in her interview say that there might be some other ways in which we can still get funding or part of the $61. They were anxious to ask me, what are these other programs? I do not know the other programs and I do not think anybody else in the public knows the other programs. I talked to front line workers this morning, they have no idea what the alternate programs are.

If the minister has a strategy for taking some of these people who get the $61 and then moving them into an alternate program, maybe then she should tell everybody in the House. Maybe she should tell her front line workers, because I do not know what the alternate programs are. I have not heard of anybody in her department who knows what the alternate programs are.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have a case again where the minister, in her interview on Friday evening, may have actually caused some people to have some hope. So we have the old Red Book back again, we are going to offer hope. On Friday afternoon, the minister in her CBC interview offered out, there may be hope for you, but this morning when I tried to do some research on this I did not find any documentation to substantiate that. So again, the poor people are played with. They are not getting the absolute facts, because today, no front line workers know about it. Yet, the minister seems to say that there might be some hope for these people. We just wanted to note that, and I am sure that some hon. member opposite will go to the minister and say, `What was the critic talking about when he said that there was going to be some programs and when he heard the interview on TV on Friday afternoon what did you say and what did you mean?' Well, people in this Province heard what she said and they got from it the message that there might be some recourse, some alternatives for them. I don't know what it was. Maybe tomorrow she will make a Ministerial Statement and clear it all up and maybe we can have some hope brought into the lives of the 4,000 families who are involved, in this Province. I doubt, however, if that is going to happen, because my information today is that there is going to be no slacking off from the $2.5 million that is going to be saved. If we do have any changes it will be more a matter of correcting the coding problems or correcting the anomalies than anything else.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a bit now about the topping up of the rent. Let me illustrate to you the kinds of ways in which people have had trouble. The minister has said that they are going to discontinue, in the near future, the top-up of the rent or the mortgage.

We know now that the maximum is $372 for your rent or your mortgage, and then, if you get the $61 you could have added that on to it. We have people today who have been told that there is going to be an adjustment. What the minister says is that, `...if possible additional assistance which currently is being paid for reasons other than rent or mortgage were removed by a mass change in the provincial office.' Then on the rent she says, `...additional assistance must be eliminated for rent top-ups in the next few months and will be replaced by implementation of a regional rental program.'

Mr. Speaker, we want to know more about that. We know the Minister of Social Services is in dialogue with the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. We know that is ongoing. I understand there has not been any conclusions reached but that it is ongoing. Mr. Speaker, we would like to know when there is going to be action coming forward on that particular part of the program as well.

Mr. Speaker, there are certain things in this Budget that we do not have any great difficulty with. I am pleased to see that there is a continued commitment to day care services, not enough, but we understand the financial conditions of our Province. I say to the government that we would like to be doing a lot more in day care. We would like to be doing a lot more on early intervention and prevention programs - early intervention particularly as it applies to children. The hon. member, a few minutes ago, mentioned that in the last year-and-a-half, the Member for Port au Port, myself as the Member for Waterford - Kenmount first and now Waterford Valley - joined recently by the Member for Burin - Placentia West, we have been in the final stages, in fact, we spent a great deal of time yesterday, until 10:00 or 10:30 last night before we finished up our meetings trying to do the final draft of that report. We expect, and I say to all hon. members, that we expect to have the report ready to present to the House within the next week or ten days. The final draft needs about another couple of hours of work and a final review to go over some of the language and this kind of thing, but it is just about ready to present.

One of the things I want to address here when I talk about children is the commitment that I would like to see from any government. It is commitment to prevention, commitment to early childhood education, commitment to equal opportunities and that kind of thing. Mr. Speaker, I say to the government - and again I say that the commitment that is here to day care, it is nice to see that it was not cut. In fact, it went up by $70,000 or thereabouts and I am pleased with that. I compliment the government on that kind of strategy because that lets some people, particularly those who are receiving public assistance - it let's these people be able to apply for jobs and be assured that the children will be taken care of. It also assures that some of these children will be able to go out to day care centres, and in these centres they will be able to have exposure to other children and, of course, be able to increase their early childhood education.

What I don't see in this government however - and I mentioned this - I don't see a great deal of attention by the Minister of Health, in his budget, to prevention programs. Now, Mr. Speaker, talking about prevention, I want to switch for a moment to health. Mr. Speaker, members may not know here how many millions of dollars are spent in this Province every year as the result of injury and accidents. In Canada alone, there are 75,000 children hospitalized and 2,000 children die due to injuries in this country every single year.

