The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!


Statements by Ministers


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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give recognition to the National Day of Mourning and to pay tribute to workers who have died as a result of workplace accidents and illnesses. April 28 is recognized every year as the National Day of Mourning across Canada. In keeping with this occasion, flags on Confederation Hill are being flown at half mast today and an Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony was held at 12:00 noon.

Mr. Speaker, it is a disturbing reality, but every year workplace fatalities occur across Canada and in Newfoundland and Labrador. Most recently, we were deeply saddened by the deaths of two workers at the Come By Chance Refinery who were killed as a result of a fire at the refinery. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, friends and co-workers.

Mr. Speaker, government, employers and employees must work together to not simply reduce the number of workplace fatalities but to create an accident- and illness-free workplace environment everywhere in the Province. The underlying message is that workplace accidents, illnesses and injuries can be prevented, but it takes a concerted effort by all parties to reach this goal and we must continue our effort.

As Minister of Environment and Labour with responsibility for occupational health and safety, I assure you that I will continue to work towards providing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians the best possible occupational health and safety system that we can provide.

I ask that members take some time today to remember those who have lost their lives, been injured or became ill, in workplace related incidents. I ask that you reflect on the importance of safety and health. Together, let us pledge our wholehearted support to making all our workplaces safe and healthy for all workers, thereby bringing an end to illness and injury on the job.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We, too, certainly recognize the importance of this National Day of Mourning for people who have been unfortunate to lose their lives in the workplace. We have seen many instances in this Province, particularly in the very recent past, to which the minister alluded.

I think it is not only a time to grieve on a National Day of Mourning, and to recognize and pay tribute to those; it is a wake-up call, really, to people who are entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that the health and safety of people under their care is enacted and the proper monitoring takes place.

I know the ministers, the department, has the responsibility to ensure that under his particular areas of responsibility, whether on land or in the offshore. It is not only the responsibility basically of companies to ensure that the proper safety is in the workplace, but that governments - the minister in particular - ensure that the proper mechanism is in place to monitor and ensure that compliance with regulations is occurring; and, if they are not sufficient, to strengthen their legislation to ensure that the proper monitoring is there so tragedies can be avoided in the future.

We have had far too many tragedies occur in the workplace today. Hopefully, the minister will certainly take great note on this very important day to ensure that we do not have any other occurrences in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join in acknowledging the National Day of Mourning for those killed or injured on the job. We have a serious problem in this country. As the Reader's Digest of April, 1998, pointed out, we have half the population of the U.K. but yet three times as many fatalities in Canada - some 700 per year.

In this Province, from the 103 people killed in the Bell Island mines from 1898 to l965, to the 83 lost in the Ocean Ranger, to the two lost at Come By Chance in the last couple to months, not to mention the countless hundreds, if not thousands, who have lost their lives while working at sea over the last number of years, it is a very serious problem. We have to honour those people in a very special way, and the best way to honour those men and women killed or injured on the job is to make sure other workers stay safe and healthy.

We have a situation now in the offshore where we are working in the grey area of draft regulations that are of questionable enforcement. They should be enforced by the Ministry of Labour, which is designed to do that, not by the department that is designed to promote the offshore energy field. I would like to see that changed so we could ensure that the same degree of scrutiny and enforcement that the Department of Labour seeks to enforce on all industries is also enforced on the offshore, so we could prevent the kind of tragedy that has occurred in the past.


Oral Questions


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, after much prodding and probing, the Minister of Education yesterday released, finally, the Postsecondary Indicators '98. There are a number of obvious concerns that are contained within that report, but the larger issue is a public policy issue and one about which I would like to ask the minister today.

Obviously there is an imbalance that has occurred between both public and private training institutions. As Minister of Education, and responding for the government, what is the government's policy with respect to obtaining and ensuring that: number one, the type of education system that is in the Province in the post-secondary system is valid and provides opportunities for young people, number two, but also protects them, but also provides an appropriate balance between what the public education system delivers and what the private system delivers? Is there a policy by government? If there is, could he articulate, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the government's position with respect to post-secondary options that are available to students is very clear. Maybe members opposite do not know what it is but most people in the Province would certainly understand what it is, and that is that the people of the Province should fully expect that at the post-secondary level there would be available to students in the Province a clear choice. There will be options available that are publicly-funded, and there will be continuing options available that are privately-funded, which exist today.

What the report shows, Mr. Speaker, that was released yesterday, is that in the period that was under study and review and reported upon in this particular circumstance, through that period of time we have finally come to the point in Newfoundland and Labrador where for the first time in our history - rather than look at it as a negative - it should be seen that we have a balance for the first time at the college system between opportunities in the publicly-funded system and opportunities in the privately-funded system. We fully expect, Mr. Speaker, that people of Newfoundland and Labrador should, into the future, expect to have both options available to them on an ongoing basis, publicly-funded and privately-funded.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what the public expect from the Minister of Education is that if private training colleges are open, that they serve the interest of the students; and this minister and this government has failed in that regard.

Let me ask the minister this. He announced yesterday that government would conduct a full-scale review that would include the following: pay particular attention to issues such as bonding of private institutions, which in one case was waived; wind up provisions for institutions that encounter difficulties in access to student loans.

The question is: Who will be conducting the review? Will it be the Department of Education? Or will it be a group outside the department, within government, to look at the issues? What will be the approach for the conducting of the review that he announced yesterday? What will be the Terms of Reference and criteria under which the group conducting the review will operate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In fact, the government will be conducting the review. Since it is a review of an education matter, it will be conducted by the department responsible, which is the Department of Education.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the group opposite might like and wish to be the government and might like and wish to do it. If they want to do their own review, as a very eager member did before, Mr. Speaker, and suggested he was launching on a Province-wide campaign with respect to the public tendering initiatives, and if they want to do that themselves, by all means, do so.

The government will conduct a review, led by the Department of Education, Mr. Speaker. In all likelihood, we would certainly invite an offer, an opportunity for the Official Opposition. If they would like to do the same thing we are going to do, which is to study in detail with the partners, the legislation, the regulation and the policies, and ask the basic question: Is there any particular reason why any part of the legislation, any of the regulations, or any of the policies should legitimately be changed at this point in our history, particularly in light of the unprecedented growth of the private sector training institute over the period that was studied in this report?

If there is some reason for that that they would like to put forward to us, we would gladly entertain the proposition, gladly consider it as part of the review and see what the outcome is at the end of the piece.

MR. SULLIVAN: Authorize us to do the investigation.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of Education has just announced would equate to the fox taking care of the hen house.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: That is what we are talking about, Mr. Speaker. Because the review is to be conducted. Now, he talks about the Opposition's approach, and it is distinctly different. The difference is this, that when problems occur, our members and our critics are out talking to stakeholders. We do not float another poll from Bristol or Corporate Research to find out what people are thinking.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: We talk to stakeholders in industry that are concerned about what is happening in government and get their input. That is the difference.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is this, that some days ago we learned, again, in unprecedented action by the Department of Education which an answer has not been given to yet, that a regulation was changed with respect to access to student aid with respect to private training colleges. I have talked to past ministers, past deputy ministers, people within the public service now, senior levels. Senior bureaucrats in the minister's own department have said they cannot find who made such an approval, why the regulation was changed, who ordered the change, or who asked student aid or told student aid to change it. So, it is incumbent, I think, on the minister today to explain why there was no paper trail on this important change in this regulation. Did he approve it himself? And, if so, why did he not inform all the bureaucracy in the necessary way and create the paper trail on such an important and fundamental policy and regulation change? Why not, Minister?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The issue that the hon. member dealt with - I thought he was asking another question at the beginning, because he was raising other issues, but if that is the question he wants answered, I will gladly deal with it.

The issue with respect to the student loan policy and access of student loans: We were approached shortly after I became minister, in the spring, I guess, of 1996, by a group in Grand Falls -Windsor, some people from the Badger area, who were trying to set up, and had gone through the process that every institution has gone through in the Province that has gotten a licence to operate, to establish a training institution for heavy equipment operators. I think the name of the institution is DieTrac. I discussed this openly and frequently and fully with the media as well.

The group came forward. They had approval from the department, they had gone through the full process, had a licence to operate, had a potential student client list. The only difficulty was that most of their students were not eligible for support under EI or from HRD or from other sources, could not get personal bank loans, wanted to do the training in a certified, licensed institution that was just beginning. They came to the government and said: The only way we can do this training we want to do is if we can access student loans.

As a result of their enquiry, one of the first things that came to my attention after I became minister, I asked a question of our officials: Was there anything in the Canada-Newfoundland student loan agreements that suggested or dictated that the government had to have any particular waiting period for private institutions? The answer was no. The policy had always been that there should be a waiting period of one year. When asked why, the answer was: No particular reason, it is just that that is always the way it has been, and that we think that is prudent, and we do not suggest that it be changed at this point in time.

Again though, in following up with the officials as to was there any legal reason, in terms of a contract between Canada and Newfoundland with the Canada-Newfoundland student loans or elsewhere, that required any waiting period, the answer was no. When I asked the same officials that the Leader of the Opposition refers to as to where were the background papers, where was the paper chase that came to the conclusion and convinced the government to have a one-year waiting period, there was none. There was no reason.

The government at the time, which were the members opposite, or their forerunners - they always disown them, by the way. They say: Oh no, we were not here. Any time we talk about the Peckford Administration they say: Do not talk to us, we were not here. Well, Mr. Speaker, it was a Progressive Conservative Administration, let me put it that way, that instituted a policy of a one-year wait period for no reason other than that they thought it was a good idea. When we asked: Is there any reason why it has to stay there? the answer was no. I said: Well, rather than disadvantage a group of students who have selected a private training institution of their own volition, who want to go, who are registered and the only thing that is denying them their preferred training opportunity is access to student loan, I directed them to change the policy. It was changed, and the only paper trail, Mr. Speaker, is this one.

There used to be a line that said: In order to access student loans, you have to wait one year. It has now been deleted - no paper trail necessary. That policy, with an erasure, is now the policy of the government. It was given, Mr. Speaker, to the people who needed to know, in students loans and others. It was communicated to all those who asked about it. Mr. Speaker, the change was made appropriately.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: `Grimes', you are a political crook, you always use cash.

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

I ask the hon. the Member for Bonavista South to withdraw that comment.

MR. FITZGERALD: I withdraw, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: He says there was no reason for the one-year wait. Had that policy remained in effect, the paralegal institute and the students who were there would not have been impacted negatively, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: The other question, the question that the minister did not answer, is that: Even if one line was changed, nobody can find out who ordered the change. Senior officials within the Department of Education do not know when it was changed, why it was changed or who ordered it.

My understanding of the regulations or departmental guidelines, by the minister himself, any minister of the Crown, is that should regulations change it should go out under the signature of the minister, for a reason why the regulation was changed obviously. But there was no indication when it was changed. Did the minister order it? It did not go out under his signature.

So he has not answered the question. Why did he change it? If the reasons he has outlined here today were the reasons why he changed it, then why is there not some letter that indicates that this was the reason why it was changed and why it was necessary? Why is there no indication from the minister on this issue for such a policy change within the department?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I fail to recognize or understand the point that the Leader of the Opposition is trying to make. He suggests he still does not know, or officials do not know, who authorized the change. Well, Mr. Speaker, people in this Legislature understand that the Leader of the Opposition could not authorize that change because he is not in a position to do so. None of the members opposite could authorize that change, Mr. Speaker, because they are not in a position to do so.

Mr. Speaker, in case he was so busy figuring out what he was going to ask next, instead of listening, in answering the last question I stated clearly that the minister made the change. And, Mr. Speaker, so that the Leader of the Opposition will learn more about how government works, in case he ever gets the opportunity to be part of it - I doubt it, but in case he ever does - we are not talking about a regulation. He might know, and I might try to educate him a bit as the Education Minister, a regulation is a subservient piece of legislation that has to go through a process and have Cabinet approval. A policy statement, Mr. Speaker, states a particular view of the department at a time that reflects the government's and the minister's view as to how it should operate at that point in time.

The policy of this particular government, as articulated by this particular minister, is that there was no basis for a one-year waiting period; it would no longer be in effect. The one person who needed to know more than anybody else, the Director of Student Aid, was notified by the assistant deputy minister of the day, who is currently president of a private college in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, they knew so that anybody else who was applying - because the only people to whom this applies are students who are clients and customers of private institutions who would apply for Student Aid, who, a year before, two years before, and when the previous administration would have been there, would have been told when they applied in the first year: I am sorry, you cannot get a student loan to go to this school until the school has been in operation for another year - what they find out when they apply to Student Aid, as a result of an action taken by this government, is that if the government has gone through a process and has licensed an institution, and they have met all the criteria to have a proper licence to operate in the Province, then why should we deny students who choose to go to that particular institution an opportunity to access student loans?

