June 12, 1996              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 27

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin our routine business for today I would like to welcome on behalf of all members thirty-five senior citizens from Seaside Senior Citizens Club in Hants Harbour from the great and historic district of Trinity - Bay de Verde.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House of a significant announcement made today in Baie Verte by my colleague the Minister of Mines and Energy. This morning in Baie Verte, the minister, together with senior officials of Richmont Mines, announced the start of construction of a new gold mine and mill at Nugget Pond, near the community of Snooks Arm.

Construction will start immediately on the new mine/mill and related facilities and will employ approximately 100 people during the construction phase. The total capital investment for the project by Richmont Mines is $15 million.

The mine has a projected life of four years and will employ ninety people on a full time basis during the entire period.

Richmont and its business associates are conducting an aggressive exploration program in the region which has the potential to extend the life of the Nugget Pond project.

Richmont's Nugget Pond Project is one of three new mining projects for the Baie Verte peninsula. The others, Ming Minerals and Raymo Processing, are already in production.

The mining industry is becoming a growing force in the renewal of our economy and is particularly important in rural regions of the Province such as the Baie Verte Peninsula.

Mr. Speaker, Richmont's Nugget Pond project was one of the first mining projects to be designated an EDGE project. The EDGE status was a major factor in enabling Richmont Mines to obtain financing

for the Nugget Pond Project at this time.

I wish to congratulate Richmont Mines on this successful launching of the Nugget Pond Mining Project today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

We on this side of the House want to join the minister in offering congratulations to Richmont Mines, and we want to thank the minister who was in Baie Verte this morning for arranging for the Member for Baie Verte and my colleague to my right to be there as well.

Mr. Speaker, we want to say to the minister, and to the government, that this is the kind of initiative that we on this side want to see in this Province, want to see more often, and we want to note the 100 people who will be employed during the construction phase and the fact that there will be ninety people employed on a full-time basis for four years.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good news announcement, and we join the minister and the government in saying that these initiatives are to be encouraged, and also it is proof the success of the EDGE legislation which this party on this side of the House was very supportive of when it came before the Legislature last year.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, wish to join in congratulating the developers of this project on the start-up of the mine. There was a time a couple of years ago when the minister used to be called the Minister of Mine and Energy, singular, but we now see there are other developments taking place which we are pleased with.

We would like to see as well, Mr. Speaker, from this government some new amendments to the Mineral Tax Act, to straighten up the problems they created, so we hope that the minister in his enthusiasm for the new mine will not forget that we have to look after the whole mineral tax regime before we can go any further.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Health, maybe the acting minister, or possibly the President of Treasury Board. Will the minister confirm that the University's Board of Regents is being asked to approve medical school tuition fees this year that will see our students pay the highest fees in all of Canada in medical schools, in fact almost 50 per cent more than the second highest, which is Dalhousie University?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: My hon. colleague is away today conducting business on behalf of the Province, and as he mentioned the other day that decision will be made on behalf of the students by the Board of Regents who will be meeting on June 13.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The average fees in first and second year medicine at Dalhousie are jumping this year from $4,000 to $5,500 this year, but Memorial has been asked to go from $3,000 to $8,000.

Will the minister tell us how they hope to entice students to apply to medical school when the fees are as high as that?

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

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

We do believe that the fees could be as high as indicated and we do believe that positions in medical schools are ones that are sought after, and while the price may be high, the quality of the medical school here, the quality of the products are second to none, and we believe it will not impact on the number of applicants applying to the medical school.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, to the President of Treasury Board.

The minister would have us believe that the government does not directly control medical school tuition fees.

Now, will the minister confirm that the medical school budget, worked out in association with the Department of Health and Treasury Board earlier this year, called for increasing the fees for tuition to $6,250 which is by far, the highest in the country, and will he confirm that since then, the department's Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance and the Department of Health, under direction of Cabinet, intervened directly and essentially put the gun to the medical school's head by demanding a fee increase of $8,000 a year, well out of the reach of most students?

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

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

As I previously mentioned, that decision and others related to fee structure, is belonging to the decision-making Board of Regents. They will be meeting, they will have to meet the requirements and they will make those decisions and any others required, based on tuition fees when they meet tomorrow.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Will the minister confirm that the correspondence was received from the ADM of Finance and the Department of Health, indicating an $8,000 tuition fee?

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

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

On behalf of my hon. colleague, who is not here today, I would not be able to confirm whether or not that letter has been received. I can certainly pass the information on to him and he can confirm it on his return to the House tomorrow.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Will the minister confirm that the current assistance levels for students will not cover the cost of the proposed tuition fee increases? In fact, won't the minister admit that students receiving the maximum assistance available, will still have to find from $25,000 up to $30,000 by some projections, over and above, beyond what they would need and would obtain through student loan programs. Where does she propose that students will get that kind of money? And what does she feel financially stressed students in medical school are going to do as a result - drop out?

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

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

Until we find out what the cost of the tuition will be, until we find out the exact needs of the students, whether they are from out of the Province, in the Province, their special needs, I am not able to comment on the specific needs and requirements of each student. I suspect they will have to apply for student aid, and will be granted student aid based on the requirements in the guidelines set down.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure the minister is aware that schedules have been done, and they have looked at the unmet needs of the students. That has already been done and prepared and I am sure the minister, as a member of Cabinet, has seen that, and seen the projections, and to indicate otherwise is not being fully up front on the issue.

I understand that fifteen students are scheduled to attend from the United States this year at a cost of $30,000 each. Now, isn't the minister concerned that with enormous increases in tuition this year, well above the second highest in Canada, 50 per cent higher, we are not only discouraging students from applying to medical school in the future but, in fact, may be scaring off students set to take spaces that are already reserved for this year?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his question; he is on a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Does the minister have a death wish for our medical school? Is she pricing it out of the market in preparation for closing it down?

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

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

For the purpose of the House of Assembly, I would like to say that we are very proud of the graduates of the medical school of Memorial University. They are of the highest quality, and they are second to none.

I also believe, as I have said with respect to the member's comment about a Cabinet paper, we are not at liberty to discuss a Cabinet paper which at this point in time has nothing to do with what the Board of Regents will decide tomorrow when they meet.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are also very proud of the quality, and we hear back from many students in the United States and other parts of Canada who compliment the medical school, but we want the same here in this Province.

Why is it, then, if there are no plans - the medical school - why is it, then, that the Board of Regents this year is getting a three-year tuition fee plan for all other faculties and schools at Memorial University, but they are only receiving a one-year plan for the medical school?

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

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

I suspect that would be a question that would be very well asked of the medical school, because I suspect that the Minister of Health has spoken with them and asked them to identify a plan, just like we have asked other groups in trying to meet the fiscal needs of the Province. When they put forward a plan that is acceptable, then we will go on with the future two years of the Budget as it relates to health.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't want assumptions, I want answers. With tuition fees well beyond what is covered by loans and bursaries, with the fees well out of reach of the vast majority of families in this Province, how does the minister hope to allow students from this Province to go into medical school, especially students from rural areas, where the collapse of the fishery and economy means parents just can't afford to put up those costs any more? Now won't she admit that the government's greed in grabbing more tuition fees will actually undermine our attempt to attract doctors to rural parts of this Province, since rural students most likely practice back home and they won't be able to afford to attend medical school now?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I do not see that this will in any way impact upon rural students in applying to medical school any more than it would impact upon any other group, if, in fact, it would impact on them at all from this perspective.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is not what I am hearing from officials in the medical school and also in the department. In fact, there are financially distressed students and they are trying to look at a plan to deal with those. The minister is not cognizant of that. Now, I charge the minister, she is out of touch with reality, with the people they are elected to serve in this Province, if she believes that. I ask the minister, how can she justify making education of a medical nature a privilege only to the wealthy?

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

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

Time and time again in the House of Assembly we have addressed the issue of a $300 million deficit. The choices we made were not easy choices, they were difficult choices. On one hand we hear: Don't cut back on the services we deliver to the patients of this Province, to the clients, to the citizens of the Province. We have listened to the issues that were raised in the pre-Budget consultation, we addressed the issues, we addressed the priorities. We feel we are working within the mandate that has been given to us, and we will continue to do so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I think we should ask that of the people of this Province.


MR. SULLIVAN: Since May 16! I say to the minister, would it not be more responsible to lower the barriers to education so that all of our people have the opportunity to pursue the career of their choice, and so that our Province can benefit from having physicians and medical specialists that we badly need in this Province?

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

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

I do not think there is an impediment to students picking the career of their choice. While the medical students may in fact have to pay more, I think it is fair to say, and you can verify it with Dr. May, that the cost of university education on average, after increases, will still be the lowest in Atlantic Canada.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, we are 50 per cent higher than the second highest in Canada. We are triple to other schools in Canada and there is documented evidence within the department, within the medical school and it is general knowledge that students will need $25,000 to $30,000 extra in an unmet need because of this. I ask the minister now, will the minister update this House on what is being done to deal with that $25,000 - $30,000 of an unmet need, when you consider loans, for financially distressed students? Can she tell us what is happening from a departmental perspective to meet with those needs?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The general nature of the whole issue is that the government, on behalf of the taxpayers - because we have recognized the importance of education at the post-secondary level in the University - gives a grant to Memorial University for all of its functioning, including the medical school, in excess of $100 million per year and that should not be lost on anybody. Over $100 million per year, from the taxpayers of the Province is granted directly to Memorial University so that they can keep their tuition as low as possible.

In the medical school, Mr. Speaker, the question that the Leader of the Opposition might better ask is that while tuition for Newfoundland and Labrador based students are being considered for increase, those decisions will be made soon and finalized appropriately by the Board of Regents rather than in this Legislature because that is not where it happens. They have their grant from the government, Mr. Speaker. While it might be $7,000 or $8,000 for a Newfoundland and Labrador based student, he might ask why it is that in other seats that are available - because there are a lack of applications from Newfoundland and Labrador based students for all of the spaces at the medical school - that students from outside the Province, students from the United States and other countries, Mr. Speaker, are willing voluntarily to pay $30,000 a year tuition to come to the same medical school in St. John's, Newfoundland because that is the norm in universities and medical schools in the United States, in other countries and they are coming here paying those tuitions willing.

The Newfoundland and Labrador based students are paying much less. Less than one-third of the amount if they wanted to go to a medical school elsewhere. The fact that we have one of the best medical schools in the country and that it is available to the students of Newfoundland and Labrador, it gives them an opportunity that they otherwise would never hope to have. We are proud of the school and the fact that they have done the best they can to keep tuition consistently as low as they possibly can.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If he is looking at cost recovery, $30,000 is only a fraction of the cost of a seat in a medical school in this Province. We are subsidizing 75 per cent of the cost of foreign students going on the taxpayers of this Province, I say to the minister. I ask him now, will he confirm that government has directly intervened from an initial $6,250 that was worked out in conjunction with the Department of Health? Treasury Board and the Medical School were aware of the $6,250 fee and that a directive has come back from this government now that it is going to have to be $8,000 to be able to make up the shortfall that you are not giving them of $1.1 million less than you budgeted last year. Will he confirm that?

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

MR. GRIMES: No, Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely inappropriate to suggest that any of the dialogue that has gone on between the Department of Health and/or the Department of Education and the medical school on one hand and the university, secondly, has any intervention. What we have done clearly is indicated both to the medical school and to the University generally, the limit of the financial contribution that they can expect from the Province. It is in excess of $100 million and they have been told that their choices, which are now to exercise, are to increase tuition or create other efficiencies, Mr. Speaker. If, at the medical school, they are determined through the best exercise of their judgement, appropriately the best exercise in their judgement, that they cannot create other administrative efficiencies to offset the reduction in the grant from the provincial government and if they are convinced that the only choice is to raise tuition - but to have the ministers of government suggest to them we make recommendations that they follow the government's lead which is in every instance create administrative efficiencies first and only as a last resort increase tuitions.

