December 1, 1997          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLIII  No. 41

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

Before we begin today's proceedings, I have been asked by the Chair of the organizing committee for the Christmas Lights Across Canada ceremony, to remind hon. members that the ceremony will take place on Tuesday, December 2, 1997 at 6:30 p.m. on the steps of Confederation Building and that there will be a reception following that in the lobby of Confederation Building.


Statements by Ministers


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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, at approximately 1:50 yesterday afternoon, gas detector equipment near the base of the utility shaft on the Hibernia platform detected a small quantity of gas and the general platform alarm was sounded.

In response to the alarm, personnel on the Hibernia platform immediately enacted the approved emergency response plan which is part of Hibernia's overall operational plan. Within twenty-five minutes of the alarm sounding, all personnel were moved to a muster or safe area of the platform. At around 5:00 p.m., yesterday, HMDC began a precautionary transfer via helicopter of non-essential personnel to the Bill Shoemaker drilling rig, which is located forty kilometres southeast of Hibernia. In total, ninety-three personnel were transferred from the Hibernia platform before the precautionary down manning was halted at approximately 7:30 yesterday evening.

The successful management of this situation can be attributed, I believe, to the comprehensive program of drills and exercises which all HMDC employees participate in on an ongoing basis in order to ensure high levels of competency of all possible emergency situations on the platform.

To date, Mr. Speaker, HMDC has conducted numerous exercises to test the adequacy of their emergency response plan and will continue to do so in order to maintain this high level of competency.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add, that while the safety of personnel on the Hibernia platform was at all times HMDC's foremost concern, it is important to point out that during this situation, personnel family members were kept informed of the situation throughout.

Mr. Speaker, the gas leak has been stopped and the ventilation fans were used to extract the gas from the utility shaft. Officials from my department and the Department of Environment and Labour have been in contact with HMDC and C-NOPB, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board.

The Hibernia operational plan which was approved by C-NOPB and is in effect on the platform contains safety and environmental management systems designed to mitigate, measure and control hazards. The C-NOPB, which regulates operations offshore on behalf of the Federal and Provincial Governments, continues to be in close contact with HMDC on this matter to ensure that the cause of the problem is understood and that appropriate corrective measures are taken. Officials from the C-NOPB and Mr. Harvey Smith, President of HMDC, have assured me personally that this will be the case.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, disaster on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador is no stranger to the people of this Province and certainly yesterday raised some concerns for people in the Province but I would like publicly to applaud for how the situation was handled by management yesterday. It is obvious, from discussions that I have had with industry officials, that the management themselves erred on the side of caution and acted swiftly.

Mr. Speaker, it reminds us that, in an emerging oil and gas industry, disaster could be around the corner. Our concerns for health and safety of the workforce, especially on our offshore, should be paramount. I ask the minister, in his capacity, on behalf of his government, that they continue to ensure that health and safety measures are in place, that new techniques, in terms of emergency response, are developed and that these new techniques are implemented immediately.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as I announced on Friday of last week, government has decided to re-examine the arming policy of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

As has been the case in the past, this issue of critical importance is receiving significant public interest. Therefore, government has decided to give all those interested in this issue a full and fair opportunity to express their views.

I am pleased to announce today that government has decided to hold more formal consultations on this issue, and will consult with the Opposition to form a Select Committee of the House of Assembly.

It is our hope that this Committee, made up of members from both sides of the House, will begin consultations on the RNC firearms policy with affected communities early in the new year, namely, St. John's, Mount Pearl, the northeast Avalon, Corner Brook, and Labrador West, including Churchill Falls.

I must point out, Mr. Speaker, that government has not made any decision on this issue, and will not make a decision until we have heard from the people in those areas policed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. We believe that the Chief and members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, our professionals in the policing field, should be given an opportunity to demonstrate the need for wearing side arms as part of their uniform. Similarly, we believe the public should have an opportunity to make their views on this very important issue known to government.

We will encourage the Select Committee of the House of Assembly to begin public consultations early in the new year, and to report back in a timely fashion. In addition, the Department of Justice will continue to consult with the various town councils and community organizations as necessary throughout this re-examination process.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to see that the minister is following and accepting the recommendations of the Opposition, that this very important issue be dealt with in a public forum. Secondly, it erases some confusion, Mr. Speaker, because we had the minister saying last week that there would be no public consultation and the Premier of the Province saying there may very well be. So at least, the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker, now have a clear understanding that there will be public consultation. This is an important issue that requires and demands public input; we are dealing with the security of the person, we are dealing with public protection in this Province. I support the Statement of the Minister of Justice today, and we will be more than pleased to participate in it.

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

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

I rise today to ask hon. members to join me and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in recognizing December 1, 1997, as World AIDS Day in this Province and around the world.

Mr. Speaker, while less dramatic than in some Canadian provinces, the incidence of HIV in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to climb slowly but steadily. In fact, the spread of HIV between men and women is more common in this Province per capita than most other places in Canada and we have one of the highest rates of HIV infection among pregnant women.

HIV/AIDS has gradually evolved from a short-term catastrophic disease affecting the adult population of homosexual middle-aged males, to a short-term chronic disease of a 15-20-year duration in which heterosexual populations of reproductive age are first diagnosed in their early twenties. While HIV/AIDS still carries a terminal outcome, the new combined therapies available today enable individuals to continue with educational attainment and transition to the labour market. One of our challenges, therefore, is to co-ordinate service delivery which increases the quality of life, optimizes health and reduces the costs of providing health and community services.

Mr. Speaker, over the past number of years, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in partnership with a variety of organizations, agencies and individuals, has made a tremendous effort to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, education and prevention in our homes, schools and communities.

The community health regions are playing a major role in this effort, and it is a very important and serious issue, particularly in rural and isolated areas of this Province. At the regional level, increasing emphasis is being placed on high-risk youth in an out-of-school environment, with linkages being made to addiction and mental health programs. In addition, HIV prevention has been integrated with the new school health curriculum of the Department of Education focusing on junior and senior high school students.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to announce in the House today that plans are currently under way for the Department of Health's Division of Health Promotion, in conjunction with the six community health regions, to launch an advertising campaign early in the new year. Television ads carrying a broad `safe practices to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases' message will be targeted toward sexually active adolescents and young adults, and are related to the parent and mentor support needed in decision-making and risk reductions.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we are planning to implement a 1-800 telephone line which will be promoted on the ads and will have the capability of directing calls back to the community health region from which the call originates. Each region will answer their calls and respond to their own inquiries.

You may be interested to note, Mr. Speaker, that the Department of Health is involved in the ongoing research, prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS-related illnesses. An important new study called the Community Health Resource Project is currently being undertaken by researchers at Memorial University. The Provincial Department of Health has joined forces in partnership with Memorial University, the Newfoundland and Labrador AIDS Committee, the Provincial Department of Human Resources and Employment, and the Federal Department of Health, which is providing funding for the project, in a joint effort to combat the spread of the virus.

Researchers are collecting data about health services, community and social assistance, and other support services utilized by HIV-positive individuals. The results of the study will be used to assist community agencies and health planners in developing future strategies for improving our provincial social and health policies relevant to HIV and AIDS.

Before I conclude, I would just like to add that I was fortunate to have participated in the St. John's 7th Annual Walk for AIDS which took place on September 28 at Quidi Vidi Lake, organized by the Newfoundland and Labrador AIDS Committee. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that $35,000 was raised that afternoon. These proceeds went into a special fund, being administered by the Committee, which is expressly for the women, men and children of our Province who are infected and affected by AIDS and HIV.

Mr. Speaker, while a cure has yet to be found, there is good reason to be optimistic about our future. Clinical advances and new treatments continue to offer hope for individuals infected with HIV. While the message of prevention cannot be overstated, it is encouraging to hear that deaths due to AIDS have begun to decline.

As we mark World AIDS Day in this Province, we carry with us the urgent message of education and prevention, along with the universal desire for a cure. I ask each Member of the House to do his or her part by joining the people of our Province today, December 1, in marking World AIDS Day in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the minister for sending me a copy of her statement before the House opened today.

We too, Minister, on this side of the House would certainly like to join with you and government and other agencies in the Province to fight this very dreaded disease. Since being elected and becoming the health critic for this side of the House, I have had the opportunity over the last two years of attending the candlelight ceremony, once at St. Theresa's Church and this year, of course, at Cochrane Street United Church, where as a matter of fact the Premier's wife was one of the speakers concerning AIDS.

As well, there was another lady who spoke who has been affected by this very dreaded disease. She talked a great deal, this particular lady did, about the impact it had on her and her family, and the fact of waiting to find out - because she had two very small children - as to whether this disease had really affected her children, or whether it didn't. Thank goodness, at the end of the day both of her children weren't affected.

I had the opportunity to talk with her afterwards and she was very concerned because - and this may be something the Minister of Health or the Minister of Education may be interested in. She had actually offered her services to speak to various high schools in the Province and she had never been taken up on her offer. She had a great deal of knowledge concerning this disease, and I think nothing I guess would hit home to high school or junior high school students as much as a person who has first-hand knowledge of such a disease.

We on this side of the House today, Minister, join with you, and encourage you as well to act as quickly as you can on the Krever report concerning the tainted blood issue, because many people in this Province have been affected as well. So we join with you today in recognizing World AIDS Day and we urge you to put whatever resources from your department that you can into this very deserving project.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, with the continued reduction of trade barriers and the rapid advancement of technology, the world truly is becoming a global marketplace. It has been said many times that we will never prosper by selling to ourselves. Our companies must continue to look outside the Province for new opportunities if our economy is to diversify and grow.

Today, I am pleased to briefly inform my hon. colleagues of the results of a recent trade mission to Iceland that I had the opportunity to lead on behalf of the Province.

The mission follows a visit in October by a representative of the Canadian Consulate General Office in Reykjavik. The lady who came presented to our local industry associations and met with individual companies to assess the benefits of a return trade mission.

I was joined by representatives of seven companies from our Province. While the company representatives experienced varying degrees of success, all have deemed the trip to be a valuable initiative. Some of the companies are presently doing business in Iceland and many have established valuable contacts during the trip, which they anticipate will lead to future business.

Mr. Speaker, Iceland has a landscape such that it is extremely difficult to grow trees. As a result, the vast majority of forest products used in the country are imported. This presents an export opportunity for companies from our Province involved in this particular sector.

Mr. Harvey Short of Nu-Way Kitchens, which manufactures solid wood doors and cabinets, participated in several meetings with potential customers and was requested to ship kitchen cabinet displays to several companies. He expects that his export sales will be increased by 10 per cent as a result of the trade mission. He is also pursuing the possibility of partnering with another company in Iceland.

Mr. Chris Hewitt of Classic Woodworks, which manufactures solid wood mouldings, participated in meetings with the same seven companies as did Mr. Short. He was also asked to ship samples of his product. In min-January, he will be sending a container of mouldings to Iceland, an order that he secured during the trip.

Mr. Jerome Flynn of Hi-Rise Maintenance presently employs six Newfoundlanders on a project replacing transmission towers for radio stations in Eider, which is located in northern Iceland. As a result of this trade mission, he identified two projects for which he will submit proposals this spring. He has also indicated that the trip will result in an expected increase in export sales by next year.

Mr. Ken Butt of Lotek Marine Engineering was pleased with the outcome of the trade mission and was involved in several meetings with Icelandic competitors. He anticipates future visits to the area, with future business opportunities existing in Norway.

Glen Glavin of Nautical Data International, which is a product and service provider for the fishing and shipping industries. This company supplies electronic maps and charts for ships bridges. Of the four companies he met with, Glavin has indicated that a strong possibility exists to obtain work from all of these companies, plus an opportunity for technology transfer agreements with another. NDI estimates that it may have increased its export business and expects to have a proposal for additional business completed after Christmas.

International Communications and Navigation, otherwise known as ICAN, provides the software and hardware for the ships bridges that access the information provided by NDI. Banks Scott represented the company on the mission and indicated that there is potential to access over 200 fishing systems in Iceland. With over 750 ships in Iceland and over 2000 in Norway, both NDI and ICAN see repeat visits and return visits from Iceland in the future.

Newfoundland Containers, which makes packaging containers, has been doing business in Iceland for five years. During this particular mission, Kevin Fitzgerald has increased his market capability with increased product lines and anticipates that the company has increased its export sales by fifteen to twenty per cent as a result of this particular mission. In Iceland, he established valuable business contacts with representatives from Norway and Africa.

Mr. Speaker, while the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology was restructured in April of last year, it was clearly stated that we would work closer with industry associations to achieve mutual objectives. I am pleased to say that one of the participants in this mission was Mr. Burf Ploughman, Executive Director of the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Newfoundland; he also found the trip to be beneficial and deserves credit for promoting manufacturing and exporting sector capabilities that exist in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I also took the opportunity to promote our attractiveness as a competitive investment location and the capabilities and expert residents in our Province. I spoke to the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce about the results of the recent KPMG study that placed St. John's as the lowest cost location among forty-two jurisdictions in Canada, the United States and Western Europe. I also spoke with reporters from two local daily newspapers and the national television station and I met with the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Industry to discuss trade issues that impact on other companies doing business in Iceland in the future.