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the obvious question remains. If it is good, and government's monitoring has been so good, why did the Minister of Education yesterday stand in his place and announce a review? I mean, really, Mr. Speaker, this is pathetic.

The minister knows full well, and he can blame it on a past assistant deputy minister or defer responsibility that the past assistant deputy minister did it. Someone had to tell him to do it, and there should be a letter - because the Director of Student Aid would not go forward without it - indicating that this has been a policy change by the department, it will take effect at a certain date. On that letter it would indicate - and it would come from the minister. It would have to come from the minister. It cannot come from his department officials; it has to come from the minister. So the question is: Where is that letter from the minister that approved that regulation change that was given to the Director of Student Aid? And, if there is a letter, can he table it for the House to clear up the confusion, the public confusion I might add, on this matter?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I might suggest that I am trying to answer the question. I do not know what the point is, in the meantime, but the issue is this: The question was asked: Who authorized the policy change for the government? The answer was given: The Minister of Education, who happens to be me. When was it done? It was done almost two years ago, Mr. Speaker, with respect to an issue arising from inquiries made that involved one member who is not in the House today, the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans, because she was representing constituents of hers, who had a licence to operate a private, training institution. It was already in place. They had prospective students who wanted to go. The reason they could not go was because they could not afford to go, because they could not get student loans. On a basis of the review, Mr. Speaker, we made the change.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let us make sure everybody understands: Since that happened almost two years ago, any institution that came into place since then - and there have been several - would have had their students able to access student loans right away if that is what they needed and if that is what they chose. And, Mr. Speaker, the Director of Student Loans has been authorizing and approving student loans for almost two years on that basis, so whatever authorization the Director of Student Loans has needed, he got through the process. He knows that the authority came from the minister. Whether he was given a letter from an ADM or an e-mail or whatever, he knows what the difference is. The policy has changed, Mr. Speaker, and has been changed for almost two years.

If it makes the Opposition Leader feel any better, and he would like to see a letter with my name on it, I will make one up today and say the policy - because this is how ridiculous it is, Mr. Speaker. If he wants me, for comfort for him, because nobody else seems to need the comfort, to write a letter that says: By the way, Dear Director of Student Services and Student Aid, would you please continue acting on the policy that you have been acting on for the last two years? Signed: Loving, your friend, Roger.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister to clue up his answer.

MR. GRIMES: Now if that is what he wants to see on a file, I will put that on a file if it gives him some sense of comfort.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let us be clear; Roger is not my friend. I want that known for the public record. Let us be clear on that. He may be a professional colleague but he is not my friend.

MR. SULLIVAN: Another Dear John letter.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, another Dear John letter.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of legitimate private training institutions in this Province that have operated for a number of years, that have offered legitimate courses, that are still offering legitimate courses; but, Mr. Speaker, when you see a situation develop like we saw with the paralegal institute where the appropriate checks and balances were not in place, where access to student loans was waived so that students could go there, where the appropriate bonding was not put in place, it raises larger questions. The minister obviously would have to agree with that.

Yesterday, I watched him on television being interviewed by CBC and Here and Now where he said that he really has no jurisdiction or no power over the paralegal institute reopening their doors. I want to ask him today: Is he convinced that the paralegal institute opening again is in the best interest of the people of the Province who are coming to expect a high quality of education from the department? Is he convinced that the longevity of this school will continue? Can he answer that question?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I expect that he asked the question because he wanted the answer. I will try to give the answer. While I understand, and we do agree that the Leader of the Opposition is misguided politically, our group, the members on this side, are more open-minded and more open-hearted than he is. Just because he is misguided politically does not mean that I would not consider him as a friend. I think he does have some redeeming features and qualities, and if he ever were to cross over here and be a sensible person we could be real good friends. I guess for whatever political reasons he has to suggest that we are not friends. That is fine with me, but I will continue to be your friend anyway.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, before I answer the question, I understand that it might be politically better for the Leader of the Opposition if he suggests publicly, and if it gets printed and so on, that he is not my friend. I understand that.

Mr. Speaker, in getting to the question that was asked, there needs to be a correction of part of the preamble, and it is very serious because it is not founded on fact. The Leader of the Opposition, in asking a question about a particular training institute, it being the paralegal training institute, suggested that there was some impropriety with the bond. That is incorrect, Mr. Speaker, and I would like for him, if he can somehow suggest that...

My officials have told me repeatedly that every single private training institute that operates in Newfoundland and Labrador went through the same process, including the posting of an appropriate bond. Now, if he has some different information... It is unfair, Mr. Speaker, and improper to stand up and make that kind of a statement without being able to back it up and justify it.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, because he picks up for his old buddy, `copper top' over there, he suggests that the proper checks and balances have not been in place. The proper checks and balances, Mr. Speaker, have been in place for all of the private training institutions. There are 100 campuses, all of which are checked upon and made sure that they comply with the terms and conditions of their licence on a regular basis.

Mr. Speaker, he suggested, I believe, if I heard him correctly, that there was some kind of waiving of a student loan policy for this particular institution. He referenced something about student loans and this institution. Mr. Speaker, again, they have been continuing to make certain accusations or insinuations that are not true.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister to clue up his answer.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the direct question: Can I give any assurance that there will be a long-lasting type of future for this particular institution? No, no more than I can for any of the other 100 that are there. That is not the business that government is in. We do not guarantee them. We do not back them with any cash grants or any kind of subsidies, they are private businesses. Whether they have a long-term future, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister to clue up his answer.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Whether or not that particular institution or any other has a long-term future will depend solely upon their ability to attract students to the institution.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No preamble.

MR. FRENCH: No preamble! They should have a half hour.

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

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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, it is no trouble to know that he is the Minister of Transportation, just take a look at him.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, since the House closed during Easter the federal government announced a large number of Marine Atlantic headquarter jobs based in Moncton to be relocated to Nova Scotia, even though the service exists to service Newfoundland and Labrador.

Was the minister informed directly or indirectly, at any time prior to that disgusting decision, that Ottawa was favouring Nova Scotia?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The answer to the question is no.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible) with respect to Port aux Basques, Mr. Speaker. The Premier says he has a good relationship with his federal colleagues since leaving Ottawa. So the Premier either did not think it was important enough to ask the Transport Minister where the Marine Atlantic jobs were going, or he knew and he did not tell the minister.

Does the minister regret not fighting for Newfoundland and Labrador and the Marine Atlantic jobs, or was Port aux Basques not worth fighting for?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I concur with the first part of the preamble to the hon. member's question when he referred to the decision with respect to Marine Atlantic headquarters as disgusting. It is more than disgusting, it is unconscionable, it is not sensible, it defies logic and the decision, Mr. Speaker, actually misses the whole point.

The real issue is this, Mr. Speaker: As of January 1, 1998, Marine Atlantic has only one reason to exist, just one reason. It no longer provides ferry services in Nova Scotia, PEI or New Brunswick. It exist only to fulfil the federal government's constitutional obligation to this Province as a result of our entering into Confederation.

The main point of all of this, Mr. Speaker, is being missed by the federal government and by Marine Atlantic and by all other people associated with that decision, to the extent that they have missed the whole point completely.

Now, as far as making representation on behalf of government, to answer the question specifically: We have made a lot of representation. I remember last Regatta Day sitting in Ottawa with the minister directly talking about the Marine Atlantic issue. I remember talking to him on the phone during the fall about it. I recall talking to him on December 7 of last year with respect to the issue, when we became aware through the grapevine, what the recommendations from Rod Morrison and Company were going to be to the federal minister. I can tell you, it did not sit very well with us.

As a result of that, we got a commitment from the minister, I got a commitment from him, that he would make no decision until we had a chance to meet again. I met with the minister on February 6 with respect to the issue, I wrote him on February 11 with respect to the issue, I talked to him on February 13 and 14 with respect to the issue, and on all of these occasions, in conjunction with conversation with our federal minister in Ottawa, I was assured that before any decision would be handed down I would be informed, as minister on behalf of this government, and that the Province would know what was happening. That clearly did not happen. The events surrounding the announcement a couple of weeks ago indicated that that did not happen, and I regret that it did not happen because it was an unfulfilled commitment that was given to me directly and personally by the federal minister. I hold him accountable for that type of announcement, in the absence of fulfilling an obligation that he made by way of a commitment to me.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the minister: What did the President of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador say a short time ago? By the way, you should not be asking Rod Morrison, you should be telling him what to do with respect to Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: There has been much talk by the Premier, among others, about the anti-Newfoundland arrogance of Rod Morrison, who has proven himself to be no friend of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Why are the Premier and yourself not being more critical of the Minister of Transport in Ottawa and the Prime Minister, who ultimately had made this decision, and not Rod Morrison? Why are you not criticizing your colleagues in Ottawa about the decision to treat Newfoundland as dirt?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the hon. member has not heard the expression of disgust and concern as put forward, when I was away, by the acting minister on my behalf and others, if he has not heard that, he had a good three weeks' nap over the Easter period. Because I can tell you that this government through the acting minister, through the Premier, and through myself, and through others, have made it abundantly clear that we do not accept the decision of the federal government on the Marine Atlantic headquarters relocation issue. We do not accept the premise on which it was based, we do not accept the outcome, we do not accept the fact that Mr. Rod Morrison, the current acting functionary of that organization, is trying to orchestrate this whole thing to suit the best purposes of the people who live on the other side of the Gulf.

I say to Mr. Morrison that we are not finished with him yet. We are not finished with the whole aspect of the decision. While we are happy with the progress that our members have made, and that Minister Aylward made in Ottawa, with getting some additional jobs in there, while we are grateful and happy to the extent that there is some additional economic benefits going to come as a result of this restructuring, Rod Morrison himself said in a meeting with my officials in Port aux Basques on Saturday: There are warts in our system. He used the word "warts." He said there are warts in our system, there are things that have to be corrected, but they will be corrected over the next year once we get this re-organization done.

I say to Mr. Morrison that we are not done with him yet, and that the warts that he is talking about, starting with himself maybe, will be eradicated or significantly adjusted when we are done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has expired.


Presenting Reports by
Standing and Special Committees


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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have two Special Warrants to table. In accordance with Section 26(4) of the Financial Administration Act, I table six copies of two Orders in Council touching on pre-commitments. One was a pre-commitment of $1 million made in December last year for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation to enter into contracts for tourism advertising. The second is for my hon. colleague, the Minister of Education, to purchase textbooks in the amount of $3,119,100, and that was dated March 13 of this year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the annual report for 1996-1997 for the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women. This is as required by the Status of Women's Advisory Council Act. It lists the equality-seeking activities of the Provincial Advisory Council in a variety of areas over this period of time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Notices of Motion


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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Aquaculture Act."

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following bills entitled, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act," and "An Act Respecting Co-operatives."

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following private member's resolution:

WHEREAS the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy is due to expire in August and many compensation recipients have been or are about to be dropped from the program in the meantime; and

WHEREAS in the absence of an adequate successor program, the loss of TAGS will have significant negative consequences for the entire Province, especially the tens of thousands directly displaced from the program; and

WHEREAS the federal government has the responsibility, the jurisdiction and the opportunity to provide adequate amounts and kinds of assistance to those its mismanagement of the East Coast Fishery has displaced from the fishing industry, especially in Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS it is critical that the federal government waste no more time before announcing a successor program to TAGS so individuals, families, communities and our Province can make informed decisions about our future, therefore, be it resolved that this House urge the Government of Canada to delay no longer before announcing an adequate successor program to TAGS that meets the different needs of all those who have a long-term attachment to the groundfish industry.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act".

I give further notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of supplementary supply to Her Majesty.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend the Financial Administration Act".

I give further notice that I will on tomorrow moved that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the raising of loans by the Province and I give two further notices, one, that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the advancing or guaranteeing of certain loans made under the Loan and Guarantee Act 1957; and the final notice is that I will on tomorrow move that this House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the guaranteeing of certain loans under the Local Authority Guarantee Act 1957.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.




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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition.