If that is called an intervention and if it is characterized as such, then that is what the intervention has been, Mr. Speaker. It shouldn't be seen as anything negative. It is a proper and appropriate dialogue between the departments and the ministers responsible and the agencies providing the educational opportunity to the students.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. This year as he knows is a mandatory year for a legislative review of the Workers' Compensation act. Has the minister made a decision when he will strike that committee, and when that committee will go across the Province to conduct its review and to report back to the minister on ways to implement changes that would be beneficial to the Workers' Compensation act?

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for his question. We have the terms of reference established and the committee will be appointed very shortly, within the next week to two weeks. The Cabinet has to authorize the appointments and that will be done in very short order. We will then have public hearings around the Province and we would hope the report can be finished late in the fall for government to consider for next year.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister has indicated that Cabinet has to approve the appointments. Am I to assume, Minister, that you have appointments ready to be made? Can he indicate from what groups, organizations or businesses those appointments are coming from?

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, we have taken nominations from a variety of groups. We have asked for nominations from the Employers Council, from the labour groups in the Province. We have asked for nominations actually from a whole variety of groups including members of the House and a whole variety of organizations. That list is available to our government. We will be making the appointments shortly from the list of nominations. It will be a very credible committee. I'm looking forward to seeing the committee do its work. It is very important work. We look forward to seeing the recommendations that will come from the work that it does, and we look forward to seeing some improvements made and making some good progress on Workers' Compensation as has been made in the last annual report.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister says that he is looking forward to the credible work that the credible committee will do. Can he confirm today that the Injured Workers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador either will be asked to make representation or sit on the committee at the committee level to ensure that the Workers' Compensation act, which ultimately affects injured workers in the Province, can he confirm that it will either sit on that committee that he will, or his department will, ask it to be one part of that committee? If it is not, can he inform the House of why not?

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Compensation act affects all workers in the Province and all employers in the Province. We have, and I have met, on two occasions so far with the Injured Workers Association. A very credible group doing some excellent work. As a matter of fact, some of the changes that it has recommended in the operations of the Workers' Compensation Commission have been adopted by the Workers' Compensation Commission. I'm again pursuing further meetings with them and an open dialogue.

But I say that the committee that will be appointed will be done in very short order, in due course. When the committee is appointed everybody will see that this committee is very much credible and will be able to do its work. We will be working with the Injured Workers when the committee is appointed to make sure that it has inclusion as we go forward to make sure that it is able to make its representations in any part of the Province. There are a number of groups that it has in different parts of the Province, part of its organization. I've already said to it that I hope that it will take up the opportunity to present its views at the different public hearings that will be held.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister has indicated in the responses to questions that he has asked for a representative to be brought forward from the Employers Council. I ask the minister: Why hasn't he asked for a representative to be brought forward from the Injured Workers Association of the Province? Ultimately the employers of the Province on the one hand and the injured workers on the other hand are the two groups that have the most to lose or the most to gain. Why has he not asked a representative from the Injured Workers Association to sit on that legislative review committee? Wouldn't he agree that it would make a beneficial addition to that committee?

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, we have asked for nominations from the Federation of Labour, which represents all workers of the Province, including injured workers. As a matter of fact we have an injured workers' advocate, an advocate hired with the Federation of Labour, paid for by the Workers' Compensation Commission, to ensure that if any injured worker is having a problem with the Workers' Compensation Commission, that they have a place to go and get some advice, and that workers' advocate, by the way, has been doing a darn good job, I have to tell you, doing a darn good job. So, believe me, we will take into account what the member is saying and what the injured workers are saying, but the Federation of Labour has given us nominations as have other groups who are interested and involved in the Workers' Compensation Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride. I will allow one more supplementary.

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

Minister, the reality is that the Federation of Labour does not represent all injured workers. The Injured Workers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador represents injured workers and deserves a place, deserves to be asked to have a seat on that Legislation Review Committee. Wouldn't the minister agree that, in offering the Injured Workers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador a seat on that committee would add to, not only the credibility of the committee, but would add to the credibility of the submissions that would come back from that committee?

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Injured Workers Association are going to make some strong representations to the committee that will be set up independently to assess the presentations that will come forward from a whole range of organizations. So there is going to be, very much so, a major opportunity for injured workers of the Province to present their views. That is what the committee is set up to do. If the member is saying that the Federation of Labour does not represent workers in the Province, then I am not sure who does, Mr. Speaker.

My understanding is that they do, so we have asked the Federation of Labour for nominations as we have, by the way, asked a whole range of other organizations. So, in due course, we will come back with recommendations and an announcement with respect to this committee. The committee will do its work publicly, and we will come back with a report that we will be bringing back to the Cabinet and to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Education.

Under the old Avalon Community College structure, the Seal Cove campus paid its own way, but under the current Cabot College system the Seal Cove College campus is being butchered. It has already lost its welding, carpentry, auto body and auto mechanics courses and is now about to lose its sheet metal and its Business Education Program.

Can the Minister of Education today, table the needs assessment study and long-range plan that have dictated these cuts to the Seal Cove campus, and then, lay out the course for the next five years, or will he confess that the cuts are taking place arbitrarily in the absence of any such needs assessment study or long-range planning?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can't do what the hon. member asked in his question but I would refer him directly to the Board of Directors for the Cabot College which now has the responsibility for the Seal Cove campus.

I understand from the Board of the Cabot College that they do have that kind of planning and mandating done for each of the campuses that remains under their direction. Everybody understands as well, I do believe, that the plan that will be unfolding in the next couple of weeks is for the whole of the college system, including Cabot, to come under a single board which will mandate the program in the plans for the nineteen remaining campuses that are in the community college system, including the Seal Cove campus.

It is not the mandate of the Department of Education to run the campuses or even to run the five separate colleges now. We again, Mr. Speaker, fund the college system to the tune of $50 million a year so that there are educational opportunities for post-secondary students in the system, and each of the five current boards which will become one, make the plans and make the decisions about the individual campuses like the Seal Cove campus and that campus, Mr. Speaker is under the direction of the Board of Directors of the Cabot College.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to then ask: Who is responsible for the campuses? Who shut them down a little while ago?

Since the responsibility of the Seal Cove campus, Mr. Minister, was transferred to Cabot College in St. John's, the decision-making and the administration positions of the campus in Seal Cove have all been just practically eliminated, and come September, there will be one secretary who will be in charge to do the work for all the people or all the instructors who will be now left at that particular institution.

Isn't the minister at all concerned in knowing that the administration is far removed from the Seal Cove campus and are making rash decisions that are destroying the high-demanding job- focused and very successful programs in rural areas? Isn't he concerned about the consequences of making post-secondary education less accessible than ever for the thousands of people in and around Conception Bay South?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the only thing I understand from the questioning, is that, the hon. member opposite, maybe, is reflecting the view of the Opposition - would like for us to spend the money in the college system on more administration in each of those campuses.

I am pleased, actually, that the Cabot College and others have followed the direction of the government, which is to have the minimum amount of money and effort spent in administration, and the maximum amount of effort put into programming for the students, and I understand that is what they have done in the Seal Cove campus.

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

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I find that rather amusing coming from the minister - funny in one sense, and certainly not funny in another. The Seal Cove campus, as I said in my first question, was a campus that paid its own way - paid its own way - and, at one time, was going just about seven days a week offering all kinds of courses.

Will the minister make a commitment today to sit down with the administration of Cabot College and representatives of the Seal Cove campus to get working on a needs assessment study and a long-range plan that will enable the Seal Cove campus to get back to providing accessible post-secondary education to the people in the Conception Bay South area?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will certainly send a copy of the questions that were asked today via Hansard, to the board of the college, and they can have a look at it, but certainly to correct the information, I think, is important. The notion and concept that any of the campuses, the nineteen remaining campuses, in the college system, pays its own way is absolutely without foundation. The fact of the matter is that this year we are providing, on behalf of the taxpayers of the Province, $50 million to the college system to subsidize what is going on in those campuses. There has never been, and the expectation of government was that there would not be - that is why we continue to provide the funding. If the campuses in Newfoundland and Labrador had to pay their own way, the answer is, there would be zero of them; there would be absolutely zero. None of them do. None of them have. Seal Cove never did.

Now, if somebody wants to put aside any of the funding and so on that goes into the actual structure of the building, and the maintenance, and the clearing of the parking lots, and the heat and light, and say, on the basis of how many students we brought in, and how many fees that they pay, we broke even, and call that paying your own way, well, we could all do that, but that is the only circumstance in which any campus in Newfoundland and Labrador could suggest that it is paying its own way.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to finish his answer quickly.

MR. GRIMES: I take the questions seriously, and because it is on the mandate of the Cabot College board, I will refer the series of questions to the board for their consideration.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are also for the Minister of Education.

Mr. Speaker, in the House last week, in fact on June 6, the minister promised to convene a meeting very early this particular week to determine whether the department will get involved in addressing the serious air quality problems causing disturbing health care problems at Donald C. Jamieson Academy in Salt Pond, Burin. Has the minister had that meeting, and has he reached a conclusion about correcting the serious problems at this, and perhaps other schools in our Province, in preparation for the coming school year?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There was a meeting yesterday with respect to the issue. My understanding is that within half-an-hour or so there is another meeting being convened today with representatives from the area meeting with departmental officials, and the matter is being dealt with appropriately, as I understand.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder if the minister could indicate to the House what policies are in place to deal in direct and immediate response to these problems? We understand that the children in this instance are experiencing severe headaches, nosebleeds, extreme fatigue, eye and nose irritations, upper respiratory problems, and I am asking the minister: What policies exist in his department to effectively deal in response to these concerns?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The recommendations that have been made with respect to not only Donald Jamieson Academy, but also others that have similar related types of problems, is that the real answer is in terms of installing appropriate mechanical air exchange systems. Everybody then understands that immediately requires an outlay of some capital, and the money this year in the budget for that kind of work is $4 million. There are also discussions going on that the hon. member might like to be aware of, and people from the Burin area and other areas where we have these problems, with the denominational education councils, to make sure that we find an appropriate mechanism to determine what the priorities are this year for the expenditure of the $4 million, and how much of that, if any, will be spent on air exchange systems in comparison to the other priority needs that are in the Province for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and capital development. So those discussions are going on. None of the work was expected to begin until school closed, and it will commence shortly thereafter.


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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened. This is a petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador:

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

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

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power having made some $27.8 million in profit last year is not in need of extra revenue from consumers; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power in passing corporate income tax increases onto consumers would be defying government's intention of ensuring corporations dip into their profits to help bear the costs of public fiscal responsibilities; and

WHEREAS the expanding low energy use market is a situation Newfoundland Power helped create by advising consumers to reduce their demand for electrical energy, and it would be wrong for the Public Utilities Board to try and alter this situation by penalizing the consumers who heeded the company's advice; and

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, will 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 it is in Newfoundlander's interests, and those 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 differential rate increase, and

WHEREAS Newfoundlanders suffering from fish resource crisis, the general economic downturn, and deep government spending cuts, can ill-afford, Mr. Speaker, increases in essential commodities like electricity at this time;

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

Mr. Speaker, I submit a petition signed by approximately 150 or 175 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have expressed grave concern and distress about the situation concerning the proposed increase in electricity rates in this Province. Essentially, the prayer of the petition spells out in detail exactly why so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians object to these proposed increases, and because of the many cuts and the situation that many ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians find themselves in they just simply cannot deal with further increases in any way, particularly when we are talking about an necessity such as power increases and any increases with respect to electrical costs.

