The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The Chair would like to welcome today, twenty-seven Level I students from St. Joseph's All Grade School in the District of Bellevue. They are accompanied by their teacher, Paul Watson, and chaperons, Sherry Hackett, Eveline Rideout and Patricia Coombs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Statements by Ministers


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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to rise today in the House to inform my colleagues that yet another national financial institution has forecast increased economic growth for Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Bank of Montreal today released its regional outlook which again has this Province leading the country in GDP growth in 1998.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: The bank predicts that real GDP growth will reach 4.4 per cent in 1998 and will continue at a similar pace into 2001.

The Bank of Montreal's report reflects what this government has long known. Our economy is growing due to activity in our offshore, mining and related industries, and in our diversified fisheries. Mr. Speaker, I must point out that today's economic forecast is based on information available in the last several weeks, and so is current and up to date.

No economy recovers from the reality of Newfoundland and Labrador's GDP declines of the last few years in a matter of weeks or months, but we can see the trend. Over the space of the last two years, we have gone from a position of decline in real GDP to significant real GDP growth. April's labour force statistics indicate that there are 9,300 more jobs in this Province over the same time last year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: These jobs were created across both goods and service producing industries. Mr. Speaker, every project, every job created, aids in our goal of a Newfoundland and Labrador which has an economy that is healthy and growing.

As always, Mr. Speaker, we must exercise caution when we speak of economic growth. The details of the post-TAGS program will impact on our economic recovery, and we look forward to finalizing details with the federal government so that we may determine exactly what impact it may have.

In any case, Mr. Speaker, today's forecast by the Bank of Montreal is another vote of confidence in the economic turnaround of this Province. It is also a vote of confidence that this government's plan for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador is working.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Predictions and forecasts are all positive things. However, governments must also be mindful of the present, must also be mindful of the reality of the present.

We are talking about out-migration of young people in record numbers. In fact, Mr. Speaker, there is a new mind-set in this Province and that new mind-set is: To graduate is to leave. That is the reality, that is the present, and that is what we are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. We are talking about out-migration; we are talking about students and lack of work; we are talking about the closure of institutions in our rural communities. That again, Mr. Speaker, is the reality of the present.

Although we can recognize predictions, and we can recognize future, and we can recognize further growth, we must recognize what the situation is today for thousands and thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: In closing, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to when the minister can rise and indicate to the members of this House that there is an increase in the credit rating for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I rise today to ask hon. members to join me and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in recognizing today both as International Nurses Day and Canada Health Day, and the week of May 11-17 as National Nursing Week.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: This year, Mr. Speaker, the theme of National Nursing Week is, `Nursing is the Key', a phrase which illustrates the integral role nurses play in meeting the health needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, you may be interested to note the origin of Nursing Week. In 1971, the International Council of Nurses selected May 12th as International Nurses Day due to its significance as Florence Nightingale's birthday. Since 1985, Canadians have also marked May 12th as Canada Health Day and the week during May 12th as a time to recognize the dedication and achievements of the nursing profession.

Mr. Speaker, our Province is proud to have over 5,000 nurses who work as a key element of the health care system in this Province. Nurses are a part of a team of professionals who are involved in every aspect of our health system, at both the institutional and community levels. Their presence is crucial to the service delivery process in acute care hospitals, mental health units, senior citizens home and community health clinics. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, nurses have made a place in our homes, caring for our family members, friends and neighbours in the community.

In recent years, Mr. Speaker, nurses in this Province have witnessed many changes in the health system. Over the past year alone my department has initiated the development of a Nurse Practitioner Programme, just last fall, and the legislation to go through the House in December of 1997; three pilot projects of Multi-disciplinary Teaching and Service Units and a Nursing Workload Measurement System, just to name a few. I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that the nurses in this Province support these changes and are meeting the challenges head on and leading the country in advancing nurses and nurse practitioners.

Mr. Speaker, over the coming week, nurses across the Province will be participating in special displays, demonstrations and events which are designed to encourage healthy living, promote illness- prevention and to increase the public's awareness of the role of nurses in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the nurses in our gallery today. A special welcome to NLNU President, Debbie Forward, Executive Director of the Association of the ARNN, and other nurse representatives of these organizations who are here today.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to take a moment during National Nurses Week to reflect upon the valuable contribution that nurses make to the health and well-being of our people as is well reflected in the theme, `Nursing is the Key'.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, join with the minister in congratulating nurses on the outstanding work they do within our health care system, out in the community and within the different institutions across our Province, and within hospitals too.

I say to the minister: Nurses, yes, have witnessed change in our system over the last while. They have seen tougher working conditions, more acute-care cases to handle per nurse -

AN HON. MEMBER: Understaffed.

MR. SULLIVAN: Understaffed - that is correct, understaffed - no pay increase since 1989. Negotiations have broken down so badly that the president of the nurses' union indicated just recently, health care cutbacks in areas such as the number of hospital beds and a reduction in nursing positions have resulted in unsafe conditions for patients and nurses.

These are some of the things that the minister can do to appreciate the work that nurses do here in our Province. It is a very valuable work. They are great contributors to our health care system on all aspects of our system. The minister, who was a very strong advocate of that in her former position, has not been the same strong advocate in the position where she can now do something about it, so I ask the minister: With 25 per cent of nurses as casual nurses - called to work on a moment's notice, cannot get a mortgage because they are casual - make them permanent when they are getting a full work week, I say to the minister. Do something about it. Treat nurses with the respect they should have from this minister.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I welcome the opportunity to acknowledge the terrific service of the men and women, mostly women, in the nursing profession who have made a terrific contribution to our health care system down through the years, and are now operating under great difficulty. Because they are very aware of the needs of patients on the front line, and they are very aware of what Mr. Tom Kent, former Liberal deputy minister, said last December about the political betrayal by successive governments which have destroyed the financial basis on which Medicare was created, Mr. Speaker. I understand that nurses are under a very severe strain in trying to carry out their duties. I congratulate them for their efforts.

I note that the date is Florence Nightingale's birthday. We all obviously recognize the contribution of Florence Nightingale -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: - not only to the nursing profession, but also to public health. On Canada Health Day we share and reflect on our concerns about the health care system, as well as the great contribution that nurses have made in primary care and in the kind of care they are giving these days.

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador is continuing to evolve into one of the world's most sought-after travel destinations, and this fact was never more evident than at last week's Media Marketplace in Toronto.

The Media Marketplace is organized by the Canadian Tourism Commission, and is one of the North America's pre-eminent gatherings of top-level travel editors and writers.

This annual event usually alternates between New York and Los Angeles, and this year for the first time was held in Toronto.

This was a venue where Newfoundland and Labrador took centre stage, by hosting the keynote luncheon presentation on May 6th.

Through the support of our tourism partners at the event, the Viking Trail Tourism Association, Canadian Heritage, and Canadian Pacific Hotel Newfoundland, we presented our unique tourism message to 380 of North America's leading travel influencers.

There is no question we had their attention. The powerful visual imagery of whales, icebergs, and coastlines, drawn from my department's video library, presented a captivating backdrop for our tourism messages, and the response was overwhelming.

The attendance at our function was a telling sign of the interest in our wonderful Province, as was the activity around our promotional booth, which was booked beyond capacity to accommodate the huge number of travel professionals seeking information on Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our impact at the Media Marketplace is receiving national attention via Canadian Press feature articles, and is also a lead story on the Canoe website, which stems from the Financial Post and the Sun Newspaper chain.

We have attended such functions before, but rarely have we received such special attention in a marketplace that featured over 170 competing tourism interests.

Last year was an exposure breakthrough for Newfoundland and Labrador, as our Cabot 500 Anniversary Celebrations generated an unprecedented amount of exposure for our Province.

My department has no intention of letting such global awareness lapse. We are continuing to build upon our excellent tourism profile, and strategic promotional endeavours such as the Media Marketplace are key steps for this information process to continue.

Mr. Speaker, these are excellent venues at which to highlight not only pending events such as Soiree '99 and the Viking Millennium, but the natural and cultural experiences we can offer in this Province year after year.

We will continue to seek such cost-effective, strategic presentations of our rich tourism product, especially in partnership arrangements with our key tourism players throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad to hear the minister's statement today. It is always good news when we can get out and promote our tourism industry. As well as what you have done here, I think we should be promoting the warmth and friendliness of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am sure in any address that you make you certainly do that. We certainly welcome this news today. It is great to know that our tourism industry is being promoted.

I remember a few years ago there was a chap who worked in your department who used to promote the tourism part of our Province through the sporting community. I certainly think that that is an area where the minister should look because there are also all kinds of tourism dollars to be connected through sport. I go back to the senior ladies softball where we had twenty-six countries in this Province, and last year with the World Youth, as the minister and the Premier are well aware, where we had people here, and of course now the Canada Games coming to Corner Brook.

So I think it is great and I thank you for that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It's always good to see that Newfoundland receives attention in the media, especially if it is favourable, as the minister has mentioned. You know, I would be an awful lot happier if the minister was able to report that the tourism dollars and numbers in this Province were up to a very great extent.

I read recently, Mr. Speaker, that Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had far more significant increases in tourism spending and dollars last year than Newfoundland did, despite all of our attention on the Cabot 500. If the minister can turn this favourable attention into tourism dollars and report on that, I will be able to congratulate her wholeheartedly and not just say that it's good to get good publicity.


Oral Questions


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

My question today is for the Premier, with respect to Marine Atlantic's relocation to Port aux Basques. It has been some time now, I guess, the actions of government, both federally and provincially, and the actions of the people in Port aux Basques over the last couple of weeks.

I would like to ask the Premier today: What sort of update can he provide to the people of the Province on what is taking place with respect to that situation, where the service that exists only for this Province should totally, 100 per cent, be here? What negotiations or discussions has he or any of his ministers had with his federal counterpart with respect to that situation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions at a variety of levels between ministers of the government and representatives of Marine Atlantic, and indeed the federal government. I have been in discussion with the Chairman of Marine Atlantic and also with the Minister of Transport about this matter.

As the Leader of the Opposition knows, some changes were already announced, and dialogue and discussion are already started with the town of Port aux Basques. These changes have been received positively in the Province. Indeed, the member representing the people of Port aux Basques has also been involved directly in these talks.