Now, I just want to mention the Janeway. The Newfoundland health care costs, due to injuries, is estimated to be $220 million a year. Mr. Speaker, members should be shocked. One quarter of our health care budget is spent as a result of accidents, injuries and that kind of thing. That comes from the Canadian hospital injury reporting prevention program. Between July 1990, and July 1995, there were 23,570 children with injuries seen at the emergency department at the Janeway. In 1995 alone there were 7,354. Now, Mr. Speaker, in 1993-1994 there were 1,419 children from infancy to age nineteen who were hospitalized in the Province due to injuries. We know that 75 per cent to 80 per cent of all injuries are preventable.

So we say to the government, real health care lies in the prevention program. In other words, we have to have a wellness philosophy not a sick philosophy. If you talk about the things - I started to mention the other day before we got cut off in Question Period and it got kind of mixed up, I admit to that. Mr. Speaker, we know that 75 per cent to 80 per cent of all accidents and all injuries are preventable. If that is the case, then we could save millions and tens of millions of dollars if we were committed to what we call an accident injury prevention program.

Mr. Speaker, the other day in the House I mentioned a healthy public policy. Members were not too familiar with it - it's jargon. What it means is that every decision of the government should be questioned as to what impact it is having on health care - that is all it means.

When, for example, the Minister of Health sits in Cabinet and the Minister of Justice says: We are going to take the highway patrol off the highway, the Minister of Health says: No, you cannot do that, because that is going to increase accidents and it is going to impact on my health care budget. Therefore, I am going to be picking up the expense associated with that. There is a direct relationship between the policies of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and the policies of the Minister of Justice and what we spend on health care. The Minister of Health should be saying: I am sorry folks, we cannot cut back on our police forces. But he doesn't say that because we do not have a philosophy that tells us we have a good solid health care policy for the Province.

The same way, for example, a few years ago. The Minister of Health at that time - I complimented him at the time - adopted a program about non-smoking in this Province. The anti-smoking program that was put forward by this government is about the best in the country. I support it because it is a solid healthy public policy. Therefore, I am saying to the ministers opposite that when -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. H. HODDER: A couple of minutes?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?


MR. H. HODDER: In that case, then, Mr. Speaker, we will have an intervening speaker and I am sure I will have a chance to get back again.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was listening with great interest to the Member for Waterford Valley. I am tempted to just say a few words and ask him to continue on, although that might be considered unfair to the process. We have to have a - I guess the Member for Waterford Valley will, in due course, over the course of the long evening I gather we are faced with, have another opportunity to speak.

I was pleased he was making some reference to the kinds of priorities we seem to be getting from this government with respect to expenditures, for example, on information technology in the Department of Social Services, which seems to take a higher priority than the needs of the recipients of Social Services. There are a great many problems in the Department of Social Services, there is no doubt about that. We are hearing about them every day. I get calls, as does the Member for Waterford Valley. I do not know why they do not call their members over there. Because I get calls from all over the Province, calls from people who are concerned about what is happening to them in the area of Social Services, and they are calling from districts that are represented by Liberals.

MR. TULK: Well, I look after mine.

MR. HARRIS: Well, that is what I am getting, and I know the Member for Waterford Valley is getting the same thing. From all over the Province they are calling in because they are not satisfied with what the government has been doing. I have directed a number of them to the Minister of Social Services' office. Some of them, in fact, are from the Minister of Social Services' district. They call me and say they want me to help them, and when I find out where they live I say: Well, you are in luck, because the person who can fix your problems is your member, the Minister of Social Services. Then they call me back a little while later and say they had not gotten any satisfaction, that the minister has not been available to talk to them, or that the person they talked to had no sympathy whatsoever for their circumstances. These are people who are having their income tax rebates clawed back; these are people who are having the $61 deducted, having overpayments that are confusing, and overpayments tacked upon overpayments deducted from their cheques without any real explanation as to where the overpayments are coming from, or whose fault it is.

Individuals have had to sue the Minister of Social Services to try to sort out the overpayment situation, and they have been told twice now that they are breaking the law. They have been told twice. Back in November the previous minister was sued and had to consent to a judgement to return an overpayment that was paid that was clawed back illegally, and since then, a new test has been put in place based on overpayments that are resulting from the mistakes made by the minister's department.

We have an increase in the so-called welfare cop, and the latest news that I have heard is that they have decided to give them quotas. Each and every social welfare cop, or whatever they are called, is given a quota; $300,000 a year they have to claw back by a combination of cut-offs and discovery of overpayments. That is their target; that is their goal; that is their quota. They will deny it is a quota. They will say it is not really a quota, it is a target.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Each one of them was told, in a memo sent out on April 26, that they must achieve a quota of $300,000 a year.