Mr. Speaker, during a private member's resolution several weeks ago there was discussion about the role that the Consumer Advocate would play. I only hope that in response to that private member's resolution that the government of this Province has freely given of its resources, has freely given of its personnel, has freely given of its time, to assist this Consumer Advocate in carrying out his role in accordance with the spirit of the wording of the private member's resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand to present this petition on behalf of these Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who feel aggrieved by this proposed increase, and feel aggrieved by the fact that this government has not played a sufficiently active role in counterbalancing what the proposed increase is all about.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I rise again today to support the petition so ably presented by my colleague for St. John's East, and on behalf of the 1500 residents in his district who took the effort and saw the cause to go out and sign a petition. A petition that implores the House to listen to the voice of the ordinary person, listen to the voice of those people who live on very low incomes, listen to the voice of those people who are the rank and file, the ordinary citizen, the family who have difficulty balancing the budget at the end of the week. So, Mr. Speaker, we say to the hon. member, who presented the petition, that is the kind of representation that we need in this House, a member who goes out and says that he is going to consult with his people and bring back their voice and present it to this Legislature.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have made, on this other side of the House, many, many representations. Nearly every day and in fact, I do believe every day, there has at least been one petition to this House on behalf of the people of this Province who want to raise their own concerns about the application by Newfoundland Power to increase its rates to their consumers. Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of profit. It is not a question of Newfoundland Power not doing that well financially. They made $27.8 million last year. Now how many corporate people in this Province made $27.8 million in profits last year? They are the rich of the richest. They are the elite of the corporate community. So we say to all hon. members, we are not talking here about a corporation that would qualify for EDGE status, we are talking about the very rich of the very rich. These are the kinds of people who could afford to send their children to med. school because obviously they are the wealthy of the wealthy.

So, Mr. Speaker, we say to the hon. House, when we present these petitions, and I can say to members now that we will continue to present them. A few days time we will present the largest petition ever presented in this Legislature. It is on its way now, the very largest one ever presented. Larger even than the one presented at the Battle for Confederation in 1949, bigger than that and there were 50,000 names on that petition. The largest petition ever to be presented in this Legislature is on its way to this Legislature now. What is it about? It is about the application by Newfoundland Power. Bigger than Joey Smallwood's petition in 1948, more names signed to it than that. So we say to hon. members of this House, if that does not make you listen, if that does not make your ears kind of perk up, than what will? That petition in 1949 was sufficiently good that it caused the British Parliament to say, let's hold on here now, maybe Confederation should be put on that ballot. So these 50,000 voices at that time, they changed the history of the whole Dominion of Newfoundland and they made sure that the Confederation option was put on the ballot.

So we say to the hon. House today, when we present in the next few days a petition that is 30 per cent higher in number than that petition in 1949, we are talking about a huge demonstration, a huge voice, a solid voice of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and we want this House to be warned of what people are saying. We will continue day after day and if given the chance, night after night, to present petitions to this House because we want this House to know firmly and strongly, consistently and we want them to know every day that the people of this Province are saying to Newfoundland Power: We want our voices heard. So, Mr. Speaker, I say to my hon. colleague, keep going with the good work, bring in your representations from your people in St. John's East and all over the Province because we have not had much by way of representation made on this issue by members of the government. I know, Mr. Speaker, that they have the petitions, they simply have not had the nerve and that firmness and commitment to get up and to say what they should be saying on behalf of the people who elected them.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to offer support to my colleague and to offer support to all people of Newfoundland and Labrador who want the government and the powers that be, be they at the commission hearings, be they here in this House or wherever they are, they want people to stand up and speak out because the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in these severe, constraining economic times don't want to have another single dollar increase put on their cost of living. That is what this application by Newfoundland Power is all about.

We say to hon. members we want you to listen attentively, do all you can as a government to make sure that the voice of the ordinary consumer is heard, and that when this application comes before the PUB don't -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: - hide behind the protection of the government, but make sure you are there to speak up on behalf of your constituents.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to take a couple of minutes in response to members opposite presenting petitions to the House on behalf of their constituents, which they have a sincere right to do, and I guess an obligation to do, to speak on behalf of their constituents on any issue in the Province.

In particular I want to talk about the petition today that they are talking about in this House as far as the role of the Public Utilities Board, Newfoundland Light and Power making a request to increase the cost of electricity to home owners. If they are really serious about what they are doing - because the hon. member is saying that - putting that onus on members on this side of the House, the government, to work on their behalf to get the rates adjusted to the satisfaction of the consumers. Basically that is what he is saying.

But if he was really serious about the process and explained to his constituents, or their constituents, what the process really is, and that there is a forum, if you are serious, to go and make a representation on behalf of your constituents in a formal manner that can fairly get that representation made. What did this government do?

First of all, we know where the responsibility lies. Do we have problems? Do people out there, the consumers, have problems with finding money? Yes, nobody is going to disagree with that, but there is a process in place to deal with it. What did this government do? We appointed a consumer advocate to represent the people. Have the members who just spoke met with that consumer advocate and made representation on a personal basis? I doubt very much if the member who just spoke has spoken on a meeting basis, on a timely basis, and sat down and said the same words and made the same representation on behalf of constituents, whether they are from his district or not, but people in this Province, in the manner in which he just spoke?... I suspect he hasn't. I will listen and hear an argument or a point afterwards. But if he hasn't - and I doubt it very much - I suspect what he is doing is playing political games.

Getting up in the House day after day making the same issue over and over again and pointing fingers opposite. It is just like we were there till midnight last night doing what? Playing political games. Absolutely no substance to the statements they made for four or five hours last evening, of very little importance except to fulfil their own political needs and political desires in the House. Like comments they made.

The people of this Province have spoken. The people know, made the decision, they know where the best representation comes forth, and they know what the role of the Public Utilities Board is, they know what the role of the consumer advocate is all about, and members opposite should learn about it too.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to present a petition dealing with Light and Power increases. Basically, to the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened - I won't go through all of it. It says: Wherefore your petitioners humbly pray - and this is important, Mr. Speaker - that your hon. House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do whatever is required - I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture - to prevent an increase in Newfoundland Power electricity rates.

The minister stands in this House and talks about political games. There are five members on this side of the House who are making submissions to the Public Utilities Board when the hearings are held. I sent a letter six weeks ago to every minister and every member in this House and to date I have not had a letter back from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture dealing with this issue.

Let me tell you what really is going on with the increase in Newfoundland Power rates. We passed back in March an all-members resolution in this House that would give the consumer advocate all the resources, financial and otherwise, to represent the taxpayer and consumer in the Province. The minister knows that, we know that, and that is what he talks about, that that is what we oppose. We don't; we support that; but what we do oppose is that during that private member's resolution government, in Cabinet, was discussing, privately, with the Federal Government, tax harmonization. And what will the impact of GST/PST have on electrical increases in this Province?

The fact of the matter is this, that the Provincial Government - the Minister of Finance knows this; we have talked about it before, that an increase in electricity rates based on harmonization of the GST and PST will cause an 8 per cent increase in electricity rates. Now, that is beyond the scope of the Public Utilities Board; that is beyond the scope of the Consumer Advocate. As a matter of fact, the Consumer Advocate is not being asked to judge that. The reality is that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, which is Cabinet, which is government, did not exempt electricity rates from the GST/PST harmonization, and thus caused immediately, when that takes effect, an 8 per cent increase across the board. Now, what will that do to the 35,000 to 40,000 families who are on social assistance, who have just been clawed back $61 a month? What will that do to them? Has the government thought about that? The Minister of Fisheries certainly has not thought about that. Is the Minister of Fisheries going before the Public Utilities Board to make a presentation on behalf of constituents in Port de Grave? I don't think so. Up until yesterday his name certainly was not down as an intervenor, or he did not have intervenor status at the board.

What we are asking is very simple, that government do whatever is required, or government do whatever is in its power, to ensure that electricity increases do not occur, or occur at the minimum level.

There are two issues here. What is before the Public Utilities Board on the one hand is a request by Newfoundland Power for an increase of 2.9 per cent. The Public Utilities Board, a quasi-judicial board, will deal with that in due course. The Consumer Advocate has been appointed to deal with that on behalf of consumers in due course, but government has before it right now the full power to eliminate, to exempt, electrical power increases from the GST/PST harmonization. They can exempt it if they so wish. They can exempt it if the political will exists within the Cabinet and within the government and members opposite for that to happen. To date we have not seen a demonstration of that political will, and that is what these petitions are about.

The Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, can stand up whenever he wants and talk about members on this side presenting petitions, but let me assure him that as long as constituents in my district are interested in presenting petitions to this House of Assembly on any issue, then this member will stand up and present them, and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is not going to stop me or any other member on this side from doing that.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will sit down.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition Party Whip, the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to support the petition so ably put forward by my colleague, the Member for Kilbride. This is only one in a series that you have seen presented here in this House of Assembly, and I understand from the Member for Waterford Valley that there is another petition coming in with in excess of 70,000 names.

AN HON. MEMBER: 75,000 names.

MR. FITZGERALD: In excess of 75,000 names. That can show you the concern that is out there today, and it can show you the hardship that is being experienced by many of our people out there in not being able to reach into their pockets and come up with an extra $55 to $75 a month to pay a hike in their electricity rates.

It is great for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to get up and chastise the people on this side, and say: You are grandstanding; there is no need out there; people are not hurting; you are playing politics.

MR. EFFORD: So you are.

MR. FITZGERALD: It is great for the member to do that, because he can probably afford to write a cheque off every week and pay his utility bill. God bless him for it! But there are a lot of people out there, I say to the minister, who cannot do that. There are a lot of people out there today who are hurting, and when you hear the Minister of Social Services stand up and say there are in excess of 35,000 caseloads out there today on social assistance, which represents over 70,000 people, those people cannot afford to dip into their pockets, like the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and bring forward a $55 or $60 cheque every month. They are not that fortunate, I say to the minister.

What we are dealing with here, Minister, is a utility that is already making $28 million a year -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible), are you (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I will represent my people, and I say to the minister, I will write a letter when the time comes, and I will be there to speak up for my constituents. And I hope you are there as well, not grandstanding here because you want to be a player in Cabinet, not to grandstand, Mr. Speaker, at the expense of the people who elected you. Speak from the heart and speak for the people out there who are hurting today.

One of the reasons that this particular utility brought forward why they were looking for a 4.9 per cent increase is that they haven't had a rate increase since 1992. I know a lot of people out there today who probably haven't seen a pay cheque since 1992, let alone an increase in what they are making.

Mr. Speaker, when you see the utility in New Brunswick, the biggest, the largest Crown corporation in Atlantic Canada, speaking out and saying: It looks like we are going to have competition; we are no longer going to have a monopoly here, now we will have to compete and the way we are going to do it, is to be the utility of choice; we are not going out to look for our utility to be privatized; we are not going out to look for a rate increase; we are not going out to lay off people and those were three of the things that were stated quite clearly. There would be no layoffs, there would be no rate increases and we will not be looking to privatize this particular industry. What we are going to do is, be a lean and mean machine and be a utility of choice.

Why can't Light and Power be like those people, I ask the minister? Because it has the monopoly in providing this particular service. Why can't it be like the utility company in New Brunswick and come out and show where they can cut costs, show where they can trim management, if you would, or whatever it takes in order to provide an essential service, an essential commodity that is not a luxury any more today? And the people who will be affected most of all are the people who use the least electricity. Those are the people who will have to pay the highest cost.

It was only a few short months ago that they were sending out little slips in the mail saying: conserve electricity, pin it on your refrigerator, pin it on your light switch.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

It is three o'clock, Private Members' Day.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is too bad we had to interrupt the hon. member in full flight but that is the rule, I guess, as Private Members' Day goes. I am not sure how much attention was being paid to the theatrics. The content, we were listening to, but the theatrics might cause one to be a bit testy after these long, night sessions when we have had to listen to the hon. member at length.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to move a motion to put a resolution before the House, on the packaging industry, I suppose you could say, dealing with our environment. It is one that is very close to home, I think, for everyone these days as we move from a society that very easily disposed of anything and everything that came into your household without a thought. Oftentimes, we wouldn't even give a thought to tossing a piece of packaging material into the garbage can, with no worries or concern as to where that would end up. And that is the way that the people, not only of this Province, but people throughout North America and possibly throughout the Western world, have looked at garbage in the past.

There has been a very, very strong shift with respect to an awareness of the environment, an awareness that we can't continue to consume the products that we consume, endlessly, and dispose of the waste created by the packaging of those products, and even at times by the products themselves, without some concern for where it goes, whether it will potentially be recycled, or, in fact, if the amount that could be recycled can be increased, and the amount that goes into landfills throughout the Province, and throughout the world, is decreased. So there has to be some change, I guess. There has been a significant change in the attitude, a lot of it brought about by our children - children and young people who have recognized this probably en masse before we have, through the education system, through the general greening of society, where people are now much more aware.