I can inform the Leader of the Opposition today that we are looking forward to renewing a dialogue with Marine Atlantic in the days and weeks ahead, although we have just been told before Question Period the dialogue will be with somebody new; because Mr. Rod Morrison, the former president of Marine Atlantic, has left Marine Atlantic to take up other duties.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I was called literally five minutes before Question Period to be advised by the Chairman of Marine Atlantic, Moya Cahill, that a new acting president will be named before the day is out; the acting president will take Marine Atlantic through a transition period; and that it is the intention of the organization, and I believe as well of the Minister of Transport - his office has also been in touch - to put a new president in place roughly by the end of the year.

Mr. Speaker, it is the position of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that such a president must reside in Port aux Basques, in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, it is one step in the right direction. I am sure the Premier has had discussions with the people in Port aux Basques, as I have.

I would like to ask him this question: With respect to his discussions with the federal minister, has he articulated, for example, and enunciated to the federal minister, that the reservation system for Marine Atlantic, which still exists today as it did two and three weeks ago, that there are three times as many people in North Sydney taking reservations as there are in Port aux Basques? And also that the people who are taking reservations in Newfoundland and Labrador are only allowed to take calls from Newfoundland and Labrador? Has the Premier talked about that situation? Would he indicate if there will be any resolve to that, so that people in this Province - all the reservations should be taken here, and any calls from around the world, not just from this Province but around the world, will be accepted?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the Leader of the Opposition that a Transition Committee has been established in dialogue in consolation with the Community of Port aux Basques, with the mayor and council. I believe there was a meeting involving the Chair of Marine Atlantic, the former President of Marine Atlantic, and the council, and indeed the Member of the House of Assembly who represents the people of Port aux Basques, and a committee of councillors of Port Aux Basques, of at-large representatives of employees or government representatives, and also members of the Marine Atlantic executive, have been struck. That committee is going to work through each and every one of these issues. The intent is to ensure that we maximize both the level of service, the quality of service and the employment opportunity in the Town of Port aux Basques.

I think it is fair to say - and I hope the Leader of the Opposition would agree with me - that given the news that I have just relayed to the House, and indeed through the House to the Province, that the President of Marine Atlantic has now gone on to other duties, given the news that this position is now open, I think what is important is to restart a new, and I hope more positive and more productive, dialogue and to ensure as well that we have a president based right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: The Premier did not answer the question. The reality of the situation is that Rod Morrison did not make the decision not to relocate all that service to Newfoundland and Labrador. It was a political decision, made by a federal minister. Whether Mr. Morrison recommended what actually happened or not, the decision ultimately rested with David Collenette, not with Rod Morrison.

I would like to ask the Premier this: As one of the discussions that he has had, obviously, with the federal government, it is a fact that today all of the buyers who buy goods and services for Marine Atlantic are located in the Province of Nova Scotia, thereby not providing the opportunity for buyers to buy goods and services in this Province for Marine Atlantic, which exists only for - and only for - this Province.

I would like to ask the Premier this: In terms of government discussions, is that a situation that we can look forward to being rectified? In other words, will the buyers for Marine Atlantic be located in Newfoundland and Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the questions of the Leader of the Opposition are puzzling but understanding, given the quality of the question that were asked yesterday about the economy.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is - and this was in the newspaper, it was made public - that the vice-president in charge of procurement purchasing for Marine Atlantic is going to be living in and based out of Port aux Basques. That is old news, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the reality today that we are going to have a new President of Marine Atlantic is an important and significant piece of news. I think all of us would want to unanimously send a greeting to Mr. Morrison to wish him well in whatever his new endeavours are in the future, but would also look forward to renewed optimism and expectation to a new executive, to a new team, to a new dialogue, to a new relationship.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, I cannot think of a better way to deal with each of these questions that are being raised other than through the Transition Committee which was formed in Port aux Basques, with the Port aux Basques Town Council, with representatives from all of the players, to ensure that the benefits are maximized and the quality of the service is improved. With respect to procurement - that particular question - the VP for procurement will be based out of Port aux Basques.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the vice-president for procurement may be based in Port aux Basques, but the actual people who are buying and purchasing services are not, Premier. That is the issue.

Another issue I would like to ask the Premier to enlighten us on - I understand the work with the Transition Committee. I have spoken to members of the Transition Committee. I understand the work they are doing, and how hopeful and optimistic they are. If they were not hopeful and optimistic they would not be doing their job.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: I would like to ask the Premier this question: Is he aware that all of the maintenance work required on equipment in Port aux Basques is put on the ferry in Port aux Basques, brought to North Sydney, maintained there and then shipped back? Is he aware of that situation, and has he talked to the federal counterparts? Because all of the things being raised today are about further employment opportunities in that region of the Province. Did the Premier speak to the federal government with respect to that issue?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Member of the House of Commons for Port aux Basques is a fellow named Bill Ramsay. I do not know if he has raised any of these questions, and he sits with that party on the other side of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill Matthews, not Bill Ramsay.

PREMIER TOBIN: The House of Commons.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: I am sorry. Yes, of course. I have to distinguish quality members from those who are of less quality, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the tone of the Leader of the Opposition is to point out the size of the problem, and we have to seriously investigate the things he says.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition got up to tell the whole world how terrible the economy was in Newfoundland and Labrador. Today, we have a statement from the Bank of Montreal saying Newfoundland and Labrador will lead the country in GDP growth from now through to the millennium.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition said there were no new jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador this year over last year; it was only seasonal in nature. Mr. Speaker, Stats Canada says there are 9,000 new jobs.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition: There have been positive changes with respect to Port aux Basques and the Marine Atlantic operation. I think it is a positive development that we are going to get a new president for Marine Atlantic. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: Celebrate good news once in awhile. Quit living under a dark cloud of pessimism and scorn and negativity!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Let us be clear, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday's questions by myself, as Leader of the Opposition, were directed towards - this is for the benefit of the people in the gallery - the problem with respect to youth unemployment and opportunities for graduates. What the Premier has put forward today is simply not based on fact at all.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the only question - and the reason for the questions today - is simple this: That service exists for this Province and this Province only. I have asked the Premier questions today: What was his role? Has he pursued it on behalf of the people of the Province with respect to getting those services which are not yet here, here? Has the Premier done that? And is he satisfied with his own performance and his government's performance on this specific issue?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with great respect, I cannot seriously respond to questions when the Leader of the Opposition gets up and says: Are you satisfied with your own performance? If he is waiting for me or any other member of this side to get up and say, `No, I am terribly dissatisfied; I have not done my job.', you are not being realistic.

I will tell you what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are waiting for. They are waiting for an acknowledgement that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are capable of changing their circumstance. They are waiting for an acknowledgement from the Opposition Party that this Province has a capacity to grow if it has a plan. They are waiting for some hint of a plan from that side of the House - not doom and gloom, not negativity, not being told that we cannot succeed, not being told that we are going to stay in our circumstance, but a recognition that this Province is on the move, and those who want to help it move should contribute in a positive way, not with more of this doom and gloom and negativity, Mr. Speaker.

The Leader of the Opposition has an obligation to say where he stands on Churchill Falls, on (inaudible), on Voisey's Bay, not simply standing and saying: Woe is me; Newfoundland and Labrador is on the rise. That is bad for my party. It might be good for the government.

Mr. Speaker, let's take a more mature and constructive approach in this House, not more doom and gloom, day in and day out!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Health and Community Services. It was almost two months ago in this House that I asked the Minister of Health and Community Services; and she said she was waiting and expecting within a few weeks the results of an operational review of the Western Health Care Board by the Atkinson Group. Her department commissioned a report about a year ago.

In light of the gross mismanagement problems that were occurring with that particular board and their failure to submit a financial statement since 1995 - that failure has meant that the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation has been unable to do an accreditation survey of that board. Now there is obviously some urgency, I say to the minister, in getting this report, taking action on its recommendations and getting the financial information to the council, so the Western Memorial Teaching Hospital is not further compromised.

I ask the minister: Has she received this report, and if not, can she tell us why not? How much longer will we have to wait before it is completed and she takes the appropriate action that is long overdue in this regard?

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

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

I think it is important to respond to the preamble before getting to the question because I think there are very important statements that need to be made.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, the impact and the quality of care has not been affected due to this report. We do believe, and we stand by the fact, that there is solid quality care being delivered by the staff and by all of the people working at Western Memorial Hospital.

Yes, we are quite anxious to get the report, and I would say, Mr. Speaker, that this report, the accreditation process, was obviously delayed as I have explained previously. It makes good solid sense to wait until a review process, which has a Terms of Reference to look at the needs of the area as well as the financial needs, be completed before an outside group come in to do the assessment through the accreditation process. It does not in any way impact on their ability to deliver those services or the care that they need to deliver, Mr. Speaker.

In fact, as soon as that report is available and we have a chance to review it, we will implement those actions. Many of those right now, Mr. Speaker, we have already begun to implement, because we do know that there are things that need to be done. We have put in place a CEO, we have put in place a financial officer, and they have been moving forward in trying to redevelop the area to focus more on a regionalized model as opposed to a centralized model. Those issues are very important, Mr. Speaker, and we will continue to move forward on them when we get the accurate information, because, Mr. Speaker, we like to have the information before we make the decisions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think that is a wise move by the minister, to try to get information, but she said here in the House in March and she said on March 18 in the media, that by the end of March she would have that and she has not gotten it.

I ask her: Why is there a delay? The minister does not want to admit why there must be problems.

Now back in 1993, as health critic, I indicated that there were concerns with farming out all responsibilities to boards and moving away from the department. The minister at the time said it would improve efficiency and delivery of health care here in our Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister: In light of the fact that we have seen nothing but mismanagement, noted by the Auditor General, and numerous incidents in many boards across this Province, how long is the minister going to continue this experiment before she goes on and does the job and takes back the reins of the health care system? I ask the minister: Is she willing to risk accreditation, the teaching hospital status -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a question, Mr. Speaker. Is she willing to risk -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Is she willing to risk accreditation, the teaching hospital status and recruitment at Western Memorial, just to keep from admitting she made a mistake?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I have to say, and I will say it again in this House, if that member across the way expects me to condemn volunteers, board members, staff and overall boards, you are asking the wrong minister, Mr. Speaker; because I stand by the work of these people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: In the House the other day, Mr. Speaker, he referred to the lies that were being presented to me. I will say, Mr. Speaker, that I will not condemn the boards. I think the volunteer boards are doing fine work. We have all admitted, Mr. Speaker, that we are going through a challenging and changing time in our health care system. We have just integrated services that the former House Leader stood and commended us for, because we are moving towards integrating services for children, for open corrections, for family rehabilitative services, and bringing them all under alignment with health.