The petition reads: To the hon. the House of Assembly, in Legislative Session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland:

WHEREAS the TAGS program, whereby the federal government compensates fisheries workers for its mismanagement of the fisheries resource, is due to expire in August and many people entitled to funding have already been, or are about to be, taken off the program prior to that date;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to take a lead role in convincing the federal government to announce and implement, without further delay, a successor program to TAGS which includes income replacement, license buy-backs, early retirement and economic diversification, and to give immediate consideration to those who are entitled to compensation and are now or are about to be taken off the program. As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, here is a petition whereby fish plant workers and fisherpeople in this Province are once again pleading to us, I suppose, as their local representatives, to speak up loud and clear in order to convince Ottawa to take a look at the hurt that is being bestowed here in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

When you look at the thousands of people who have been taken off this program - many of them - not because of their long-term attachment to the fishery - many of them have been taken off, thousands of them, I would suggest, have been taken off because of the mere fact that they were probably on Workers' Compensation or missed a year's employment at the fish plant by being sick or, Mr. Speaker, in the case of women, the fact of a pregnancy, have been taken off the program without any other possible sources of income or employment. Many of those people spent in excess of twenty years directly involved in the fishery - got up every morning and went to work or got in a fishing boat - and now have been denied access to this particular program.

Mr. Speaker, I had a call from a fisherman just a couple of days ago. I suppose it hit home to me even more clearly than I have ever heard before. He has been fishing for thirty-two years. One year he had a bad fishery. I think it was one of the years that was brought forward for consideration, 1990 or 1989, I am not exactly sure. He decided that he was going to tie up his boat and go to Alberta to try to feed his family. He had the initiative to leave home, to leave his family, travel to Alberta, to a strange province, and take another job, rather than wait around for a government program or go to the office of Social Services. Because he had the initiative to go to another province, because he had the initiative to pack up and leave and obtain a job up in Alberta, now he has been denied access to this particular program.

What, I suppose, is even more shameful is if there is a successor program to TAGS, which I hope and pray that there is, this gentleman now is going to find himself unable to access that particular program as well. We are talking about a person here who has been involved in this particular industry for over thirty years. We are talking about a gentleman who is fifty-seven, fifty-eight years of age, who now probably will not be able to avail himself of any program, whether it is licence buy-out or whether it is early retirement, because of the mere fact that he was not entitled to TAGS, he was not entitled to this compensation program for the full duration of time.

That is only one story. There are lots of other stories out there. I am not the only one hearing them. Members opposite who represent rural areas, fishing communities, must be hearing them every day.

Here is a situation where if we do not have a compensation program brought down from Ottawa, who is responsible. There will be no argument over here about who is responsible for what is happening in the fishery. There is no argument over here about who should bring forward a financial answer to this particular program. There is no question of who that should be. We cannot sit back and wait for that to happen.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: You might ask: Where is this particular money going to come from? You might ask: How are we going to access funding in order to provide another compensation program? When you look at -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.



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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to get up today. I wish the member had gotten some leave because he was making such good points on this. I think he could have gone on the whole afternoon, and it would have made a lot more sense than what we have heard, the rhetoric in the last few days in this House.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we are all prepared. I think everybody in this House of Assembly and every Party here is ready to support what people are saying on the post-TAGS program. The big job that we have in front of us, and we started to talk about it yesterday, was the mentality that is in Ottawa in the support for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians on this particular issue. Because they just do not understand it.

When we talk about playing politics or being partisan, yes, it is simply there, because it is a reality that the Premier of the day, who left up there just recently, has close relationships with the Prime Minister and so on. Then we get down to the point of our representative at the table. What the reality is, and we saw it first-hand last week - and like I said, when anybody asked me what happened with the committee, I report it like it was.

We went up there, and the reality is this. A minister who sits at the table who has no more clout - I do not think I can use the rest of it in the House of Assembly. I will say he has little clout and we will leave it at that. At the same time we have ninety-nine Liberal MPs from Ontario. Now, Mr. Speaker, we have to convince all of those, that psyche, that mentality up there in Ottawa, of the situation here in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the challenge we are facing. They did not even have the decency to show up at a presentation we were about to give.

Like I said yesterday, the Member for Torngat Mountains gave one of the best presentations there over the day-and-a-half we were up there, and there were not enough people to hear what he was saying, the real heart and soul stories of what comes out of this Province that were told so well by the Member for Torngat Mountains. That type of thing is the only way to get that message across.

The second part of what I am going to say in this dialogue with this petition is about the sealing industry. Trying to describe to those people up there what the sealing industry is all about, with how ignorant they are of the real situation in Newfoundland when it comes to the sealing industry - all they see, Mr. Speaker, are the advertisements by the IFAW that fly across the country, the clubbing and so on. That is what they see. Mr. Speaker, to be honest with you, we cannot blame the people across the country and across North America for thinking as they do, when that is all they see and they do not hear our side of it.

The Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Speaker, has done a credible job, but it is not enough as he would be the first to admit, or I think he would anyway. We know that is not enough. It is one by one, bit by bit, piece by piece we have to continue, not just to Ottawa but right across this country. Because if we cannot convince our own country that what we are doing is proper, Mr. Speaker, how are we going to convince the Asian markets and the people in North America and the United States?

AN HON. MEMBER: They have to convince their own party.

MR. SHELLEY: They have to convince their own party. That is right, Mr. Speaker.

We have to convince, first of all, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Then we have to convince -

MR. H. HODDER: What did the Member for Bellevue say yesterday?

MR. SHELLEY: I do not know what the Member for Bellevue said yesterday, Mr. Speaker. What did he say yesterday?

MR. H. HODDER: Not our problem, he said. It is in Hansard.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I hope you do not have to do a poll to see what kind of support you have in Newfoundland and Labrador for the seal industry. I hope you do not have to do another poll for that, Mr. Speaker.

Getting back to the point, Mr. Speaker: I saw firsthand, when I spoke to the Reform Party, the National Opposition of this country, when I sat across the table from them, I saw firsthand ignorance in the way that they do not know. They did not know the facts about the sealing industry. All they saw, the vision in their heads when we brought up the sealing industry, was the clubbing of seals and the bad things you see. They do not realize what went on in this Province for some 500 years and what that could mean to this Province.

It is the biggest irony of all time when you think about it. If the IFAW want to do something right, why do they not complain around the world about what happened to our fish stocks? At the same time as they are talking about the sealing industry, they are putting on the verge of extinction the fish stocks in this Province. It is the biggest irony in the history of this country, probably, when we look at it.

Each and every one of us here, each and every person in the Legislature in Ottawa, our National Assembly, has to be in full support of the sealing industry. We cannot go up there and separate those two issues, the post-TAGS and the sealing industry. They are tied closely together. Yes, we should have a post-TAGS program and yes, we should address the seal stocks now, immediately, this year.

Here we have the hunt called off today and I had calls, as late as today before I came in to my office, from inshore fishermen who have not even gotten out yet to catch a seal. I have a plant in my district, Mr. Speaker, that is still asking for another 50,000 seals.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: That is what we have to put through. I think it has to be a combined message of the post-TAGS and the sealing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, listening to members opposite, listening to the speeches and seeing the demonstrations in the last three or four days, or the last week, leads me to wonder: When are we going to learn here in this Province? You would not know but the TAGS issue, you would not know but the fisheries issue, just started a week ago.

In 1992, Mr. Speaker, a minister in Ottawa - I am not going to tell his name, I am not going to talk politics - closed down the fishery. Why? Because after a decade the message from the fishermen finally got through when the total cod stocks, groundfish stocks, collapsed; in 1992.

Each and every year since 1992, 40,000 people have been reduced to almost poverty level living in Newfoundland, or below poverty level, depending on handouts from the central government or the taxpayers of Canada. Each and every year went by and nobody did anything about it. Nobody has said anything about it. Nobody has tried to correct the situation until now, six years later. We say now we are going to have demonstrations because there is consideration being given to ending the TAGS program.

What about all of those people who have been coming up week after week, month after month, year after year? What about reference, Mr. Speaker? In 1992 - here is a cartoon out of The Evening Telegram that depicts the issue very clearly. It says: Crosbie, fish and chips. And there is a gentleman walking up -

MR. J. BYRNE: You are not partisan now, are you? (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: No, I am making a point.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sit down and don't be so foolish.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: No, it is not partisan; I am making a point. It has nothing to do with partisan.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, what the cartoon shows is a gentleman walking up and looking for - I am serious - fish and chips. Here is what the cartoon says -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Forget who is in the picture; that is not the issue: You have to wait a couple of years for fish. Do you want a few chips in the meantime?

Now that was 1992, seriously. In 1992: Wait a couple of years for fish. In 1998, the most recent scientific report given to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans by the FRCC says very clearly that the stocks today are worse than pre-1992. This did not happen this year. This has been continuing to happen since 1992. What have we done about it, collectively? Absolutely nothing. We are great grumblers and complainers after the fact, but do not want to do anything in the meantime. We are great at getting political attention, great making speeches, great going before the microphones after the fact.

What I am saying is that I have been at this for two years as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; I was at it prior to being Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The problem with the Newfoundland fishery today is the mismanagement of the fishery since 1992 as much as it was mismanaged before 1992, and collectively everybody in this Province should have recognized it day after day after day. Now the end of the TAGS program is coming, there is no fish, and Ottawa is basically saying there is no money. We should not have waited until the twelfth hour to address this problem.

I have been talking about 6 million seals in the ocean. It is not a fictitious number, there are 6 million seals out there, and you cannot catch the fish twice. If the seals take the fish, man cannot catch it. And collectively we should have been saying to the rest of Canada and the rest of the world: To heck with your attitude towards the seal hunt! We should have decreased the population of seals and we would not be reduced to going to Ottawa begging for money.

Unless we address that problem, each and every community in this Province will be doing the same thing a decade down the road. The problem is not going to go away, Mr. Speaker, unless we address the problem and make it go away in this Province.

If you think or I think or anybody else thinks, that we are going to get the rest of the world to agree and come down and say, `We are ready to help you', you will be here for eternity living in poverty. So until we wake up in this Province, and until we start to address our own problems here, it will never happen. The problem is that the rest of Canada, the central governments, do not live here, and they do not recognize the problems. And we are not addressing our own problem here in this Province.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of residents of my district pertaining to a very important transportation initiative for the area of the Goulds bypass road. The prayer of the petition addresses - I say to the minister, you may have heard many of these before. I received another few in the mail today, and they are coming in every day from people in the area because they believe it is a very important initiative in that particular area.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture shows me an article that goes back to 1992, six years ago. Minister, you are six years out of tune.

MR. EFFORD: Did you read it?

MR. SULLIVAN: I have read it. I read it before. I have talked to people. I did fifty phone calls at random four years ago to people in the Goulds part of the district and not one opposed the Goulds bypass road. I have spoken to people in every community. Every municipality met publicly since 1992. They met again just last month. They met several times. They sat in the minister's office very recently, in the last two months. They all sat in the office of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and they will tell you where they stand on the Goulds bypass road. I have not received one call to my office opposing it, and every single representation made to me has supported it, I say to the minister, and there are very important reasons why.

It is for the very same reasons, Minister, that is important to have the Conception Bay North bypass road, and the same reasons why, in spite of what people said on an Outer Ring Road - I believe it is important to have an Outer Ring Road to speed up movement around the city here, to help people in the east end from being land-locked, for better movement of businesses and so on, to open up the east end to increased residences by having a transportation system where they can move out of the city during, especially, traffic congestion.

Here on the Southern Shore it is important. It says, it has been identified as a priority under the Canada-Newfoundland Transportation Initiative; it says, it has not begun despite repeated promises from government; and whereas significant opportunities - you can forget that part, I say to the minister.

Come on up next time, I say to the minister, come on up and run up there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, yes. I said, come on down the Southern Shore; but make sure you have good shocks or struts in your vehicle if you are going up there because the road, actually, through the Goulds area is like a washboard. It has been cut up through from water and sewage. It is congestion. It is people living on that highway. Residents are right on a main thoroughfare. It is very important. And it is important to the industrial base, the Town of Bay Bulls, the Goulds bypass road.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and the Town of Bay Bulls has recently been out there indicating that it is important to the opening up of the port of Bay Bulls, that there is tremendous work being done in the hope of landing work for an offshore supply base there. It is a tremendous piece of property that is being developed. We need it to move business, the industrial sector.

People saw on the news just last week, and in the Telegram, or on the TV stations, boats coming into Bay Bulls to take away aluminum boats to ship down to South America, creating dozens of jobs in the Town of Bay Bulls.

We need a transportation system that is going to be able to move freight, goods, across these highways. People can commute, people having to spend forty-five to fifty minutes driving from Bay Bulls to the Confederation Building when they should be doing it in twenty minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, now, he is speaking to this petition. I think one of the problems, I say to the Government House Leader, is, as I was driving through the Goulds last year, I heard the Government House Leader say on radio in the morning: If the people on the Southern Shore want to get into St. John's, they should get up earlier in the morning and leave earlier to get to work.

