The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin the routine proceedings, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the House of Assembly today, forty students from the following French schools around the Province: Notre Dame du Cap, Eçole St. Anne in the District of Port au Port; Eçole L'onvel in Labrador West; Eçole St. Patrick in St. John's East. These students are accompanied by their teachers: Lyc Cyr; Sonia Ross, Serge Gangon, Marie Claude Genack, Ranya Hebner and Isabelle LeBlanc.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well, we have visiting today twenty-seven Grade VII students from St. Patrick's Hall, Bonaventure Avenue, accompanied by teachers: Paul Edwards, Valerie Wells and Student Assistants: Marilyn Greene and Jason Dominic.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Statements by Ministers


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last December this Legislature amended the Shops' Closing Act. We did so after several unsuccessful court challenges demonstrated government's inability to enforce the law as it existed at that time. We have now moved toward a self-regulating retail sector, more in line with that of other Canadian provinces, thereby removing government's regulation in this regard from the marketplace.

The amendment we put in place recognized that we live in a changing society with changing work patterns. At the time of these changes, government made a commitment to remain responsive to the needs of the public and to monitor the new situation. Mr. Speaker, we are doing just that.

Government has received a number of recommendations including that of Reverend Harvey, the Anglican Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, expressing concern that Easter Sunday would not be a holiday under the Shops' Closing Act this year. It has been suggested that Easter Sunday be treated in a similar fashion to that of Christmas Day and Good Friday, which are, Mr. Speaker, holidays under the Act.

I have discussed these concerns with my colleagues in Cabinet and I am pleased to inform the House today and through the House, to advise the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that Easter Sunday has now been designated as a holiday under section 4(1)(b) of the Shops' Closing Act.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now, if the Premier would only close the stores for the rest of the Sundays, I am sure he would make an awful lot of people in this Province very, very happy.

We still have all kinds of petitions left to present which show the interest that the workers in this Province have in Sunday shopping, and I might say to the Premier today, that it is nice to know that they will have Easter Sunday to spend with their families but there are many other Sundays in the run of a year, Mr. Speaker, when the people who work in retail would certainly like to be able spend the time with their families. Unfortunately, because of this bill, that has not happened.

So I would ask the government to go back and review it again with a view to closing every Sunday and not just Easter Sunday.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is apparent from what has been happening throughout the Province since January, that this policy has failed. The government statement that this was a matter of choice has clearly gone down the tubes, when stores as large as Sobeys and Dominion say they are opening because they have no choice, due to the competition from places like Price Costco, as was predicted by members from this side of the House in December, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, we welcome Easter Sunday being included as a public holiday, but all Sundays should be included as public holidays.

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

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

I wish to address some concerns over Community Watershed Management that have been raised by members of the public recently.

Let me say from the outset, Mr. Speaker, that there will be no privatization of the province's rivers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: The Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods has encouraged and funded resource assessment work and ecosystem sustainability work. These Watershed Management plans are pilot projects with specific time limits that must report back to government. These organizations and ourselves set out and establish specific roles for the stakeholder groups. There is absolutely no devolution of authority from either the federal or provincial governments. This includes the licensing, the establishment of quotas, setting of seasons and management of the rivers. The federal government maintains management responsibilities and the Province maintains property rights.

The Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods has established policy guidelines with Community Watershed Management. They reflect how we feel Community Watershed Management should be practised. These policies include:

To ensure that conservation and sustainability remain the priority with all parties involved in angling;

All stakeholder will have input into the river management in an advisory role. They will not unilaterally administer river policies;

Optimization of benefits for everybody. This means guaranteeing that local anglers will have equal access to all rivers;

Increased enforcement; with a stronger local presence on the rivers, stakeholders will feel more compelled to report suspicious activities. This aids in the reduction of poaching and helps our enforcement officials in their duties.

The government intends to consult with all stakeholders on the success of the pilot projects.

The provincial government policy guarantees access to the province's rivers for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The Gander River Management Plan is the only plan to have a specific pilot licence. I would like to stress, however, that this is still a licence issued by the Province, not a privately-issued licence. The Gander River Management plan is entering the final year of its pilot project. This means that the specific licence will expire at the end of the 1998 season. At the end of the upcoming season, a complete evaluation must be conducted on the efficacy of the Gander River Management Plan including the issue of river specific licensing.

I can assure all members present today and all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, there will be no further agreements allowing river specific licences during the remaining period of the Gander River Management Plan's operation until a evaluation by government.

Mr. Speaker, while we recognize the significance of rural revitalization, conservation has been and remains the paramount issue with government and its management of the Province's rivers. In addition, the cultural and social traditions of our residents must be safeguarded. We are very aware that Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest resident hunting and angling participation rate of any Province in Canada. Our government will not be put in a position that may jeopardize something that so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians enjoy.

Mr. Speaker, I also wish to address a report from yesterday's Evening Telegram concerning the proposed New Brunswick Salmon Management Plan. This plan has not been released, however, the formal management plan for New Brunswick is scheduled to be released next week.

The river with the most severely depressed returns in Atlantic Canada was the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. Rivers in St. George's Bay on the West Coast of Newfoundland seemed least affected and either increased or remained unchanged. With this information in the hands of DFO, Minister David Anderson cannot logically state that Newfoundland and Labrador anglers are permitted to retain only one salmon while New Brunswick anglers can retain eight. Even with their management plans in place, the disparity that will be created can have detrimental effects on our rivers.

Mr. Speaker, there is no justification for this logic. I have pressed my concerns with Minister Anderson on a conservation basis; however, I have also stated that if other Atlantic provinces' management plans are more generous despite similar declines in salmon stocks, that will send a strong message to our tourism industry and more importantly, our local anglers, who will feel like second-class citizens.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador is second class to nobody on this planet. Newfoundland has over 200 rivers with salmon which is more that 50 per cent of the total Atlantic salmon rivers on this continent. We still have more salmon than the rest of North America. Therefore, the management plans in other provinces should not be any more generous in terms of numbers of fish allowed in any other area of salmon management.

I call upon Minister Anderson to halt this report in New Brunswick and bring in a regional and equitable approach to the entire Atlantic region.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I thank the minister for a copy of it before I came to the House today. Of course we all in this House agree that we do not want to see the privatization of rivers in this Province. I, like many members here I am sure, enjoy the angling and the salmon fishing and so on, to be able to get up any day of the week and go in and do your fishing on any river in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Of course, the valuable resource that it is to this Province, Mr. Speaker, with so much potential for tourism and so on, we all want to protect that. I welcome that part of the news today, I say to the minister, there is no doubt about that.

The second point I would like to make, Mr. Speaker, as far as what is happening with New Brunswick allowed to catch eight salmon - of course here in Newfoundland it is one - it is something that we have to question right away. We also have to question the amount of funding that the federal government supplies for research and data so that we make the right decisions. That is the key to all of this, that we make the right decisions so that we have a sustainable resource for years and years after that. That is what we are all concerned about. That is why it is good that we question Mr. Anderson on his data, that we should look for more answers to the questions of the data, of the research done in New Brunswick as opposed to what is done here in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, a funny twist to that, and I should mention here today too, I do find it a bit strange that you can catch eight salmon in New Brunswick while you can only catch one here. I do find it strange also, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about data and the lack of data for fisheries resources, the same thing with a food fishery, that we could fish in all of Atlantic Canada but we could not fish a codfish in Northern Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker. I would like to know where all the data came from for that. I would like to know what scientists told us that we could build a barrier across the Northern Peninsula, that codfish did not swim up to the northern part of this Province. So, Mr. Speaker, it is all related. I say to the minister.

I welcome him talking to the minister in Ottawa and making sure he comes to his senses, when it comes to this Province, of being equal and fair with the rest of Atlantic Canada.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I welcome the announcement by the minister that there will be no privatization of the Province's rivers. A lot of people in this Province have wanted something put in writing by the government, and perhaps we should in fact include it in legislation to make sure that there is no doubt that the community watershed management rights would not give any rights to privatize the rivers or the rights to fish in those rivers.

I attended a meeting in McKay's on Sunday past, Mr. Speaker, in the minister's district, in the St. George's Bay area, where there is a great deal of interest in the community watershed management issues. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that there are those who are opposed to this - any community having any control over it - but there is a great deal of interest in community economic control over their own economic development, and if this can be a vehicle for that, it offers a tremendous opportunity to many of our communities and I support it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Right now we are in the discussion stage and, as I said on Sunday, democracy can be unruly sometimes. People want to have their say, are going to have their say, and at the end of the day the communities will decide. This House can make sure that the privatization does not take place, but that the local community has as much control over its own economic development as is possible.

I welcome the review of the Gander River management plan. I also welcome some change in the federal government's attitude towards perhaps encouraging tourists to go to New Brunswick to fish salmon instead of coming to this Province. That must stop, Mr. Speaker, and I support the minister's efforts to get Minister Anderson to withhold that policy and develop a proper approach for the whole Atlantic area.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise and thank the minister for the statement he just made. I think that in the recent weeks there has been a great deal of confusion in this Province between privatization and community responsibility, ownership, and management.

I live in a district where we have watershed management, and the Sandwich Bay watershed management is certainly an example of what communities can do in terms of developing and controlling their resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly welcome news for us to hear this, and I think the message has to be sent out that if we are going to control our own resources we have to have to certain flexibility, and that doesn't mean privatization.

Just to speak on the salmon quotas, it is certainly a big concern for people all over Newfoundland and Labrador but in the last couple of years the salmon industry has taken quite a downturn in Labrador. We have seen a number of commercial licences taken out of the system in terms of trying to provide some conservation to the resource, and there are still talks today of downsizing the rest of the commercial salmon licences that are there.

What I would say is that we have had competitive quotas on our rivers, with the rivers in Quebec just across our border, for two and three years running. We don't want to have that quota down-scaled more, increasing competition and causing more hardship to the outfitting industry within the area. I welcome your announcement that there will be no privatization of rivers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me apologise first for not having a copy of a written statement to provide to the Opposition critic, but it is a matter that only came to my attention just a little while ago, a further update with respect to activities in the last couple of days regarding the Newfoundland and Labrador Paralegal Training Institute.

It was with great dismay that I learned this morning - actually, there were some meetings with students in our department that finished up just before I came to the Legislature - that they were very upset that they were invited to a meeting this morning, and it was broadcast on the lunchtime news, that was portrayed as being a meeting with the Department of Education. Then they arrived at the Confederation Building, Mr. Speaker, only to find out that it was a meeting that was organized by the Opposition Party. The students themselves were very upset. It was advertised and promoted to them as a meeting with the Department of Education of which I had no knowledge, was not aware.

Mr. Speaker, the quote that I might bring to the attention of the House, from the noon day news - I did not hear this myself, but I have a transcript - is basically a student suggesting that, `they want us to cause an uproar. You are talking about people who want to just basically put something back on the Liberals.' Mr. Speaker, that is a student who was called to a meeting and was told that the meeting was with the Department of Education, came expecting - because we had told them yesterday, we were working at getting them new placements for their courses. They came to a meeting under false pretences, only to find out that they had a group trying to get them to make an uproar and make the Liberals look bad.

Another student, Mr. Speaker, dropped by the office to drop off a letter to me indicating that, `I feel, personally, that there is no need of myself or anyone else meeting with the Opposition because they are using the whole situation as a political tool. I fully believe that your department will ensure our education will continue.

Mr. Speaker, I bring it to the attention of the House and would gladly welcome an opportunity for the hon. member to apologize for misuse of the position. I believe it is a gross misuse of our offices for anyone - if I were to call anybody over an issue and suggest that I was representing somebody else, or that I was the government and you should come and meet with me, that is the kind of thing, Mr. Speaker, that over the years has led to politicians generally having a bad name and being generally accepted by some people as being sleazy.

Mr. Speaker, that speaks of it, for students who are in a time of great stress and duress, who are very concerned, waiting for a call from the Department of Education as to where they will continue their training, to get a call saying, this is the Department of Education inviting you to a meeting at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning, and to show up to find it is only a rallying call for the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

First of all, I do not mind the ignorance of the minister for not supplying us with a copy. He was sitting here with me, prior to the House opening, and never had the decency to tell me he was about to make a statement, let alone he did not have one. So, we will leave that part.

As far as his colleagues go, Mr. Speaker, they know absolutely nothing about what is happening. Now, I will tell this House - if the minister is going to take this route, that is fair enough by me because now the nest is open. Now I will tell the truth.

The two students who made the comments outside were the two that argued with the forty who asked for a meeting with me. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition did not - and I will say it in this House fifty times - organize a meeting for this morning. As a matter of fact - and you had better talk to your buddy who started all this - when I went out into the lobby -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: You start it and we will finish it. When we went out to speak with the forty students today, Mr. Speaker, two or three were upset and went to speak to the media. I said: I am going upstairs. I am available if anybody wants to speak to me.