Mr. Speaker, we have no difficulty moving forward on information, but I will also say, if we know there are difficulties there is no way we are going to make decisions and move forward. I've been very clear in this House that we have deferred the transfer of financial administration to two boards in this Province, because until we are confident they are able to do the work, we won't do it, and we will stand by that.

Am I going to condemn all the boards? Not on your life, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is not the department that the service comes under, it is the job that is done and the delivery of that service, I say to the minister, and it hasn't been done under this department.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: A year ago, Minister, you were appointed the job of administering health care in our Province. Since that time, the Western Health Care Corporation has been without a full-time CEO. By the way, the new CEO said that he attributes -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Again I remind the hon. member he is on a supplementary. There ought not to be any preambles to supplementary questions. That leads to debate rather than questions.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about over there?

MR. FRENCH: What about over on the other side? What about the other side?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Due to the fact that the current CEO said, having instability, only a part-time position, has led to a problem with accreditation and recruitment, and in light of the fact that the Corporation has not submitted a financial statement during your term as minister, I ask the minister: When are you going to start to deal with this problem that is going on, mismanagement, and start doing the job you were appointed to do over a year ago?

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

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

We, on this side of the House, try to do two things. We try to gather the information we need, make decisions based on the evidence, and use common sense in administering a system through our boards. Mr. Speaker, we have been quite honest and upfront with the people of this Province when we identified that there were difficulties in the financial administration. Why would you have an accreditation process, have these officials come in and make a report, when we ourselves are in the process of finding the information and coming to conclusions on very important issues? We aren't going to do it, and we won't be forced into doing it, because we take our jobs seriously and we will act responsibly, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We haven't had a financial statement since 1995, Minister; a public accountability of public funds, I say to the minister. All I asked the minister in my initial question, that she got so excited about - I said it was due in March. I ask the minister in simple language, if she can calm down and answer a simple little question: You said on March 18, Minister -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, are you going to control that crowd over there or what?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister said on March 18 it would be ready by the end of the month. The minister made that statement in the public media on March 18. Minister, you were expecting it then. The same question I ask in a different manner, I will say to the minister: Why -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Why isn't the report available? Give us the reason why. It was going to be ready within twelve days back in March. Where is it two months later, I ask the minister? What is the reason?

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

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

Speaking about excited, I'm glad we have the gallery full with my colleagues to tend to your needs, because of your excitement here today in asking the questions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: 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.

I just pray to God that the response will be a lot more adequate than the minister's response, I would say, on this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a set of questions for the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, but in his absence maybe I can direct them to the Premier.

Premier, there is much concern and anxiety being expressed these days by thousands of people around the Province regarding your government's efforts to implement a watershed management plan. Some people are fearful that it is government's intention to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador's prime salmon rivers, and the residents will have to ask permission to buy extra licences from outfitters or a particular watershed management group in order to fish their favourite rivers.

Premier, most of the efforts by your minister to alleviate the fears of river privatization up until now have not worked. I ask the Premier what he or his officials plan on doing to respond to the growing discontent of those concerned citizens on both sides, I might add, of this particular issue, and if he is considering holding policy sessions across the Province to allow those people to voice their views and opinions?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

I never had an opportunity to finish my answer that was interrupted by the previous point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair did not see the minister standing, so I just assumed she had completed the answer and we moved on. If we want to revert, if it is -

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No leave? I thought you wanted the answer.


MS J.M. AYLWARD: You do not want the answer? Okay, fine.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let the record show that when confronted with either the Minister of Health and Community Services or the Premier, they shook in fear of the Minister of Health and Community Services and took the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his question on river privatization because it gives me an opportunity to say something which I know the member knows to be the case, and something which has been repeated over and over and over again by the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, and that is: There is no policy to privatize rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador. There will never be a policy to privatize rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: The rivers of Newfoundland and Labrador belong to all of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and will always belong to all of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; and anybody who wants to privatize the rivers or limit the access to the rivers, that individual, Mr. Speaker, shall be run off the end of a wharf!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier if there has been any pressure brought on his government to privatize rivers and watershed areas in Newfoundland and Labrador; and, if there has been, is it fair to say that it may have started in 1992, after the moratorium of the commercial Atlantic salmon fishery?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member - I know he asks these questions seriously - there has been no pressure brought on this government to privatize rivers and, more to the point, the government would never consider privatizing rivers.

I think it is fair to say that no party in this House, on either side of this House, nor any member in this House, would ever sit and tolerate the notion that something which is really the heritage of all of the people of the Province should be, in some way, regulated to be only available to the privileged few. That is not something we in this Province should ever contemplate, should ever consider, or whatever tolerate.

I want to say to the member - and I thank him for his question - let me say very clearly so there can be no doubt whatsoever: There will never be a river privatization under this Administration or, I would venture to say, under any Administration in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier stands to say that there has never been any pressure brought on his government. I say to the Premier that the MP for Humber - St. Barbe, Mr. Gerry Byrne, the former executive assistant to you, Premier, was quoted in The Humber Log on April 15, 1998, as saying that: the pressure to privatize Newfoundland's salmon resources picked up momentum in 1992 when hundreds of commercial salmon fishermen were encouraged to surrender their licences.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the Premier: Who are we to believe, Premier? You or the Member for Humber - St. Barbe?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I hope this is not another occasion when the member opposite, as is so often the case, stands up and selectively quotes out of context from interviews and then suggests some meaning for the interviews.

Mr. Speaker, jigging on the river for a story that is not there is an occupation which is very familiar to members on that side of the House but is not familiar to members on this side of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

The latest report on child poverty has been released, and the results are not good for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. According to statistics just released by the National Council of Welfare, 27,000 children in this Province subsist below the poverty line, and in single-parent families the rate of child poverty is 72.1 per cent. I guess that is an acknowledgement of how far we are going, isn't it, Mr. Premier? It is the highest in the country. Eleven thousand children in single-parent families in this Province live in poverty. I don't know about you, but I find these results appalling. Is the minister concerned by these results, or is she as content as the Premier was yesterday to dismiss this evidence of failure of his government as nothing but negativity?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, let me say first of all that the issue of child poverty is a very serious one, and it is one that all governments, and particularly this government, are concerned about. I would only ask the members opposite to reflect on some of the key priorities we have made in this current Budget in order to recognize that this government has taken significant moves to try and address the fundamental issues of child poverty.

I would refer specifically to the active employment measures that we have taken to address this issue, because I think most people would recognize that the way out of poverty is through employment. We know we need to help parents find employment, and this will be a major and very fundamental improvement in the circumstances of children in families across this Province.

In this current Budget we have addressed this in some very active ways. For example, the member referred to the circumstances of single-parent families. In this current Budget we have announced a pilot project to provide an income support initiative where we can supplement the income of single parents so that they can increase their attachment to the workforce. We have announced pilot projects in the area of extending the drug card benefits so that families who are on social assistance can move into the workforce and retain drug and medical coverage for their families and their children. These are very significant ways that we are addressing this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude her answer quickly. Question period is drawing to an end.

MS BETTNEY: Thank you.

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


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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise at this time to present a petition from 104 residents of the Province of Newfoundland, many from the Burin Peninsula, and many from Your Honour's district, from places like Winterton, New Perlican, and Lower Island Cove, which I believe is in the Speaker's district. These petitioners are concerned about the level of poverty in the Province and see a partial answer to that in a special program, a universal comprehensive school lunch program for every school in Newfoundland and Labrador to help end child hunger and give our children a better chance.

This gives me an opportunity to elaborate on some of the comments of the Member for St. John's West in relation to the latest child poverty figures coming out of the National Council of Welfare. This Province has an appalling record in terms of its poor children who are every day going to school hungry, as has been recognized by a number of reports.

The minister's feeble attempt to respond to the question ignored the fact that her government is clawing back from social assistance recipients the Child Tax Benefit, which is designed to put extra dollars in the pockets of families with children. If this program, which was announced by the minister, Paul Martin, in last year's budget, and ballyhooed by this government here for the last two years, was aimed at poor children, why is it that the poorest of the children are having their benefits clawed back? The children who live in poverty are, in the main, those who live on social assistance.

So we have a situation where there are incredible amounts of child poverty and this is not something that has been changing for the good in this Province. In fact, it has been changing for the worse in this Province where we had, in 1996, with the latest figures enumerating a change, a 50 per cent increase in child poverty in this Province from 1989. That is something, Mr. Speaker, that we should be collectively ashamed of but which the government has the responsibility and the ability to change.

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that even though we recognize that an additional $1 million was put towards the program for school lunches and school meal programs in the Province, the fact of the matter is that the government is still relying on a volunteer program which anticipates and expects that the community be able to provide the volunteer effort and the means to make a program work. Mr. Speaker, this cannot happen as a volunteer effort. It will not happen as a volunteer effort, particularly in those areas where children need a program of this nature the most.

We have situations, Mr. Speaker, in this Province where communities just don't have the resources available through the volunteer sector or through the charitable sector even if we thought it desirable to do so. They just don't have the resources to put together a program of this nature. The reality of this situation, Mr. Speaker, is that there must be a needs-based, not a charity-based, a needs-based program so that every school child in this Province is guaranteed to have an opportunity for a full stomach, Mr. Speaker. That can help end child hunger in our Province and also give our school children a better chance and a better opportunity to be able to learn from our educational system and to improve their lot in life.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of many, many petitions that I have received and have been presenting on behalf of residents of this Province. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that the government and government members opposite are listening to the pleas of the people of this Province, to help end child hunger in this Province and to give our children a better chance to learn and obtain a proper education so that they too can have an opportunity to participate fully in the benefits of education and in the benefits that our great country has to offer. Unfortunately, our great country is suffering from a great disparity of wealth and poverty where the poor are indeed getting poorer and the rich are indeed getting richer to an extent, Mr. Speaker, that is unconscionable in this country and is something that we ought to put an end to.