It is a significant shift, but an important shift, because we have gone from being a wasteful society to a better understanding of how we can improve our lot and improve the future through preserving the environment and the heritage of our wilderness areas and other parts of the Province and the country that we leave as a legacy once we are gone from this earth, once we move on and other generations take up the fight and take up the call to arms for this kind of initiative.

Now, the resolution has been laid down, but I will put it on the record officially. It says:

`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 I do not think there is anyone will argue with that.

`WHEREAS' - and this is something that is not often looked at - `there is a stewardship requirement on the part of companies which package consumer and other products consumed in our Province.' It could be a consumer product, it could be an industrial product. It does not really matter, but anything that has packaging material or the good or product itself that has to be disposed of, does require a certain amount of stewardship on the part of that industry in seeing to it that they have concern about where their product packaging ends up. Because eventually - and this is happening also throughout the Western world, you are getting a shift to responsibility for the waste created by the producer of the product, not only by the consumer. It is a shared thing by the producer.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, to the resolution which states:

`THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED The House of Assembly,' those of us here, elected members, speaking on behalf of our constituents, `encourage the Ministry of Environment' - those discharging the responsibilities of looking after our 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.'

Now, if we look at the landfills, we only have to mention here in this area, Robin Hood Bay. We have out in my own constituency a number of these tepees which burn the majority of the solid waste garbage; the exception of that can be put into the landfills, those items which are deemed not supposed to be burned, certain plastics, and other items that the municipalities and waste disposal committees are warned not to burn because of some hazards associated.

In general, the burning of garbage is a waste. The heat that is generated, and the smoke, and soot that is generated serves no useful purpose other than adding to the overall pollution problem for all of us in North America. It contributes to the depletion of greenhouse protection for our environment and it also causes local environmental problems. I know you cannot drive across the Trans-Canada Highway in this Province without the problem of running into a given area where the waste, the soot and smoke from some of these tepees crosses your nose as you drive through a given area.

That should not be, Mr. Speaker. It is not the kind of thing we can change overnight, but we have to see to it that the amount of waste that goes to these landfills is lowered, and that will enable us to be better stewards of the environment. Really, we have to get the Ministry of Environment to include and involve the producers of the products in this overall effort, for us all to act as good stewards for our environment.

Just think for a minute what we consume as individuals. We might not think of it, but the buying of groceries is something that is probably instrumental in giving you evidence. You go out to buy your groceries in a family. We have a family of six, my four girls and my wife and myself, along with a cat. All of those consumables that you have - it could be a box of cat food, it could be all of your grocery packaging - and you try to recycle what you can, and the kids are getting into it quite a bit. I know, in our area, the district recycling program is handled by the school board. They have implemented it and have done quite handsomely, raised significant funds, through acting as the local community stewards for this.

Again, there is still litter. Garbage has no value to people. Unlike the old systems that they used to have in place where people would recycle - the wooden crates for oranges would be used sometimes to build things. A lot of that, the pallets on which they would bring in a variety of products would be recycled and reused, the hardwood on pallets that would be brought in for lumber and so on. These things were indicative because there was value in the product waste.

These days a lot of things have no value although there is a significant expense. I know, in some other provinces they have implemented programs to create value in the garbage and that, in turn, translates into a cleaner environment. That is possibly some of the route we will have to take. Again, this is what we, here in the House, hope to do, encourage the Ministry to implement a program that will help us act as better stewards of the local environment.

Here in the Province, again to groceries, to think of the amount - anywhere per individual, say $75 to maybe $150 per month per person consumed in goods that are packaged, and that is a low figure - I use it on the low side. Just to think of the amount of packaging. No one has ever sat down I don't suppose, clear of someone who is an environmental activist, or some would call some of us armchair environmentalists, and thought about just what it is that we tend to throw away in the run of a month.

If you look at a company, and what does a company have in the way of some sense of obligation on the product that it produces; if you go out, say into the wilderness anywhere, on a hunting trip or whatever, there is no trouble to find the name brands, the advertising or the packaging, the graphics that are used - it could be Coca-Cola, it could be Pepsi, it could be any number of the companies, not only in the soft-drink industry, it could be any number of these companies, identified by the garbage that is in the environment. We have to look at that and say to ourselves that it certainly is significant that even though the product has been disposed of, the company's name is still there. In a lot of cases, we can identify the companies that would put the packaging on the material that we consume.

The companies try to do their best, I'm sure, and lessen the amount of packaging. Some of them have implemented packaging mitigation schemes where they lower the amount that you buy one unit and you buy refills that use less packaging materials. But it isn't a very good science if you think about it. Only to look at McDonald's, when McDonald's restaurants moved from their former containers which were - I think there were problems with the number of CFCs in the McDonald's packaging units. They then moved to supposedly the paper type of products -

MR. HARRIS: A number of kids protested against that.

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, at the time - just prior to that. It wasn't realized. When they brought in the change, it was more environmentally damaging. This they realized themselves, I guess. Through the process of a proper environmental audit they realized that what they were doing did not have the desired effect. Even though they were lowering their consumption of CFCs the damage done through the other purchase of other materials for packaging and some of the inks that were used, I think it was, could potentially cause more damage. So it is not an exact science. It is something that we are learning as we go along.

On our landfill sites, there was an example provided. I travelled about a year ago I guess, about six months to a year ago, with the Minister of Environment, at the time, to New Brunswick. An interesting program that had been put in place over there by a company - a private company came in and made a proposal to say that they could reduce the solid waste disposed of, in a given area, by some 75 per cent. What they do is they separate and take the garbage, using a separation area and all of the plastics are recycled, all of the metals are recycled, all of the compostable items are put into a compost area and they are sold. The basic solid waste that has no other recyclable or reusable future would be put into the landfill and they have a very, very high tech landfill and it is a money making proposition. A company is charging per ton for access to this site and it is something that I think we have to look at, given the quantity of garbage say here on the Northeast Avalon. Maybe throughout the Province we have to come up with some variations on that as we try to lower the amount of packaging waste.

The CSDA, the Canadian Soft Drink Association, recently received government consent to go ahead with a program back a couple of years ago, two or three years ago, and that would be an educational program where they would try to lower the amount of packaging waste in the Province through educating the public about the perils of littering, et cetera. The general public, in my opinion, although responsible for a lot of littering - a shared responsibility as I would put it with the industry - feel that this has not succeeded. If you asked most people I think they feel that the program of education and informing the public has not been a significant enough of an incentive to enable us to keep the packaging from being strewn all over our countryside. It is very, very disconcerting when you walk down the main street of some of the communities and you see garbage in the ditches. A lot of it is identifiable garbage of certain companies, other paper and other things like that but again the garbage has not been made to be worth anything with the exception of large quantities when recycled by a group, association or other entity.

MR. FITZGERALD: Can I ask you a question?


MR. FITZGERALD: Have you ever driven on the track from Buchans Junction to Millertown Junction?

MR. RAMSAY: No, I never have.

MR. FITZGERALD: (Inaudible).


MR. FITZGERALD: It is worth your while to go there. Rick would probably know what I am talking about, between Buchans Junction and Millertown Junction, the track there? I don't know how long it is, going across there because you have to drive slow but there has to be 600, 45 gallon drums thrown out in the bog, all the way along there. There is a hole or a couple of holes in each one and they have been there for a long while. There are no markings on them.

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, and a lot of these things like you say, it probably could be tracked or traced to a company or someone by some marking somewhere or somehow to know who originally was responsible. That is probably a key to it, I think, if we look at trying to make sure that industry stands up and takes responsibility, in concert with the people who consume, for the waste that is out there in our countryside.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. RAMSAY: Okay, Mr. Speaker, if I could have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: You can have leave, yes, go ahead.

MR. RAMSAY: I suppose the whole purpose of this resolution, what is it we want to do? Well us, as the House of Assembly I suppose, can do very little to protect the environment other than encouraging the ministry of environment to implement certain rules, regulations and policies which will help protect the environment. As I say, when your little five-year-old comes back from Kindergarten and says: Daddy, we have to protect Mother Earth, it makes you think that you have to do something, and encourage the ministry to do something as well.

If what we have out there now in the way of enforcement, and the policies that are in place with respect to educating our public, are not working, we have to make some changes. We have to implement some better strategies and some better policies that will see our environment protected, and make it a pristine environment again for those tourists who come. You talk about our beautiful Province; it is great for them to go to some areas and love the landscape, and look at what we have to offer, but it is terrible when they see the garbage that is out there in the environment when you go along any variety of areas like that which the hon. member opposite just mentioned, and I think we have to hold industry partly accountable. It is no longer just the individual to be educated; industry must take responsibility for the packaging of their products. They operate here in our Province. They sell their goods; we buy their goods. There are two sides to any kind of contract. Our contract is to buy them. They, in producing them, have a certain responsibility for the fact that their goods were bought, to look after them.

Just as an example, in some states of the United States now if they find abandoned wrecks, the manufacturer of that wreck becomes responsible for retrieving it and taking it back, and the manufacturer of that wreck becomes responsible.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: We are doing pretty good with car wrecks because they have value; they have scrap value.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, the teeth have to be there, but also, I think, if you made our garbage worth something, through a deposit and return system, or whatever might evolve, for some of it, or even a levy against all packaged goods, then that particular area - the kids will scour up everything in the countryside, or even all of us will, and that will certainly -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Well, they are right now, and I think they are far ahead of us. They are better at computers than we are -

AN HON. MEMBER: Children are further ahead in this than members of the House of Assembly.

MR. RAMSAY: Oh, very easily. I would certainly support the hon. member's statement there.

I will just allow other hon. members to have comments on this. I think it is very important; it is very timely. We need to do something about it, and I hope I can seek the support of all hon. members in putting this forward as a resolution to get our Ministry of Environment hopping, and get them doing some good things for the children, for our environment, and for the future.

Thank you.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today and say a few words on the Private Member's resolution put forth by the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile.

Before I get into it, he just made a comment with respect to the manufacturer of car wrecks being responsible in certain areas in the States, I believe he referred to, where once they are abandoned, the manufacturer would be responsible for cleaning up the car wrecks. I know that this Province has had regulations in place now for some time where, once the serial number is identified on a car wreck, the last owner can be responsible for having the car wreck removed; so basically, I suppose, the Province is taking steps towards that. I don't know how long it would be before they would decide to go that far with it, to have the manufacturer responsible, but if other areas could do it I would assume that this Province could do it also.

This resolution, to my mind, is basically a motherhood issue. We all, I would imagine - although you would have to question it - would want our Province to be nice and clean and tidy and pristine, but when you drive around this Province sometimes you have to question that statement, that we all want it to be nice and tidy and pristine. I have to say that nothing upsets me as much as driving along the highway and seeing someone roll down their window and throw out a fast-food package or what have you. I won't get into brand names, but they are all on the highway; I can assure you of that.

It was only a few years ago that the former Minister of Environment brought in a program basically to help educate the public with respect to the problems of polluting our environment. We see ads on the television now, and one of the very ads that is on television, of course, is the situation I just mentioned, where you see a vehicle going down the highway and somebody just takes a package, throws it out the window and it is left on the highway. It is quite upsetting, I would say.

Along those lines, I know every summer when I was mayor down in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove we used to have a clean up day. We used to get the children in the schools to come along and we would give them garbage bags and gloves and what have you on a Saturday, and maybe a couple of weekends, and we would clean up the roads in our community. Next year, the exact same situation. There would be nothing but beer bottles and packages and what have you on the highways. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, in front of my house where I live in Outer Cove actually I go down and the whole length of my property on both sides of the road I get a garbage bag and I go and pick up the garbage on both sides of the road, the full length of my property, probably 300 to 400 feet along the road. As a matter of fact I've actually extended that now to go to the adjoining road and pick up the garbage and put it in garbage bags and put it in my garbage box and have it taken away.