Mr. Speaker, we believe there is potential for more business in Iceland and other countries. We will be following up on this mission and actively encouraging other companies that are export-ready to consider pursuing markets outside of the Province.

At the conclusion of the Iceland mission, I went to Ireland to follow-up on initiatives stemming from the MOU that was signed by Premier Tobin and the Prime Minister of Ireland during a visit in November of 1996.

In Ireland, government officials, union leaders and representatives of the business community play a key role in facilitating economic development by cooperatively working together. There is much to learn from the Irish experience and based on the meetings in which I participated, there is a genuine willingness to help us in any way to further trade development and partnering.

One example of this cooperation lies in an initiative we are presently pursuing with the assistance of Mr. Kieran McGowan, whom hon. members will recall visited the Province recently and who heads Ireland's Industrial Development Authority. This organization has experienced an incredible amount of success in recent years in attracting foreign investment to Ireland. We are presently negotiating the details of an exchange initiative where an official of Ireland's Industrial Development Authority would assess our investment attraction efforts and provide advice on how to increase our chances of attracting foreign investment. We would reciprocate the exchange by posting a senior official from the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology at their offices in Ireland to learn about their process. This initiative would provide us with helpful insight into the high level of success experienced by the IDA in attracting investment from all over the world to Ireland.

I also met with Mary Harney, Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Deputy Minister of Ireland. She indicated a willingness to provide companies in Newfoundland and Labrador access to a database of Irish companies.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we were provided with an overview of the biotechnology industry in Ireland by representatives of Bioresearch Ireland. We also met with a biotechnology company called Biotrin, which has been successful in combining research and development activities with a strong marketing capability. Mr. Speaker, there is another opportunity here for a biotechnology company to jointly market our products with theirs.

Mr. Speaker, while there are obvious difference between ourselves and Ireland, there are also deep ties and strong connections. We believe there is a great deal to be gained by building on our relationship with those contacts.

We will diligently pursue all opportunities associated with our partnership with Ireland and I am confident that you will hear more details arising out of this initiative in the future.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: I am glad, Mr. Speaker, on the first page she said she would be brief.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: You did not forget to add anything? She ended off by saying: she sure would hear more.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that the minister is pursuing trade missions and opportunities overseas; however, I have to point out to the minister that we are probably overlooking opportunities right here in our own backyard. Just last week I asked questions regarding the Newfoundland Producers Association and, Mr. Speaker, these people, the producers of Newfoundland and Labrador feel that they are being left out; they are being overlooked by government and they are not the only ones. Mr. Speaker, I do not know if we have seen much benefit over the past seven or eight years out of all the trips that government has taken to overseas countries, to Chile to China, to Singapore, God only knows where else.

Mr. Speaker, the out-migration in this Province is a major, major problem and if these trade missions were truly successful, Mr. Speaker, the people who were leaving would see opportunities right here. The government would be addressing the problem of out-migration; the government would be addressing the problem of the highest unemployment rate in all of Canada; the government would be addressing perhaps the highest social services rate in all of Canada; the TAGS Program, Mr. Speaker, is ending very soon and these people have nowhere to turn. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the minister that she look in her own backyard at the opportunities that are available right here if government were to treat our own producers, our own manufacturers, our own small businesses with the ability that they are giving the overseas trade missions, the trips abroad.

Mr. Speaker, some of our own producers feel left out; the people of our Province feel left out and I think we should start concentrating on what we have right here in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as the overseas missions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before we move on to Oral Questions, I would like to welcome to the gallery today on behalf of all members, fourteen students from the Centre for Nursing Studies, accompanied by their instructors, Madge Applin, Marcy Greene, Joanne Simms and Marilyn Haynes; along with Margaret Turner.

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 Minister of Health.

Last week I spoke with the family of Mrs. Muriel Fordham, the eighty-two-year-old lady who was denied admission to the Health Sciences Centre last Tuesday and Wednesday because there was no bed available due to what the Health Care Corporation called a hold-up with the discharge of another patient.

Now that lady was in pain and suffering from a broken hip. I ask the minister: Is the standard for admission to hospitals and surgery now determined by the availability of a bed or by the severity of the medical problem?

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

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

I think on Friday, Sister Elizabeth Davis spoke very clearly to the issue that was very pertinent to that particular institution. While I will not speak about the specifics of the case, I think it is obvious that when we have a number of boards and institutions, we have to rely on our CEOs and our Chairpeople to run our hospitals through the boards and also through our communities.

How the beds are put in place and allocated are certainly issues that will always create some difficulty is one that was very regrettable in this case and I think that Sister Elizabeth said on Friday, she did apologize to the family; she did identify all the various issues that were involved with this particular case; she has spoken to all the appropriate staff and certainly will work with other families to always try to improve upon the waiting list and the time involved when people have to wait for beds.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mrs. Fordham's daughter was informed that personnel at the Health Sciences Centre told staff at the Miller Centre not to send Mrs. Fordham until the next morning. I ask the minister - she did not make it quite clear - was that decision made by the administration, or was the decision made by medical professionals?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, the member across the way is asking me to speak very specifically about a case. He knows, as well as I do, that when situations are arising like this, which require medical care, if somebody is able to be stabilized in a bed, knowing that the appropriate specialists are not on call in the middle of the night, rather than have any individual waiting, a particular patient can be very safely stabilized, maintained in their bed, knowing that the situation is stable. I think those types of decisions are not to be made by politicians, are not made by administrators, but are made by the very capable nurses - I am sure - who made that type of decision.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister had no problem referring to a specific case last week when she stated very unequivocally that decisions on health care should be made by medical professionals.

Was the decision in this case - I ask simply - not to bring a lady with a broken hip to the Health Sciences Centre, made by administration rather than by medical professionals?

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

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

I was not at the facility at the exact time, and I cannot go through the play-by-play process, but I can say it is a very serious issue. It is one that Sister Elizabeth has addressed both with the family and publicly last week.

Whenever a situation occurs, whenever there are health staff involved, an assessment is done by the appropriate people. Whatever the situation is, whether in an emergency department or whether you are on a ward when an incident happens, an assessment is done and a decision is made.

Mr. Speaker, what I am asking: Is this member asking me the names of the people involved? Then I will go back and ask which nurses did the assessment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, I am not skating anything. I am saying very carefully that health professionals make decisions; and if he wants the names of the nurses, the names of the doctors, the name of any administration, I will be happy to go to Sister Elizabeth and ask for that kind of detail. But I think what is more important in this particular case is that a situation happened which was unacceptable, which was stated to be unacceptable, and an apology was made to the family; and all of the appropriate staff involved have been part of a process to try to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not asking that at all, I say to the minister. When the minister made a statement here in this House - she has made it outside this House - that decisions for such matters must rest with health care professionals deciding who gets surgery and who gets medical attention, I ask the minister simply - not any names - was that decision made by administration or was it made by medical people, the decision not to send Mrs. Fordham to the Health Sciences Centre. It is a simple question. I do not need names.

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

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

Am I to assume by the question that the administration have no medical background or no expertise?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think that answer said it all.

While the Province is on a deliberate course to reduce beds at all costs - there are people out there suffering because of that - an 82-year-old man was put in a room with women. The man and his family were very upset, and the patient should not be subjected to such further anxiety and humiliation.

I ask the minister: Does she consider it acceptable to have men and women share the same hospital room?

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

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

I have, myself, worked in the Intensive Care Unit for a number of years where men and women were side-by-side in the same room. I have worked in Special Care Units and Step Down Units in many other places in hospitals where men and women are in the same room together. Mr. Speaker, I do not know what this particular person is trying to come across with this question, but if the need arises - if your issue is whether you have a bed that is available, if there is a type of care that requires specialized treatment, if a bed is required to deliver that care, then yes, it is appropriate, Mr. Speaker, for that to happen.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will just make it a little clearer. It wasn't one-on-one that you would get in intensive care at all. It was in a regular room within the hospital. Is it acceptable in a regular hospital room to have men and women sharing the one room? I ask the minister, is that acceptable? I just want an answer. Is it yes or no?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In many situations other than one-on-one it is acceptable for men and women to be cared for in the same unit.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I get numerous complaints, many recently, and even as late as today, in hospitals that people have not available for their own personal hygiene. I spoke with a person as late as today. There were no towels available upon the floors. He was given four face cloths after a shower. He told me that the sheets are changed once a week on his bed. I ask the minister: Are these the standards for personal hygiene in hospitals or what? What are the standards for personal hygiene that we should be following in our hospitals?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I would ask the member across the House to point out to me the names of the institutions where there are no towels available, and I will happily speak to the administration in charge about this particular issue.

With respect to personal hygiene, it is a very individual thing. If you are a level one, if you are up and around, a person will do their own personal hygiene. If you are in bed, a person will have personal hygiene done as required, either with some assistance or, if they are able to do it all themselves, they will do it all themselves. If they are a level three or if they are unconscious, they are washed and their personal hygiene is done by the appropriate level of care provider, either a personal care attendant, a nursing assistant, a nurse. It depends on the various routines.

However, if there is a situation which I can address, if there is some suggestion he can make with respect to problems he has encountered, I would be more than happy to raise those issues with the appropriate administration to see that those shortages are taken care of.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I get dozens of complaints. I would be delighted to give the minister the names of the hospitals that are getting complaints on a frequent basis, I say to the minister. They have complained to people in authority also, I say to the minister.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Government Services and Lands. Can the minister confirm that on January 1, 1998, the Government Services Centre will be implementing an annual fee of $115 for renewal of an electrical contractor certificate, and will he admit if the contractor cannot afford to pay it, that he or she will no longer be able to perform that work in Newfoundland and Labrador?

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There will be a fee implemented January 1 for electrical contractors. On the second part of the question, where we will determine whether or not a contractor can practise if they cannot pay the fee, I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that any contractor out there can afford to pay a fee for practising.

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

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

That is your assumption, I say to you, Mr. Minister.

Why would government suddenly impose a new fee on 3,000 electricians, most of whom are unemployed or underemployed, Mr. Speaker? What excuse can the minister give for now taking another $345,000 out of the taxpayers' pockets in this Province? Wouldn't this just basically force more people on the social assistance rolls?

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The fee that is being levied on January 1 is on electrical contractors, not on individual electricians. If the electricians are doing contracts they will be levied the fee if they apply for a permit.

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

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

We have seen fees, Mr. Speaker, for fishermen, bills for cabin owners, extra costs to people without water and sewer and untold license fees and permit increases. Who is next, the plumbers or the carpenters? Why is government making it too expensive for Newfoundlanders to live in Newfoundland and Labrador? Why is government forcing Newfoundlanders to live everywhere outside of Newfoundland and Labrador rather than in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador? Why are you forcing people out of the Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, fees are levied on different organizations; the electricians, the plumbers and carpenters, in line with other jurisdictions in the country where they could go and practice for the same levels.

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

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

My questions are for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. A couple of weeks ago it was indicated that the RRAP program, funded by the Federal Government and 25 per cent by the Provincial Government, would be wrapping up this year. The minister knows, that means about 150 seasonal jobs in rural Newfoundland. I think, last year, nearly 400 homes were improved and he indicated at that time, in the public media, that he was aggressively pursuing the reinstatement of the program. I wonder if he has some update that he can give us on the federal commitment to reintroduce the program in 1998?

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

MR. A. REID: No, Mr. Speaker. I am encouraged by some comments coming from the federal minister and from some of my other colleagues around the country but I really am not in a position to say whether or not the Federal Government will continue with their RRAP program again for next year. I am hoping they do. Mr. Speaker, you, along with, I suppose, every other rural member in the House of Assembly, would certainly congratulate the Federal Government for having Newfoundland and Labrador Housing carry on the RRAP program for the number of years that they have. All you have to do is drive through some of the communities around this Province to see what RRAP has done to help especially the poor people who are living in lower types of housing. I cannot say, Mr. Speaker, I have no idea. I am hoping that RRAP will be reintroduced again next year. It has been reintroduced now three years in a row, not just one. Hopefully, by continuing to put pressure on both the federal minister and the Premier, the Province will also be making comments to the Prime Minister in the near future about the RRAP program. So let us all hope that it is reintroduced again next year.

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

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

The minister knows that of the permanent employees at Newfoundland and Labrador Housing who administer this program, six of them have been given their lay-off notices. I ask the minister if we should read anything into that regarding his expectations about having the program reinstated and why you would lay off the permanent staff? The other question would be, the 25 per cent, approximately $850,000 that was committed by the Province in 1997: Will that commitment stand regardless of whether the Federal Government participates in 1998?

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

MR. A. REID: Probably, Mr. Speaker, one of the most disappointing things that I have had to do since becoming the minister of housing, is close down my regional office in Carbonear.

MR. EFFORD: You didn't do that did you?

MR. A. REID: Yes, I had to.