We, in this Province, can help, particularly poor children, by supporting a program whereby every school in this Province would have either a School Lunch Program or a School Breakfast Program which would meet the needs of children for nutrition and also give them a good start on a day of learning, Mr. Speaker.

I ask all hon. members for their support of this petition.

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand at this particular point in time, Mr. Speaker, not to appear to be making any political points on a particular point of order. I deliberately waited until the Question Period was over and had intended to stand before Petitions, but got a little caught up, and indeed to let it go too far would not at all be appropriate.

Parliament is a marvellous institution and it allows for all kinds of varieties of emotions and temperament in debate, but the rules are designed, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the rules are carried out effectively, efficiently and that the House operates smoothly and effectively.

Just very quickly, Mr. Speaker, I will get to the point of order: Our House, if you look at the proceedings of the day, you will see is divided into two sections. For the point of order that I want to make, this demonstrates it very well. One of the areas where there is a lot of confusion caused in our House is on matters on which there is debate, where there is supported to be no debate. There is only one place in the House where there is debate and that is when there is a motion before the floor, whether it is the Throne Speech, which is a motion, whether it is the Budget Speech, which is in the form of a motion, whether it is a government motion or whether it is a private members' motion.

If hon. members will look at the first section, therefore, of the proceedings of the House, they will see all of these items on which there is no motion, therefore on which there is no debate: Statements by Ministers; Oral Questions; Presenting Reports By Standing and Special Committees; Notices of Motion; Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given; and Petitions. None of those areas permit debate, because there is no motion before the House. With all of the proceedings, those that have motions and those that do not, there are rules so that we operate in a modest manner, in a temperate manner and in a civilized manner.

Mr. Speaker, my point of order today was to rise on Statements by Ministers. I believe that hon. members want to do things correctly but I believe in the last little while, that we have been really stretching the rules with Statements by Ministers. I do this because I know that hon. members want to speak in a proper fashion. I know that they want to speak before the galleries in a proper fashion, with civility and with propriety.

Mr. Speaker, I refer hon. members to page 107, Statements by Ministers. I am not going to read them all, but hon. members can go to their Beauchesne and look at what the requirements are. I will go to '350 which says, "The Speaker has emphasized that both the Government and Opposition contributions should be brief and factual. The purpose of the ministerial statement is to convey information, not to encourage debate."

Mr. Speaker, I think that is something we should all follow and I bring it to the attention of all hon. members because, as I have said before, I know that they want to do things correctly, that they want to ensure that everything they do is done within the rules of the House, and that it is done with civility and with propriety.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. Member for Terra Nova raised an important point, granted, with reference to statements, but as a former Speaker, the member knows quite well there are many instances in Question Period too of points of order. We could be continuously standing on relevancy.

I know Mr. Speaker tries to give certain latitudes and still maintain a certain order here in the House. Opposition is entitled in Ministerial Statements, and it should be a particular statement - we have seen Ministerial Statements thrown out on issues that have been out in the public two and three times before, that are not relevant as Ministerial Statements; and I questioned that too, Mr. Speaker. We respond to such statements within a time limit and, I might add, our responses are, almost all of the time, confined to the statements.

While we are on this particular point of order - I know the member meant it specific to statements, but in Question Period the responses are completely out of the context of relevancy to the issue, and it is an opportunity at times - we do rise, but very rarely in Question Period. Very, very rarely have we, I say, in this session raised a point of order in Question Period at any particular time, because we know certain latitudes happen on both sides of the House.

We certainly concur, if you are going to follow the book strictly, Mr. Speaker, in line with the Parliamentary procedure and rules here, they apply to Question Period and Answers to Questions equally, as well as to Statements by Ministers.

I just want to make that particular point. I know the member wanted to remind us all that we cannot stray too far away from the rules of order, Parliamentary Rules, as laid out in Beauchesne and in other Parliamentary editions and authorities.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair would just like to make a comment. I do not think, in particular, that the Chair has been asked to rule on what the hon. member has said. I think he has made a very important point and that is, that debate in the House takes place only when there is a motion before the House. Ministerial Statements are not intended to stimulate debate and debate is certainly not permitted. The point that the hon. member has raised is indeed a valid point.

I want to also mention, I guess, the Question Period. The Chair has allowed some latitude. Members know that Question Period is not a period for debate. With a lead question, there should be a brief preamble, supplementary questions should follow from ministers' responses and they ought to require no preamble, and ministers' responses ought to be brief.

Members know that once you get into long preambles, ministers will take the opportunity to respond to the preamble. That is why it is important that we follow our own Standing Orders on this issue, when we get into Question Period. The Chair does not dictate what the topics will be and the Chair cannot dictate the answers the members give.

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

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

I would like to take just a few minutes to support the petition of the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

There are, in fact, 40,000 children who go to school in Newfoundland hungry every day. This was put forth in the report by Patricia Canning. We have seen, by the release today from National Child Welfare, just what the rate of poverty is in our Province; 72.1 per cent of children from single parent homes are living in poverty. This must indicate to us that very many of these children are going to school hungry. In order to learn children must be fed; children cannot learn on an empty stomach.

This government has the opportunity to implement a school lunch program, one that does not depend on volunteers, to help feed some of the 72 per cent of children who are hungry in the classrooms. When they are in the classroom and they have a full stomach, then they can learn and have a better chance of getting a better education, and with a better education they have a chance of getting out and getting good employment, which will help to break the cycle of poverty as it exists in our Province today.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.


Orders of the Day


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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 2.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply. Mr. Speaker left the Chair.


Committee of the Whole


CHAIR (Oldford): Order No. 2, Committee of Supply Estimates, Executive Council.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I stand today, where I adjourned debate yesterday afternoon, just to continue for a few minutes on some of the questions that were raised under the heading of Executive Council.

In particular we talked briefly about the Office of the Executive Council, the Premier's Office, the Cabinet Secretariat, under that heading Executive Support, and various agencies, in particular the Economic Policy Analysis branch, the Social Policy Analysis, Offshore Fund - Administration, etcetera.

Yesterday in the House a few questions were raised, and maybe the minister can respond to a few of the questions that were raised by members on this side of the House as they relate to the Office of the Executive Council.

We note at the beginning that this year expenditures under the heading, Office of the Executive Council, are expected to increase by some 37 per cent, totalling $2,416,600. I would be interested, in due course, in hearing from the minister, in particular the explanation for such an increase as it relates to the Office of the Executive Council, and as indicated, almost $2.5 million.

Yesterday, Mr. Chairman, we were discussing, at the time of adjournment, the office of Social and Fiscal Policy, on page 20 of the Estimates. Under that heading we found in the 1998/99 Estimates an increase from $143,000 to $234,800 under the heading of Salaries; Transportation and Communications, also an increase of almost $5,000; and Professional Services up $12,000. So again we question the minister as to the nature of these services, the reason why they were requested and provided, and the purpose, of course, that was derived as a result of these services being provided to government.

Also under Resource and Economic Policy, under the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat, we see again an increase in Salaries, a significant increase in Transportation and Communications and Supplies. The total amount to be voted under that section is $292,400.

Under Executive Support under Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, again an increase in Salaries. We see Transportation and Communications, a cost of $100,000, up slightly from the revised figures of 1997/98; Professional Services again being increased by some $15,000; and Property, Furnishings and Equipment showing $3,000, where in fact last year there was no expenditure under the revised figures for 1997/98.

Under Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, on page 22, again the same pattern is shown: An increase in Salaries; a significant increase in Transportation and Communications, which presumably, on this particular issue, can be relatively easily explained; Supplies, an increase; and both Purchased and Professional Services, significant increases over the previous year.

It is clear under almost every heading, I say to members opposite. We see significant increases, particularly as it relates to Salaries, as it relates to Professional Services, as it relates to services purchased by government, as it relates to furniture and as it relates to Transportation and Communications. It should come as no surprise, Mr. Chairman, that such an increase is, in fact, what we see at the end of the day, when we consider that under the Office of Executive Council there is an expected increase of 37 per cent.

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the answers being given and provided by the minister, in detail, as we continue our discussion and these debates with respect to Expenditure under Executive Council.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I say to the hon. member, it would be easier for us to look at this and handle it if the member would give me a particular heading and particular question with respect to a certain item because broad -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Yes, but the hon. member related a whole lot of different areas and a whole lot of different things. If he wants specific answers, it would be more advantageous, with leave of the Chair, if the hon. member does not mind - the former Leader of the Opposition and I, let me put it that way, did it last year, and that was fairly productive; back and forth. I do not mind answering the questions but to jump around from category to category I think would be confusing for the record and possibly ourselves. So specific questions on specific areas, I would be happy to answer them.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We will do that. In fact, we started moving there yesterday. I know the minister was tied up in meetings at the time, and we fully understand that. So, I will just run through it in order and ask some of the questions. I am sure some of my colleagues will follow up with another few hours of intense questions.

Government House: I am going to leave that for my colleague for Bonavista South. I will skip by that one.

The Premier's Office: I just cannot pass by that one. There is an increase in salary there. It seems the increase is more than the extra pay period, because an extra pay period generally is about 4 per cent, approximately. So, an extra pay period would be about $26,000 which would make it $682,000, and we do have an extra $25,000. So, is there one extra position? I never brought my Salary Details book. I left it upstairs, I say to the minister. So, is there an extra -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: If you have one, sure. In fact, I think I might have an extra one here. I always keep a spare one.

Anyway, I will ask that of the minister, and maybe a couple there so we don't go to far afield under this heading. Then after the Premier's Office, I will sit down. Would the minister would like to deal with the Premier's Office first, or just one sub-heading at a time? Maybe I will ask one question and then sit down.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We can handle it either way. Perhaps several questions and then I can answer them.

I just say to the hon. member: I believe the extra pay period in the Salary vote is approximately $22,907. There is $5,982 in step increases. So that is approximately $23,000 plus $6,000, and that puts you up to $29,000, almost $30,000. That is the bulk of the increase.

As far as I am aware, there is no other extra salary position. That would not cover it. So it is just regular step increases. You get about $23,000 for the extra pay period.

MR. SULLIVAN: I assume the rest must be those hefty step progressions with new staff come in and, I guess, starting way down there. I guess that accounts for the difference, you know, those lowly paid staff members in the Premier's office, I imagine.