I said, in response to that: How do you tell a mother with three kids, who works in St. John's for a very low wage, who leaves home in the morning at 6:45, to leave home at 6:00 a.m.? It should not have to be. That is what he said. I called it a (inaudible) by the minister. He was the minister representing the people here who the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture passed over. He was representing those farmers then. He did not want to rock the boat. He spoke out directly against his own government's policy when he was a minister. And, I say to the Government House Leader, he was a minister in the Cabinet that endorsed the Goulds bypass road, and I heard him on the radio in the morning saying, `should not do it'. And the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation knows exactly what I am talking about.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Member for Mount Pearl is smiling there, knowing exactly what I mean, because some people do not always get in the loop we understand. The Minister of Forestry and Agrifoods at the time, oh, he was in the loop alright. He was floating that (inaudible) balloon right from the centre of the loop, I would say, and the balloon burst. That is what happened, the balloon burst. And we are going to see -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it was busted, we will say.

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the hon. gentleman that I did not talk about the people of the Southern Shore. I said that I live in the Goulds, and if I want to get to work fast, I have to get up ten minutes earlier and leave ten minutes earlier in the morning. If you are going to do away with the farm land, I said, why do that? I was representing farmers, right? I want to say to the hon. gentleman that today I am a kinder, gentler man.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, just a bit to leave to the finish up a few important things. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation -

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


MR. SULLIVAN: He is not in his seat; he cannot withdraw leave when he is not in his seat.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure after the remark from the Member for Bellevue he does not want to do anything wrong to upset the applecart here today.

Anyway, I will get back to that matter at hand, and that is the Goulds bypass road. It is important, it is essential for people in the area and it is the only avenue, I say to the minister, by which the people of the Southern Shore can get in here to go to work, to buy things here in the City of St. John's, buy cars, buy clothing, even buy food, buy any of the basic goods and commodities that are on sale here to support the tax base of this part of the Province. It is the only avenue and it is only appropriate that the tax dollars, under the transportation initiative of the federal government, a 100 per cent federally-funded structure, should be used and should be expedited. I feel it in my heart that the minister is going to approve some funding.

If contracts come in a little under, we will find $1 million dollars this year out of the pool of $108 million for roads, of which $96 million are federal dollars. This year, out of the $108 million being spent on roads in the Province, a measly 1 per cent of federal spending to get a Goulds bypass road.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it is Isla del Sol, I guess, but I cannot say too much to him. He has given a commitment to it, he has put it in writing, but the problem we have here is we need it now. We need to start now, we need to see some hope for people, we need a better transportation system; because business development is a product of the transportation system that is used in the moving of goods and services. It is a part of doing business. We have to have infrastructure. It costs people today to drive over bad roads. They pay personal expenses. It costs businesses money to transport goods. Time is money today and it is important that we speed up and get some hope for the people in the area, an area which has been devastated by the fishery.

So, Mr. Speaker, in case there is any doubt in the minister's mind, I support this petition of the people in the district. No doubt I will over the next while, as petitions keep coming in every day, be presenting them at every opportunity, to impress upon this government how important it is to have a Goulds bypass road.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Prior to the Government House Leader being appointed to the Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, which was prior to the last election, this member was in support of the bypass road, and publicly, in campaign literature and otherwise, supported it; because there is no question that the people in the area require it. They need it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that in that area of the Goulds, the area in which the Government House Leader lives, that transportation system for the amount of traffic that goes over it can only be described as a cow path. That is all it can be described as.

When traffic surveys were done in that area -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am going to get to that. When the traffic surveys were done in that area, they indicated that the amount of traffic was over that demanded.

Now, Mr. Speaker, people in the area, businesses which had concerns upfront and early - there were two options that could have been explored: To go with the Goulds bypass road or to upgrade the existing route, what they call Route 10. A number of people were interested in that, but, Mr. Speaker, today the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation from the District of Port de Grave said, and I quote: If there is a place in the Province that is in need of a bypass road and should be our priority, it is the Goulds bypass road. That is what he said.

MR. SULLIVAN: He was a minister too and did not do it.

MR. E. BYRNE: That is right.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the thing that we have to come to understand clearly is that it is a question of the priority of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation right there. This is a federally-funded bypass road, part of the Roads for Rail Agreement, 100 per cent funded through that transportation initiative.

Now, I spoke to the present Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the reasoning that he provided to me with respect to the Goulds bypass road was, what his department is attempting to do is clean up the existing initiatives, such as the Outer Ring Road and some of the other initiatives that the Department of Works, Services and Transportation have underway. He provided this caveat: It's not a question of if the Goulds bypass road is going ahead, it's a question of when.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister of this department, that the question of when has arrived and it is no longer a question of when, it is a question of now. The minister has had representation from people within the area. Be assured that the vast majority of the population in the area support it, because they know how necessary it is, for a variety of reasons, as I said, not the least of which is safety.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and support my colleague for Ferryland's petition today with respect to the Goulds bypass road, requesting that the provincial Department of Works, Services and Transportation and the government move immediately to begin the construction of the Goulds bypass road.

Thank you.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition today.

AN HON. MEMBER: On (inaudible)?

MS S. OSBORNE: No, it is not, it is on Sunday shopping. You can laugh at that if you like, but I continue.

As recently as yesterday I had a call from a woman and she asked: Do you have any petitions on Sunday shopping?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You are not going to shop in a restaurant, boy. You don't shop in a restaurant.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Are you finished?

This legislation has a bit of history, and you guys are after using this legislation. You used it in December 1995 when you wanted to deflect what the present Premier was doing up in Ottawa, cutting the UI benefits. You used it then. You used it on May 16, 1997, when you wanted to deflect from the bad health care. Then you brought it up again in December of last year, and unfortunately it got through. There isn't a week goes by that I don't get people calling my office and saying they want to protest this Sunday shopping.

There has already been a weakness shown in it when you got a call from the Anglican archbishop, when he asked that you close it on Easter Sunday. Then on that same day -

MR. TULK: I heard you were up at the flea market on Sunday.

MS S. OSBORNE: The flea markets were always open on Sunday, sir.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MS S. OSBORNE: That is by choice! I'm talking about mothers and fathers who have to go out and work for $5.25 a hour! That's what I'm talking about! I don't care what you did. You closed it on Easter Sunday, and that same day we asked -

MR. TULK: What is the difference between a flea market and supermarket?

MS S. OSBORNE: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, I'm trying to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you very much.

When you passed that it would closed on Easter Sunday, we tried to get it closed on Mother's Day and Father's Day, and the Member for Gander stood and said: I respect my mother every day of the year. I said: I do too. I would think that a lot of Newfoundlanders respect their mothers that much that they don't want them out working on Sunday for $5.25 an hour, and their fathers as well. Five dollars and twenty-five cents an hour, when you have to pay baby sitters to go out and work in retail on Sunday.

This petition will be put in today, and they will continue to come as long as the people continue to call my office and ask me to represent them here in this House.

Thank you.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to this petition. On the Sunday before last I went up to the Avalon Mall. I had to pick up a few items, so I went up to Wal-Mart to do a bit of shopping. First thing, I had an awful job to find a place to park. It was one of the busiest times ever I've seen at the Avalon Mall.

I spoke to some people about it, and I said: It seems like there is a lot of interest in Sunday shopping. The reaction I got was that this is the way it is. Every Sunday you can go to the Avalon Mall, or any of the shopping centres in this city, and people want to shop.

MS S. OSBORNE: But who wants to work, for God's sake?

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I have taken several visits out of the country; I have been in other countries. It is quite common when I go down to Florida that the shops are all open. I go in and meet people from this Province who are the most avid opponents to Sunday shopping and are the first ones you will meet when you go out of the country and do some shopping.

It is not a religious issue, Mr. Speaker, because religious issues are a person's own conscience. If a person does not want to shop on Sunday he or she does not have to, and fortunately, Mr. Speaker, if a person does not want to work, normally the person does not - now the nurses and doctors have been working right from the time when Christ said: It is not wrong to do a good deed on the sabbath day. Mr. Speaker, nobody is forced to work on Sunday. The Labour Relations Act, one of the acts, protects people against that.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that the overwhelming majority of the people of this Province want to shop on Sunday. In a democracy we have to accept the will of the majority. I believe that history will show this as probably among the more progressive things that we have done. If on the other hand people do not want the shops open on Sunday they will not be open on Sunday because it is the marketplace which will dictate, not the hon. member who wants to get up and shout and try to make political points. It is the marketplace which will decide. Anybody who wants to shop can shop and anyone who does not want to shop does not have to shop.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the sandbagger for Humber East, I have a copy of a petition here signed by people who live here in this Province who have a concern with Sunday shopping. They want to have the will of the people expressed here in the Legislature. I will speak to it because when it arose in the House before I indicated that I found it difficult to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is speaking to the petition raised by the Member for St. John's West?

MR. SULLIVAN: That is correct, Mr. Speaker, yes.

Because I felt at the time, and I still feel that way, that I don't think we should be forcing people to work on Sundays, especially in major chains and so on as we are seeing today. I think there is no need to further breakdown the family unit in our society where the mother has to leave home on Sunday to go to work with young kids at home; a mother who was probably working during the week, maybe the father is out of this Province working because of the unemployment situation here or the employment situation here, those concerns.

Just before Easter here in this House government saw fit to bring in legislation that would change Sunday shopping for Easter Sunday. Government saw fit to say that Easter Sunday is a day that we should not be allowed to shop. We moved an amendment to that. We wanted to have Mother's Day and even Father's Day in our motion, as two other days set aside. Why on Mother's Day, for example, should we have to turn that mother from her house to report to work for four, five or six hours or whatever the case may be? I don't think there is a need for that.

I understand there is a member on the government side of this House who had a business that did not want mothers - wanted to stay home, was it, on Mother's Day? You said they should stay home and did not allow them to work on Mother's Day. I think that is a noble thing, that there should be an opportunity to be home. The very same government now has forced that member and others to stand here unanimously and vote to have mothers go to work on Mother's Day. We moved that little amendment. We figured that at least if they were not going to ban it on fifty-two Sundays, only Easter Sunday, the least they could do was have some consideration for the parents out there, the mothers out there in society who are toiling with young children at home. Because we are under serious attack today, I might add, on young people in our society, on children in our society; the child abuse, child victims and so on, broken families and people not getting an opportunity to spend as much time with their families.

I know in the part of the Province where I grew up, Sunday was a day in which people could sit around at home, mill around. It had a certain family aspect, whether it was a family drive or taking your kid to an arena, or taking your kid to an event in a family setting. That was a tradition. I know society has changed but we do not have to accelerate the rate at which society is breaking down the family unit today in such a manner that over 50 per cent of the people in society who get married end up in divorce. There are so many pressures out in society today, there are so many mechanisms that pull the family apart. We do not have to be a party to speeding up that process.

We should try to preserve a certain amount of the basic principles in our society that would be able to hold. The strongest unit in our society today that dictates, really, the future of governments and where we are heading is the family unit. Once we destroy that, once we further erode that cohesion, that unity out there, we create ills in society today. That is part of our problem today in society. We have lost respect for the value of private time, of family time. We are treating every day of the week - it is like a Las Vegas, trying to make it like a Las Vegas seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, day and night, it does not make any difference. Society just cannot function and maintain the same set of morals and values and principles that way, and we would like to remove ourselves from that.

Why do we have to be like Toronto, Montreal, Las Vegas or any other particular city? There is something unique about living in Newfoundland and Labrador. There was something unique about living in Newfoundland and Labrador, but it is being eroded by policies like this, by forcing people to go to work on Sundays, by forcing mothers to leave the home on Sundays. It is changing. We are condoning that, we are being a part of it. I think we have to come back -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, Mr. Speaker, just for thirty seconds? Nobody (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue to these people who put their names, addresses, and phone numbers on this petition. People did it for a purpose because they sincerely believe it. If government did a carefully worded poll that told them it is okay to have Sunday shopping, if they did their carefully worded poll out there and said - look, you have to stop governing by looking out the door and seeing what way the wind is blowing, and start making decisions based on certain principles, morals and facts in our society. Like the saying, if you follow the crowd you will likely get no further than the crowd. That is basically it. If you walk alone in your own direction, you will probably go to places where no one has ever been before.

We seem to be following the winds of movement here in our Province. It is time we stood on some basic solid principles here and start making appropriate decisions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I am presenting a petition on behalf of the residents of St. John's. 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 Departments of Health and 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 clotheslines, as well as possible health risks due to emissions from the stack."

Mr. Speaker, this is among the number of petitions that I have already presented on this particular issue. The residents of the area came out in numbers to a meeting I had. I am receiving letters and phone calls from the residents of that area regarding the emissions at the Grace Hospital stack. It is an issue that concerns the residents of that area. It is an issue that is creating damage to property belonging to residents in the area. People who work in the area I have heard from as well; even though they live outside of that particular area, they work in the area.