MR. EFFORD: I wouldn't do it.

MR. A. REID: There was one -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: And, Mr. Speaker, this is `me' buddy!

Mr. Speaker, I had one employee from Carbonear, in fact, a good friend of mine, who was laid off recently, yes, got his notice - is not laid off yet.

There are five people getting their notices. They have been directly involved with RRAP for the last number of years. The RRAP program this year was finished and there were no other programs to be associated with RRAP because of the devolution this year, and we found ourselves in a situation where they have caught up now with all the referrals and necessary work that needs to be done.

We really did not have a lot for these people to do at this particular point in time, but we have reassured all of those people that if and when RRAP is reintroduced early in the new year, these people will be taken back on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible) there were two.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: In regard to the funding, the hon. member knows that is a budgetary issue, and if and when the time comes I will go back to my colleagues in Cabinet and ask for that money again. I have no authority, as an individual Cabinet minister, to say yes or no to that question.

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

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

My questions today are for the Minister of Mines and Energy.

Since the Voisey's Bay discovery by two Newfoundlanders in this Province, for some time now, there has been the first air of optimism around the Province. Everybody across the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador was very excited about it. Since then it has started to unravel, or there seem to be a lot more questions every day.

Mr. Speaker, in light of Inco's falling stock prices, The Financial Post reported on Friday that the company was worth less than what it actually paid for Voisey's Bay and is subject, of course, to the persistent takeover rumours that have been reported in the mainland paper.

I would like to ask the minister: Have Inco and the Provincial Government had any discussions in recent days about the implications of this change in the company's fortune as it relates to Voisey's Bay?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the update on the stock market. It is something I do not follow, personally.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: We have continuous discussions with Inco. The government is not concerned at this stage, no.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, the minister is probably not worried about his stocks because they are probably in the blind trust also.

Mr. Speaker, already we have seen many delays, as the minister knows, and we cannot elude those problems that we see coming up day after day with the situation with Voisey's Bay - the Innu, the environment and so on - and now there is further uncertainty about this mega-project on which the Province's economic growth projections are largely based, and the minister knows that.

Do the government's economic projections and development time lines adequately account for the wide range of possibilities now with Voisey's Bay?

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

MR. FUREY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the government is concerned. I am not shirking our responsibility. We are concerned. There has been a one-year delay in this project; that gives us cause for concern. The projections that are made by the various financial houses across the country, I think, are very optimistic. You see what the TD Bank has said, and CIBC, and the Bank of Nova Scotia. Everybody is heralding Newfoundland to lead the way next year in economic growth in this country. Our own forecasters are more modest. I think they are more realistic.

Voisey's Bay, we sincerely believe, will come on stream, but there are an awful lot of other good things happening in the economy. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology just talked about the manufacturing sector. The high-tech sector is growing by leaps and bounds. The fishery is reporting growth. There is growth throughout the economy. It is not just based on one particular sector, so we are still very much optimistic.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, everybody feels the same way about Voisey's Bay. We want to be optimistic and we want to be hopeful about it, but there is a time sequence here where people hear more and more, and they raise more questions, and so far it has been all questions. There have not been any answers. We have asked many questions on the royalty regime, and we ask in this House again.

I would like to ask the minister: Has he had any discussions with Inco in recent weeks about their time frame of when they would like to see a royalty regime in place so they can make a deal with the Province? Have they suggested a royalty regime, and what time it should be in this Province?

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

MR. FUREY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, under the Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act of the Province they have come to us on a number of occasions and said that they would like to have the rules of the game laid out as clearly and as specifically and as quickly as possible, but the government does not operate on the timetables of companies that have a huge stake in our Province in a resource that is owned by the taxpayers. The government will operate on its own agenda. We have a number of issues that are currently on the table now: the environmental assessment, which is required of the mine and mill, the environmental assessment which is required at the huge smelter and refinery at Argentia. The aboriginal question is one we are dealing with.

We have struck what we believe is a fair agreement with the Inuit people of Labrador. We are fast-tracking now with the Innu. We have hired a number of experts, both in the United States and other parts of Canada, and indeed here in the Province, to look at a series of regimes with respect to a royalty and tax regime specific to this particular project. We are not going to rush that, Mr. Speaker. We are going to move on our timetable, not the company's.

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

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, we have run out of answers, not questions, let me tell you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I know that recently the Minister of Mines and Energy and other ministers have received representations from people within the oil and gas industry, both on labour and management side, with respect to the implementation of the recommendations of the Terra Nova assessment panel. I will ask the minister an open-ended question: When can we see any action from government, whatever it may be, because to date there has been none - with respect to any public announcements anyway - with respect to the implementations of the recommendations contained in that very important report?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the Terra Nova panel report has been provided both to C-NOPB and both levels of government. The Department of Mines and Energy is assessing and reviewing each of those recommendations. Many of them are federal in nature. There are a handful which are specific to the Province. Those are being reviewed. Cabinet will review them, I would predict, in the next two, maybe three weeks, then you will see some movement.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Still no answers. Mr. Speaker, part of the problem that is highlighted in the Terra Nova assessment panel's report is the C-NOPB itself, that it has not moved to protect Newfoundland interests, that it has not moved to implement the spirit of the Atlantic Accord, that it has not moved to ensure that industrial benefits accrue primarily to the Province.

Let me ask the minister this; I asked him last week and I will ask him again: What measures is the Provincial Government taking, in view of the Premier's own comments this summer past, with respect to the lack of action by the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board that governs the industry, supposedly for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians first?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I do not think we should very cavalierly dismiss just how beneficial the Hibernia project, and indeed future projects, will be to the Province. If you look at Hibernia and look at the expenditures, there has been a huge percentage accrued to this Province. Hundreds of contracts, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology can table them, have happened in this Province because of the frameworks that were put in place.

Now, I will agree with the hon. member that the structure of the Board itself has been left vacant for far too long. There are a number of vacancies on the federal side, there are a number on the provincial side, and indeed, the chairperson's position has been vacant for some time. We have made recommendations to Ottawa. I will be moving on the provincial appointment very soon. But I do not think we should write off that the parameters and the framework within which the C-NOPB operates are not providing positive benefits to the Province. Indeed, quite to the contrary, they are.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, nobody in their right mind, including the member here, is going to cavalierly write off what positive benefits have come from the Hibernia site. There have been many. I am not interested in what benefits have come here. What I am interested in is: Have we got what we were supposed to get, in full? That is what I am interested in. To date we have not.

I have asked a number of times in this House, and I will deal with one specific recommendation of that report right now. The panel recommends clearly that the Department of Education, the government itself, put in place a system where there would be skills in this Province that do not exist, that would be able to take advantage of jobs that will exist, that the department put in place plans to make that happen. To date we have seen no information where Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are going to be trained for jobs where their skills do not exist. I ask the minister again: Will that be forthcoming, when will it be forthcoming, and when will we see it?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would care to look at the number of man-hours that have gone in, for example, to the Hibernia project in construction, he will see that not only were the targets met, but they were clearly exceeded. All targets were clearly exceeded. To stand there and say that the Board and this project and the benefits to the Province have not accrued is just a falsity in the extreme.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Minister, I have to say for the record again, we are not concerned about the 90 per cent of Newfoundlanders who had employment. To say that there are opportunities that have not been missed is to propound that sort of suggestion is not true Minister. For example: There are at least 146 to 150 trained, technical, qualified, electrical instrumentation in this Province that did not get jobs as a result of inaction by government.

Minister, the reason was, because the spirit of the Atlantic Accord was not implemented. When will government move -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: If the Government House Leader will listen he will hear the question. When will government move to implement the recommendations to ensure that we do not just get 90 per cent, but if we are supposed to get 95 per cent, that we in fact, at the end of the day, end up with what we are supposed to end up with, Minister.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, it is the first time I have heard anybody in this Legislature rise and complain about Newfoundland getting 90 per cent of all of the benefit? I mean, it is just absolutely ludicrous to rise in your place.

Now, was the project perfect? No. Did Newfoundland and Labrador do extremely well? Yes. Is there a provision under the Atlantic Accord and in particular under the mandate of the C-NOPB to capture benefits? Yes. We are reviewing that. There were a number of glaring, missed opportunities. It is not a perfect project but we are doing our best.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, this member remembers that minister when he was Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, losing a contract in Marystown and you know what his response was? Err, err, we are going to sharpen our pencils, Mr. Speaker, that is what that minister's response was.

Let me ask him another question, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SULLIVAN: He lost his pencil.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me ask him this question with respect to another recommendation contained in that panel's report.

The panel recommends that to the greatest extent possible, fabrication yards in this Province will be given first priority with respect to the upcoming work associated with the Terra Nova Oil Development Field. Can the minister inform the House, as to what action has been taken to ensure that local industry, poised with the necessary infrastructure which we have, poised with the competitive edge which we have, what action has government taken to ensure that we will in fact, end up with those fabrication contracts?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: I would like to sell you for a dollar, if I could.

Do you think I would get a dollar?

Mr. Speaker, we have to recognize that, unlike the Hibernia project, the government negotiated under the Terra Nova arrangements. Instead of putting a parameter, a set of parameters around industrial benefits, we opted for the revenue side, the royalty side, the royalties coming off Terra Nova as you look at them and look at the econometrics models that were put forward, will give a greater yield to the Province from royalties.

We did that, so as not to put a strait-jacket around the companies, and if you talk to industry, industry will tell you they want to compete, they want to compete in the big world. Marystown is not afraid to compete and they will compete and they will win contracts on the Terra Nova. The Bull Arm site where the labour agreement was put in place with the trade councils are not afraid to compete.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: They will compete and win contracts. The dockyard down here with its fabrication facilities that are privatized is not afraid to compete. I would say to the hon. member: Do not be afraid to compete. We are not afraid to compete, we are going to compete and win contracts on the Terra Nova project.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.


Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees


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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table for the Houses information, the 1995-96 Annual Report of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation and there are copies going to be made available later today.

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

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

In accordance with section thirty-five of the Medical Care Insurance Act, I am pleased to table the Newfoundland Medical Care Commission Annual Report for the year ended March 31, 1997.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hereby table the report of Public Tender Act Exemptions for the month of September 1997.

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No, I have to confess, it is about four and a half months ahead of time.


Notices of Motion


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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following Bills: "An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act." (Bill No. 46), "An Act To Amend The Provincial Court Act 1991." (Bill No. 47), "An Act To Amend The Judicature Act and the Unified Family Court Act." (Bill No. 45).

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 Nursing Assistance Act", (Bill No. 25).

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to on tomorrow introduce the following Private Members Resolution:

WHEREAS the sealing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is an important and integral part of the economy of rural Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREAS seals are consuming an estimated 800,000 tonnes of caplin, over 100,000 tonnes of small cod and countless other quantities of fish per year;

WHEREAS costal and native people have an historical attachment to the seal resource that has become part of their culture;

WHEREAS the sealing industry has the potential to grow in importance as new markets for seal parts are identified;

AND WHEREAS the people who are involved in the seal hunt utilize humane harvesting methods in the seal carcass to the fullest extent;

WHEREAS the people of this Province have been inaccurately portrayed as barbaric in recent anti-sealing propaganda prepared by the International Fund for Animal Welfare;

THEREFOR BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly condemn the actions of the IFAW and those who would support this misrepresentation of the nature of the sealing industry;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House of Assembly reject these misrepresentations and ask collectively to dispel the notion that the seal hunt is a cruel and unnecessary part of the rural economy;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the provincial and federal governments act together in a joint effort to repudiate these misrepresentations of the seal industry by developing a promotional campaign directed toward the general public that explains the true nature of the provinces sealing industry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Member for Baie Verte asked me a question which your Honour ruled I was too long in answering and I agree, I had to be, but I promised to provide the hon. gentleman with a two page summary today.

He wanted to know, Mr. Speaker, just exactly what it is that the Department of Development and Rural Renewal has been up to and I did give him some misinformation on Friday because I told him that fourteen of the twenty Regional Economic Development Boards has now submitted their strategic economic plans. In actual fact, it is sixteen -

AN HON. MEMBER: Apologize.

MR. TULK: Well, I should apologize to him, yes, for being too good.

Mr. Speaker, there is also some information here, I say to the hon. gentleman, which will show him that under the Transitional Job Fund Program, we helped, along with the federal government to create some 2000 new jobs.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Yes, I can.

Mr. Speaker, under the Strategic Enterprise Development Fund, there has been expenditure of some $18.7 million, 205 business projects for 1,496 more jobs.

Mr. Speaker, under the Comprehensive Labrador Agreement there has been twenty-nine economic initiatives and this year, for the first time, we opened up the forest resources in Labrador to the sawmilling industry through the use of a federal program. Mr. Speaker, it goes on to talk about ninety-nine craft producers that we have helped. It talks about the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation -

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Are you listening?