MR. DICKS: They are usually out of step.

MR. SULLIVAN: Out of step, yes. I can see why. It does take time to adjust and acclimatize to a different gait and a different pace here in Newfoundland and Labrador. I can see that. The minister certainly has problems with that.

Employee Benefits: There is a marked increase. It is not a fortune there, but from a $1,000 to $2,500 under Employee Benefits. That is a significant increase there. That is well over a double increase there in that area. I will let him answer that, and I will ask another one too, I guess, because that should have a brief explanation.

There was a significant amount last year expended in Transportation and Communications. I am sure all the Premier's exploits are not there. I ask the minister: When he travels on other areas that might be related to industry, would that travel be relegated to that particular department? If he travels on a fishery issue, would that come under the fisheries department? What exactly is the breakdown on Transportation and Communications,

With those couple of questions, I will sit down and let the minister respond.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: First of all, Mr. Chairman, with regard to, Employee Benefits, it is actually not an increase. It is the same budgeted amount as last year; $2,500 was budgeted, $1,000 was spent. A similar amount was budgeted this year. You are seeing a lot of small categories like furniture and things like that. It might be $25,000 budgeted and $22,000 spent. Moderate amounts like that are usually put in again. I just point out that this also includes conference and registration fees. Last year it was $1,000, maybe $2,500, maybe $1,300, but that is relatively a small amount.

On the $145,000, the amount spent was $182,000. That included not only the Premier's travel; it also included telephone costs, fax machines, cell phones and courier services. It would also include the cost of any person who accompanied the Premier, any of the Members of the House of Assembly who went along to any conferences or any meetings that the Premier had as well.

With regard to the other question, I don't know that any other of the Premier's expenses are charged off to any other departments. I am only in charge of Executive Council, and as far as I know these are the expenses that the Premier himself and Members of the House of Assembly incur.

The other reason the expenses were up last year was there was a lot of additional travel last year because of the Voisey's Bay stuff, the Innu lands claims and Churchill Falls. It was a busier year than would normally be the case.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Voisey's Bay, that would be under Executive Council, too. So if he travelled under that, his travel would still come under the Premier's Office rather than under Executive Council, under another sub-heading?

MR. DICKS: I presume so, yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Presume but not necessarily so?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: All of my travel, for example, comes out of my travel. I presume it is done the same, but you would have to ask the individual minister; I don't know. As far as I know, all of the Premier's expenses related to Executive Council would come out of this.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, that is basically my question.

MR. DICKS: Yes, as far as I know that is the case.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Yes, that is basically my question, if all of the Premier's travel, under Executive Council, comes under this particular heading here. That was basically my question.

There were Purchased Services last year of $26,500 budgeted and $32,500 expended. So there was $6,000, a 25 per cent increase in Purchased Services. I would be interested in knowing exactly what is included there.

Under Allowances and Assistance also, it was my understanding, if I remember correctly from last year, I believe that jumped up to $23,500 if we look at last year's Estimates, or the expenditure from the previous year. I am sure the minister might have it back to then. I think that was the allowance that was given - I guess a direct allowance for the basic cost of entertaining at home or whatever, related to the Premier at home. That is the one that the former Premier instituted there, I understand now. It was up. I remember asking last year: Why would it be up to $23,000 for last year - but it is showing here budgeted $20,000? Was that for some other purpose other than that in the past and we are back to $20,000 again? So those two things here, that particular question and why 25 per cent in Purchased Services?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Yes, thank you.

First of all, Mr. Chairman, the Purchased Services account is for expenses for entertainment when the Premier is travelling, meetings with people, hiring rooms or paying expenses for lunches, coffees, and things like that. I find, generally speaking across government, the two go together, that the more people are called on to go to meetings - normally the other types of incidental expenses of travel are related to each other. So it is up by $6,000. The travel is also up as well.

With regard to the second question, $20,000 is the amount that was instituted. The former Premier had an official residence. At one time Frank Moores, I believe, had the place on the hill. Then, when Brian Peckford had it for a time he decided to pay for an apartment at taxpayers' expense. It has always been the case, over the last twenty-five years or so, that the Premier has been furnished with a residence, or an allowance in lieu of an official residence. It started with Premier Brian Peckford. He maintained an apartment at Tiffany Towers that cost the taxpayers about $20,000. When Mr. Wells became Premier, instead of taking the apartment or something else, he felt it was appropriate - and Cabinet and the House agreed - for an allowance of $20,000, and that continues.

The third part of his question related to the expense last year. I don't recall an extra $3,000 in that. If so, I don't know what that would have been. We can come back to that. I really don't know what that might have been. I should say, it has always been $20,000 for the allowance for the Premier for residence.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Yes, when I get back again, if not today another day, I will check on it. I am recalling that from memory. I do know it was up and I raised a question: Why has that been increased?

Also, there is an increase in Purchased Services as we mentioned in 06. I am just wondering if any of the entertainment costs at home, and other related costs, if there are costs covered under that heading there, rather than out of the $20,000 that the Premier is given, that he must provide for? I mean, there are certain costs. He may invite groups to his home and have to entertain or provide some costs, whether it is sandwiches, hors-d'oeuvres, and the cost of entertaining at home sometimes. I know it has happened with certain groups that went there, the general public at large. I am not talking about private gatherings, now. Is there anything expended out of Purchased Services there? Or is it the intention that any entertaining at home is supposed to come out of this $20,000?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: No. The amount spent for - you know, if he has a cocktail party for canapes, or if it is coffee supplied for meetings, and so on like that, that comes out of Purchased Services. The $20,000 is an allowance. It is in the nature of an amount paid, the same as a car allowance, a housing allowance, and so on. It is not meant to be offset against any particular expenditures used for entertainment.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We will just move along to 2.2.01. Once again I would assume Salaries, there is very little difference; that would be basically just the extra pay period. Twenty-seven pay periods this year?

The Employee Benefits, I know they are budgeted back to what they were, but they were down a little. I am just wondering maybe whether there is any particular - this seems to be happening in a couple of areas in particular here. I know it is a similar question I asked in the other one, but it is in a similar heading here.

Also, under Purchased Services, again last year there was $50,900 budgeted. Was there a particular area forecasted that they might have anticipated having to expend in that area, and it wasn't expended this year, and now they are budgeting for that amount again? Or is it there because historically it has normally been that amount, and therefore they put it in there as a measure to ensure there is a sufficient amount allocated under this heading?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you.

In response to the questions, first of all, the amount for Salaries increase is approximately $30,000 in direct costs. There is $20,312 for the extra pay period, and $6,737 for the step increases, which rounds out close to the amount. Because revised last year was $668,200 as the hon. member can see.

The second issue was Employee Benefits. These categories - so it is our membership, conference and registration fees. So it is often the case that we will send someone away to a conference that is appropriate, and $5,000, given the number of employees, seems like an appropriate amount. We in fact spend less in this category, both the Premier's Office and in Cabinet executive support.

The Purchased Services, this category covers meeting room rentals and expenses associated with Cabinet and its various committee meetings. There are also photocopier and printing charges for all divisions of the Cabinet Secretariat. I think it has just been in the vicinity of $50,000, so if the Cabinet meets outside St. John's, depending on where they are and the length of stay, there might be more or less charges for not hotel rooms but for the conference rooms and things like that. That is what the money is used for. We don't spend a lot in that category, as you can see.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

So if the Cabinet meets on the West Coast, for example, I guess each minister would pick up the cost of their particular rooms and so on -

MR. DICKS: Hotel room.

MR. SULLIVAN: - hotel, under their basic own department's minister's budget, I would assume.

MR. DICKS: Yes. I should point out as well that I believe I see my hon. colleague, the hon. Government House Leader, had a committee of Cabinet, that economic policy that went around to various parts of the Province. While the travel expenses and hotel rooms would be paid by the ministers themselves, the meeting rooms, and if they have coffee or something like that, would come out of this vote. That is the same for the Social Policy Committee and so on like that. The expenses are related solely to the cost of the meetings themselves, and not the ministers' and the staff's travel expenses.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I cannot say I concur, Mr. Chairman, with the Government House Leader on all this here. We didn't get an opportunity to get to your department, unfortunately.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He was up trying to do a service, I say to the Government House Leader, trying to help keep people off the social assistance lines here in our Province, to help that bright forecast the minister forecasted here today. I am just waiting anxiously now for the next report by Moody's and Standard and Poor's Corporation, the Dominion Bond Rating Service. A triple A, I am expecting the next time if the minister's and the Premier's forecasts are as bright as they should be. I will be wearing shades and having someone read to me the credit rating of the Province by Moody's. I would say that -

MR. DICKS: One hopes.


CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: You would be in some shape then, I say to the Government House Leader. What an economy we will have then.

I must say to the Government House Leader, he does not have much confidence in his Finance Minister over there - he is looking for a Finance Minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is an admission. He should have stood in his place, I say, and voted against that Budget if he has that little confidence in his Finance Minister. He is trying to get him out of there already.

MR. DICKS: We were going to, but we heard you were in such fear and trepidation of an election that we had to vote against the non-confidence motion.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the member, please do not accuse me of conveying that to you.

Economic Policy Analysis: $226,400 to support Economic Policy Analysis. Salaries, I would assume again, if we look at the past indication, the salary increase would only be about $6,000 or $7,000 basically by the extra pay period, and we have the extra amount either in extra salary or an unfilled position and now it is back up again, or whatever the case may be. That is usually what happens, I think, in cases; there might be a position. Maybe when the minister stands he could comment on that.

Employee Benefits. What I meant to mention in the last two, Employee Benefits here are basically benefits and paying costs, as the minister mentioned, rather than - I guess payroll burdens are already included. If they are being included, are they included in the Salaries parts? Under what aspect would the payroll burden - our contribution, as we say, to EI and CPP and all these normal payroll burdens - where exactly would that be included in each of these?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, the Employee Benefits throughout Executive Council, and I suspect in most departments, are small amounts and are meant to cover conference and membership fees and professional associations. So, if you have a CA or a lawyer or someone like that in the Department of Justice, certain people, because of the nature of their job belong to professional organizations. That is what Employee Benefits here cover.