Maybe there is something along that line that we could do and ask people to just adopt a highway type of thing that they had going somewhere along - within the Province adopt a highway, and basically make people responsible to clean up the roads in front of their properties. But then again, is that fair? You have to question that. Because most of the people who have their properties would want to keep their properties clean anyway. It is people who are driving along who throw the garbage out in the roads, which is wrong. I believe these people should be ticketed and ticketed hard, or fined, what have you. I'm not sure if this is in place or not, but maybe there is something that should be put in place that if I see an individual throwing garbage out through the car window, or whatever the case may be, I should be able to report those people. I would probably need to have a witness. I don't know how you could put that in place or how you could enforce it, but something needs to be done.

Another factor too with respect to this Province is I travel the Province a fair bit, I have travelled the Province a fair bit in my business, in my work before I came to the House of Assembly, and since, and I've travelled the Province with respect to going in through Central Newfoundland, in the Granite Lake area and in around Meelpaeg and up the Northern Peninsula. You can see pretty well dump sites, I will say, along the sides of the forest roads, which is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I can't hear what you are saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) ATVs.

MR. J. BYRNE: ATVs. I would say the former executive assistant to the former Minister of Environment and Lands should know something about ATVs and the mess that he caused with respect to the ATV regulations in this Province which isn't straightened up yet. So I wouldn't be so smart if I was him sitting in his place over there to start throwing out comments about ATVs when he has caused nothing but havoc and job loss in this Province with respect to ATVs.

Back to the Central Newfoundland situation. I've been in the woods, Mr. Speaker, and travelled fifty, sixty miles into the woods and seen garbage on the sides of the road. I will tell you one of the biggest culprits with respect to creating dumps in our interior is not necessarily Newfoundlanders. Because I know when I go in the woods I take garbage bags with me, and any garbage that we have that we can't burn I bring it out. But there are people who come in from other provinces and been up the Northern Peninsula, down in the Buchans area, down in the Meelpaeg area and Granite Lake area, and left messes on the side of the road.

I've been there, I've seen it. I've talked to them and I've asked them to clean up the mess, I said to some of the people. When I see their licence plates - I won't name any particular provinces or states that they are from - but they did get word a few years ago that there was a good area here for hunting and fishing and they came in and they did create really big messes.

This resolution I suppose is a fairly good resolution if it means something, if the government will take some action with respect to this resolution. We oftentimes see resolutions go through this House and they are unanimously approved private members' resolutions, and we don't see any action taken by the government. They are just forgotten about. Now this is a resolution that has some merit, I would say, with respect to the packaging of products in this Province, and the packaging of products that come into the Province. I know from my own perspective in my own home - and the Member for LaPoile addressed this somewhat - is the amount of garbage that we produce in the run of a year in this Province.

In North America and in particular Canada, I believe Canadians produce more garbage per person than any other group or any other country, because we are so used to taking whatever we have out of the package and just throwing away the package.

I grew up in Torbay, and back then, the city of St. John's had their landfill in, I think, on Empire Avenue where the Taxation Centre is now, in that general area, and they moved it to Robin Hood Bay. And all the garbage from St. John's was dumped and still continues to be dumped there. A lot of the garbage from the Northeast Avalon, from Torbay, Pouch Cove, Logy Bay, the area all around, is dumped at Robin Hood Bay.

Years ago, in Newfoundland, a lot of the homes had their own little dumps, and we saw people throw their cans, bottles and their waste products in their dumps maybe 200 or 300 or 400 feet away from their house. And anything that could be burned, they did burn, which was probably a good idea at the time. Today, a lot of products that could be burned are not burned because people now have electric stoves and microwave ovens and so on.

Some of the older people, of course, have their barrels outside where they burn all their waste products and they just throw away their cans and bottles, things that can't be burnt. So you have to wonder, you know, about the wisdom of the day, what people are doing and how we are polluting our environment. I, for one, have some concerns as does, I know, the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile, with respect to that because, of course, he brought in this resolution.

Another area, too, where we have been neglectful with respect to our environment in the past, has been some of the mine sites in this Province. I have mentioned this a few times before and one that comes to mind, off the top of my head, is the Baie Verte Mine. There is a very big hole in the ground. And I remember, a few years ago there was a group lobbying to import garbage into the Province to fill up a hole in Baie Verte. Now, Mr. Speaker, that was quite an issue of the day. A lot of people were very concerned and upset that we would even consider that.

I remember asking the Minister of Environment of the day to bring in legislation to ban completely the importation of garbage, because if we can't handle our own garbage, how can we actually manage to adequately control the importation of garbage into this Province for final dumping. Of course, the people of the day saw that public pressure was on and they decided to back away from that, although what did happen was, they brought in regulations whereby now, if people meet the criteria, if groups or companies meet the criteria, they could actually bring in garbage and have it disposed of within the Province, which I disagreed with at the time and I still do today.

Mr. Speaker, oftentimes, young people ask me: What courses should I take, what job should I look at, what is the future? Where should we go? Where will I get a secure job in the future? And I often have to sit back and think about that. Maybe, one of the areas or fields of the future, from my perspective, to have some security - and I would suppose if the train of thought continues and younger people continue to think they way they are thinking, it would be to get into the environment. Some people say become a doctor, others say, well, you should look at computers and so on, but the planet that we live on, it is something that we have to keep safe for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and great grandchildren. So what legacy are we going to leave, Mr. Speaker?

I think what we have to look at and keep uppermost in our minds is our environment, because if we continue to pollute our environment, it certainly will not be a very safe place for our children in the future. I think I heard on the radio today or yesterday, talk about air pollution in the larger cities; and I believe Cairo is probably one of the worst in the world with respect to air pollution. Some of the larger cities such as Los Angeles, among others, is becoming a major, major problem. So air pollution is becoming a major problem, and that, too, needs to be addressed.

Now, a city like St. John's, or cities within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, do not have that problem, I would assume. Although, sometimes on a hot Summer day when we see some kind of haze over the city, we are often told it comes up from the Eastern Seaboard, from some of the larger cities down there. If that is the case, then I think it has to be dealt with in a very serious and very timely fashion in the future, Mr. Speaker.

Another thing we need to address besides packaging, and dump sites, when we talk about waste in the Province, is hazardous waste. We all have hazardous waste within our households. Out in our sheds or garages we have paints, sprays for lawns, paint cans half empty or half full, depending on what your view is, I suppose, if you are an optimist or a pessimist. But we have these products and now the City of St. John's, I believe, has appointed one or two days a year when people can actually come and dispose of their hazardous waste. Again, that is a good idea, and we have to compliment the City and the Department of Environment for that service. It is a good service, I think, Mr. Speaker, and maybe the people of the Province will try to utilize all the products they purchase to cut down on waste.

Another point I would like to make while I am on my feet is about the clean-up of the Argentia site. We know there is a lot of pollution in Argentia, as a result of the Americans having used the base since back in the 1940s, and they have recently left the Province. It is a major project to clean up that site. I know there are a lot of people looking to turn the site back into a good prosperous area. They are looking now for this smelter, and in order for the area to obtain the smelter, they have to address concerns with respect to the major clean-up in Argentia.

We hope there will be enough money put aside, from the Americans, to pay for that clean-up. Personally speaking, I would like to see the smelter put there, I suppose like everybody else. It was promised, during the election, in every Liberal district in the Province. I will not say every district, because they were hoping to get some of the good strong PC districts like Cape St. Francis and other districts. I don't know if it was promised in my district or not, but if it wasn't promised in my district, that is the only district where it wasn't promised. I suppose the people who were running the Liberal Party felt they didn't have much of a chance to win that district, so they didn't promise it down there anyway.

Mr. Speaker, on a serious note, I think my time has pretty well run out. I have a lot of serious thing I can say here, if I could get off the topic, with respect to the Liberal Administration, but that is not the intent of this resolution, I am sure. I say, I have no problem in supporting this resolution. I think it is a motherhood issue. As I said earlier, there are a number of private members' resolutions that have gone through this House, and most times they are passed and forgotten about. Maybe the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile, if this resolution passes, will see that the government he sits with does something about it, and brings in some regulations to put in place what he is requesting with this resolution.

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat.

Thank you.

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

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

I want to take time to, first off, express support for the resolution put forward by the Member for Burgeo - LaPoile. He has put forward a resolution that, I believe, has very much merit, one that is directly administered by the Department of Environment and Labour, one where the department has been looking at the different options as to a policy in dealing with packaging waste when it comes to the packaging industry.

There are a number of initiatives underway in the last two to three years to really gather up our homework when it comes to the environmental situation in this Province. Getting a reading as to the number of landfills was one exercise that was completed in the last twenty-four months. Once that homework was collected, the department then went out and put a consultant in place to do some public consultations as to regional waste management, and as a result of those consultations, there are some regions in the Province now that are starting to be formed together to look at waste management on a regional basis, looking at the landfills that they have in a region, looking at the number of landfills that should be required, the ones that are not required, also identifying landfills that need to be cleaned up and shut down. That whole exercise has been ongoing now. That homework is pretty well getting done. These are important issues in regions, especially as regions are forming now to do economic development in areas. So, as part of that exercise, waste management is an important exercise and, on the overall, that plan is coming together now. It is difficult for some municipalities because of their financial situation to make as rapid progress as they want to make, but collectively and on a regional basis, we are looking at the possibility of seeing some new initiatives take place for regional waste management.

The Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and the Department of Environment and Labour are working together to organize a plan with the Federation of Municipalities to ensure that waste management becomes a priority with municipalities in the Province. The Federation of Municipalities deserve some credit, Mr. Speaker. This past year, for the first time ever, they sponsored a conference on waste management on the West Coast, in Corner Brook, where they invited community leaders to come and sit down and talk about regional waste management initiatives and also to look at waste water management.

So there is a lot of progress starting to be made. We are getting our plans organized. These problems have been ignored for a number of years in the past and we are into the mode of trying to figure now, where do we go from here, and a lot of that homework is done. As part of doing that homework, when it comes to regional waste management and looking at landfill situations, looking at the recycling initiatives which have been underway for some time now in the last two years, we have over 300 schools that have been involved in recycling in the Province, from different parts of Labrador, different parts of the South Coast, Port aux Basques - pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Emerald School.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Emerald School, yes, one of three in Canada who received the environmental award.

A lot of schools have been very much involved in getting young people involved. If there has been anything for sure that has been successful so far, is that recycling has definitely taken hold with young people in the Province and it is starting to take hold at younger ages and in the school system. As a matter of fact, a number of schools have moved into the development of depots themselves to hand off recycled materials to the companies involved, be it Nova Recycling or whoever else. So there has been a lot of effort made in that area, recycling initiatives have been underway. Federal funding has been available from Environment Canada to help with those initiatives and that has made some progress for us in moving ahead.

As we see the recycling effort start to be picked up, the problem that we have identified in moving ahead, part of the problem we have identified, is stability within our recycling system. We need a stable recycling system in the Province. We need a stable system that sees us in every region, able to take up and get taken up, recyclable materials so that they can be taken from landfills, diverted from landfills and recycled back. This will create jobs, this will create a cleaner environment in this Province as we move ahead.

So we have been looking at and negotiating with the packaging industry, for the last two years, as part of the direction of government to look at a packaging industry and to negotiate to see whether or not they are going to fulfil an obligation or fulfil a commitment that they had made in helping set up and establish a recycling system in the Province, a collection system that would collect materials that should be diverted from landfills and should be recycled or reused.

Our negotiations with the PIAC organization, as they are called, the Packaging Industry Association for Canada, were not successful, and in December we decided to end negotiations with that organization, as did almost all of the other provinces in Canada who were not successful.

Since we moved on from the point of no negotiation with the packaging industry, we have decided now to bring forward some new policy initiatives to deal with this issue. Over this spring and the intermediary time we had an election, since then, the government being reformed - and I have been lucky enough to sit in this portfolio again - we have moved on to develop a further policy initiative and analysis that we will be bringing forward very shortly now to the public, to government, to the House of Assembly. What we need to do is get some stability in our recycling system in this Province. We need to get some stability in the collection system. We need to see more involvement in the system from private industry and from volunteer groups.