The government, while they have had many people approach them, and approach the Grace Hospital, in particular, regarding damage to their property and to their vehicles as a result of the Grace Hospital stack, these people have never been reimbursed. In fact, they have been told to contact their insurance and indeed, the residents of the area who own vehicles and have contacted their insurance because of paint damage and rust and dulling residue on their paint, were told by their insurance that: no, they have had too many claims already from that particular area for that same reason and that they no longer consider it to be an insurable item. They will no longer cover it under their insurance, Mr. Speaker, because it is a common occurrence, it is happening on a regular basis in that area. So, Mr. Speaker, if the insurance companies are saying that and they have had so many claims already that they are no longer willing to provide insurance claims or reimbursement due to claims on insurance for vehicles in the area, obviously, it is a problem.

It is not only property damage we are concerned about, it is health, and when children go in after a summer evening of being outside playing street hockey or whatever the case may be, and the parents actually wipe soot from their faces, there is a definite problem and that may have serious repercussions to this government in years to come. Because, if there is a problem in the area to health and property, then I see no way out for the provincial government if these people are to go after the government saying: We have told you so. We have asked you, we have informed you, we have begged you to correct the problem. And if it has not been corrected, if government have, in fact, refused to correct the problem, then the Province may be liable, but that is not the most of my concern here.

My concern is for the health and well-being of the residents of that area and for the well-being of their property. I think they have suffered enough in property damage and while we do not know yet whether or not they have or will suffer health problems, it is a very real possibility. This government refuses to answer the concerns of the residents of the area, Mr. Speaker, and in my opinion, that is blatantly wrong. It may only have been in the last four or five or ten years that residents have come forward and there may be a number of reasons for that. Perhaps the stack at the hospital is getting older; perhaps the burners are getting older; perhaps they are burning a lower grade fuel than they have in the past; perhaps the combination of burning an even lower grade fuel and the fact that the burners are getting older and the stack itself is getting older and dirtier inside, may all be contributing to the fact that the problem is getting worse, but, Mr. Speaker, more importantly, people are becoming more health conscious today than they ever have been before, more environmentally conscious.

Governments are preaching that they are becoming more environmentally conscious and they are more concerned with the health of the people living in their regions, yet we see absolutely no action taken in this regard, no action at all. We are told that the Health Care Corporation will only be utilizing the Grace facility for another two or three years perhaps but, what are they going to do with that facility thereafter? Will that facility be used by the government still? Are the government going to sell it, or will they tear it down? At least, at least, Mr. Speaker, the government should provide answers as to what they are going to do with that facility once the Health Care Corporation of St. John's no longer needs to utilize that facility. Because, if they are going to level the facility, if they are going to tear it down and put something else back -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. T. OSBORNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker, to clue up?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, at least, if the residents of the area knew that it was only going to be another two or three years before something was done with the Grace, maybe, maybe, Mr. Speaker, they could force themselves to live with that. But not only are the government not doing anything to correct the problem, they are not providing answers on what that facility is going to contain or what will be conducted inside the walls of that facility after the Health Care Corporation are done with the facility. It is a large building, an expensive structure, and more than likely government will find some use for it. Government now own that building and, if government are going to find some alternative use for that structure, why not start now to upgrade the facility? Why not start now to upgrade the burners? Why not start now making provisions so that they can start burning cleaner fuel, instead of putting the residents off for two or three years by saying that they are going to no longer have use for that facility - the Health Care Corporation - and then, in two or three years time, find out that the government are going to use it for office space, or they are they going to rent out the facility or turn it into a seniors complex or what have you?

So, Mr. Speaker, undoubtedly, government will find an alternative use for that facility, and when they do, undoubtedly, they will then be forced to clean up their act environmentally and for the health of the people in the area. So, why not start now?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I just want to rise to support the petition so well put forward by the Member of St. John's South. It has been on several occasions now that the Member for St. John's South has brought this matter to the attention of the government.

First of all, we want to acknowledge that this is a government-owned building and this government-owned building, which was bought from the Salvation Army a few years ago has, of course, a long history of service of Newfoundland and Labrador. It has been, for many years, a model of health care. However, right now, that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador own the building, you are not allowed to smoke within the building, in fact, down behind the building, there is a place there where staff can go - a sheltered place there, where staff or visitors are allowed to go and smoke - but, outside the building, we have a situation, where the government, knowingly, lets smoke bellow out of the smoke stacks and fall down around the neighbourhood and it is an absolute disgrace.

Therefore, the government, by their actions, are saying to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and to the people out in this part of St. John's that we are condoning a double standard. On the one hand we are supposed to be promoting good health - and I have stood in this House and supported the government's initiatives on smoking regulations - but I think it is incumbent upon the minister - I think the Minister of Environment - to say that they are going to do something about the situation at the Grace Hospital.


It comes upon the St. John's Health Care Corporation to show some initiative here. We cannot continue to let soot and smoke and other smoke residue to fall on the people who live in that neighbourhood and say: we do not care. Yet the government have had weeks and weeks of notice and we have not heard of one single initiative other than to say to them: Wait a couple of years and we might do something about it then, when we have a new owner, or a new operator or a new use for the facility. That is not appropriate.

We know that there is a health hazard in and around the area of the Grace Hospital; therefore, we are saying to the government, do something about it. It is no good to talk about the health care that you provide by stopping smoking in restaurants, or in lounges, or in bars, or in other public facilities. If you are not going to do something to help the people who are victimized, in this particular case, by the actions that are occurring in and around the Grace Hospital. It is an issue of health, it is an issue of property, matters that are of financial returns of insurance costs. What company is going to insure the houses in that area, knowing that there is already a hazard there? What health care plan is going to insure the families for their health care in that area if they know they are already hazards?

We have to be very much aware of this particular situation. We do not hear tell of any initiatives coming forward from the government to address the problem, and that is what causes us the most concern, so we cannot turn a blind eye to it. We cannot operate with a double standard; yet, this government is operating with a double standard. In other words, they promote good health and doing some good things in that area, but when a hospital, of all places, is causing a hazardous situation to public health to occur right in its own neighbourhood, we are saying, wait a couple of years and we will try to look at it at that time. That is not good enough.

So, on behalf of the people who live in the neighbourhood and the people who signed the petition - in this particular case from Casey Street and Pleasant Street, from Hamilton Avenue, and from other parts of that neighbourhood - we are saying we want the government to do something about it. Two or three years from now who knows what health hazards will have occurred. We now have a chance to come to grips with the problem, do what is right, stop the double standard, and then we will have happy people in that neighbourhood; but, more importantly, we will have done our best to intervene positively to prevent any future health hazards from occurring to the people who live in the area of the Grace Hospital.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.


Orders of the Day


MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, Motion 1.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice, Motion 1.

Motion 1, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means to consider the Raising of Supply to be granted to Her Majesty, otherwise known as the Budget Speech.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today in support of the motion. I would like to address my concerns today on the Budget and some other things as I go through the time that I have been allotted, Mr. Speaker, to speak on this matter today.

First of all, let me say that I will try and deal with some issues as I go through what I have to say. I would like to probably touch on an issue that has been, I guess, in front of all of our minds in the last few days, and that is the TAGS issue and really what is going to go on with Ottawa, whether there is going to be any money forthcoming to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I am very pleased to say that we have a Select Committee of this House who are going to Ottawa, I believe, again tomorrow to try and convince the federal Liberal government that people in our Province are very, very deserving of TAGS money and that the program should certainly be continued, Mr. Speaker, and not cancelled. It appals me to no end to know that there are members who sit in the House of Commons who believe that we should be a forgotten lot down here, and I certainly do not support that position.

I would just like to say that I am glad it is an All Party Committee of this House that is going to Ottawa but, Mr. Speaker, the other morning I had the opportunity to listen to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Let me tell you, after listening to CBC Radio, if I was not a member of this House I never would have believed that it was an All Party Committee, because outside of himself and another minister he certainly did not mention anybody on this side of the House, and he certainly did not even mention his own colleagues. He did not even mention his own colleagues, which I believe is a utter disgrace.

Then, again, I guess yesterday he said to one of my colleagues on this side that he was being political. I wonder just how political we were being the other morning when the interview was heard from Ottawa, because there were certainly other people who attended the meetings in Ottawa, members from his own side, I believe - the Member for Torngat Mountains, I believe the Member for Twillingate & Fogo, along with the Leader of the NDP and the Independent member, Ms. Jones. Mr. Speaker, hopefully the next time he is doing that he will remember that there are other members of that committee and not just himself. Hopefully, this time the committee will be successful. They will certainly get the ear of committees in Ottawa, and they will take seriously the plight of an awful lot of people in our Province.

Maybe some people are wondering why I would want to touch on that issue. I have people in my district, Mr. Speaker, who are on the TAGS program, and who are not on the TAGS program because they want to be there, and who would like nothing better than tomorrow morning to be able to jump in their fishing boat and go back fishing. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Therefore, they have to rely on this program to feed their families, to pay their bills, and I shudder to think, if we do not come in with another program, what is going to happen to communities in our Province. We have all seen what has happened to our way of life, but I wonder what is going to happen if there is nothing there in a post-TAGS program, Mr. Speaker. I believe that it will be devastating.

Mr. Speaker, as well today I would like to touch on students, especially students who attend our university here, our university where the Public Accounts Committee of this Province are not allowed. Well, they are allowed but they are not allowed, if that makes sense. They are allowed but they are not allowed because somebody feels it would interfere with academic freedom, which is a load of hogwash, Mr. Speaker.

We have watched interest-free loans. We have watched students come out of there $50,000 and $60,000 in debt; yet, we can find $50,000 to give somebody an interest-free loan towards purchasing a house. I think that is terrible.

We can look at grass being imported - not the kind you smoke, either, Mr. Speaker - the kind you lay out to walk over or lie on. I have seen that imported from out of this Province and I have to wonder: What is going on with Memorial University? I have watched tuition rise. I have spoken to students from within my own district and from without, and I believe that it is criminal that the Auditor General of this Province cannot go into Memorial University and do the type of investigation that the Auditor General of this Province is capable of doing.

As well, Mr. Speaker, in my own district, I guess one of these days I will have an opportunity to talk to the Minister of Finance concerning a proposal that has come in from the Town of Conception Bay South since last fall, a program called Private Partner Funding, where the town went out for public proposals - we will say it quite clearly, nothing political - the town went out for proposals, and they reviewed the proposals and sent a submission on to government. So far, Mr. Speaker, there has been no answer back. It was a proposal which, over a number of years, would see the town fully serviced in water and sewerage. Yet, nothing has gone back. I believe it is a proposal somewhere to the tune of some $50 million. It involves, of course, government; it involves the town and the taxpayers and the citizens of that town; and it involves the company who made the proposal - the government. I believe that it has been in here long enough, and I think it is time we took that proposal and really went out and had a look at it. I think it is time we studied it. It has been in there long enough to be studied, and I believe it has been, Mr. Speaker. I believe it is now time that this proposal went forward, and we could do the Town of Conception Bay South with water and sewerage which it so desperately needs.

I notice the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods is here. I would like to just say to him that they are talking about closing, in his department, the fire station on the Salmonier Line. It is a little bit outside of my district, but I have people within my own district who have cottages and so on in the Salmonier Line and the Deer Park area. I believe that by laying off the three members who were still there from the fire service will be a very bad mistake. I did have the figure at one time, and it slips my mind now, there are a quite a few cabins in that area. To say we are going to service that area from Whitbourne, I think, will probably be just a little bit too late.

I say to the minister, I understand that in his department they are looking at ways, maybe, to find the money to keep this particular fire station open. I would urge the minister to do just that, to make sure the fire station on Salmonier Line does not close, but indeed still stays open. I would implore the minister, when he gets an opportunity to maybe talk to one of his deputies, to talk to somebody in his fire service. I believe it was a Mr. Blackmore I spoke to yesterday out in Gander, and I spoke to Mr. Collins in at Paddys Pond yesterday as well. I would ask him to make sure that the fire station in that area does not close, and at least can remain open for the summer season, and probably up until maybe around the end of September.

As well, I had some need awhile ago to talk to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment in this Province. Today, here in the House and publicly, I would like to thank her for her assistance for a constituent of mine who was having a great deal of problems with, I guess you would call her a very young adult, a young person who is not of legal age. I am sure she knows what I am talking about. The only reason I raise the issue here today is that we do not have facilities in this Province today to look after people in the situation in which this family found themselves.

I would implore the minister, if it is humanly possible in this Budget, to make sure that funding is provided for young people in this Province who can avail of the treatment that is necessary within our own Province. I do not know if that has been corrected yet but it has been ongoing. I know the minister's department was more than helpful to a constituent of mine in this very serious matter, and I want to thank her for that. Hopefully it is on the way to becoming a suitable resolution for the family and for the child who was involved.