MR. TULK: Who?

MR. HARRIS: The welfare cops.

MR. TULK: Oh, I see.

MR. HARRIS: Each and every one of them, and I do not know what that is going to lead to. They will deny it is a quota. I have not asked the minister in the House yet because I have not had a chance to ask him very many questions in this House since we have been back after the Budget, but they have targets which people are told can be achieved, and they expect them to be achieved, so that is a quota, of $300,000 for each and every welfare cop.

MR. TULK: That is the minimum, is it?

MR. HARRIS: That is the target; that is the quota.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is the expectation from your employment, I say to the Government House Leader, and that is a quota. It is like telling a police officer: Go out and give out 100 speeding tickets a day and we will judge how good a police officer you are by whether you have achieved that goal, regardless of whether people are speeding or not, I say to the Government House Leader, because they give up, then, on figuring out whether anybody is breaking the law or not, and all they look at is the results of what the police effort undertakes. And that is the kind of problem we have.

The attitude of the government is: we will deal with the cost of social services by finding ways of cutting people off, and finding ways of cutting back on their income. That is an approach which is consistent with the approach of other governments in other provinces. The P.C. Government in Ontario has adopted the same approach. The Liberals promised to adopt that approach in Vancouver, British Columbia, another place where liberalism reigns in an election campaign. The Liberals, in that particular place, decided they would try to be as far to the right as they could possibly be. They felt so confident they were well on the right that even the Reform Party, the Social Credit Party, and the right-wing parties in British Columbia would have a coalition with them. The coalition of right-wing parties to defeat the socialist hoards, I think was the plan, the socialist hordes in British Columbia.

It was kind of like a tennis match going on, you know, if you ever watch a tennis game when the person is trying to field the ball. The ball goes up in the air and the guy playing tennis has to run to get the ball. The Liberal Party is kind of like that, Mr. Speaker. When the battle is on for the right-wing, the Liberals are running over to the right so they can be there when the ball drops in the hope that they will form the government. When the battle is on for the left, they run right over to the left to try to be there when the ball is out.

The Liberal Party is a very malleable organism in this country. Some would say it is very like a chameleon, tries to pretend to be part of the background so that it can achieve power, it seems, merely for its exercise. I heard the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile make his speech and he was sort of an apologist for the status quo. He was saying: We kind of had to do this, and we went out and asked a few people do they want to pay more taxes and they said no.

Did anybody here ever ask anyone would they like to pay more taxes and gotten anything other than one answer? No takers? Not one person in this House has ever asked someone if they would like to pay more taxes and they had a positive answer. No? No takers? I didn't think so.

This is consultation. We found out what the people wanted. They didn't want more taxes! It was a brilliant effort. A great exercise in democracy and public consultation. The people don't want to be taxed to death! So we brought that back as one of the planks of our Budget platform. They did not ask the people on social assistance whether they wanted to continue to be driven into the ground by this government. How would you like to have your income reduced by $61 a month? I don't even think they were invited into the consultation process. They weren't invited into the consultation process.

We have a lot of talk in this country about deficits and debts and all of that stuff. We have been hearing it for the last fifteen years, from the same crowd now, mind you, the people who set the policy for the Liberal Government and the Liberal Party in British Columbia; you know, the Fraser Institute types or the C. D. Howe Institute or the Business Council on National Issues. These people have decided that the big problem in Canada is the debt-deficit. They tell us of these amazing statistics, devastating statistics. Do you know, they ask, that every single person in Canada owes $22,000 in public debt? Twenty-two thousand dollars per person - never pay it off, they said. Even a little baby born, two days after he is born he owes $22,000 in public debt. That is the kind of stuff they get on with, trying to frighten everybody, especially frighten the people who are paid the minimum wage. If they are paid the minimum wage they hardly make $7,000 or $8,000 a year if they are lucky enough to have a full-time job. Now, to tell them that they owe $22,000 of the national debt!

What is the other side of the balance sheet? All these big business types, they like to talk about balance sheets and they talk about liabilities when it suits them, but what about the assets? What about the other side of the balance sheet? What is the national worth that is compared to this national debt? The reality is that each Canadian's share of the country's net worth, if you all had it, was increased in fact last year by $1,900 to the amount of $83,600 as measured by Statistics Canada. Now, that is not the New Democratic Party think-tank or anything, it is Statistics Canada saying that.