As far as this meeting is concerned, I do not know - they did come upstairs, Mr. Speaker, and two or three went out and talked to the media. So, Mr. Speaker, in essence, the Opposition did not organize this meeting. The Opposition did not organize a meeting this morning. As a matter of fact, I went out and told the students: I have nothing to do with this meeting. I am going to my office. So, Mr. Speaker, the minister is lying.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

The Chair very distinctly heard the hon. the Member for Baie Verte accuse the minister of lying. I ask him to withdraw.

MR. SHELLEY: I certainly will not, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Member for Baie Verte, for the second time, to withdraw his comments.

MR. SHELLEY: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, under the circumstances, and the way that the minister has raised his question today, I will not withdraw the statement.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for -

MR. FRENCH: (Inaudible). Come on, start telling the truth, Premier.

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

Hon. members are aware of the rules of the House, and hon. members are well aware that it is unparliamentary to refer to a member as a `liar' or to accuse him of lying.

The Chair has asked twice and will now, for the third time, ask the hon. the Member for Baie Verte, to withdraw his statement; otherwise, the Chair will have no choice but to name him.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I want to apologize to the Speaker, for this today; this is certainly not something that I ever thought I would have to do in this House of Assembly in the five years I am here. The truth will come out, Mr. Speaker. I was just accused, in a statement by this minister, that he heard on VOCM, on the spur of the moment, from two people -


MR. SHELLEY: If that is all - Mr. Speaker, do I have the floor?

If that is all the minister has -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He is not finished.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, who has the floor?

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

MR. J. BYRNE: He is out of order. The Government House Leader is out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has asked the hon. the Member for Baie Verte if he would withdraw the statement. He is waiting for the member to withdraw.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, Mr. Speaker. I am willing to stand by what I said here today. I apologize to the House for having to say that but, Mr. Speaker, I will not withdraw.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I believe that Your Honour has to name the hon. gentleman first.

MR. SPEAKER: It is unfortunate and the Chair regrets that he has no choice but to name the hon. member, Mr. Paul Shelley.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: In line with that, Mr. Speaker, and in keeping with the fact that I regret that I have to do it, too, I have no other choice but to move that the hon. gentleman be expelled from this House for the remainder of this sitting day.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members have heard the motion. All in favour, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Opposed.


MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. the Member for Baie Verte to remove himself from the Chamber.

MR. FRENCH: They are looking after John Woodrow. How much is he (inaudible). How much do you owe John Woodrow, Premier?


Oral Questions


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier, on a point of order.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Conception Bay South has suggested in the House, across the floor a moment ago, as I am sure he will acknowledge, as he is an honourable gentleman; he repeated the words which were directed at the Minister of Education. He said the words: The Minister of Education has lied, behind his colleague who repeated them earlier. He is now making other allegations which, of course, I am certain he won't make outside the House. He is alleging that the individual in question, I think the quote is: How much money is the Premier or members on this side into this gentleman for?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member to withdraw that allegation, and to withdraw his earlier statement in which he joined and echoed his colleague in saying that the Minister of Education has lied. These kinds of comments cannot be allowed to remain unchallenged because they lead to a reduction of decorum in the House, and the inability of the House to function in the way it should.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was sitting in my place and I didn't hear any reference on what the Premier has stated. It is not a point of order, it is a matter of interpretation, and it is not a breach of the rules of this House.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that the hon. gentleman did make certain accusations across this House with regard to a gentleman. The Premier has said that he heard him, and I concur with the Premier that he did hear him say, behind his colleague, that the Minister of Education was lying. In order to clear the matter up, the hon. gentleman should do one of two things. He should stand in his place and withdraw those kinds of comments, or he should walk outside the House and make them.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I distinctly heard the Premier say that I said: How much money did he give him? That is untrue. I never said any such thing. I am sure if you check Hansard you will find that out. I guess what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. If the Premier can stand in his place and say whatever he likes, then that is fine. I guess the same rules in here apply to me that apply to him. I did not say what I have been accused of saying, so the Premier should withdrawn his remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to prolong this but the fact is, the member opposite - and he has not addressed this - very clearly said, and I am sure that Hansard will have recorded it and perhaps we will even hear it on tape, very clearly shouted out: He's right - words to that effect - that the Minister of Education is a liar. He then went on in heckling later on, raised questions about, and I am sure people in the gallery even could hear, it was so loud: How much are you into him for? Words to that effect.

If the member is saying he did not make those latter statements, I will accept the member's statement, but the member has not addressed his words in which he called the Minister of Education a liar. I would ask him, as an hon. member, to deal with that now.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier already has changed his statement from the first time. I would suggest, too, that it is a matter of interpretation what was said. Hansard should show what was said. Maybe the Speaker would take it under advisement and report back later. Another option is to recess and find out exactly what was said. Because I am sure if the Speaker had heard that he would have taken the necessary action at that time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair did not hear the comments which are being referred to, but I will ask the Member for Conception Bay South, if in fact he did make that statement, to withdraw. The Chair will, in fact, check with Hansard. If in fact the hon. member accused the minister of lying, I will ask him to withdraw. If he says he did not make the statement, the Chair will check with Hansard later.

Does the hon. the Member for Conception Bay South wish to make a statement?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I did call the Minister of Education a liar, and I certainly won't deny that. I will withdraw that remark, okay?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: But, while I am on my feet, I believe the Premier also owes an apology in this House as to what he accused me of saying, because I did not say that, Mr. Speaker. I did say that I called the Minister of Education a liar, I certainly did, so I will withdraw that remark. But the rest of what I said, I certainly will not withdraw.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge that the hon. gentleman opposite has provided a good example, I believe, and I want to acknowledge his generosity in first of all admitting that in fact that he made such a statement. Mr. Speaker, there was a momentary lapse. There was a lot of confusion, I can understand that, and it took him a moment to recall it. I want to acknowledge his graciousness in withdrawing it.

Mr. Speaker, if I have in any way misinterpreted or misheard any other thing that he may have said or not said, I take the hon. gentleman's word that he has not called into question the integrity of any member of this House, because indeed I know him to be right in his assessment that only men of integrity and women of integrity occupy all seats on both sides of the House, and I thank him for his gracious apology given today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier stood in his place today and accused the Member for Conception Bay South of making a statement which was two-fold. He said the Member for Conception Bay South called the Minister of Education a liar. He stood in his place and apologized for it and withdrew it.

The Premier also said that he made the comment that he asked him how much he was being paid, and how much money he received. Now the Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, it is not the words.

I expect now for the Premier to be a man about it and stand in his place and withdraw that remark, and apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, let it be said for those of us on this side of the House that I would be proud to stand and either be a man or be like a woman about it and simply tell the truth. Mr. Speaker, we believe in equal values on this side of the House.

I say to the member that if the member opposite has said he has made no such allegation then I fully accept it. If I have caused him any distress in hearing him suggest, which I am sure Hansard may have also misinterpreted, and half the gallery of the House misinterpreted, the suggestion: How much are you into him for? If I have heard that, Mr. Speaker, and it was not said, I accept the hon. member's clarification. And I again accept, Mr. Speaker, with great joy, his apology given to the Minister of Education who is a man of integrity, a minister without equal in terms of his duties in the pursuit of quality education in Newfoundland and Labrador!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The comments made by the hon. Member for Conception Bay South and by the hon. the Premier are quite acceptable to the Chair.

The Chair had called Oral Questions when the comments were made and the suggestion was made that the hon. Member for Baie Verte had accused the Minister of Education of lying, and I don't have a recorded time. I wonder if -

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I consistently mark down the time when we start Question Period. In actual fact we started at 2:25 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Very well, Oral Questions.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, Oral Questions have been called again. Would we assume, where they are being recalled now - it is 2:35 p.m - it is the commencement of Oral Questions?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Oral Questions were called at 2:25 p.m. All of the proceedings came out of the thirty minutes that would have been allocated for Oral Questions.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Today I want to ask questions to the Minister of Health and Community Services, in particular questions regarding difficulties with the management of our health care system.

The capital cost of reorganizing the health care institutions here in St. John's was pegged at $100 million in 1996. At the first annual general meeting of the Health Care Corporation here in St. John's, I asked the board how they planned on paying for the $100 million. The response to me at that meeting - and it has been public information and in print since - has been that it would borrow $100 million and pay it off over twenty years. It will be $200 million by the time it is paid off. A cost of $10 million a year would be saved and $10 million would go down on the debt. There will be saving of $20 million, I say to the minister.

Since last year it has now been revised and it is not going to be $100 million any more. There is going to be $130 million for the reorganization, adding on to the Health Sciences Centre, of which the Auditor General has noted there will be over $13 million now needed to repay the debt, and $7 million would be reinvested in the savings in the system.

I want to ask the minister: Is this new figure now, $130 million, still current, or is his department or the Health Care Corporation again reviewing that $130 million figure?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

As we mentioned here in the last sitting of the House, an extra $30 million have been allocated to the Health Care Corporation to do other capital works that were required in the upkeep of the Grace and St. Clare's in advancing cardiac surgery and in improving parking facilities for the new Janeway site. That totalled $130 million.

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the restructuring, way back in the early 80s when discussions began and were finalized later in the 90s, it was made clear that $20 million would be saved in operating. We know the full $20 million will not be achieved, as I am sure my colleague across the House recognizes, until all of the reform changes are put into place. So the number remains consistent with $20 million savings. Thirteen will go into offsetting the cost of the capital that has been announced.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Auditor General has indicated that the restructuring of $130 million now does not include the cost of buying St. Clare's and the Grace Hospitals which, with interest, will be paid back at $22 million extra - the cost of buying those two facilities - on top off the $130 that is needed to be borrowed and the cost of repaying that. It also does not include the cost of moving from the closed facilities to the new one, and the cost of any new equipment in the newly constructed building, or renovations to the current building at St. Clare's.

I ask the minister: Will she order now a review of the real costs associated with the restructuring of health care here in St. John's so that the people can see the real truth, that there is no saving within the reorganizing of the health care system here under the Health Care Corporation of St. John's.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

Mr. Speaker, we have done an analysis on what we needed in the city. We are providing, through the Health Care Corporation, the tertiary care centre for the Province. We have identified the savings. The purchase of the Grace and St. Clare's was done separate from that - it was purchased by government - and that was allocated and identified in the Auditor General's Report.

I am not sure what connection the hon. gentleman is making other than the fact that he might be suggesting we should not build a new Janeway. What is it you are asking?

We have discussed this at length. It was in the Auditor General's Report. We have an appropriate House committee that deals with each of these specific issues with the appropriate boards. I have answered these questions previously, both in this House and to the media. Now I am asking the gentleman: Are you suggesting that we not build the Janeway? Is that what you are suggesting from this? Because nothing has changed since all of this has come forward, nothing.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I did not suggest nor indicate specifically or in any way make reference to that, Minister. That is a conclusion you are trying to divert from the real question I asked, and you failed to give an answer.

The Janeway and the Grace Hospital were slated to close by December of this year. Now that has been changed to December of 1999. Will the minister confirm that the services now provided at the Grace Hospital are so significant that it is not possible to close this facility without severely compromising the quality of health care, and it might add a fairly enormous cost to be able to maintain delivery of those services within the system, and that actually the Grace Hospital may have to stay open because of that? Will the minister confirm that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minster of Health and Community Services.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, when the appropriate professionals made the decision to go about restructuring health care in St. John's particularly on buildings that have been extremely well serving, I suppose, to the people of the Province but clearly quite old, it was made in a very conscious way that if we are going to maintain the Grace Hospital we would have to put significant monies into doing that, as we made in the same decision with the Janeway. Some of the walls at the Janeway, Mr. Speaker, are four feet thick, and obviously it is clear that it would take extreme measures to make the type of renovations we would need.

We have come to the decision - the decision was made years ago - and we can give him a full briefing and I am sure Sister Elizabeth would be happy to set him straight on the plans that we are following in the whole restructuring because it has been made quite clear. Obviously, if you are going to shut down a facility you do not do it overnight, and we have not done this overnight. We have made these announcements years ago. Obviously, they would be done in phased-in periods whereby you would do services, transferring from one facility to another, as the facility is prepared and as the need arises. I am not going to tell you that at midnight on December 20 that is going to happen simultaneously, because I have confidence, Mr. Speaker, in the system, in the managers, and in how they are going to do it.

Will we need other beds to accommodate them? We will obviously have to prepare for an influx of patients and to meet those needs. That makes common sense, Mr. Speaker. Surely we are preparing for it. That is why we are doing it over time. We won't do it until we are ready to do it, Mr. Speaker. The date right now is determined, as was indicated, in late December, 1999. Surely he wouldn't expect we do it any sooner, if we are not ready. We are being responsible and we are doing it as we should.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the hon. Premier.

