November 24, 1997         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLIII  No. 36

The House met at 2:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!


Statements by Ministers


The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, last evening the provincial government took the unusual step of sending two ministers of the Crown to appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I am today tabling a copy of hon. John Efford's and my comments to the committee.

As the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the hon. John Efford stated last night: "We felt it was necessary to do what we did because of the urgency and the importance of the impending expiry of TAGS in May 1998." It is the single most important issue facing this Province and the nation of Canada today.

Mr. Speaker, it is to the credit of the federal government and the standing committee, that they have come to this Province to listen to the cries of anguish of our people, as they talk about the destruction of their livelihoods, the stress on their families and the personal crisis all of them are facing, as a result of the groundfish moratorium and the pending expiry of TAGS in May 1998. They, the standing committee, cannot help but be affected by what they heard last evening and what I am sure they will continue to hear during their stay.

Mr. Speaker, last evening was an important night, it was not a good night. I say it was not a good night because in the middle of the effort to address this national crisis by the standing committee on fisheries - made up of Liberals, Reforms, NDPers, Progressive Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois members, there was, on Friday past, a shadow of cynicism, a shadow of mistrust and a shadow of insidious manipulation cast upon the efforts of all of us, as politicians, to serve our people.

Mr. Speaker, I refer to a memorandum circulated in the managerial abyss of the federal Department of Human Resources Development Canada. Mr. Speaker, this memo written for the managers of HRDC by MERX Limited, and I think the word is appropriate, refers to the ending of the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy (TAGS) in May 1998. It goes on to speak of the political situation that may arise as a result of the expiry of TAGS in a manner reminiscent of countries torn apart by civil strife.

Mr. Speaker, let me quote form the memo: "There have been a number of very serious demonstrations and illegal occupations concerning the program changes of HRDC. This has led to wide spread concern and fear from staff that there is a perception the local offices are not fully prepared. For example, staff have enunciated and demonstrated these fears by taking different routes to offices, obtaining non-published telephone numbers, shopping for basic necessities that is food and clothing in other towns rather than their local businesses; refusing to use designated employee parking lots; leaving the building in groups rather than fear the darkness alone, especially now that it is getting darker earlier." The memo goes on to say: "Failure to meet these requirements and fears will result in increased concerns, such as stress, anxiety and will adversely affect staff's ability to perform their professional duties."

Then it goes on to say again: "If management are not fully trained and prepared we will encounter increased problems such as: management will not be fully prepared to deal with local authorities (i.e. police, fire and emergency); damage to government property; compromised safety of management, staff and clients; increased stress levels resulting in personal time away from their office; inability to provide ongoing quality service to our clients."

Mr. Speaker, it goes on to say: "Time frames to meet these potentially serious, life-threatening situations is very limited. It is important that the training be ready to deliver in January, 1998 in order to avoid an explosion of dangerous situations. We must eliminate the very real threat to our local management, staff and clients."

Mr. Speaker, the memo then goes on to say that $351,655.50 will be spent in the production of a video and management training to deal with these "potential serious, life-threatening situations."

Mr. Speaker, this memo refers specifically to TAGS recipients and since 70 per cent of those on TAGS are from Newfoundland and Labrador we can only assume that the cynical managerial mandarins in Ottawa must regard us as a somewhat uncivilized people who need to be subjected to mob control.

Mr. Speaker, words cannot describe the deep sense of hurt and insult that all of us must feel.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: We are a people who have seen the ecosystem of which we are a part destroyed. We are a people who are seeing numerous homes being boarded up, as our rural communities are decimated. We are a people whose very culture and way of life is being threatened as we see our youngsters, the brightest and the best, leave.

Mr. Speaker, when are these mandarins going to learn that we are proud Canadians who need a helping hand to reach self-sufficiency?

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe that this represents the political will of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or the Federal Minister of Human Resources Development Canada.

Mr. Speaker, these managerial mandarins - as I have referred to them - need to be told to help people solve this national problem rather than manipulate them in their poverty.

Consequently, on Friday when this diatribe was brought to my attention an immediate contact was made with HRDC officials in Ottawa. This morning they advised us that the context for this initiative was not accurately reflected in the MERX memorandum and it was not intended to be directed at the TAGS situation specifically. It was, they reported, intended to address the need to enhance the capability of HRDC staff across the country in dealing with the challenges of conflict resolution generally. HRDC officials indicated that the current situation will be corrected and revisions will be made.

Mr. Speaker, these assurances are insufficient. Consequently, this morning I wrote the hon. Pierre Pettigrew asking him to investigate this matter fully and disown publicly the type of strategy outlined in the MERX proposal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I also asked him to confirm for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that the Government of Canada's priority remains the development of an effective Post-TAGS Program, not improvements to HRDC security. I am tabling a copy of that letter herewith.

Mr. Speaker, any other action on the part of the federal minister is incomprehensible.

These people must realize the reality for fishers in this Province is captured in the song performed by the Ennis Sisters, "I don't want to leave but I can't live for free. I can't eat the air, can't drink the sea." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I too attended that meeting in Tors Cove last night. I listened to a fifteen minute presentation by government that did not offer any solutions or suggestions on how to restructure a new TAGS program in the fishery of the future. I also presented a ten minute presentation there to the people that offered - I did offer suggestions. I recommended things to the committee that we should be doing there.


MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the minister, if he and the other minister and his colleague had to stay around long after they presented their presentation and heard the ordinary people when they came to the microphone - they were gone long before it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: At 12:50 you were not. At ten minutes to one I left that building last night. You were home and long in bed by that time, I say to the minister. This video by HRDC, I am quite sure, fails to look at - or the talks of a video - people to protect. What about the people out there today? Who is fighting to protect the people who are affected by the news here in the Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: It is you and your colleagues and the Premier being a part of this entire process from the beginning.

I commented last night, too, I might add, and I asked him to take back a message to the Government of Canada and the House of Commons, that we are law-abiding and honest, and we are non-violent people; and we have the department here that is focusing on people who are giving the good news, or the bad news, whatever the case may be, not focusing on people on the other end.

I said, violence and confrontation only occur when people are being trampled on, beaten to death, without an opportunity to fight back. Maybe it is the same reason the two ministers got out of there last night before the people got to the microphones and you heard from people. Maybe it is the same reason the Premier was not there last night.

There are people who are hurt by this fishery. They are devastated. They want solutions offered by this government, and we have not heard any, I say to the Premier and to the ministers here. We have not heard any recommendation or offer by this government to do something about it, and that is a shame. It is a shame that you are not standing up and fighting for the people who need help here in our Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say first of all that it is right and proper for the minister to make this statement to the House, and to take the action that he did, in quite properly taking to task the Federal Government in this particular manner, but I do want to say this: more than appearing before a federal parliamentary committee is required. We have a very, very desperate situation here in this Province. The TAGS situation has come upon us. It is coming upon us one year early because the Federal Government reneged on its promise, in some cases with letters signed by this Premier promising people their TAGS until May of 1999.

What has happened here is that the Federal Government has reneged on that promise, and I have not heard this government take them to task on that. They are not up in Ottawa fighting to make sure that the Government of Canada and that the people of Canada do not regard Newfoundland as some sort of cultural economic backwater where we are not entitled to government services, where we are not entitled to government programs, where we are not entitled to the same standard of living as is available in the rest of this country.

Mr. Speaker, I think all hon. members got a very heart-rending letter the other day from the Trinity Economic Development Association, telling of the desperate situation in that community and their area, in Your Honour's district, and in almost every rural district in this Province. It is a desperate crisis situation. I do not see the level of concern altogether from this government. I do not see them in Ottawa demanding that there be an extension of TAGS, a replacement of TAGS, that is going to do the job that needs to be done here in this Province. It is all very well to react to an insult, and it is an insult, and we should react to it, but we have to do more and we have to expect more.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not need to take a second seat to the Leader of the Opposition or the Member for Signal Hill- Quidi Vidi. I attended that meeting last evening, and many more meetings and I listened from 7:10 p.m. to 11:50 p.m. I listened, I have heard, and I will be attending more meetings for the people of this Province. We will represent the people of this Province in a manner which is going to benefit the people.

Mr. Speaker, as hon. members are aware, I recently led a delegation to Japan to investigate, among other things, our competitive market position for snow crab. With me were Alistair O'Reilly of the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Reg Anstey of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, and David Vardy, chair of the task force that is reviewing the way fish prices are negotiated.

Beyond the work of the task force, development of market opportunities are vital to the future of the fishing industry if we are to derive maximum benefits from our seafood. Product quality is a critical factor in developing these opportunities. Both government and industry have strengthened our quality assurance measures. Collectively we have made progress.

In Japan we met with senior officials of fifteen major companies, including the largest crab importers. A few did acknowledge that there was some improvement in crab that they imported from us this year, compared to our 1996 product. However, every one of them told us in no uncertain terms that we still have a long way to go. There is much that must be done if we are to meet the exacting demands of Japanese importers and consumers for premium products. Just to give some idea of how demanding their quality standards are, a person hired to sell seafood in a supermarket is not permitted to have contact with customers until after he or she undergoes many months of studying and training.

Japan is the most lucrative seafood market in the world. The country imports about $25 billion in seafood every year, with just $1 billion of that from Canada. This also makes it one of the most competitive marketplaces in the world. Newfoundland and Labrador is but a small competitor relative to some others for a share of that very lucrative market.

This Province has long been supplying some seafood products to Japan; however, we only became a supplier of Snow Crab in 1994, and only then because Alaska, the main supplier, was having a crab resource crisis.

In 1996, the Province sold 11,000 metric tons of finished product to Japan, the equivalent of 17,500 tons, or 39 million pounds of raw material. We have not been able to retain that business. This year the Province is supplying only 5,000 of the 90,000 tons of crab Japan is importing. The decline is due in part to the fact that the Alaskan crab is not only back on the market but its quota has doubled in 1997 and will double again in 1998. Another reason is that crab from this Province lacks the freshness and quality of Alaskan crab.

Japanese officials made it clear to us that if we do not meet their stringent standards of quality, we put at risk not only our current share of the market but any opportunity to increase that share. They identified for us what issues must be addressed if we are to meet their exacting standards.

There has to be better on-board handling, fewer landing sites, improvements in dockside procedures, and a reduction in trucking time. As well, stricter attention must be given to product temperature at all stages: at sea, in transit, and in processing plants. Officials recommended that landings be spread over several months, instead of a situation where vessels rush to land in a short time frame.

The Japanese also told us that harvesting must begin earlier, in April or May, so as to avoid soft shell and temperature problems. To do this, there must be an earlier settlement of prices by industry players so that the industry is positioned to negotiate with Japanese buyers in a timely fashion.

Price disputes that delay harvesting, as was the case in 1997, have a negative impact in acquiring markets in the Japanese industry because consistency of supply cannot be guaranteed in such cases.

Having said that, however, we do have certain strengths; our Snow Crab, for instance. Japanese prefer the sweeter taste of our Snow Crab to that of our competitors. As well, buyers like 3K crab because its size gives it a good meat yield. They also like the colour of 3L crab; but while the colour is acceptable, it is smaller in size. It is a limiting factor in penetrating the Japanese market for crab sections. With the prime consumption period for crab in Japan beginning the November to March period, this also gives us a competitive edge over the Alaskan crab.

Clearly we do have certain strengths, but we also have many challenges. I must emphasize that this issue is bigger than just crab. It is one that has implications for all of our seafood products. Collectively, government and industry must overcome these challenges for the future benefit of our industry and the people who will depend upon it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for a copy of his Statement prior to the opening of the House, and compliment him on his trip to Japan and the people whom he took with him to look at trying to solve this very serious problem in our crab fishery today.

I say to the minister: Maybe he should try to convince his cousins up in Ottawa to try to change their criteria as it pertains to allowing crab fishermen to use their larger boats when they go out and take part in the small-boat, crab fishery, the permit crab fishery, I say to the minister opposite.