MR. SHELLEY: No, I am not because (inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, I didn't think you were. It also said, Mr. Speaker, that we have put together the Collective Enterprise Development Program and we have established the Newfoundland and Labrador organization for women entrepreneurs. We have a great program here, which I am sure you will want to read about, that we have visited through a program called Getting the Message Out; some 200 presentations to 5,500 high school students. I could even give them letters, Mr. Speaker, back from school principals saying how wonderful that job is. We have done a trade initiative with St. Piérre et Micquelon, I say to the hon. gentleman, which he should learn about. That is a good thing. We have just recently signed an agreement with the federal government called the Canada Newfoundland Comprehensive Economic Development Program which will bring another $50.14 million into the Province.

The Department of Human Resources and Employment and my own department under the former minister, who is now the Minister of ITT, has negotiated a new Federal-Provincial Labour Market Development Agreement bringing in some $386 million into the Province.

MR. SHELLEY: What's this the good news review from VOCM?

MR. TULK: Well you asked me what we were doing and, Mr. Speaker, those are only some of the things. If the hon. gentleman wants a more detailed list, I will say to him that we will take about forty or fifty pages to - so he should not ask it in Oral Questions at all. He should come over and sit down and I will have my officials give him two or three hours of briefing.

Mr. Speaker, I will table the answer for the hon. gentleman so he can have a good nights reading.

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

MR. A. REID: Yes, I am not sure of the exact date, Mr. Speaker, but a couple of weeks ago the hon. Member for Waterford Valley - Kenmount asked me a number of questions relating to the sale of Elizabeth Towers. I wish to table the answers to those questions today and let the Clerk know that the hon. member across the way has it so you don't have to come looking to me for it and asking for it. I will give it all to him.




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

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

I have another petition on housing, Mr. Speaker. A petition to be presented to the hon. House of Assembly by the Voices for Justice and Housing. The prayer of the petition reads; we the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador wish to petition the House of Assembly regarding the rate increase at 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, I am hoping and many of the tenants of housing as well, are hoping that the review that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs promised a couple of weeks ago will soon be done. I know that there are a lot of people, tenants of housing, who are very anxious and waiting for the reply of that review. We can only hope, on this side of the House, that the minister's review will be fair to those tenants of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing considered to be the working poor. Mr. Speaker, as I have said on many occasions, a number of these tenants are probably going to be better off on social services if their rent is actually increased from 25 per cent to 30 per cent. There is no doubt about it, this decision has to be reviewed. Mr. Speaker, I anticipate that the review being conducted by the minister will prove healthy for the tenants of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing.

Thank you.

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

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

I rise to support the petition put forward by my colleague from St. John's South. I would like to say to the minister that these petitions that we present here are continuing to arrive at our offices. There seems to be some concern on behalf of the tenants that this review might not fulfil the wishes of the tenants but also that the commitments made by the minister here, that he will review all the incomes and all of the, I guess, income sources that people have, to make sure that there is justice.

These people here are talking about making sure that when you move from 25 per cent to 30 per cent, that is a big jump for anybody, regardless of your income level. It is nice to say they have an income of $30,000 but $30,000 is not a big income today for seniors to be able to keep things together. So when we are talking about a big jump like that, people are finding it difficult. That is why I think the petitions continue to arrive.

I say to the minister that the petitioners reflect the anxiety they are having, and perhaps the minister might want to be able to speed up his review, particularly in view of the season we are into now, Christmas, and with the anxiety that will be caused by not knowing exactly what is going to happen to their rent in January or February.

We get a fair number of calls from people in the situation that the minister has addressed on a couple of occasions, which is the prayer of the petition here. They are asking for some leniency, asking for some understanding, and asking the minister if he would reflect on what he is doing. It is December, and you have extra expenses of heat and everything else. Maybe we should just freeze everything until we can have a thorough review of the entire situation.

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

MR. A. REID: It gives me a great chance, Mr. Speaker, to talk about the inequities in our system. Let me just give you another fact. This is two or three times I have had this opportunity to do it, and I hope the Opposition keeps doing this because it gives me a chance to compare, Mr. Speaker, private market housing in this Province - these statistics were provided to us and they are backed up by Statistics Canada. Two senior citizens in this Province living on the basic Old Age Pension and the Supplement, without any pension from any individual source, the average income for those two senior citizens is $15,881. That is the income for two senior citizens.

Mr. Speaker, a mother with one child, or a father with one child, two people, the average income is $8,692. Now I am going to say it again: $15,881 for two seniors; a single parent - single mother or single dad - with one child, the average income in this Province is $8,692.

Mr. Speaker, if there is anything this side of the House should be doing, it is trying to help those types of people, those single parents, those poorer parents who I consider to be a lot worse off. In fact, the senior citizen - and I agree that the senior citizen needs and deserves appreciation - they have gone through and they have paid their dues, but the problem that I have with it is that here am I, being asked by the Opposition - because who they are getting the calls from, and that is who they are getting the petitions from, from the senior citizens - and they are shaking their heads over there, I have problems with it and I don't know how to handle it.

AN HON. MEMBER: And the working poor, Minister.

MR. A. REID: The working poor. Well, the working poor are the people to whom I am referring. A single parent with one child, $8,600 a year that person has. That is an average, and those are true figures. I can give you those. Compare the two and see, Mr. Speaker, I have a problem with that. I have a real dilemma with me, as minister, trying to adjust or readjust social housing for senior citizens when I know that we have so many people out in our communities around this Province - especially here in St. John's - who are making $8,000 and $9,000 a year and, you know what, cannot get into social housing.

Can you imagine me saying to somebody living in private housing right now that, `If you came in we would charge you 29 per cent - not 30 per cent - and we would provide you housing. Not only would we charge you 29 per cent; we would give you $115 on top of that to help pay your heating bill.' How would they feel? What would their answer be?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: Good question. I have been here since 1989, and all I have heard from the Opposition is, `What is the Housing Corporation doing in the business of housing?' That is all I have heard.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: I have been pressured and pressured and pressured to do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: What are we doing?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: No, that is not what he said. That is not social housing down in Pleasantville. Mr. Speaker, that is the dilemma I'm in. I will say to the hon. gentleman, I said in this House categorically that it would take me a couple of weeks. I ask the hon. gentleman, with all sincerity, not being critical and not trying to do anything, I'm having trouble getting my mind, grasping the fact that people are living in our social housing units getting as much as $25,000 and $30,000 a year, when I have constituents out there making $6,000, $7,000 and $8,000 and are living in squalor. I have problems with that.

Give me the time. I don't know. It may take me another week to do. I've got some meetings scheduled this week on it. I'm going over it with the Housing Corporation. I'm not sure what we did was the way we should have done it. Let me look at every aspect of it. As soon as I possibly can I will come back with a report to the House.


Orders of the Day


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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I call Order No. 21, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act," Bill 42.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act". (Bill No. 42)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to speak to the second reading of Bill 42, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act" of Newfoundland.

I would first like to say how pleased I am today to see in our galleries the fourteen nurse practitioner students who are here today. I would like to identify their name and their home town, even though they will probably be, some of them, working in other areas of the Province: Cathy Anstey from Twillingate; Paul Briffett from Mount Moriah; Mona Clarke from Burnt Islands; Paulette Critchley from Port Saunders; Tracy Ellsworth from Port au Choix; Patricia Kelsall from Happy Valley-Goose Bay; Beverely McIsaac from Port aux Basques; Kimberley Pardy from Goose Bay; Donna Parsons from Port aux Basques; Angela Pelley from Durrell; Carolyn Rideout from Twillingate; Mollie Spence from Norris Point; Leela Subramaniam from Labrador; and Trena Warren from Harbour Breton.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: As well, I would like to acknowledge the other representatives from the nursing community and the medical community who were able to join us today for this reading.

This bill will provide a framework for the introduction of nurse practitioners to the health profession sector of Newfoundland and Labrador. As many of you will remember, back after the Health Forum the whole issue of nurse practitioner was raised as one way to help address the issues in health care, particularly in rural Newfoundland, albeit all over the Province. It was an issue that was raised of great importance, one the public had spoken to quite favourably and one that was supported by the public. Therefore today, after that announcement in May, I speak today to the second reading.

This is only one of the many number of responses that were made to the Health Forum in May. By introducing legislation to amend the Registered Nurses Act, nurse practitioners will operate as part of a multi-disciplinary team to health care delivery. This will expand, I believe, to enhance not only the health services in rural Newfoundland, but all over Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nurse practitioners originally will work out of three multi-disciplinary teaching and service units. While these multi-disciplinary teaching and service units are a pilot project, the nurse practitioner program is not a pilot project. In fact, it will allow nurse practitioners to work throughout Newfoundland in the coming months and years ahead.

I would also like to say at the outset that a nurse practitioner is in no way designed to replace physicians. Nurse practitioners could never replace physicians and the valuable work physicians do. In fact, they will work as part of a team to enhance both the lifestyle of physicians and of course the health services to the people of our Province.

Nurse practitioners will receive special designation on their annual nursing licence to practice, following completion of a course of study being offered at the Centre of Nursing Studies in St. John's.

Nurse Practitioners will work within a set of regulations that are being designed and developed in collaboration with a number of health professionals including physicians, pharmacists, health care providers and consumers, as well as other nurses and curriculum experts in the Province. This set of regulations that is being developed right now, will allow nurses to practice within that scope of practice to enhance and make the delivery of services more stable in our Province.

The agreement on internal trade mandates that all professions, both in the health sector and elsewhere, must move forward towards a quality of qualifications over the next three to five years in order to live up to commitments made in the enhancement of the labour mobility among provinces in Canada and indeed North America. This particular Nurse Practitioner program as we know it today is a transitional program, is one that will evolve over time and will again be developed to meet the needs of various communities. The Nurse Practitioner program that is being taught and offered right now is a primary health care Nurse Practitioner program, and it will be made available to these fourteen Nurse Practitioners who will go back to the various boards and work in those areas.

This particular program is one, I think, that is very important at this point in time, and as I said, it is a transitional program which will change over time. It is designed now, based on a curriculum with courses such as Health Assessment, Advance Clinical decision-making, Pharmacology and Physical Assessment. What we have done in this particular case, Mr. Speaker, is that we have taken experienced nurses, people who have worked in their communities for a number of years, and we are upgrading their knowledge and skills to be able to work as part of this team. This is the first step in a long-term process which will, I believe, at the end of the day, create a number of different programs for Nurse Practitioners to avail of. So this particular class will graduate in the fall and again, I believe, will serve as a template for other nurse practitioners to follow, and this legislation will also allow nurse practitioners from outside the Province to come here and work.

I think, from the names of the home towns that I have referred to, you can tell that many of these home towns are part of boards that represent, in some cases, very isolated communities in our Province. Some of these nurse practitioners will go back to even more remote areas and will work through part of a multi-disciplinary team. I think, as we move towards the health delivery services of the future - and I have talked about this most recently in the rural health forum - that we are going to have to look more and more on the clustering of health professionals as we try to deliver services. We understand in our Province that we do have a shortage of physicians and I think we have to do a lot of things to try to enhance the lifestyle of physicians and to try to both attract and retain physicians in all parts of our Province.

The Nurse Practitioner program, as I mentioned, is one that will evolve and, I believe, will form a very vital component to the delivery of health services in Newfoundland. Many years ago, in the 1970s, a Nurse Practitioner program was also put in place but, Mr. Speaker, there was never the legislation put there to allow nurses to practice within their scope of practice, and this will provide that opportunity for nurses. When I think of the various communities, for example, that could avail of a nurse practitioner; I think it is a very important step for all of us.

Hand in hand, with this type of health care deliverer, I think is something also very important and that is, the whole concept of tele-medicine and how we have improved over the years on our delivery of health services through technology. Again, at the rural health forum, an example was given of an injury that was sustained at the Hibernia platform, whereby one of the employees had actually injured his hand. The physician who was able to look at the injury via tele-medicine had actually a better view of the injury than was able to be provided through the naked eye. So, I think when you look at the possibility of distance and what we can achieve through technology, it is quite obvious that this is definitely a step in the right direction.

We are also doing other projects which will enhance this type of delivery. For example: we are doing tele-diagnosing with respect to specialists' services particularly in the area of child psychiatry.

I think it is also an excellent opportunity to say that the Nurse Practitioner program is really not a new concept in this Province, and I think I would be remiss if I did not recognize and acknowledge the valuable work that has been done in the northern part of our Province for the last number of years by the Grenfell Association and, as they were commonly called, the Grenfell nurses.

I can say, from Flower's Cove all up the Northern Peninsula, and all up the Coast of Labrador, we have had absolutely excellent health services provided by nurses who worked really as nurse practitioners for the most part but are called regional nurses. They worked as part of a team and, in fact, did have the ability to do functions such as limited prescribing as part of a team.

I think we should all acknowledge the valuable work by our nurses and physicians who worked in the northern and more remote parts of our Province, and acknowledge that work today as we talk about this very important milestone, as I would say, as we introduce second reading of this amendment to the nurse practitioner Act.

I would like to go through the various subsections of this Act to point out what these change will involve as we move through the various clauses of Bill 42.

