The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers


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

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

Mr. Speaker, last November I made a statement in this House about the Krever Report. In particular, I expressed the sorrow and regret of this government to Canadians who sustained injury due to the contamination of the blood supply.

Mr. Speaker, that position has not changed today. I said previously that to proceed with a compensation package or assistance plan would require considerable financial resources and that it would be beyond the fiscal capacity of this Province to act alone on such a recommendation. I said that since we have a national blood system, it is imperative that the issue be reviewed collectively. I sought an early meeting with my counterparts at the earliest convenience. General agreement was reached by Health Ministers representing all political parties regarding financial assistance to people who contracted Hepatitis C from blood between 1986 and 1990. This agreement was subsequently announced in late March.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, and without prior notice of changes to our agreement, I was asked to respond to comments by Premier Harris of Ontario. The announcement by the Government of Ontario, that it is prepared to share financial assistance to people who contracted Hepatitis C from blood prior to 1986, will result in a review of the current federal/provincial/territorial agreement which is still in place.

I spoke with the federal Health Minister just moments ago, the hon. Allan Rock, and asked that a meeting of the federal/provincial/territorial Health Ministers be convened at the earliest possible date to discuss this issue. I also spoke late last night with the Chair of the provincial/territorial ministers' group, the hon. Clay Serby of Saskatchewan.

Mr. Speaker, it is my view that ministers need to discuss this matter as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the current agreement for the 1986 to 1990 period is still in place from my perspective and also from the perspective of my federal colleague. I understand from Mr. Rock that he will be speaking on this issue later today.

As Ministers of Health, we concluded this agreement around the federal/provincial/territorial negotiating table. It has been and continues to be my view that this approach is the appropriate one for discussing any possible changes or concerns in terms of this very important issue, which would involve all the provinces and territories and the federal government at that table.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize that this is a national issue, that we have a national blood program, and that the ministers and governments have a responsibility to take a national perspective on some issues in the interest of all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the Health critic for not passing this out prior to entering the House, but I just concluded my conversation with Minister Rock.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly rise to respond, and I am pleased to know that there are going to be further discussions going on. As the minister very well remembers, I spoke in the House last fall on this particular issue when the minister at the time failed to apologize for the actions of the Province who was responsible for the Canadian Blood Agency at the time.

There is a price to pay, I say to the minister, when a Province that is part of that process shirks its responsibilities. There is no particular price you can pay to these people - I spoke with one on the phone five minutes ago before I came to this House - for the price they will have to pay because there was not proper screening of blood even in the 1986 to 1990 period, not to say anything prior to that period. That is a big price to pay. There is no price, I say to the minister, that can restore their systems back to normal again, to be able to live a normal life. A certain percentage of the people are going to die in the next number of years from that; an estimated, I think, roughly 20 percent of the people.

I say to the minister that hopefully with what Mike Harris has done, and the resolution in Quebec and from British Columbia and from other people who are starting to realize now that they did not act with the compassion and concern for people who lives were affected, now they are going to correct the problem. I certainly hope they do that.

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.

The position of this Province, of course, has been to say: A contract is a contract, a phrase that we dislike in another context.

It is pretty obvious that the widespread compassion across this country for all of the people affected by Hepatitis C infection has maintained, despite the vote in the House of Commons last week. I would ask this minister to join with the other Health Ministers and not - what they tried to do before - hide behind the federal government's stand on the issue. Join in trying to reach a solution that sees compensation or compassion towards all Hepatitis C victims as soon as possible.


Oral Questions


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Health and Community Services. In light of my questions in the House yesterday, and subsequent statements in the public by people affected, will the minister now acknowledge that people who did not traditionally pay for blood tests in their home are now being asked to pay?

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

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

I would like, at this time, to thank The Evening Telegram for providing me with the name of the person to which the Health critic referred yesterday.

As we speak, Mr. Speaker, I have asked my officials to look into the issues that have been raised; and I will say again that in a publicly funded system we do provide for the blood collection services. If a person is able to go to a hospital, by all means, certainly, we encourage them to go to a hospital or clinic. If they so choose - and in the St. John's area and, I understand, in the member's own district - there is an option to have people come to their own home to have blood withdrawn. But I do say, Mr. Speaker, that we are looking into that. We appreciate the name so we were able to follow through on it, and we will be following through on any other cases that are brought to our attention.

I will say again: In a system that costs $1.1 billion, I openly admit that I do not know each case, each tens of thousands of cases that enter and impact on our system every day, but I am only too happy to follow up on any individual request that I get, in any way possible.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I provided that name to The Evening Telegram and the other media, and if the minister wants particular names I will provide them to her.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: In fact, the minister asked in the House yesterday. I spoke with the senior people in her department yesterday and they never even raised the issue with me, from the ADM level, I say to the minister. If she wants other names - I will give her receipts. If she wants receipts, I will give her receipts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is now on a supplementary. He is debating the minister's answer. I ask him to get to his supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister: Does she think it is fair that a ninety-one year old lady, who does not leave her house at all, has to pay for blood to be taken in her home? Does she think that is fair?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to speak about an individual case, and he knows better than to even pose the question. What I will say, Mr. Speaker, is that I am not going to say that any ninety-one year old person - I called a person the other day to wish him `Happy 95th Birthday' and he was out clearing the snow off his car and getting ready to do his groceries. So, I am not going to generalize and say that because you are ninety you are not able to get out and do anything. I will not do that. What I will say is that if somebody is non-ambulatory - that is, if they are not able to get out of their own home because they are disabled or some other reason - and they require the blood that has been ordered for them, they can access that through our publicly funded system.

I will not deny that in this city, and in other areas, a lot of people who were in the blood collection system, in the public system, have now offered private services in the private system; and there are many non-insured services within our health care system. We have a publicly funded system but we also have non-insured services. Any person in this room or outside can choose to avail of services of a private nature even though they are oftentimes offered in a public system, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad the minister has been briefed since yesterday because she would not even admit that yesterday. I say to the minister, you would not even admit it yesterday.

Now, I ask the minister, and in light - yes, I have several names of people, I say to the minister, who are not capable of getting out of their homes, numerous people, and an extra in addition to the six I had yesterday, there are several others since who have called, I say to the minister.

Will the minister not admit, since people who did not normally have to pay now have to pay, that this is in reality the beginning of a privatization of certain health care services and a user-pay concept?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am the first one to admit that I would love to have a lot more money to put back into our publicly-funded system to broaden the services.

For example, Mr. Speaker, for the information that is required I think it is important to note that the home support services that we provide in this Province, for the most part comes out of provincial funds, Mr. Speaker, and we would love to have more federal funds to put in to broaden that. I will also continue to say, Mr. Speaker, that people still today, whether they want to or not, can avail of private services whether it is foot care, Mr. Speaker, or whether it is for the collection of blood. However, if the physician orders that blood be collected and if they are unable to get out of their own home to get it and it is ordered and required -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS J. M. AYLWARD: - they can access that from the publicly-funded system, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there is a service of the Department of Justice that provides assistance and, in some cases, counselling to the victims of crime. For example, these services include guidance in dealing with our court system, preparation for witnesses and the like.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, it has been traditionally the position of Victim Services -

MS J. M. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, it has traditionally been the position of Victim Services that due to the lack of resources, they are unable to provide services to children and this service should be provided by the staff of Children's Protection Services. In fact, victim services are provided by child protection social workers, Mr. Speaker, by default, although this is not a part of Children's Protection Services mandate. Consequently, Mr. Speaker, such services are ad hoc and are not provided to any standard, and furthermore, the addition of victim services to an already overburdened program further reduces the capacity of child protection.

In short, children are not able to avail of victim services in the same manner as adults. My question to the Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, is: Why are not victim services available on a consistent organized basis to the most vulnerable segment of our society, namely, our children?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, there is a Victim Services division in the Department of Justice. That division does provide victim services to the vast majority of men and women who need services when they come into contact with the court system.

The hon. member talks about children. The vast majority of children who need victim services are provided these services through the Department of Justice. This is especially true whenever there is a relative involved as a perpetrator with a young person. The vast majority of cases where young people require victim services, there is a relative involved.

Some time ago I did an interview which the hon. member is probably referring to. I think it was played just after Easter. My colleague, the Minister of Health and Community Services and I recognize that there is a possible gap in victim services to children in cases where the perpetrator is not a relative. We are very much aware of that gap. In most cases, social workers do indeed provide the service, even though the Act states that they can only do it when it is a relative. We are aware that there is a potential gap there, and the minister and I are both dealing with it.

There is a lobby of sorts which is suggesting that we should put in place a parallel system to the Victim Services program, whereby you would have another set of social workers throughout the Province, which would probably take forty-five or fifty additional social workers. We do not think it will be necessary to do that at this time.

We believe that in the vast majority of the regions of the Province we can work something out with the social worker, or with the Victim Services social worker. It is an area that is not as drastic as the hon. member would have you believe, but we have detected that there is a possibility there is a gap there. My colleague, the Minister of Health and Community Services and I have been aware of it now for some time, and we have our officials looking at it.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the hon. minister, there should be no gap, because it is mandated by your department, Mr. Minister, to deal with victim services regardless if the victim is a child or an adult. There ought to be no gap.

I ask the minister: Is he not concerned that there will now perhaps be an overlap between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Community Services? Where is the standardization, where are the guidelines to ensure that our young children are protected as they go through a very difficult court process?

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

MR. DECKER: Oh, yes, Mr. Speaker, leave him alone now and he will turn over every rock and try to find problems where they do not even exist -


MR. DECKER: - notwithstanding that it will make some extra work for his own profession, I suppose, Mr. Speaker - that seems to be pretty important. The reality is that the problem is not nearly as great as the hon. member is suggesting. In the vast number of cases, victim services are provided by the Department of Health and Community Services, where children are involved and where the perpetrator is a relative. There are a few cases, Mr. Speaker, now remember, where the social workers, in areas of the Province where they are not overworked, quite happily get involved with children who are abused, or are before the courts, for whatever reason. They quite happily get involved.

There are a few examples where the social worker is too overworked with other demands on his or her time, and they do not have the time to deal with it. That small gap, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say we are dealing with it. There have been other gaps in the system which the government picked up and attempted to deal with, Mr. Speaker.

The way social services deals with the sixteen to eighteen-year-old is in the area that we are addressing. And, whenever we perceive or see that there is a need, we attempt to address it, and this matter is being addressed. If the hon. member had been the first one to bring it to my attention, I would thank him for doing it. But, unfortunately he is many months too late. It was brought to the attention of myself and my colleague and we are certainly trying to address it.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a serious problem, I say to the hon. minister. In fact, media reports last week referred to a book written by an RCMP Corporal, with respect to the children and the experiences that they had in going through the court process. It is a serious problem, and I say to the minister, there ought to be no gap whatsoever, there should be no child whatsoever left unnoticed as they go through this very difficult adversarial process.

So, I ask the minister: Why does he not follow the mandate of his own department, the Department of Justice, and ensure that victim services are provided for each - not most, but for each and every child of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: It is obvious the hon. member feels that he has got to go with that second supplementary, no matter what the answer is. The answer has been addressed, Mr. Speaker. I advised the hon. member that has soon as we recognized there was a possible gap there, my colleague and I attempted to address it.

Now we are saying the same thing, the only thing is that the hon. member had to go and have a third question. I suppose they only have so many questions prepared and he felt that he had to come up with that third question even though I had addressed it. Sure, in an ideal world everything would be covered. There would be no gaps. Nothing would be left out. No stone would be left unturned. As soon as this matter, Mr. Speaker, came to the attention of myself and my colleague, we asked our officials to get working on it and to address the issue. It is not as serious as the hon. member would have you believe. It is just that he had to get his third question away.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: My questions today, Mr. Speaker, are for the Minister of Human Resources and Employment. They have to do with the SWASP, the Student Works And Services Program. Since this program has been of benefit to both post-secondary students and to the Community Services Council as well, and it has given good on-the-job experience for the students, as well as a $1,400 tuition voucher and $50 a week, and it has given help to the volunteer and non-profit organizations, I am wondering why the government has seen fit to cut this program in half. There were a 1,000 jobs last year and there are only 500 this year. When something works so well, why would the government agree to have it cut in half?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, there are two elements to the funding for the SWASP program. There is the funding that is provided by the provincial government toward SWASP and funding that is provided through the federal government toward SWASP. The provincial program provides funding under the paid initiative, which is an arrangement that is used with the private sector where the Province cost-shares the cost of the program with private employers. The SWASP program funded by the federal government is the community service SWASP. This is the element of the SWASP programming which was reduced this year. It is 100 per cent federal government programming. The Province has maintained its funding of $2.1 million for SWASP in the area that it has jurisdiction over.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's West.

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

Programs like SWASP are desperately needed. When the federal government decided to cut its portion did the provincial government make representation to them on behalf of the students here and tell them how good this program was and fight for them to keep their funding in place?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, in the first instance, it was really through the efforts of the Province last year that the amount of funding in SWASP for the community service component was increased from $1 million to $2 million and that was by direct representation from the Province to the federal government. I would have to say, however, that over the course of the summer and into the fall, there was a certain amount of protest against the SWASP program itself. Some of that protest was actually coming from members of the Opposition who were objecting to the fact that we were engaged in a program which was providing community service for which students received a tuition voucher. I would assume, despite the fact that there has been very positive evaluations on the SWASP program from both the participants who were involved, the students and private sector employers as well as families and parents of students, that perhaps the federal government decided to reallocate its funding. I would have to say, however, that the federal government is maintaining the total amount of funding that it is putting towards student employment this summer. It has simply not chosen to maintain the same amount in the community service component as they had previously.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal. The Globe and Mail yesterday reported the proposed specifics of a successor program to TAGS. The article indicates that approximately one-quarter of the TAGS group, mostly deck-hands and plant workers do not fit the criteria for early retirement or license buy-back and have little to benefit from training programs and the like. I would like to ask the minister: What proposals has his department made to ensure that adequate adjustment is included in a new TAGS program for these Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry workers?