Mr. Speaker, right now, here today, we are talking about producing a quality of crab that is going to depend on the high price in the marketplaces of the world, but still, we will not let a fisherman, if he has two boats, and if he has a small boat registered, a twenty-foot boat and has a thirty-five foot boat tied up to the wharf, we are telling him that you have to use your twenty-foot boat because that is the one you have registered, that is the one you take your ice in, that is the one you carry your crab pots in and that is the one that you have to fish and I cannot see, Mr. Speaker, where that would do anything with I suppose, changing the situation as the crab fishery exists today.

What we have to do is, look at what has happened in this particular industry in the past. The minister talks about trucking crab; well, it is no difference I say to the minister to truck crab than to have it sitting in tractor-trailers for sometimes, days at a time at individual fish plants. So those are some of the things that have to be changed.

Mr. Speaker, most fishermen today exist on (inaudible) as it relates to the crab fishery. There is no reason why a schedule cannot be set where those fishermen will be able to go out, in consultation with the plant manager scheduling production and land a good quality of crab. There is no reason for a fishing boat to be tied up in the months of April and May, debating and negotiating the crab price when those prices should be settled long before then and then we will not be in the season whereby we have soft shell and we have temperatures to deal with as it relates to the quality of this particular species.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Joint Committee of the House of Commons and the Senate is today beginning its second and final week of hearings on the resolution to amend Term 17 of the Canadian Constitution.

Last week when I attended the hearings in Ottawa, the Conservative Senators on the Committee began suggesting possible amendments to the new Term 17.

Apparently, Mr. Speaker, they want to eliminate the parts of the Term that guarantee religious education and observances in the schools in our Province. They argue that this has no place in the Constitution of Canada.

This is a major shift, Mr. Speaker, from a resolution which was overwhelmingly supported in the Province by a referendum and unanimously endorsed by all members of this House of Assembly.

The decision to amend Term 17 did not come lightly, and the particular language used to express the will of the people of the Province in the Constitution, was carefully considered. It was the result of consultation, discussion and much debate.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution to amend Term 17 originates in this Province. It has been developed as a result of events that have transpired over many years.

The education system in Newfoundland and Labrador is unique in our country. It always has been and it will continue to be so. While the people of our Province strongly endorse the removal of churches from the governance of education, Mr. Speaker, there is a strong desire to maintain religious education and observances in our schools. I stressed these points during my appearance before the Joint Committee last week.

Mr. Speaker, the language in the new Term 17 was chosen very carefully in the context of the situation in Newfoundland and Labrador - a situation best understood by those who actually live in our Province.

This government strongly urges both the House of Commons and the Senate to approve the new Term, as endorsed by all the members of this Legislature. We oppose any proposal put forward by Conservative Senators that would remove a constitutionally guaranteed right to religious education and observances from our schools.

I will be returning to Ottawa later this week, Mr. Speaker, to make a concluding presentation to the Joint Committee and I will again stress the position unanimously endorsed by this House of Assembly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is entitled, Term 17 Update. I congratulate the minister on basically repeating an article on page 1 of today's Evening Telegram and this is Term 17 Update, as it is called. An honest update, Mr. Speaker, would let the people of this Province know when the process in Ottawa is being expected to be completed so that it can be dealt with in this Legislative Assembly. That is an honest Term 17 Update, rather than this petty politics and silliness and foolishness as is being discussed in this Ministerial Statement.

The people of this Province have spoken, Mr. Speaker. This caucus unanimously supported what the people of this Province have said. This entire Legislature voted unanimously. What more does the minister want? I say, get on with it and in fact, he says at the bottom that he is returning to Ottawa. Mr. Speaker, if this is the kind of silliness the minster is going to get on with, I suggest that he not come back.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Oral Questions


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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Premier.

Last night, I attended the first meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in Tors Cove. There were more than 500 people in attendance, many of whom came to voice their opinions, but many others who came simply to listen and to seek answers.

There is one individual in this Province who had more to do with the TAGS program than anyone else, that is the former federal fisheries minister and the man who designed the program, the Premier of this Province.

Could the Premier explain to the House and to the people of this Province, especially those who have been cut off TAGS and those who are about to be cut off the program in the near future, why he was not at this very important meeting last night to speak on their behalf?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to say that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and specifically those engaged in the fishery in this Province and those fishermen and plant workers who are anxious to know what follow-up programs will come to replace TAGS when it expires, were well served last night by the representation of two gentlemen from rural Newfoundland and Labrador who care deeply about the fishermen and plant workers of Newfoundland and Labrador. I refer to the hon. Mr. Tulk and the hon. Mr. Efford, who were there on behalf of the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the position of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador could not have been put more clearly, and that is, that there is a responsibility on the part of the Federal Government, consistent with the comments of the Prime Minster, consistent with the comments of the former Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Mifflin, consistent with the comments of the current Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Anderson, to endure that there are follow-up programs to assist those who will be left high and dry, cut adrift at the end of the current TAGS program.

Mr. Speaker, that is the position of the Province. We intend to work responsibly towards such a result, and as for my own role, yes, Mr. Speaker, I was the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans that brought in a $1.9 billion program, I was proud to do so and I hope there is a successor program to assist our people in their time of need.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister Tulk said last night, that the pending expiry of TAGS is undoubtedly the most serious issue that is facing this Province today and Minister Efford added that the direction set over the next few years will largely determine whether many rural areas in this Province have a viable future. Yet, the Premier could not even take time out of his good news junket to speak to the critical issues of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I ask the Premier, on behalf of the thousands of people who are devastated by the closure of the fishery, why have you advocated responsibility and why did you not speak in Tors Cove last night when you were personally invited to do so?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, of the 18,000 people in our Province today who are listening, I hope listening in on this debate, they should listen to the questions of the Leader of the Opposition. These are not the questions of a Leader of the Opposition concerned about the fate and the future and the circumstance of those who receive TAGS payments. These are the questions of a politician concerned about his own fate and his own future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, two very effective ministers of the Crown on behalf of this government appeared last night at Tors Cove. Other representatives of this government will appear at other locations. I have raised this matter personally with senior members of the Federal Government, including the Prime Minister, and I intend to continue to do so to ensure that we have the successor programs we need to assist the people of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, politics, I say, is a weird game. You have the Leader of the New Democratic Party who wants to be Mayor of St. John's, we have the Premier who wants to be Prime Minister of Canada, and I am the only leader here who is looking out and standing up for Newfoundland and Labrador, I say to the Premier!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Premier, in your obvious absence last night, your ministers in Tors Cove said that a new program could include income replacement, not income support. I ask the Premier: What does your government mean by income replacement?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition says that politics is a strange game. It is indeed. He leads a party where every member wants to be Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we wish every one of them a measure of success.

As the Leader of the Opposition himself pointed out last night during his own presentation - I took the trouble to read his presentation. I think the issue is serious enough that we should put aside the political bantering and reflect upon whether or not we can find common ground across this floor to put a position to the national government that will assist those who are affected and those who are at risk. The Leader of the Opposition last night in his brief, which I read a moment ago, in which he welcomed people to the historic community of Ferryland -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: I am reading in the brief that was presented, at least the copy which was sent to me.

MR. TULK: He said this, anyway.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Okay. But you make the point that at some time, I believe you said, in the future, you wanted to present to the committee a written submission, a more thoughtful submission, outlining some of the elements of a program that should be part of any replacement for TAGS.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal made similar comments, as did the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and indicated that the Provincial Government, once the people of the Province had a chance to be heard - indeed, we are monitoring all of these public meetings, we are listening very closely to what is being said. We happen to believe it is important that this time around, given the experience of the last six years, both NCARP and TAGS, that the fishermen who have been on this program, the plant workers who have taken advantage of this program, be heard prior to any final conclusions being made about the make-up of a follow-up program.

Indeed, income support is important, income replacement is important. I believe the Leader of the Opposition raised the possibility of mobility assistance as a measure of last resort. We think that economic development and diversification is also important. All of these things are important elements of a successor program.

We would be happy to have the advice and the collaboration of members on all sides of the House in forming a position paper which surely, if we work together, is bound to be of benefit to the Province.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the Premier was there he certainly would have heard what I said. When you were in Ottawa you supported an early retirement program for people over the age of fifty who had a long-standing attachment to the fishery. I now ask the Premier: Now that you are Premier of this Province, do you support such a program?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would be quite willing to engage in a dialogue and discussion about putting in place such a program. As a matter of fact, I not only supported such a program, I administered an early retirement program, and I administered a licence buy-out. Those were the only programs that I was able to directly administer. I notice that the Auditor General of Canada said they were good programs and more money ought to have been spent on licence buy-out. I agree quite clearly with the Auditor General. That is one of the elements, an early retirement program, that we in this Province are prepared to look at. Yes, we are prepared to look at it insofar as the possibility exists with the Federal Government of going below the age of fifty-five.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Premier, you have a habit of taking short-term chunks of money from the Federal Government up front, without looking at the long-term viability to meet the needs in the future. We have seen the HST, a chunk of $340,000 up front. We have seen the ferry service here in our Province with no end in sight to meet ongoing costs that are projected there. I ask the Premier, will he confirm today that Ottawa is considering giving the Province another up front chunk of money, another photo opportunity fund I might add, to relieve them of the responsibility for management of the fishery and the devastation that has occurred in our Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. Leader of the Opposition, nobody has ever raised that possibility with me or to the best of my knowledge, with any one of the ministers. We have no such proposal ourselves to make and certainly no such proposal has been made to us.

Our position, Mr. Speaker - a position which I articulated when I was a member of the federal Cabinet - is that it is the national government that has the responsibility to assist those who have been displaced from the fishery because of mismanagement by national governments of our fishery. Now, Mr. Speaker, why would the people of Newfoundland and Labrador take up the responsibility for a policy failure on the part of the national government? If the member opposite wants me to refresh him as to who was in office when the fishery was mismanaged I would be glad to do so but it was not the current Liberal government.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier, if you believe so much in licence buy-back that I support, early retirement I support, why, when you were minister, did you permit that $300 million fund to be terminated in the fall of 1995? I ask the Premier, why did you permit money to be taken out of those programs if you felt it was so important on rationalizing the size of our industry?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I terminated the $300 million fund by spending all the money on buying out licenses.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier does not understand that only $70-plus million was spent out of $300 million. If it was such a priority why did you take $230 million out of the program and not permit it to do the job that it was intended to do?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, it is very clear the Leader of the Opposition's intention here is to try and play politics. The reality is that adjustments were made to the TAGS program because more people, in due course, came on to that program and more people had a requirement for income, bread and butter on the table and that is where much of the money was diverted. It would have been preferable that more money was made available. Mr. Speaker, I tried that one as a member of the federal Cabinet, I was not successful. The Leader of the Opposition can sit across the floor and play childish games with this until the cows come home but that will not put a paycheque in the pockets of those who are affected. It is the more reasonable, thoughtful, well constructed approach of the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal which are going to assist the people of this Province. We would accept the advice and the assistance of the Leader of the Opposition if he would come forward with the interest of fishermen at heart. Worry about the lost jobs of the fishermen of this Province and worry less about your own job and you might hang on to it.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Premier. I would like to continue with a topic raised by the Government House Leader during a ministerial statement. Premier, a weekend article in the Evening Telegram states that a contract proposal has been put forward by Human Resource Development to spend $350,000 training officials to deal with closure of the TAGS program. The department cites an urgent need for this training and proposals to bypass public tendering and award an immediate contract to a Quebec firm to carry out this confrontational training. It goes on to say "Timeframes to meet these potentially serious, life-threatening situations is very limited. It is important that the training be ready to deliver in January 1998 in order to avoid an explosion of dangerous situations." Not very kind words. Premier, don't you think that HRDC should be more concerned about the people who are receiving the bad news rather than the people who are giving it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I think we answered that about fifteen or sixteen minutes ago, but just in case the hon. gentleman missed it in a statement, I will read him a paragraph from a letter that I just sent to the hon. Pierre Pettigrew.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not allowed to read letters (inaudible).