If you add together the value of Canada's assets as a nation, its highways and its forests, the factory inventories that are sitting around having been produced, the wheat fields and the water, to the money in RSPs, the total net worth of this country, says Statistics Canada, is $2.5 trillion, and the total public debt of this country is only, by comparison, $670 billion, less than 27 per cent of the country's assets. If you divide that public debt amongst Canadians, the government debt would be $22,000 for each of us, well below the individual share of the national assets at $83,600. It is a little bit more, a tiny bit more, than one-quarter of the value of the national assets. So instead of going around talking about how bad off we are because of $22,000 in debt for every Canadian, maybe we should go around and crow about how there is $61,000 worth of wealth and assets for every Canadian.

I do not think that the Minister of Finance, when he is looking at his own personal balance sheet, says: Oh, my, how terrible; I have a mortgage; I owe the bank $80,000. He probably looks around and says: Wow, I have $50,000 worth of equity in this nice house that I have. He doesn't cry and moan and worry about the fact that he owes $80,000 to the bank by way of mortgage. He is pleased with himself because he is sitting on some assets that are actually worth something. Now, he still has to pay his mortgage, and we still have to have fiscal responsibility. I am not critical of that, but I am critical of the trend that exists in this country that says that everybody in this country should worry and worry and worry about the fact that governments have built up a debt, and therefore we cannot take care of our citizens. That is the problem. It is not the problem of whether we need to be fiscally responsible; it is not the problem of whether we have to be able to pay our debts; it is not the problem of being able to look after the responsibilities of government, but it is a question of whether we are continuing to be concerned about the welfare of our citizens, and convinced that we can have a society that looks after our citizens.

The danger we are facing today is, it is too easy to follow the road that says we can do nothing else but cut back on basic services to people. It is too easy to follow that road which says we cannot provide basic food, basic clothing, basic housing, basic education, to our citizens because the money just is not there. Well, the wealth is there, the money is there, and the ability of governments to organize their affairs in such a way as to provide the basic necessities is there, but the question really is whether there is a political will by members opposite to take on the task, or whether they are content to say: Well, we only have so many dollars here from Ottawa, we only have so many dollars here from sales tax, we only have so many dollars here from our revenues; therefore, we have to cut back here, we have to cut back there, and we have to cut the garment to fit the cloth.

It is a real old-fashioned, conservative saying, that you have to cut the garment to fit the cloth. That is all very well if you are talking about an operation where you have choices, or a decision where the choice is from having one type of gown to another type of gown, but when you are talking about the difference between providing basic social services to people on the one hand, and having a status quo when it comes to looking after your government friends on the other, then surely, the choice has to be made to look after the people of this Province first who most need the help of government.

When we look at the Auditor General's comments on the expenditures in the Department of Social Services - we all got very interested obviously back seven or eight years ago when they stopped increasing social assistance rates. The money that they could have used to increase social assistance rates in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991, what did they do with that? They spent it on a computer system that has yet to be up and running. They spent $10.3 million so far; $7.5 million of that seems to have been wasted.

In 1989 when they approved it, it was estimated it would cost $3.7 million and be completed in four years. The estimated costs have increased now to $32.7 million in December 1992. The new estimate is $47.9 million with an estimated completion date of 1997. Just in time for the 500th Anniversary of John Cabot's discovery, we will have spent in the Department of Social Services in a matter of six years, nearly $50 million on information technology, they call it - information technology, the big boondoggle of the modern age. It is so bad that the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has to spend $1 million - I think it was $1 million, maybe even more, $2 million - just to keep track of it. Trying to keep a handle on the government expenditures for computer service, information technology, this year alone, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has to find $1 million to set up a whole new - to try to keep track of what they are spending and what they are doing.

Here in the Department of Social Services they will have spent by 1997 nearly $50 million on information technology, software development, much of it wasted according to the report of the Auditor General. Yet, at the same time, the poor people who are dependent upon Social Services are getting a decrease of 17 per cent from (inaudible). Over the same period of time, they have had the value of their social assistance cheques decrease by 17 per cent to the value of inflation alone. This year, the minister says: We are going to take back $61 from many of your cheques. At the same time, on the other side, they are spending all this money on computers.

Now, we know that computers have a value, but we also know there is an awful lot of hardware that lies around unused. There is an awful lot of waste, duplication and failure to properly utilize the resources that are available. It becomes then a question of priorities. We have heard all kinds of talk about choices on the other side, but priorities are the ones that you make the choices for. You choose to deliver, if you are sincere and serious about your mission, you choose to use your priorities and use your money to look after the people first and look after the computer software second.