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I am certain the hon. member is perfectly sure that anything reported in The Globe and Mail is for the benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador. If he has not read the latest one, he should read Jeffrey Simpson in the editorial this morning. You have it there, have you? Good. You should read it.

The truth of the matter is that this government has maintained that the federal government has a responsibility to all of the people involved in this industry that was affected in any way, shape or form by the disaster that has occurred off this coast of ours, around this Province of ours, and that position has in no way changed. So it would cover deck-hands and everybody else, obviously.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, it seems that the 2,000-plus Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who will see their last TAGS cheque go in the mail tomorrow, Wednesday, may end up being abandoned by Ottawa. I ask the minister what assurances he can give to those fishermen and plant workers, and to their families, that a new post-TAGS program will also include them.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the same assurances that I gave yesterday. We are using every avenue possible to ensure that those people are taken care of and that their needs as we recognize them, everybody in this House, are addressed by the federal government.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Minister, according to the article that appeared in yesterday's Globe and Mail, there seems to be a distinct possibility that income support to TAGS recipients will be reduced to social assistance levels. I ask the minister if he or his government find it acceptable to have up to 20,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians placed in such a financial position through no fault of their own.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman should listen to the news. Yesterday evening, I said no, that was not an acceptable position for the federal government to put forward, and we still maintain that position.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I brought up the question of water export in the House on a number of occasions. We have always said that if we are going to export water from our Province it should be as a finished product and not as a raw resource. It now seems the Liberal government in Ottawa are fighting the same problem.

I will just say as a preamble that "once a precedent is set, it could have a cumulative effect, and then you would simply open the door for others to do the same. After a while, you're going to be having a substantial dilution of your resource without any way of managing it, and any way of assuring it doesn't take place." That is a direct quote from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy, from today's Globe and Mail.

I ask the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, does she not have the same concerns for our provincial resources as her cousins in Ottawa do for our national resources? When are we going to stop the exportation of water as a raw resource?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any water being exported from this Province in bulk at this point in time. If the member is referring to that, maybe he can fill me in on it. I will tell you that we have had some representation, certainly, by businessmen in the Province who are considering a number of initiatives. Whether or not that would involve exporting water in bulk, whether it would involve value-added secondary processing, those are all factors that are being considered; but there is nothing happening, to the best of my knowledge, in that realm at this point in time.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, no, there is none at this time, but there are proposals on the table for acceptance. According to the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, the act of granting a permit to remove water will turn water into a tradeable commodity and make it vulnerable to these agreements.

I ask the minister: Will she prevent the export of water as a raw resource and instead do what British Columbia have done? What they have done is not allow water to go out as a raw resource but only as a finished product. By doing that, we give the secondary jobs and the assets from revenues to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as opposed to people outside.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, let me say that at this point in time it is not happening; that is not to say that it will not happen. We will obviously look at each individual case on a business case. If there is benefit to be made from exporting water, and there are jobs that go with that, then we will look at that as well; but I am not going to stand here and preclude that from happening without having an opportunity to look at the business of the case.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South, a supplementary.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, in Ottawa they are concerned about taking 600 million litres of water a year over five years, and that has raised some serious concerns. Here in our Province we are looking at exporting, according to the proposals on the table, 15.6 billion litres of water a year, far more than the concern in Ottawa.

I ask the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. T. OSBORNE: I ask the minister: Is she prepared to put at risk water resources for future generations? According to NAFTA, once the tap is on you cannot turn it off.

Will the minister put in place legislation to insure that any water resources to be exported from our Province will be as a finished product, giving the jobs and revenues to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I can repeat what I said in my previous answer: that when there is a case before me that we have to consider, we will certainly talk to my Cabinet colleagues about how we want to proceed with this; but at this point in time there is no water being exported in bulk from this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, as I said to the member opposite, we will look at each case on an individual basis. If there is a business case to be made for a combination of exporting bulk water and value-added, we will look at that. But, Mr. Speaker, it is not happening at this point in time; and for the member opposite to ask me whether or not we will come out with a policy at this point in time is asking for the impossible.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are to the Minister of Education.

Since funding for educational purposes is supposed to be granted on a non-discriminatory basis, the Avalon East School Board decided to take the Department of Education and the government to court to have Special Education teachers assigned to that school board on the same ratio as those assigned to other school boards in the Province, and this has been a long-time and contentious problem for the Avalon East area.

I ask the minister: Why has it been necessary, and why has he caused the parents to have to take this kind of action for fairness and equality for their children who go to the schools administered by the Avalon East School Board?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not sure how much liberty I have to address any particulars with respect to this issue because there has been a document filed in the courts. In fact, Mr. Speaker, there has been a court date set for some time in the fall, in October as I understand, to deal with the issue.

However, with respect to maybe a little bit of information which might be useful and instructive for all of us as to the history of this particular issue: For years it has been understood that while teacher allocations for all purposes - regular classroom instruction, library services, guidance services, Special Needs, Special Education and so on - are done by way of formula, it has always been understood and taken for granted in education circles that in the few larger centres that we have - like St. John's and maybe like some centres in Central Newfoundland, Corner Brook and the West Coast and so on - there are certainly some efficiencies or economies of scale that can be effected in delivering educational opportunities to students that are not available and not possible in more rural isolated circumstances.

Even though we use fundamentally a group of formulas to determine the allocation of teachers, the suggestion has always been, and the circumstances have always been, that with respect to Special Education teachers in particular, the larger boards - there have always been three different formulas in place in Newfoundland and Labrador. This is not an issue that was put in place to deal with one particular school board, Mr. Speaker. There have always been three different formulas for a long period of time with respect to the allocation of Special Education teachers.

Mr. Speaker, at this point in time, because boards have merged, we find that the application is only different in one of the ten boards, which happens to be the largest board in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Some parents, obviously supported by members of the board, find this to be difficult to understand or accept at this point and they have launched a court action based upon it.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

I admit to the minister that the ratios have changed a little bit. There have been some changes in recent weeks, from a ratio of 5.5 Special Education teachers per 1,000 students in the total population of the school system to 6.05 Special Education teachers per 1,000. However, if the same ratio used in the rest of the Province was applied to the Avalon East School Board, that school would receive fifty more Special Education teachers than they have now been allocated. They have been allocated a total of eighteen, five of which have to be used in the Janeway.

I say to the minister: Why will you not do the right thing and not wait for this October 13 court case but move now to treat the children in the Avalon East system the same as you treat the children everywhere else in the Province?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr.Speaker.

Again a little hesitant, as you can sense, I guess, and as the member can sense, in addressing the issue more directly, his last question suggests: Why would we not treat the students the same as they are treated in the rest of the Province? In fact, if you asked and put the same circumstance in most other areas of the Province, they would answer you quite directly that they believe, and parents believe, and teachers believe, and students believe, that students in the school system in and around St. John's have always been treated by virtue of circumstances. They can take advantage of efficiencies in the economy of scale better than any other students in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that it is not a matter of one part of a very complicated teacher allocation formula being discriminatory or anything else; it is a matter that the whole system has always historically, repeatedly, worked to the advantages of students in places like St. John's.

What we are faced with, Mr. Speaker, is a parent, on behalf of his or her child, and the school board - quite understandably, when you look at an individual circumstance - deciding to take a court action; not forced by anybody to do so, but deciding themselves to take an action based on one of several different components that lead to the overall educational opportunity for that student in the school they attend.

Mr. Speaker, the issue will resolve itself through the normal course, because at this point in time the government is more than convinced that we treat teachers, students and parents in Avalon East, in District 10, as fair as if not better than anywhere else in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.


Notices of Motion


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr.Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution;

WHEREAS the natural resources of Newfoundland and Labrador, both non-renewable and renewable, rightly belong to the people of this Province and;

WHEREAS future resource development in our Province must in every case possible, and to the extent possible, ensure that our people are the major beneficiaries in terms of jobs, secondary processing where it is economically feasible to do so, and any other economic benefit that can be properly achieved through effective public policy;

THEREFORE be it resolved that this hon. House affirm this resource development policy on behalf of all of our people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!




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

MS S. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, today I have a petition from people from all over the Island on the claw-back of the National Child Tax Benefit. The petition is worded as follows:

WHEREAS income support payments to recipients of the Child Tax Benefit increase will be reduced in proportion to said increase;

WHEREAS the 7 per cent increase will apply only to regular bi- weekly income support and not to special benefits such as mother/baby allowance, special dietary allowance, single parent allowance and rent deduction;

WHEREAS income support recipients struggle to subsist on incomes which place them intolerably well below the poverty line;

WHEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that no reduction in income support payments be effected in relation to the increase in the Child Tax Benefit, and that the 7 per cent increase be applied to rent and special benefits.

As I said when I stood in the House earlier in this session to speak against the claw-back in the National Child Tax Benefit, and as the lady who was instrumental in getting this petition initiated says, there are many children out there, many families, who will not get a chance to take advantage of the programs that are going to be, or are supposed to be, initiated by the money that is clawed back, the poorest of our children.

This lady says, and I quote, `There are no losers with the new program. Social assistance families will not experience any reduction in total combined income.' This lady says, and I quote, `I can prove you wrong in many areas. How are we not losing money when the money that we are being given is being taken back? The money is not for the adults but for our children.'

There are many people who have children who will not be able to take advantage of the family resource centres, because these family resource centres will not be set up in all communities. There are many children out there in families and they do not need the day care programs. There are many children who are entitled to the child benefit who are not in an age group to be able to take advantage of many of these programs.

This person has said that it is not only social service recipients who have signed this petition, but people from all over the Province who are working class, middle class and business people. As a matter of fact, she added that a lot of social service recipients were afraid to sign - and these are her words, not mine - because their cheques may be taken from them.

Whether that is true or not, it is perception; and to the people who are on social assistance, perception is reality. When people are living with their money being clawed back, unable to take advantage of the programs for which their money is being clawed back, and they are afraid to speak out against it because they are afraid their cheques might be taken from them, then we are living in pretty sad times.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I rise to support the petition put forward by my colleague for St. John's West. The prayer of the petition is very simple. We want to make sure that the Child Tax Credit benefits the very people that it set out to benefit.

We, on this side of the House, do not have any difficulty with finding funds to encourage those people who are unemployed or those people out there who need a bit of incentive to be able to go and find a job. We don't disagree with the idea that we should be letting people who need to keep their drug cards keep them, if they are on help from the department by way of benefits. We don't disagree with these kinds of incentives. However, where we do disagree is where we find that the present policy that is being developed nationally and being endorsed by this government discriminates against those people who, for whatever reason, are on long-term assistance and whose children already find it very difficult to cope in any case.

What we are going to do is marginalize, discriminate, we are going to make a situation even worse. We are going to take the children who are very poor in this Province and say to them: There is nothing in this package for you.

Mr. Speaker, what that does, certainly, is take from the very poor to give to those who are not quite as poor. Now, that is not acceptable. We should be finding money, from those who have, to be able to help those who have not. That is the whole idea, the concept behind equalization and the transferring of money from the richer provinces to the poorer provinces. It does not help very much, if you have a woman down in Wesleyville, who first of all has great difficulty getting a job, maybe a single mom. How is she going to benefit from the child tax credit? To hear the minister say that nobody will get less money that they do now, that is a cop-out answer. That is simply not addressing the issue. Because the whole idea is to make life a little better.

I say to the minister, that in 1989, the Federal Government of Canada made a commitment that by next year there would be no hungry children. Child poverty would be eliminated in this country. Let me tell you that in 1998, there are five hundred thousand more children in poverty in this country today, than there were nine years ago.

Nine years ago the federal government said: We are going to eliminate child poverty by 1999. In 1998 there are five hundred thousand more children in poverty, than there were nine years ago. That is a shame for all of Canada. And, to hear this government say that they are going to condone a practice which will take money from the very poor, to help out those who are not quite so poor, and to tie it into some kind of a job creation program - it is difficult to find a job if you are a single mom in a rural community, and you have two or three children. Where is the job going to come from?

We say to the minister, go back to your federal buddies up there. Do not fall into the kind of trap the Federal Minister of Health fell into, saying yes to the issues that were raised by General Rock up there, the Minister of Health. Say that you are going to stand up for the poor of this Province and that you are going to do it now and look at what is happening to the poor people of Newfoundland of Labrador. Because for us to fail to do so, we are abrogating our responsibility to the very poorest of children in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, the National Child Benefit Program is a program that was designed by the federal government in co-operation with the provinces. It is intended to prevent and reduce child poverty and certainly to support parents in their employment efforts. It is intended to address some of the systemic barriers that exist, that trap people in a cycle of dependency. It is understood by both the provinces and the federal government that it is not the only answer to poverty across this country. But, it is a targeted measure to try to eliminate the systemic barriers that exist to people getting out of the system.

Mr. Speaker, the National Child Benefit Program provides an increase in benefit to low-income families for children. In this Province, the increase amounts, on an annual basis, to $10.15 million. That amount of money will be used in a strategic way to provide much needed early intervention and prevention programs and services for children.