Clause 1 would add a definition of `nurse practitioner' to the Act and would provide clarification of the definition of `minister' under that Act.

Clause 2 is a consequential amendment to the clarification of the definition of `minister'.

Clause 3 would permit the issuance of an enhanced annual licence for the nurse practitioner. This clause expands the existing section 8 of the Registered Nurses Act which will define the basic qualifications necessary to attain a nurse practitioner designation, and includes the ability of that council to issue a licence to a person who has sufficient knowledge and skills through educational and practical experience to warrant the designation, although having not taken the nurse practitioners course of study.

I think this particular clause again speaks to the valuable work done in a number of areas of our Province. I refer particularly to Grenfell, but there are other areas in our Province - for example, another one that comes to mind is Change Islands - where we have had the expertise of nurses practising in collaboration with physicians. This clause would allow the Council of Registered Nurses to provide an opportunity for these nurses to do a prior learning assessment and a challenge exam, and all the other necessary requirements, proving they have both the knowledge and skills to work as a nurse practitioner. And in many cases, it will be just a continuance of the very valuable work they are able to do.

This provision will also allow for both the licensure of nurse practitioners from other jurisdictions as well as for allowing the possibility of some regional northern nurses achieving the nurse practitioner designation in recognition of their level of experience and expertise.

Clause 4 would permit the council to approve schools of nursing if certain requirements are met. As you know, the Council of Registered Nurses is responsible for the protection of the public, to enhance the safety of the public as it applies to the practices of nurses and, in this particular case, nurse practitioners.

This clause is an enhancement of the existing section 9 and will allow the council to approve schools of nursing which offer the expanded programs for nurse practitioner designation as well as offering courses in the basic educational nursing programs.

Clause 5 would describe the powers of a nurse practitioner under this Act, and by an inclusion of a new subsection 11.1, the basic powers and responsibilities of a nurse practitioner are outlined. They include:

"(a) communicating to a patient or that person's substitute decision-maker a diagnosis made by that nurse practitioner identifying a disease or disorder which may be identified from

(i) the patient's health history,

(ii) the findings of a health examination performed by the nurse practitioner; and

(iii) the results of any laboratory or other tests the nurse practitioner is authorized to perform;

(b) order the application of a form of energy prescribed by the regulations;" A form of energy refers to tests such as x-ray, for example.

"(c) order laboratory or other tests prescribed by the regulations; and

(d) prescribe a drug designated in the regulations."

Clauses 6 to 11 are amendments related to the licensure of nurse practitioners under the Act. These amendments are either minor word additions or changes in sections that are referenced and necessitated by the inclusion of nurse practitioners under the Registered Nurses' Act.

Clause 12, Mr. Speaker, would provide for regulations which may be made by the council if approved by the minister. By the addition of subsection 22.1, the specific regulations needed to provide the substantive framework for the scope of practice for nurse practitioners is provided for. The regulations will define the prescribing powers of nurse practitioners for prescribing different forms of energy. As I previously said, this would include, for example, x-rays that the nurse practitioner may order, as well as for purposes in the form of energy which may be applied. As well, the regulations will prescribe the laboratory tests and all the others as I have previously indicated.

In addition, the regulations, as I have identified, will generally describe both the standards and the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, in recognition of the importance of the input of certain stakeholders. This is certainly a new amendment that was made after consultation with a number of the various groups involved in the health care field. The Council of the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland, in developing regulations for nurse practitioners, will consult with a committee of health professionals including physicians, pharmacists and others as appointed by the minister. When the council has formulated its regulations, following consultation with that committee, the regulations will be presented for the approval of the minister.

Clauses 13 to 18 are consequential amendments, Mr. Speaker, to other provincial statutes. They include; the Emergency - Medical Aid Act, the Fatalities Investigation Act, the Nursing Assistants Act, the Optometry Act and the Pharmaceutical Association Act. The consequential amendments are necessary to include the words, `nurse practitioner' in the above-noted statutes where previously only the word, `nurse' appeared. In the case of the Pharmaceutical Association Act, 1994, it is necessary to include a specific reference to nurse practitioners to allow pharmacists to accept prescriptions written by a duly licensed and qualified nurse practitioner.

Clause 19, Mr. Speaker, provides for proclamation date to be fixed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks today on the second reading by saying that, first of all, I believe that the multi-disciplinary teaching and service units will provide an excellent environment for nurse practitioners to begin their work and to have the provided support that they will need in carrying out the very valuable work that is necessary to stabilize health services in our Province. I also think it is important to restate that this is a transitional program. The nurse practitioner program is not designed in any way to replace the valuable work of physicians and, in fact, is designed to assist positions in improving the overall delivery of health services to the people of our Province.

I would conclude by thanking the centre for nursing studies, all the various associations involved and the students who have taken on the challenge, the first students of the nurse practitioner program. I welcome your courage in taking this program and going back to the various communities, to which you have served already in many cases as practising nurses for a number of years, to continue your valuable work in an expanded role in collaboration with physicians and other health care providers. I thank you for that and I would invite my other colleagues to speak on this very important matter today.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take a few minutes today to talk about Bill 42. First of all, before I do that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the people who have committed themselves to do this particular course in Newfoundland and Labrador. Unfortunately, we did not find out that this particular bill was going to be called until about 12:00 or 12:30 today but I would certainly like to welcome them to our galleries and to thank them for certainly taking up the challenge of these duties as it relates to, particularly, I guess, rural Newfoundland and parts of Labrador for which we seem to have some difficulties from time to time getting medical doctors. So this, for these particular areas, I am sure will be welcome.

I have read through the Act and I will say to the minister that we, on this side of the House, have no problem whatsoever with this particular piece of legislation. We welcome this legislation, Minister, to create nurse practitioners in Newfoundland and Labrador. We welcome it. Having gone through it I find that where we are changing most of the subsections, what we are putting in is probably more house-keeping to create nurse practitioners. In actual fact, I really did not find anywhere where we were actually making any major change to the Act that was already there. I think most of what is here is actually to add to and not take away from.

Again, I do not really have any problem with that in most of the sections. These people will, of course - I am assuming, if the minister would permit a question, that these people will have to go through, in this case, the council, which the council being referred to, I am assuming, is the Nurses' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. They will have to write exams and, of course, will have to get their designations from this particular council. Am I right, Minister, in assuming that?

MS J. M. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Pardon? I cannot hear you, I am sorry.

MS J. M. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, if you could answer that for me now, please, if I might, Mr. Speaker.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

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

There is a designated course of study and skills which would have to be completed, and in order for a nurse practitioner to get her or his licence to practice and deliver safe practice to the public she or he would have to meet the set out regulations and guidelines that are in place. Those regulations are yet to be formulated, as you know.

This particular legislation provides the framework for the development of the regulations which will govern the practice and identify the scope of practice of a nurse practitioner. Once a nurse practitioner graduates, she or he has to practice within that scope of practice. If she or he goes outside that scope of practice, then they will be liable and they will be treated by the courts in a way that any reasonably prudent nurse practitioner would have acted under those particular circumstances. That is how it is judged and regulated.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Madam Minister.

Again by leave, if I might. Minister, I have also noticed there the section that deals with interpretation forbidding or allowing a nurse practitioner from another province to come into Newfoundland and Labrador. Am I assuming by this particular section that they will only be able to come in here, care for the patient they are here with, and that they will not be allowed to practice in the Province? Am I clear on that in this legislation?

MR. HARRIS: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MS J. M. AYLWARD: That, too?

MR. FRENCH: Yes, if -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: By leave if you would, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, this is second reading debate here. It is not Committee where you can have a question and answer period. We are just talking about the broad general principles of the bill. I know people are anxious to speak on the general principles, and this can be done better in Committee, I think.


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

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

MR. TULK: Of course, if we wish we can have questions by leave, but the hon. gentleman is essentially right, that those types of questions should be put during Committee stage of the bill. But if, indeed, there is leave to get this done and get it out of the way, then - I mean, the object of the thing is to get the bill passed so that the nurse practitioners of this Province, I understand, can call themselves by what they are. If that can be expedited, then they have leave on this side, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

We, on this side, encourage the kind of exchange that is going on right now whereby there are questions being asked by the critic for health, and there are people in the gallery who probably would like to listen to this exchange back and forth. It is helpful to all hon. members, and we, on this side, encourage that at second reading. We can have further questions at Committee. Right now, we think it is helpful to continue the process that is going on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, we are at second reading and the broader principles of the bill should be debated at this stage, but the hon. the minister, I believe, in introducing the bill, made reference to a number of clauses in the bill. The hon. the Opposition critic has asked some questions and the minister has asked leave and the House has given leave. If the House wishes to continue in that vein, by leave, then the hon. the minister can answer questions.

Order, please!

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is -

MR. TULK: Oh you are not finished, I am sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the minister does not have to answer the questions at this point in time, but if she so desires and the House gives her leave, well, then, the Chair, of course, has to go along with the consensus of the House.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: I have this question for the minister. I can ask it now or I can save it for Committee - it really makes no difference. But I thought, to expedite this bill, if I could ask the questions now and the minister could answer me, it would not necessitate my asking it again. That was the last question, the one I just asked the minister. I think the minister wants to answer that question for me, if she would.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS J. M. AYLWARD: By leave?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: With respect to your question, this Act would not limit only nurse practitioners graduating from this program. This would allow nurse practitioners from outside the Province to come in here to practice, but they would have to practice within the scope identified within the regulations. They could not practice within the scope of practice from Ontario. They have to practice within the scope of practice that we have from within our Province here and those regulations are being developed by a group of physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and various other participants in that committee to develop the regulations and each regulation will be specific to govern the scope of practice.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, want to make a few comments. I will keep them fairly brief.

I know we were not certainly aware until just after lunch being called today, we had an opportunity, of course, to go through that rather quickly. I am sure, in Committee, also in defence of my colleagues, certainly in Committee we will have an opportunity to ask questions further.

Overall, I certainly agree with this bill. I think it is important that we move forward. I think it is a progressive piece of legislation where nursing practitioners are able to take on responsibilities over and above those that they would be performing as an RN or with a bachelor of nursing. I have always been a strong believer that, what someone is required to perform and the certain skills should be in line with the training they receive, not necessarily what letters or what structures are put behind their name that really represent, I guess, their training level, but it is important that nurses take on added responsibility and the training is appropriate to deal with those new skills. I am all for that, whether it be nursing assistants taking on responsibility for which they have this training and they have the ability to perform. I am a strong believer in it.

I feel the purpose of all of this is that we can provide an important service out there to the public. We are short by around eighty doctors out in rural Newfoundland today, unfilled positions, some unfilled so long they are not even considered vacant, I might add, and with the ever-increasing role for nurses today, I think it is very important.

I certainly applaud the initiatives of those people who have sought to pursue the training as nursing practitioners. I think it is very, very important that we have people out there with that initiative to take on added responsibilities and to be able to provide a service to the public in areas where it is very, very difficult to find medical doctors to perform it. If our legislation - and certainly, the legislation here is entitling us to go a step beyond that, and we always have to look, not just rest where we are today, but always look for new avenues and new opportunities where people with the skills can broaden their scope of responsibilities that we provide to the people.

We have a shifting of demographics in this Province today, which is making it very, very difficult to be able to provide a service to rural Newfoundland. Some of the names that the minister referred to, I have noticed in the communities, they are scattered all over this Province. I think it is very important that we look at developing those skills to be able to care for people where it is not always practical. There are communities where the numbers have declined so significantly today that you cannot get doctors to go there on a fee for service; you have a job getting doctors for these communities to even go out on a salary basis.

It is important that we have added this, and I am delighted that it has moved forward. It is a progressive piece of legislation and it is important, too, in the controls and regulations of what the specific responsibilities are -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Whatever the minister is saying - I am not sure what he is saying. I say to the minister, it is an important, it is a very responsive piece of legislation, more responsive then some I have seen come from that minister, I might add, so I would compliment the minister for moving on this. I think it is important, as I was saying before I was interrupted, that we have controls, too, and we have approvals - and I know it is subject to the minister - approvals that will be in line with the responsibilities they carry out.

We have to ensure the goal of this is for public protection and public service, and ensure that the steps taken to ensure that people are certified to perform, have gone through, and the minister is satisfied that it meets those particular standards. I am sure the curriculum in what is being offered here is certainly in line with the responsibilities they are being asked to perform that are clearly articulated.

Certainly, on behalf of this side, I will not delay any further. We will have a chance in clause-by-clause, as we get to Committee, to look at each particular clause in case we have any further questions, but overall, it is a good piece of legislation and I support it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, today, I stand in support of Bill 42, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act" at this second reading.

Many people in the House may not know that I am a nurse by profession and, of course, my background is in community health nursing. I remember, back in the early 1970s, when I had to leave this Province to go to Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia in order to receive the necessary training. So I am really pleased to be able to stand here today to support this bill, because now, this training will be available in this Province. It has been for public health nurses and community health nurses for many years now, but I am particularly pleased that again, we are training nurse practitioners in this Province. This is a big step forward for the nursing profession and a big step forward for rural health care.