We have to look at, of course, our health care that, in my opinion, is still lacking. It is certainly lacking in sensitivity. Maybe we should offer somebody a course in how to win friends and influence people. When you receive a call from somebody in your own district who has had a death in their family, only to find on the night the family is waking their father in a funeral home in Kelligrews, somebody strolls in with the father's clothes in a garbage bag and planks it on the floor and says: Here you go, here are the clothes.

The only reason that one was let go was because of a request from the family, that they were grieving enough as it was and they really did not want any amount of publicity on this. But I say it today so that the message can get back to the minister, to make sure that this type of thing is never allowed to happen again in this Province, to any family, Mr. Speaker, because I believe that was nothing short of disgraceful.

Then you have a call from another family who has a father in hospital who is capable of going to the washroom with some assistance, and the family are told: Well, let him stay in bed with diapers on. Rather than help him get out of bed to go to the washroom, let him stay there, because we don't have enough staff to help the father get out and get to the washroom; we don't have enough staff. For a man who has his own mind and his own dignity, and for his family, that is very sad. That, Mr. Speaker, happened to a constituent of mine, and that is wrong, that is terribly wrong, that we would put somebody through such an injustice; terribly wrong, Mr. Speaker, that we would do that, that we would even think of doing that to people in our Province, to our senior citizens.

As well, Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on homes for special care, probably one of the cheapest forms of health care in this Province. It is the cheapest form of health care. I have some fifteen to twenty personal care homes surrounding my district; a group of people who have been neglected for far too long and deserve more money than they are receiving. It is an industry, Mr. Speaker, which has been studied to death. I think every time we turn around we are going to run off and do another study and another study and another study of what we should be doing.

I was talking to the people who own these homes, and that is study enough. The last two that I know that have been done have recommended increases for the homes in this Province. Of course, that has not happened. They have not received anything. Absolutely nothing has happened. That is wrong, because these people work, they work hard and they give great care to the people who they look after. They give great care, Mr. Speaker, to the people who they look after. I believe that these people are certainly deserving of an increase. These people certainly should have been given one and they should have been given it a long time ago.

If anybody has any of these homes in their district I am sure that a quick phone call to those people will certainly answer any questions as to what I am saying, and will certainly back up what I am saying, Mr. Speaker; that these people need help and they need it now, they don't need it in six months time or in six years time. They could use a little bit of help right now, and I call upon the government to do that and to do that fairly quickly.

Also, Mr. Speaker, in the area of Rural Renewal, the boards have been set up throughout the Province. I trust that we are going to use these boards. I trust we are going to use these boards properly, although I hear some rumblings that maybe we are not. I trust that all proposals from areas will go through these boards and that something will not be done without the approval of some of these rural boards. I hope we will not go around them for political purposes, but indeed will work with them and through them to accomplish things that will go on in various districts throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

As well, Mr. Speaker, on the issue of social assistance, and of course, the area of claw-backs to social assistance recipients; another area, Mr. Speaker, where I believe we should be looking, and we should be looking rather quickly. We should not be clawing back money on child tax benefits and so on. We should not be doing that. We should, Mr. Speaker, put a stop to it; we should certainly put a stop to it.

As well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that I wait, along with others, to see exactly what is going to come of the Churchill Falls deal. I anxiously await - well, if and when it becomes a deal I certainly await the results of that, because I believe if it is done and done properly it can be a tremendous benefit to our citizens and to the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador; if it is done and if it is done in the proper manner.

Let's not play PR games as we saw the other day with our announcement now, that it will be easier to work in Quebec. Why should it have been any harder in the first place? Why should it have been any harder, Mr. Speaker, in the first place? It should not have been. It will be interesting to see what the labour agreement will be when the time comes to do that; very interesting, Mr. Speaker, to see exactly what is going to happen. After all, we cannot keep borrowing money on our future and other programs that are coming from Ottawa.

I guess this Budget was more like a Throne Speech than a Budget; not, in my opinion, a lot of substance.

As well, over the last few days we have watched and we have listened and heard the reports of the private schools in this Province, and how certain things were allowed to happen is a mystery, not only to me but to a lot of other people in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is certainly a mystery how things got approved, by whom and why. I guess the biggest question is why they got approved without going through, what I would consider to be, proper channels.

Mr. Speaker, again to touch on the infrastructure sector, as I mentioned a bit earlier: Especially for my own district today and the proposal that is now before government which should see the servicing of my town or part of my town and part of the Member for Topsail's district, I believe it is time that we put this plan in action. I believe we should try it. We should look at it, we should monitor it and we should study it once it starts and maybe it is a way of the future. We talk about changes in the fishery and some of our resources. Maybe it is a way that we could look at doing not only my town but a lot of other towns in this Province, if of course the town can prove that they can certainly meet the needs, financially, of carrying their share of the load in that regard. If it can't happen, then it should not happen but I believe in this case, the town has clearly shown that it can do this, it can carry the load. I would urge government today, this year, 1998, to move forward in this particular direction. It is an area that certainly needs addressing.

I am sure every member in this House, I can take you to my own district or you could take me to yours and show me areas where there are problems with water and sewer. It is probably one of the largest problems that we have in this Province of ours, within Newfoundland and Labrador. It is probably one of the largest problems that we have, where in 1998 we can still look at sewage - I know I can in my district - running into ditches on the side of the road and running into rivers. It should not be allowed to happen in 1998. It should not be allowed to happen. I believe that the government should certainly introduce the program that it has had since before Christmas of 1997, that we should move on it and move on it fairly quickly.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I would like for a couple of minutes to talk about injured workers in this Province. Again, I am sure members on the other side of the House, the same as myself - I have talked to some of them about it - have certainly attended meetings with the appeal board for Workers' Compensation. We have all gone to them and we have all watched the deeming process in this Province. We have all watched and we have all seen, Mr. Speaker, sometimes what happens to deeming. If ever there was a part of government that somebody should take by the neck and shake it and turn it inside out and upside down and probably boot half of them out, it has to be the Workers' Compensation Commission in this Province.

I don't know that we solved any problems by now giving them the job of doing the inspections, because I am not so sure they can handle what they have now. When I read some of the things that I read, then it really makes me wonder.

A week or so ago I did an appeal for a constituent of mine, and everybody had signed off on the appeal, my constituent worker's compensation, but it was not finished. They had sent out for more information. Yet, they sent it off to the chief review commissioner to make a decision. They signed off, my constituent signed off, and today we are in limbo because they did not get the information back. The day after the hearing somebody wrote my constituent a letter and said: Hey, here is this information. Now we have to send this back for another review. For this one fellow, if it has to go back for another review, it will make the third separate appeal for one man. The third separate appeal that that man has had to make on Workers' Compensation for an injury that almost killed him, and today the man is still disabled. We are now going back again, and we may have to do it for the third time. Three separate items in his appeal.

Should we really put Newfoundlanders and Labradorians through that? A family man with two growing children and a wife, and a house to look after. Is that what we should do? Because that is what Workers' Compensation in this Province is doing to injured workers, and we should no longer allow them to get away with it. When they deem a man capable of being a salesperson because he can lie on his back and use the phone, or a man can be a car salesman because he can sit down, take you and show you the car and then go over and sit down, and if you want to buy the car you can run around the shop and find him - what a pack of nonsense to do that to somebody in Newfoundland and Labrador, and do it in 1998.

We should buy twenty or twenty-five books of How to Win Friends and Influence People and send them down there. We should probably send them down a heart each, because some of them down there certainly do not have a heart, and it is time that we did something about them. I do not intend, as critic for that, to let them go, because I think they have gone on long enough. I know, in certain areas even the minister would agree - we may not agree on everything, but there are things in there that I am sure he and I would agree on - that this crowd down there have gone on far too long.

We as legislators in this Province have to put a stop to what they are doing to people in our Province who through no fault of their own are today suffering. Instead of helping these people and trying to make some of their lives a little bit easier, we are doing our utmost to make their lives a living hell. We are doing that to people in this Province and we should not be doing it, and we should not be allowing it to happen. The quicker we can get inside this crowd down here and shake the leaves, and shake some of them out the door - because I believe that is where some of them should be.

I am all for employment, but I tell you, this is one area where we should be shaking them out the door and we should be using the royal order of the boot. Because some of the crowd that are making some of these decisions - and I am not talking about them all - but some of this crowd really and truly have no heart at all, and are not understanding of people in our Province who have suffered through injury, as I said, through no fault of their own. We, in this House of Assembly, are today allowing that to happen.

The review is done. It is in, it has been in for eighteen months. Hopefully very soon, hopefully in this session of the House, we are going to deal with Workers' Compensation, because the time has come for us to deal with it. The time is past for us to deal with it. We should have been dealing with it a long time ago. The time is here, the time has come, that we should do something to change and put a heart into an organization that has a place in this Province. In certain areas of it, it has to find a heart.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: Could I have five seconds to clue up?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Go ahead.

MR. FRENCH: So, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence today, Sir. On that note, I will sit down and turn it over to somebody else.

Thank you.

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

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

It is my pleasure today to stand in response to the Budget Speech. This was my first Throne Speech and my first Budget Speech. When the Throne Speech was read on March 18, it spoke, under Social Policy, of new ideas and innovative measures that are needed to bring meaningful change. If I were to believe this rhetoric, I would feel that the government was repenting for spending the last two years ignoring social issues and was now going to right the wrongs of the past by making social reform a priority.

Let me tell you about meaningful change. In this Budget the government announced that monthly allowances for families on social assistance would be increased by 7 per cent over the next three years, with a 2 per cent increase effective May 1. Social service recipients, it said, will receive the same rate of increase as the public sector unions. That is supposed to justify this small increase.

I have the payment chart right here before me, Mr. Speaker, and the payment chart of the Department of Human Resources and Employment clearly states that a single employable person not living with a relative is entitled to $130 a month before the increase. Two per cent of $130 is $2.60. A change of $2.60 to a person on social assistance is certainly a meaningful change. That is a fact.

With this improvement in the social services allowance, and all the good it is supposed to do for our social service recipients, I wonder to what extent will that $2.60 enhance the living conditions of a person living in squalor in a bedsitting room in downtown St. John's, at the mercy of slum landlords?

I related the following incident before, but this is a very profound incident and I would like to repeat it. A short time ago there was a show on the evening news which featured slum bedsitting rooms in St. John's. It showed the squalor some of our people are living in. Right there on the t.v. screen for all to see was a room which was beyond condemned. There was a table, a few chairs, a bit of food on the table, a bed and a pail. The person living in that room used that pail for a toilet, probably because the house was so overcrowded and there was one bathroom and he needed to.

The Minister of Human Resources was interviewed and featured on that program, and they asked her about people living in those conditions. She said: We do not dictate where our people choose to live. This government does not dictate where our people choose to live. You certainly dictate where they do not live and where they cannot live with that kind of an allowance. They cannot choose where to live either, no matter if you dictate where they live or not. With an allowance of $130 a month, now $132.60 a month, you do not dictate where these people live but you dictate where they do not live, because they can only live in the squalor that was featured there.

It is very interesting: When I was first elected last July, a young couple came into my office about a week into my being elected and they sat in front of me and said: Mrs. Osborne, we are living with my wife's grandmother and we are getting $183 a month. I said: $183 a month? and she said: Yes, that is what we get, and I said: That $183, that is after your room and board are paid, is it? and they said: No, no, that is all we get and it was such an unbelievable amount that I said: This is twice a month, is it? No, this is what we get, $183 is all we receive, that is to pay my grandmother the room and board, that is to buy our toiletries, that is to buy our shampoo, that is for our entertainment and God forbid, that is if we could ever afford to go to bingo. That is all we get.

I could not believe my ears. How can the grandmother buy groceries for them for $183 a month? But it is on the chart here and I can verify that; I can give names of those people who came and sat before me. It is totally unbelievable and now we are insulting them with an increase of 2 per cent.

Another example on this allowance chart is the payment allowed to a couple with two children. The chart says they should receive $1,070 a month and with that 2 per cent increase, they will now get $21.40, that is an increase of five dollars and thirty-two dollars a month each. There are children in this Province if you offered them five dollars a month increase in allowance they would be insulted.

Before the House adjourned, I stood and asked a question about this 2 per cent but the Minister of Human Resources and Employment was not here so I posed the question to the Premier, and his reply to me was, and I quote: I have to assume that the member is confused because I would have to otherwise come to the assumption that the member is deliberately misleading people, and of course, I know the member would never do that, so I will say the member is confused.