Mr. Speaker, I must highlight the Evergreen recycling system that is set up here now by the Waterford Hospital in St. John's. They have done an amazing amount of work. They are providing work for people who are trying to rehabilitate. They have put forth a great deal of effort in recycling in the Province, and they are now looking at expanding depots. We have been consulting with them, along with a whole range of other groups, including industry, including recycling groups and recycling companies, including a number of groups in the public, as to where we should go from here.

As part of our analysis in the last 90 to 120 days in looking at where we are going, we looked at what other provinces have been doing, other provinces in Atlantic Canada, other provinces across Canada. We have looked at what Manitoba has been doing. Manitoba brought in a levy system to deal with packaging waste. They have had some success, but they also have a little bit of a different set-up than we have in this Province, and we have done an evaluation of that. We have also looked closely at New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. in Atlantic Canada as to what they have done, and what they have brought forward, and the results that they have seen, and the impact that they have seen. As a result of that we have some options that we have developed for government's consideration. They will be decided upon very shortly, and we will be making some announcement further on that as we try to move ahead with a stable system, to put some stability into our recycling system, in our collection system. So I welcome the resolution brought forward by the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile as we try to move ahead in this Province.

I was at a luncheon just a few days ago where Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador were doing a workshop with the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industries Association, and their topic of the workshop for the morning was eco-tourism and wilderness tourism, and how both organizations could work together. The results of the workshop, I am told, were very positive, and there were some definite connections made as to opportunities for the future. So there is that type of work being done by industry out there, be it the environmental industry - which, by the way, the Newfoundland Environmental Industries Association have been very active in the last two years. They are the best in Atlantic Canada when it comes to environmental industries. They have been promoting themselves quite well. We have well over fifty or sixty companies in the environmental sector, and they have been doing a very good job of it. They have been helping us, and we have been consulting them with Round Tables every three or four months to get their views as to where we go with environmental policy.

The other thing I would like to point out as we move forward with environmental policy in the Province is that the Economic Recovery Commission did a fair bit of work on environmental policy. As a matter of fact, Adele Poynter, who is well qualified and did a tremendous job over there, she did some very good work and produced a report which outlined the opportunities and the problems, and we have looked at that carefully also as a consultative document, along with other information that we have been provided and collected, and that is also helping us in deciding where we go from here in the future.

You have to do your homework, and then you have to make some moves to deal with the situations and deal with the problems. We have carefully evaluated the options, and in due course, we will be providing some further direction, I believe, which I think will be very acceptable - I hope it will be acceptable - to the people in the Province and to our government. But we are making some good progress, we have made some good progress, but we have also identified that we have some problems in stabilizing our system when it comes to recycling and collection, and also getting the whole effort taken up out there. We need to see a higher percentage of return to our depots in this Province for packaging waste materials. The percentages have not been good enough. We have to find the mechanism and the policy that will see that increased; that is what we have been looking at very carefully, and we will be very shortly moving forward on that.

The resolution put forward is a timely one. It is one that highlights also though very much the opportunities that will come out of new changes and new policy changes that we can bring. In Nova Scotia I met with the Minister of Environment just a few weeks ago. They have over 200 people working in their recycling and collection system in Nova Scotia. It is working fairly well, the new system they have brought in. We have looked at what they have done.

So there are some opportunities there, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador and the urban centres, to see people get involved in recycling and environmental opportunities. As we move ahead in a whole variety of policy areas with the environment, be it in waste management, be it in dealing with the landfill situation, be it in diverting from landfills packaging waste, which we are now going to be looking at more seriously, we see opportunities coming out of these initiatives.

We see in this day and age the environment has become more important probably than any other issue that faces people on the planet. When you look at it, we are blessed with, in many areas of the Province, very much a pristine environment, but in some cases we haven't taken as much care as we should have. But policies now today are reflecting the changes in attitude. The Environmental Assessment Act reflects a change in that attitude. The act itself which was implemented in 1980 ensures that protection of the environment is a major factor in assessing any economic development. That act alone itself is going to benefit and has benefited our people in the last number of years, and it will benefit them in the future, because it puts the checkpoints in place for evaluation of projects as we come forward and develop our economy.

Finding the delicate balance of sustainable development is what we are all trying to do. We are trying to balance off very much the major economic opportunity that is on our doorstep now, and look at also, as we move ahead, how do we balance that economic opportunity, especially with the development of resources, balancing it off with proper environmental monitoring and environmental protection. That is the key point in sustainable development. It is a delicate balancing act as you move forward. These are tough decisions to make overall, but in the environmental sector, especially in the days of deregulation in most government areas, we see that we may have to bring in some cases more regulation. That is needed in some cases because of the fact that sometimes industry does not respond as we hope it would, and we see that has to take place in order to make changes.

I want to say too that the CSDA - the soft-drink association - has done a very good job in its advertising efforts to deal with anti-litter. It has put very many resources into that effort. It has also been involved with the government -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Whose resources? It is the industry's resources, so that is the industry resources. It is a cost of doing business, you see. It is called stewardship.

Anyway, CSDA has put forward its plan of action which it has performed, but we are also looking at the overall impact. We have to make some policy changes that will reflect what we would like to see. The CSDA has contributed to seeing the recycling system set up in this Province but unfortunately it is not stable enough and we need to make some changes in our policy to see improvements and see that system stabilized.

We give credit to what has been done in the past, the attempts to do so, but we also have to move ahead, Mr. Speaker, to move forward with environmental policy in the Province. It is important as we go forward with 1997 coming at us that we move ahead and create new opportunities in this area. It is very important because many people also want to see change and they also want to see improvements made. As I said, in this case regulation may have to take place because it is one of the only ways that we can make it happen. We look forward to seeing and bringing forward very shortly the changes in policy that we believe will have an impact, that we see will have a very positive benefit on people of the Province.

The adopt a highway program that was brought forward by the hon. John Efford last year, former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, very much -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. K. AYLWARD: - a very positive effort. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to the other speakers in the debate. Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak on environmental issues today. Although when I read the resolution I'm a little bit shocked. It says: "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."

Mr. Speaker, I don't think I've ever seen a weaker resolution in this House of Assembly than this one that is presented today. I don't know how it could possibly be any weaker. I don't know what need to be done to the Minister of Environment and Labour, or the Ministry of Environment and Labour. I mean, we have been giving them all the encouragement that we can. We have been demanding they take action, we have been asking they take action, we have been begging them to take action, we have been insisting they take action, and now the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile wants to give them some encouragement.

What the minister needs is not praise and encouragement, he needs a little bit of goading. Something of a sharper stick I think, because the Minister of Environment and Labour could probably pass for the minister of good intentions. The Member for Waterford Valley was just showing me a half an inch thick of excerpts from Hansard of questions that were asked in this House since 1989 on one aspect alone of packaging, having to do with returnable soft drink bottles. The minister in this House today gets up and praises the Canadian Soft Drink Association for its wonderful work over the last two years in advertising and literature.

That was the biggest con job on the public and government in Newfoundland that the industry has managed to pull. Because about two years ago there was enough momentum around to force the soft drink industry to have, perhaps, some returnable soft drink bottles. Recycle them like beer bottles. Do you know that 97 per cent of the beer bottles that are sold in Newfoundland with beer in them, the bottles go back? They go back to the breweries to be refilled and sent out again. They don't end up in the landfills. They don't fill up the landfills like plastic pop bottles do, or like glass juice bottles do, or like all kinds of other soft drink containers.

I don't think soft drinks are the only problem. Don't get me wrong. But when you look at the ads put out by the Canadian Soft Drink Association over the last two years it is very hard to find a soft drink bottle in them! Very hard. You see a big pile of litter, and maybe over in the corner you would see something that might resemble a soft drink container. It was a disguise, it was a con job on the people of Newfoundland, and they did it not with their money or industry money, as the minister said when I asked him. He said they used their own, but they didn't use their own money. They got this government to impose an environmental levy on every single soft drink container in the Province and gave it to the industry to spend.

What did they do? They did another con job, a PR job on the people of Newfoundland. They had their official spokespeople getting involved in every opportunity they could, and every open line program or public relations program and all sorts of stuff, to talk about the big problem of littering and how the people of Newfoundland were filthy rotten people and they couldn't look after themselves and they weren't looking after the environment. What did they do? They shifted the blame from the industry which produced the problem, had the means of solving it, onto the people of this Province.

Now, we are no saints. This is not Ireland. Ireland is the land of saints and scholars. This is Newfoundland. We aren't all saints here. People throw things in the environment. But that is not the principle problem in an industry that has the means, and the government which has the means, of solving this problem.

The minister doesn't need encouragement, he needs more than that. He needs to be told that he has a job to do that is not a public relations job for industry. It is all very well. He has PR people to issue press releases, he has people who can engage in public relations on behalf of his department and say nice things about the environment and speak the rhetoric. There is no shortage of rhetoric on the environment these days. As the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile says, even the school kids are far and away ahead of this government when it comes to recycling, to insisting on reusing and recycling containers, paper, matters of that nature. Because they see in their own naive way perhaps, they can focus on a small item and say this should be recycled, this should be refilled or this could be refilled. Whereas the minister is overloaded with the garbage that he is getting, principally from the industry, Mr. Speaker, which is trying to avoid it's responsibilities and has been successful so far because they have managed to talk this government around in circles for the last eight or nine years, this government and the previous government.

Now the Minister of Environment and Labour expresses his interest and concern in all of this. They are quite delighted with voluntarism. Even in the public service we have voluntarism in this issue but we don't have government action. Does the minister know for example that the Workers' Compensation Commission goes through all the trouble of shredding all kinds of documents and bags and bags and bags of shredded fine paper and what happens to them? They get picked up by the garbage contractor and brought to Robin Hood Bay. The Minister of Environment and Labour does not do anything about it. He probably does not even know about it, I would be surprised.

I know we have these boxes here and they are not even blue. We asked for blue boxes and it took us two years to get them from the previous minister. I would be surprised if that stuff is recycled. I would be very surprised. I would like to see someone do an environmental audit, follow the paper that goes into these boxes and see where it goes. I would be very surprised if it does not go to Robin Hood Bay, Mr. Speaker, because I don't think this Minister of Environment and Labour is serious about environmental recycling, about environmental programs. This Confederation Building should be a model not a voluntarism. We are happy to have that and I don't have any problem with that. School kids and everybody get involved in the environment but let's see some example from people who have the responsibility to set policy for environmental issues in this Province. We don't see it, Mr. Speaker.

We hear the minister talk, talk, talk and we have yet to see any concrete action from this minister other than having ongoing consultations and discussions with the industry who are filling him with baffle gab, Mr. Speaker. Filling him up with it so much that even during environment week we could not even have a statement in the House. Maybe he was afraid that if he came in and made a statement about Environment Week he would hear it from the Opposition. He would not have very much time, a minute here or half minute there but he was afraid even to face that. He hoped that he could come in here today, this afternoon and have a real low key speech on a more lower key resolution, `Be It Resolved that the House 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.'

Mr. Speaker, how is that going to happen? It is not going to happen unless this government is prepared to take some action and prepare to make recycled materials worth recycling. It is no good to say go out there boys and girls, men and women and collect 5,000 aluminum pop cans out of the environment and we will give you five bucks. That's no good. We have to make these thing worth something and the only way to do that is not with the - you need the cooperation of the industry but you don't need their consent, Mr. Speaker, because if you are going to wait for their consent you are not going to get anything going. They don't want to do anything that they don't have to do if it in any way, shape or form may interfere with their market or with their market share.