MR. TULK: Well, Mr. Speaker, if he doesn't want me to read the letter, let me just tell him what we said. Here is what we said to the minister: that this whole episode is insulting to the people of this Province, it is insulting on the part of the managers of HRDC, and we are demanding that they pay more attention to the crisis that has developed in Newfoundland, to the hurt that is going on, to the stress that is being caused to families, and not bother about the security of HRDC.

I do not know where the hon. gentleman was. I do not know where we messed up his Question Period by standing up here with a Ministerial Statement and answering the questions that he had laboriously written down this morning.

The truth of the matter is that we are four square on the side of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, he wanted the question answered.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: We are four square on the side of the people of this Province who are suffering through this crisis, and I say to the hon. gentleman that rather than getting up and trying to score points on questions that have already been answered, he should get up and put forward some suggestions, or maybe suggest a structure whereby we can help this standing committee do its job.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Premier, if HRDC proposes to train its personnel for self-protection to deal with the end of the TAGS program, then that, to me, obviously means that your cousins in Ottawa are considering greatly reducing the program as we know it or, worse still, to eliminate the program altogether, allowing the thousands of workers to sink or swim.

Will the Premier confirm to the people of this Province right here today if there will be another program put in place after May, 1998? And, if so, maybe the Premier would like to share the details of that particular program.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, one can only hope that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular those who are most concerned about the future of this program, are listening carefully to Question Period.

Not more than three or four minutes ago, the Leader of the Opposition asked me to confirm - to confirm - a report that we were about to have a cash-out or a buy-out of the TAGS program with a large cash payment to the provincial government to administer a new program, and we now have a question from one of his colleagues, a few minutes later, asking me to confirm that there is going to be no TAGS program in the future, and will I confirm that now.

Mr. Speaker, this is not a game.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, this is not a game to the families, the 18,000 families who are affected by this program. This is not some competition, to throw spit balls back and forth across the floor of the House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, this is the game of life for those who are affected, and if members opposite want to take seriously their responsibility they will work with this government to devise a position to put to the national government. They will cease this game of partisan politics in the search for some political points.

Mr. Speaker, the only points any of us should try to gain out of this is a measure of security for those families right now who do not know whether they are going to have an income in a few months' time. Let's work for them, instead of working against each other trying to score cheap political points.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: I will lay it out in as simple terms as I know how. After May of 1998, will there be another program for the 18,000 people who are now on the TAGS program? Yes or no? It is a simple question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I will lay it out in as simple terms as - I hope so simple that the member opposite will understand it.

This government will spare no expense, will avoid no exercise, will leave no stone unturned, in its efforts not only to ensure that there is a successor program but one that is suitable to the circumstance.

I say to the member opposite, who comes from Bonavista - the great, historic community of Bonavista - who represents it in the House of Assembly, that the people of Bonavista, I say to the member, are not going to be looked after by somebody trying to play a political game. They might be assisted if we stand together and try to build a constituency in the House of Commons for the national government, for the people of Canada, to do what they should do and to assist Newfoundland and Labrador in its time of need.

I'm making an appeal to Bloc Québécois, to NDPs, to Conservatives, to Liberals, to people of every stripe in the House of Commons to recognize that these are Canadians in a time of great need and they have a responsibility to stand with us, stand for us, and ensure an assistance program. That won't be done, I say to the member opposite, by playing foolish political games. Work with us, not against us, in this important cause.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Premier, Newfoundlanders are not violent people. Newfoundlanders for the most part are hard-working, dedicated, family-oriented people, Mr. Speaker. But rest assured, I don't think we will sit back and watch Ottawa rip the very lifeblood from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I ask the Premier: If he isn't willing to commit today to a program that will be put in place after the TAGS program, maybe he can let this House know the proposals that his government has put forward, the proposals that he himself has put forward to his cousins up in Ottawa after May 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I warn the member opposite to remember this, that these words being spoken in this place are not being heard just in this place. The eyes and the ears of the people of all of Newfoundland and Labrador are focused on this discussion, and they can recognize those who are interested in making progress on a difficult file and those who are interested in making politics on a difficult file.

For the member to stand opposite and say to the Premier of Newfoundland: Can you announce today what the national government's response is going to be, can you tell us today how much Ottawa is going to spend in two or three months -


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

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, every single person listening knows the game that is being played here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

PREMIER TOBIN: Let me say to the member -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - let me say this to the member -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South on a point of order.

MR. FITZGERALD: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. What I asked the Premier was to put forward the proposals that his government has put forward. Not the government in Ottawa.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, that was a point of disorder, like the entire question that he has asked.

I make a serious proposition to the member. The member comes from a part of this Province that is affected by what happens in the future. I say to the member that if the member, and indeed if the Leader of the Opposition or any member of this House, wants to work with the government to devise a strategy, because clearly it will take more than one thread in a series of programs to have a comprehensive response, if that is the wish of members opposite, we will accept the advice that is forthcoming. Our interest is not here to see this as an exercise in who wins or who loses. There is only one loser if we don't get the job done properly, and that is the people in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I say to the member opposite, the Member for Bonavista South, work with us. I assure him that we will put forward a comprehensive response. First we want to do, as the Leader of the Opposition said last night, which is to hear the comments, to hear the voice, of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador through the series of meetings being conducted by George Baker, who is to be commended for doing such. At the end of that process -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - we will put a comprehensive brief forward to the Government of Canada.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Health. In recent days, minister, the minister seems to be grasping at straws and searching in vain for something even remotely positive to justify the pain and the suffering inflicted on the people of this Province because of hospital stays, which are much shorter than would be required for their treatment. She has even gone as far as to say that hospitals certainly have a higher rate of infection than anyone's home would, so it makes perfect sense to move people out of the hospital and into their home or into the community health as soon as possible for a number of reasons.

I ask the minister: Could one of the other reasons be the need to empty our hospital beds, government's plan to avoid a cost overrun by reducing the number of beds to 768 from the 1,100 acute care beds which were available in 1989 as referenced by the Auditor General in her report on the Health Care Corporations?

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

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

In response to the preamble as well as to the question, I will say what I have said last week as well, that the whole shift across this country has been moving to one of day-care surgery, same-day surgery, more ambulatory care. Every province in this country and even following the European models, are all doing the same sorts of practices. It makes obvious sense, Mr. Speaker, that if you have any number of people who are sick in a hospital, it is quite obvious that with the various types of infection in one place, there is a higher incidence of the likelihood of infection than in a person's own home. This is not false information; this just makes reasonable, logical sense that if you have people who are extremely sick and ill with infections, there is a higher likelihood for the transfer of that to happen in a place where you have many more nosocomial infections than you do in your own home. It is a statement of fact, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the government is more concerned with the bottom line than providing quality health care. In fact, the Auditor General indicated that, head officials are planning to reduce the length of a patient's stay by over two full days to reduce capital costs.

Does the minister believe that this is appropriate, given the lack of support that is available in the community?

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

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

I recognize change is very difficult for all, and particularly when we move from one system, for example, Mr. Speaker, a system that has been traditionally focused on hospital-based care. A system that the Canada Health Act rewards with hospital-based care, but in fact, the way we have continued to provide new changes in our health care system is on things like: better technologies, better anaesthesia, short hospital stays, and, Mr. Speaker, I have to count on the skill and expertise of physicians, of nurses and other health professionals who plan the day's surgeries, who plan the length of stay and make the decisions based on those abilities, Mr. Speaker. I have good confidence in our health professionals and in our doctors and nurses.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, given that there are no adequate supports available in the community to help patients affect the speed of recovery, does the minister consider it acceptable to force patients to leave hospital prematurely thereby running the risk of further complications and slower recovery rates, simply because of financial reasons associated with health care restructuring? In fact, does the minister realize that such an approach may end up costing the government more in dealing with patients who are sicker and have to be re-admitted because of being released prematurely due to government cutbacks and a lack of adequate community health supports?

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

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

I think we have been on record, any number of times, Mr. Speaker, talking about the advances and the changes we have made in our home support program and, Mr. Speaker, we have moved from a home support program of $500,000 to one of almost $40 million, a good component that incorporates after-care, Mr. Speaker, for people who leave hospital and also for other types of home support. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the home support program we have in this Province is one of the more generous ones in all the country. We do provide extra care for when somebody goes home and, Mr. Speaker, as I said, we will always try to build in our community resources.

We have made it quite clear that the Canada Health Act recognizes institutional-based care. We as a Province, have supplemented the community base care and in fact, over the last three years in particular, we have taken dedicated funding out of our institutions to put into the community to try to build up the resources for community services. We recognize, Mr. Speaker, that we still have a ways to go but we have put dedicated funding there and we will continue to build with the support of the community boards, a stronger community-based system to allow those types of services to be conducted in the community.

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

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

We asked the Minister of Environment and Labour, with respect to recommendations contained in the Statutory Review Committee Workers' Compensation Act, when those recommendations will be implemented and he countered by saying, that the cost associated with implementing those recommendations would be $60 million. Are those his figures or are they the Workers' Compensation Commission figures and whichever assessments they are, could he table those in the House?

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, could the minister say publicly or acknowledge that 70 per cent of the recommendations in this report can be implemented now without delay and do not require an Act or amendments to the Act in this House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are presently doing the actuarial studies from our own department and also from WCC, to see what it would cost to implement the recommendations from the report. The report is just about finished and basically, over the next couple of weeks, that report will be ready to go to Cabinet. I am not going to make any prediction today, as to how many of the recommendations will be brought forth at all, or some, or whatever. Once a thorough evaluation has been done, we will bring it to Cabinet and the decision will be made, but at the end of the day we want to make sure we do what is fair for the injured workers and that the integrity of the plan is maintained.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, time for one quick question.

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me get it straight, Mr. Speaker. Last week he said it was going to cost $60 million to implement and this week he is saying they have not completed their studies. Which is it, Minister? Could you answer that when you get to your feet?

Let me draw your attention to one recommendation with respect to deeming. Deeming requires that injured workers can be deemed if essential or if they find another occupation off the system. The Statutory Review Committee found serious problems with the deeming process. I would like to ask the minister this, an example: injured worker Mr. Ron Jesso was deemed - the minister knows what I am talking about -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has time for a quick question. I ask him to get to his question.

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

An injured worker by the name of Ron Jesso was deemed as being eligible to be rehabilitative councillor at a $34,000 salary, yet he does not even have the academic qualifications, as a matter of fact he has fourteen courses. Can the minister tell us about his discussions with Workers' Compensation Commission with respect to deeming, it is not a cost-associated factor, it does not require amendments to the Act. Can he tell about the discussions -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

MR. E. BYRNE: - what they were and what his recommendations were to the Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR LANGDON: The first part of the question, these figures no doubt came from Workers' Compensation and that is why, in a sense, we want to re-check to see if indeed the - to implement all of the recommendations in the report would be exactly the amount as they suggested.

Deeming is a real problem, I agree with the member. In fact, I met with Workers' Compensation and agreed with them that there would be a committee in place of workers and employers and the WCC to look at it. It is a real problem, people are deeming for jobs that do not even exist, therefore, in that sense it is a major problem. We will address it through a committee and hopefully in the near future to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has ended.

Order, please!