Mr. Speaker, I would like some answers. I hope the Minister of Social Services is paying attention and is going to get up and address these concerns. Because the people are calling me every day. I had a woman call me at home last night, a good Liberal.

AN HON. MEMBER: She's calling on you?

MR. HARRIS: She called me. She said: I don't think I'm going to get any satisfaction from the - she was at the dinner on Friday night. She called me on Sunday night. She said: I am frightened. What is going to happen to me or my home if I have a stroke and end up in a senior citizens' home? Are they going to sell my house? Are they going to take my house? Am I going to lose my house because it is going to cost $4,500 or $4,000 a month to live in a senior citizen's home? Are they going to take my house? Is that what is going to happen? I cannot get the answers, she says; I cannot get any answers. Maybe the Minister of Social Services would like to answer that.

MR. TULK: That is not true, is it?

MR. HARRIS: Maybe the Minister of Social Services can tell us whether it is true or not. This woman is a frightened woman, and there are many out there who are frightened by the policies of this government, because their security is threatened by this government - their income security, their job security, and now this woman is afraid that her house will be gone if she ends up in Hoyles Home or Escasoni, or some senior citizen's complex, because of health problems, and is going to be charged $4,000 a month. She wants to know: Will she lose her house?

Obviously, she was not able to get a satisfactory answer on Friday night at the dinner at the Newfoundland Hotel.

MR. TULK: She never asked. I never heard her ask. I could have given her a satisfactory answer.

MR. HARRIS: Well, perhaps you can take your place now at the microphone, when I sit down, and give us the answer. Tell us how this policy is going to be implemented. How will it affect people who own their own homes? Will they be put on the street? Will the government sell their homes? Will they take it over and rent it out? Answer these questions. Provide people some security, instead of threatening their personal security, their life savings, their equity in their homes, and their ability to earn an income. These are the kinds of concerns that this government has engendered.

They went around for a period of two months; you would not know but there was - never mind a better tomorrow; you would never know there was no tomorrow, the way they were talking about the money they were going to spend. They were going to lash out $10 million for this, lash out $10 million for that, and lash out $10 million for something else. I think that $100 million must have been spent two or three times by the time the election was over. Never mind tomorrow; we don't need to worry about tomorrow; there is no tomorrow. We are going to spend $100 million a week. It is a good thing the election was only three weeks long, or we would have had a $400 million or $500 million expenditure before it was all over. Now, the very same people who were cajoled into supporting them -

MR. MATTHEWS: `Jack', give us a copy of your speech.

MR. HARRIS: - even people supporting the minister of wealth and health sitting over there, the people who supported those individuals are now told that their individual security is at risk.

If the Member for St. John's North, the minister of wealth and health, as he is better known, wants a copy of my speech, I will provide him with one tomorrow from Hansard, and I can provide him with copies for all of his constituents if he wants to put it out in his next Householder. If he wants to send out with his next Householder, copies of my speech, I will provide him with adequate copies - I would be glad to do it - and perhaps with the copies of the speech he can tell people the answer to the question that they are phoning me and asking: What is going to happen if they have a serious health problem and end up in a senior citizen's home, and have to pay the minister $4,000 a month to stay in the Miller Centre, or pay $4,000 a month to stay in a senior citizen's home?

`What is going to happen to their homes?' is this woman's question, and the minister can answer that when he wants to take his place and speak in this debate. Those are the questions that people are asking out there, and they are concerned because this government is threatening these people's security.

We have another area that comes under the estimates for Social Services, and that is the Ministry of Environment and Labour. I didn't have the pleasure this year of attending the Estimates Committee. I am not on the Estimates Committee this year. Unfortunately, the government did not see fit to include me on the Estimates Committee even though, of course, theses committees have a maximum of seventeen people allowed, and a minimum of seven. They only appointed seven and didn't see fit - and they tried to blame it on the Tories. I think they said: That is the Tories' fault that you are not on the Committee.

So, Mr. Speaker, I did not get a chance to do the detailed questioning of the Minister of Environment and Labour. I always look forward to asking questions of the `minister of talk.' The minister has a good line. He is really good. I have to give the minister credit. He is very good at talking the talk. He knows the lingo, he knows all the buzzwords, and he knows all the people who are involved in the environmental community. He is very, very, very good. He is one of my favourite ministers. I was very pleased when he was appointed minister because I knew that he was a man who knew the issues. He was up on the issues. I have asked him a few questions in the House over the last couple of years since he has been minister.