Day after day in the House, in December of 1996, when the HST was being debated, we asked the Premier and his Finance Minister what they would do to assist individuals and families hit hard by the application of HST to the basic necessities. I have before me, Mr. Premier, five separate quotes that were made in just two days of debate where government promised, and I quote: We will monitor the situation closely, and if we find there is undue hardship on the lowest income families in the Province, we will bring forward the proper adjustments to provide for that.

That was the promise, Mr. Premier. So I ask the Premier, or through his Minister of Finance - and this is now exactly one year and one day since the implementation of HST: Will the Premier, through his minister, table in the House today the documents that the Department of Finance has prepared for him, to detail the results of that monitoring, indicating the impact of HST on low-income individuals and families in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am sure if the member wants to put a question today to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, the minister can outline in detail the range of measures contained in this most recent Budget to assist those who have the lowest income amongst us. That is both those who are on social services and the working poor in this Province. We have seen, in the last Budget presented by the Minister of Finance, a series of measures targeted at individuals who are most affected, Mr. Speaker, by the challenge of trying to put bread and butter on the table, the poorest amongst us.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to a specific request to table today any analysis that has been done by the Department of Finance, I don't have such an analysis with me. I am prepared to take the member's question under advisement, to speak with the Minister of Finance, and to assure him that any analysis that is available will be made available to all members of the House.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is the Premier aware, or perhaps his minister, or the minister behind him, whether that analysis and assessment has been completed in compliance with the commitment which was given in December of 1996?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would have to make further inquiries as to whether or not there is a completed monitoring process. My view is that we monitor on an ongoing basis. We don't say that for a period of time, of eight months, nine months or a year, we will pay attention to what is happening to the working poor and the people on social services, and then at a certain point we will stop paying attention. I think we monitor on an ongoing basis. It is precisely for that reason that the government has brought forward, as a result of the national child credit, a program worth some $10.15 million, whose major components are targeted at poor families with children in this Province.

As the member knows, there are a variety of measures all the way from increasing the amount of money that a family, for example, on social assistance can earn without penalty; programs to provide for additional assistance for child care; programs to provide additional benefits to people who are trying to return to the workplace; and programs designed for early childhood care, for intervention for children at risk. All of these measures are designed to reach out to the poor families of Newfoundland and Labrador, to assist those who are trying to re-enter the workplace, and to provide some incentives, Mr. Speaker, for those who are trying to move strictly off a passive dependence on the system and to either upgrade their life skills, their education, or to re-enter the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, this is a series of measures which have been, quite frankly, embraced and approved by almost all of the social policy activists and advocates within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It represents some very good work by the Minister of Human Resources and Employment and the Minister of Health.

Mr. Speaker, if there are other specific suggestions that the member wants to bring forward, we would be glad to hear them.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Atlantic Province's Economic Council, often known as APEC, in their anniversary report on the HST, found that for low-income consumers who spend the majority of their income on necessities, the HST has failed to produce the same benefits that average and above average income earners experience.

So my question again is to the Premier, similar to the last one. In view of the fact that we are now just one day past the first anniversary, is there a commitment, rather than generalities, Mr. Premier, that there will be a firm analysis and assessment completed with respect to the success or failure, or somewhere in between, of HST as it relates to low-income families in our Province? Will there be an assessment, and in due course will that assessment be tabled?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the information that the member has just imparted to the House, and through the House to the people of the Province, that middle-income families and higher-income families get a better break from the harmonization of the tax system than the lower-income families cannot come as any surprise to anybody. Under any sales tax regime, the more you consume, the more you spend, the more you consequently save as a result of lowering the retail tax burden.

So it is impossible, quite frankly, that it could be otherwise, other than a greater savings for those of higher incomes. What is important in what the member has said is a recognition, Mr. Speaker, that indeed the harmonized sales tax in this Province has given a real break to consumers generally, albeit a larger break to those who spend more.

Let us recognize - and I know the member recognizes - that we have gone from nearly a 20 per cent sales tax burden in this Province to a 15 per cent sales tax burden. That is a one-quarter decline in one fell swoop.

Mr. Speaker, last year, even though the GDP of Newfoundland and Labrador declined, and even though we had out-migration in the Province, it is interesting to note that retail sales in this Province actually went up for the first time in many years.

So, Mr. Speaker, for society as a whole, for the economy as a whole, this policy has worked well. But it is true, and I agree with the member and his representation, we need to pay - all of us - particular attention to poorer families, to monitor their circumstance and to be ready to take additional measures, as we can afford to, to assist them.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Nine days after the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation announced that Burry's Marine Division Limited had won the contract to operate the Labrador coastal ferry service, we learned that Burry's has backed out of the deal. Can the minister tell us today why the deal is off, under what arrangements the withdrawal occurred, and what happens now?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Burry's Marine Division Limited were, in fact, awarded the Labrador coastal service piece of business last week, as I announced in the House. Subsequent to that - I believe it was fairly early on Monday morning - I had a call and a subsequent fax letter from the organization simply declining, in a four-line letter to me, to accept the contract that we had awarded to them. They did not give me any specific reason. You would have to put that question, of course, to that corporation, to that company, as to why they chose not to accept the award that we put to them.

The requirement under The Public Tender Act is that we move to look at other proponents that had put in bids on the service. There were two other proponents who bid on the service. Both had sound business plans, and we have done an evaluation of the two proponents that remain. The second-lowest bidder was the next logical choice in accordance with the legislation and we have awarded the tender to that group, as I announced today in a press release just an hour or two ago.

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

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

Mr. Minister, prior to the time you made your statement in the House on March 24, or in the days since, did Burry's and the Province sign a legal contract on the delivery of this service? And did the Province accept a bid bond? Normally with the bids or tenders you get bid bonds. Did you accept a bid bond of $50,000, and a $2 million performance bond when the tender was submitted? What happens to the contract and the bid bond? What is going to happen there?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: The process is pretty straightforward, Mr. Speaker. Pursuant to the legislation, there was a bid bond, there was a performance bond provided by the Burry group. The bid bond was for $50,000. Under the Act, that $50,000 is now forfeited to the Crown.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am glad to hear it. I am glad they are following the Public Tender Act for a change. The minister said on March 24 that Burry's had the lowest bid. What were the amounts put forward by the other bidders, in particular the next lowest bidder, whom you awarded the contract to? What is the amount (inaudible)?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, as I recall, the bid price was a net figure, and the net figure after collection of revenues as a result of running the service by Burry's was $3.2 million. The next lowest net bid was the second proponent, obviously, $4.17 million, and we have moved to that proponent to make the offer of a contract award, and I understand they are prepared to accept it.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, can the minister confirm that the start-up date was for June 9, and that that date will not be affected? In your statement you announced that there will be no rate increases for the people living on the Coast of Labrador with the new contract. Will that stay in place?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the hon. member is correct on both accounts. We announced a tentative start date of June 9, subject to weather conditions, always, of course, or ice conditions on the Coast. In terms of a delaying in that schedule, absolutely no, there will be no delay in the start-up date.

In terms of the adjustments to the rates, the tariffs, and the schedule I announced a week ago, also there will be absolutely no change in any of those reductions in rates and improvements in services that we announced.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, we had only twenty minutes for Question Period today because of the manipulation by the Premier.

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

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

MR. TULK: Let me say to the hon. gentleman, we realize that through that stuff that went on just now, that mess they tried to create over there, they lost ten minutes of Question Period. In view of the line of questioning he is putting to the hon. gentleman, if he wants to continue on ferries, by leave, yes, take the next ten minutes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Before recognizing the hon. member, the Chair would seek direction. Is it the understanding of the Chair that leave is given to extend Question Period to five minutes beyond the hour of 3:00 p.m.?

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, yes, we give them leave to use their full thirty minutes. We understand they have some very pressing questions they want to ask.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: My question is for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. The Auditor General's Report reviewed the vehicle fleet management function of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. The review uncovered many weaknesses with respect to the management system itself, most of which the department agreed with. The cost is not insignificant: for 869 vehicles, $15 million to buy the vehicles and $15 million per year to operate. What concrete plans does the department have to correct the deficiencies brought up by the Auditor General?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There were a couple of points raised in the Auditor General's Report with respect to the management of the light vehicle fleet of the government by our department. We manage vehicles on behalf of all departments to some extent. In our response we said to the minister that we were having some difficulties in tracing and controlling the numbers and the information that we needed. The primary difficulties we were having were as a result of the twenty-year-old computer system that was in place to handle the input that we were getting. It is acknowledged, all 'round, that that was causing us some deficiencies in terms of the accumulation of information. The questions, points raised, were addressed by me, back to the Auditor General and as I understand it, they were quite acceptable and obviously that is where the matter is now.

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

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

The minister said that the points were addressed. They may have been answered or addressed but they were not resolved, I can tell you that, I say to the minister.

During 1996-1997, 116 light vehicles were purchased. The Auditor General found justification procedures to purchase -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Do you want the minister to hear the question or not? Go back to sleep.

The Auditor General found the justification procedures to purchase to be ineffective. She noted that 412 vehicles were six years or older. What steps are taken by the minister and by his department to meet the true needs and the safety concerns? We have heard stories about the old vehicles - the RNC are driving vehicles that have holes in the floors, motors being moved around and changed around, transmissions gone. Can the minister tell us what the department is doing to meet the true needs of the vehicle requirements?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member again is factually correct to the extent that he recognizes, in his question, that we have been decreasing the number of vehicles that we have been buying as government. We have been, over the last five or six years, not buying as many vehicles and using the current vehicles that we have in the fleet to the maximum extent possible before we bought more vehicles.

As to what measures, Mr. Speaker, we are taking to control the costs of the fleet that we buy and control the costs of the operation of these fleets, I would simply say to him that we are taking all appropriate measures that will ensure that not only is there full accountability but beyond that, and equally as important as that, that there is full value for dollars we are spending on behalf of the taxpayers.

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

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

Mr. Minister, the Auditor General's theme in this area is the absence of data upon which to manage. For example, the problems with respect to the 869 vehicles versus the 1,448 keys which are encoded to have access to the gas pumps; the number of credit card usages and control of the credit cards; the purchases versus the rentals and the maintenance costs of other vehicles, has this year's Budget included anything to improve the fleet management system, and if so, how much?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are measures being taken. There is a provision in my department's budget this year under the heading of IT to improve our computer systems and that sort of thing and I believe that figure is $400,000. I can confirm that but as I recall reviewing the Budget, I think $400,000 is the figure we have.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, last week I asked the Minister of Environment and Labour about the Trash-to-Cash program and he promised to have answers the following day. So I presume that he has had ample time to prepare his answers. I ask the minister if he could tell us how many containers were deposits collected on and how much revenue was collected as a result of that program? Furthermore, how much money was returned to the public as a result of returning for recycling those containers?

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We collected 85 million cans, $11 million has been collected, there is $2.5 million in profit, $2.5 million given back to the consumer. There have been thirty-seven depots in operation, and over 100 people have been employed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

That is the information I gave the minister a week ago.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: He did a good job of repeating my answers. I suggested to the minister last week as well, that he should look at reinvesting some of the excess revenue that he just told us about from this program, back into recycling depots in the more remote areas of the Province, so that people living in those areas will also have the opportunity to recycle because of the fact that they are also paying deposits.

Will the minister tell us what plans he has to increase recycling of containers under this program and also, what plans he has to increase recycling in general?

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have worked with people in remote parts of the Province especially on the Coast of Labrador. What we have done is, we have collected in the schools and we have advanced cash from the board back to the schools so that they can take advantage of the cash to them, and we will continue to do that.

As to what we are doing, we have met with the two paper companies, Kruger and Abitibi Consolidated, we have met with Robinson-Blackmore papers and we have told them within the next week or so, we want them to present to us a plan and if they do not do that, then we will impose one on them. Also, we are very close to having a waste-all management between parties, Waste Management in Pasadena and Crosbie's here in St. John's, and are very close to having a proposal on recycled tires plus, we also have proposals from people to recycle glass. So there is much being done, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

He does an outstanding job of presenting answers when he has a week of notice on the questions.

Will the minister confirm that as a result of the Trash-to-Cash program, it is now less profitable to recycle regular food containers, such as food tins and butter containers, therefore, recycling depots are reluctant to accept those other products? While we are recycling more beverage containers, Mr. Speaker, it seems that we are recycling less of those other products, therefore, people are sending those products to landfill sites.

I ask the minister: What is he going to do to curb this problem? Is our environment better off now by sending other containers to land fills where previously the recycling depots used to recycle those items as well?

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

MR LANGDON: First of all, I would like to say to the hon. member that recycling is certainly catching on, and we recycle questions and so on.

No, Mr. Speaker, our landfill sites are not being filled up with extra debris as he suggested. There are some problems, in a sense, I guess, with not being able to recycle all the materials but we are working with the Multi-Stewardship Board and with New Bri. Therefore, I believe that at the end of the day, we are doing a much better job as a result of the legislation by my predecessor, the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

MR. SPEAKER: The regular time for Question Period plus the extended time that was granted by leave, has elapsed.