MR. RAMSAY: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is the absolute bottom line. The Member for LaPoile is right, it is a total bottom line orientation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well maybe the minister asked him for some encouragement. It seems to me whenever I get up in the House and bash the minister verbally in the House, he thanks me. He says: Good, good, I am glad you're doing that. I don't know whether he is a masochist or whether he feels that is going to give him some clout with the other ministers. Maybe he can go into the Cabinet and say: Look Harris is beating up on me again. Look will you agree to something? For heavens sake, let me do something! Maybe that is why he likes me yelling at him and bringing this up in the House but he needs to take the bull by the horns and take on this issue. Never mind all these backroom meetings with the soft drink industry and the Canadian Soft Drink Companies, maybe they take him out to lunch and treat him well, look after him and talk to him and present him with briefs and show them this and show them that, I mean they can go around the world for the next ten years and look at what other people are doing, but let us look at our own backyard, Mr. Speaker, let us look at the House of Assembly itself, let us look at this building, let us look at government and what government programs there are and let us look at the possibilities that can be implemented.

You know, I have raised this in the House on a number of occasions. You know, you look at the minister, the Department of Public Works, every month publishes the exceptions to the Tender Act, and you see $20,000 and $40,000 or $30,000 spent to buy bottles for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, brought in from New Brunswick, buying bottles, filling them up with liquor, putting them on the shelves at Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, thousands and thousands and thousands of them, selling them with the liquor bottle, off they go, consumed in the Province and thrown on the landfill.

They are not recycled, Mr. Speaker, they are not recycled and some of them have labels on them that say: recyclable where applicable or return for deposit where applicable, but it is never applicable in this Province, Mr. Speaker, because the Province does not have a scheme or a plan in place that makes these bottles returnable for deposit. That is the kind of program we need, something that will, in fact, encourage, not the minister, I am not worried about encouraging the minister, the minister is the one who should be encouraging other people but he is going to have to do it not by PR programs or the Bug Book, I saw a Bug Book going around, everybody last week, got a Bug Book, fifty or sixty pages about backyard bugs, probably printed in New Brunswick.

The minister says he didn't know. I got a pretty good guess it was printed in New Brunswick and tons and tons of them brought here and distributed all throughout the Province, probably in the landfill now, half of them. I don't imagine very many of them were recycled and yet, in Newfoundland, I think the only Province in Canada, there is not one, single, refundable, refillable soft drink container produced, not one, not one. I am not saying every one has to be refillable or refundable deposit and return, not every one but this Province does not even have one, not a single one, not a single product; not one single product and the soft drink industry has managed to convince the government, don't just pick on us, talk about all packaging.

In other words, let us make the problem so big that we can't resolve it, let us talk about all packaging, about all supermarkets packaging, all food packaging about all kinds of containers, let us really make it complex; let us mix it up as far as we can and that is probably part of the PR Program that the Canadian Soft Drink industry has undertaken with their millions of dollars that they got by this government allowing them to take an environmental levy and use it for their public relations purposes. That is probably the end result of that, trying to mold public opinion to not focus on the soft drinks but focus in general on packaging so that the government has now bought into that and they are forgetting the original focus of this recycling program on the soft drink industry.

Why, Mr. Speaker, why was it focused on the soft drink industry? Principally because, the soft drink industry, ten or fifteen years ago was 100 per cent returnable, refillable containers, ten or fifteen years ago, probably fifteen in this Province was 100 per cent and they have gone from that to disposable, no deposit, no return, throw the glass in the landfill, throw the glass in the woods, type of containers, that are worth virtually nothing from recycling purposes if at all, so there has to be some changes made, Mr. Speaker, and the minister needs more than encouragement I say. This is the weakest resolution I have ever seen in this House, the weakest one.


MR. HARRIS: The weakest resolution I have ever seen in this House. Encourage the minister, encourage the minister; goad the minister is what we need, not encourage him. Ask him to do his job; that is what we need to do, and when the Minister of Environment comes out with a program that isn't a product of the dictates of the soft drink industry, the dictates of the packaging industry, I will praise him in this House; I will be the first to stand up and praise him. I will be the first to stand up and praise the Minister of Environment when he comes in here with something more than just public relations for the packaging industry. I will be the first one to praise him, because I have been one of the ones who have been most vociferous in trying to encourage the minister to do something positive about these problems.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the more I listen to the member opposite, the more I get disillusioned. Everything that could be possibly positive about this Province, he has to find a reason why it is negative, and a reason why it cannot work. Too much time down in that little coffee shop on Duckworth Street, that is what it is, too much time down there in the morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is where it all comes from.

MR. EFFORD: That is where it all comes from. All the negative blab that you could possibly think of comes from down there.

I would commend the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile for putting forth the resolution, and I would certainly commend the Minister of Environment for taking the necessary steps to do what is right to deal with the environmental mess we have in this Province. One step forward is better than sitting down on your you-know-what and doing nothing, and that is exactly what members opposite wished they did. They don't want anything positive or good to happen, because then they have nothing to complain about, so the first thing they will do is stand up and pick holes. It is very responsible to be seen putting forth constructive ideas instead of spending your time being critical.

Now, I am going to take a couple of minutes to speak as a citizen, and as a former Minister of Transportation, to just point out a couple of things that I have seen personally over the years, and I have been on this issue since 1985. I think Ron Dawe was the Minister of Transportation for the then Progressive Conservative government when I first came in here, and Norman Doyle was the Member for Harbour Main and Minister of Transportation after him.

Seriously, time after time in Question Period, one of the things I asked the then Minister of Transportation was: What are you going to do, as a minister, to deal with the waste and litter on our highways? It was a real question, and each time we asked a question the minister stood up and admitted there was a real, real problem out there. How do you control it? How do you stop it?

Last year when I was Minister of Transportation for this Province I, too, dealt with and witnessed that situation. People coming in over our highways in the morning, or at any time of the day, roll down the windows and toss out the bottles, toss out the garbage through the window of the car, and it is lying in the median or on the side of our road, and nothing works. So, a year-and-a-half ago the Minister of Environment, myself, and department officials got together with some Lions Clubs, and we asked them if they would be in support of an Adopt a Highway program.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them the truth; the Lions Club approached you. Give them credit.

MR. EFFORD: Okay, the Lions Clubs approached us. We put the message out there and they came to us. However it happened, it happened.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: That is what you want to do, laugh at it. That is how sensible and responsible they are about such a serious issue. Anyhow, Mr. Speaker, let's get on with the real issue.

We offered the Lions Clubs, if they would pick up the garbage, we would provide advertising, we would provide the garbage bags, and we would assist in providing the trucks to pick up the garbage.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: That is not the point. It has nothing to do with it, who started it or who organized it. The fact that people out there are giving up their time, an organization such as the Lions Club is doing it, and they did it last year. They just started it again about two to three weeks ago. That is what I am leading into, how irresponsible a lot of the people in this Province really are.

From Roaches Line to St. John's is an area of the Trans-Canada which I travel on a daily basis. It is a beautiful highway, landscaping in the median and on both sides. It looks really good, as good as any section of highway in this Province, in this country, and we should be proud of it. We should be proud of our Province; we should be proud of how pristine our Province really is compared to some places in the world, but a lot of us are doing everything we can to ruin that.

Anyway, to get directly to the point, two weeks ago the Lions Club started cleaning up the garbage after all winter. When you are driving out over the highway garbage bag after garbage bag is placed on the side of the road to be picked up, and it shows you what went on over the last three, four, or five months. Now, you would think, after seeing that on the road, after seeing people out there voluntarily picking it up, and after seeing the garbage bags on the side of the road, people would recognize the damage they are doing. Before the bags have been picked up off the side of the highway, now, you can go out there, drive over this afternoon, and where these people were picking up last week, people are putting the windows down in their vehicles and already there are bottles, cans, and packages in the median and on the side of the road in less than twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

Now, there is a real problem. That tells us we are not the least bit concerned about our environment. Here is where we have to support the Minister of Environment and Labour to do whatever is necessary to make this work, packaging control, putting a returnable deposit on bottles, whatever is necessary. The other thing we have to do, as the minister is talking about, is to direct attention towards educating our people, but education alone is not enough. You have to have something to bring the people's attention to grasp, this is going to cost me money if I do not do what is right.

I will take it one step next to that and talk about people being responsible. A couple of years ago I picked up a sign from the Department of Environment, brought it out and put in on the wharf in Port de Grave. The sign said a $2000 fine if you throw garbage over the side of the wharf, and you would think that would deter people from doing it. A week later I was out there and watched a fisherman put oil in the base of his engine, take the plastic containers and flick them out over the side of the boat, in an ocean where they depend on the resource of that ocean for their future. I spoke to him about it.

MR. SHELLEY: That would not happen on the Northern Peninsula. What a dirty crowd.

MR. EFFORD: The Member for Baie Verte says it would not happen on the Northern Peninsula. Well, if it would not happen on the Northern Peninsula it is about the only place in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador it would not happen. I am not saying all people are doing it but enough people are doing it to cause a major problem, a major problem in our environment.

The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is doing everything she possibly can to encourage people to come to this Province, and when people come into this Province they expect to see a clean environment, one they can go back and boast about, that they were to this beautiful Province, and just to be able to say that it is not like where we live, it is not like a city where people do not care.

I was looking for the book on the Strategic Social Plan, but I do not really need it. It made reference to the size of Newfoundland, that we have a land mass as large as Great Britain, Scotland, Northern Ireland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and, I believe PEI, all collectively together, our land mass is greater with a population of approximately 555,000 people, with the same population as the city of Winnipeg, and we are not willing, with a small population such as that, to protect this Province and to make it a unique land mass that the whole world can come and see, and then go back and boast about it, and talk about it, so that we can get more tourists coming in.

If we do not think anything about our own land mass and environment how de we expect other people to do it? The bottom line is, Mr. Speaker, I will support the Minister of the Environment and Labour in doing whatever is necessary. I congratulate the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile for putting this resolution forth today to bring awareness to the very serious situation that is happening in this Province. In my own boat, the one I go out in, the word on that boat is, do not throw anything in the ocean that is not eatable. If the fish and the birds cannot eat it do not discard it, and if you do not like that stay off the boat. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians all over must think about that.

The one thing I will say in conclusion, the one group of people who I am proud of, and I have seen it and I have talked to them and I've witnessed it, are the young people. They are accepting the responsibility of protecting the environment. The students in school, the younger people, I've seen them walk up to older people, the older generation, and tell them: That is wrong what you are doing. Don't discard that cigarette, that ashtray on the pavement, don't throw away that box of chicken, don't throw away that milk container. Put it in the garbage container. Put it in a plastic bag and bring it home. If we listened to the young people in this Province we wouldn't have half the problems that we have.

But because we are stubborn in our ways, we don't want to accept change, the Minister of Environment and Labour must do what is necessary to make Newfoundland a pristine environment. Do what we have a responsibility to do, do the same as we do in our own private lives, in our own personal care of our homes and our automobiles or whatever. Congratulations to the minister and the member, and to the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: This is an issue that has been discussed in the House many times on many occasions, and just to cite a few I've gone back as far as March 1991.

The then-Minister of Environment and Lands, Mr. Kelland: We are taking major steps in recycling. The results of the survey of the imposed moratorium and recycling efforts imposed by the former administration will be made known to the public as soon as possible.

May 28 1993, Ms Cowan, who was then the Minister of Environment and Lands: As a government we are currently developing regulations to deal with the beverage containers which make up a very large part of our waste stream and once this is in hand we will be looking at other types of litter as well. The worst litterers are the young men and women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four, and I think it has been studied and we will actually know who does the most littering. So I think it would be appropriate for us, when we certainly have the money to do so, to perhaps aim some programs at the group ages that are known as the prime litterers, and put in education for these groups. We are looking at regulations now to control the use of beverage containers, and the deposit system is one of the methods that we are looking at.

That was on May 28 1993. In November 1993: The Newfoundland government has scrapped its plans to force soft drink companies to use refundable bottles. Ms Cowan says: Well, I've got something now lined up that I'm even more excited about and this is a broader, more comprehensive program that will deal with all kinds of litter and waste.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you reading that?

MR. OSBORNE: Well, I didn't memorize it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: Ms Cowan goes on to say: And it's not just with our beverage containers, because we have many things that make up litter that we see at the sides of the roads. Chip packages, chocolate bar wrappers, bags from grocery stores, a whole variety of things.