The Chair would like to welcome to the gallery today, Councillors, Gerald Byrne and Bert Anderson, along with Town Manager, Melvin King and other local representatives from the Town of Channel - Port aux Basques.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Notices of Motion


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

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

WHEREAS the collapse of the ground fishery has had a devastating impact on individual communities in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole; and

WHEREAS the Government of Canada accepted its responsibility and obligation to address this national crisis with the introduction of the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, otherwise known as TAGS; and

WHEREAS the responsibility to address this crisis continues to rest with the Government of Canada; and

WHEREAS TAGS is presently scheduled to end in May of 1998; and

WHEREAS the Federal Government has recently indicated that a recovery of the commercial ground fishery is expected to be very limited over the foreseeable future; and

WHEREAS a successor program to TAGS is essential to address the continuing crisis in the ground fishery and the effects of that crisis on families and communities in Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS the House of Commons Fisheries Committee has come to Newfoundland and Labrador to hear the views of those whose livelihoods have been devastated; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has taken the unusual step of appearing before the committee to underline the critical importance of an effective successor program to TAGS; and

WHEREAS the media has reported that Human Resources and Development Canada is planning to engage a security consultant to assist its field staff in dealing with fish harvesters and processors leading up to and following the expiry of TAGS; and

WHEREAS this news represents an insult to the honest law-abiding people of Newfoundland and Labrador;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House call upon the hon. Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Human Resources and Development to disown publicly the type of security strategy reported by the media, to listen to the views expressed to the Commons Fisheries Committee on the essential elements of a post-TAGS response and to ensure that the Government of Canada's priority remains the development of an effective post-TAGS program and not improvements to HRDC security.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

WHEREAS the present Canada Student Loan Program is manifestly inadequate, making the successful pursuit of a post-secondary education critically less accessible and affordable to thousands of students throughout this Province and indeed throughout Canada;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this House of Assembly request both levels of government, federal and provincial, to continue expeditiously with their joint effort to immediately initiate major reform of the Canada Student Loan Program with specific attention directed toward solving Canada's single, most pressing problem, student indebtedness, by having reform of the present Student Loan Program designated as a high priority item at the upcoming First Ministers' Conference.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act to amend the Registered Nurses' Act." I give further notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act to amend the Public Health Act."

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the resolution that we have just put down here is a government order. It is of some urgency, though, I think that we get at least a vote and the consensus of this House on it.

The question is, Mr. Speaker, I am asking for leave to have the motion put. I don't think we need to debate all afternoon, but to have maybe one or two speakers from each side and to put the resolution so that the mandarins, as I call them in Ottawa, the managerial mandarins, will know that we are serious about this matter, that all of Newfoundland feels deeply hurt about this matter. So I am asking if we could very quickly deal with it and put it forward to the House of Commons today.

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

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

In brief consultation with my colleague, we agree on this side that this matter needs to be addressed with some urgency. If it is the will of the Government House Leader to bring this forward today then I think we, on this side, will precipitate it. We would like to have copies made available for everybody as quickly as possible, and maybe we can address the issue after we finish with petitions, before we start the regular Orders of the Day.

MR. SPEAKER: Agreed?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South has a petition, I believe.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am honoured to present this petition to the House of Assembly. I will read the prayer of the petition:

We, the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, wish to petition the House of Assembly regarding the rate increase at the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation on a sliding scale from 25 per cent to 30 per cent.

We are opposed to this increase because of the hardships that may be endured by tenants, and we therefore ask that this decision be reconsidered.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has already announced that he is going to reconsider this decision. He has already given me some assurances in the House that he will ensure that tenants of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, the working poor, are not worse off than if they were subsidized by government, and I am satisfied that the minister will take into consideration these petitions and give full consideration to what he said in the House, and hopefully at the end of the reconsideration of the policy we can go back to the tenants of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and tell them with pride that we, the Members of the House of Assembly, have done what we should have done, and that they will not be put through unnecessary or undue hardship because of the rental rate increase.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I want to rise in my place today and say a few words in support of this petition presented by the Member for St. John's South. I know the minister has already stood in his place and agreed that he would have another look at the rate increase for Newfoundland and Labrador subsidized housing.

Just in passing, a short while ago when this was in the media for a bit, I got a call from a senior in my district, a lady and her husband who are living in one of those units, and she was quite concerned that basically she would not be able to stay in the unit they had if there was an increase; and the increase she was referring to, for her, would be $87 a month, and that was a major, major increase in her -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: Husband and wife.

MR. J. BYRNE: Husband and wife, seniors, two together. I think it was $87, and it would be a major increase for those people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, are you laughing at the situation?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I am asking you a question. Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to get up. Is he making fun of this situation, or is he genuinely concerned? I thought he was genuinely concerned when he agreed to review the rate increase and bring it back, and see if there was... He made a statement in the House that there would be no one living in the Newfoundland and Labrador units who would be worse off than if they were on social assistance, but that does not alter the fact that two individuals, a married couple, two seniors, who paid taxes all of their lives, end up in one of these units, and they are genuinely concerned that for $87 a month they will have to move out. For me, to say that they won't be any worse off in there on social assistance is no great relief in my mind.

All I wanted to say is that I appreciate that the minister will review the rate increase, and hopefully the concerns of the general public out there living in these units will be reduced and will not be a concern in the near future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. A. REID: I'm in the process, Mr. Speaker, of reviewing the policy. In reviewing the policy last week I found that over 80 per cent of the people who live in social housing in the Province have already re-signed leases and there haven't been any complaints from about 80 per cent. With the ones who are left, there have been some complaints, but most complaints, 99.9 per cent of them are coming from senior citizens. Senior citizens who are making in excess of $20,000 a year income.

With that, and I look back and I see the numbers of applications from single-parent families and from families with two or more children, and we look at their income, the only conclusion you can come to is that we are servicing the wrong people. We are servicing people who can well more afford to live in private accommodations, and the poor - the working poor in particular, because no social service recipient is affected, not one, and the vast majority of people living in our social units are on social assistance. What I've come to the conclusion is that we are servicing people who can well afford to live in private accommodations, and those who we can't look after, and that is the working poor, the husband-and-wife team that is making under $10,000 a year, we have to say to those people: No, we can't provide you with social housing.

There is something wrong with the whole idea of providing social housing to people who can better afford - notice I said better afford. Because if you are two single people getting over $20,000 a year income, and then you are looking at a man and a wife with three kids who are making less than $10,000, the obvious answer would be it is better for us to provide social housing to that family with three kids than we would be to provide it to the senior citizen.

We do have a problem. I have a problem of dealing with the questions of increases to senior citizens. I also have a serious problem in trying to deal with some of the senior citizens who we have living in our accommodations who could well afford to live in private accommodations, and because they have been there over a certain period of time they have accustomed themselves to living there. Those people I have problems with.

There are exceptions to the rule. I heard a friend of my hon. friend across the way there the other day on Open Line talking about his pension he was getting from the City Council, his pension he was getting from Canada Pension, his pension he was getting from Old Age Pension, plus another pension he was getting for some disability he had. I said to myself: If you added that up, I would say that would come to a lot more than if there was a family of two or three out there, with a parent trying to feed them on $8,000 or $10,000 a year.

I finish in saying that yes, the review will take place. I'm not sure at this point in time what I will do. I'm leaning more towards handling it on an individual basis, doing an assessment based something on like we do with social services. I'm leaning that way, and a lot of my people and my advisors, and some senior citizens group, and some social groups who are representing not the seniors but those low-income people, are suggesting that maybe we should take a second look at social housing in the Province. Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I'm going to do.


Orders of the Day


MR. SPEAKER: I believe by agreement we will now move to a debate on the resolution by the Government House Leader. This notice was given during the Notices of Motion today. The hon. minister when he rose to ask leave indicated that there would be some limit on the debate. I'm just wondering what the rules are, if there are any particular restrictions. Are we going to go with the regular rules of the House for debate? Members speak for one half-hour, fifteen minutes, or whatever. We need some agreement on that.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I think we have a general agreement that there will be a couple of speakers on each side, but that they will say what they want to say. Is that the understanding we have? That they will say what they have to say and that we will not take an extraordinary amount of time but we will say what needs to be said. Is that correct?

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

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we agree on this side to participate in debate this afternoon. We agree that we will limit the number of speakers that we will put forward on this resolution. However, I do not want to be tied down to whether it is ten, twelve or fifteen minutes, but within reason, we expect to be able to deal with this resolution expeditiously this afternoon.

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

MR. HARRIS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is certainly agreeable. My caucus will not put forth more than one speaker on this matter.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, by agreement, then, we will go to debate and let the debate take place. When members have concluded we will call a vote. I guess there is no restriction on the time but in a debate, as I understand it, members can speak for ten, fifteen or twenty minutes if they so desire.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me first of all start off by saying that I appreciate the co-operation of the Opposition on such short notice. As a matter of fact, I have to say to them that I was not at all sure, to be frank, that the resolution was going to be ready for today but in actual fact, it is a matter that concerns all of us.

I say this in all sincerity, Mr. Speaker, last evening in Tors Cove was a very worthwhile evening. It was an evening in which we had people from the New Democratic Party of Canada, from the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, from the Reformers, from the Bloc and from the Liberal Party of Canada in our Province to look at our situation, to look for solutions to problems, to hear people give their solutions to a problem that is going to be, has been, but threatens to be even worse. It threatens to be something that we have not seen the like of in this Province, I suspect, since what was more commonly known, by a great many of us, as the "dirty '30s".

Mr. Speaker, that has to do with the expiration of the TAGS program in May of 1998. There will be thousands of people, tens of thousands of people affected by the expiration of that program in May. Mr. Speaker, this is a federal responsibility, regardless of whether that government happens to be NDP, whether it happens to be Liberal or PC, Reform or Bloc. The devastation that occurred off the Northeast Coast of this Province, off the East Coast and off the Coast of Labrador, in particular, and in the Gulf -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: - cannot be put into words, I say to the member. No, it is true. And it cannot be laid at the door of any particular party, but it can be laid squarely at the door of the national government in terms of its management regime for the groundfish industry in Atlantic Canada, regardless of who was in power or what party was in power. Last night, we had an indication from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries that indeed they were concerned. As politicians from across this country, they were concerned, and as you looked at their faces when you were doing the presentation, and in particular when the people of this Province spoke, and the people of the area that they were hearing last night, it was not hard to see that they were having an effect. The people of this Province were having an effect through what they were telling the people on that Standing Committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to describe, too, how you feel as a Newfoundlander and a Labradorian and as a human being, when on Friday when you are about to go home to enjoy your weekend, you suddenly run upon a memo from somewhere in the bowels of the Federal Government of Canada from some person or some group of individuals in the bowels of the Federal Government of this country, the bowels of HRD, that says that you are a little less than civilized, and that, Mr. Speaker, is what that memo implied.

There is no evidence of any of that, the hon. gentleman is right. There is no evidence in this Province that our people are anything but civilized. As a matter of fact, I think they are to be commended. In many parts of this world today, if people had to undergo the kinds of stresses and the kinds of strains that some of our people have had to undergo as a result of the shutdown of the groundfish industry in this Province, I am not sure that HRD would not have been right in trying to put in place the kinds of security measures they are talking about, but they are not those kinds of people. Our people are not those kinds of people.

We have suffered adversity for some 500 years and we have risen above it and we have dealt, primarily, through civilized means, we are a civilized people. When I read such statements as I read in that memo from Merx, Merx almost sounds like something out of science fiction. I read that there was a memo written for the managers of HRD by Merx Limited, referring to him of the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, and telling them that they had to produce a video and they had to carry out certain training, so that some 800 to 1000 managers would be able to control the people of this country and to be able to prevent life-threatening situations, to be able to prevent the destruction of government property.

Mr. Speaker, the feeling was not even one of insult; it was a feeling of deep hurt that comes right down to the bottom of your gut. Particularly, Mr. Speaker, when we, in this Province, are the youngest members of Confederation, are the youngest members of Canada and are the best Canadians this country has ever seen. When we have produced people that has increasingly and incessantly called for the straightening of Canadian unity; and to have some person, somebody somewhere, and I would not want to know the name, to be frank with you, although I have asked the federal minister to investigate it, I really would not want to know the name of another Canadian that looks at us here in Newfoundland and Labrador and says, we have to train managers so that you do not create potentially life-threatening situations and that you do not destroy government property.