MR. TULK: By leave. If there are any more of those questions, either on recycling or otherwise, we can give leave to the Opposition to ask.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: My questions are for the Minister of Justice, and they regard the Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Facility for Women at Clarenville.

As the minister knows, the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Elizabeth Fry Society released a report yesterday saying that this facility, to which these women were moved some two years ago, is sorely inadequate and is not meeting their needs. Now I am going to ask the minister: When will the minister address one of the key problems identified in the report?

I know that the minister said outside this House yesterday that the department is evaluating the report and has already looked at options. Those replies sound terribly familiar and repetitive of the answers that he gave regarding the famous dusty Inkpen Report. When will the minister address one of the key problems identified, and that is the shocking lack of space, that is having a negative impact on remediation at the facility?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice contracted to have that report done. We requested the report, paid for having it, and even as we speak we are making plans to address the issue to which she referred.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Once again I say that sounds strikingly familiar to that other report where we are making plans, evaluating, looking at options.

Recommendation No. 2 asks that the department support the development of an organization whose sole mandate is to work and advocate for, and on behalf of, female prisoners, women at risk of being in conflict with the law, and women who were in conflict with the law in the past. When will the minister say yes to this recommendation and provide recognition, funding and other support to the Elizabeth Fry Society?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the Elizabeth Fry Society, which did the report, which went out and attempted to address some of the issues, suggested that we should have a group who would carry on and receive funding from government. They even suggested that the Elizabeth Fry Society would be an appropriate group to do that. We are looking at that and maybe, indeed, they might be the group the do to, but if they are not, then some other group will. The John Howard Society does provide excellent service to the male prisoners. We recognize that there is need and we are addressing that as well.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: We are looking at options, evaluating, we continue to do that on these reports, while people are in need. Some day, as a society, we will have to engage one another in a meaningful discussion about the various kinds of crime, the fundamental reasons for criminal activity, the purpose of incarceration, and what we expect the system to do for prisoners before they are released.

In the meantime, what will the minister do to respond to the report's conclusions that women feel isolated from the communities into which they will one day be released; that they feel isolated from the Clarenville community as well; and that they don't receive adequate or appropriate counselling to identify and respond to the various individual needs that may have gotten them into trouble with the law in the first place? When and how do you plan to address these concerns?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the whole point of having that report done was, we were asking the Status of Women Council, who had the contract and they sublet it to the Elizabeth Fry Society - we asked to have these issues addressed. So, I am hoping that the report which was made by the Elizabeth Fry Society will indeed assist us in addressing the issues which the hon. member raised.

That is the whole reason that government took the initiative to have this report done, Mr. Speaker. It was not something that the Elizabeth Fry Society took under their own initiative and went out and did. It was paid for by government because some concerns were raised, about this time last year actually, in the House of Assembly. We took them very seriously, and we attempted to address them. We contracted with the Status of Women to make some suggestions and recommendations. I am certainly hoping that this report will indeed put forward some ways that we can address these very serious issues that government need address.

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

MR. TULK: If there is anybody else who wants to ask a question, they should feel free.

MR. SPEAKER: Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees?

Notices of Motion?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I guess, in the verbiage going back and forth, I didn't hear you call Presenting Reports. With your permission, or the permission of the House, I would like to so do.

MR. SPEAKER: Do we have leave to revert to Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees?


Presenting Reports by
Standing and Special Committees


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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pursuant to the statutory requirement, I am pleased to present the report on the Public Tender Act exemptions for the month of February, in the interest of keeping the Opposition as up to date as we can, and providing them with (inaudible), whatever information and ammunition we can give them. February exemptions being tabled, Mr. Speaker.




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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I present a petition on behalf of residents in my district in Trepassey. This pertains to the Goulds bypass road. I will read part of the prayer of the petition that gives an insight into what the petition is all about, and some of the reasoning why they would want this project to be completed.

WHEREAS the construction of a Goulds bypass road has been identified as a priority for development under the Canada-Newfoundland Transportation Initiative; and

WHEREAS the construction of a Goulds bypass road has not begun despite repeated promises from government; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has indicated that construction of the Goulds bypass road will not begin this year; and

WHEREAS significant opportunities for development in the region are contingent on the completion of the Goulds bypass road; and

WHEREAS the viability of our communities and businesses is dependent upon an adequate transportation infrastructure that allows our region access to the opportunities and markets of the capital region; and

WHEREAS the growth of our communities is closely related to the ability of our citizens to commute to work within a reasonable time each day over highways that are in good condition; and

WHEREAS the financial resources to begin the Goulds bypass road have been identified under the Canada-Newfoundland Transportation Initiative;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to begin construction of the Goulds bypass road this coming year.

This, I might say to the Government House Leader and the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, came through the efforts of a meeting that was held with all municipalities and with Zone 20, the Irish Loop Regional Economic Development Board. They feel it is very important for economic development in our area that there be a reasonable access to our area in that particular area, especially driving through the entire community of the Goulds during traffic hours. It is a deterrent to tourism. It makes it difficult for people to maintain residence in rural Newfoundland and commute to work. It is very important that work begin on this as expeditiously as possible.

Many people are having to leave rural communities because the distance to commute from parts of the district into St. John's takes forty-five minutes from Big Pond in the morning in traffic hours during the busy time of the day. I drive it on a fairly regular basis. You can drive then another forty-five minutes, and it can put you five times the difference as the first forty-five minutes. In other words, you drive from my residence in Fermeuse into this building in an hour and a half or more in traffic, and over half the time to get through the City of St. John's. From the time you hit the City boundary it takes more than half the time to come from Fermeuse and Renews and those areas up on the southern part of the Avalon Peninsula in the District of Ferryland.

It is not acceptable. I know the Government House Leader has voiced a concern. I heard him on the radio one morning saying, as I was driving through that traffic in the Goulds: Why don't they leave at 6:45 in the morning before traffic? Why do they need it? That is the minister, the Government House Leader, who stated that. My comments were: You tell that to a mother who has to leave home in the morning at 6:45, doesn't get back in the night until 7:00, with kids in school, and her husband probably working, probably out of the Province looking for a job as a result of a downturn in the fishery, and having to drive and spend three hours commuting every single day.

It is not acceptable. We should be able to provide an infrastructure not only to be able to accommodate people going to work, but an infrastructure to accommodate business activity. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars being invested in Bay Bulls, in the port there, that would be enticing to offshore development. We hope the economy will expand. We have an internationally renowned company in Bay Bulls, C & W Welding, providing boats, building boats for down in South America for policing. They are world-renowned and producing a top quality product. They need a transportation system for the delivery of their product, and they need opportunities and appropriate infrastructure here in order to be able to expand our ever-growing tourism in the area. Many times I hear from tourists: We can't, the road is so congested.

I might remind the minister again, while I am on my feet, that they say: In fog, it is on the coast and it is very foggy, we can't see. There is no centre line on the road. Do you know when the centre line gets put on the highway? In August, Mr. Speaker, when most tourists have gone through. Elderly people trying to commute...

I am sure the minister will fulfil that commitment, that they will start it this year, very early in the year, as opposed to leaving it for the last one to be done, on a regular basis.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) lines on the road (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: We don't need lines. You have a minister who used to have a grader leave before him in the morning and escort him into St. John's. They only ploughed and sanded the road when he was minister. Now that the current minister represents the City of St. John's, the City of St. John's does his snowploughing on the streets to get him to work in the morning. Hopefully he will be able to divert some resources into dealing with a very important problem.

I am very serious, I say to the minister, and the minister is well aware that representation has been made by all of the municipalities, by the Regional Economic Development Board that is going to hopefully play a very vital role in rural Newfoundland in the future, to be able to put in an infrastructure.

One of the biggest aspects of enticing business - and I supported the Outer Ring Road, I said, because it is important too because we cannot bottleneck an area of the city. You cannot have businesses spending forty minutes driving from one part of a city to another. That is lost productivity. You have to pay workers and employees and so on. We have to have a better system. We want to see a start. We want to see some activity. We want to see some hope and some promise, and a shot in the arm for the business community who want to invest their dollars in the area here, and it really does.

When you look at someone in business wanting to expand a business, to invest dollars, they want to see that government is willing to come at least halfway and play a part, and enable them to have a proper avenue to be able to operate their business, and a proper road network that is going to be at least enticing to people.

The Goulds bypass road to Bay Bulls Big Pond is not the only answer, I say to the minister, too, but it is a good start. That is a help. At least that gets you through the majority of the City of St. John's. You can imagine now being told you have to leave downtown St. John's and drive Water Street in all the traffic, go in Waterford Bridge Road or up Topsail Road; the traffic congestion would be a complete nightmare. You would not be able to commute.

What we have going through the Goulds area, there are times when you are trying to enter the highway in the Goulds, to make a left turn, I often waited seven to eight minutes trying to get off a parking lot onto a highway. That is a long wait. The next time you are in your car, sit down for seven or eight minutes and stop and time it, and you will see how long that is. In fact, people get so frustrated that they make a right turn, go out and spin around, and come back again, and there are cars still lining up to get onto the highway. It is a nightmare, and people who live in the area support it, I might add. People who live in the area support it because it will take traffic off the Goulds highway. It will make it a little more closer knit community. At least you can get in your car - it is safer walking along the highway when we cut down on the traffic congestion that is there.

It is positive from the point of view of the Goulds itself; it is positive for every single person living south of the Goulds area, right to Trepassey and St. Shotts, in those areas that use that highway frequently to get into work and to move goods and services along that highway.

I hope the minister, in his pot of money now, when the tenders come in this year - the tenders, I am hearing, are lower and very competitive this year, I say to the minister; he is going to have extra money in his pot of money - hopefully he will find at least $1 million or $2 million out of the $10 million that is needed to get a start this year, and hopefully over the next two years we will see a completion of this very worthwhile project.

I say to the minister, last year I think the tenders came in at probably $6 million higher than you anticipated overall on your total budget. Overall bids this year, I hear, are very competitive. The minister may find a few extra dollars there to be able to do some work in the area here.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very, very urgent matter for people in the area. It has been their number one priority for a number of years. Commitments were made back in the late 1980s. In 1992, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, representatives from the Department of Environment, the deputy ministers from both departments, attended a public meeting in my district.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave to finish up, Mr. Speaker. It will only take thirty seconds.


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: A commitment was given. I know the Minister had a statement in writing. So, all we want to see is to expedite the process here and this unused money in your tenders, that is going to come in under Budget this year, direct $1 million or $2 million of that, and get a start here, get things under way. At least, by the turn of the century we will be able to drive on a highway and be able to get from here to the other end of the city of St. John's, at least, in a reasonable period of time.

Right now, to drive through the city of St. John's, from one end to the other, would take about an hour; almost an hour to drive through the city of St. John's in to the Goulds area, to the outer limits of the city. That is unacceptable. I can drive to almost the Southern end of my district from that area in that time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I am pleased today, once again, to rise in my place and support the petition presented by the Member from Ferryland, to represent the constituents of his district in trying to get the Goulds bypass road started this year.

We all know, Mr. Speaker, that the Goulds bypass road is an extension of the Southern Shore Highway around the Goulds, outside the Goulds and Kilbride. It has been promised by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation for a number of years now. We know that the municipalities on the Southern Shore support it. We know that the people of the Southern Shore support it. It think it was promised to be started this year. It is only recently, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation put out a statement saying that the Goulds bypass would not be started this year.

The Member for Ferryland presented that petition in this House the other day from a group of people in St. Shotts. Those people are not even in the member's district. They are in the district of Placentia & St. Mary's, represented by a member sitting here in the House of Assembly. Yet we have a member from the District of Ferryland presenting a petition on behalf of the people of St. Shotts in this House of Assembly, trying to get the Southern Shore highway done. The people out in that area come down through the Southern Shore highway to St. John's. Today he is presenting a petition here representing people in Trepassey. So, they are coming further north, Mr. Speaker.

There are legitimate reasons why this road needs to be started this year. The traffic on the Southern Shore highway is horrendous, Mr. Speaker, early in the morning when people are trying to get to work, and in the evenings when people are leaving to go back home, up the Southern Shore or down the Southern Shore, depending on how you look at it, Mr. Speaker. The lines of traffic are extensive on the Southern Shore highway.

One of the things that is adding to the problem of people taking so long to come in through the Goulds and through Kilbride, and what have you, into St. John's, Mr. Speaker, is the condition of the highway itself. The condition of the highway is pathetic. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation should have put money into this Southern Shore highway or the Goulds bypass road long before this.

In the summertime, again I could compare the Southern Shore highway to the Marine Drive in my district. The Marine Drive in my district is in pathetic condition. We have hundreds and thousands of tourists coming to St. John's, Mr. Speaker, driving down to Marine Drive, Logy Bay, Middle Cove, Outer Cove, Torbay, Flatrock, Pouch Cove and Bauline, and that road is in pathetic shape also, just as the Southern Shore highway is.