I remember his very first step as minister, I thought, one of the most dramatic ones that a minister has the pleasure of announcing. I think very shortly after he was made minister he walked dramatically out of a caucus, out of a very interesting Liberal caucus. They were just having a nice chat, a little difference of opinion here and there. In the middle of the caucus as a bit of a peace offering, out came the Minister of Environment and Labour waving a piece of paper saying: We have done it, we have made a decision, we will not import American garbage. This has been decided by the government, and I as the new minister, I was able to announce that. I thought that was a good sign of things to come.

But, Mr. Speaker, we have been waiting patiently ever since. The minister is always on the verge of a great announcement. Any minute now we are going to have a great announcement from the Minister of Environment and Labour. We are not sure what it is going to be but we know there are big things coming. He has me convinced. I have been giving him all kinds of rope. I have been talking to him about wonderful projects. I gave him a clipping one time about a paper mill in Nova Scotia, a big investment, $30 million, $40 million, $50 million. Do you know what they were doing with this paper mill? They were building a paper mill for one purpose and one purpose only: To deal with recycled products - in Nova Scotia, not downtown Toronto, now, or somewhere in the middle of the metropolis where all the recycling products come, but in Nova Scotia. Twenty-seven million dollars I said they were pumping into this, building a mill just for handling recycled products alone.

The minister said: Yes, great idea, we know all about that. Do not be surprised if you hear something soon. I think he was talking about his own district now. He was talking about: We have great things planned for Stephenville. That was before the election now, so you kind of have to judge these things a little differently. That was before the election. There are great things on the go before the election. It is like the better tomorrow that we had in the book. We are still waiting patiently.

I am told by the Speaker that I have only a very short period of time in this particular intervention, so I will not be able to elaborate on my hopes for the Minister of Environment and Labour. I have a lot of other hopes and plans for him. One of my hopes is that he will announce -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) the Member for St. George's -Stephenville East?

MR. HARRIS: The Member for St. George's - Stephenville East, a very fine minister. We have great expectations for him, expectations that have yet to be met. I am anxious. I will not elaborate any further now, Mr. Speaker, because it appears my time is up. If I start another topic that is of interest to the Minister of Environment and Labour it will take me longer than the minute or so I have remaining to elaborate on it. Perhaps he can get up and tell us something in the meantime. When he is finished I will - maybe he can make some announcement now? He has a briefcase full of them there, look, he is looking at them now. He is reaching into his briefcase. He is going to come out with a great announcement any minute now.

Environment Week came and went. I was ready every day. We were expecting a statement from the Minister of Environment and Labour about Environment Week, but no. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday he wasn't in the House. Friday morning I said: Yes, this is the day, Environment Week is almost over, and we did not have a statement from the minister about Environment Week. It came and went. I was figuring, for sure, this week we are going to have a great announcement from the Minister of the Environment, but no, not today, either. He wanted to talk about workers' compensation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: He is reading it over now, he is correcting it, and he is going to make a great announcement any minute. I think I will sit down and give the minister a chance to tell us the great announcement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I was reading the paper on the weekend about the NDP, about the theme of their conference, and the theme of the conference was `Do or Die'.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you serious?

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, that was the agenda, `Do or Die'. After that speech, I think I know which one it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which telephone booth did they meet in?

MR. K. AYLWARD: I am not sure.

I have to say, the leader of the NDP is sincere in his efforts. We all appreciate him on this side of the House. I believe we do. We do. He tries hard. He likes to believe that he is the social conscience of the whole people of the Province, and I do appreciate that. I really do. I am one who listens to what he says. We all do - a lot of us do - some of us probably do not as much as others, but anyway, I try to because I believe that he is sincere. He is like the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, the Opposition House Leader; I think he is sincere, also.

The thing is, they have great suggestions, and we like to listen, as a government because we, as a government, do listen, and we try to - like the Minister of Finance, what a fine Budget be brought down considering the circumstances. He went around the Province -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: He travelled; what a Minister of Finance! It was tough.

AN HON. MEMBER: At great personal expense.

MR. K. AYLWARD: At great personal expense. He went around the Province and came up with a Budget that was difficult in the circumstances to do, but we came up with what I think is the best we can, is somewhat acceptable. I think it is very acceptable to the people of the Province. The Minister of Finance deserves a great deal of credit for that. He deserves a lot of credit for hauling it all together, because it is a tough job. It is a tough job to do, and anybody who thinks that governing these days is an easy job, I can tell you it is not. It is a heavy responsibility, and this side of the House appreciates that and understands the responsibility, and that is why the people endorsed the Liberal Party again. Because they believe we have the responsibility and we can handle it, and with our new leader, Mr. Speaker, we are going to handle it, as a matter of fact, and we are going to get a number of things moving in this Province.