If one were to check Hansard, or if one were to go back and check any taped responses from the Premier, when he is asked a question that he does not want to answer, one will find the same condescending rhetoric. Mr. Premier, I was not confused then, and I am not confused now. These numbers are from the chart from the Department of Human Resources and Employment and you do not need the attributes of a mathematical genius to compute 2 per cent of $130, and 2 per cent is what the increase is for 1997.

On page 2 of this Budget, Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister refers to the introduction of the HST as, and I quote: The single largest tax cut in the Province since we joined Confederation. Tax cut for whom? Mr. Speaker, when your family with a couple of children and you are receiving $1,000 a month or less as total income, there is no tax cut, there is a tax hike. In lower income families, their income must be expended on essentials like heat, light and children's clothing and taxes were hiked on heat, light and children's clothing when the HST was placed on these items when this government sold out. They called it a tax cut but, Mr. Speaker, it is not likely that a family with two parents and two children or a single mother with four children living on less than $1,000 a month will be in a position to take advantage of an HST by making major purchases like 4-wheel drives or any of the other things that people in the higher income bracket are able to take advantage of.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier's former colleague in Ottawa, Premier MacLellan from Nova Scotia, has recently lashed out at the HST. He wants amendments to it. Premier MacLellan has stated that the HST is posing too much hardship for the residents of Nova Scotia who are on low income. He is fighting Ottawa on behalf of his people, an action, I anticipate is not a likely one by our Premier who aspires to higher places in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the National Child Benefit. The Minister of Finance says, and I will read from the Budget: Let us clearly understand how the National Child Benefit works. The federal government will provide low-income families with an increase in the Canada Child Tax Benefit. This increase called the National Child Benefit will provide an additional $605 annually for the first child, $405 for the second child and $330 for each additional child. Provincial social assistance benefits to families with children will decrease by the same amount.

The Minister of Finance says: Mr. Speaker, let me emphasize, there will be no lose of income for social assistance families. They will receive the same amount. This amount will free up $10.15 million annually in provincial social assistance funds and the money will be reinvested in programs such as family resource centres, improvement and expansion of child care services, the introduction of family home child care, the introduction of licensed infant child care and there will be youth service networks. There will be work incentives, the child care expense deduction will be increased and full drug card benefits will be extended for a period of time while people who have found work are no longer eligible for social assistance. All that is very commendable. I agree with these programs. They are long overdue. As a matter of fact, one of the recommendations in this report of the Select Committee on Children's Interests was that family resources be set up.

This report was submitted to this government in June, 1996. Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is about time we had these programs and I am not surprised that it has taken so long. A period of almost two years seems to be the prescribed time that this government leaves reports of such nature on the shelf gathering dust. I have no problems with the programs, but why are we making this province's poorest pay for programs for the poor?

There are many, many of our people, Mr. Speaker, who will have this national child benefit clawed back and they will never be able to take advantage of any of the programs the claw-back is supposed to pay for. Why is this government standing by and letting their cousins in Ottawa dictate what our people should do with their benefits?

Another recommendation of the Select Committee Report was the creation of a child advocate, an ombudsman to slice through bureaucratic red tape in the various departments, agencies and programs to ensure the best interests of the child and the family are paramount. Yes, the Select Committee recommended it, the Opposition strongly embraced it. It would make a difference in the lives of countless children who are now suffering under a system that treats them as numbers.

This child advocate, I suppose, will have a lot changes to recommend as to how the government does things. This child advocate would probably recommend changes in the social assistance program, in education, in the justice system and so forth. Perhaps this government does not want to create a thorn in its side as it enters the latter half of its mandate, and perhaps this government is willing to sacrifice the child for its own political gain. Ignoring the Select Committee's very wise recommendation was the wrong decision. It would have cost little and done so much for the children of our Province.

What about the jobs that our social assistance families are to find in order to take advantage of the job incentives program? Where are the jobs?

I had a woman call my office the other day and she said: Mrs. Osborne, I am a widow, my son finished school six months ago and he owes $15,000. He has his shoes worn out looking for work. He cannot find a job. What she said was: Will you please ask Julie Bettney to publish the list of jobs she is talking about so he can apply for some of them? Now, Mr. Speaker, if people who are fresh out of post-secondary institutions cannot find a job, where does the government expect our people, who have been out of the work force for such a long period of time, to get them?

I have no problem with job incentive programs, they are great, but they are worthless if we don't have the jobs to go with them and we have our poorest paying for job incentive programs for jobs that do not exist.

Now I would like to talk about health programs. The Minister of Justice in his soliloquy, just before this House adjourned for the Easter break, in praising the $12,000,000 going to health care, spoke of, and I quote: "Absolutely unbelievable commitment that members on this side of the House have to the health care system. We can shout it from the rooftops. The Minister of Health and Community Services can hardly contain herself in her seat. She is anxious to spend more money on health just as we identify the source, Mr. Speaker."

Well, Mr. Speaker, I would not be able to contain myself in my seat either if I read the full page article in the Sunday Telegram just recently, telling of how a person was treated by the health care system, when his wife was a patient and she was very ill, and subsequently died, without him being called to her side. He had left orders that he be called when she asked. She called for him at 1:30 and he was called at 7:30. A very sad story, indeed, when a member of our Province does not get a chance to say goodbye to his dying wife.

That incident happened in, and I quote the Justice Minister again: "that great institution the Health Science institution of which we are very proud." I would hardly be able to contain myself in my seat if I were the Minister of Health and Community Services.

I visited an emergency room in one of our tertiary care centers right here in the City of St. John's, and I have been there, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, I was in a emergency room one morning recently when a senior citizen was brought in after suffering a stroke. She was wonderfully attended to by the staff. They examined her, diagnosed her, made her very comfortable in one of the rooms and admitted that she needed to be admitted to the institution, and they held her there in the emergency room.

Then another patient came in, suffering from chest pains. They had no examination table for this new patient so they took the woman down off the stretcher, the woman who had had the stroke, propped her up in a wheelchair and put the patient with the chest pains on the stretcher in the emergency room to examine her. I was there; I witnessed it.

One of the doctors came over to me and said: Wouldn't it be nice if the Minister of Health and the Premier could be here to see this? He said: This is not unusual. This is the norm. " - in that wonderful institution the Health Science Complex", to quote the Justice Minister.

No, I would not be able to contain myself in my chair. I would have to go to the rooftops and shout that. Who are we trying to kid?

Let us not forget that the Department of Health and Community Services, which cannot take care of the residents as it is, now has the family health services, through existing regional community health boards, bonded with it. The Boards have undertaken new responsibilities such as child welfare, youth corrections, family and rehabilitative services. I cannot imagine how these social programs will suffer in the Department of Health which cannot take care of the people who need it at this moment. This cosmetic change has already failed in two regions. The Province does not have enough faith in Western and Labrador Boards to entrust them with the new responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, we have the list of the new additional health facilities throughout the Province referred to as, quote: Not a wish list. Everybody was so happy when they were announced. There are no target dates announced for these new and improved facilities. All the information we have is that it is a multi-year plan. Just how many years are covered under the term multi?

This Budget has something for everyone. The tone was so positive and uplifting, but not let us overlook the facts. The social sector is suffering cuts, the ones that I have previously referred too. There are school closures, no doubt, as a result of the promised education reform. There is less money for Memorial University. Oh yes, Mr. speaker, we have the two-year scholarship program. It will benefit some students but what about the rest who will suffer a hike in tuition, program cuts and course cuts due to a reduction in Memorial's operating budget? All these things to undermine the quality of our education, to hurt our reputation and make it even more difficult for young people to go to college and for the graduates to stay in college.

The infrastructure sector is coasting on federal dollars for roads while the municipalities are facing yet another year off down-loading. That is one way to meet your target, down-load to the municipalities.

I would like to take a few moments now to talk about out-migration, about the people who have left the Province, our Newfoundlanders, who have left the Province.

Where is the rural development plan we need to rescue many people of our Province from the death of our Province. Has anyone looked at the headlines on out-migration recently? We are breaking all records. Newfoundland's population has decreased by about 25,000, from July 1993 to October 1997, and it has decreased by another 2000 to 3000 since that time; and Stats Canada says the trend is likely to continue for a number of years.

It is interesting to note at this point, an article from The Evening Telegram of Friday, April 24th. The headline reads: Welfare cases are down. The article says that there were 71,899 individuals on social assistance in March, 1997 and there are 64,586 individuals on social assistance in March, 1998; a difference of 7,313 people who were removed from the Welfare Rolls. Newfoundland's population dropped by 8,000 through out-migration, from January 1st, 1997. So the population dropped by 8,000 who left the Province and 7,313 less are on the welfare rolls. Did we really reduce the people who are living in the Province or have these people left? Go figure!

The pending end of TAGS almost a year ahead of schedule is certainly about to turn this Province upside down. Where was the Premier's commitment to Ottawa's responsibilities when he sat at the federal Cabinet Table when TAGS was first being implemented? The federal government allocated $1.9 billion alright, but then they extended the moratorium and made thousands more fisheries workers eligible for compensation, but they did not put the money into the fund to cover the added costs of expanding the program and the program ran out of money early. Well, what a surprise!

If the Premier's commitment, to be fair, had been there in the beginning when he was sitting at the Cabinet Table in Ottawa representing our people, where the decisions where being made, we would not be heading for the wall this August. And if the statements he made when he campaigned in 1996, of being able to open doors in Ottawa, were true, we would not be sending a delegation begging Ottawa right now. We would not be begging to keep our Province alive; to keep it from having it's very heart and soul ripped out. The Premier would have opened the doors in Ottawa for us.

I would like to speak a little on education. Now that we have finally navigated the stormy waters of education restructuring, we are waiting leadership in implementing the dusty recommendations of the 1992 Royal Commission Report and the Canning Report. It is noted that the bulk of the changes did not depend on the government gaining control of (inaudible). The bulk of them were already within the government's power to change.

We were told restructuring would be needed to eliminate costly duplication and free up money that could be redirected to the classroom to pay for these important reforms. Now we hear the government has no attention of redirecting education savings into the classroom. If the savings were not really needed to implement the reforms, then why did the government wait for six years without moving on key education based recommendations?

Mr. Speaker, what about standardized public exams? We know the government cancelled them on a whim in the face of recommendations from the experts and amid a public outcry, and the minister promised to replace them with -

AN HON. MEMBER: A couple of weeks before they were supposed to happen.

MS S. OSBORNE: A couple of weeks before they were supposed to happen, yes, they were cancelled. Then the minister promised to replace them with region-wide standardized exams, defeating his argument that no one uses them. Now we ask: Where are those region-wide standardized public exams we were promised? I do not see them is this year's Budget. So, we are about to graduate another year's worth of students without the benefit of dependable standardized public exams. I guess we are and I guess this government has done nothing about it.

This government is a perfect example of government thinking if it can just say enough things people will be distracted from recognizing how little substance there really is in it. Where is the substance our Province needs as it faces the new millennium? Last year we were promised a three-year fiscal and economic plan. It was printed on two sides of one sheet of paper, and in less than six months the government was amending even the generalities in that. Where is the economic plan? Clyde Wells promised it when he hired his Economic Recovery Commission, a think tank that produced none of the results this Province needed. The current Premier got rid of the Economic Recovery Commission, and what did he replace it with? Nothing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: With Malcolm Rowe.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, this Budget is all fluff and no stuff.

Thank you very much.

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

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

I would like to take the time, first, to participate in the Budget Debate and talk about the Minister of Finance's Budget in terms of what was in it, projections that were in it, and to see where we are.

Fundamentally, Mr. Speaker, the Budget is not a bad one if it could be viewed as a realistic situation that has been presented to the people of the Province today. Many of the assumptions in the Budget, many of the forecasts predicted in the Budget for expenditure, both through federal-provincial agreements, Province's income, Province's revenue, are in question today. They are in question because there was no bridge mechanism. There is a huge question mark. There is an uncertainty about what the future holds for many people in this Province.

The Premier has said often that the challenges or the opportunities that face this Province are immense, that they loom onto the horizon, and they do, but so are the challenges that face many people, challenges that still are creating barriers for financial security and some form of economic independence that will provide people with the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity, a sense of pride and a sense of value, not only in who they are but in their communities.

Being a member of this House is challenging at times. I recall the Minister of Justice on a number of debates where the tone and tenor of debate accelerated to a point where people got to the issues. Our problems today are many, but the most significant problem is our ability to generate revenue. That is the problem that faces us, and the economic climate that we live in further compounds the situation of out-migration because there are many causes, both real and in kind, with respect to that, and I would like to talk about that for a few moments.

Out-migration has been a serious problem for this Province for many, many years. Record numbers left in the '80s when some members opposite sat in the Opposition, but the type, the nature, the characteristics associated with out-migration today are vastly different. In the last three months approximately 3,500 people left the Province. Some 80 per cent of those people lie between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five.