Mr. Speaker, that is the ultimate in insults, and then to have the audacity to take $351,000 of taxpayers' money - $351,655.50 - to take the money that should be used for the very people whom they are threatening to control, that they are accusing of being hoodlums, to take that very money, their money, and use it against them, Mr. Speaker, that is the most insulting cut of all.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: What do you mean, is the statement true?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: It was a proposal put forward by a company which was being - by some official in HRD, and I am told now -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Yes, I contacted him. I have not been able to get the minister, he is on the move somewhere but he is supposed to call me later on today. But I have written him. I would not let the day go by, to be frank with you, without writing to tell him that he has to disown this kind of stuff; that rather than having people in that department look at our people as people who have to be controlled, treated like common criminals, what he should be doing is taking that money and making whatever effort is possible to help the people of this Province through a crisis that they did not create themselves. Anything less, anything less, Mr. Speaker - and I cannot stand there as a Liberal or as a PC or as an NDP, none of us should do that when our own people are being hurt and insulted; and I do not think it is even politicians, to be frank with you. Because I think most politicians in this country, to be frank with you, are more sensitive to people; otherwise, a great many of us would not be serving in the capacities we are in. There are not many people, I say to the Opposition House Leader, who would agree that maybe we are sensitive, but we are. We are a sensitive group of people, otherwise, we would not be where we are.

So, Mr. Speaker, I brought forward this resolution. I wrote the minister, and I would like to read the letter that I wrote to the minister, into the record. It says: November 24, 1997, to the Hon. Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada, and the address: "Dear Minister: I was shocked and amazed on Friday past to hear media reports indicating that Human Resources Development Canada, HRDC, is planning to engage a security consultant to assist its field staff in dealing with angry fish harvesters and processors following the expiry of TAGS. I have since obtained the attached abstract prepared for HRDC by Merx Limited, which proposes the development of a security video and related training for HRDC staff.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are showing the stress and fear caused by the fisheries crisis and the profound disruption this crisis has created in their lives, communities and their way of life. Nevertheless, we are honest, law-abiding citizens, and the development of the proposed video represents a fundamental insult to the people of this Province. The attention of the Federal Government's managers should be focused on developing an effective post-TAGS program which helps TAGS clients keep bread on their tables, not on the development of a video on how to keep people in check; people who have seen their lives and those of their families severely threatened by the destruction of a fishery that sustained this place for 500 years.

HRDC officials, instead of placing priority on security matters should be working on how to fulfil the commitments made by the Prime Minister and Minister Anderson. This kind of wrong, edict, bureaucratic response, is a source of concern and it underscores the need for elective representatives to speak directly to the people to air their fears, concerns and aspirations and reflect them in an effective post-TAGS response. In this context, I applaud the efforts of the Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans which is travelling through rural Newfoundland and Labrador speaking directly to the people. The Commons Standing Committee, through its conclusions and recommendations, can provide important insight into the design of an effective post-TAGS program.

In this context, I ask you to investigate this matter fully and disown publicly the type of security strategy outlined in the Merx proposal. I also call on you to confirm for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that the Government of Canada's priority remains the development of an effective post-TAGS program, not improvements to HRD security.

Sincerely, Beaton Tulk, Minister."

Mr. Speaker, I can do no other, and I am not going to belabour the point anymore. I think it behooves all of us to call upon the minister through this resolution to disown - which is an apology - this memo, to disown this action, not to play political games with the lives of people, but as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, one and all, to ask them to pass this resolution and forward it today to the Minister of HRDC. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Oldford): The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, rise to support this resolution proposed by the Government House Leader, calling upon the federal minister, Pierre Pettigrew, to disown publicly the statements we have heard on security strategies employed.

I would just like to start by reading into the record also just the brief message that I gave to the Standing Committee last night on this particular topic, a fairly brief one. I said:

The first message you should bring to Ottawa immediately, tomorrow, on behalf of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, is that we are a peaceful people. We are law-abiding and honest and non-violent. We have the Department of Human Resources Development Canada which is developing videos and material to help those who are giving people the bad news rather than focusing on those who are receiving the bad news. This is a misrepresentation of the nature of the people of this Province, and in Atlantic Canada, and I know that you, as Chairperson, Mr. Baker, will pass that message along to your colleagues in Ottawa in the strongest possible terms. Violence and confrontation are only the result of promises broken, of being ignored and abandoned. It can only occur if the Federal Government does not respond to the needs of those on TAGS, and the needs of the communities in which they live.

Mr. Speaker, the federal department is more concerned with the protection of people than the people who are devastated, I might add, by the TAGS program and the impact it has had on rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. In my presentation last night I touched on three specific areas we should be concerned with. Others will be in a more formal presentation. One was: What do you do for the people who are affected by the moratorium? What do you do for communities that have been devastated? Third, what do we do for resource conservation? These are three specific areas, and recommendations, I might add, wherein I have indicated we need to make changes within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and I outlined the specific area that we need to approach. Also, we need recommendations on dealing with the specific program, how do we assist people and how do we assist communities.

What do you tell a person who has spent thirty years fishing and from 1987 to 1991, got sick one year and could not fish, or had to undergo surgery, or maybe battle cancer or heart attack, and got back in the boat a year or two years later, and after thirty-some years of toiling in the fishery in this Province is kicked off a program - after thirty-some years? We have people thirty-seven years in the fishery who do not qualify for TAGS because during that five-year window period, they happened to be sick, they happened to be on Workers' Compensation.

I know one individual who was one week short of qualifying in 1989 for EI, when six weeks would have got you into the program if you were working and four somewhere else, at nine weeks. I went right to the federal Treasury Board, through the department, to get something done. That person came back into the workforce after one year, the first year missed in twenty, lost 1989, one year short of qualifying, lost 1990, only qualified for three years, was kicked off the program this year, after twenty-some years of working in an industry, when somebody could have come into an industry and worked for five years and could be on for the duration of a program.

There is something wrong with a program that does not consider long-term attachment. This program brought in by this Premier did not address that. The program brought in under NCARP, prior to that, did address that. For the year that you were sick, or on Workers' Compensation, and were injured, they went back a previous year and considered that; but this program showed no human element whatsoever.

The very same people you see at HRD offices protesting are some of the same people who have been kicked off this program, people who have been damaged by a program that was brought in that did not concern the human element, and that is wrong. For the federal minister to prepare a video, and to be involved in talking about people who are showing up at those offices -

I visited a protest on three occasions at the HRD office here in St. John's. On three occasions I went down there. I spoke to the people, I mingled, and I never once saw any evidence of anybody whose life was in danger, who was in danger of being physically hurt in the process. In fact, as one member indicated last night in Tors Cove, we even cleaned up the building before we left. A bit of mess was made around with fires and so on, and we cleaned it up before we left.

The only time that anyone protested, they said, was when we were being handcuffed and being yanked out of there. Somebody might start kicking a little, or lashing a little, and that was the only time there was any form of violence whatsoever.

That is not what we need to do. We do not have to drive people into the ground to incite people. That in inciting people. The federal Department of HRD is inciting people to become violent, by their actions, and it is not an acceptable action whatsoever.

A gentleman who spoke last night, and there were many passionate people who spoke last night, about how their life savings evaporated. One individual, I think, said he spent almost thirty years in the industry, and I know people out there who fell through those cracks. Anybody who is spending thirty years or more in the fishery and got sick one year should not be kicked off the program because the year happened to come between 1987 and 1991.

I know people, I spoke with people, who called me from Labrador, Southern Labrador, and all over the Province. One individual who spent thirty-some years - he is in his mid-fifties - spent thirty-seven years fishing - one year, the season was nearly over and he had not gotten enough to eat, not say qualify for employment insurance, left and got a job with a construction company.

I know people who left their fishing boats in the middle of July, on July 20, and the last of July they did not have $400 worth of fish for the year, and managed to get a job to feed their family for the Fall, went out of the Province to get work, and they are kicked off it after thirty years?

Traditionally, we have people here in this Province who have gone through periods of time when the fisheries have failed during certain years. I know people very close to me who left and worked during the Fall and Winter and came back and fished the next year, not because they wanted to but because they had to, and there are people to whom it happened in this instance.

These are the people, by the way, that this video and this expenditure of money is supposed to shackle even further, the very same individuals. I deal with them. I know some of them on a personal basis out there, and I have dealt with many of them in almost every single community around this Province. I visited many of the communities around this Province. I spoke to them out in La Scie and out on the South Coast, and all over the Province. I have talked to many people in here, particularly in my district and around the Avalon Peninsula, who are victims of federal mismanagement, victims of federal harassment, I call it. Federal harassment is what it is, continuously kicking people when they are down, and people who have been victimized.

We should be out looking at avenues to go back and revisit, and that is why this program on TAGS was inadequate. It did not look at the human element. It did not allow for people who were injured on the job and missed time. It did not have a human element in it, and that was wrong. The program was done wrong from the beginning, I say to the Premier, who was the minister at the time, they didn't have a human element in it and that was wrong. The program was done wrong from the beginning. I say to the Premier, who was a minister at the time, you had an independent person who looked at those cases, who had no power. The independent person heard the appeals, and I must say, did a good job. The independent person did a good job. I know the one in my area did an excellent job and he forwarded to HRDC and said no, we don't follow it. We are not going to listen. We are going to make our own decision.

Then, after pressure, they appointed a three person committee whom you could do a written submission to. You could not see three people. There were three layers of bureaucracy in it when the NCARP was more efficient. If you were turned down by the department it went to a three member panel. You could sit down in front and make your case and that's the way it should have been this time. The person could show up in person and you saw a human face, you saw a human element. You saw a person of fifty years of age and fifty-five who know that with less than a Grade 8 education, who has spent thirty-five years in the fishery, you knew that person was serious. You knew there was no attempt to beat the system. It happened in instances, it always happens in instances. There is no system foolproof and we don't have any particular sympathy for that but we have to look at the human side.

I am calling on this government too and the federal government, Pierre Pettigrew, the federal minister, that any program that picks up in May does not just take the people who are on the program in May. It has to go back and revisit people that have been kicked off the program, that have been in the industry far before we ever went to work, long before we ever started working in the majority of instances here. People who have twenty, thirty and thirty-seven years - I know an individual with thirty-seven years and I know an individual with forty years. The Premier of this Province wrote a letter - that I have a copy of - to people saying, `...when you turn fifty-five during this program you can retire at fifty-five.' But when he turned fifty-five he changed it and said you cannot.

I have letters from people on the South Coast of the Province and other parts of the Province. I have spoken with individuals there. I went to visit someone at home when I was down in Burgeo who fits into that, who called. When I went there I went to visit, to find him and speak to him to get the human picture to it. These types of individuals were misled. They were misled in writing and I still feel the union, in taking up the case, has a strong legal basis. A letter giving you a definite period of time and a definite income is a contract. When you mortgage your house on that contract, when you go out and make commitments on that it should be honoured. These people should not be subjected and have to go through what they are going through today. Then to see in a newspaper the insult of the highest degree on what is being done to protect the people who are working there. I have respect for the people who are working there. I have a lot less respect for the people in Ottawa making decisions and the politicians that are allowing this to happen. They are the people I have no sympathy for. These people are doing what they are told to do.

It is incumbent on the Premier of this Province - whose colleagues are in Ottawa, he was a part of that government, a part of the process that brought it in - I urge him and urge the government of the day, with their counterparts in Ottawa, to act to stop this utter nonsense that is going on there. It can be done. The power is there to do it. They have a very small majority in the House of Commons. They are very vulnerable there. They have to listen to the people. They are in a position where they cannot afford to become too arrogant in the process. We have the press on it.