This is the reason that she has cancelled the deposit on bottles. In an interview in the paper: The provincial government has flip-flopped on its promises to bring in refundable deposit legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. OSBORNE: That is out of The Evening Telegram.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who wrote it?

MR. OSBORNE: Mark Vaughn-Jackson wrote it, and I didn't memorize this either so I'm going to read it: Environment and Lands Minister Patt Cowan denies the charge however, saying that government has simply a better anti-litter initiative. Earlier this week the provincial government confirmed reports that it favours an industry driven education campaign to combat litter instead of bringing in rules for refundable bottles. The 1989 election promise to help reduce littering by making soft drink companies use refundable bottles has been discarded but Cowan said that the government - I know, I find her speech boring as well - but Cowan said that the government is simply going along -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: Cowan said: The government is simply going along with a good way to tackle litter in general, not just pop bottles. The education program will be implemented and funded by the Canadian Soft Drink Association. Furthermore, Ms Cowan, the then Minister of Environment: If we put a deposit refund on just soft drink containers we do not, for example, take care of the problem of fast food containers which are the worst source of littering in the Province. Indeed there are many beverage containers - as the hon. member indicated - but they do not make up the entire waste stream. She goes on to suggest that we should put a refundable deposit on discarded boots and grocery bags and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I know but I am going to get in the next time too.

In the fall of 1992 the Environment and Lands Minister said the government would bring in legislation to force soft drink companies - and it goes on - Ms Cowan goes on to say: They are taking a new approach different from the old fashioned deposit refund system. It is considered to be more appropriate to go after the people who produce excess packaging or in this case pop containers and not to put the burden on the consumer, both the consumer and the manufacturer who would share the burden because what I did and why I am really pleased I did it, was find a better way of doing things and thank goodness I don't have such a self concept that I cannot change my mind. I guess basically what it all boils down to is that way back to 1991 the Liberal administration has promised that they are going to take care of the litter problem and it is not taken care of now any more than it was back then. The soft drink refund on the bottles was a good idea that was scrapped because of pressure put on by the soft drink producers of Canada and so on. I think that the refund on soft drink containers should be brought back.

Another area that I think we should probably look at as well, although I know that we have legislation, fines and so on for people that litter but they are not imposed and as mentioned by many members in the House today on this debate, people probably just don't care. The reason they don't care is because it does not cost them anything. If we were to impose fines on the people who are caught littering and creating litter on the sides of our roads and our wilderness and so on, I think maybe we could help combat the problem.

So that's the two suggestions that I am bringing forth today to bring back the deposit on soft drink containers and to impose fines on those people who create the litter in our environment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Opposition Party Whip, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I did not come prepared to speak today but I don't mind adding a few words to this very important resolution as brought forward by the Member for LaPoile. It is too bad he did not have the interest to stay in the House and listen to the comments from both sides to find out what the interest was in this particular topic because I think it is a very important topic. It is a very important resolution that the member brought forward. I'm sure that we can all relate to some of the experiences that we have seen and we have heard as we have gone through our districts or if we have travelled across this Province.

When the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile was introducing his resolution I just got into a little conversation with him and asked him about some of the things that I saw just a couple of years ago when I went up one year moose hunting up in the Buchans area, Mr. Speaker. We travelled over a piece of trail way there leading from Buchan's Junction to Millertown Junction. I don't know how long it was across there because you couldn't drive very fast. The track wasn't great. It couldn't have been any more than fifteen or eighteen miles. Going across there it was just like you were driving in a dreamland where the trees had all formed a tunnel over the track. Then you come out on the marshland, on the bogs. What a beautiful drive for somebody who hasn't been there, hasn't had the occasion to drive through there.

All along this particular trackway - there must have been 500 or 600 of them - you could just see a mess of forty-five-gallon drums. They had been there for quite some time because all the markings had gone off them, the drums were rusty, and there was a big hole in each one. I don't know if it was a situation where as they were discarded that somebody - it appeared as if somebody just took the pick and drove down through it to render the drum useless and throw it out in the bog there. I thought to myself that somebody must have been doing something up there. It wasn't a situation where the train, I don't think, threw them out. It must have been some kind of activity up there that a construction company, or some exploration company or what have you, was allowed to discard this debris and not be accountable to have it picked up and carried away. It is shameful that so much of our beautiful, as the member said, pristine countryside, is allowed to be littered like this.

The one thing I suppose that irritates and bothers me more than anything else is the point of seeing somebody in a parking lot or in your driveway or by the side of the road take out the ashtray and dump it on the street. That has to be the most despicable, distasteful thing that anybody can do. Those cigarette butts with the filter on the end of them, I don't know how long they last but they are there for weeks. It certainly doesn't say much about us as Newfoundlanders and it doesn't say much about us as a people, I suppose, to allow this kind of littering to take place. It is very commonplace.

I used to sell insurance from my home. I had a little office in my house and as a part-time job I used to sell automobile and fire insurance. Many times when somebody would come and park their car in my driveway and come in and get an insurance policy, spend about half an hour there, you go out after and get in your car to pull out of the driveway, and the first thing you look at and see down by the side of your car or behind your car, wherever they happened to be parked, many times you see somebody dumped the ashtray. It was a situation probably where the wife or the man would come in and whoever was left in the car thought it would be a good time, I suppose, to do some car cleaning. Disgraceful.

The minister also related a story about somebody in his district who gave an oil can a flick out in the salt water. I remember just a few short years ago when I was working with FPI, part of my job was to go around to the different wharves and do maintenance. There was a maintenance program that they would carry out on their buying stations. At the particular buying stations there would be what they call an A-frame, where you would lift the containers of fish onto trucks, and there would be winches there, water pumps and what have you in order to provide the services there that fishermen needed in order to buy fish and weigh it and transport it to the plant. It was like a little buying station on many of the wharves, and in this particular A-frame, it worked by hydraulics; there was a five-gallon reservoir that was on it that would take hydraulic oil and that is the way that the frame would work, by an electric motor that would pump hydraulic fluid. So, I remember going down there this particular day to do some work on the A-frame and the filter was all plugged up and the oil was dirty so I decided to change the oil.

I took out the five gallons of dirty oil and put in five gallons of clean oil and I said to the fellow who was working on the wharf, who was in the Member for Trinity North's district, that is where it was, and I said to him: I am going to leave five gallons of oil for you there now, if it is any good, use it, if it is not, maybe you can discard it, wherever you take it to burn or whatever. Don't worry about it, he said, I will look after that. I turned my back and within two minutes he had five gallons of oil thrown in the water, thrown over the wharf, it was the quickest way he said, to get rid of that. Those are the kinds of things that are happening out there today and I don't think they should be allowed to happen.

How do we stop it? It is not an easy job I say to the member and it is not easy I suppose, to teach old dogs new tricks. The place we have to start is in the schools, that is the place we have to start. I know if I rolled down the window in my car today and gave a cigarette butt or a chicken box the flick, and if my children were aboard, I would be reprimanded like you wouldn't believe.

MR. EFFORD: And so you should.

MR. FITZGERALD: And so I should because I don't do that kind of thing, I say to the member, I don't do that kind of thing and I don't thing any of us should; but lots of people today consider that acceptable behaviour, to take whatever they have and get rid of it, whether it is pampers or a chicken box or a paper bag or a plastic bag, give it a flick out the window and this is wrong and has to stop. In fact, I believe that is why we have ditches by the sides of our roads, I am convinced of that; I don't think it is because of our weather or because we need drainage. I think it is there because the Department of Highways feel they want a pit to maintain our garbage because that is where it ends up, in the ditches and it is not hard to see in the spring of the year what has happened over the winter months.

It is not hard, Mr. Speaker, over the year, to see what has happened over the winter months when so many people have been allowed to travel back and forth over the Province, travel back and forth our highways and get their feed of chicken and take their garbage and flick it out the window; it is very evident as the weeks have passed by and the winter has passed by, but this has to stop, Mr. Speaker, and the place to have it stopped is in the schools. Make our children, make the students out there conscious of what is happening because I can assure you, many of those children are not in tune with what is happening either. Many of them set an example but you go by some schools and you see the mess that is around the school yard and it is not hard to find out who is taking part in those litter programs, that's for sure.

A few years ago, and you can correct me if I am wrong, but I think that there was a dollar or two dollars charged on either our driver's licence or registration for our automobiles. I think it was the registration for our automobiles. The Member for Humber East nods and he knows exactly what I am talking about, and at that particular time, this charge was to have people go out or have somebody responsible, and I suppose it would have been the government, for picking up the car wrecks along the sides of the roads, in people's gardens and taking them to some waste disposable area identified to accept car wrecks and then some other company would come and crush them and take them out and have them recycled as recycled metal. I don't know what happened to that program, Mr. Speaker, because it is not very evident that it ever took effect, although many of our communities have been cleaning up a whole lot more than they did. Even today if you look in the tree stands, and if you look in people's backyards, there are still hundreds of those wrecks lying around, and I don't think that is right. I think people should be responsible for them. Whether we charge them, or whether the manufacturer puts a cost on it that they are responsible, somebody should be responsible. It is not hard to find out who owns a car wreck - that can be very easily done - but I suppose being Newfoundlanders, and being the type of people we are, we don't want to go out reporting our neighbours or our friends.


MR. FITZGERALD: Well, I would never do that. Maybe the member would, but I would never do that because it is not the kind of fellow that I am.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know if they are breaking the law. I am not so sure they are breaking the law. It is something that should not happen, I say to the minister; people should be made responsible.

If we are going to allow our environment to be any different than what it is today, then the first thing we have to do is put a price on our garbage. That is the first thing that has to happen. What we are going to have to do is put a surcharge, put a deposit, on our soft drink bottles. Whether it remains as a plastic bottle or whether it is something that is taken back and can be reused again is not the issue. It has to be disposed of in a proper way, and it has to be returned somewhere in order to be controlled, because today what is happening out there in our environment is happening along our roads, is happening in the bush, and it does not speak very well of us as Newfoundlanders. I don't know if the other provinces across Canada are as negligent as we are. I don't think they are, because it is not as evident as you drive by as you see it here in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words I will conclude and allow the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile to have the remaining time left on his Private Member's resolution, and I would ask that the government, and I would ask that the minister, would bring in rules and regulations, and put some teeth into them, and set some examples, and go out and - what is wrong with the RCMP or the local police charging somebody for throwing out garbage by the side of the road? What is wrong with that? Set some examples. I have never seen it happen. I have never heard tell of anybody being stopped for throwing garbage out the window, for disposing of garbage - haven't heard tell of it. There is no reason why it cannot happen. The rules and regulations are there, but nobody seems to want to enforce them. I think that is wrong, and I think until we start doing that, and until we start publicizing it, I am very doubtful that it will ever return and be any different from what it is today.

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank those who spoke in the debate, even those who were less than kind in their comments. Just like the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi said in his commentary, sometimes those who berate you are the ones who bring the information out that helps you make wise decisions.

To the minister, I think, on reflection, we, as a government, all of those who have supported the government over the last number of years, probably regret the decision not to implement something more strict as a regime for the packaging industry sooner. I feel that way, and I am sure a lot of other members feel the same way.

We are only probably a blip in time when it comes to the earth - Mother Earth as we call it, as the children call it - and we have to protect it while we are here on this planet, this little piece of the universe, and if it takes making sure that the companies that package the products that we consume, along with the consumers themselves, share the responsibility for looking after landfill sites that we maintain. One of these days these will be worthwhile archaeological digs. Hundreds of years in the future someone will come back and dig up these landfill sites. Well, let us leave as little as possible to make their future worthwhile and make those archaeologists work hard to take those landfill sites and do the job that needs to be done.

Mr. Speaker, I thank everybody for their commentary and seek their support for this resolution, and hopeful it will be a stimulus to having the department implement some new good policies for the benefit of the people of the Province and our children who will inherit what we leave behind.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion, carried.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: For the benefit of hon. members tomorrow, I understand, we are going to go to Motion 1, and if Motion 1 is finished we will go to the Committee of Supply, that is Order 2, to continue debate of Bill 15. I understand there is one hour and forty-eight minutes left on Bill 15.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.