In this Province, we have a proud history of nurses pioneering health care changes, and as we move towards a new enhanced team approach to health care, in particular for our rural areas, I feel that the nurse practitioner will be a really important part of the team.

Newfoundland and Labrador has long provided the example for others to follow in designing health care programs for rural populations, and I think many of us who have studied health care history in the past - I know as a student, I was very surprised when I did this course of study in years gone by, to realize that our cottage hospital system was one of the best health care models in the world and was copied in particular by many of the Scandinavian countries, and I now feel that this is also a program, this team approach and this new Nurse Practitioner program, that will be copied by others.

As I listened to the Minster of Health outline where the students who were with us today in the gallery come from, I know that from all over the Province and in particular areas like Port Saunders and Port au Choix, but in particular in areas like Twillingate, Durrell, which is in the same area, and Port aux Basques, these are the areas where we want to do the first pilot projects and to implement this first program.

As the Minister of Health stated, this is not a new concept. In 1969, when I was a second-year nursing student, I worked an internship period in Musgrave Harbour with the most famous and highly regarded nurse on The Strait Shore I should say, Nurse Cuff. This person worked as a regional nurse in Bonavista North for many, many years and inspired many of today's nurses who are presently working in our public health system and our regional nurses and our community health nurses. Today, the nurses in our gallery who are here to hear the debate on this bill will have better tools and better back-up systems to assist them in their day-to-day work.

They will have doctors -

MR. TULK: `Sandra', her name is Norma Cuff.

MS KELLY: Norma Cuff, right. We always only knew her as Nurse Cuff and we were all trying to remember her first name, and it was Norma Cuff, a legendary nurse. But as I was saying, the nurses who are in today's Nurse Practitioner programs will have better tools and better back-up systems to assist them, whether it be technology or the other members of their health care team. They will be a part of a team that includes other nurses, doctors, social workers and other professionals in our health care system.

I look forward to the passage of this bill, Mr. Speaker, and to the graduation of this class in the upcoming year. We are blazing new trails in this Province, and this group of nurses in particular is blazing new trails. I fully endorse this new process, and I know that it will be good for health care for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, but in particular rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am not going to take a lot of time today to speak on this bill. I will compliment the minister on bringing forth this bill to introduce nurse practitioners to the Province.

It is not really a new concept. The nurse practitioners worked in northern Newfoundland for many years and, of course, we know they were very beneficial to the people at that time. To me, personally, I have been, over the past number of years, been treated by nurses in the Health Sciences Centre on many occasions and have had discussions with many nurses on this topic. I think, in the long haul, this is going to be a good move for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular rural Newfoundland.

Presently, nurse practitioners are recognized in other parts of Canada, in the U.S., and all over the world, so basically, we are just catching up with the times.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why are we so slow?

MR. J. BYRNE: I do not know why we are so slow. I am not in government, I cannot answer that.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the nurse practitioners will provide cost-effective quality health care in rural Newfoundland. The role of the nurse practitioner is endorsed by the Canadian Nurses' Association. We know that in rural Newfoundland today there is an acute shortage of general practitioners. We know that government is having a lot of problems trying to get doctors to come to rural Newfoundland, and I think the nurse practitioner will go a long way with respect to resolving that problem.

I have just a couple of little things here I would like to read into the record with respect to nurse practitioners and what they will mean to different individuals within the Province.

Nurse practitioners, to the patients, offer expert quality health care by experienced nurses who have committed themselves to remaining a part of the community - a very important concept.

To the physicians, they offer an opportunity for access to a supportive, knowledgeable colleague with whom to work in a complementary role. The nurse practitioners are not going to be taking the place of doctors, but they can certainly alleviate some of the workload and help the people in rural Newfoundland in particular. Also, to the communities, they offer hope that the challenge of caring for the sick, the elderly, and all the citizens of the community can be carried out in a more efficient, comprehensive manner.

As I said earlier, I had some discussions with nurses recently on this issue. As a matter of fact, I have a niece who is a nurse, who is doing some courses at University, and just did a paper on nurse practitioners in the Province. She interviewed me with respect to what I felt were the issues, and what concerns I had with respect to it. From all I can see, introducing nurse practitioners to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is a positive action. I told her so. I read her report afterwards, and it is obvious that the nurses themselves are pleased that this will take place. We have, I think, fourteen here in the gallery today who are doing the course and will be out in the near future, I assume, in different positions or in different areas of the Province to assist physicians and to do what they have been trained to do with respect to the course they have taken.

All I want to do is stand today and let people know that I certainly support the bill in this House today that was introduced by the Minister of Health. I know the minister has been given a hard time, in recent times, from members of this House with respect to health care in the Province, but I think this is a good step that will go a long way in alleviating some of the concerns and the problems that the people have in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, before `His Worship' Mr. Harris speaks, I would like to say a few words on this bill.

First, I want to congratulate the hon. the Minister of Health for having the foresight to bring forward this particular piece of legislation today. I must confess, when I was Minister of Health we did toy with the idea of bringing forth such legislation but the torch was passed to the present minister, who of course, is bringing it forward.

As hon. members know, I grew up in the Grenfell Region. So I am familiar with the regional nurse, who for all intents and purposes was a nurse practitioner. So when I look at this legislation and see the definition of a nurse practitioner - well Part I is a registered nurse who successfully completed a course of study but Part II, a nurse who, in the opinion of the council, has knowledge and skill sufficient as prescribed by the regulations to be licensed to practice as a nurse practitioner under this act.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the effect of that is going to be that a lot of nurses, who have been practising as regional nurses with Grenfell, will be able to use much of their experience to count towards being certified as a nurse practitioner. Now it does not mean that they will automatically be grandfathered or grandmothered in but it does mean that many of the skills that they have practised, much of the experience that they have will indeed be useful to them. In some cases they may have to do a little bit of training, in more cases they indeed might be grandfathered or grandmothered in and I like that part of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I want to give a few living examples of how it feels to grow up in an area where the only health care, which is known to you, is the health care which is delivered by the local nurse. When I grew up Roddickton - I was born in 1941, Mr. Speaker, in the hospital in St. Anthony and they rushed me as fast as they could to Roddickton where the only health practitioner was a nurse. At that time I believe, Mr. Speaker, we only knew them by their last names, as the hon. House Leader pointed out, and they were all British. There was Nurse Slobe, there was Nurse Rhodes and there was Nurse Catell and the list goes on and on, Mr. Speaker.

I remember the very first time that I was old enough to be exposed to the health care system. Now I was exposed to it before I could remember but the first time I can remember, I was about five years old. I was living in Roddickton and Nurse Catell was giving the whooping cough vaccination. Now everybody was in danger of being struck down with whooping cough if they did not have this vaccination. My poor old mother, she was in her heyday then, she was probably in her thirties. She was a very strong powerful woman. I was not, by no means, near the size that I am today. So she decided, against my better judgement, that she was going to take me down and have this vaccination. My two brothers tried their best to encourage me. One brother said: well you know, it is an awful big needle. It's about as big as a four inch nail. Well that got me frightened, Mr. Speaker, and then my other brother said: no, it's as big as a pick pole. Now I don't know if any of you in the logging industry are familiar with a pick pole but a pick pole is a pretty big needle to put into a five year old child.

So anyway I did not want to go and my poor old mother, she put the headlock on me and she dragged me across the kitchen. The last thing I can remember grabbing was the leg of the table. So she dragged me and the table all the way across the kitchen, out through the door and of course the table brought up in the kitchen door. So my strength was not as much as hers, she broke me loose and she carried me kicking and screaming down to the nursing station and I was exposed to the health care system, Mr. Speaker, and got this needle. It was not quite as big as a four inch nail nor as big as the pick pole but it was a fairly large needle. Anyway, I have not had the whooping cough so I assume it must have worked.

The other thing which nurses used to do when I was growing up was pull teeth. One of the first doctors who came to visit - the Member for Baie Verte is here - one of the doctors from Baie Verte, who came down from the mainland who practised in the hospital in Baie Verte, was there about a week when a local fellow came in to have a tooth pulled. The doctor said: I am sorry, sir, I can't pull your tooth that is a dentists' job. The old guy looked at him: you can't pull teeth? No, he said: I can't pull teeth. How did you go to college or whatever you do?' Well he said seven or eight years. He said: we got nurses who pull teeth and if you can't pull my teeth I am going to get a nurse to pull my tooth. And that is quite true. I can tell you people - I was spared that but my brother was dragged all over the nursing station in Roddickton because he had a wisdom tooth, which today no dentist would touch. They would take you to a doctor. They would take you and probably put you under an anaesthetic to have your tooth removed. Nurses used to do that in Roddickton when I grew up, Mr. Speaker.

Suturing; I got the surprise of my life when I learned that it was doctors who were supposed to suture. How many stitches in the name of God did Nurse Rhodes and Nurse Catell put in people. She sewed up dozens of people, Mr. Speaker.

Delivering babies, they call it midwifery now. One woman in Roddickton had twenty-two children. Nurse Rhodes and Nurse Catell and Nurse Slobe I believe it was; she went through three nurses and they had twenty-two children. All of them lived. They could prescribe anything under the sun, a broken arm, a broken leg. They could put on a cast. Now it is no good to go to a GP. You have to go to - what is the guy called who puts on the cast? An ortho-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: An ortho -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: It is a fancy name, isn't it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Nurses in Roddickton could put on casts, nothing to it.

I remember poor old Simon Castle. Simon Castle died just last year at the age of seventy-five years. Simon Castle had one leg. You would see poor old Sim walking up the road. He had his leg torn off in a sawmill in Roddickton when he was eighteen years old. There was no doctor - a nurse. They got him to the nurse with his leg torn off, the blood going everywhere. The arteries were all torn away. You know, the fastest way to get him to St. Anthony where there was a doctor, where there were operating rooms, was by the old tub, the Glennifer. The nurse took him, wrapped him up, and managed to put the pressure on there to stop the blood. They rushed him to St. Anthony Hospital on board the Glennifer, six miles and hour, sixty miles away, ten hours. They saved him. He lived until he was seventy-five years old, and died a natural death.

The nurses also trained doctors. Now, this is one of the parts in which I believe they play a very important role in Grenfell. Up north, many of the doctors who come to practice -

MR. TULK: Chris, you're married to a nurse, aren't you?

MR. DECKER: I have been sleeping with a nurse for thirty years, Sir.

The doctors who come to the north quite often are not from Newfoundland. Many of them are mainland doctors, some of them are British doctors, and some of them are from other parts of the world. One of the things which the nurses have to teach doctors is how to understand the language, how to understand what the patients are talking about.

Can you imagine a doctor just newly arrived from South Africa, and he is having his first clinic, and in comes a local patient to see the doctor, and he says, `Doctor, I can't glutch.' Now the doctor looks at his face and says, `I beg your pardon, Sir?' `Doctor, I can't glutch.' He looks at the nurse, and the nurse says, `Doctor, the gentleman has a problem with his throat; he cannot seem to swallow'. `Oh, of course.'

Then the one who comes in with a k'itch in his side, and the one with the pain in the kinkhorn, and the husband who comes in looking for a prescription for his wife and says, `Doctor, my wife is a bit mopish today. I wonder, can you give me something for her?'

This is all foreign language to those South African and British and Canadian and American doctors who come in.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: A kinkhorn, that thing there. I don't know. There might be a fancy name on it, but it is a kinkhorn.

I want to say to this hon. House that I congratulate the minister for bringing forth legislation which will finally catch up with what the regional nurses in Grenfell have been doing since 1892. I support this legislation strongly, and I say to the hon. minister, my colleague, when I take my heart attack - and I hope to God I don't take one, but if I don't change my lifestyle and if I don't stop buying bigger clothes instead of losing weight, some day I am going to take a heart attack.

MR. EFFORD: You had better take a seal oil tablet.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, if and when - if I ever take a heart attack, do you know where I hope I am? I hope I am in Roddickton so that I can be rushed to the local nursing station there and the nurses can stabilize me. If they can't stabilize me, I probably would end up being paralysed anyway, so I would much rather go on and meet my reward in some further life. I would rather be where those nurse practitioners are to stabilize me, and if anything can further be done, rush me off to somewhere where they have the various facilities. I support this legislation 100 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If the nurses have to stabilize that member, they must have their hands to be sure, whether he had a heart attack or not. Whether he had a heart attack or not, stabilizing the minister might be a difficult task.

I'm pleased to be able to speak on this bill today because it is something that concerns me quite a bit. I'm glad that the previous speaker mentioned that this is not a new issue to the Ministry of Health. He as Minister of Health would know, and some of the other ministers who have been here since I've been here, will know that I have been in Estimate Committees pushing the ministry on the issue of nurse practitioners.