We expect people to come to St. John's, go out on these scenic routes, down through the Southern Shore, down through Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, Tors Cove, Mobile, and what have you, the whole Southern Shore, Mr. Speaker. We encourage tourist to go there and the roads are not fit to drive over.

As I said earlier, we had the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation promise that that road would be done, we would be starting the Goulds by-pass, and it has not started to date. It should be started this year. There should be funding in the Budget this year for the Goulds bypass.

The minister talks, in the Budget, about how much money is been spent. I think it is the most in recent years. There is more money this year in the Budget for the highways and roads in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, yet the Goulds bypass cannot be started this year. Why, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, why can't they be started this year?


The road itself, the Goulds bypass, as I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, would be a part of the network that is been planned by the Department of Works, Service and Transportation, to be connected to, I would assume, the Outer Ring Road and to be a part of the whole network circumventing the city of St. John's.

The Outer Ring Road, Mr. Speaker, is a very important part of the overall transportation movement, or the traffic flow in and around St. John's. If the Southern Shore highway or the Goulds bypass could be connected into that, loop around the Goulds and Kilbride, it would make the travel time and even the amount of - if you want to talk about the environment, we will talk about the environment, Mr. Speaker, we will talk about the pollution of all these cars on the Southern Shore highway, and going through Kilbride and the Goulds in the morning, spending all this extra time on the highway when there is no need for it. It could actually help clear up the environment. Mr. Speaker, that is a point that has not been touched on in this House of Assembly when people have been up presenting petitions and responding to petitions with respect to the Goulds Bypass.

There is another bypass that should addressed here while I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker, and that is in my district. There were talks a few years ago of the Torbay bypass, but the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the present Minister of Fisheries, put the kibosh on that. He put that on the back burner. The traffic on the Torbay highway now is horrendous. It is as bad as the traffic on the Goulds highway and the Southern Shore highway. Early in the mornings, if you try to access Torbay road, say from Quigley's Lane in Torbay or the Pine Line off Torbay road, and get into the traffic on Torbay road, it is again, the same word, horrendous.

I have some discussions with the people in Torbay, the municipal council in Torbay, with respect to Torbay Road. There is a four lane highway there now-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I suppose I have an obligation to respond to the petition presented by the hon. the Member for Ferryland and also supported by my good friend, my colleague from -

AN HON. MEMBER: Your good friend! You have a Tory friend?

MR. MATTHEWS: Absolutely. From Cape St. Francis.

The issue of the Goulds bypass road is not a new issue. It is a project that I have indicated outside of the House, to the towns, the mayors and the general public in the area who have come forward and asked about it, we are committed to doing. We will move to get the Goulds bypass road physically started, as quickly as we can.

Having said that, I should point out, as the hon. members know I believe, that there is some work already done in that direction. Some engineering work has been done, some land procurement has taken place and we are in negotiations, of course, to acquire other pieces of property and land that we need to do that road.

I appreciate the hon. Member for Ferryland's comment about the importance of doing the Outer Ring road and getting that completed.

It was just this morning that I spent the full first half of the day in a rural district in the Province, in the Placentia - St. Mary's area. I noticed, as I came over the Trans Canada, that it took me twenty minutes to get from where the Outer Ring road would normally start, it took me about twenty minutes to get from, essentially, Donovan's Park to Confederation Building. It took me less than forty minutes to get from Whitbourne to Donovan's Industrial Park. So his comments, while appreciated, are also factual, in that the completion of the Outer Ring road will improve transportation links around the Province immensely for everybody, including people who are coming off the Southern Shore.

Just to reiterate again, Mr. Speaker, for the record: While physical construction has not started this year, preliminary work is ongoing, engineering work is in hand and the Goulds bypass road will be started at the earliest possible opportunity.

If, by some chance - I don't envisage it, I don't foresee it, I do not think it will happen - but, if by some chance, there is a degree of latitude available in my Roads for Rail budget this year, then I would obviously be prepared to give some consideration to that project, to some extent, this year. But the realistic expectation is that that project will be started next year or some time thereafter, and I would say in the House and for the record as I have said privately to the hon. member and to his constituents, that the piece of road, the Goulds by-pass, will be started sooner rather than later.

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

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

I have a petition to present to the hon. House of Assembly. The prayer of the petition reads:

We, the residents of St. John's, wish to petition the hon. House of Assembly giving particular attention to the Department of Health and Community Services and the Department of Environment, regarding emissions from the Grace Hospital stack.

We request that the House of Assembly look into burning cleaner fuel or upgrading emission standards at the stack. There is considerable damage being done to cars, personal property, clothes on clothes-lines, as well as possible health risks due to emissions from this stack.

Mr. Speaker, we had asked of the Environment Minister yesterday in the House of Assembly, questions regarding this stack, and as per the normal with the Minister of Environment and Labour, Mr. Speaker, he was unable to answer those questions. He would take them on advisement and get back to us with an answer. I anticipate, Mr. Speaker, one of these days, we are not going to be able to see the Minister of Environment and Labour because he would be buried behind the stack of answers to all of the questions that he has not yet answered.

This particular issue is a very important issue, a very serious issue. The people who are living in the area are concerned about their health, their children's, their families' health. There is considerable damage being done to their properties, their automobiles, clothes on their clothes-lines and so on. I do not have to elaborate, Mr. Speaker, on how serious this issue is, but what I would like to have elaborated on is some answers to this issue. I would like to have elaborated on some action taken to this issue.

I was told by the Minister of Environment and Labour that the Grace Hospital is going to close soon anyway, so what is the difference? The difference is, that even if it is only open for another couple of years, Mr. Speaker, those are a couple of years that those people have to put up with emissions. It is the same as forcing somebody to smoke for two years when they do not want to, it is the same thing. So, Mr. Speaker, I hope that the Minister of Environment and Labour is listening somewhere and will give consideration to this petition. I hope that the government will give consideration to this petition and I hope that the government will do something to alleviate the concerns, to correct the problem so that the residents of the area do not have to worry about health risks; they do not have to go out in the mornings and clean their windshields of soot, that they will not have to take clothes in off the clothes-line and rewash it; that they will not have to continuously scrub the windows on their homes because they are unable to see through the soot.

It might be a matter that is not considered serious by some members of the House but, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that those members would not want to be living in those conditions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: I would like to rise in support of this petition against the burning of Bunker C at the Grace Hospital. I attended a meeting the other night where there were quite a few residents who live in the area and the stories that they told were absolutely horrible.

If you can picture getting up every morning, going out and having large flakes of soot embedded into your automobile or going out at any time on your deck and finding large flakes of soot embedded into the paint on your deck, on the clothes on your line, just picture what you are breathing. There was a woman there who is the mother of two small children and she said every morning when she goes out, she turns on her car and as the fan comes on, the black soot comes out from the vents in her car. When her children come in from playing there is soot all over their eyes, their faces, in their ears, everywhere, so picture what could be in the lungs of the people who are living in that area, an area where they spend all their time.

The other day, the Minister of Environment and Labour said in this House that government would not accept responsibility for any health problems that would arise as the result of the soot emissions from the Grace Hospital. That was the only question he answered, he did not know the other answers, he said.

In reference to that answer, saying the government would not be responsible, I would suggest the minister have another look at his response. Because if what I heard and saw the other night, the tales of the soot, if the people are breathing that in, imminent health problems will occur, and some day, in the not-too-distant future, the Minister of Environment and Lands may have no other choice but to accept responsibility for the health problems that will arise as a result of these soot emissions.

Now, it is a known fact that Bunker C is the dirtiest oil that can be burned. The cheapest oil, fine, I can accept that, and I can accept saying we have to be fiscally responsible, and therefore, we have to burn the cheapest oil. But at what cost? At the other end of it, when the health of the people in the area is at stake, what is the price of saving a few dollars when you have children out playing in their yard and when they come in they are totally full of soot? What have they breathed in? This is not something that should be taken lightly.

When my colleague, the Member for St. John's South got up the other day to ask one of the questions, he said that when the child blew his or her nose that it was full of black. That sounds pretty graphic and it sounds like you are being pretty descriptive, but sometimes we have to be pretty descriptive to bring things to light, so that people can understand exactly what is going on.

I would suggest the Minister of Environment and Lands have a look at what is happening, re-evaluate, reassess the decision to burn the cheap Bunker C right in the middle of a densely populated neighbourhood in the downtown part of St. John's, where the cheapest of oil is being burned, where the soot emissions - they pump that stack in the night, and large flakes of soot come out and land all over the people's property, embedded in the paint on their deck, embedded into the enamel on their cars, that even when they go through the car wash, they tell me, these big flakes do not come out.

Where the government might be responsible for the damage to the property, for the damage to the cars, damage to the clothes that are put out on the clothesline, all of that can be repaired. You can re-paint the car, you can re-paint your deck, you can scrub down your deck chairs, but you tell me how you can get at your lungs. If the people in that area develop lung problems, this government has been put on notice. In spite of the fact that the minister gets up and says this government will not accept responsibility, I would like to suggest that maybe there will be no other choice when the people in the area who have given notice to the government turn up with serious health problems and lung conditions as a result of the smoke emissions from the Grace Hospital.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.


Orders of the Day


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

MR. TULK: Motion No. 1.

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

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

I want to rise and participate in the great Budget Debate. We all were here last Thursday when the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board stood in his place and rendered to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador his comments called the Budget for next year.

At the time, I thought that the only thing it lacked was the Hallelujah Chorus and perhaps being accompanied by a pipe band. Because it had all of the right words and, of course, we have been anxious ever since to see if we can find where all the substance is. In fact, the media have kind of labelled the Budget as being very high on generalities and not very high on substance.

One of the things I noted in the Budget was the fact that the minister made no note of the cuts that were announced last year. For the benefit of all of us, we should note that the government has a strategy, which is part of the Chrétien Government strategy borrowed from Ottawa, in which they will announce all of the bad things several years in advance and then, of course, as they lead up towards the election, they can then say: Look, you know, we have all good news.

We know that the lay-offs that were announced last year are now taking effect this year. Mr. Speaker, it does not matter too much to the person who is being laid off in the civil service if they were told they were going to be laid off a year ago and it is being effective now or whether they were told this year that they were going to be laid off.

The truth is that the Budget makes statements to the effect that there will be no further lay-offs in the civil service. The reality is that they were announced as part of the three-year Budget plan. Mr. Speaker, while there is nothing wrong with that, in the sense of the financial program put forward by the government, and while there is nothing wrong with it in the technical sense, it does certainly give an inappropriate interpretation of the Budget document.

Mr. Speaker, the very same thing goes for an example brought to my attention just this morning by a senior in my community. The senior, who happened to have gone to get their vehicle licensed, said: I thought there were no increases in this year's Budget. Well, last year when I got my car licensed, I paid $120. This year I have been asked to pay $140. Mr. Speaker, then I said to the senior: Well, that is the way the government has done it. They announce their increases in all of the fees and all of the lay-offs, announced them a year ago, and then they turn around this year and say: We do not have any increases in fees, do not have any increases in lay-offs in the civil service and everything is hunky-dory, everything is `march forward' and everything is pleasant. Yet, for these people who are finding that the increases announced last year are just now effective this year, they are facing the reality of the Budget process.

Mr. Speaker, the very same thing applies to many of the other things that the minister announced. However, when it comes to announcing government expenditures like, for example, building schools and doing all these projects, we generally find that they get announced five, six and seven times. So there is an inconsistency in the way that government handles its communications with the public. On the one hand, if there is something that the government thinks is positive for them, they will announce it three and four times and you will have the federal minister announce it as well three or four times if there is any federal funding involved whatsoever, and that is the way it is.

For example, the Premier has announced the $100 million of federal money in bits and pieces, in total amounts and all kinds of combinations and done it many, many times over. However, when it comes to announcing the negative things, it is done very quietly and only ever done once and hopefully, as far as the government would be concerned, done two or three years in advance. It is not a strategy that is unbeknownst to governments and bureaucrats and these types but we have to remind the public that the reality is a little different from what the Premier and his government, the Minister of Finance, had announced last Thursday in the Budget Speech.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to comment on a couple of things. We were surprised that there were no direct strategies announced to combat the out-migration. Mr. Speaker, I admit that I live in an urban part of the Province and have lived here for a great number of years; however, I do spend a fair bit of time in rural Newfoundland. My family roots are there and I can tell you, if you go around this Province, it is very, very discouraging.

I listened to CBC this morning and they were talking to Mayor Dan Coombs from Trepassey. Mayor Dan Coombs is a gentleman whom I have known for many, many years, lived in Mount Pearl for a fair number of years and was very much involved in the community before he moved to Trepassey and is now the mayor there. Mr. Speaker, we have heard the plight of the people of Trepassey, how they had a population of 1,500 or so and now they are down to, officially it says, 900; but in reality it is more like 650 or 700.