As members opposite know, many advocates for decades have been looking for and seeking early childhood programs for children in this Province. It is through the availability of funds in the National Child Benefit that we are able to put in place a system of early childhood programs, of family resource centres, of youth networks and, yes, very strategic employment programs to assist families who are receiving social assistance, as well.

So, Mr. Speaker, in responding to this petition -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order please.

The hon. Minister.

MS BETTNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In responding to this petition, I would say that this National Child Benefit Program is structured in such a way, that no social assistance family will actually receive less income. The only portion of the income that is not allowable is the increase that will be implemented in July. By using those funds to establish a reinvestment strategy, we are able to provide much needed child and family supports and services throughout this Province. Those programs and services we will be able to increase when the federal government increases its National Child Benefit in subsequent years and the long-term benefit to all of those in the Province is considerable. The advocates recognize this. I think that many families who are living with low incomes recognize this and are supportive of it.

We do recognize, of course, that people who are receiving social assistance and families who are living with social assistance would like to have more income to work with. With this in mind, the provincial government, in the Budget this year, did increase the basic rates for social assistance by the 2 per cent. Mr. Speaker, we know that this is not enough but we do know that it is a start, and what is much more important is also to make a start on those long-term, early intervention strategies for children and families that will help break the cycle of poverty.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure to rise today to present a petition on behalf of constituents in my district. I will read the prayer of the petition: To the hon. House of Assembly, Newfoundland, in legislative session convened. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland:

WHEREAS the construction of the Goulds bypass road has been identified as a priority under the Canada-Newfoundland transportation initiative.

I say to the minister, every day there are petitions there when I go upstairs and if the minister wants to go up and check my mail now I will give him permission to see if there is more there.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I say to the minister, he appeared up in that office before when I was sitting there. In 1992 I got elected in a by-election. I was there in office and prior to the election of 1993, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation walked into the office with his Mulroney 500 Club card in his back pocket, in his wallet. Yes, I saw it! He showed me his card! He walked in there to run as a candidate for the PC Party in St. John's North and lo and behold, you know what happened.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. MATTHEWS: The Opposition House Leader, who was the former Leader of the Opposition - it is difficult to get his name straight; yesterday he was back as Leader of the Opposition. But he spouts a gross exaggeration. As a matter of fact, it is an entire `infactualization' because, as far as I know, that club never had membership cards.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, yes, I can tell you, I would never know, because I never paid $500 bucks to have dinner with Brian Mulroney - never did, but there are people on that side of the House who have.

MR. MATTHEWS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. MATTHEWS: This is a great exhibition, Mr. Speaker, of a person on his feet who knows very little of what he is talking about. For the record, the membership fee in that club is $1,000 and I do not want to be short-changed.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

They should call it the Mulroney 1,000 Club if it is $1,000. Why do they call it the 500 Club? Once again I will admit, the minister should be an authority on that subject because he knows -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that he is now speaking to a petition and he should keep his statements relative to that petition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The contribution to that club allowed the Prime Minister to stay in power so we could have a Canada-Newfoundland transportation initiative that is going to put those roads here in the Province. It came during Mulroney's term, I say!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: It is highly relevant there! I was trying to establish the basis by which we got this $800 million. It was from Brian Mulroney as Prime Minister of the country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I say, Mr. Speaker, yes, it is very relevant. All we want to see is the last step of that initiative, not the step that required the minister to put money in the pockets of the PC Party so we can keep the Prime Minister in power, but the last step so the Prime Minister could use -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Again, I remind the hon. member that he is on a petition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So we can use the last step of that program. So that money, that was allocated federally, can filter down to a much needed cause, the Goulds bypass road. The minister knows quite well the traffic volumes on that road are very high. The safety of people in the Goulds area, I must say, is a big factor. Many people have been killed on that highway in the Goulds, I say to the minister, over the past number of years.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Government House Leader, when the minister stands and announces we are going to see a start now, even a few measly several hundred thousand dollars, I promise not to present another petition. I will do that, I say to the minister. As long as the people there have a cause and they want to keep sending petitions until work commences on that, I will do my utmost to present petitions of people on behalf of the district.

There are fifty-seven people on this particular petition that was circulated within the town of Ferryland. There are a few people outside Ferryland who I guess visit the area. I see one who teaches there who lives in St. John's, but the rest are all residents of the District of Ferryland - mostly Ferryland. No, I see one here from Mount Pearl, a teacher also, I might add, up in the district. Fifty-five of these live in the district, two others commute back and forth every day over the highway, and they can bear testament to what type of highway they have to drive over. There are concerns, I might add -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, Mr. Speaker? The minister took up some of my precious time.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

I rise again to support the petition put forward by my colleague from the District of Ferryland to say that these petitions are arriving in our offices upstairs on a daily basis.

The residents in this particular part of the Province are hoping that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is listening. However, we have some doubts about whether the minister really is listening. We are hoping that when we finish this petition today he will do what he is committed to do, and that is to rise and tell us that he is going to announce a strategy to implement the planning phases and get going with the job of building this road that has been committed now for many years. In fact, this has been on the Liberal agenda since 1989. It has been talked about election after election. What the people in Ferryland are trying to say is that they want action.

I mentioned in the House the other day the issues of safety. The member just mentioned the number of accidents that have occurred on this highway over the years. One only has to drive in the Goulds roadway to get some idea of the tremendous bottleneck that is occurring. You can just look at the width of the road, look at the great number of curves that is in the road, to know that something should be done. Certainly, the conceptual plans have been done for a long time. I am not sure how much detail has been done by way of the detailed planning, or indeed, if all the land acquisition has been taken care of. I do understand most of the land acquisition has been done, that some of the detailed conceptual plans are now being formulated into ready to tender documents.

We say to the minister, it is time to start acting. Because it is inappropriate and unfair that the people along the Southern Shore, in the Goulds and Kilbride area, should have to wait for many more months before some action is going to be taken by the minister. We are hoping that the minister has been listening to the petitions. I can say to him in all truthfulness that these petitions arrive in our offices every day and they are presented on a very timely basis.

It is the prayer of the people that the minister take action, and he has heard the argument put forward by the Member for Ferryland, that great historic district. If we are going to promote tourism, if we are going to have people going down to Bay Bulls to go out on the bird watching tours, and we are going to facilitate economic development of the harbour down in Bay Bulls and in Witless Bay and in Colinet, and all down through there - if we are going to do that, going to encourage tourism, we had better make it possible to drive over pretty decent roads.

Because right now if you were to ask somebody to drive down the Southern Shore Highway, particularly in the Goulds area, we know that is not an appropriate road. The people want it to be addressed and have said so over and over again.

Mr. Speaker, what the people want is some beginning this year because they have been put off and put off every year since this government came into power in 1989. They have heard talks of it but have not seen any action. I am anxiously awaiting the minister now, in the next few seconds as I sit down and he has a chance to get up, to announce a strategy to address this issue. I am keenly awaiting his particular answer because I can see him over there now waiting to get up and give, even in the agenda or the Orders of the Day, where we are going to be talking about petitions. Maybe this is the time for him to make a ministerial commitment.

We are hoping that he will listen to the petition, be moved by it, be filled with compassion, filled with understanding, and in that mood he will now rise in his place and take advantage of the opportunity to address the issue to the Member for Ferryland, and we will now, shall we say, finally settle this particular -

The member has said that if he can get a commitment to move ahead this year, this will stop the petitions. If not, I can assure the minister that, given the numbers that have been arriving every day, this will be a continuous thing from now until the end of this particular session.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think I have an obligation and a responsibility to respond to some of these petitions that have been presented by the hon. member and to, I guess, put in context and let the hon. member know that this is a government that does meet its obligations and a government that does fulfil its commitments.

When the Roads for Rail Agreement was announced in 1987-1988, there were a number of projects identified under that Roads for Rail Agreement and the Goulds bypass was one such piece of road. So was the Conception Bay North bypass, the Conception Bay South bypass, the Outer Ring Road, the Pasadena, the Corner Brook, the Deer Lake reconstruction and realignment of that highway, and I want to assure the hon. member that we are living up to our commitment.

That is why, yesterday afternoon, I issued a press release indicating that we had, in the last few days, let tenders for $11.5 million worth of roadwork on the Outer Ring Road. It was a commitment, an obligation that was in that agreement, just like the Goulds bypass road; and, as I explained to the hon. member on more than one occasion, we believe it is incumbent upon us as government, to finish off the projects that are in hand, to finish off the projects that are entrain, so that people like the hon. Member for Mount Pearl or the hon. Member for Waterford Valley can get to work faster in the morning; so that the Government House Leader, this very distinguished, honourable, reputable, capable, intelligent man of immense leadership qualities and capacity, can get to work earlier as well because he can drive on the Outer Ring Road. I understand now he has to go through the City of St. John's and the Town of Mount Pearl in order to get back into the City of St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: City of Mount Pearl.

MR. MATTHEWS: Oh, I am sorry, the City of Mount Pearl. I apologize.

MR. TULK: Will you try and repeat all those adjectives you just used about me?

MR. MATTHEWS: Lovable, likeable, cuddleable, distinguishable. On occasion, the hon. member is anguishable; that is, he causes me anguish because I have difficulty in living up to - I just aspire to the high standard that he sets in terms of his legislative knowledge and ability to lead the agenda of this government through this House, such that we get our work done on time, such that we do not have to be here when we should not be here.

MR. FITZGERALD: Did you say the distinguished member or the extinguished member?

MR. MATTHEWS: I would say to the hon. Member for Bonavista South that the `distinguished' Member for Bonavista North will long outlive an `extinguished' Member for Bonavista South, notwithstanding that the Member for Bonavista South may have a few years on the Member for Bonavista North. But age is an honourable thing, I say, and he who is now, I understand, the longest sitting member of this House -




MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, the hon. the Member for Terra Nova -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: The hon. the Member for Windsor - Springdale, followed closely by the hon. the Member for Bonavista North.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, no, Terra Nova.

MR. MATTHEWS: Terra Nova. I said the hon. Member for Terra Nova and the hon. Member for Windsor - Springdale, I understand, have more service time than the hon. Member for Bonavista North, but the hon. Member for Bonavista North has more service time than the hon. the Member for Bonavista South will ever accumulate.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I draw the hon. member's attention to Standing Order 92 which says: Every member offering a petition to the House shall confine himself or herself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it and the material allegations it contains.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All of what I just said was simply to point out that on this side of the House we are abundantly blessed with talent, we are abundantly blessed with leadership, and it is sufficient to say that the agenda of this government is one that is moving in the right direction for the right reasons.

To the point of the Goulds bypass road, I can assure the hon. member that it is still a commitment of this government to ensure that the Goulds bypass road is built. That is why, once we start the Goulds bypass road we will be able to complete it in a shorter time frame than would otherwise normally occur, by virtue of having a bunch of projects on the go, none of which are completed.

As I said yesterday, I announced that municipal construction was given a contract for $5.7 million to pave 8.8 kilometres of road on the Outer Ring Road. Pyramid Construction was awarded a contract of $2.9 million for paving of 3.5 kilometres.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

And Trident Construction was awarded a contract of $3.069 million to do structures.

Mr. Speaker, once we have completed that major piece of work on the Outer Ring Road this year we will be able to drive from - as you probably saw the construction has started already in by Donovan's Industrial Park. You will be able to drive from that right on to Allandale Road this year, and get off and get to work more quickly than you could heretofore. Immediately following that bit of work, we will be carrying on with the other work on the Outer Ring Road, together with the Conception Bay South and Conception Bay North bypasses.

I can assure the hon. member that while I cannot obviously announce the projects that will be done next year, or commence next year under the Roads for Rail Agreement, I can give the hon. member a very liberal - if I were him I would take from this House a very liberal high level of confidence that the project is at the top, or near the top, of our list of priorities, and we will be moving forward at the earliest possible moment to get that piece of work done so that the people on the Southern Shore, the good people on the Southern Shore I might add, who are represented by the hon. member -

AN HON. MEMBER: And the people in the Goulds.

MR. MATTHEWS: - and the people in the Goulds, and the people in Mount Pearl, and the people from all over the Province who want to go to the Southern Shore, will have better access by virtue of that transportation link that will be put in place. It is coming; I want to assure him of that.

The only thing I would caution the hon. member is that he not talk himself out of a very good construction project, because day after day after day after day he is up presenting petitions and I question the construct of those petitions. I am wondering if he is not hauling leaves off one petition and making many petitions out of them.

AN HON. MEMBER: He wouldn't do that.

MR. MATTHEWS: I am not suggesting he is doing that. I am not suggesting that, Mr. Speaker. I am just raising it as a possibility, and I would ask the hon. member to understand that -

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

I ask the hon. minister to take his seat.

MR. SULLIVAN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. minister made a statement that implied I might be taking leaves from copies. Every petition I presented is an original, not even a fax. It is authentic. It is stamped at the top in which community it was placed and so on, and is very authentic.

I ask the minister to withdraw that remark that he made.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister if he would withdraw his remark.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if there was any shame, if there was any suggestion, if there was any possibility of a concept that I might be alleging that the hon. member is doing anything inappropriate heretofore, out of the way, inconsistent with parliamentary procedure or good rules and good order of the House, I absolutely withdraw it. Because I believe unequivocally, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. the Member for Ferryland District, the Opposition House Leader, is above all things an honourable man. I think that the extent of his honour has been displayed to this House. Certainly the hon. member is a man of great experience. Obviously that is displayed by the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I understand from what the hon. minister said that he has withdrawn that statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would concur with your observation. I would read that into my comments.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When I hear the hon. member and the hon. minister debating back and forth in the House about a $100 million thoroughfare here and an $80 million thoroughfare somewhere else, I cannot even fathom that, when I have to go and plead to the minister to give a few paltry dollars to a community the size of Lethbridge so that the schoolchildren might be able to ride to school without getting sick and tired on the way. I cannot even fathom that the minister would stand and talk about how important it is to be able to ride and get to work five minutes faster in some particular thoroughfare -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. member on a petition?