The payroll burden for Canada Pension, Unemployment Insurance and things like that, government's contribution, is in the Department of Finance. I know, when we had our Estimates hearings the other day, we had it and it is a vote in the order of about $27 million. I do not have my total estimates with me, but all those amounts are consolidated in the Department of Finance. If I had a copy of the book I could point it out to the hon. member, but as you go through these - as you say, these are small amounts allotted really for training or for conferences that people might attend.

I am sure the hon. member knows certain conferences to which I am referring. In municipal they might have a National Federation of Municipalities conference and we might send someone from Municipal Affairs; that would be covered off there. As the hon. member says, the additional amounts are for the extra pay period around $6,166, and one of the employees had a step increase and that was about $1,600. But I will see if I can get a copy of the Estimates and identify where the entry is for the Employee Benefits, government's contribution, not what is deducted from your salary.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Under Social Policy Analysis now, I know we have been waiting to see some movement afoot in social policy. I know that since before the last election in 1996, even prior to that, as my colleague from Waterford Valley would be very much aware, we were supposed to have our Social Strategic Plan, and all the efforts manned by a former minister involved, and a person designated, way back, with deputy minister status, to work on that - and waiting for results. All we have seen so far is a period of years elapse and we have nothing done.

I am just wondering now, and I ask the minister, under Salaries, we have a significant increase of 61.4 per cent in expenditure over last year in Salaries under Social Policy Analysis. The minister would certainly be able to enlighten me on what is in that particular area. Out of the rest of those under Social Policy, there are no great variations from previous years, but this one is significant. So, if the minister could enlighten me there.

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

MR. DICKS: First of all, with respect to the government contributions, if you look at page 34 of the Estimates, 1.3.01, Government Personnel Costs, this is our share of the Employee Benefits, and it also includes Pay Equity, but that would be our CPP contributions. So that is where that is found. We do not carry it as an Employee Benefit in the individual departmental estimates.

MR. SULLIVAN: Would that be all payrolls, because there are certain payrolls done - Works, Services do their own. Would that be under Works, Services or is that here too?

MR. DICKS: No. Any Employee of government-


MR. DICKS: Yes, anybody paid directly by government would be included in this amount.


MR. DICKS: With respect to the Salaries, I can tell the hon. member that we have allotted for the cost of two permanent and one temporary position under Social Policy Analysis. There are two Social Policy Programming Analysts. One is at $50,000 and the other is at about $40,000. It looks to me as if there are three people in that category there. I can give the hon. member the total. I do not know if I should use the names. I can give their salaries, if that is appropriate. Just let me say this, that-

MR. SULLIVAN: No, the positions will be fine.

MR. DICKS: Yes. There are two positions at $42,000, and there is a position at $59,414. That is a total of $101,000. Then there is an extra pay period for $3,900 and a salary Increase of $3,900 this year, which is budgeted. There is a Social Policy Analyst, contractual, of $50,900 for Strategic Social Plan, and I expect that is the extra amount there for the most part. The Strategic Social Plan has a contractual Policy Analyst attached, and the salary is held in this vote.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The detail book shows the $101,698 for two Social Policy Program Analysts, and then there is the one other besides.

MR. DICKS: I should point out for the hon. member, that is a contractual position, not a permanent government position. So I suspect that when the Strategic Social Plan is finished, that that would lapse and go back to its normal staffing.

MR. SULLIVAN: Just two basic things, under this particular specific vote here under Salaries. Under this heading there are just those two Social Policy Analysts.


MR. SULLIVAN: For the $101,698?


MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. And there is a contractual position that accounts for the difference?

MR. DICKS: Yes, that is right.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, Offshore Fund - Administration, 2.2.04: Under Salaries here, once again the amount budgeted is a slight increase over what was budgeted last year. The difference there is really close to an extra salary, if you allocate it there. There was only $52,500 actually expended last year. Was there a position vacant for some time and now the position now filled? What would be the reason for that, I ask the Minister?

Also, two other questions under this heading. Under Professional Services, there was $37,300 budgeted and $15,000 expended; a revised figure which is very significant. Was there some anticipated aspect of Professional Services or has it historically been in the $37,000 range in the past?

The last one, under Purchased Services, is a similar question. I will ask there again: Why that amount when we did not expend any last year? Those three particular items, 01, 05 and 06.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe the hon. Opposition House Leader is correct. There are two positions there, that account - I will give him the breakdown. One is an Analyst at about $42,000. The other is a Clerk-Steno position at close to $22,641. That is a subtotal of $64,689. If you add in the extra pay period at approximately $2,500, a salary increase of $1,900, a step progression of $677 and temporary assistance and overtime of $9,800, that will get you up to $79,600 for the current year.

I suspect, as the hon. member says, that where this was set up, the staffing was a little late, because both people in the position where temporally assigned to this position from other positions. So they are in there temporarily, which I would conclude meant that they probably came some time during the last fiscal year. What we see here is the full amount had it run last year from the beginning of the year to the end, and that looks not to have been the case. This year we expect we will pay out the full salary because they will be there for the whole year.

The hon. member's second question had, I believe, to do with Professional Services, sub-category .05. We had budgeted $37,300 for the hiring of an independent auditing firm. The bill, unusually, came in at $15,000 rather than the amount we had set. We expected it to be somewhat higher.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

2.2.05, Economic Renewal Agreement Administration: Once again, to make sure we are on the right wavelength, I guess that is basically administration of the Economic Renewal Agreement that was announced, I think, in June, 1995. It was there at, I think, Hotel Newfoundland, the $100 million agreement over a five-year period at, I think, $20 million a year; 80 per cent federal and 20 per cent provincial. That is my understanding of that. That is the specific one, I would assume.

I just wonder: In terms of the administration, in addition to that $100 million that was allocated there, was that specifically going to go into projects, and this is extra administration over and above? Is the Province solely responsible for the administration fees? Before I jump there, I look down at is federal revenue toward that. I guess that is the federal revenue, $77,200. So overall, it is roughly half that agreement. So that is an equal contribution. I think I've answered my own question, I say to the minister. That is an equal contribution.

MR. DICKS: I couldn't have done a better job, Mr. Chairman.

MR. SULLIVAN: Those are the types of question you like.

Basically, that is on a 50 per cent shared basis, the agreement, of course. I'm going to let the minister answer this rather than answer it myself. Even though the project is 80-20, the administration is equally shared. Could the minister answer that?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is the case. As the hon. member notes, the $77,200 is funded by the federal government, and we pick up $80,300. It's roughly a 50-50 share. The administration is jointly funded, although it is an 80-20 agreement. That is not always the case. There are some other agreements where I believe the expenses are shared for administration based on the percentage or the apportionment that each party contributes, but in this case it is a 50-50 sharing of expenditure; or I should say expenses.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would assume the Salaries and so on, related costs, are people who are designated to administer that agreement, and that is their sole function.


MR. SULLIVAN: Or is that a certain specific allocation or pro rata amount on people who might be employed within the department, and it might be allocated? It is one of two. Could the minister tell us which?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

These are three people who are contractual. That is the whole of their salary. We have one person employed, an executive coordinator, at $60,614, a financial officer at $33,506, and a secretary at $22,641, for a total of $116,761. Then of course this year you add in the extra pay period, salary increase, and so on. So they are contractual positions, and they are there solely for the purpose of this agreement, and it's not an allocation out of some other -

MR. SULLIVAN: It is not (inaudible)?



MR. DICKS: And we cost-share that expense.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: I thank the minister for that.

I can see they have been very prudent under Government Reform Initiatives there. They have had some outstanding success. They have no reform initiatives, I might say, Mr. Chairman. There are no reform initiatives in this government.

MR. DICKS: That speaks for our prudence.

MR. SULLIVAN: If they have, they haven't spent any money on it. They were, I might add, going to spend $55,000 on reform initiatives, and I guess they found a way to spend that somewhere else other than have reform.

MR. DICKS: Maybe I could speak to that, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: The reason there is no salary allocation here is that Mr. Phonse Faour, who is Deputy Clerk of the Executive Council, is in fact doing this. So this is, in fact, very active. In fact I attended a government managers' meeting that was held here in St. John's last weekend, and people are very active in that.

What we have here, because we are using existing personnel, are votes or expenses that cover the cost of transportation, for example, professional services and other items. So these are just pure expenses of the Government Reform Initiatives to this point.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess the minister is saying because we have a former NDP member of the federal Legislature, there is not much in terms of reform initiatives.

MR. DICKS: He and his colleague might differ.

MR. SULLIVAN: Actually, I don't mean to put words in the minister's mouth. It was not intended as any affront to the hon. individual who is performing the role at all.

MR. DICKS: Dignity, ability and intellect, etcetera.

MR. SULLIVAN: Advisory Councils On Economic And Social Policy: Mr. Chairman, that is an area where we certainly could use some guidance.

Mr. Chairman, on economic and social policy - we are totally lacking, I might add, in appropriate social policy. I believe we are working on a social policy since I got elected, about six years ago and I have not -

MR. DICKS: Policy or disease?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I say to the minister, one applies to him and one applies to me.

MR. DICKS: Mine is policy, no doubt.

MR. SULLIVAN: Under this particular heading, once again under Transportation and Communications, there was a considerable reduction from the budgeted to the revised in 1997/98. Of course, we are back up again because we did not spend it all. We only spent about one-third of it, a little over one-third, probably 36 per cent roughly. We are going to put in an extra $10,000 over what we budgeted last year, and we are going to budget three times as much. So I would be interested in knowing how much Transportation and Communications breakdowns are there because that is a good thing. When you don't spend it all you get a reward the year after.

Talking about that, I should say to the minister, there is a mentality in government there - and in his position, I think he should do something about it. When you get back to March and you start looking at the money in your department and find out you have a big chunk of money there, there is no incentive to save: Let's get this back now, we have to get some money next year. Go out and purchase another stack of new vehicles here in March. I am telling you, there are more vehicles brought in this Province in March by this government than in any other month. Go back and check the record. There are more vehicles purchased in March by this government than any other month because there is money left in the Budget and they go out and they spend it.

I ask the minister: Is he interested in initiating some type of incentive or reward for departments that are efficient in disbursing their funds? If you don't use it, you won't lose it necessarily, that type of - and that mentality is out there. I don't have to tell the minister about that. The minister knows full well that that is out there.