Yesterday I spoke to an individual who is a graduate of an IT program, a computer studies program at Memorial. There has been much talked about in terms of the IT sector within the Province, and the opportunities it presents for young people. A post-secondary graduate with a computer science degree applied for positions within the Province with a number of companies, and the response was the same: Unfortunately, we are not in the position to hire you because we are looking for individuals who have at least two years' experience. That is one story, there are many.

In a computer science fair where Northern Telecom out of Toronto, its head office, were down recruiting people on the spot. Going through his graduate statistics - his convocation is in May - on the spot they hired him at Memorial. He did not go through an interview process, was not required to go through an interview process, but Northern Telecom hired him on the spot. Starting salary, $46,000 a year plus benefits. They are going to move him up to Toronto, Ontario, at their expense, all expenses paid. They have set him up in an apartment, in terms of a bridge to have him there, and have told him emphatically that the skills that he gained, or the skills that he has as a result of a post-secondary degree from Memorial, are exactly what they are looking for. Associated with the $46,000 salary unit that they offered him on the spot without an interview, because they saw in him what they wanted, was also the promise of as much overtime as necessary, complete with company-sponsored RRSP plans and company health plans. That is one example, but the question remains: Why was that individual, in terms of applying for jobs for which he was qualified, as a young person twenty-five years of age, not given the opportunity to remain home when opportunities existed? That is one story.

Mr. Speaker, if the present trend continues, coupled with the fact of our declining birthrate, our population is in serious decline. If we base the assumption on the present numbers, next year's budget in terms of equalization payments to the Province will be $40 million less as a result of people leaving, but the broader question is: Why are they leaving?

There have been many explanations. A fundamental explanation that has been provided and has a lot of merit is because of the collapse of the groundfish industry; but, Mr. Speaker, not all of the out-migration occurring today is because of that collapse. It is occurring because the type of economic opportunities that we are preparing, or are supposed to be preparing graduates for, realistically are not happening.

I listened with interest today when the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture stood up in response to a petition and talked about the philosophy of TAGS: Why are people just coming to realize it now? And we have to change our own attitudes. I agree with him, but because people are protesting today does not mean that nothing has been done over the last four or five years. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is not the only individual in this Province who has supported such a program, who has asked for the federal government to live up to its commitment and responsibilities. He is not the only individual who has been asking `For Whom The Bell Tolls' in this instance. There have been many people in this House of Assembly, members on both sides, who understand what will take place in a post-TAGS era. There are many people in the Province, and we hear it on Open Line shows and we hear it in comments privately, saying they have great misgivings about a program for people within the fishery.

There is not a program that exists for people within the forestry sector, not a program that exists for people within our mining sectors, and for other displaced workers because of job closures, bank closures, government lay-offs, that there is not program for them. Mr. Speaker, I understand their frustration but the reality is this: if there is no commitment by the federal government to some basic principles to people involved in the fishery, such as income support, licence buy-out, early retirement, then all of those other groups that I have just mentioned will be impacted severely and swiftly by the loss of any post-TAGS program.

As people move from a TAGS environment to a post-TAGS environment, move from those lines to social services, the provincial budget will be severely stretched, our ability to provide the types of services that we now have will be stretched even further. The Minister of Human Resources and Employment probably understands it more acutely than anybody, because she is the minister who may ultimately, in the very near future, have to deal with this situation.

People within communities, small businesses, corner stores, people in clothing stores, hardware stores, will feel the impact immediately, and the amount of money we are talking about per year is approximately $260 million. Now people talk about how it is rightfully ours and there should be something there for us and, yes, that is correct; but in 1993, when the TAGS program was announced, a $1.5 billion program - and this is a fact that was overlooked many, many times when the now Premier was the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, when they introduced the TAGS program - it brought in approximately $260 million to $270 million per year. At the very same time, the changes in the UI system, as it was known then, that reduced the number of weeks that people could draw UI, increased the period in which they had to qualify, took exactly the same amount of money out of this Province in that year, and every successive year.

What was the net gain to the Province? There was no net financial gain to the Province. In 1989, $1.1 billion came into this Province in UI payments. Last year in UI payments it was $600 million. What has happened? There has been a downloading continuously on the backs of this Province, and certainly other provinces. Our primary concern as legislators in this House is this Province.

Tomorrow the All Party Committee is leaving again with respect to TAGS. They are meeting with the federal Cabinet committee that will make the decision on TAGS. Let us understand the process. If the federal Cabinet committee that deals with this issue is meeting tomorrow, then significant decisions have been made already. Recommendations have come through the bureaucracy, through the Departments of DFO and HRD, that are going to find themselves in a recommended form in a brief before the committee on suggested actions for a post-TAGS era.

If we are going to talk about what our impact will be - and I support what this House has done. I supported the resolution put forward by the Member for Twillingate & Fogo four or five weeks ago with respect to TAGS. He asked me today why did I introduce a similar resolution. I did introduce it because I thought it may strengthen the hand yet again of the committee going tomorrow, of the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, of the Member for Ferryland, of the Member for Baie Verte, and other members of that committee. Because I hope that they will be able to go that meeting armed yet again tomorrow with an all-party resolution from the House.

Because of those challenges that everyone knows we are facing, when government makes decisions that decline our revenue, that will put us into a more stressful financial position, we have to question ultimately what it is about. For example, next year, when the agreement on HST runs out, revenues will be short about $104 million once the package with HST is finished. Our up-front borrowing on Term 29 of $40 million in year one, $40 million this year, plus the $30 million penalty we paid for taking it, will be run out. In next year's budget the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is going to have to do some fancy dancing and some walking around the situation, from a budgetary point of view, that exists.

I am not convinced this House is going to deal with next year's budget. As a matter of fact, I would lay my bottom dollar that we are not. It will be a new Assembly for another budget, guaranteed, because they cannot afford to go into next year's budget. Because the good news announced in this Budget in terms of a $10 million deficit for all intents and purposes means that at any point in time the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board can stand and say: Guess what, Newfoundland and Labrador? We balanced our books this year.

MR. J. BYRNE: Twenty million dollar surplus (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Probably. He may be able to balance it this year, but I can tell you, next year is going to be quite a balancing act, when we move into the fiscal year of April 1, 1999.

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Just went through it, in terms of the HST, the amount of money that is going to be required, Term 29. As the Member for Ferryland said two years ago, this government has a structural deficit problem that we are going to be in trouble with come the year 1999, $167 million, and that is a fact - without any guarantee of extra revenue coming in, either from Voisey's Bay or from Lower Churchill, or other resource developments that are looming on the horizon. We are going to have lower transfer payments as an example of equalization.

With respect to TAGS, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about what the federal government took out of the EI program, at the same time putting the same amount back in in a TAGS program, how much money is in the EI account today in surplus? Fourteen billion dollars or $15 billion.

MR. SULLIVAN: It will be $20 billion at the end of this year.

MR. E. BYRNE: Twenty billion dollars at the end of this year? A $20 billion surplus at the end of this year.

MR. SULLIVAN: That Premier was the one who implemented the changes that brought the surplus and downloaded to us. He was around the Cabinet.

MR. E. BYRNE: No doubt about it. He was the federal Cabinet minister who at the same time introduced a program that brought about $260 million here in the Province, and yet, at the same time, was part of the government that changed the EI Act, or changed it from UI to EI, that took the exact same amount of money out of the program. We used to call TAGS the `Tobin, Axworthy and Grimes Sell-out.' Those were the ministers responsible for TAGS at the time.

Mr. Speaker, it is serious. If it was not so serious, every member of this House would be operating with a greater degree of comfort. People are coming here tomorrow to deal with the situation that they should not have to deal with. We talk about the attitude of central government, we talk about the attitude of members opposite, or members in the federal government. Mr. Speaker, besides all of that, at a time in our Province when we need the greatest representation at the federal Cabinet table, the type of representation that we did get from federal ministers like Don Jamieson and John Crosbie, the clout that was required to make things happen for this Province at that table, at the very point in our history when we need it the most at the federal Cabinet table, this Province is the weakness.

You hear about a federal minister representing a constituency where at least, I would say to the hon. Member from Bonavista, about 40 per cent of the people in that community will be impacted directly as a result of a no-TAGS program, or the number of people being dropped off.

When you heard the federal minister directly responsible for the affairs of this Province talk to a provincial All Party Committee about: That is it, a couple of thousand people are coming off; I do not want to hear anything else about it -

AN HON. MEMBER: And leave and walk out.

MR. E. BYRNE: - and leave and walk out on the committee, we have bigger problems then we thought we had, much bigger problems than we thought we had.

If there is any influence at the federal table that the Premier may exert, he should began with influencing the Prime Minister to choose another federal representative, somebody who will stand up around that Cabinet table for the people of this Province, because it is not happening today. Ministers opposite know that it is not happening today the way that it should be.

Mr. Speaker, there are many issues that signify, typify and symbolize the federal government's attitude towards us. It is not defined or confined to one particular political party or another. Talk to people who have led negotiating teams on a variety of issues, from both sides of the House. They will encounter that attitude.

When you look at Marine Atlantic, the Transportation Critic raised the question today. Last week I was in Port aux Basques and met with the council, around the same time that the member and the minister were on their way with the mayor to Ottawa, to try to correct or bring some measure of balance and justice to the situation. Some of the things that were told were startling; for example, equipment maintenance in Port aux Basques. For all the equipment Marine Atlantic uses in Port aux Basques, if it needs to be maintained or repairs done, it is put on the ferry and shipped to North Sydney. The maintenance is done and it is put on the ferry back to Port aux Basques. All of the buyers associated with buying the products and services that are required by Marine Atlantic, three of those buyers are located in the Province of Nova Scotia, not one in this Province and not one in the West Coast that would provide the opportunity for people and businessmen and women, that would provide our businesses locally, with the opportunity to bid on such goods and services.

Here is one for you, reservations. Three times as many people who take reservations for Marine Atlantic work in North Sydney, a 3:1 ratio. While that is not so bad, some may argue, here is the catch: those people who work and live in Newfoundland and Labrador and take reservations for Marine Atlantic services are only allowed to take reservations from calls within this Province. They are not allowed to take calls from outside the Province, whether it is coming from any part of the globe, whether it is the Eastern Seaboard, where many of our tourist come from, and if the call centre or reservation centre is busy the line automatically bumps to the reservations office in North Sydney. If that reservation office is busy, it does not bump back to us. What does that say? For a service that exists primarily and only for the people of this Province, constitutionally enshrined, constitutionally guaranteed, because the water between Port aux Basques and North Sydney is the same as the pavement between St. John's and Port aux Basques, no difference - the right of passage into Confederation, protected under the Terms of Union.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to Marine Atlantic's inventory, they have what they call active inventory and debt inventory. Five times as much inventory is maintained in North Sydney but it is all called active inventory. It is moving. As a result of it moving there are more goods and services produced. So all of the inventory maintained in North Sydney with respect to Marine Atlantic's operations in this Province moves. All of the inventory maintained in Port aux Basques is what they define out there as dead inventory. In other words, some sort of products - it could be glasses, cutlery, table cloths or whatever the case may be, salt shakers for that matter, who knows? - whatever was used that is not being used any more is maintained in Port aux Basques. It is unbelievable.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The Board of Directors, seven representatives on the board, two of them now. I understand there is going to be some movement. I did not hear the numbers. Maybe the member or the minister could inform us as to what they are. Two of the members presently, out of seven, are from Newfoundland and Labrador, one of them being the Chairperson.

Mr. Speaker, there is a question of who knew when. We all have to accept hon. members at their word in this House, I certainly do, but when you hear the President of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador utter publicly that he knew that this decision was coming in late January or early February -

MR. J. BYRNE: He knew then?

MR. E. BYRNE: Apparently, that people within government circles had told him that decision was already made. When you read the editorials coming out of Nova Scotia dealing with this issue during the provincial election in Nova Scotia, and the now Premier - the Marine Atlantic service is in his riding - say: We cannot talk about too much of it now, but the people in this area will be very pleased, very pleased, with the decision that is about to be announced, it certainly would indicate that he knew, that he somehow was aware of what was coming down the pipe.

When you look at past articles in the Cape Breton Post of provincial politicians who said that jobs should be shared, it is all an example, and raises the question: Within the confines of Confederation, have we been treated equally?

These are recent examples, contemporary examples. There are hundreds more that I will have a chance, on Thursday, to elaborate on even further.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat and adjourn debate on the Budget.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, let me remind hon. members that tomorrow is Private Members' Day, of course. I move that the House would now adjourn until tomorrow afternoon at 2:00.

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