We know what happens to real estate values in communities like Trepassey. In fact there was an article on I think it was CBC a few days ago talking about the value of property, and how if you happen to have a home for sale then there has to be, of course, a willing buyer and a willing seller. In this particular case there are willing sellers but there are no willing buyers for the price for which people can afford to sell their homes, because there is no demand for new homes in communities like Trepassey. Neither is there any demand in most of the communities.

I listened the other day to a report of a real estate agent in Gander talking about what is happening down in Gander Bay area, and the fact that the agent was saying that you can find some homes that would have been build for $50,000 or $60,000 or $70,000 in some of the smaller communities, and today when they are trying to sell them they cannot get half of that price. It sometimes happens, however, that someone will come along - it might be a teacher, it might be a clergyman, it might be some other official, or maybe someone retiring - who wishes to move to that community, and you will find a buyer and the price may be somewhat more acceptable to the seller.

However, the difficulty we have is with out-migration, with rural Newfoundland and what is happening there. We want to say to the government that when they announced last year they were going to take some bold and aggressive measures to address the issues of rural Newfoundland, we have not seen those kinds of measures. We have not heard the government say: Here is what we are going to try to do to combat the difficulties that are being encountered by ordinary people in ordinary communities, from ordinary families in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we heard the Member for Torngat Mountains speak so eloquently here yesterday about the difficulties in his district. He said that some communities have up to 88 per cent unemployment, and we have heard him say that before. We had some other members on the government side talk about the high rate of unemployment in their communities. And, of course, we have to recognize that people are poor, and they are poor because they do not have jobs. It is not because they are not willing to go to work. It is not because they do not have a work ethic. In fact, I happen to believe that the work ethic in Newfoundland and Labrador is very fine, thank you, but we must have a job for people to go to.

If you go around this Province in the way that I have journeyed around the Province in the last number of years, you have to see the real faces, the real pain, the real struggle of families as they try to put food on the table and try to make sure - in some cases, families are caught between having to look after their own children and make sure that they are adequately cared for. Then, they have their mother and father who have nowhere to go other than stay in that community.

I remember going into a community on the Great Northern Peninsula about a year and a half ago and talking to the school principal in a meeting there, and talking to the social workers. They were telling me how so many of their schoolchildren, the smartest and the brightest children, from families that wanted to have a better opportunity for their children, these families were just moving up. We have seen the television programs and seen what happens with people saying goodbye at Port aux Basques. We know these people are not coming back.

I just say to you that in my family I have fourteen nieces and nephews, and it is very sad when I say that only two members of my family, my nieces and nephews, have employment in Newfoundland and Labrador. My family today is scattered from British Columbia to almost every province, and then internationally. Some of them are working in southeast Asia.

I say to you that what is happening to our families in Newfoundland and Labrador should be of great concern to this government. In this Budget we do not see the measures taken to try to address those real concerns of ordinary people.

We cannot continue to see 7,000 and 8,000 of our youngest, brightest, and well-educated young people leaving this Province every year, but that is what is happening. If that happens, we have lay-offs occurring because we cannot afford to be able to keep them, or jobs, even in the civil service.

A couple of days ago I noted, and I have been doing it over the last three or four weeks, the articles in the paper by Dr. Doug House. He talks about the Irish experience. We should all be reading those articles by Dr. House. While we cannot just take the Irish example and transplant it to Newfoundland, we should read it, because a good bit of it we can learn from it. The Irish people had many of the same problems we have here in this Province, and they began to tackle them aggressively. They concentrated on the education of their young people.

I support the initiatives that have been put forward in reforming education. I have made that quite clear from the first time I spoke in this House. I supported the initiatives then and I support them now, because anything we can do to improve the education of our children we should be doing. However, if you listen to Dr. House he will tell you that we have to start removing the barriers that impede the young people of this Province from reaching their full potential.

We know that young people are not born equally. They are born in families that are unequal from the time of the child's birth, and we know that it depends on where you are born, it depends on what families you are born in. I am talking here only about socio-economic factors. We know that if you happen to be born in certain parts of this Province, the probability you will have an opportunity to go to university or post-secondary is higher than if you are born in some other place. You only have to look at the drop-out rates in various parts of this Province. The child is, in some cases, disadvantaged before they even get to school.

When I was part of the Select Committee on Children's Interests we identified the fact that we have to put more money and attention into early intervention. I don't see in this Budget the kind of early intervention strategies I would say should be the focus of this government. Yet, we know that every month we wait and don't intervene positively in a young child's life, we have missed an opportunity for that child to grow and develop in the way the child should.

For example, it has been proven - I have said this here before - that the opportune time for intervention in a young child's life is between the ages of eighteen months and thirty-six months. That has been proven conclusively. I say to the minister, she should read the articles. The Minister of Health is saying no, but she should read the article in Time. It is how a child's brain develops. The research is there. She should talk to Dr. J. O'Sullivan at the university. I want to say to the minister that these are the opportune times to seek active intervention to change behaviour patterns and that kind of thing.

I do not want to get into an argument with the minister as to what is the most opportune time, except to say to the minister - and I know she has committed herself to early intervention - that we have to do more to interact with children before they ever get into the school system, and the minister knows this. We know that young children, by the time they are in Grade II or Grade III, or in some cases Grade I, teachers are predicting who is going to stay in school, who is going to graduate and not going to graduate. They can do that with 90 per cent or 95 per cent accuracy. This says something about our ability to be able to intervene positively into a young child's life.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a couple of more comments. I do understand that we will be stopping momentarily at 4:00 p.m. so the Speaker can announce the Late Show items. I want to make a comment about the news that was on CBC this morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. The Assistant Clerk just said she had given me the wrong note and I have more time than she had indicated, but I do understand that we are stopping at 4:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to make a note of the comments, seeing that the Minister of Mines and Energy is here. CBC this morning had some disturbing news about Voisey's Bay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: CBC this morning, the commentaries about Voisey's Bay, Inco, the smelter, and other kinds of things. If the minister listened to CBC this morning - I am sure he did - he had to be somewhat concerned about the information that was been communicated on CBC this morning relative to the possibility that Voisey's Bay may not be as -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member if he could please take his seat so I can announce the questions for the Late Show today.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will continue in a few moments.

MR. SPEAKER: The first question is: I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Justice to my question re the youth centre. That is the hon. Member for St. John's East.

I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Premier to my question on the claw-back of National Child Benefits. That is the hon. Member for St. John's West.

The third is: I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Environment and Labour re the soot ash from the Grace. That is the hon. Member for St. John's South.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I was making reference, before the hon. Speaker announced the questions for the Late Show, to the CBC commentary this morning. The indication on CBC, with the reporter, caused me some great concern, actually. There was some indication there that the deposit might not be as rich as they thought it was. There was some indication that it might only be good for eighteen years as opposed to the expectation of thirty years. Also, there was some commentary as well, I would say to the minister, some comments on the smelter, that the company may not want to proceed with the smelter and the refinery at this time. There are some real issues, I say to the minister, which is part of the - it was mentioned in the public airways this morning. This was a report done by CBC; I forget the reporter's name.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Well, it had been done in consultation with several of the industry - analysts, they call them, and they did not identify all the sources.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: It was not said. Well, I say to the hon. minister that any delay in Voisey's Bay, any delay or changing the commitment on Voisey's Bay, particularly as it relates to the smelter, whether it is going to be built at all, whether there is going to be a smelter and a refinery, all of these things and any changes to that certainly has implications for Newfoundland's long-term budgetary issues. I am only mentioning it here because it is - in the Budget the Minister of Finance of course, in doing his analysis, indicated that some of our data is, of course, put together with certain assumptions relative to the mega-projects of places like Voisey's Bay, Churchill Falls, the Lower Churchill, the Terra Nova Development, Hibernia and all of these things.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the Minister of Mines and Energy is very familiar with these things and I am sure that either he or his staff had listened to these reports this morning and I suspect the minister was all ready this afternoon to answer very specific questions on these matters.

MR. FUREY: I did not hear the report (inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: I say to the minister that I was driving in at the time and listening to it but I did not make note of the source, except that it was a report on CBC.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted - before my few moments are up - to also speak about some of the student issues. Last week we heard the Minister of Finance announce that there would be a sizable infusion of money to fill in this gap between the federal government scholarship fund, the millennium fund and, of course, the two years that we have to wait until that kicks in. That was encouraging, a step in the right direction. However, when we found out later in the week that this money is only going to be available to public institutions and not available to private institutions, and while we say that having 4,000 scholarships of $1,000 each is a good idea and we encourage that, it is difficult to explain to a father and mother living in, let us say, Come By Chance, that their son or daughter cannot have equal access because their son or daughter is going to Keyin Tech or going to the Career Academy or somewhere like that.

Now, these people who are paying the taxes to make the money available, they paid their money in, too, and it would make sense, if we are going to have a scholarship fund, that we make it available equally to all of the post-secondary students in the Province. Why should a worker in Pouch Cove pay into the tax base, pay in the money, and then the government say, we are going to put out four thousand $1,000 scholarships and they are going to be only available, though, if your son or daughter is going to Memorial University or is going to the College of the North Atlantic, or some other publicly-funded institution. As a matter of fact, it seems that would be a very unjust thing for the government to do. I say to all hon. members opposite that they should think about what it means to ordinary families. It is not right that some young person, who is going to a private college, cannot have access to that money. That does not make any sense, and yet that seems to be the decision made by the government.

All I am asking is: Is it reasonable to use taxpayers' money in that way? Or will the government give an income tax refund to families whose children are going to private colleges? We have to have fairness, we have to have reasonableness, and this particular program whereby we are only going to make those scholarships available to those going to public institutions is totally ludicrous, it should not happen. We know the cost of going to a private college is a lot more than the cost of going to a publicly-funded college. In fact, if you look on the basis of need, you would have to come to the conclusion that the people who are in the private colleges have greater needs financially than those who are going to publicly-funded colleges.

In some cases, they have no choice, depending on what career they are going to take. Let me use an example. Say you were going to study aviation, you want to go into aviation as a career choice. You only have one place to do that in this area, and that is at the Career Academy. So a young man or woman who wants to study aviation to become a pilot cannot go to a publicly-funded institution and is not eligible for one of those $1,000 scholarships. That does not make any sense whatsoever, and I call upon the government to look at the inequities of that, and to try to address it in a manner that gives every young man and woman in this Province an opportunity to be treated equally. Because your son or daughter is going to a private college should not mean they should be treated any differently from anybody else.

I wanted as well to talk about some of the social responsibilities of government. I had a very sad thing happen a few days ago. I had a call from a senior citizen in my district, and the senior wanted me to come visit them. I went in to visit this lady and was told by her that with the little pension she had, she could not really make ends meet. She was not able to pay her rent, pay her heat and light, and pay for her transportation needs. She did not have a car, she had to take taxis everywhere she went. In fact, while I was there, she opened up her fridge door and it was empty.

Some of our seniors out there cannot make it without help. In fact, a study done by Dr. Chandra, who is an internationally known researcher, shows that one in four of our seniors in this Province are nutritionally at risk. In this particular case, for the senior I am talking about, that person had to go to get help from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and use one of the food banks they are operating. We, in this House, should know that there are seniors in this Province today who have to go to food banks, and that is a shameful thing.

I just want to say to all hon. members, that we should know the reality of what it means to be getting older in this Province, and how there is a real face to those real problems. While, Mr. Speaker, we can say there are benefits of old age assistance, there are benefits of pensions, when you talk to a senior, as I did -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: A couple of minutes?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. H. HODDER: No leave, Mr. Speaker. Well, thank you very much. They do not want to hear about seniors' issues.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, just if I could take a minute to address the hon. member's comments, vis-à-vis the Voisey's Bay project. He mentioned - and I just jotted a few notes down here - that there was an article on this morning, and this could affect the Budget, the article said; the Voisey's Bay project and the speculative piece that was on this morning was in some way tied in to the Budget debate and could affect the Budget. Is that what I heard him say?

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

MR. H. HODDER: What I was commenting on, Mr. Speaker, was the fact that the Budget is premised on the performance of certain mega projects, and that when the Minister of Finance read the Budget it was referring particularly to the expectations of all of the mega projects, that he said he wanted to get away from (inaudible) Social Budget. The report on CBC this morning did cause me some concern, because it drew into question the whole Voisey's Bay development.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his clarification. We all understand that this is a very complex project, Mr. Speaker. It has a multiplicity of elements that have to come together to make it happen. The business of the delay: I think Inco themselves, when they announced the one-year delay, said that the company was having great difficulty meeting the requirements of the environmental assessment process as it relates to the mine and mill in Labrador.

The public deadline now, of course, is April 1, and the panel decision on the adequacy of whether this EIS is presented properly is due on May 1. If everything is in order, then what happens, of course, is there is a forty-five day period for public input. At that time, if there is no public input, or if there is public input where the company can show there are mitigating circumstances against any of that public input, then the earliest time frame you will see it is probably November or December of this year.