While we are on this topic here, I will mention - the same rationale now, because in Purchased Services last year we only spent one-quarter of what we budgeted. So we will budget four times as much as we spent last year in that area. Is there really a legitimacy to it or, minister, is it just an area for a little bit of fat in there: In case we need a little bit of money later on, we will have a bit of money? Can the minister tell us that? I am sure he will be truthful.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The hon. member raised three issues. First of all he says: Use it or lose it. Obviously we on this side of the case are using it while hon. members opposite are losing it.

The second issue he raises is at odds with the point he makes. He says: What are we doing to control the phenomena in government where people at the end of the year spend their money? Of course, the wisdom or lack of wisdom as it is, that if you don't spend it you will not get it next year. So if the hon. member looks here at what we have done in Transportation and Communications and in Purchased Services, last year in the first category we budgeted $68,500 and they only spent $25,000. We gave them $10,000 more, $78,500.

In Purchased Services they were budgeted $20,000 and they only spent $5,000. We did not lose, and they still have their $20,000. In other words, Mr. Chairman, we have to be careful not to create a system that is based on penalizing one group for efficiency. What we have said to people is: Look, if you come in with a budgetary request that makes sense we will grant it regardless of how much you spent last year. So I think this is the way to do it.

With respect to the third item: How are we going to try to encourage efficiency overall? This arises out of that question. This is what the reform is all about. The hon. member might be interested in noting, what they are doing in Ontario is they are actually giving cash bonuses to departments that perform best in terms of their implementation of policy and also doing it efficiently.

So I agree with the hon. member, part of what reform is about - and that is being discussed with our government managers and executives is to find new ways to encourage efficiency and the proper handling of duties within the public service, and find a way to reward people for exceptional and exemplary performance.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: I thank the minister for those enlightening comments. I suggest to him, why don't you penalize inefficiency and see what kind of a result that will get. That might work.

MR. DICKS: First, one has to determine inefficiency.

MR. SULLIVAN: I do not think the minister would have a great job finding some inefficiencies in the workings of government.

MR. DICKS: If the hon. member would care to give me a list, I would be happy to follow up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Protocol, an interesting one, major government sponsored events. I guess a lot of this, or a good portion of the Protocol aspect, is with the arrival of Her Majesty last year and the Premier's transportation costs in this event.

I would like to ask: Transportation and Communications here, transportation by the Premier, does that come out of the Premier's budget rather than out of Protocol - the Premier's travel around? We budgeted $132,200 under Transportation and Communications, only spend $35,200, and we had a big major event last year - a big year. This year probably will not be of the magnitude of our Cabot 500, and we are going to budget an extra $38,000 to what we budgeted last year, five times as much as we actually spent last year. That is one thing. I am sure the minister can give us a reason why it is up to $170,000.

Salaries are down. Would that be because we had extra staff hired on account of Protocol, the Queen's visit here? What is the rationale, if it is not that?

Once again, the Supply aspect was down last year but it is back up, higher up this year again.

There are a lot of inconsistencies in the figures here in Protocol overall. I think we moved - the Protocol here. Purchased Services, for example, was down almost $100,000 over last year. Would the reason again be because the post-Cabot 500 year is not going to be as demanding in terms of expenditure in the Purchased Services area? Would there be some other reason for that? I am sure the minister has the gist of each of these four - 01, 03, 04 and 06 there.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just ran through them. The reason Salaries are down is that there were three positions and we have eliminated one. There was a protocol officer that is not there this year. That is now vacant. So it is a director and a clerk-steno. That is the basic $100,000 allocation that includes the slight salary increase and so on like that.

What I will say about Transportation and Communications, again it is an area where fortunately the department, the protocol office, spent a heck of a lot less. Frankly, I was very pleased given the amount of transportation that was required last year in the number of events. Frankly, I do not know why it is up to $170,000. These are done by the department. Obviously there is more travel related expenses this year foreseen. This does not include any of the Premier's expenses as far as I am aware.

The other one, the Purchased Services, as the hon. member says, yes, the reason it is much lower is, of course, that last year was an exceptional year given the fact that it was the 500th Anniversary. So out of this vote would come the official luncheons, dinners, receptions, and a lot of members of the public and hon. members were at banquets and so on like this. It also includes minor things such as photocopier charges, printing costs, advertising, associated with all of these events.

So last year, being a rather exceptional year, the vote this year is down. Frankly, I would expect that next year and the year after it will probably increase due to the Soiree '99, the 50th Anniversary, and also the year 2000.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would have figured there could be a big increase in Protocol. I figured the money would be a lot better spent by the Premier doing protocol lessons, I would think, rather than French lessons. Maybe we could have used a lot of that last year in particular with regard to Her Majesty's visit. I am sure the minister gets my drift, and maybe see that we get the appropriate Protocol allocations there for that training.

Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat. I know there was a bill just... I know intergovernmental affairs, we passed legislation last fall -

MR. DICKS: No minister.


MR. DICKS: No minister.


- that it is not necessarily the position of a Premier any more, and it came under that heading. Has there been a minister appointed for intergovernmental affairs?


MR. SULLIVAN: Or is the Premier currently acting in that capacity?


MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, so the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island, the Deputy Associate Minister of Finance - not deputy - the Associate Minister of Finance, is hoping to get intergovernmental affairs? I guess not, I say to him, he will not have that post. That is too sensitive and too touchy an issue. We cannot have him there in that department. I thought he was getting that position ready for the Minister of Education. You know, he was going to be able to sit back after all the heat he has taken on those issues over the last while.

Seriously though, there has not been, I think, unless I have missed it - I followed it reasonably close - there has been no minister appointed. The Premier is still carrying on in that capacity; would that be correct?

MR. DICKS: Yes, that is correct.

MR. SULLIVAN: Salaries, again under Executive Support, the only difference there would be basically the extra pay period which would account for that.

Purchased Services again - Professional Services, great areas to build in your little cushions here and there in your budget. Professional Services, it is not a highly significant number. But the one in Purchased Services, we only spent $10,000 on a budget of $27,800, and are budgeting again for that amount. So if the minister, when he rises in his place, could just tell us: Was there some anticipated area that was not expended last year for some reason? Because other areas in the budget under this heading, Executive Support, are pretty well consistent. Maybe just that point.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In answer to the first question, there is no additional Minister of IGA, at least as far as I am aware.

Purchased Services, I should point out to the hon. member, includes in each office rental charges; for example, rental of a photocopier, rental of a fax machine, things like this. That shows up here as well. It also includes any official entertainment. But when it is in an Executive Support area, that is money spent by those people in that group; so other people would not have access to that as such.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

There is a significant increase in Salaries in this particular area under Social and Fiscal Policy. We budgeted last year, $168,700 and we expended $143,000. There was $25,700, so that is roughly a position there, some form that was not utilized or whatever.

Also, Professional Services, there was not anticipated. What might that have entailed? What professional services were employed last year when there was none budgeted? And, what happened in Purchased Services that there would be $17,000 when I guess traditionally there has been very little in that particular area? I am just wondering why the huge differences there in 01. Salaries, basically in Professional Services and in Purchased Services?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The increase in salaries is due to an additional person being added there, and the Professional Services were for translation services. We recently signed another French Language Agreement with the federal government, and $12,000 was for translation services. Frankly, the Purchased Services, I don't know what that was. I will find out for you. It might relate to the social and fiscal policy, intergovernmental analysis. I do not know if that had to do with the Strategic Social Plan or what, but I will find out for you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Maybe another day we can get back to that one. The minister might be able to check that out and see what specifically it is.

Under Resource and Economic Policy, 2.3.03, once again there is not a huge difference salary-wise, but the revised last year was $219,000. I guess when you account for the increase now in the extra pay period we are only looking at bringing it up to about less that $230,000. That is probably only about $8,000 roughly. That still leaves about $13,000 extra over and above unless - when you look at the previous year's budget, if you are looking at specific salaries, from $226,000 up to $240,600 would have been pushing it close to that extra pay period; so, was there probably an unfilled position for part of the year, or some temporary only in that specific - The minister, when he rises, can answer that one.

Once again, Transportation and Communications. There was considerably less expended than anticipated there last year, and we are back up to the same number again this year. Has $49,000, ball park, been the traditional expenditure there? If it has, why was it an unusually low amount last year?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The $240,000 is not any additional position. I give the hon. member the amounts: The extra pay period is $8,286; the base budget for Salaries is $215,433; there is $5,900 for the 2 per cent increase this year; there is $1,757 in step progressions; there is $200 in overtime, and that basically gets you up in the vicinity of the $240,000 or so. On top of that, why Transportation and Communications was down I don't know.

Frankly, we try to estimate at the beginning of the year in all the different areas how much travelling will be involved. Some areas are down, some areas are up, and during the run of a year you find some groups have to travel more than others. Others, of course, do less than budgeted. Some go over budget. Overall they balance up across government. This is one of those fortunate areas where the expenses for Transportation and Communications were down.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat. Once again, Salaries would be approximately the same. I guess the difference, when you look in most of these cases, is your 4 per cent or roughly extra salary, and the step progression I guess for just that portion of the year in which it was implemented, which would account for roughly I guess $4,000, and maybe $1,000 or so in each area. The 2 per cent only went retroactive to what particular date?

MR. DICKS: January 1.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is right, it really went to April. It would be the full year, 2 per cent. So we are looking at about, would it be correct, under Salaries there, approximately $9,000, we will say, for that -

MR. DICKS: The extra pay period.

MR. SULLIVAN: For the pay period?


MR. SULLIVAN: Then I guess roughly half of that then would be for the increase of 2 per cent.

MR. DICKS: Sixty-two hundred dollars, in fact.

MR. SULLIVAN: Fifty-two hundred dollars?

MR. DICKS: Sixty-two hundred dollars.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sixty-two hundred dollars.