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes I am, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. member presenting a petition?

MR. FITZGERALD: Some particular thoroughfare, Mr. Speaker, and forget about those people without a paved road to drive on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his petition.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You are exactly right. Take it from the Outer Ring Road, I say to the hon. member, $100 million. You get on the highway, you get up five minutes early and hop in your car and come to work, I say to the hon. minister, and you will have no problem arriving at work on time.

When you talk to the people out in Winter Brook, and you talk to the people out in Lethbridge, who cannot even open their window in the summertime, cannot even hang their clothes on the line, Mr. Speaker, the same people who pay the same price for gasoline, the same price to register their vehicle, the same taxes when they go shopping, as the people here in this City, because they drive on a gravel road and when you open the window the house fills with dust. The minister knows full well what I am talking about, and that is what those people have been contending with all their life. They have never seen a little bit of pavement put through their town.

The people in Lethbridge drive over a road twenty-eight, thirty years old, patches on top of patches. Right now you don't know in most cases if you are driving on the old railway bed or if you are driving on the road. It doesn't need a pile of money to build a new road. What they are asking for is something as simple as to have the road ditch, put in a few culverts, and have the road recapped. The minister knows full well what I am talking about, and hopefully he will look after that particular need in my district.

The petition I have to present today is a petition to the House of Assembly. The hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in Legislative Session convened; the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland:

WHEREAS the TAGS program whereby the federal government compensates fisheries workers for -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I was with the understanding that the member had a petition dealing with roads, from the comments he was making, and I had asked him to get to his petition. He continued to talk about the roads. I understood that was the petition he was presenting.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it is on TAGS, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will allow the member to present his petition now, but from here on I ask hon. members when they present a petition to get to the prayer of the petition immediately so that the Chair will understand clearly what the member is doing.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: I am sorry about that, Mr. Speaker, my apologies.

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, licence buy-back, early retirement, economic diversification, and immediate consideration to those who are entitled to compensation and are now or are about to be taken off this program.

Mr. Speaker, here is a petition that was presented to me by people who had gathered here to demonstrate and bring their concerns forward to this Legislature back a week or a week and a half ago. What they are asking for is to get some idea from this government, some idea from the ministers, some idea from our federal government up in Ottawa, what direction their life is going to take after tomorrow. Because for 2,000 of those workers, 2,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, their last pay cheque goes in the mail tomorrow.

I do not know how many people here, sitting in this House, have ever found themselves in that kind of a situation. I do not how many people here can comprehend that, when those very same people, Mr. Speaker, real people with real names, owe bills and do not have a pay cheque after tomorrow. What those people are asking for: Is to have the federal government pay attention now before those 2,000 people are throwing off the program -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - and do not collect a pay cheque anymore to feed and support their families.

I ask the minister, if he is going to respond to this particular petition, if he would be kind enough to address that. I know there have been questions asked here in the House. I know where the minister's heart is, I have heard him speak up in Ottawa, and talk about the need, and the fear of what might happen to those 2,000 people, Mr. Speaker, about to come off this program -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - but they need some direction - they need to know.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the hon. member that his time is up.


AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Same thing - en français.

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to support my colleague, as I have done many times in this House, and continue with some of the comments I made yesterday with respect to this issue and how it is unfolding.

The member reminded us today, that tomorrow the last cheque goes in the mail - that is how close it is - that is how urgent it is. And we did say in our meeting, I think all member of the committee, to Mr. Pettigrew on that day, that that is how urgent it was, that, within days - not weeks or months - people are going to face the reality that the last cheque they just received is the last one they are going to get from any program.

Then, after that, as we continue conversations in here or they listen to the media, they are wondering what is going to happen when that last cheque is used for the last bit of groceries, the last light bill, and so on.

That is the stage they are at, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, a lot of the people who have come off over the last days and weeks are already at that stage. I have talked to them every single day - one day at a time, as late as today - people who are wondering how they are going to pay their light bills, get groceries for their home and so on. That is where it is. That is the reality of it and it is not fabricated or dramatized - that is the reality of it.

If you go around to the rural Newfoundland communities today, you will find that people do not know where they are going next week or the next few days, in paying their bills, and paying for the necessities of life. Really, Mr. Speaker, it is hard to even imagine or fathom exactly where we are with this.

Mr. Speaker, I will talk about a comment that the Minister of Fisheries made here yesterday.

I will make a point - two points: One, Mr. Speaker, on the seal industry. We cannot say it enough. Some people are getting tired, they said, hearing the Minister of Fisheries talking about the seal industry - well, I am not.

I know a lot of people in this House who have been watching that and paying close attention to it are not getting sick of it. In fact, I will go the other way and say we are not hearing enough of it - we are not hearing enough in the media, we are not hearing enough nationally.

If we had a battle convincing people in Ottawa about the TAGS Program - that is not going to be anywhere near the battle we are going to have ahead of us in convincing them that we should have an increased seal quota for a seal industry in this Province. That is where I think the real battle is going to be - I really mean that.

If we had a hard time up there convincing the Ottawa mentality of a program that was needed in Newfoundland for TAGS, wait until we really have to go - and I say to the minister, talk about a all-party committee or whatever strategies are in place. What a battle we have ahead of us to convince Mr. Anderson and the group in Ottawa and all those MPs, that we need an increased seal quota and that we should have a professionalized seal industry in this Province. That is going to be a big challenge for us.

I support that Minister of Fisheries, the Government House Leader, the Premier. If there is one issue that I can think about - you talk about Churchill Falls and all of those - if there is one issue where we have a battle ahead of us, it is that one.

Let us take the scenario that next year we could have a million seals. The quota could go to a million, which I still do not think is enough to control the number of seals that are out there - and with the situation with the fishery and so on. Say, we had a million seals for next year - well, Mr. Speaker, what we have to do is make sure we are going to do it right and proper. We cannot go and just wave our arms and say: Let us kill every seal in sight - let us haul every one in and throw them into whatever plant there is in the Province.

What we have to do, Mr. Speaker, is set up professionalized seal hunters to do it right. Bring it into a professionalized seal industry, as a modernized plant, where we shoot that animal and bring it into a plant, we take the hide, we take the meat and we take the seal oil and capsulize it right here in this Province. That is what we have to do. We cannot just say we are going to cull the seals, Mr. Speaker. It has to be done responsibly. If we are going to get respect for this industry we have to show people that we respect what we are doing and that the industry is for professionalized people to do it properly.

The other point, Mr. Speaker, and this is the second one that I totally disagree with the minister on, is when he talked about the out-migration numbers in Newfoundland last year, some over 9,000 people - for the first quarter of this year over 3,000 people, a record. The point that I really disagree with him on is that those people who left had an option. He said they had an option. I do not think they did, Mr. Speaker. Maybe some of them had an option to a point where they had to make a decision. They could have probably stayed and not done so well but they did not have a total option to stay, and I do not speak that from guessing. I speak to that from people I have talked to directly, who have gotten in their cars with a U-Haul in tow and left the Province. They did it because they had no option. They were used to a certain way of life and maybe one or both the husband and wife lost their jobs and they had to leave, Mr. Speaker. They had to leave the places they grew up in. They had to take their families out of school, and the members here who have children know how tough that can be for a high school students in Grades VII, VIII or IX to have to leave their friends and to go to another community and start school all over again. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not but it is a reality that people left who did not have the option.

I do not think that was a fair statement for the minister to make. I think it is a reality that people in this Province had to look and judge what they had in front of them. Can they pay their bills? Can they offer their family the type of life they were used to? We are talking about people in their forties, Mr. Speaker, late thirties and forties that had to leave the Province. The statistic I keep seeing before me, is one I read just a few days ago that over 70 per cent of the people who left in the last two to three years are between the ages of nineteen and thirty. The other statistic on top of that, by the way, was that they had education greater than high school, 34 per cent had more than high school.

So the minister knows and we all know that that is a problem. It has to be addressed -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: - and there have to be policies put in place to address those, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the petition that the hon. gentleman just presented from the other side of the House, asked - the prayer of the petition was that the government take a lead role in trying to promote the cause of those people who are coming off TAGS, the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, I think it is on May 8 or May 9, but certainly this weekend. Now, Mr. Speaker, you cannot help but support that petition because the government has been taking a lead role and trying to persuade the people in Central Canada, the national media, for example, one Jeffery Simpson, one editor of The Globe and Mail that got destroyed by the Premier a couple of weeks ago on television. I suppose he is trying to give us a flick back now -

AN HON. MEMBER: The editorial (inaudible).

MR. TULK: That is what I am talking about, the editorial and Jeffery Simpson. The real problem here is not with individual members of this House, it is not with individual members from Atlantic Canada, the real problem - and I have to say this to him, that I do not think I have reported this in this House and I understand that Mr. Gerry Byrne, who is the MP for the West Coast -I just forget the name of the federal seat - has made his presence well known in putting forward our case to the Liberal caucus, which is primarily the caucus out of Ontario. I understand at this point in time he has support for a post-TAGS program, for which I want to commend him.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member stands in this House and asks that the government take a lead role, I want to tell him, he knows we are doing that; but I guess he is trying to serve notice in case something does not happen on Friday or Saturday so that he can come back and say, `See, I told you so.' Mr. Speaker, we continue to take a lead role. As a matter of fact, we led the hon. gentleman to Ottawa. We led him and his colleagues, the Member for Ferryland and the Member for Baie Verte and some other people to Ottawa so that we could make a case for this problem. I want to also tell him that there are a number of other people who are wondering. And none of us on this side need lectures from the hon. gentleman when it comes to knowing about people in need. We all spend our lifetime at it. We have all spent our lifetime dealing with that problem and we spent the better part of eight to ten months trying to convince people in Central Canada that there is some necessity for this program. Mr. Speaker, I believe there is going to be a program and we still continue to press, even if it does not come about on Friday.

We will still continue to press the people in Ottawa, the people in the national government, even if it is not done on Friday, that they take those people into account - whenever they announce the program, regardless of whether it is the last of the month or the middle of the month, that they take people into account who have been affected by the fishing industry - regardless of when it is done.

I want to tell the hon. gentleman that people on this side of the House and the people in the Liberal Party, do not need to take a back seat to anybody when it comes to standing up for the rights of fisherpersons in this Province, regardless of whether they are in the harvesting sector or the processing sector.

I want to tell the hon. gentleman that it was a national Liberal Government who put in place the UI program for fishermen in this country. It was opposed by the Tories, and it was opposed by the Tories of Newfoundland, at the time. I want to tell him also that one of the technologies that destroyed the North Atlantic groundfish was factory freezer trawlers. I can remember today the Premier, standing on the ninth floor of this building, where the Old House of Assembly was, berating a Newfoundlander, the federal Minister of Fisheries, a Newfoundland Tory by the name of Jim McGrath, for granting factory freezer trawler licenses - not one, as he had originally said, but two.

He was called by then, Premier Peckford, the worst fisheries minister that Canada ever had.

AN HON. MEMBER: What party was he from?

MR. TULK: He was from the Tory Party. He was not even from Central Canada, he was not even from B.C. I hear the hon. gentleman from Bonavista South; he is standing over there trying to make a few points about our cousins in Ottawa. Well, I want to tell him that those people were his cousins from Newfoundland. They were not from Ottawa - they were his cousins from Newfoundland. And, he can try how he likes -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TULK: Oh, what a shame! The tradition of the Tory Party in this Province has been to down fisheries and destroy stocks. He can look all he wants to.


Orders of the Day


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

MR. TULK: Motion No. 1.

I understand that the hon. gentleman, Mr. Sullivan, adjourned the debate and had to leave for two or three minutes.

Mr. Hodder has not spoken and if he would like to get up and speak and adjourn the debate when he comes back. And you have already spoken, `Paul'.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Just for one moment. I want to get it clear what the hon. the Government House Leader is saying, that the hon. the Opposition House Leader adjourned the debate. He is presently out of the House on business, but when he returns, the hon. the member will give way to him to resume the debate? He will adjourn debate?

MR. TULK: Or Mr. Speaker, if they so choose on the other side to let the hon. gentleman use his thirty minutes and then let the Member for Ferryland and the Opposition House Leader take it from there.

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

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

I want to thank the Government House Leader for facilitating the arrangement and I understand that the Member for Ferryland will speak for his twenty-eight minutes when he returns.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. the Government House Leader for doing that.

Mr. Speaker, the motion that is before the House is a non-confidence motion. It says that all the words after `that' in the resolution be struck and replaced with the following:

It says that `this House acknowledge and condemn the government's failure to manage competently the Province's finances, its failure to live up to its duty or its promise to provide adequate direction and funding for social programs, such as Health and Social Services, its failure to secure the future of our Province by investing appropriately in education and students, and, its failure to better to discharge effectively his responsibility for and invest in economic recovery and employment growth in the Province, and particulary in rural areas so desperately in need of development and jobs.