It is kind of interesting to hear the debate today when the speakers are praising the work of nurses in rural Newfoundland, and no one has really asked or tried to answer the question: Why are we, in 1997, introducing a bill to allow something that has been going on since 1892? What has been going on for the last 100 years? Have we been afraid to put into writing what nurses have been able to do and contribute to the medical profession and to the care of people for the last 100 years? Have we been afraid to do that? Or has there been some other reason?

I suspect there has been some other reason. We have had, we know, in Labrador, and in the Grenfell region, shall we say, nurses carrying out the duties of nurse midwives, of nurse practitioners, primary health care givers, and doing a terrific job. It was interesting to hear the minister say, or the previous speaker say, that they were British, that they were from somewhere else. Newfoundland-trained nurses couldn't get jobs in Grenfell because they didn't have the kind of training in midwifery and other things that were done in Labrador (inaudible) matter of course.

I think that this bill that is being presented - now, I have no problem with it. It should have been passed many years ago. The nurses should have been engaged in, on an ongoing basis, throughout this Province, allowed and permitted to do the things they were capable of doing in caring for people. It is I suppose part of the history of the nursing profession, going back to the days of Florence Nightingale, and I'm sure that the nurses in the gallery, as well as the ones who are on the floor of the House, know well the history of Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession.

One of the things that happened along the way, in order to ensure the existence of the nursing profession, is that there came about some sort of relationship between medical doctors and nurses which was to prevent, in many respects, nurses from doing the things they were capable of. I'm sure the nurses in the gallery here, having practised extensively before they undertook this nurse practitioner course, on many occasions would have been standing by and watching things being done perhaps improperly, not adequately, or not being able to be done by them at all because the Registered Nurses Act didn't permit them, or the medical act governing the medical profession, didn't permit them to do the things they were capable of doing, and may well have known better how to do than some of the doctors who would have come their way and be in a particular area.

I don't see this - I know one of the previous speakers - and I don't want to be partisan about this so I won't even say who it was - but one of the previous speakers mentioned how it is great that we are doing this now because we cannot get doctors to go into certain parts of rural Newfoundland.

I do not see it that way, Mr. Speaker - I do not see it as second choice. I do not see it as nurses being now able to do things because we cannot get the real people to go there. I think it is a question of recognizing the ability, recognizing the training, recognizing the competence of the women, mostly - obviously, there are men in the nursing profession as well, but the women, mostly -who have the training, the ability, the experience and can contribute a terrific amount to the medical care of our people, whether they be in rural Newfoundland or urban Newfoundland or somewhere in-between.

Mr. Speaker, it is high time that nurses were recognized for their capability and their ability in playing a role in diagnosis, in playing a role in medications. I know the Minister of Fisheries himself has been doing a bit of prescribing lately.

So, it is not just doctors -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It is not just doctors - there is nothing wrong with doctors - it is not just doctors who have -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Cod liver oil is out.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Seal oil certainly is more beneficial than snake oil and I know the minister has probably had more experience selling snake oil than most members of this House, but he is on to a good thing now, anyway, with seal oil.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: But to be serious for a moment, Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that nurses are very capable of the delivery of primary medical care. We had - I know the minister did not make reference to it, but I am sure she is aware of the pilot project on the Southern Shore where the delivery of primary health care being carried out by nurses, that is something that the previous ministers had used as a means of delaying and bringing this type of legislation - although we are doing it now, we are experimenting, we are doing this study, we are waiting to see what happens.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, we have all known that nurses in this Province have played a very substantial and significant role in primary health care. It is unfortunate that it is so long coming, that we have the recognition here in the legislation, but nevertheless, it is here.

I commend the minister for addressing this issue and I want to direct a few words to the first group who have taken on the nurse practitioner course. I hope and I understand, and I am sure it will, become a part of the regular training program at the schools of nursing at the University for the future because it is a field of nursing that I am sure would be of great interest to, not only those currently in the practice of nursing, but those who aspire to join the nursing profession. I commend them for taking on this course of qualification that will give them the recognition that the Act also gives to nurses in terms of their ability to carry on as nurse practitioners.

As has been indicated, they bring to this course a wealth of experience that they have already in the field, but it certainly is of great value to have a program such as this. I am delighted that the first opportunity to participate in this program has been given to the people from the communities that have been listed by the minister. I saw the program on television the other day, and some of the people who are here in the gallery speaking about the course, and I am delighted that they are able to be here in the gallery to see the legislation receive approval in principle, which is the second reading of the legislation, and to hear members of this House firsthand, speak in glowing terms of the abilities of nurses to carry out this type of practice.

I wish them all well in the field of nursing as nurse practitioners and I hope that this gets integrated very quickly into the nursing program of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to speak in the debate today.

All of the preceding speakers - I do not know if I could ever be as colourful as the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Of course, the fact that he was born in 1941, I think he says, probably speaks to the experience that he brings forward in having dealt with nurses over the years, more so than myself.

Mr. Speaker, it was indeed a pleasure to have been involved with the minister in the health forum previously with a lot of, I suppose, what lead up to the announcement of this program and the development of the situation as it all unfolded, that allowed us to see that this needed to be done now. It is one way to fix a problem. The problem is, of course, that nurses are out there in the public not utilizing all of the skills that they were given when they were trained.

Now, the hon. the Leader of the New Democratic Party did mention something very interesting. He said: Why is it that this has not happened sooner? And a good reason, I suppose, besides the overall scope of practice that had been developed through the medical profession, may also have a lot to do with the legal profession which has put a lot of restrictions on the practice of medicine and the delivery of medical services to the people of the Province and throughout the country. So these issues, of course, are there for all of us to see, and the roles that the nurse practitioners take on. Of course, one of the courses that they are doing as a part of this initial group, is roles and issues, and I guess that will comprise a significant portion of the training of any of the trained nurses here today in the gallery.

Seeing the overall development of this, we have, of course, two nurses in our ranks as members of the government caucus and the roles that they are playing here in government, which is all but a simple part of the overall process of delivering public service to the people of the Province. The issue of replacing the physicians is something that has come up a lot, and I know it is dealt with not only on a provincial basis but also on a local basis in each of the different areas, and that, Mr. Speaker, is certainly something to be noted. I do not feel personally, and I know the majority of the people of the Province, from what we have been able to determine, do not feel that this is any threat whatsoever to the medical community, to the physicians in the medical community; this is an enhancement, it is a way of offering a better quality of life because of the development of multi-disciplinary teams of health professionals, and that is key.

I also note, in having discussed with the nurse practitioners group at the launching that was done a couple of weeks ago, that it is bringing a group of professionals who were seasoned in their jobs, having performed in their capacities throughout the Province, and even their relationship with the instructors is one of, I suppose, professional pure relationship as opposed to that of the relationship between an instructor and first-time medical student or nursing student. It is a key that when some new topics are introduced, I think the instructor would see the heads nodding, as was mentioned to me, to a lot of the issues that they face every day, and to have a group of well-trained students to go forward with this is certainly a key part of the overall success of the program.

Also mentioned at that point, was the issue of these being the pioneers. Even though others have been trained in the practice, the nurse practitioner area over the years, this first group will be the ones, as was mentioned, with arrows in their backs. They will be the ones by which the overall program is judged, the success of the program - that is a burden to carry, but I am sure that each and every one of them will carry it well and will do a good job in bringing this forward to the rural parts of the Province, to the Port aux Basques area, the Twillingate area and also to Labrador in and around the Goose Bay area.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to point out the speed with which this set-up has been done, the speed with which the minister has brought this forward and established it out of the health forum, responding very promptly to the public need, responding promptly to have it established and to have the overall effort brought to the House of Assembly this quickly is, in fact, something that other ministers and other departments certainly can take note of in seeing how quickly this was done.

I think the public will demand more and more the kind of rapid response that this minister has taken in bringing this forward quickly. It is certainly as a part of the overall response of government to the public's needs to do this quickly and not to compromise it in any way, I might add.

The professionals at the Centre for Nursing Studies and throughout the overall nursing community in the Province, having brought together the curriculum in a very rapid form and allowing it to evolve as they go - I am sure there are things, even being here in the House of Assembly today is a key part of the overall offering of this to the nurses involved.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the minister again on bringing it forward. I look forward to its passage and the implementation of the multi-disciplinary teaching units throughout the Province.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Twillingate and Fogo.

MR. G. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, would like to rise and say a few brief words about this bill and to thank the Minister of Health for bringing it forward in a speedy manner.

I would also like to welcome the students of the Nurse Practitioner course to the gallery today, especially the three from Twillingate and Durrell, the district that I represent here in the House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. G. REID: (Inaudible) Mr. Hodder.

Coming from a rural district, representing a rural district here in the House of Assembly, one with two hospitals, one on Fogo Island and one in Twillingate, I know and experience every day some of the problems we are having with the health care system; but one of the biggest, I think, is the pressures that are put on the staff, the doctors and the nurses in these facilities, and especially with regard to the doctors. The pressures that are put on the doctors very often cause a doctor to leave rural Newfoundland, which puts even more pressure on the doctor that remains - pressure that may some day cause that particular doctor to leave.

I think, by introducing this bill to the House in allowing nurse practitioners to practice in this Province, we will alleviate some of the pressures placed on these doctors and allow for them to carry on with their work and do a better job.

Mr. Speaker, I know the three ladies in the gallery today. I know that they worked at the hospital in Twillingate until recently. I hope that once this course is completed they will be re-employed at the hospital, and that they will contribute to the health care system on Twillingate - New World Island.

Again, I would like to thank the Minister of Health for introducing this legislation to the House today. I give it my full support, and I appreciate the fact that both Opposition parties are also giving their support.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise today and have a few words on Bill 42 as well. Certainly, I commend the minister for bringing this forward. It is long overdue. It is certainly needed. It is time that we recognize these people for what they are, and that is professionals who respond to the medical need and play a very necessary role certainly in rural medicine in our Province.

I want today to talk a little bit about the clinics, of course, in my district, in coastal Labrador. Those clinics are staffed by nursing practitioners and public health nurse, and even now we are experiencing great difficulties in filling those positions. We have a lot of shortages there, and anybody involved in nursing in that area can tell you, it is very difficult to provide medical care and assistance in rural, isolated areas of this Province.

In three clinics alone, right now, we are supposed to have nine nursing practitioners there and today we have three. These nurses are moving around from one clinic to the other. They are travelling by aircraft and are travelling by snowmobile in the winter. This is just part of the extra responsibility that is included in providing medical care to these types of communities. So once you become a nursing practitioner or a nurse and you move to rural and remote areas, you not only take on the responsibility of medicine but you also become a counsellor to the people of that community, a volunteer, a pillar, a person who helps comfort and sustain and care within the community. That is a lot of responsibility and they certainly have to be commended and recognized for the role and the achievements that they make to these people.

I would also like to talk a little bit about Grenfell and the fact it was brought up here a couple of times today. Grenfell Regional Health Services has been one of the first medical associations in this Province that pioneered out-post nursing and nursing practitioners in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador. I think they have set a well deserved example that has to be commended. They have done some great things in delivering a level of health care service to remote and rural areas of this Province. I would have very much liked to have seen this program piloted in the Grenfell Region - as they were one of the pioneers of this health care service in our Province - as a recognition and as a commendation to them. So I would just suggest that if we proceed with another pilot project or a project of this sort, that we would look at pioneering it or piloting it in that region.

I also want to say that I am in full support of this bill. I look forward to its passage in the House and becoming legislation. I commend the nurses in this Province who are able to partake in this program and I wish them well. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today, to join in debate and compliment my colleague for bringing forward the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I represent the riding of Torngat Mountains which takes in six isolated communities in Northern Labrador and except for the community of Nain, the other five are operated by nurses. Mr. Speaker, over the years we have gone through some very difficult times. People out in the woods had unfortunate chain-saw accidents. The weather was down and planes could not get in. There was a nurse, who in many times stitched that person up, gave him blood and in many cases she brought him back to life.

I saw an incident where a storm came on and a good friend of mine was caught in a snowstorm. We came back and found him but he was frostbitten to over 40 per cent of his body. There was a nurse in the community who looked after him and brought him back. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, a family member of mine had a very unfortunate accident with his hand and it was three days before he could fly out through Goose Bay and on to the Health Sciences. The people at the Health Sciences told him that the nurse did as good a job as any surgeon could ever do and that is the kind of people that have been working in the outports of Northern Labrador since the turn of the Century.

So, Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope the bill goes through. I compliment the minister for bringing the bill in and certainly if the students of the future have the dedication - and I know they have - of the nurses who serve the isolated communities of Newfoundland and Labrador then I think that the health care in this Province is certainly headed in the right direction.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I am just going to take a few moments because I think everything has been said about the nurses in rural Newfoundland. I would like to compliment the minister on this bill. I would like to ask her today to look at another scope for nurse practitioners and that would be in our emergency rooms in the urban parts of the Province.

I am the mother of six children and I guess I have made a lot of trips to the Janeway for just a simple cut that required a few stitches and that I had to wait for a doctor to see. It would have been far less traumatic both for me and my child, it would have saved a lot of money for the Province and for the health care had a nurse practitioner been on the front line.