If there are complex issues that enter into the equation during this public debate, that says this EIS does not address the following circumstances, whether it be tailings from the mine or whatever, and the panel chooses to adjudicate that indeed the process does not address these issues, then we could be into further delay. So that is the issue with respect to the EIS as it relates to the mine and mill.

As it relates to the smelter and refinery, as you know, there is a court decision pending before the Federal Court of Canada, that was brought on by the Council of Mining Citizens, I think they call themselves. I think the proposition that they put before the court was that the project should be merged. The smelter and refinery is not a stand-alone project, they would argue, and that it ought to be merged with the mine and mill and therefore there ought to be one full environmental hearing on this project.

Now, the provincial government intervened, as well as the proponents, to say: These are two separate projects. They are stand-alone projects. They can stand on their own. They have a great distance of 2,000 miles apart. One is a green field site, one is a brown field site, one is an industrial complex for value adding and one is just an extraction in that process. So, there were a number of arguments that were put forward.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I was just getting to that. That particular court hearing is over, and I think that they will report just after Easter. Now, if the court decides that indeed these are two separate projects, then the onus is on the company, on Inco themselves, to prepare and submit their environmental assessment documents to the provincial and federal governments. In this case, the provincial government, because it is a jurisdiction that is mostly governed on land, at the Province. But you are right, it has input from the federal government as well.

I am told that Inco has their documents prepared, they have hired Hatch International, they have spent considerable millions of dollars preparing this document for this smelter and refinery, and that engineering continues. So I am not too worried about that, with respect to it proceeding, but the ball is clearly in Inco's court.

With respect to deposits and grades, I should tell you that the project is premised on a 150 million tons of ore at the site at Voisey's Bay. Currently the proven reserves is somewhere in the order of 113 million or 114 million. The exploration, as you know, they tried to accelerate last year; and in order to accelerate the exploration they had to build a runway and a road. There was an injunction by the Innu at that time. It went before the courts of Newfoundland. The courts ruled one way; the Innu appealed it to the Appeals Court of the Province. The Appeals Court overturned the lower court and therefore stopped any possibility of the accelerated exploration which they wanted to do.

You know that they had capital dollars of some $50 million to spend in there, bring in extra drills, hire new crews and get on with the intensive delineation of that particular project. But I should say, even though the courts ruled that way, they continue exploration. There is a $20 million capital budget this year to scope out that whole zone. Remember, they have only been exploring for just under four years. If you think about it in context of other nickel mines in the world, say Sudbury in Canada, that has been operating for some hundred years and they are still discovering new veins of ore which they use to feed into their system.

With respect to the lifespan of the mine - I think you mentioned about the lifespan - there was speculation about that. That is all driven off the production rate. If Inco chooses to do, say, 150 million pounds of nickel per year, that gives you a thirty year life on the 150 million tons. If they increase the production, say to 270 million pounds, then that will take you back ten years to a twenty year life. You said that CBC said eighteen to twenty years.


MR. FUREY: Yes. It depends upon the rate of production, the volume of the find, which has not been delineated yet. Everybody is using average numbers, I say to the hon. member, of 150 million tons, and they are using it based on the model of 150 million pounds of nickel extracted. Therefore, if you calculate that back you will see that will give you a thirty year life.

We believe, and the scientist and geoscientists in my particular department believe, that there is a great discovery up there yet to be found. In fact they are talking about the ovoid, which is the richest area. They are moving south in the ovoid now, and they believe that there is room there for more finds.

With respect to the grade, the 32 million tons of ore that is found in the so-called ovoid has a very high percentage grade of 2.8 to 3 per cent. That is very high in international terms. As you move into the eastern extension in the Western Deeps your grades start moving down to somewhere in the order of 1.7 to 2 per cent, and it drops off to 1.3 per cent. But when you merge all that together in the 150 million tons, the overall economics certainly work.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Well, it gets more expensive as you go underground. It is also because your capital investment is more -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: The hon. member is exactly right, and that is why we have insisted on a full -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: That is right. Because if you do not insist on a smelter and a refinery now and you let them skim off the ovoid and take the richest part of that ore, which is basically three meters below surface, take it right out, put it on tide water and ship it off to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, we have always consistently said, and you will recall this from the amendment to the Mineral Act in 1995, that amendment said that where it is economically feasible, full value adding of processing - and processing is defined in the amendment -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: That is right, that is accurate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, but you have to understand, now... You are a businessman. You have run a couple of fish plants. You have run some businesses. You know you are not going to go out and catch fish and develop something if it does not make economic sense.

MR. TULK: That is not what he wants to do. You heard what he wants to do now. He wants us to have a mine.

MR. FUREY: No, I heard what he said, and I just wanted to clarify for him that the act, the amendment in the act, actually says that it has to make economic sense.

Now I have to tell the hon. member, that Inco has given us all of their numbers on this mine, on the mill, on the proposed smelter and the refinery et cetera. They have given us all of their numbers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Yes, we have taken all of their numbers and reached out to world experts in New York, Ontario, Europe and elsewhere, some good economists, senior economists, mining economists and mining people. We have run the numbers and the economics still make sense. They still make sense to build a mine, a mill, a smelter and a refinery, and even using their numbers it is still a good rate of return back to the company; and I should tell the hon. member, even in these declining nickel-price markets, look at what is happening in Australia now. One of their leading mineral production houses down there, right now has just raised the capital in the foreign borrowing markets to build a full, integrated nickel smelter, refinery mill and mine.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: So it raised the capital in Australia, it is an integrated mill, they are going flat out to do it. It is similar to Voisey's Bay and if they can do it in Australia, surely, they can do it here in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the point.

What was your last point? I just made a couple of notes. You mentioned the delay, I responded to that; you talked about the grades, you talked about the pace of production, the life span, the economics of the project I just touched on briefly. You know, there are other complicating factors in this whole business that really, if you step outside the economics, there is also the Native People's Agreements, the Land Claims Agreements, they are progressing very well, as you know, with respect to the Inuit people of Labrador.

There is an impacts benefit agreement being negotiated between Voisey's Bay Nickel and the Labrador Inuit as we speak. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has started to attempt a fast-track discussion with the Innu people of Labrador as well for a land claim settlement, so there are other complicating factors that come in. The environment has to be cleared up, the Aboriginal People's land claim grievances have to be cleared up and, of course, then we have to get down to the basic economics of the project. But the government firmly believes that this still makes economic sense, the volumes are there, it is only four years of exploration; the exploration has been slowed by the courts but even on a 150- million-ton projection, and even in declining world nickel prices, the economics still make sense for an integrated production which means a mill, mine, smelter and refinery. So surely, the hon. member understands that.

Thank you.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to have a few comments on the Budget. When you look at aspects of the Budget and look at the real, I guess, financial picture, there is a little bit of camouflage, I might add, in the Budget.


MR. SULLIVAN: A lot of camouflage; yes, there definitely is.

I will just mention a couple of little points.

After next year, for instance - right now there is a $127 million transition assistance allowance; that is out of the $348 million we got for HST. We used $127 million last year, we are using $127 million this year, that is $254 million, that leaves $96 million for the next two years, of which $34 million will come next year in the Budget and $32 million the year after, which means, on transitional assistance alone, we are going to have a shortfall of $127 million on that item alone and another item, I will say to the Government House Leader, we also borrowed on our future under Term 29.

Under Term 29, which was $8 million a year in perpetuity, that the great, John G. Diefenbaker gave to the Province in perpetuity - and do you know what the Premier and this government did? They said: We do not want eight million a year, we will take $8 million over twenty years, which is $160 million. Give me $130 million over three years and we would not get any then for the next seventeen. That is what we did, and this year, we are getting the last of that $40 million. So I say to hon. members, after this year, in this Budget now, in other words we have what is called a structural deficit -

MR. TULK: They are pounding on the galleries.

MR. SULLIVAN: We have a structural deficit. I say to the member, they all left the galleries when the Minister of Mines and Energy was speaking. I hope they will hear me and will all come back in again. There is a structural deficit in these two items alone of $167 million. He said he was never as excited since he came into the House until I stood to say a few words on the Budget.


MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Education, yes, he might yawn after his actions here today and he talks about being political. If there ever was a person being political today it was the Minister of Education, I can tell you.

MR. GRIMES: You got that right (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: If there ever was a person being political - and he even agrees with me. The same minister who wept on the steps of Confederation Building in his fight for teachers in this Province and now he goes out and crucifies the same people who enabled him to step into this Chamber here in the House of Assembly. What an honourable man. Surely, Caesar was an honourable man. Surely, he was, I say.

So we have here a structural deficit of $167 million just on two items. What are we going to do when that dries up? Also, the Crown jewel in our Province in Crown corporations - pardon the pun, the Crown jewel - Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, is going to contribute $57 million to us this year. Last year they budgeted $65.6 million - and they wanted to give it away! Can you imagine giving away Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, giving away the Upper Churchill! They gave it away once, they wanted to give it away again last year or the year before, the former Premier here.

The economy was going to grow, HST was going to be so phenomenal, there was going to be such a growth in the economy, such an expansion that we thought we were going to be bowled over. What did we see with HST? What did we see on the revenue base of our Province? We see a drastic reduction over what we anticipated in revenues into the coffers and the $127 million band-aid, transition assistance is short term. I call it short-term thinking, short-term planning that is going to get us into big trouble in the long term. Then what did he do? To make the Budget look even better, the Warrants that were tabled here by the Minister of Finance, for the next two years so they can have their nice little balanced budget next year, all these Warrants - I am amused as I look through them - the $4 million - the Minister of Education is smiling - in the scholarship fund out of the Budget. We could have balanced the Budget. Under this new fund for capital and schools, $21.8 - so we had a balanced Budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) surplus.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, surplus, sure, but we do not want a surplus yet. We want it for an election.

Four million dollars here, out of 1997-1998, I say to the minister, $4 million out of last year's Budget that is going in to cushion the pot for an election budget next year. We will not have an election this year. There will not be one this year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is 4:30 p.m. and we will now move to the Late Show.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will pick up my interesting comments tomorrow.

Debate on the Adjournment
[Late Show]


MR. SPEAKER: The first question is by the Member for St. John's East.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: My question is for the Minister of Justice, and he is not here. It is written on the slip, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Justice is with respect to a question that was asked on Monday with regard to the Whitbourne Home. I referred, at that time, to the Inkpen Report which talks about the need for balance vis-à-vis the issue of rehabilitation and incarceration. Mr. Speaker, the question was asked at that time, whether or not the plans were in place and in fact the programs were in place that could indeed assist those children and young offenders who find themselves incarcerated at the Whitbourne Home. The question was asked requesting specifics from the minister, but indeed I probably received a better answer on Monday than I will receive right now, in view of the fact that the minister is not - maybe the Minister of Education can respond to this - to deal specifically with programs that are in place dealing with young offenders at the Whitbourne Home, keeping in mind, Minister, the fact that there were solid recommendations in the Inkpen Report which dealt specifically for the need for young people to have services available to them which would deal specifically with their concerns and issues, namely, troubled youth, young people who find themselves with behavioral problems or mental disorders and a clear recommendation as found in the Inkpen Report, that the particular concern be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, in response to the question on Monday, the Minister of Justice was very general. He talked about the fact that the Whitbourne Home was a facility which was as good as we can find anywhere and, in fact, the minister indicated that there are indeed people from other provinces who come to this institution, to view what is actually taking place there. That may be the case. I am not saying that the facility is a facility which ought to be shut down - that is not the essence of the question. What I am asking the minister is to be specific, not to answer the question in terms of generalities, as to its being a fine facility but, if he could specifically address the question as to how young people can find rehabilitation, rehabilitative services, programs in place which deal specifically with their concerns. Again, Minister, this is in response to the Inkpen Report. Could we have some notion and idea of the specific programs which are in place at the Whitbourne Home which deal with the very real concerns of young people who find themselves incarcerated and rather than just do time, and rather than just wait out the four-month, six-month or twelve-month period, what program is in place, what specialists are in place, what professionals are in place to assist these young people at their particular time of need?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am a bit saddened that the hon. member was not satisfied with the question as I answered it, but I will certainly attempt to be more specific, if that is what he wants.

I will just go over some of the things we do - some of the programs the hon. member is talking about and I would also be quite pleased to take him out to visit the institution anytime he wants to go.

The Youth Centre offers a full range of programs. They are categorized as follows:

Educational/Vocational, Treatment, Rehabilitative Counselling and Recreation. I will even break that down.

Under Educational/Vocational, there are ten teachers attached to the school including a full-time principal. They provide assessment, literacy, educational upgrading and computer assistant learning. The vocational programs include farm operation, canoe building, green house, small engine repairs, woodworking, plumbing, forestry and food preparation.

I have had the opportunity to visit them and the hon. member should see the enthusiasm that the inmates, the boys and girls in that institution, show, Mr. Speaker. I was extremely impressed with the way the educational programs are carried out.