Mr. Speaker, what in essence the non-confidence motion says is that this particular government has -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I've just been told a vicious rumour about the hon. gentleman which I don't believe, that he has a Dale Carnegie course that they are trying to get him off (inaudible), and not only that but he used to teach it. Would he stand and deny that for the sake of Dale Carnegie?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: You see, Mr. Speaker, the essence is that the Premier hasn't been in the House now for days. When we welcomed strangers we thought we would be welcoming the Premier. We know that the government, of course, had -

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

I just want to draw the hon. member's attention to something that he is doing here now. He is referring to hon. members who are absent. All hon. members know that is unparliamentary here, that it isn't acceptable, that ministers and others from time to time have responsibilities that will take them away from the House. Hon. members should not refer to the absence of any member from the House.

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

I would be delighted to be able to refer to the fact that the hon. Premier was present. However, if I referred to him as being present I would be telling a lie, and I can't do that.

I note that the government had the advantage, you see. There in the last year or so they went and had those elocution lessons. They brought in this big consultant at taxpayers' expense and they had those big seminars, the Jimmy Baker type seminars, for all members of the Cabinet, and they had exercises in waving arms and speaking forcefully. Of course the Premier was there doing his best to encourage his team over there to get with it. Thus far I sense that the Minister of Justice learned very well how to get up and wave his arms and say very little but behave like Jimmy Swaggart and all those other evangelicals that from time to time have been know for what they say or what they do. I did note that the Cabinet ministers did have all of that practice. We on this side of the House of course haven't had that kind of practice, so you can't expect us to be so well-versed in those methodologies of communication.

Mr. Speaker, what this motion is all about is saying that we see a great gap between what should be done in this Province and what is being done. We see a great gap between the commitments that were made by this government in their election platform - and we did have the Red Book at that time, and I from time to time have taken it out and have made comparisons. Last year we had a presentation of a booklet called The Report Card. We haven't seen the report card. Where is the report card? We would like to have the report card back. Because last year it was printed overnight, brought people back in who were, shall we say, working overtime, had to get this booklet out to all the people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the report card this year can't be very good. I'm sure the people who are out there, who are going to be taken off TAGS in the next two or three days, would love to get a chance to see what you are saying about them in the report card. It's not good enough to them for you to tell them that the Premier finds it more important today to be down in Houston with his buddy from Nova Scotia, because that is where he is.

I listened to the news this morning coming out of Nova Scotia, and Russell MacLellan says he has business in Texas. Then the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is leading a group of businessmen here. Maybe when they are down there Russell and the Premier might be able to tell us really what they discussed relative to Marine Atlantic, and how Russell is being courted to support the Premier's bid for leadership of the federal Liberal Party. Of course, if the Premier is courting Russell MacLellan for leadership votes, you know that he is not going to be too tough when it comes to things like jobs being transferred to Newfoundland out of Nova Scotia. He is not really going to be tough on New Brunswick either, because you see, the Premier now has a national agenda.

Just the other day I saw a piece in the paper by John Gushue. It was in Sunday's paper, it was called: What's up with Tobin? John Gushue, of course, edits the Insight page in The Evening Telegram. In this particular case, John Gushue was asking the question: What is the Premier's real agenda? So right now we find ourselves questioning why the Premier was in Toronto last week attending a huge fund-raiser, a $1,000 a plate fund-raiser and then, right on top of that, at the weekend convention, he announces that the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador does not have any more debts to pay; and we see a bit of a connection between the two.

Mr. Speaker, we read with interest some of the comments made by John Gushue. He says, "I can't blame him for wanting the top political job in the country. But I do fret that on key issues - files, as he insists on calling them - Tobin is not working with total, absolute concentration." In other words, the Premier has another agenda. The Premier's agenda obviously is more focused on national issues. In fact, as I said earlier, I would like to say that he has great attendance here in the House, but for me to say that would be to tell an untruth and part of the rules say you cannot tell an untruth. Therefore, I cannot say that the Premier has a great attendance record.

Mr. Speaker, really the public of Newfoundland and Labrador are getting a little sceptical of what the motives are. Of course, we know that the Premier sometimes behaves as if he is the Ambassador to Newfoundland from Ottawa. Well you know, we do not like being treated as if we are a bunch of Colonials. Of course, as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture mentioned the other day, the Central Canadian attitude towards Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada is a little bit less desirous than we would like to have it.

Mr. Speaker, we want to say to the Liberals opposite, you cannot be up in Toronto toasting the Liberal elite, raising $400,000 we were told. If you look at the number of people who were there, $1,000 a plate, that is $400,000. No wonder we on this side have a vote of non-confidence. How can you have a vote of confidence in a government whose Premier is supposed to be here in this Province, but where is he? He is in Ottawa getting $1,000 a plate and paying off the provincial Liberal Party debt with that. While we do not disagree with fund-raising, we certainly have questions about whether the Premier's priorities should be to be in Toronto toasting the elite of Bay Street or whether they should be right here in this Province. Mr. Speaker, we have some difficulty with that. It is no wonder that people like John Gushue are beginning to ask questions about the real agenda that the Premier has.

Mr. Speaker, we want to say to the Premier that if he wants to raise his national profile, then he should be doing it in more appropriate times, and we should be aware of the fact that if he is going to make compromises on things like Marine Atlantic, that there are people in Newfoundland and Labrador today who are saying: Why are we making compromises? Is the Premier really trying to make himself look good? Why is the media carrying stories about him and Russell MacLellan down at the oil conference at the same time, and we understand even sharing some of the booth space and that kind of thing.

So, Mr. Speaker, we are asking real questions about the agenda of the Premier as it relates to his priorities nationally and his priorities in this Province. Therefore, because we have some questions about the agenda and the intent of the real wishes of the Premier it is no wonder that we stand here and we have a vote of non-confidence.

Now, Mr. Speaker, just the other day as well - I was just reading through another article here. Tony Collins who writes out of Gander, writes an article in which he talks again about some of the actions of the government. In particular, he writes a column about all those public opinion polls. Last year we spent $59,000 on public opinion polls while many of our children went to school hungry. Mr. Speaker, the priority of the government is not to feed our children, the priority of government is to conduct public opinion polls.

We had public opinion polls last year on Sunday shopping; two or three on that. We had the arming of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, aboriginal land claims, we had the post-TAGS program, we had opinion polls on sexual orientation legislation and we had many other opinion polls that were conducted. As a matter of fact, the government last year spent nearly $60,000 doing opinion polls to find out which way the wind was blowing. This is in direct contrast to the former Liberal Premier here who, of course, spent $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000 a year on public opinion polls, on essential and sensitive issues. The present Premier gets an idea and then he goes out and says: Do a public opinion poll to see which way the wind is blowing.

Of course, on something like TAGS, they set out and had a public opinion poll done on TAGS. Mr. Speaker, 51 per cent of the people in this Province gave a response that the government probably would support. So, Mr. Speaker, we say to the government that on something like TAGS you either believe in it or you don't believe in it. If you need to go out and carry out public opinion polls, you have to raise questions as to how sincere you were to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are going to be thrown off that program. Mr. Speaker, either they deserve to be supported or they do not. You support them because it is the right thing to do, you don't support them because you go out and do a public opinion poll and then say you will support them if the public opinion poll says it is to your advantage, but you will not support them if you find that the public opinion poll is saying something different. Is that the way we are going to run the government?

Therefore, if you are going to do public opinion polls on everything, like TAGS and that kind of thing - I say to the Government House Leader, they were doing a public opinion poll on the TAGS thing there last year. It certainly raises questions as to whether or not the government would have supported them if the public opinion poll had been a little different.

MR. TULK: What makes you so dirty minded?

MR. H. HODDER: Well, shall we say, when you find out - I say to the Government House Leader, it is a case of where if you do these public opinion polls there has to be a motivation to do them. If you really believe that all of those people who were getting TAGS deserve their income, you would not do a poll to find out how people are reacting. You either believe it or you don't believe it.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted as well today to make note, that on the issue of the arrangement for the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy - just yesterday the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association joined in to denounce the decrease or the changes to the TAGS arrangement. Mr. Speaker, I note here that Brendan Doyle is now issuing a press release here which is dated just yesterday. It says: There is a fight for fairer treatment for workers devastated by the loss of their livelihood. Mr. Speaker, we know that these changes - and we hope there will be some comfort found in the near future for these people. We have been asking questions. We are encouraged by some of the answers that are put forward by the Government House Leader, but when we listen to what is being said by the federal minister, we simply have to say to the government, we wonder really where the federal government is coming from. There are so many inconsistent messages. One day the federal minister is going to be supporting the people who come off TAGS on May 9, the next day he is not. He gets on television and his language leaves a little bit to be desired. In fact, just in the lobby this afternoon I heard one of the reporters say how shocked they were to listen to the language of the federal minister from Newfoundland last night in the news broadcast.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to address a few more issues, because again the motion here is one of non-confidence. Let me follow up on something that happened in the petition session this afternoon. We had a petition put forward by the Member for St. John's West. That petition was relative to the changes that are going to be made to the Child Tax Benefit.

We know, as I said then, that the federal Government of Canada in 1989 gave a commitment that they would eliminate child poverty by 1999. However, we know that today, as I said at petition time, there are 500,000 more poor children in this country now than there were eight or nine years ago. The concept of eliminating child poverty, not only did we not change the income status of the families and the children involved in 1989, but we have added to it. In fact, there are 500,000 more children in poverty in this country in 1998 than there were in 1989.

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw attention to the comments made by the federal Minister of Finance on January 10, 1997, a year and a bit ago. Paul Martin said: I believe child poverty is the great social challenge of this generation. We think we are now reaching the point of absurdity in terms of inequality.

Mr. Speaker, the federal Minister of Finance says we have reached the point of absurdity in terms of inequality. That is the federal Minister of Finance making a statement a year and three months ago.

We say to the government opposite that when we talk here about changes to social policy, what we are really saying is that we in this Province have failed in our obligation to our youngest citizens, our own children. The Williams Royal Commission mentioned in its report - it said one of the most pervasive problems in school is the issue of child poverty. Studies were done for the Williams Royal Commission by the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Department of Social Services. Eight or nine years ago it said that one child in four in this Province was going to school hungry.

These studies were done before the cod fishery failure. They were done before other economic downturns. They were done before we were devastated by the economic changes of the 1990s. Therefore, when we came to the Patricia Canning report we see conclusions reached there, again based on evidence gathered, that there may be as many as 40,000 of the children of this Province going to school hungry.

If the Patricia Canning data is correct, and we have no reason to believe it isn't, today, and registered in this Province, there are 101,608 students going to school. That is in primary, elementary, junior high and senior high schools. That would mean that maybe two in five - I can't believe it is that high, but it could be as many as - if 40,000 children, it could mean as many as two in five of our children are going to school hungry every day.

The Patricia Canning report said there was a very close connection between low social, economic status and educational achievement. We acknowledge the fact that the Province has put some extra money into the Child Food Foundation and we appreciate that, but every time we have spoken on this issue - I have spoken very often, as have all other members on this side, about child poverty.

Mr. Speaker, the National Forum on Health, which is quoted extensively in the Social Policy Advisory Committee Report submitted to the government just about a year ago by Penny Rowe, shows a connection between the financial depravation of families and children and their chances of success in the school system.

It says that poverty is far more than a lack of money. For children, it leads to exclusion, it leads to isolation, and it leads to marginalization. What that report says, and I can quote from it: Children who grow up poor show about three-and-a-half times the number of conduct disorders, almost twice the chronic illnesses, and more than twice the regular school problems, hyperactivity and emotional disorders, as children who are not poor.

Mr. Speaker, that kind of data seems to be just glossed over by the government because obviously they really bought into the notion that if you could have children in school who were well fed then they would perform a lot better.

Mr. Speaker, I have said before that we have to start addressing the issue of child poverty. I remind all hon. members that in the school system we have many children who every day try to cope with the fact that their families are poor.

I say to the hon. members, and remind them how we all feel as adults when we are hungry. We feel fatigued, restless, and we are not able to concentrate. When children are hungry, they have all of these emotions plus a lot more.

Mr. Speaker, if we are going to break the cycle of under-achievement, we have to start feeding our poor children. There is no doubt any more about the connection. It is there. It has been substantiated by reports that go back for fifteen and twenty years. In fact, one of the reports I read the other day was dated in 1973. That report, at that time, drew a direct connection between income of families and child achievement.

Mr. Speaker, what it means is that children who come from poor families find themselves in Special Education classes. We know, if you look at the children who are in Special Needs classes, Special Education classes, and you look at the social economic status of their parents, you will find more children in that particular class will come from poor families than well-off families.

Mr. Speaker, if you listen to the petitions that have been presented continuously in the House by the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, the Member for St. John's East, and myself, we talk about a comprehensive school lunch program; and that has been raised here many, many times.

The school lunch program is now being offered in seven of the St. John's schools. Seven schools in St. John's now offer a school lunch program. Mr. Speaker, I mention the school lunch program only to note that it is being coordinated from St. Joseph's Elementary School on Quidi-Vidi Road. It now has a fair number of students who are taking advantage of the program. It is being offered in a non-stigmatizing and a non-identifying structure, and that is very, very good because that is one of the issues identified in the Williams Royal Commission, that we would offer a school lunch program in a way which would not identify the children and would not stigmatize them any more than they have been stigmatized now.

Mr. Speaker, I would like, in talking about the school lunch program, to offer congratulations to Andrea Maunder who runs that program. She has a host of volunteers who go down there every day. Many of them are retired people in St. John's, retired civil servants, retired teachers, people who have some extra time. The school lunch program can only work if it is being supported by the local community.