So, I would like for the minister to have a look at adding that scope to the nurse practitioners as well.

I would like to congratulate the candidates who are enrolled in the course and welcome their entrance into actual practice.

Thank you, very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now she will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

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

I would like to conclude the debate by again saying how pleased we are today to hear all members support this bill. We look forward to speedy passage.

I would like to conclude by saying that the scope of practice is not precluded in any area of the Province. As we speak today there are nurses doing all kinds of advanced roles at the Health Sciences Centre, first assist to cardiovascular surgery, doing all sorts of advanced practice.

This particular Nurse Practitioner Program speaks to primary health care nurse practitioners and allows them to practice specifically, at this point in time, in rural areas of the Province, but does not in any way preclude them from practising in all areas of the Province, Mr. Speaker.

I would like again to say how much we appreciate today the attendance of the nurse practitioner students, representatives from the various committees, the instructors and other nurses who have worked to make this possible today as we move our health services forward in this Province.

I think that the three multi-disciplinary teaching and service units are ones that we all look forward to because I do believe the clustered model of health service delivery is the only way provinces like us and other provinces in the country will be able to continue to provide the types of health services we need.

We certainly again acknowledge the valuable work of the Grenfell and we believe that what is good enough for Grenfell is certainly good enough for the rest of our Province and we look forward to the day when we have our graduating classes, first graduating classes of nurse practitioners who will be able to practice within the scope of practice having clear regulations and a defined scope of practice that will allow them to enhance the service delivery of health in our Province. I am very pleased to move second reading today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act" read a second time, order referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. DECKER: Order no. 22, that is the second reading of "An Act To Amend The Public Health Act" (Bill No. 43).

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Health Act" (Bill No. 43).

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

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

I am very pleased to rise today to speak to the second reading of Bill No. 43.

As my colleagues will remember in April 1, of this year, we put together a new version of the Health and Community Services, the new department, which would allow various subsections of the now Department of Human Resources and Employment to come to form part of a new department, the Department of Health and Community Services effective April 1, 1998.

This bill essentially provides an amendment to the Public Health Act which will allow our regional community health boards to carry out the delivery of the services that would be required with respect to children's services, family and rehabilitative services and correctional services, Mr. Speaker.

This is all in part to help realign government to work in a more integrated fashion particularly as it relates to children's services, we believe this will provide an opportunity for government to work much more effectively and efficiently by having one department deal with the whole scope, the holistic approach to the delivery of services as it relates to children and also to the disabled community, as well as to seniors.

So, we believe that this is a recommendation that will be favoured very much by all our colleagues in the House because it is one that has been recommended through a number of various committees including the Select Committee On Children's Interests, including other reports that have been written over the years in an effort to amalgamate and integrate services for both the public's easier access and for government's easier delivery.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like just to take a couple of minutes on Bill 43, and to mention I guess a couple of things to the minister. While we have no objection on this side of the House - the Minister of Education is really happy with that today, I notice he smiles every time we say we are in favour - again, we are in favour, I say to the minister of this particular piece of legislation; having read through most of the changes that we have heard. Again, there does not seem to be any major things except maybe housekeeping.

I guess, minister, in probably moving to and if this more or less affects families, again we have no real problem with the particular bill, I have read through most of the changes that are here and as I said, there really does not seem to be anything major in this particular piece of legislation. So, Mr. Speaker, on that note I will sit down and just say that one or two of my colleagues wish to have a few words on this particular bill but other than that, we on this side of the House, will certainly be voting in favour of it.

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

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

I wish to add a few comments to those of what my colleague the critic, has said in his commentary. Just to say that we believe the direction the minister is going and the government is going on this particular issue, is indeed the correct direction.

As the minister alluded to, when we were doing the Select Committee On Children's Interests, which I co-chaired on behalf of all members of the House, there was some concern expressed that we better co-ordinate the delivery of our services to youth and to children, and out in the community, we have to compliment the community health boards because they are the people who are right in the area, right on the front lines and the only thing I will say to the minister is that, when we change the system we are doing, we do it for greater efficiency and better delivery which is what we are talking about.

We have to be careful that, in doing that, make sure there is always adequate funding because funding is always an issue. It is an issue in all aspects of health as the minister is so much aware I am sure, but in doing this the focus should be on the child and on the youth and other people whom we are mandated to serve. This is again a co-ordinated approach. Instead of having delivery come from a great number of agencies within health or within the government itself, within various departments, this is a step that has been taken in other provinces, it is something that I commend the minister for, and we look forward in fact to the new legislation that we hope is coming forward to having a more comprehensive Department of Health and Social Services and all of these things coming together to formulate one approach to people and their needs, not only in health but in other aspects as well, this multi-disciplinary approach but a unified approach, a people-focus approach is indeed, I believe, a step in the right direction and I commend the minister and the government for making those amendments now.

I am sure that later on there will be further amendments coming forward which will again go in the direction that we have discussed at previous times and we commend the minister for bringing this initiative forward right now. It is consistent with the philosophy that I share and which this caucus shares here, again having as much co-ordination as we can to make sure that we have the person or the patient in mind and have a more people-centred approach to health care.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister speaks now she will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said in my opening comments, this amendment to the Public Health Act allows the transfer of control to the delivery of services to the community health and regional boards, which is in keeping with government's reorganization of the Department of Human Resources and Employment with the new department of health and community services. I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Health Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 43)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney general.

MR. DECKER: Order No. 9, Mr. Speaker, "An Act To Enable Information To Be Filed Electronically By Business," Bill 38. I believe the hon. member adjourned debate.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise in my place to say I have very few words on Bill 38. The Minister of Government Services and Lands introduced this bill on Friday morning and took three or four minutes to introduce the bill. I spoke I think twenty-five minutes on it at that time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I think I have probably thirty-five minutes left to speak on this bill. In light of the fact that we have been having such an efficient, effective afternoon in the House of Assembly, I'm just going to say that Bill 38, which requires businesses to have electronic filing in the future, as I stated the other day for over twenty-five minutes, it is progress. It is the way of the future, computerization of businesses.

The only concern I had at the time of course was the privatization of this. Will there be a company set up now in the near future to take over all the computerization of the government offices, such as the mechanics' lien registry, the registry of deeds, the Crown lands registry, and the electronic filing for businesses? I asked the minister or mentioned a few concerns I had on Friday morning with this specific bill.

On that, seeing as it is 4:39 on Monday afternoon and we had three or four bills go and get second reading today, I expect that this bill is going to get second reading also. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would remind the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture I spoke on Bill 37 but not on Bill 38. That is one number higher.

I want to raise a couple of questions, really, and maybe the minister, who had such a short introduction to this particular piece of legislation, now that he has had time to read his notes in the last three days, he might now be able to go and tell the House some of the basic rationale.

One of the things that we want to know is what consultation the government had with what experts there are before it took this initiative, experts within the technology sector. We wanted to wonder if there had been any dialogue with professionals out there before we went this way, and what public discussions the minister has had. In fact, for a government that got elected on the basis of (inaudible) a public dialogue on everything, we haven't seen any public dialogue on this particular initiative at all.

We wanted to also direct some questions to the minister relative to the shift in computerization and its impact on jobs. What is the impact on jobs? And does the minister foresee any lay-offs within the public sector? Have there been opportunities for those people who work in the ministry to upgrade their skills?

One of the things we have to remember is that the answer is not to just lay people off. We have to kind of offer a retraining program. It is easy to boot the people out the door, which the previous administration to this administration was so fond of doing this time of the year. We know what happened in the fall of '95. We know what happened in December, when the Premier came in and said: I am sorry, but there are 450 of you who are going out the door.

We want to say to the current minister, who I find to be really concerned and very compassionate - he has, I think, a feeling for ordinary folks - we want to say to the minister: What provision have you made for retraining? And how many jobs will be lost because of this computerization, if any? In fact, maybe there are jobs going to be created. So we say to the minister: How many jobs will be created? How many jobs will be lost? We want to get an answer to that because many people in Newfoundland and Labrador today want to know the answer to that question because there is concern out there, with all of the computerization taking place, what jobs will be affected.

I want to ask a question as well about hardware costs. The Information Technology comes with a substantial need for new monies, and new technology comes with expenses. We want to find out how much money has been allocated and where it is going to come from. Maybe the minister, in his summary comments, might be able to give us some commentary on the cost to government, the cost of computer hardware, the cost of software, and the cost of training.

With the existing shortage in the capacity in the government's main computer system, we want to know what impact all of this computerization is going to have on the government's main database. When the Budget was done last year, we talked about a three-year budget. Now, when you are talking about a three-year budget, we do not see the three-year plan here. Maybe the minister could talk about what is the three-year plan. If you are going into information technology you had better have a long-term plan because, as they say sometimes, by the time you get using the information, it is already obsolete. So consequently, I ask the minister: What are the plans to continue to upgrade the computerization?

The other thing we want to ask the minister about - maybe you could talk about it a little bit - is the privatization plans. We hear all kinds of rumours that there is going to be a full scale privatization of many of the government services, including all of its registries. I hear comments about many and more services of government being privatized. We know that the government has been privatizing a lot of functions. We know the work that was done by NLCS and that kind of thing, in computerization. Are we continuing to privatize? Is the minister going to privatize the registry system? Because in some provinces they indeed have started that.

We had the questions asked by my colleague here the other day about protection and security to the system, which the member asked here. What protection has the minister put in place to make sure that the system is secure? Now, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would not know too much about computerization. I suppose he can turn on a computer - he might, I don't know. He would not know too much about electronic signatures and all that kind of thing, but it is a case where we know how unreliable he is. We know how the minister - he does know a little bit about fisheries. We know that. He is a good tom cod, but when it comes to computers, I have not seen much evidence that the minister is too informed at all.

What my good colleague here was saying to the minister, who is sponsoring this bill, we want to know about the protection. We want to know whether or not, for example, there is protection against packers and that kind of thing. We want to know how you are going to handle the errors that will occur in filing and in the data entry system.

We also asked questions - my colleague asked this question - about back-up. What is the protection, and what are the procedures in place for back-up of data? And how long will you carry both the hard copy and the computer system?

We wanted to talk, as well - and my colleague asked questions - about accessing, how to access the information, for example, what securities will be in place? Who will be able to access? When will they be able to access? - and the monitoring that will occur.

For example, is the government certain that businesses are ready for the wholesale shift here? Many businesses still are not fully functional in computers. For example, just last year, the Medical Care Commission made it mandatory that doctors would have to send their bills in through computerization. The truth of the matter is, many doctors in rural Newfoundland did not have access to computers and were not online. So doctors found themselves having to go and invest in computers in order to be able to send their bills in to MCP. Some doctors complained about that and they had an alternative. They could have sent their bills in hard copy, but then they would have had to pay extra to have someone at MCP go and put it on computer.

I want to just address that. Will there be some lead time for businesses to be able to file information both in hard copy - because not all of them are totally computerized, although I generally find that many of them now are.

A question was asked of us: What are you going to do with the small businessman who needs to access information but does not have access to a computer system?

Mr. Speaker, with these few questions, we wanted to finally ask two other questions. One was dealing with the penalties that would be imposed for improper use of the electronic database. What penalties are you talking about? We do not see that addressed there the way that it might be.

The other one I wanted to ask a question about was electronic cash. We know section 8 of the bill refers to the use of debit cards and credit cards. What safeguards are in place to protect the integrity of a company's individual passwords and bank and credit accounts?

We know that this information is out there. It should be available. What expert advice do we have to make sure that debit cards and credit cards of individuals and of banks and credit accounts, what procedures are in place to protect the individual passwords?

With these few comments, Mr. Speaker, including again more (inaudible) commentary by the minister on the expert advice. Also assurances to the business community that this change is not going to negatively affect it so it doesn't have to spend a pile of money to be able to gain access to the public service and to government agencies. Also, when they do that, how their interests and the government's interests are safeguarded. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to have a few brief comments before closing debate on the second reading of the bill on electronic filing.

I could stand here and respond to some of the enquiries of the hon. member opposite, but Committee stage is the time that I will deal with those. When we started debate on this particular bill on Friday I noted half a dozen enquiries that they had which I will respond to at the Committee stage. Basically they are all the same as he just gave me, so I don't see any point in running through those again. This is a house-keeping bill. When it comes up at the Committee stage we will deal with the enquiries that the hon. members opposite had for me. I would now conclude second reading on this particular bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Enable Information To Be Filed Electronically By Business," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 38)

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, since it is getting pretty close to 5:00 p.m. I would move that this House will now adjourn.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering if we could have confirmation of tomorrow's schedule. I had some earlier discussions today with the Government House Leader relative to calling the unity debate tomorrow. I'm wondering if the acting, acting Government House Leader might be able to get on stage and tell us whether we are ready for that debate tomorrow or not.

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

MR. DECKER: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, the House Leader briefed the acting House Leader, but he did not brief the acting, acting House Leader. So, I am going to have to wait until tomorrow morning and I will try to get the information for him then.

Thank you.

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