I am delighted the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal wrote a letter to the minister condemning that. It was an appropriate thing to do on behalf of the government of this Province and on behalf of the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly the people out there. Most are in rural areas of the Province but there people too, I might add, in urban areas of this Province, here in the city of St. John's too who I have spoken with last night up there and I have spoken with over the last few weeks on the fishery and they have been so disgusted with what is happening. If they could walk out of there into a job today people would never look back at the fishery again but people know they are not going to have that opportunity, when you have 72 per cent or 73 per cent of the people with a very low level of education, who did not even get beyond Grade 9. What are the options for a fifty-five year old today with a grade six education getting retrained out in the market place?

So, Mr. Speaker, I endorse fully the resolution here today, without any qualifications whatsoever and it is time to take serious our responsibility and our commitment to the people affected and to stop this particular utter nonsense because when you build up an expectation there is going to be problems or violence, you are almost inviting the people to do it. You are challenging them to do it and that is something that should never have happened and these people know fully that the people who occupied offices around here in this Province did it in a very peaceful manner and it did not need the provocation that we are seeing today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to begin first, by congratulating my colleague, the hon. Minister Tulk for putting this resolution before the House.

I do not think, as we said last evening, I know for a fact, there is no other issue that could be before this Province, could be so serious and so upsetting to the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador as the one that is presently facing people. Families in despair, families' not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring forth. Stories like the hon. the Leader of the Opposition just mentioned of testimonies that were given last evening and each one of us have heard them time and time and time again over the last number of months. One women got to the microphone last evening and said, as of November 22nd she is cut off the TAGS program, she will be fifty years old in December, just on the eve of Christmas and to face that kind of unfortunate set of circumstances, it is pretty disturbing to hundreds and hundreds of people like her.

But I want to go back for a while, because the issue we are talking about here this afternoon is the article that was in The Evening Telegram on the weekend, TAGS Cops, $351,000 going to be spent by HRD to train people to take on the people in Newfoundland and Labrador, what an impression.

There are two things that that tells me: one is that they see us as barbarians. Two, are they sending us a message? Is there a message in there that probably we are not reading? That is the question that we have to ask. Is there not a message in that? That is what really concerned me when I read the article and that is the reason, Mr. Tulk and myself discussed this at great length and that is the reason he went to the steps that he did to put the message to the hon. Minister Pettigrew of how we deem this and how we see this type of action.

But I have been around the fishery, as long as pretty well anyone here in this House of Assembly. I have been here since 1985, as an elected member. In 1989, after being appointed Minister of Social Services for two short years, after that for two years I was the head of a fisheries group called: United Fisherpersons of Newfoundland and Labrador, a local association of individual people who got together because of the frustration they were experiencing in trying to earn a living from the fishery. Telling the government of the day that the fish were gone and the mismanagement was there in all aspects and nobody was listening. Frustrated people who knew that the only way they could earn a living was from the sea, knowing the devastation that was taking place in all of the fish stocks and nobody was listening. We formed that organization made up of a number of people from around the Province to deliver a message.

Let me give you some indication of the type of frustration that these so called barbarians, being portrayed by HRD, displayed at those particular times.

They use to go out on the Grand Banks, in an area where they fished most of their life in a division called 3No. 3No where the cod was so plentiful and so large that they could not get down the halibut long lines because there was too much cod there; but every time they put a hook overboard and they hauled up the halibut long lines, what did they have to do? They had to take forty-pound cods, what we call steak cod, and throw them away. Let them float off in the ocean while they were trying to earn a living and make payments and feel their families. They had to take those huge fish and let them float away. They asked a simple question: What sense does it make? We did not intentionally fish for cod. We put down the halibut long lines, for which we have a licence to fish in this area, but the cod are so plentiful that before the line gets down to the deep water where the halibut is swimming, they grab the bait on the hook and you haul them up.

It did not make any sense. Yet these people accepted, against everything they believed, that this was a fact, this was a law, and they had to abide by the law. Frustration, throwing away tens of thousands of pounds of fish, and the only thing it was good for was for the sea lice and crabs to eat it. It did not make any sense.

You would go to a meeting and talk to the people in DFO, and day after day you would demonstrate. It got to the point where they led demonstration after demonstration down to the White Hills, on the waterfront in St. John's, on the South Side in St. John's, and not on one occasion, of all of the demonstrations that had taken place during those two years, did I see at any time - and I led the demonstrations for two years - not at one time did anybody ever use any vulgar language, or cause in any way any harm to any individual in fisheries -

AN HON. MEMBER: Or property.

MR. EFFORD: Or property, and lot of times they had good reason. Lots of times they had good reason.

They had a boat demonstration to prove their point, down in St. John's Harbour. They got arrested because one boat went too close to another boat, and they got charged and had to go to court. Still they did not damage any property or they did not cause any harm. They were telling the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of the day, `If you don't do something about the fishery, it is going to disappear'. They were right. They demonstrated about that, and again they didn't do any damage to property or hurt anybody, and still nothing was done about it.

I remember the night down at the Delta Hotel when the hon. John Crosbie - it was then the Raddison - came down to make the announcement on the NCARP, to start the moratorium, and immediately - the place was blocked that night; I was there - he would not let the people in where he was having the big press conference. He would not let the fishermen in. It was their livelihood. It meant everything to their families. We are talking about TAGS today. These Newfoundlanders wanted to work. The plant workers wanted to work. They were not even allowed in the room. He locked the doors. Then he made the announcement that all the fishermen were going to get was $225 a week - people who had boats with insurance of $25,000 a year, payments to the bank, and mortgages - and still they did not do any harm. Still they did not do any damage to property; but they let their anger be known, and they got an increase in the NCARP program. Still, these were people whose very livelihoods were taken away from them. Look back over the years and you will see the desperation and the frustration in those people's lives. Those people, like all of us, want to work. They do not want hand-outs.

They try to get the message through to governments: We did not cause the problem. Our small inshore boats were not the ones who destroyed all of the fish stocks. We were not the people who went out there and fished 365 days a year, through the spawning grounds, when the fish schooled together to spawn, and raped and raped and raped. We did not do that. We sat there and tried to earn a living in the way in which we were always used to. We told you of all the things you were doing wrong, and nobody listened. Now, after the greed of the large companies, your mismanagement by the federal administration in Ottawa in causing this problem to happen, now, after all of this, after you took away my right to earn a living, now you are going to take away my right to have food on the table for my hungry children; and you expect that to be okay?

The best response you can get out of it, that somebody in HRD, some official, some manager, sits down in his office in Ottawa, and because of the emergency, and because of the lapse of time, we have to train people to protect us from those barbarian Newfoundlanders. What an insult to the people of this Province. What an insult to the intelligence of the people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. All they want to do, and all they have ever asked, is: Give me what is fairly mine. Give me my fair share of that resource.

They are even now telling the scientists: You aren't doing enough research, you aren't giving us the answers we require in knowing where our future is going to go. Still the doors are closed to them.

If a fisherman or a plant worker makes a phone call to an officer, it is weeks sometimes before they get back. If they can get through the (inaudible), probably they won't even get back because they don't even get through the message managers. Still the people don't get angry. I don't know where the display is coming from that the people in HRD expect. I just wonder in amazement how people can be so complacent, how people can be so passive, and not be more angry than they are.

We were there last night at the meeting, several hundred people in that town hall up in Tors Cove. Yes, there was anger displayed there when people got to the microphone, anger in their tone of voice when they tried to express their feelings, but that was the full extent of it. It didn't go beyond that. When they sat down in their seat they listened as well as everybody. This was not a disorderly meeting. Except for the emotions of people going to the microphone.

We have to, as the Premier said today, and the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, we all have to work together on this issue. It means the survival of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It means the very survival of families, of individuals. I know what it is like, and I suspect a lot more people around here know what it is like, to not have money in your pocket, to not be able to go to a grocery store. We all didn't grow up with a silver spoon in our mouth. Most all of us lived in fishing communities when times were good and when times were bad.

I remember the day when we had to fish and caught lots of fish but didn't get any money, a cent, a cent and a half a pound. I know what it is like with a large family to know what it is like (inaudible) your mother and father got to do without things to help you. The cost of goods wasn't so great then, and you could live off the land and you could live off the ocean. Today the way of life is different. You can't do that today. The cost of material things today is greater than they have been for decades, and it is increasing all the time.

For one of those sons or daughters to have to go to university or post-secondary education, it is the same cost as my son or my daughter. That is what people are forgetting. People are forgetting that these people have the same day-to-day costs as you and I have, and those people who are making those decisions in Ottawa. Keep in mind what I've already said, they did not cause the problem. You cannot blame even one of these plant workers and even one of these fisherpeople for causing any of the problems in the fishing stocks today. They did not do it. The small inshore boats could fish for 10 million years and would not destroy the cod stock, or any stock. It is impossible because of the time they have to fish, of weather conditions, and their ability to fish. It is absolutely impossible.

But pointing the finger today? When the finger is pointed it is pointed at those people, and that is what really bothers me. The finger is pointed at those individuals today who are on TAGS. They are fishermen, or they are plant workers. They want to get everything free from government? They don't want to get everything free. They don't want TAGS, by the way. They said that last night, they don't want TAGS. They want to go fishing. They want to go back to work. Give me a job and keep your TAGS. But you took my job away from me, and until I have my job back then you have to do something about it. That is a simple message. That is the message we here in Newfoundland must relay to the federal government in Ottawa. It is its responsibility, and it is its fulfilment. It must fulfil that obligation.

Mr. Speaker, when my colleague, the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, sends off this to the minister in Ottawa, he should immediately look into it and find out who masterminded this insult to the population of Newfoundland and Labrador. Because it isn't only the people in the plants and it isn't only the fishermen who are insulted here. We are all insulted. Every last citizen of this Province is insulted with that kind of an attitude across the headlines of the local paper. Naturally, when it follows there, it goes right across this country of ours.

I'm proud to stand here this afternoon and represent the people of this Province as my colleagues have. The people of this Province are very proud people. They are a people who deserve a lot better than this kind of thinking. We are going to ensure that they get more respect in the future than is being displayed in an article like that. So as another voice in support of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, to the necessity of the Government of Canada, to look after these people until the fish stocks are so that they could go back and earn a living, the responsibility lies on their shoulders and we will not stop until that responsibility is fulfilled.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support the resolution presented by the Government House Leader and Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, on this issue which is one that I think all members of this House and indeed every Newfoundlander and Labradorian will agree. We have been grossly insulted by the actions of the people in the department who were responsible for this outrage, but more than that, we have been taken to be a people who need to be controlled, manipulated, put down and this is being done by the government and the department who is supposed to have the responsibility for looking after the needs of the people of this Province and of this country in the area of employment.

But what we have here, Mr. Speaker, is an attitude which says that people need to be `dealt with not looked after'. We have an attitude that says and is a new approach I guess, to crisis management. We always hear about governments involved in crisis management, well the idea of the crisis management here is not to deal with the crisis, not to deal with the problem but to in fact, treat the victims of the problem as if they themselves are the ones who need to be dealt with and controlled.

To talk about the situation as potentially serious, life-threatening situations - I cannot believe what I am reading here, that this is the way that they take on this problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Obviously, the people who are responsible for this, the people who allowed it to happen, the people who commissioned this study obviously have no understanding or interest in the problems of the people of this Province. You know, anybody in this Province, anybody in this Legislature who has been to Ottawa to speak to government officials, to speak in Parliament as I had the honour of doing for a period in 1987 and 1988, as I did last week, along with the Minister of Education to a parliamentary committee, realizes pretty quickly that there is very, very little understanding in Ottawa, in the national government of what goes on in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They do not understand the conditions, they do not understand the history, they do not understand the culture and they regard, in many ways, the people of this Province as being people who want to be dependent on government, want nothing more than a hand-out and there is a very cynical, hard-hearted attitude about the needs of rural communities in Newfoundland, the needs of fishermen, the seriousness with which to be taken in Ottawa, all of these problems are manifest when you start talking about problems of Newfoundland or of the Atlantic in general. I will give an example, going back to the mid-1980s when the Federal Government took an interest in the Atlantic fishery and had a task force, the Kirby Task Force.