Every single day there are volunteers who go to St. Joseph's School. I have been down there, I have visited the school, I have watched the food being prepared from the time it comes in in the early morning. I have gone in with the system, gone to the schools where it is being served, and I can tell you that it is very well received; seven schools.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to note again the School Children's Food Foundation. I want to acknowledge that this is a partnership between Petro Canada and the School Children's Food Foundation which is funded this year by the Province to the tune of $1 billion in total, between the whole group, and that is good. Their mandate is to try to assess the needs in different schools. When I called upon them to send me out an information package they were very quick to do it.

Susan Green and her team there are doing a wonderful job. In fact, I say to all hon. members, if you haven't asked Susan Green to send you out a package of information that should be sent to the schools in your district, then you are missing out; because Susan Green and her team would want to, through you, make available their resources to try to develop a comprehensive program of help for students in your district. I find working with Susan Green to be very good; she is very receptive.

Again, I want to say that the whole idea here is that we can begin to address it. It is not a lot of money, $1 million is not a lot of money, but it is a beginning. I want to compliment the government for doing that. I will just say that they should be doing a lot more.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you as well, and literature will tell you, that child hunger is never the fault of the child. The child is just a victim of hunger. They suffer the short-term consequence, which is being hungry in the school system. They also suffer the long-term consequence, which is that these children have to go to school every day and, in the long term, there is a higher rate of drop-outs. They don't succeed. Many of them drop out before they finish their schooling, because when they reach high school they find it quite embarrassing and as soon as they get a job that pays them a few cents they just drop out. There is a lot of evidence out there, a lot of data, which shows that connection.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you donate any money to them?

MR. H. HODDER: I certainly do make contributions in kind and products as well.

MR. SPEAKER (Oldford): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TULK: Sit down, no leave.

MR. H. HODDER: No leave? Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader denied me leave.

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I was sitting here listening to my colleague for Waterford Valley and I am surprised that he would stand in this House and criticize something that this government has been doing for some time, and I can assure him will continue to do for some time, and that is raise funds to pay off Party debts and to get ready for subsequent elections; the next one that will be called hopefully in the next two or three days.

MR. SHELLEY: That is why you have lost a lot of weight, is it?

MR. A. REID: That is right.

Let me come clean with everyone now, Mr. Speaker. The reason why I have lost all the weight - as you can see, I have over thirty pounds gone - I am ready to go and I am hoping the Premier is going to call tomorrow morning. If he does, we can have it over with and we can have a decent summer and go away as members of the House of Assembly with forty-seven seats on this side of the House and one on the other. I am hoping he will make that call in the next few days. Now I am not saying, Mr. Speaker, that these gentlemen and ladies on the other side of the House will not be back in the House, but I have a feeling that some may be back in the House with a different label on them.

MR. TULK: Now listen, he is not coming over (inaudible).

MR. A. REID: Well I am not sure about Waterford Valley, but I can tell you this much, that they are over there who have already asked us, and are seeking already to come across, because they all think they make good Cabinet ministers; and, Mr. Speaker, I think some of them would. I actually believe that some of them would make good Cabinet ministers.

MR. TULK: I will tell you there is one fellow over there whom we should consider; Sullivan.

MR. A. REID: Oh, without a doubt.

MR. TULK: Very rational.

MR. A. REID: Without a doubt, Mr. Speaker, without any doubt in my mind whatsoever. That man has been a personal a friend for a long time and I have no problems whatsoever in saying to you I would be honoured to sit in the Liberal Party with Loyola Sullivan sitting beside me; without any hesitation whatsoever.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: He is one of the most honourable gentlemen I have met in Newfoundland politics, and in Newfoundland, and I have no problems in saying that. I say that quite often to a number of his friends and I am friends with a number of his friends. I have no problem with that. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I am going to own up to something now that I did not own up to before.

He and I have been on vacation together, you know -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who? You and who?

MR. A. REID: Loyola and I. We have had some good poker games and good laughs over some of the things that have gone on in this House, even though he was on the other side. He got up yesterday and answered to the Leader of the Opposition and I say, quite honestly, I wish he was still Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: Loyola, I say to you, through you, Mr. Speaker, you can finally, I guess, lean back in the chair without worrying about those knives going in any further. Is that what you can do now? Yes, you can sit back and relax. I guess he has the knives out of his back and the wounds are healed by this time.

I just want to make a couple of comments. This is on the Budget. I want to say quite honestly that I know it is the job of the Opposition to get up and move non-confidence motions in the government and everything else, but it hits me right here to think that my friends across the way would move a non-confidence motion in me, Mr. Speaker. I wish, when they got up to move a non-confidence motion in the government, they would say: with the exception of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. You know, they should do that.

I want to make a couple of comments on a couple of subjects that are continuously coming up in the House. I know the hon. Member for St. John's West brings it up on a number of occasions. It is Sunday shopping. Well, thank God I am living in a district that Sunday shopping has not made one bit of difference to. What has happened basically is that none of the shops have opened, so I am not too worried about it.

Mr. Speaker, you will find that that has happened in most cases in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I am glad because, believe it or not, Mr. Speaker, I do go to church Sunday mornings and I do not shop on Sunday. I will not say that I will never shop on Sunday but I feel that I can do what I need to do in six days and I do not need to do it in seven. Then on the other hand, I do agree with letting stores open. If they want to open on Sunday, that is private enterprise and we should leave private enterprise to private enterprise.

I am pleased to say that in my District of Carbonear - Harbour Grace, which was, I suppose, when it comes to education and religion, probably the most predominant district in the Province. Maybe I can even go as far as to say anarchy to a certain extent. Because for anyone who knows a little bit about history in Newfoundland, Harbour Grace in my district is the only place in the Province that ever had an incident where Catholics and Protestants actually killed each other. That was back some time ago.

I tell you, quite honestly, I am quite proud to be able to say that I am the representative for Harbour Grace as well as Carbonear, this time around. That is something new. I am quite proud to say that I do not have any problems with the educational reform in my district. In fact everything is going along quite smoothly. There is nobody complaining, other than the few people that are looking for some extra things for the schools that are open. I do not blame them for that because I am doing the same thing with them. So I am happy with the educational reform the way it is going.

I want to give you a quick overview of my department, if I can, in regards to the Budget, Mr. Speaker, and some of the things that we have done, more or less a report card. I know that I am going to give a report card on Thursday night, but I am not going to have the opportunity to speak to the whole House and at least get my few words recorded, as it relates to my department and what we have done for municipalities, and what we have done, in general, for the good of the Province, through the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, the Fire Commissioner's Office, the Provincial Affairs Department and all the other responsibilities that I and my department have in operating on a daily basis.

First, I want to say that yesterday I made a statement in the House of Assembly. I talked about debt relief and re-financing. I want to make a few brief comments about that, Mr. Speaker, more so on the debt relief program, of the $12 million that was in my Budget this year to assist municipalities around the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, to date we have closed deals with forty municipalities, and I have approximately thirty-five almost ready, pretty well ready, to sign contracts with. I look across at my hon. colleague from Ferryland district and I think he probably knows more about that debt relief program then a lot of other people in the House, because he was involved with one of his communities, just one in his district, that got him -

AN HON. MEMBER: And a couple of others.

MR. A. REID: And a couple of others. He got involved to the point where he helped me straighten out one of his communities. I think I can honestly say that both him and myself were happy at the end of the day that it worked out as well as it did. I know the town and the people living in the town are happy with the solution that they have and the fact that the government has taken some money and helped that town, hopefully - and I say it with finger's crossed - survive over the next few years until they can put themselves in the situation where they can start to become more affluent themselves and more self sufficient.

Mr. Speaker, I admit, and I say quite honestly, that there are, I won't say hundreds, but there are communities in the Province that are a lot like the hon. member's town that he worked so hard to find debt relief for.

There are no boundaries drawn on whether or not you represent a Progressive Conservative district, an NDP district, an Independent district or a Liberal district.

AN HON. MEMBER: It helps if you are Liberal.

MR. A. REID: It helps if you are a Liberal, yes.

The approach that we have taken is, we have taken the most serious communities first and worked down from the most serious. We are getting to the point now where the department and the team that we put in place to do this work is feeling quite good about the whole scheme and the whole situation. Because now we are starting to see results, and now after signing a number of contracts some time ago and watching what has been happening to these communities since then, and monitoring them, we are finding that they are keeping all their financial statements up to date and keeping themselves on line, so they are not falling back or behind into the same situation they were in before we refinanced. So, I am proud of that.

Mr. Speaker, that was $12 million. That is a lot of money. It was almost the exact amount we took from the Municipal Operating Grant. If you remember, the year before last I stood in this House and said that one of these days someone would be calling me Robin Hood, because we have really stole or robbed from the rich to give to the poor; and at the end of the day that is how it is going to come out.

I do understand that some communities are still finding it rough, in regards to meeting their debt charges and paying their bills and so on, but I know that each and every member in the House of Assembly knows that if one of their communities is in a situation where they are strapped for a few dollars they can always come to me. When I say that, I mean the member can always come to me and say: Art, you have to help me with this, and you have to try to help bail out this community, or you have to try and keep them alive for the next little while. I can honestly look across the floor and say that I have done that for a number of you people on both sides of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are a good minister.

MR. A. REID: Oh, I have done things that I have not told the world about. I don't let them know most of the things I do for you.

I have to tell you this one. It's more of a joke than anything else. I even had a member come up to me this afternoon and ask me for some capital works money and told me that he would support me in the next federal election if I wanted to run in his district. He wasn't from this side of the House either, Loyola. They would do anything for a few dollars.

I will say this to you, Mr. Speaker, I will proclaim now, that I have no intentions of running federally. I'm trying to convince my good friend and colleague from Port de Grave. He would be the man to do it, but he is reneging too, he is holding back. I have no digs on the job in Ottawa for Bonavista-Trinity-Conception.

I want to make a couple of quick comments too about a couple of things that I did this year in regards to being involved. One of the things we have to take credit for over on this side, Mr. Speaker, is the school lunch program and the dollars that this government has put into school lunch programs in the last two years. I think we should give ourselves a pat on the back for it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: It was never done before, never in the history of this Province, and we need to pat ourselves on the back for the dollars that we put into the school lunch programs in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: Let me tell you, I was with the director of that agency just last week down at the Home Show, and she got up and spoke after me. She said that without the Liberal government and what they did for her program, not only in St. John's but in this Province, they wouldn't be able to deliver a tenth of the program that they wanted delivered. So, say thank you to the six ladies who headed up the school lunch program, and thank the government for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we contributed to that program in the last few years.

I like to boast sometimes about the way my department quite often handles capital funding. I would like to boast also, very quietly, about the program we handled just recently called the job creation program. That was out trying to help some municipalities and trying to create some employment in Newfoundland. I feel really proud about that program, and I think we all do, on both sides of the House. I think it is probably the best bit of money that we spent as a government, at least I can say, since 1989. We have got more mileage out of that - and I don't mean political mileage, I mean for each one of us on both sides of the House - we got more out of that I think than we got out of any other program. I honestly say that I hope the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board can find his way clear to put some more money into that program again this year.

That was a great program, and I tell you where it meant more. Maybe not so much to me in Carbonear and Harbour Grace, or to you, but in the Baie Verte area, in the Bonavista North area, in the Labrador area, in the Bonavista South and the Trinity South area, in the areas of the Province which have been hard hit by a downturn in the economy because of the fisheries. They were the areas of the Province where that money came off the best for everybody.

AN HON. MEMBER: We should have it again this year.

MR. A. REID: I say to you sir, that if there is any way I can encourage my colleagues in Cabinet to have it again this year, and I know the Premier really wants to have it this year again, if we can do it again we are going to have it again.

I will finish off by making a few comments on the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. I say to you, and I think I can say this without fear of getting too much said about it, but the Linden Court affair, if you remember the Linden Court affair and what we had to do over there, it looks right now like we may have to subsidize just three seniors out of all that group, only three. We also are looking at - Allandale apartments, too, now have been -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. REID: No. Allandale, too, are looking at being `condominiumized'. We are in there now helping those people the same way as we helped the people in Linden Court. It may turn out to be that we may have to help just three people, three separate apartments, so that turned out to be pretty good, better than I thought. We thought we would end up with about twelve but now we are down to three.

I would also tell the House that we have informed the residents of the apartments located in Pepperrell - what I call Pepperrell - the Pleasantville apartments, that there is no intention of privatizing those apartments at the present time and they don't have to worry about the same thing happening to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Elizabeth Towers, how much money (inaudible)?

MR. A. REID: Elizabeth Towers? We did not lose any money on Elizabeth Towers.

Mr. Speaker, I will finish off by saying that I don't look for very much in regards to praise, or my department doesn't look for very much in regards to praise from municipal and provincial affairs, and I don't want any praise. I think most members of the House know what we do on a regular basis in our department.

I want to say this in closing, that I have a new deputy minister called Bob Noseworthy over here. He was moved over from Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and I think, without fear of anybody coming back, he is one of the best deputy ministers that we have in any department of government. I can honestly say that. I think that government appreciates the fact that he has been a hard worker for over a year now with me, and I hope that I can maintain and hold on to him.

The other person, of course, is Ramona Cole, who I have as assistant deputy minister - from down in your area, by the way. You could not find a better financial administrator. I am hoping that in the next little while the Premier will appoint an assistant deputy minister to help me with things like capital works and the types of things that we are looking for as members. Other than that, I think everything has been pretty good.