I just want to say to the Leader of the NDP that good things come to those who wait, and in a very short order we are going to be announcing a number of new policies in Environment. I look forward to some positive moves, further, that we have built on over the past year-and-a-half in Environment. We have built on new policy initiatives, and we look forward to seeing some new ones coming forward very shortly that will, I think, help move us ahead in this Province when it comes to environmental policy, and the same with the labour relations policy. We are moving ahead in that area. We have a working group in labour relations now, over the past few months, working on some recommendations for the government to look at in labour relations, so there are a number of positive things going on, a very positive agenda.

As a matter of fact, last week was Environment Week and a number of announcements were made during the week, but there were also some environmental awards given out. A number of organizations and groups who have been participating in the environment received awards, and I must say they are very active. Our bug brigade is going over very much like hot cakes, as a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: This is printed - I have no idea where it is printed. It is an Atlantic Canada initiative, I would like to remind the member, for all four provinces, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: You do not know where it is printed?

MR. K. AYLWARD: No, I do not know where it was printed. I do not know every answer to every question, Mr. Speaker.

I just say to the member that he should wait in due course. I would like to endorse the Budget and endorse the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board for hauling it all together.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, it was a pleasure.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am happy to speak on this contingency debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I am a happy camper, yes.

The first thing I would like to speak on is the school bus discontinuation. As many members in the House are aware, I have talked on this on a number of occasions, asked a number of questions of the minister and the House Leader, and presented many petitions on the discontinuation of school busing. It is an issue, once again following the Liberal Red Book and the promises during the election, that was unexpected by many people.

MR. TULK: What was that?

MR. OSBORNE: The discontinuation of school busing. It is a problem that is going to have to be faced by the people of this Province and most particularly the people of the city.

I understand that in East Meadows last year when they tried to discontinue a school bus route down there, the Metrobus had to retaliate. They re-instated the school bus run down there. Hopefully, that will be the case this time around, that the government will re-instate school busing. Because we were told they would if there were special circumstances. I think, in most cases there are special circumstances, especially in the light of Metrobus' recent announcements that they cannot handle the extra students that would be required to be handled through the discontinuation of school busing. The cost to the City would be roughly $1 million.

We have asked the Minister of Education: In lieu of school busing for St. John's would he subsidize Metrobus busing? The answer to that was obviously no, on his behalf. Well, $1 million is an awful lot of money for the taxpayers of St. John's to come up with when all other areas of the Province are subsidized for their school busing and St. John's is not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Neither is Nain.

MR. OSBORNE: No, neither is Nain. I was speaking to the member for that area today and they do not get school busing at all. I think that is deplorable. Their roads are not even ploughed. That is another issue. That is an issue he will have to bring up.

AN HON. MEMBER: We will let him speak right now, if he wishes.

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, we will let him speak now if he wishes - there is no problem there.

The discontinuation of the school busing is going to hit especially hard in those areas where Metrobus does not have an adequate run. The Metrobus run does not travel extensively through the various communities. These students are expected to walk great distances just to get a Metrobus, and in some cases take transfers, and in many cases they will have to wait for the transfer bus fifteen or twenty minutes before that arrives. The school busing issue, while it has been talked about extensively in the House, is an issue of such importance that I don't think we can let it go without further discussion. I intend, at every opportunity I get, to present a petition on the issue, and even bring it up in the House again.

I feel that the Minister of Education should take another serious look at school busing and hopefully re-instate it, especially in areas where Metrobus busing is not supplied adequately to those communities.

Furthermore, the $61 cut in social services - you would figure they would keep this there for families for Metrobus costs. They are not going to reinstate school busing, they say, although the pressure is on. They are not going to subsidize Metrobus for the city, although all the other areas of the Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: There you go. There is someone on the other side who has the intelligence to see what I am saying. I am glad to see that.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) for St. John's (inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: That is a fact.

So hopefully they will reinstate the school busing and, if not, at the very least they would subsidize Metrobus busing for St. John's in lieu of the school busing fees. Although, if they were to subsidize Metrobus busing, if we were to think on that, the cost of subsidizing Metrobus busing would far, far outweigh the continuation of school busing in the areas where they are now providing it in St. John's anyhow, so the obvious alternative would be to continue school busing in St. John's.