At the end of two years, two years of study, a recommendation was made to spend a couple of hundred million dollars to look after the needs of the fishing industry in the four Atlantic Provinces, supporting some 150,000-plus families. Three hundred million dollars was the Federal Government response, and I remember it because a few weeks after the government had decided that they would put forth this so-called rescue plan for the Atlantic fishery where the livelihood of 150,000 families was at stake, there was a problem with an airplane factory in Montreal - Canadair, I think, or De Havilland, one of them, was having some difficulties. They were in serious, financial difficulty. There was a potential of 1,200 to 1,400 workers being laid off, and within a matter of three weeks, the Government of Canada came up with $450 million to resolve the problem of 1,400 workers in an aircraft factory in Montreal.

Now, I have no difficulty with supporting the aircraft industry; in fact, we should have done more about it. Canada should have done more about it twenty-five or thirty years ago when they destroyed the aerospace industry in this country with the destruction of the Avco Arrow but, the point being this: to get the attention of the Federal Government for $300 million to help with the Atlantic fishing industry in the mid-1980s through the Kirby Report, took two years of a report and produced a $300-million response from Ottawa and in a matter of three weeks, the 1,400 workers in Montreal had a $450-million package from the Government of Canada.

The level of understanding -

MR. TULK: I will tell you something (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The extent of this problem is not understood in Ottawa, the numbers mean nothing, to say that 40,000 people are out of work, it almost means nothing. You have to use examples such as the minister said, talking about the shut-down of the automobile industry in Ontario, still they do not understand; yet you see in Ottawa historically, the support at the government level, the national level for farmers out west, taken for granted, automatic, a very important part of the political framework in Ottawa.

So after fifty years of Confederation, we are still trying to explain to the people of Canada, to the Government of Canada, what we want, and what we want is very simple: We want to have respect and dignity and we want to be able to get that respect and dignity through an opportunity to work, to have a livelihood, to be able to have what most Canadians take for granted, a working life, an opportunity to support our families, to raise and educate our children and have a decent lifestyle - very simple, not to have a hand-out. The last thing any Newfoundlander wants, the last choice of any Newfoundlander is to have a hand-out from government, the first choice is to have a job that they can work at to support themselves and their families.

That is the simple reality of life in this Province, and the people who are responsible for these decisions had better start understanding that soon because people are angry. One thing about this report is right, they must recognize that people are angry, and they are angry because the government of Canada has failed to understand the problem and has failed to take seriously the need for a solution.

The demonstrations that started last year, started as a direct result of the Government of Canada decision to shut down the TAGS program one year earlier than was planned and one year earlier than was specified in letters written by the Minister of Fisheries then, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador now, telling them that their qualifications for TAGS extended to May 1999; and their anger was aroused when that was taken from them one year early. They were told that all of this programming was going to end in May 1998, with no recovery of the fishery in sight, with no opportunity to go back to their boats and plants, with no real job done on what sometimes is referred to as the fishery of the future, no real decisions made - as the Auditor General has pointed out, no real labour adjustment having being accomplished and insufficient program to deal with the problems that they encountered.

Now, Mr. Speaker, none of the attention of the Government of Canada needs to be spent to figure out how to train the TAGS workers to deal with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. All their attention needs to be placed on how to devise a program that takes into account the needs of the people, that understands the criticisms that have been validly made by the people of this Province, by the fishermen, some of them mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition today, as to how people with a lifetime attachment to the fishery were ignored by TAGS, treated as if they did not exist, how people were not properly considered for early retirement. I think the former government of this Province had a part to play in that, they did not want the TAGS program to deal with early retirement for people fifty years and older. I hope that has changed. From some of the Premier's comments today it may be that it has changed - we will see. But some of these problems have to be addressed and they have to listen to what the people have to say. There have to be solutions for people who do not have any other alternative to the fishery, people whose level of education and training does not allow them to be retrained, people whose commitment to the fishery has been their only means of livelihood for all of their lives. Early retirement packages have to start at age fifty, not at age fifty-five.

There have to be ideas that have been presented from time to time to perhaps give people a grub stake, let them take their money up front, if that is what they want, if they have an idea what they want to do with that. That is an interesting one, Mr. Speaker, one that has to be given careful consideration. Careful consideration has to be given to that because sometimes it is not always a solution to do that sort of thing, that has to be carefully considered. But there has to be a new program, and I would like to commend the fisheries committee for its extended tour in this Province, and I think that the new Chair of that committee deserves credit for that. He is providing strong leadership to that committee. Mr. George Baker, the Member for Gander-Grand Falls, is certainly providing able leadership to that committee and is, by taking that committee around to rural Newfoundland, exposing members from all parties of the House of Commons to the realities of rural life in this Province, which is a very, very important and very necessary thing. The more members of the House of Commons who travel to this Province and see the realities of life faced by people in this Province as a result of the collapse of the fishery, the more understanding they will have and the more understanding they can share with their colleagues in their own individual caucuses, and the more we should hear about these problems from all parties in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

It is a very positive step, and I know from talking to my colleagues in the New Democratic Party that this trip to Newfoundland was regarded as being of very significant importance to the caucus and to our Party to be here and to hear firsthand what the individuals who are affected by the TAGS program, who are affected by this fisheries crisis, have to say.

As one person said last night, and I think it has been said before, this is a crisis of biblical proportions. It is very difficult to describe so that people who do not previously know about it understand. It is very difficult to describe the extent of the devastation that this has caused not just to the fishery and the fish stocks but to whole communities, ways of life, families, and a very significant part of rural Newfoundland.

It has to be addressed. It has to be addressed in a serious manner, not in a cynical manner. It has to be addressed with the full input of the people of this Province; and hopefully, the early ending of TAGS may turn out to be a blessing if it is replaced by a better program equally well-funded but responding to the faults of TAGS, responding to the issues that are raised by individuals who come forward during this hearing, responding to the deficiencies of the previous two programs, and devising a program that is going to provide some real assistance to the people in the fishery who have been hurt by this devastating situation, so that they can have a meaningful future for themselves, whether that future is in the fishery or whether that future is in some other aspect of Canadian life.

I support the resolution wholeheartedly. It is very important that we respond directly, swiftly, and succinctly to the insult, and to the attitude that is behind the insult. The insult is one thing, but we must respond and must try to correct the attitude that allows this type of insult to take place. The unanimous resolution of this House sent immediately to the House of Commons and to Minister Pettigrew is an appropriate way of dealing with that, and I support it wholeheartedly.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to say a few words on this private member's resolution as put forward by the Government House Leader, and I compliment the Government House Leader for bringing forward this particular resolution.

After attending the meeting down in Tors Cove last night, I think the message came through loud and clear, both to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and to the Government House Leader, of what people think of this particular article that appeared in The Evening Telegram.

Mr. Speaker, we continually talk about the bureaucrat who put this forward, but I am not convinced that Minister Pettigrew did not know that this was about to happen. I am not convinced that somebody in the Department of Human Resource Development can go out and propose or ask for a contract worth $352,000 without the minister of that particular department knowing it. I think it was known by the minister of the department. In fact, last night after the meeting, I talked with the gentleman who released the report. I talked with a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries that is presently touring the Province, Mr. Speaker, the NDP member who released this particular report. The memo was pushed under his door in a brown envelope. He said: I am going to release this, people have to know.

He did the right thing by releasing it. He got a call from the department saying: If you release that report there will be a riot in Newfoundland. That is what he was told by somebody in HRD. I do not know who it was, but it must have been somebody who knew about the report. A telephone call was made to him saying: Do not release it, you will cause a riot in Newfoundland.

The TAGS program as we know it today came about I think it was in May 1994. It was a program that was under-funded right from day one. The present Premier of this Province, the former-former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, brought forward a program, the son of NCARP, known as TAGS, for $1.9 billion, a program that was half what the NCARP program was. The NCARP program was brought forward in 1992, July 2 I think it was. There was a temporary program put in place in the beginning whereby people were given emergency funding of $225 a week. Then NCARP was introduced with a - I think the maximum was $406 a week - for $2.5 billion for a period of less than two years. Then we saw TAGS come forward for a period of twice the length of time, a little over half the amount of money.

I do not think anybody was surprised to find out that this particular program would end a year early. That was something else that was brought about in a simple announcement. We are going to take a year's wages away from the people on TAGS. Nobody kicked up much of a fuss about it. It was all somebody else's problem. They were not coming off today. It was going to be a year or two years time. It was going to be a situation where 100 people would be dropped today and fifty the next week and 100 the next week. We would have it so diversified and happening in so many regions of the Province that there would be no big uproar about it. It would happen and people would disappear. Now we find out that there are approximately 17,000 to 18,000 TAGS recipients who will be coming off this program in May 1998.

I do not know what would happen to the members of this House here if somebody came and decided they were not going to pay them now for a year, they would be expected to lose a year's salary. I do not know what members here would do. I have a funny feeling that most of much would be much more upset than the recipients of TAGS and the people out there, the common Newfoundlander and Labradorian, the fishermen, the fisherwomen, the fish plant workers. I have a funny feeling we would be a lot more upset than they have been.

The minister referred to the happenings down at the Radisson Hotel back in July 1992 when frustrated fishermen tried to get into a room to hear their federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announce a program. The minister talked about that, how he was there. What you saw that day was not an act of violence, it was an act of frustration, when those people were told: You cannot go back and do what you normally did to earn a living in this Province. Go home. There will be a pay cheque there for you, but you are not allowed to fish.

It came through very loud and clear that those people there last night - and they were representatives of the whole Province. What that committee heard last night will be the same thing they are going to hear today, tomorrow and the next day. It will just be coming from a different source. They could have had the one meeting -

MR. TULK: George Baker, Bill Matthews and Charlie Power could have had one meeting alone. The only reason that we need the rest of them going around the Province is to let the Reformers see and let the NDP see (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You're right, you're exactly right and that's what makes the difference right there. What we do have on that committee is representatives of the Bloc Party, representatives of the Reform Party, Mr. Speaker, who have no conception, who have no idea of what is happening here in this Province. If it only alerts those two groups of people, those two parties up in Ottawa, of what this program and what this devastation has done to our Province here, then it is certainly worthwhile.

Mr. Speaker, back in 1992, I too lost my job. I worked in a fish plant for fourteen years, raised my family and educated my children from the wages that I made in a fish plant. I worked at Charleston and I travelled in the wintertime - that was a seasonal operation, I say to the minister - and when that plant closed for the seasonal operation I went somewhere else for the winter. I spent four winters out in Gaultois and then I spent the rest of the winters either down in Harbour Breton or working in here at head office with Fishery Products International, it started off with Nickersons back in 1979, I say to the minister and members opposite. On that day, July 2, 1992, I too lost my job. I was told to go home. There would be a cheque there for me. I will get $225 per week.

AN HON. MEMBER: When did you get elected here?

MR. FITZGERALD: I got elected here in '93. I was one of the fortunate ones I suppose - I had a trade. It was something that I practised even when I was working with the fisheries. I was still working there practising the trade that I had acquired but, Mr. Speaker, a lot of people out there today were not that fortunate. A lot of people out there today are finding -

AN HON. MEMBER: What's your trade?

MR. FITZGERALD: I'm an electrician. A lot of people out there today, Mr. Speaker, are finding themselves, fifty, fifty-five and sixty-years-old without a job, without an education and going to Alberta or going to Ontario is not an option for them.