I know on Thursday night I will have my estimates done and there will be more questions at that particular point in time. I just wanted to make those few comments and say to you that I stand here today quite proud over what we have accomplished as a government in the last two years in regards to - almost 100 communities now have availed of refinancing, or some money that we have helped them with to refinance. Also, I think that I can honestly stand and say that even though this time last year there were 150 communities in this Province that I would consider bankrupt, a large number of those communities today are far from bankrupt and are back on the straight and narrow and I hope that they can stay that way for years to come.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure to stand and speak on such a tremendous amendment. I am sure, if the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs would like an amendment, we could speak for another thirty minutes. If there is leave for that, we could move an amendment to strike that minister from this particular amendment. We could do that. I am sure the Government House Leader might agree with that, would he? He does not seem to be too receptive to a further amendment. He would prefer to have him exempted. He would want to exempt himself, I say, from this amendment.

This amendment is very appropriate. It says here: The failure to live up to its duty or its promise to provide adequate direction and funding for social programs such as health and social services. Badly lacking; there are dollars needed in this particular area.

Even at the Liberal convention in Gander, the polls are telling them that health is the biggest concern out there today. The budgets are being frozen and the costs are increasing within the system, so we are getting less now for the same amount of money. We need to have a larger amount of money allocated to those services.

There is hardly a person in this Province today, or in this House, who does not have a member of their family ill in some way and who has to go through and experience some of the things we talked about. So it is no wonder that the Opposition is standing to put a motion of non-confidence in the ability of this government to be able to administer compassionately and with sufficient funds to care for the sick of this Province.

The Member for Labrador West, for example, I say to him: They bring people in who have to be flown in by air ambulance and put in hospital. When they are released: Find your way back to Labrador.

I raised an issue last year: A person who was sent home in a body cast had to tie up, I think, four or six seats on an airplane, a little airplane. They had a job to manoeuvre that body into the airplane. Six seats, I believe, were taken up on an airplane last year, four or six seats - I am not sure exactly - at a cost of something like $6,000 or $7,000. That is how they had to get back to Labrador. Can you imagine a person in a body cast, a young person who was injured, an emergency who had to be flown in, released from the hospital and: Find your way home to Labrador. They had to be carried and manoeuvred in a body cast in through that small aircraft, and tie up seats and pay for all that airfare. Fortunately the employer, I think, of the parent, chipped in and picked up the cost.

There has to be a recognition of people who live in remote parts of our Province, to allow the same access to medical services, the same as somebody here. I am sure the Member for Torngat Mountains would appreciate what I am talking about. In other words, to get services to their area is unbelievable. The member, in order to get to Ottawa, had to get a vacant seat on a Medivac which had to connect with another flight, fly into St. John's and fly to Ottawa on a committee of the House. I mean, that is a lot of time just commuting, getting from your district. So, people who are sick, people who do not have the income or the means, need to be able to avail of services like this.

To go on: The failure of the Province to secure the future of our Province by investing appropriately in education and students. We have students here with record debt. I think the minister indicated only a small percentage of the people even qualify for debt remission, because there has not been consideration for people under debt remission. The budgeted amount last year for debt remission and student loans, I think, was $3 million and they only used $1 million; $1 million was used, $3 million was budgeted. Why? Because many people cannot qualify. The person who is pregnant and has to take time off for maternity or whether it is, paternity leave or whatever happens; people who are sick and have to take semesters off; people who do not have the income or the resources to be able to pay their way, they have to take time off work -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has delivered, I would say. I think he has delivered. He is certainly not a maternity case; he has lost over thirty pounds. I am not sure if the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal has yet delivered. We will find out on TAGS. I am talking about the TAGS program now, I say to the minister. We will see if he is going to deliver on those programs and services.

MR. TULK: How much do you expect? Loyola, what would you call a good number?

MR. SULLIVAN: A good number? The minister is asking me what I call a good number, when he has been telling everybody across this country we have to refrain from using numbers. He said: What price do you pay for lives that are disrupted? Now he wants me to give a number. I will tell you in private.

MR. TULK: Will you?


MR. TULK: Okay.

MR. SULLIVAN: I won't do like you did, beat around the bush. I will tell you what is needed, a rough figure - within, give or take, 5 or 10 per cent - what would be a reasonable figure.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure. And in order to give a realistic number, I probably would need a little bit of information on the exact number of people who are in the age group who can get early retirement. I will need to know that. I will need to know how many are at sixty-three, sixty-two, sixty-one, to know what the pay-outs and so on would be.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, but if $100 million retires everybody who wants to retire under a similar thing that is done, well, $100 million for early retirement. If we need $250 million or so for licence buy-out, if that is what is needed for people who want to voluntarily get out at a reasonable price, that is the right number for that.

If we have economic diversification - the minister is sitting down, I say - it would depend to an extent on what is in the other pot. Because with a low level - I will say this to the minister - if replacement income support isn't as significant, that means we need bigger dollars into economic diversification. So, that pot can almost be looked at as the one pot of funds.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I cannot get into that on the record here. I said I will tell him in private. I will not say it in public because he might go out and tell someone I am looking for $10 billion or something. He might go out and say (inaudible).

I can tell him the figure I heard. The figure through The Globe and Mail, I can tell you, is not sufficient. It is not sufficient. They talked generally in the $750 million range. That is not sufficient. When you are taking half of that for licence buy-out and early retirement... A concern of mine, too, is the fifty to fifty-five age group. I will say to the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I guess we will be talking in the ten figures. I qualify for what?

AN HON. MEMBER: Qualify for TAGS?

MR. SULLIVAN: I could have, I guess. I probably could have.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), An Act To Amend The Shops' Closing Act.

MR. SULLIVAN: We are going to close for Mothers' Day - an emergency debate in the House to close for Mothers' Day, all the stores in the Province, and they would not close on Mothers' Day.

I can tell the minister it should be in the ten figures.


MR. SULLIVAN: Ten figures. It has to have nine zeros and a digit in front of the nine zeros. I will not go so far as to put an eleven-digit number but I will say a ten-digit number is needed to have an adequate program. That means the bottom end of that ten digits would be $1 billion and the upper end would be $9.99999... billion. So it is in that range, I say to the minister.

The Globe and Mail was $150 million initially. They threw out a little bit of bait to see how it would be taken across the country. A bit leaked out federally, and now they are saying some more. Another bit leaks out again; the feds leak out another bit to see how the country will respond to this. Now again we have it up to $750 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a huge trial balloon. The trial balloon was not big enough the first time, I can tell you. That is the way it is played. If that is what we need to get results, we will get there.

I hope the minister, when he goes on his little jaunt up to Ottawa later on in the week or whenever, will drive it home a bit harder; he will use some of that body mass he has to drive sense into those people up there.

MR. TULK: What?

MR. SULLIVAN: Use some of that body mass he has to drive some sense into Minister Pettigrew and Minister Mifflin. You will have to hit them hard to put sense into them, but you will have to do it.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).


MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I would not advise you to go to Ottawa with that.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, the fish; I thought you meant the colour. If you go up with the yellow colour, you are going to have problems. You have to go up with red, red for blood.

MR. J. BYRNE: Blue.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, a blue tie, but he has to be -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Blue blood. That is what he has to do. It is time to call for the blue, is it, instead of the red?

Mr. Speaker, I have indicated how it has shirked its responsibility in addressing educational needs here in our Province. I was speaking, before the minister derailed me and we talked about the TAGS program, about education.

Education should be a major priority. Health and education are the two major priorities and, of course, budget-wise they are the greatest need. We do really have a freezing of contributions to Memorial University. We actually have a decrease in contributions to MUN over what they forecast and they did not consider the $3 million in capital that we gave them. It is $102 million or $103 million and it would be down to $99-something million under operating, and we are finding it more and more difficult, increasingly difficult on students today, to be able to try to get an education.

I mean, students with record debts. I am sure other members here in the House get calls from people who have run up huge debt and they cannot get a job to pay down the debt. How many members in the House are getting calls from people who are getting calls from collection agencies that are out there now on those students? I get a lot of them and I am sure other people must too. I have dealt with probably eight or ten since late last fall, since December, which is not a huge number on a topic; but for people who are getting calls from collection agencies, harassing them at work and calling them wherever they can get a number to call them and so on, trying to collect, or people at home, some of them are single parents - looking for money, the last cent they can squeeze out of someone who just does not have the income to pay. They are over-burdened with debt, that is why so many students have filed for bankruptcy because they are so much in debt they can never come out from under that cover of debt and they figure it is the only option available. That is realistic today.

We know the cost of getting an education has escalated, the contributions to Memorial University and post-secondary towards the cost have not increased - they have gone down, from the government. What I said a year ago to the Federation of Students was: What they should have done, initially, until they got a long-term plan, they should not have allowed any more tuition increases. Someone said: We are going to freeze it - that is all the member wants to do. Well, it has gone up since that. I say: The first thing you do is freeze everything until you develop a plan over a period of a few months - a long-term plan.

We need to reduce tuition levels for students, or we have to provide them sufficient funds to be able to keep their debt down - whatever way you want to cut it. It does not matter whether you give it up front or at the end - it is the same basic thing. There should be a certain debt level that should be accommodated among students and beyond that.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much would it cost?

MR. SULLIVAN: How much would it cost? Not as much as you might think. I will just say to the minister, that on debt remission, last year, this Province budgeted $3 million, and do you know what they used? $1 million. Two million dollars was thrown back in the pot and was never used under remission because the program had such strict guidelines, they did not even get to use one-third of what was budgeted last year. I asked the minister, in Estimates, this morning, that question. I asked him how much was used and his official provided the breakdown. Two million dollars was not used and they are putting it back. So, I said: If it is not used, and we should try to alleviate the debt of students by $3 million, why do you not make the program change the stringency levels of the program to be able to use that money? What is $1 million - when you budgeted $3 million - one-third of what you budgeted.

Other areas we have overrun. I say to the minister, we had a surplus budget, last year, even though it did not show up - it showed 20 million deficit. I will show you why: First of all, this item here, I will take the main one first, there was a Special Warrant on March 13, 1998, for $21,800,000 to help establish the Newfoundland and Labrador Education Investment Corporation, 21.8 - there was $4 million, in another instance here, to pay up the scholarship fund - that was paid out of last year's Budget for this year. If that money was allowed to show and was not expended last year, what would happen? We would have a surplus budget. So the Province had a surplus budget last year. But we would not be able to go back to the electorate next year and say: We have a surplus budget here - we will go to the electorate now, and we will have an election, because we had one.

If anyone thinks for a moment a surplus on these Warrants - they created worth $20 million but it only shows $10 next year and then we will have a balanced budget.

Whatever way you want to cut it, they will have problem, though, in the future, a big problem in the future on their budget. One of the big problem is that the chunk of money we took, under HST is starting to run out. We used $127 million last year, we are using another $127 million this year, $254 million. For next year, I think we are only going to have down to - I think it was $94 million, then down to $32 million and $90-some million left, I might add - $66 million and $32 million, I believe, are the numbers left. So what do we have? Next year, we will really build up a structural deficit, too - $100 million extra, we are going to be short, because of HST. The following year we have to make up more than that, again - we are going to have to make up $130-some million. In three years time, we are going to have to make up the full amount that is short here - the total amount. That is not counting what is in this Budget, too. If you look at, where this Province took the Term 29 award, this is the last appropriation here to Term 29 - we took our $130 million up front on Term 29 - we would have had $8 million a year forever. Instead of $160 million over the next twenty years, we said we would take $130 million over three years, and that is not a bad idea, I might say - It is not that it is a bad idea to do. If you could take it up front and the amount that you would reduce your debt, or having not to borrow at a high rate, may result in an advantage, depending on interest rates at the time, and what your current debt is, and what rates you are paying on the bonds that are our there, too. It could be advantageous, but the problem we built up is we now have a $40 million hole in the Budget. It was plugged but it is not going to be there next year. The plug comes out next year, the $40 million. The plug comes out on the $127 million transitional payments on HST. So we have $167 million that creates what is called a structural deficit and that is a problem.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and there is a big loophole, you will need a large plug to plug $167 million. In spite of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation's wealth I do not know if he has loose change of $167 million to be able to fill that hole. He might be eminently or imminently wealthy but I do not know if he has that much money to help us out here in a time of great need. But the next Budget, I am sure, will come and go. As they say, it all comes out in the wash. We have to get that big election over before the wash. That is what we will do. There is the whitewash and then there is the wash. The whitewash comes first and the wash comes second. When we remove the white we are left with the wash and then we see it all.

MR. MATTHEWS: Are you ready to go, `Loyola'?

MR. SULLIVAN: Go where? Knocking on doors? I am always ready. The last time I did not do anything to get ready and the time before I did nothing to get ready only work here every day for my constituents and when the time - if they call it tomorrow or they call it in ten years time. I do not care when you call it, I say to the minister. I do not care when it is. Now, I say to the minister, I never let it worry me. The worst I could do is lose, I say to the minister. That is the worst you could do, and maybe it is not the worst. Maybe the worst you could do is win. That is probably it, too. Who knows? Time will tell.

I do not know if the minister has a tremendous member representing him there in the House. We just wish it was mutual, would we not? (Inaudible) response.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) to the hon. member, I have the very best of members over here.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, that is where the mutuality stops. She cannot say the same thing, I say. This is where the mutuality stops. You might have the most colourful member over there, I might add, very colourful member, full of colour, all the one type though.

MR. MATTHEWS: It is like (inaudible) beauty beholds what (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is it, and that is what the people of St. John's West said last July 21. Yes, they elected her in spite of a Liberal Government. I know what it is like to campaign in a by-election. I got in by about almost the same amount the first time, 125 votes.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Who knows? Whatever it was. Well, it was a Liberal Government in power. As we went around and knocked on doors, we heard that, too: `Oh, you are going to be in Opposition.' Well, if we all stay in Opposition - if they elect the same people in there you will always be in Opposition, I guess.


MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, we are just using a bit of logic here. The minister would not be interested in that.

MR. J. BYRNE: He used a bit of logic. You would not understand it.

MR. SULLIVAN: I was telling him about the great member he has.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) the members on that side of the House (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and I told him I wished we could say the same about her constituent but we could not.

MR. TULK: He is not that bad though, `Loyola' (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I said he is the most colourful.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he does.

I cannot listen to four at the same time.

MR. MATTHEWS: And I am your member, too, `Loyola'.

MR. SULLIVAN: I know. Well, I mean, that is fairly unique experience: the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is a constituent of the Member for St. John's West and the Member for St. John's West is a constituent of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. The same applies - with the Minister of Health and Community Services it is the same thing. The Minister of Health and Community Services is a constituent of the Member for St. John's East and the Member for St. John's East is a constituent of the Member for St. John's Centre. This is getting kind of confusing here now.

I want to get back to a Ministerial Statement today -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Who said that?

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Health and Community Services.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Health and Community Services knows different from that. The Minister of Health and Community Services needed to get her briefings.

On this government's response to a very pressing problem - (inaudible) affect many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Maybe the minister might want to get up on the Budget Debate and talk about this, because it is an issue that affects many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Now, people who contracted hepatitis C, for example.

The minister remembers when I asked questions last fall: Will you get up and apologize, and she would not. In fact, the Premier did after. After continuous questioning, the Premier finally stood and said he would apologize for the Province, because the Province, as the former Minister of Health knows full well, is one of the provinces that participates in the Canadian Blood Agency that is entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that there is a safe and efficient blood system provided to the people of our country and our Province, too, specifically.

When that responsibility is not adhered to appropriately, there are prices we have to pay. It is unfortunate, I might add, when sick people - like those with HIV and AIDS - have to go to the legal system and to the courts to get proper compensation for something that was inflicted by the lack of a government fulfilling its responsibilities to the people. I mean, when you do that in business, you do that in society, they sue you, and you pay. Government, after a long, long time on HIV and AIDs, finally came up with a form of a compensation package.

Now, on this issue of hepatitis C - and I know the Province pays a big chunk, and the federal government has a big responsibility, because they cannot pawn off the provinces on this issue, because the provinces are providing those medical services. By the same federal government that took $155 million out of this Province over a three-year period. They took $155 million out for health and post-secondary education and expect us to provide all the services. The federal government has a responsibility.

That is why the kind, compassionate Mike Harris said: We cannot have those people infected with hepatitis C - the nobler, the kinder, the more compassionate, the new Mike Harris, the guy who said: We have to help those people of Ontario who contracted hepatitis C. It does not matter if they got hepatitis C in 1985 or 1986 or 1987, we have to look after these people who are sick out there. Why should we have to drag them through the courts to get justice? I salute Michael Harris.

I salute the Quebec National Assembly. Unanimously it passed a resolution saying: Look beyond this narrow period that Allan `Hard' Rock does not show that compassion. He is finished as the next Prime Minister of the country. Allan `Hard' Rock, that is what he is. He is a hard, cold, non-compassionate, inconsiderate Minister of Health, the guy who just cost himself a fair run at the prime ministership of this country, Allan Rock, on this issue. I think he underestimated. He cost himself an opportunity. Because he did not show compassion and consideration for the sick as did Michael Harris, who has been earmarked as being cold and inconsiderate. He is the person who had to get Allan Rock to go back now and call Clay Serby, representing the provincial Ministers of Health across the country, and get back now to do something for these people.

That is what happened, and it has cost him dearly, I can tell you. Our Premier has not done anything to cost him. He did not want to take on MacLellan on the Marine Atlantic, he did not want to ruffle any feathers there. He does not want to ruffle any feathers with Lucien on the Churchill. He wants to make sure he stays in the game. So far, he has done a masterful job at staying in the game, but at the expense of people here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As for Paul Martin, the guy who was only going to give us $150 million under TAGS, the Paul Martin now who agrees to give $750 million, who has the Premier coming begging to him, the future Prime Minister of the country, and the numbers are going up, I would say, yes. Paul Martin will be the next Prime Minister of Canada, I would say. Actually, in reality you know, I probably should not say Paul Martin, the next Prime Minister of Canada, I should say, Paul Martin, the current Prime Minister of Canada, the guy who has guided - to be honest with you, I want to see a Prime Minister who can do a better job than Chretién, a better job than Mulroney or any of these. I think Paul Martin is serving his term as Prime Minister right now, to be honest with you, because our own Prime Minister really has not done anything fantastic at all, I must say.

MR. TULK: Well, he (inaudible) as much as Mulroney.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, he certainly has not being as kind to this Province as Mulroney, I can tell you. I tell you, we would not have the Premier at all those news conferences, PetroCan, Terra Nova, if we did not have Brian Mulroney and John Crosbie. We would be in pretty hard shape, I can say.

People in Upper Canada, the same Jeffrey Simpson, the same Globe and Mail the Government House Leader there now, the Minister of Development of Rural and Renewal, is indicating are out of tune, they were the people who wanted to scrap Bull Arm and the 5,000 to 6,000 jobs. In fact, Hibernia itself, two fish plants -

MR. J. BYRNE: Two fish plants.

MR. SULLIVAN: Two fish plants. That is what the former Premier said.

- was a life saviour for us. Or three fish plants. So what! When they are closed, we could say ten. Three fish plants - did he say two or three, the Premier? Three fish plants. I can tell you, Hibernia was a saviour for our economy during a very difficult time over the last few years. We would have had a tremendous downturn. It would have devastating in our Province. There would have far greater out-migration, except for the large number of people employed and the incomes they received out at Hibernia, directly on sight. There was an estimated up to as high as fifty or 100 people, I think, at one time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave to finish up?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: I was just getting started, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: One minute.

MR. SULLIVAN: One minute to finish up?

MR. TULK: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, one minute to finish up.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I would like to thank the Government House Leader for giving me that minute to finish up.

As I said, in a motion of non confidence there are many things. In particular, I might add -

MR. TULK: Now, come on.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am just concluding. I will do it in a minute, as you said.

There are areas we have not addressed in health care. Maybe they are saving it all for next year. There has been a basic, actual reduction of real dollars in health care and education in the Province. I would just like to explain to the minister why we are not taking care of students in this Province.

With that, I conclude my comments.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to make a few comments, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the non-confidence motion which has been put forward by members on this side of the House. It states that: This House acknowledges and condemns the government's failure to manage competently the Province's finances; its failure to live up to its duty or its promise to provide adequate direction and funding for social programs such as health and social services; its failure to secure the future of our Province by investing appropriately in education and students; and its failure to discharge effectively its responsibility to plan for and invest in economic recovery and employment growth in our Province, and particularly in rural areas so desperately in need of development and jobs.

Mr. Speaker, this is a Budget which has been introduced some while ago and which has met with significant opposition, I say to the Government House Leader, and is one which obviously we have no choice but to present the resolution and motion which we are now debating with respect to government non-confidence.

Mr. Speaker, if there is an issue, perhaps, that stands out in the wording of the non-confidence motion, it has to do with respect to the funding, or inadequate funding, as it relates to education and social programs. Mr. Speaker, education is an issue which, when treated properly and treated in its appropriate context, must at all times - at all times! - be uppermost in the minds of government, in terms of what is in the best interests of our students and in particular, I guess, Mr. Speaker, what is in the best interests of our post-secondary institutions and the students who attend them.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make reference once again to the Federation of Students Report which highlights in great detail what can be done, pinpoints in detail what can be done for the betterment of our post-secondary students in this Province. The post-secondary students, in a document which was presented a number of months ago called, Common Sense, Supporting Our Post-secondary Education, Securing Our Future, quite wisely made recommendation as to where this particular group or student-body saw the appropriate improvements being made.

A number of recommendations, Mr. Speaker, were made and the first recommendation dealt with the harmonizing of the federal Canada student loan and the provincial Newfoundland student loan program. They are now administered separately, Mr. Speaker, under different rules, and obviously this separate administration does nothing only confuse our students and makes it very difficult in terms of analyzing and budgeting where they are, and dealing properly with this student debt. So, Mr. Speaker, the recommendation is their very first and basic recommendation, but I believe it addresses quite clearly what the first and upper most problem of students is in our Province today, namely dealing adequately with the problem of student debt.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the report goes on to recommend that the Student Assistance Reform Initiative released last year by seven national post-secondary organizations included a number of recommendations. They are as follows: To provide special opportunity grants of up to $3,000 for high-need, first-year students and single parents.

Again, government members opposite and the Budget attempted to address the needs of single parents and single students who are single parents and, Mr. Speaker, again the attempt fell short. It did not address entirely the needs of students. When one looks at what a particular student has to deal with in terms of attending a post-secondary institution and at the same time meet his or her needs on a day to day basis and ultimately deal with student debt, again this Budget has fallen flat.

Also the recommendations included, to provide deferred grants to graduates in the form of extended interest relief. We should look at that just for a moment, Mr. Speaker, because what this recommendation, in fact, recognizes is the whole concept of interest on these student loans and when in fact it ought to be applied. The collection or the demand requests that are made ought to take into account what, in fact, the student can deal with. We know, from our own experiences, from the experiences of our children, from the experiences of our constituents and from the experiences of other family members, we know that particularly these days it is more and more difficult for students to grabble with the real problems of paying off student loans so quickly and so shortly after their graduation.

Also the Student Assistance Reform Initiative released last year recommended a program which created employment programs for students and implementation of tax measures such as making student loan interest payments tax deductible. Mr. Speaker, a very progressive initiative, if in fact the Budget recognized or members opposite recognize the need for such a progressive change as it relates to tax benefits and tax consequences being given to our post-secondary students.

Government has taken minimal action, according to this report, in addressing many of the recommendations as were found in that particular initiative.

Other recommendations include, giving students the option to classify themselves as dependent or independent. Mr. Speaker, the classification issue is a very important issue as it relates to students. Right now, a student has to be of a particular age, and secondly, Mr. Speaker, that student has to be distanced from the dependency of his or her parents.

Mr. Speaker, many dependent students cannot rely on their parents to contribute, so therefore there have to be other rules that are put in motion which recognize exactly who is independent and who is not. Again, a broad overview of this definition, I would suggest, is appropriate, and one which ought to be taken seriously by members opposite.

Also, Mr. Speaker, we have, with the provincial Department of Education's guidelines, the Student Loan Remission Program, and this report goes on to say that this particular program is much too restrictive. The guidelines make it next to impossible for most students to take advantage of it. For example, it ignores graduates whose debt load is beneath $22,016. So, this only recognizes, in my view, Mr. Speaker, that if the threshold is $22,016 what, in fact, the real problem is, because if the minimum is $22,000, if the threshold is $22,000, we have a very serious problem.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the Budget has completely ignored the real concerns of our students. The Budget has failed to recognize, in any meaningful way, what can be done to assist students who have graduated from our post-secondary institutions.

The report indicates, as well: To deduct no more than 20 per cent of pre-study discretionary income from allowable loans. Currently, the government, Mr. Speaker, deducts 80 per cent of discretionary income from the total allowable loan, and the discretionary income is determined by subtracting a living allowance from the student's income. Again, Mr. Speaker, it is a statistic which simply ignores, fails to recognize and deal appropriately with students in their particular plight.

Mr. Speaker, the whole problem of tuition fees in our post-secondary institutions, is one which is alarming. All we see, at our own university here in Newfoundland, is a regular increase on an annual basis. We see the types of fees that students are paying in many of our private institutions. What has happened is that very often post-secondary institution has been a goal which cannot be reached for many of our young people, Mr. Speaker, because costs have made it inaccessible, tuition fees are on the rise, and the costs that students incur, particulary our single students once they are enroled, make it next to impossible for students to continue.

To continue on with this, Mr. Speaker, the report recommends that we increase the maximum allowable loan limit to better reflect rising education costs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, the loan limit is at a rate which today, even when students qualify for the maximum loan, they still cannot make ends meet. Obviously a review of what that loan limit should be in allowing our post-secondary students greater latitude ought to be given serious consideration.

The tenth recommendation, which is found in the Federation of Students report, indicates that there should be a provision of a cost of living subsidy to students whose program of study is not available at home. Many members in this House may recall that a number of years ago there was a grant regime in place which allowed at least students who embarked upon a course of study outside this particular Province, which was not available in this Province, at least there was a mechanism in place that allowed students to participate. Such a program has been relaxed, I might add, and the same arrangements and advantages are simply not there.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is no wonder that a non-confidence motion such as has been introduced by members on this side of the House has been presented, because all we have to do is pick any particular area, pick any department, pick any initiative by this government, and one can only respond by saying the people of this Province do not have confidence in this government. The members on this side of the House certainly have no confidence in what government has done, so therefore it is incumbent on members opposite to listen to what has to be said. Hopefully, as we continue in this non-confidence motion debate, it will be seen exactly why such a motion is appropriate, and why this government has fallen short of its obligations and its duties.

Mr. Speaker, on that particular note I will adjourn debate and will continue on this debate on Thursday afternoon.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn, I think the Member for Labrador West put forward a resolution this afternoon that we will be debating tomorrow in Private Members' Day. I expect the debate will go on all tomorrow afternoon and into the wee hours of Thursday morning on such an important topic.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow at two o'clock.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, at two o'clock in the afternoon.