Under treatment, Mr. Speaker, under the medical, we have two full-time nursing positions which provide assessments, counselling, health promotion and minor treatments and, in addition to that, we have a full-time visiting general practitioner.

Under mental health programs, we have psychiatric services which are provided regularly, contracted with a psychiatrist, which deliver these programs, Mr. Speaker.

Under rehabilitative therapeutic, we have programs which target the risk factors including group therapy. We have group therapy for substance abuse, for addictions, anger management, violence - how to manage violence, Mr. Speaker. We offer courses in life skills, reasoning, problem solving. We have courses and group sessions, groups therapy for victim empathy, Mr. Speaker.

Under counselling, there is a full-time team of social workers - five social workers - who develop case plans and provide for individual counselling, not counselling which you take off the shelf but they actually study each individual, and they develop a program for that individual; that is done by five full-time social workers, who develop these case plans.

Then, Mr. Speaker, after the young person has served his or her time in the institution, before the individual is permitted to go back into the community from which he or she came, there is a pre-release planning conducted and this is done by the social workers in consultation with the community agencies in the communities to which the young people are about to return.

Mr. Speaker, under the Recreational - at the institution we have a fully-equipped gymnasium and we also take advantage of the outside recreational area. Then, for those who are not as active, in addition to that, there is a provision made for games such as chess and card games and so on and so forth.

In addition to these programs, Mr. Speaker, and they are by no means conclusive, there is an intensive staff development initiative underway with the objective of enhancing the knowledge and skills of youth care workers, to broaden their roles so that they are more of an integral part of the individual case-planning process. In this capacity, they will be expected to interact with the residents, not simply as staff who are responsible for security and supervision, but also as primary case workers.

Mr. Speaker, this institution has been getting a lot of negative criticism over the years by the media but usually it is generated by the Opposition, and is somewhat similar to what the Opposition has been doing with the paralegal school, Mr. Speaker. Oppositions are not careful enough when they take on institutions which are run by government or run by the private sector, and this is one case where I firmly believe that the children who have to spend time in the Whitbourne institution, I believe, actually are the losers, because an Opposition tries to get media attention and tries to attack an institution which is helping to provide the needs of a group of children who have come into contact with the law.

Now, I tell hon. members, there is no reason under the sun -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. DECKER: - why they should continue this line of attack.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. DECKER: Because that is an excellent building, Mr. Speaker, that is -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for St. John's West.

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

And here I thought all the time, that the young offenders were repeating their visits to Whitbourne because there was not good rehabilitation. My God, the minister has it built up like a farm, like a spa.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have a question?

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, I do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, I will get to my question.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes, that is right, I asked my questions the other day of the Premier and I did not get satisfaction, so I will ask my questions today, of the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

I am speaking about the claw-back in the National Child Benefit. I understand that there is an agreement with the federal government that this claw-back should happen and it is going to happen to people just on social assistance - not low-income families who have jobs, just people on social assistance.

It is fine that we give job incentives to people who are on social assistance and encourage them to go to work, but in many rural communities, jobs will not be available to them, so we are clawing back the National Child Tax Benefit from them and they are paying for benefits that will be received by other people, that they will not necessarily be able to take advantage of.

I did not get satisfaction when I suggested that family resource centres and the child care programs and the various other incentives that will come as a result of the Child Tax Benefit claw-back, will not necessarily be beneficial to people in rural areas, people on the Coast of Labrador, people in remote areas of the Province. What I asked the Premier - and he said no, that everybody would receive more. There would not be anybody who would receive the same. There would not be anybody who would receive less. Everybody would receive more.

Now right here on page 26 in the Budget, the Minister of Finance says: "Mr. Speaker, let me emphasize: there will be no loss of income for social assistance families. They will receive the same amount." So I understand that they will not lose any income but they will lose the benefit of that National Child Tax Benefit without being able to take advantage of all the incentives that are offered to people who live in larger urban areas with family resource centres, child care subsidies and licensed home child care. That will be set up in urban centres and I commend that. I think that that is really needed, really necessary and really commendable but I am wondering about the effect on people who live in rural areas who will not be able to take advantage of that, who will still have the tax clawed-back?

Another thing that I would like to ask is: A person who is sick, unable to work, they are not necessarily disabled but they are sick and unable to work, who have children and who will have the child tax clawed back, is this fair that it should be clawed back from people who cannot take advantage of the incentives that are being offered as a result of the claw-back?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, in order to respond to the member's questions, it is necessary to speak to the overall intent and purpose of the National Child Benefit program which was introduced into this House last year and promoted and presented as a co-operative and collaborative agreement between the federal government and the provinces. The intent of the National Child Benefit program, as it is designed, is to respond from the federal government's perspective to addressing child poverty across the country. In that regard, the federal government committed, in the first instance, the sum of $850 million that they were willing to put into low-income families across this country. The intent again and the specific objectives of the National Child Benefit program are to reduce child poverty across the country, reduce the depth of poverty; but secondly, as well, to support people in employment.

It is intended to address the difference that exists between low-income working families and families who are receiving social assistance. It recognizes there are benefits that are associated with families receiving social assistance that families who receive very low income do not have access to. Therefore, it makes it very difficult for them, in some cases, to be able to keep work, especially low-income work. One of the major objectives of the National Child Benefit program is to address this difference.

In addition to that, it is intended to address the duplication that often exists between the level of government. The federal government wants ultimately to be able to say that it is the federal government which is supporting low-income children across this country. In essence, in promoting this agreement where they would provide $850 million to the children of this country, they insisted and built into the framework for the National Child Benefit program that they would provide this new benefit now. It is only the increase to the existing Canada child tax benefit that we are talking about.

They would provide this increase to all children, including social assistance children, on the condition that where the federal government was actually assuming this responsibility for what had been a provincial jurisdiction, that the province would take the same amount of money that they were paying to low-income children and they would create a re-investment fund that provinces would then dedicate to programs and services directly targeted at children in low-income families; and that we would use a series of criteria to design the most needed programs in any given province to address the issues of child poverty and the needs that exist for children across the Province.

Those are the key objectives, that was how it was designed, and that is how it is going to be implemented when it happens on July 1. What that means is that when the federal government actually provides the benefit to children in the amount of $605 for the first child, $405 for the second, and so on, that will actually be paid out to families on a monthly basis throughout the year.

The Province, in co-operating around the administration of this, will prorate the amount of this increase to the two provincial cheques that we would pay on social assistance and remove the equivalent amount, which we are required to by agreement with the federal government, over the two monthly cheques that people receive from the Province.

So the point that the Premier has made, and the point that the Minister of Finance has made, is that social assistance families will not receive any less combined income than they would have before the implementation of the National Child Benefit program.

The additional money that the federal government is paying on the once-a-month basis, the Province is simply reducing and adjusting, as we are required to, and we will do it in two instalments to try and ensure that people have the ability to manage in between. But, in fact, they will have the same combined income and it will be paid out over those three cheques; one happening at the middle of the month, one happening on the twentieth of the month with the federal government, and the third happening on the thirtieth of the month.

The member spoke to the programs and services -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS BETTNEY: The member spoke to the programs and services which we are implementing from that $10.15 million investment in children in this Province, and she spoke to a few of the components of the investment strategy. I would like to talk about a couple of those in particular because I think what is most important is that people understand that when we are talking about investing over $1 million in family resource centres, we are building that initiative on a very successful model of community development which currently exists in the Province today.

The family resource centres which are throughout this Province in many, many parts of the Province, as many rural areas of the Province as urban, are built on community development. They work with the community; they identify the existing needs and priorities; they support parents; they support single mothers; they address counselling issues; and they are very valuable parts of parenting, knowledge and skill development throughout this Province.

We recently had a national and independent evaluation done of the family resource centres that currently exist in the Province, and it was highly positive as to the results that were achieved with those family resource centres. So I would like to repeat again that these are not urban phenomena. You will not see that these will be focused and retained in urban areas. There are many family resource centres today which exist in very small communities, doing very valuable work. I recently met with a gathering of all of them out in Corner Brook.

Our intent with expanding family resource centres is to look to the areas that have the greatest needs, and working with the communities to put in our capacity to develop these community resource centres.

I would also like to speak to the child care issues which were identified. It was suggested by the member that only, again, people in urban areas would be able to benefit from child care services. This is certainly not the case in what we are proposing with the new child care services act and the legislation which will be introduced in the spring, and particularly the initiatives that are spelled out in this program.

We are talking about building a capacity to be able to licence family home care centres. The intent of that is to respond very much to the needs in rural Newfoundland so that you don't have to have a larger centre, as you may have in many of the urban ones, where you have twenty, thirty or forty children. We realize that in many communities throughout this Province the best capacity to respond is within existing homes and families. This would put a regulatory framework around this to ensure the quality of care that young children receive. It will also expand and give us an ability, capacity, to provide care for children from zero to two.

We feel this initiative for increasing child care subsidies, increasing family home care, and all of these things, will highly benefit rural Newfoundland.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

The minister is a good Minister of Environment and Labour. He promotes recycling. He is right, I have to keep asking the questions over and over again to get an answer.

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question yesterday regarding soot ash at the Grace Hospital. The very first response from the minister to the first question was: I cannot answer that particular question today. The very first response to the second question was: I cannot answer that question that the member just posed. So I will have to recycle this question again, I can see.

Mr. Speaker, the most important thing here is the health of the residents in the area of the Grace Hospital. The minister, in my second question yesterday, said he is going to have to go back and check to see if it was a Liberal or a Tory Administration that started burning Bunker C. I could not particularly care less what Administration it was, Mr. Speaker. I really could not care. We are talking about the health of those people. And if this Administration today was responsible, this Administration, in an era where people are more environmentally conscience, more health conscience, it would make the changes, stop burning Bunker C, and start allowing the people in that area to live more healthy.

I had a call today, just this morning, from a lady in that area when she got to work. She went out this morning and got into her car and had to turn her windshield wipers on to clear the soot off her windshield. So it is a problem. The people in that area are breathing this junk, Mr. Speaker.

I am asking the minister, as I asked the minister yesterday: Will the minister guarantee those people in that area that this government will take responsibility for its actions and reimburse people for the damage that they have had to pay for themselves to repair on their personal property? Furthermore, if they don't fix this problem they could potentially be liable for health problems to the people in that area because these people have been calling out for seven and eight years to have this problem rectified. So I ask this minister: When is he going to look into this problem?

The other day in a telephone conversation with the minister he told me: Sure when they stop burning biomedical waste there the problem will be rectified. It is not the biomedical waste. I don't even know if they are burning biomedical waste there any longer. Then he went on to state, Mr. Speaker, that: Oh, sure, the hospital is only going to be there for another couple of years; what difference does it make?

If those people are breathing in soot, it is like forcing those people to do something that is harmful to their health. When is this government going to rectify the problem?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What I would like to say to the hon member across the way is that you have to be truthful and you have to be honest. If you use the adage that if you tell the truth you don't have to remember what you said, you should practice that.

MR. T. OSBORNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR LANGDON: I withdraw that unequivocally, Mr. Speaker, no strings attached.

MR. SPEAKER: It is withdrawn.

MR. T. OSBORNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South on a point of order.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Is that minister over there calling me a liar? Because I did not lie, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. minister has withdrawn his remarks.

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR LANGDON: I was not referring to him, I was just referring to myself.

Under no conditions would I say to him that because they are not burning medical waste, so what - so what if they are burning Bunker C? Mr. Speaker, that was not my conversation with him. I said to him that these were two of the problems that were there, and obviously to spend a large amount of capital dollars into it at this time, you would have to look at it. However, there is a committee formed between my Department of Environment and Labour and the Department of Health.

The Minister of the Department of Health has taken the lead on that. So at this particular time, to fill you in on what she has already done with that department - because it has had consultations with the St. John's Health Corporation to address the problem - I would ask her to comment further on what I have already said.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health & Community Services.

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

I would just like to give an update, and I think it is important to look at the whole St. John's region under the Health Care Corporation and look at what is happening with respect to issue of Bunker C.

Particularly, St. Clare's was burning Bunker C. It has now made the changes and has, in fact, started burning light oil. With the Leonard A Miller and the Waterford, they should be expected to be burning light oil by the summer. With respect to the Grace Hospital, we have had meetings with the Health Care Corporation and it has been pointed out today, in a previous Question Period, the amount of capital work that would be required to upgrade any portion of the Grace Hospital is quite significant. However, we are meeting with them even though the Health Care Corporation has, in fact, entered into a Honeywell agreement to look at energy efficiency.

They are still looking at ways to address the issues that have been raised with respect to the Bunker C and the soot. However, on analyses from the Departments of Environment and Health, it has been determined that the particle size does not present a health hazard, because of the large particle size involved in the soot. However, we are continuing to meet.

For the member's information as well - he said he was not sure about the biomedical waste - both of the incinerators at the Grace and St. Clare's are no longer burning biomedical waste.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.