I know all about going away, I say to the Government House Leader, I know all about going away chasing construction. Up until 1979 I found myself having to go to many of those same places in order to access work. I worked right across this country. I worked in Toronto for eight years. I worked in Alberta and worked in New Brunswick. I remember coming home and my children would be afraid of me. I remember being in the house, Mr. Speaker, and being home for weeks at a time before I could even hold my own child in my arms. They would be afraid of you because they did not know you as their father. When I would leave I would put the best side out but you would have a knot in your stomach, I say to the Government House Leader, because you were leaving everything that you held dear and everything that you worked for, including your family, Mr. Speaker, behind.

Many of those people are leaving even more than that because today you see whole families moving out of this Province. You see them moving away and instead of trying to sell their houses or rent their houses - because there is no market for them in rural Newfoundland and Labrador - you find them boarding up the windows and moving away. Many of them go and become very disenchanted because the $20 an hour and the $30 an hour jobs are not always there for them and they find themselves working for very small wages.

My district, I suppose, has probably been one of the most devastated districts on the island with the start of the moratorium, the fishery. Mr. Speaker, down in Port Union, one of the largest most modern fish plants in Eastern Canada, once employed 1,200 people, two or three draggers there at the wharf all the time, loading ice and away to go. A twenty-four hour turn-around, back out to sea. Taxis going up on the Burin Peninsula, taxis going down to Harbour Breton. It was a Klondike. If you were in Port Union -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, no, I am not certain that is the reason why, because the fishermen and the fish plant workers did not cause the mess we are in. Those were people out trying to do an honest day's work. Those were people out feeding their families.

Mr. Speaker, if you were in Port Union, in Catalina, seven or eight years ago - probably a little longer than that, say ten years - when the trading company was on the go there, when Mifflin Salt Fish Plant was open, and when the FPI plant was open, and if you were there when the clock struck twelve you had better get out of the way. You had better get out of the way, because it was one of the most vibrant communities, one of the most vibrant economies in all of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was a work centre, and people took pride. They worked year round. Go down today and see what is happening there. Our people's spirits are broken and their backs are broken with the moratorium that was announced in 1992.

What has happened is that many of us put the blame on those very same people, and they are not the people to blame. The federal government is to blame, and the federal government must - must - put a program in place until those people are allowed to go back and do what they normally did to earn a living.

Many people think the fishermen and the fish plant workers are well off today because they are getting a pay cheque. The stories that you heard last night, I say to the ministers opposite, are common stories you can hear right across this Province. Last night one gentleman got up and talked about a $13,000 Canada Savings Bond that he had put aside to educate his family. He talked about another $500 bank account that he had put aside in order to support another daughter in her efforts to try to get an education. All of that has been spent. His commitment to the banks and to the loan boards is taken up by his ability to only be able to pay the interest rate, not able to pay any money whatsoever on the principal.

Then we see an ad in The Evening Telegram yesterday talking about this special contract that is going to be let for $351,000 for the managers of Human Resource Development to deal with the fallout from the TAGS program. They talk about human resource managers having to go through a different door when they come to work, having to make sure that they are accompanied by a group of people when they go out at night; take their phone numbers out of the book, afraid that somebody would harass them. These are not the Newfoundlanders that I know. This is not the Newfoundland in which I live.

I suppose there is probably nobody else more exposed to abuse, if you would, or more exposed to harassment, with the economy we live in today, than the forty-eight members right here in this House. There is probably nobody. We would certainly be the first line of contact for many of those people. The phone calls that we get - and I am no different than anybody else here - in most cases are phone calls about which we can do nothing. They are phone calls that the town council should be getting, or the federal member should be getting, but for some reason people here in Newfoundland look at their Members in the House of Assembly as their first contact people.

I suppose, maybe with our easy access - most members here do have easy access with their constituents. They know where they are. They know their home phone numbers. Their home phone numbers are published in the telephone books, toll-free lines, so it is easy to get access to your member. I don't think there would be two members in this House - maybe not even one - who would honestly say they ever felt threatened. I don't think there has been. There have been many negative things brought about that governments of both sides have had to do in order to maintain this Province, but I doubt very much if there was ever a member who would not take a chance or felt threatened or felt unsafe in going back to his district. I don't think so; and, God knows, many, many times some of the decisions that have had to be made have been very, very unpopular and have hurt people, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Maybe. But nobody here feels threatened. Nobody here feels they can't go back to their district nighttime, or they have to get somebody to travel with them. Mr. Speaker, how silly.

We see the IFAW trying to portray us as barbarians, going out and carrying out the falsehoods, going to the media and printing blatant lies about how our sealers go out and do all the negative things that they talk about them doing by taking part in the seal hunt. Blatant lies. Now we see our very own government in Ottawa bringing forward a program to once again portray us as violent people.

I say this to the Government House Leader, because he must be - he is very close to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and I know his background, and I know his feelings are there. I don't know how much longer we can expect TAGS recipients - fishermen, fish plant workers - to come forward and almost to be put on display to tell their story. How many meetings have we had in this Province to have people come begging for what they rightfully deserve? Or to be able to find out a little bit of information on what government plans on doing so they can shape their lives for the next four years or three years, and now it is six months.

Somewhere down the line people may get frustrated. I'm surprised that they haven't already. They will never get violent, I'm convinced of that, but people will certainly get frustrated. I sensed that there last night. When I was sitting down listening to the individuals getting up and talking about the things they were frustrated about, I wondered. Because it is usually the same group. You get a fair number of people showing up to listen and to feel frustrated, but it is only usually a dozen or so in each community who will get up and speak and express their views and put forward their thoughts and opinions. It isn't violent people we have, it is very patient people.

When this TAGS program first started the people on NCARP weren't automatically rolled over and told: Okay, now you qualify for TAGS because you qualified for NCARP. Everybody who was on NCARP had to apply for the TAGS program. They had projected that there would be 26,000 to 27,000 people receiving this income replacement. In fact, it ended up with something like 40,000 people. Even with those great numbers there are still many people out there who deserve this program that couldn't access it.

What they decided they were going to do was put in an appeal process. First you fill out your application and you send it to HRD. Somebody at HRD in their wisdom would decide in some cases that you didn't qualify. Your next option was your appeal. Your appeal was that you would write a written appeal to somebody in HRD and the same person who said no in the beginning would then look at it and say no again. People became frustrated with that. Then government in its wisdom decided that it was going to look after a few of its old political hacks and send them around the Province, give them a job for a few months, so people now could go and appeal.

Everybody went before the appeal board, or before the person who was receiving the appeals. Ninety per cent of them would call me in my district and would say: Boy, I went and appeared before Mr. So-and-so today and I feel like I'm going to get my TAGS. They all left very optimistic. Then all of a sudden the letter would show up: You do not qualify again. No qualifications. Because the individual who was appealing had to go back to the very same people who denied it in the first place.

In fact, the Government House Leader went to Ottawa, if I recall, and there was somebody else. It may have been the Member for Eagle River. They decided they were going to Ottawa because there was an injustice being done here, so we are going to Ottawa and we are going to meet with the federal minister and we are going to have this straightened out. So off to Ottawa they went. That is when the minister wanted to be the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and I still think he will make the best Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. So off to Ottawa they went and they came back very happy.

Now, we are going to have another level of appeal; now we are going to have a third level of appeal. We are not going to tell you who they are, we are not going to give you their phone numbers, what we will do is, we will give you an address. We will give you an address with a post office box where you can write and you can file your appeal and it will be looked at that way. Nobody yet knows who the phantom appeal board was. Nobody knows; you find out, you hear names but nobody could ever find out who this phantom appeal board was.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: It may have been one of them, I don't know. I don't know who it was, somebody did tell me some names but I could never find out who this phantom appeal board was, Mr. Speaker.

Now, what we are talking about here, Mr. Speaker, we are talking about fishermen and fish plant workers, and we are talking about giving them an opportunity to come forward to try to prove that they should qualify for a particular program and in most cases, most people would like to be able to go and sit down, look somebody straight in the eye, and tell them their story; tell them that they worked twenty-five years in the fish plants and the last year they were off with a broken leg or if it was a lady, probably off on maternity leave or somebody could have been out of the Province, Mr. Speaker, that is all they wanted to do and say that: I should be entitled to this particular program because of this and because of that, but they were not allowed that privilege, Mr. Speaker, instead they were expected to sit down and get somebody to write their letter for them and hopefully, somebody would listen but it did not happen. There were many, many people who fell through the cracks in that particular program who should have qualified for it but did not.

Then they came out with this harebrained scheme that they were going to train everybody. Everybody was going to be trained. We were going to have hair dressers, we were going to have helicopter pilots - Mr. Speaker, there were all kinds of training programs on the go. Some of the training programs were good; some of the training programs were worthwhile. The Adult Basic Education, a wonderful program, many, many people were involved with it. In the beginning they had to be coaxed into it, Mr. Speaker, but once they went back and were studying in an atmosphere and in an environment with their co-workers, they really enjoyed it and accepted it and did very well.

A lot of the people out there today, Mr. Speaker, did very well in training but, the problem was, when somebody from HRD went to those same people and said: You must train, you must go back to school, you must go and further your education in order to keep your level of funding, there is a big difference there, there is a big change for somebody fifty or fifty-five years old to go back to school anyway and be expected to compete with younger people, the eighteen and nineteen-year-old, that is a big change and in many cases, like was echoed last night, some of those eighteen and nineteen-year-olds found themselves competing with their mothers and fathers to get into post-secondary institutions. That is what has happened, Mr. Speaker. We went and we told people that they had to go back to school in order to maintain their source of income. There is a big difference; there is a big difference I say to members opposite for somebody wanting to do something and somebody having to do something.

This is a particular topic that is very close to me because I was part of it and I think I can speak from experience. It is a topic that I deal with every day in my duties as a member of the House of Assembly for the district that I represent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, we are going to have a vote, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - and hopefully the message will go back to Ottawa in a very clear and concise way. Let's not go and be too quick to jump on the bureaucrats, let's deal with the minister who is responsible for that particular department. Lets deal with Mr. Pettigrew because he is certainly not speaking for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and what he is portraying in The Evening Telegram, if those comments are correct and if that contract was correct, he is certainly not reacting to anything that can happen right here in this Province, as I know it today.

I compliment the minister for bringing forward the resolution and I compliment everybody here for putting aside the regular business of this House to debate this very important topic here today.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I believe that we have agreed that we will ring the bells for three or four minutes just in case there is somebody around and then put the resolution and then call it a day. I do not know if the hon. gentlemen would want a standing vote on this issue or not. We will see when we get there I guess.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, we should.

MR. TULK: Yes, we should have a standing vote.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we agree on this side that we will ring the bells and call it a day, but we would like to have a standing vote on the motion if that is okay.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the resolution, please rise.

CLERK: The hon. the Premier; the hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal; the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General; the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs; Mr. Walsh; the hon. the Minister of Education; the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods; Mr. Lush; Mr. Penney; Mr. Oldford; the hon. the Minister of Health; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; Mr. Noel, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Canning, Mr. Smith, Mr. Ramsay, Ms Hodder, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Reid, Ms Thistle, Mr. Sparrow, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hodder, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Tom Osborne, Mr. Ottenheimer, Ms Sheila Osborne, Mr. Harris.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against the resolution, please rise.

CLERK: Mr. Speaker, thirty-six yeas.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the resolution carried unanimously.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I should give notice now that on Wednesday we will be debating the private member's resolution put forward by the Member for Terra Nova today, the notice of motion, and I am sure, if past experience is any example, we will be in for a lively debate on any problem with student loans.

Mr. Speaker, I move that this House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, if we could confirm that tomorrow we will be debating Bill No. 28, we look forward on this side to debating the private member's resolution very similar to the one that we put forward last spring. We are just wondering how you people are going to vote this time around.

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