To get back on the $61 cut in social services, I think that is deplorable as well. Many people on social assistance are just barely surviving from pay cheque to pay cheque, and now you are taking the $61 fee away from them, and asking them to pay for Metrobus busing in the meantime. It is a double whammy. A lot of these families just cannot afford this. Again, it is an example of a better tomorrow for some classes of citizens and not for others. I think the slogan for a better tomorrow is directed at a very small minority as opposed to the majority of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

First year MUN courses have been discontinued in many communities across the Province, and these families are now going to face an added burden and an added expense to send their children to St. John's for first year Memorial, and to put them up with room and board while they are in St. John's, and transportation to and from. Again, you are hitting the families that can least afford to pay it. I think that is absolutely degrading, and the closure of colleges in certain communities again is very, very hard on families, especially in these economic times. We all agree we have to be fiscally responsible, and we have to look for ways of being fiscally responsible, but with the closures of colleges, the discontinuation of first year MUN, the discontinuation of school busing, and the increased cost of going to Memorial University, tuition fees going up... At the rate we are going, we are going to see a day in Newfoundland and Labrador that we saw back three or four decades ago, when it is only the most wealthy of families who can afford to send their children to college or to university. I find that is hard to accept in today's age when education should be accessible to everybody regardless of what class of family income they come from.

The claw back in Social Services is another hit to the people who can very least afford it. Most of these people depended on their income tax money to buy new clothing for their children going back to school or what have you. These families, as I have mentioned, that can very least afford to pay this, had to pass over their income tax cheques - just pass them in to the government. If they happened to spend it before they passed it in, it was taken out of their subsequent cheques. Many of these families were left without money to pay rent or left without money for groceries.

How democratic are we as a government if we are going to do this to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not a democratic society when we impose this type of legislation on people. I find that, as mentioned by many of my colleagues on this side of the House, some of the decisions of government of late are heartless and unconscionable.

Many of the families in Newfoundland and Labrador just cannot afford to pay the pinch on these cutbacks, increased fees to Crown lands and so on. It is just too heavy a burden for most families to cope with in today's age. With declining employment and people coming off the TAGS program over the next couple of years you are going to find a much heavier out-migration of people to the mainland, and that is a very sad thing. As I have mentioned earlier this evening, our most precious resource is our people, and it is a resource we cannot afford to lose.

I a proud and happy to speak on this again today. I thank the Speaker for allowing me the time and the House members for listening.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

In a few moments we will be concluding the debate on this particular part of the day's agenda. We have about another three minutes.

Before we conclude we would want to just address a few other issues, in particular, issues that are connected with education. Certainly, we have already addressed many of these issues over the Question Periods of the past several weeks, and particularly the comments that have been made by my colleague, the Member for Kilbride as the critic for post-secondary education, and by all members of the House, and the critic here, the Member for St. John's East.

We want to note as well that throughout this Province there is great concern today. We did have this particular document called A Framework for School Board Consolidation that was put out some time ago. This particular document has been reviewed. There is great concern as to where we are going now with the education debate. The amendment has been passed in the House of Commons in Ottawa and, of course, this House, and we were happy to endorse the amendment last Fall. I voted for it then, of course, and I voted for it a few weeks ago for the initiative and the endorsement here in the House as well.

Mr. Speaker, we are somewhat concerned as to what is taking place in the re-organization of the school system. With only a few moments left, we want to say to the government that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, last autumn, put forward their comments by way of a referendum, and the people of this Province said: Let's move on with the reform.

However, in the Budget, we find out that Royal Commission implementation has dropped from $667,400 down to $105,400. That tells me that the Royal Commission has been implemented and I missed it, or else it shows that we are not going to do much by way of implementation in this Budget year. Because if you note that the Budget is now only about 18 per cent of what it was last year we have serious questions about how progressive the government is going to be and how it is going to move with the implementation.

I know that some people have been laid off and the team has been changed and that kind of thing, but it certainly sends a message to everybody when you find out that the implementation team has been chopped from $667,000 down to $105,000. We wonder if the government is really sincere about moving forward on the implementation. So, on education reform, we say to the government: Get on with it, it is time that we did it. We now say to all hon. members, it is time for us to see the legislation, both the new legislation on viability and the amendments to the schools act, and to get on with the program.

Mr. Speaker, I note that the time has arrived for the vote on the Social Services estimates. I thank all hon. members for their participation, particularly my great colleagues and my team on this side of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, report of the Social Services Estimates Committee, carried.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m.

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