MR. DICKS: Because this will be for -

MR. SULLIVAN: Because some retroactivity from January is paid into this year? I would assume, because -

MR. DICKS: That may yet be - excuse me, if I could answer the question. For the coming year it will be $6,200. I believe the hon. member's question was what it would be for the period from January till now? The hon. member is right, it would be between $1,000 and $2,000; about $1,500, I guess. For the current year we are in now it is $6,200. There is a bit of overtime at $1,200, which gives you the $253,000. This one was almost precisely on budget, as the hon. member knows, in the salary detail.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: I would just say to the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Because if an extra pay period is about 4 per cent, and the 2 per cent increase, the increase should account for roughly half of what the extra pay period is. In this case it is a bit higher percentage, whatever the reason. I am sure, when you look at all the salary ones, the extra pay period should be 4 per cent of the salary total whereas the 2 per cent obviously would be half that. If there are some differences there, maybe, unless some people had varying amounts or step progressions, it would be built into that?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Step progressions, no, are accounted for separately, $346. The salary increase is $6,200. That is 2 per cent for the coming year. On reflection, it may also include a retroactive amount back to January 1, depending on the group involved, because that is not in the pay. So it may be an amount of money paid out the current year. We haven't done this yet; we just have to see where all our collective agreements fall out, because virtually all of Executive Council is non-union.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, in a few other areas too there are some fluctuations. Maybe the minister can just explain those too. There is an expenditure of almost 90 per cent extra under Transportation and Communications, over what was budgeted last year, and then we are budgeting double this year over what we budgeted last year, or a small increase, basically, over what we actually spent last year.

There are some fluctuations too in Supplies over what we spent. The reduction in Professional Services is very dramatic when you look at it number-wise, only one-quarter of that amount in those specific areas. So what might be the reason for .03, .04 and .05?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Those were directly related to the added activity last year. As the hon. member will remember, last fall in particular, we concluded an MOU with the LIA, Memorandum of Agreement with the Labrador Innuit Association. I was there for the conclusion of it and virtually all of the group were, at that time, in Ottawa negotiating and concluding the agreement. So the activity was more intense; we stepped it up. There were a lot of meetings in Labrador, here in St. John's and in Ottawa because there were three parties and we rotated it around. The reason Transportation and Communications went from $50,000 to $94,000 was as the result of the added meetings that had to be attended.

Professional Services was fairly small because we usually (inaudible) consulting services, but we did not need them last year because most of that was in order on this file.

The other one: I don't think there are many substantial variations here. We did not spend anything on office furniture and equipment, for example. So I think that probably explains the majority of the questions the hon. member had. Routine office supplies: Well, we used a lot more paper, I think, last year, judging by what came across my desk, which brings us up to over $6,000 there.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I guess we spent some money to have that big announcement in November, the announcement that we might have an agreement in principle, basically; the big furor in the public, the big announcements, the people brought in. Everybody there except LIA, the people we were supposed to have an agreement with. They were up in Labrador telling us: We don't have an agreement in principle. So, all the money spent around that and the big announcement there - an agreement in principle: Oh, we have an agreement in principle. Just before they do their little polling out there to say that they have a settlement with the aboriginal people and then to turn around: Oh it will be in a couple of months, it will be March. Now here we are in May and we still don't have an agreement in principle, not to say an agreement. That is only the initial step in the process. The Premier rushes around trying to make much ado about nothing. I think he would be a great playwright.


MR. SULLIVAN: These people even agree there. They even find it amusing, what I am saying about the Premier. They all agree with me. The only one who really had the gumption to come out and say it or really take a shot was the Member for Humber East. He said he sandbagged us. He is the only one really who had the spunk to come up and say something.

Under Aboriginal Affairs, 2.4.02: That seems to be fairly well on, salary-wise. There has not been any great change there. There might be a slight amount there, but nothing significant.

Transportation and Communications is a whopper, I might add, in this one, Aboriginal Affairs. From a budget last year of $170,000 we spent $82,000 and now we are going to budget three times as much again. So a lot of progress this year. I would say there are going to be some news conferences this year. I would say we will probably get three more news conferences out of the agreement in principle and then before we even get to the main - we have not even gotten to the framework of an agreement.

I will certainly be eager to hear from the minister on why we are up to $250,000 in Transportation and Communications? Who is included in that? What particular people are included under that particular part of the Budget, outside of departmental people? What aspect is covered?

Professional Services: There was almost a 50 per cent, about a 45 per cent increase there from what we spent last year. There is almost a 100 per cent increase in Purchased Services there. So I would be

and there is almost a 100 per cent increase in Purchased Services. I will be listening very attentively to hear why these drastic aberrations are occurring here in the Budget.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This all has to do with the Innu land claims, not the LIA. We are trying to fast-track the Innu land claims. It has been agreed by both parties in order to facilitate -

MR. SULLIVAN: Aboriginal Affairs, 2.4.02 is restricted to Innu?




MR. SULLIVAN: The LIA was under - you mentioned Executive Support for some of the ones included back there.

MR. DICKS: Yes, that is right. What I said was, most of what we spent last year -

MR. SULLIVAN: Why would they be separate? It is Aboriginal Affairs?

MR. DICKS: What I can tell the hon. member is precisely what these budgetary allocations are for this year. We have allocated $35,000 for extraordinary negotiation sessions for the Innu lands claims. That is under travel. Also, under the Land Use and Ratification Committees, there is a very complicated process when you get - as the hon. member knows, we have Memoranda of Understanding and Agreements in Principles that have to be voted on and ratified. So it is a very intense type of negotiation, very, very slow-moving and for that reason costly as well.

There is another $85,000 in there for additional - well, one is for the Land Use Committee, I believe it is $50,000, and the Ratification Committee is $85,000. For the rent of facilities alone, to carry on these negotiations, we have budgeted at $60,000 and that is under the Purchased Services. So, if you look at the last one, the $86,000, we have added another $60,000 to it to put it up to the $159,700. We had budgeted last year, $170,000 for Transportation and Communications and we have added in $85,000 to increase that to $255,000.

These are very intense negotiations. The people involved are living in hotels and meeting rooms, either here in St. John's, Labrador or Ottawa for a good part of the year. As a consequence, they are costly for us to carry out, but at the same time they are vital to the future development of the Province.

CHAIR (Mr. Penney): Order, please!

For the sake of clarification, I would like the record to show that since the microphones are turned on for both the hon. the Opposition House Leader and the minister, the Chair will not be interjecting by recognizing the speakers. But if I might ask, that the hon. member inform me of the section to which he is referring.


CHAIR: The last section to which he asked the question, the last subhead.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will do that now, yes.

CHAIR: Thank you.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, when I go to each section, I usually read the heading and mention the number; 2.4.02, for instance, and I said Aboriginal Affairs. What I have been doing with each heading, I have been saying that at the beginning - and I am sure the minister has been following as I have been identifying - and once I get down to 01.03, where already I am moving from heading to heading, so that way it is in sequence. But I will make reference to 2.4.02, Aboriginal Affairs.

I ask the question to the minister, overall: Why would it be in a separate area, Aboriginal Affairs expenses, and be separate from Innu and the LIA? Because I would think that Aboriginal Affairs, Transportation and Communications and all those, would come under the one. I mean, they are Aboriginal Affairs expenditures, and I do not think there has been a distinction or there should be a distinction there. It is nice to have a breakdown to know what each one is entailing. Is there -

MR. DICKS: May I answer that? I will clear that up.


MR. DICKS: I probably confused the hon. member with my answer. When I speak about 2.04.01, your questions were related to what happened last year on the expenses, but what makes it clearer is 2.4.01 is for the Executive Support. So we have a Deputy Minister and an ADM, a secretary to the Deputy Minister and secretary to the Assistant Deputy Minister, and then under 2.4.02 we have a Director, a Native Policy Analyst, a Land Claims Negotiator, and other people. So these apply to both the Innu and the Inuit, but looking at it last year it was mostly the LIA whom we were dealing with. This coming year I expect the majority of the expenses will probably relate to the Innu land claims. The amount spent last year under Executive Support was for the Executive. The amount spent under this heading will be for the Secretariat itself. You are right, this does not tell you how much was spent for Inuit or the LIA versus the Innu Land Claims.

This year, these amounts would include both LIA and Innu Land Claims negotiations, but they should be more directed toward the Innu, because the other ones have made much more progress. So, the real differentiation is the group that will spend the money, not the Aboriginal Group.

Have I explained it to the hon. member?


MR. DICKS: These expenses are for the Secretariat, the other expenses were for the Executive.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I understand.

Executive Support is costs incurred by, I guess, people under that heading and Salaries in that. Yes, that was my initial understanding.

MR. DICKS: Yes, exactly. Sorry if I confused.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister did manage to confuse it.

MR. DICKS: That is why I am here.

MR. SULLIVAN: I was starting to question if it was my understanding. Now we are back on the right wave length, I say to the minister.

I think the minister said, that really under 2.4.02, Aboriginal Affairs, for instance, Transportation and Communications, etcetera, he does not really have a breakdown of what is Innu and what is LIA. He does not have a breakdown as such, because some of the same people are on the committees that are dealing with each, and we are not going to get so technical that we are going to start doing a division of costs, because sometimes it could be overlapping and costly, and things might happen in transportation in one particular area. You might deal with both matters.

I guess most of the attention last year, as I think he said, was dealing with the LIA, especially in light of Voisey's Bay. He made reference to the fact that this year it may be a significant cost in terms of the Innu and trying to get claims, in light of the Lower Churchill. How eager the Premier is to turn on the tap, I might say to the minister, and to exhilarate the Lower Churchill there. I guess that we will probably get bowled over with news conferences over the next few months: I am getting that on stream.

AN HON. MEMBER: Over the next few months you are going to hear one big news conference.

AN HON. MEMBER: We hope so. We hope he has the guts.

MR. SULLIVAN: I think he was challenged here yesterday and he said: Well, I said it with tongue-in-cheek, I really did not mean it. In fact the Premier, yesterday, talked about it and he sort of backed away from that yesterday when he was put to the task.

MR. TULK: I would say he is afraid now to go out.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Premier did not jump up and run with it then. He was kind of worried how it was going to shake out, I would say. March, April, May, - what is this, twenty-seven months? He went the last time in thirty-four months. He had an election in thirty-three and change, we will say. It is hard to go back and tell the people: We have another few million to throw in there. It is hard to sell one in two years, when you were given a mandate.

I can see why the Premier would want to go to the polls. He ran on a promise of a better tomorrow and he feels kind of guilty that he has not delivered it. He wants to go back to the people again and go with something different. I guess he feels he has not delivered on that promise of a better tomorrow. I ask my colleague: Has he delivered on a better tomorrow?

MR. TULK: Loyola, we are going to make you Leader of the Opposition (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, yes! Well, I got news for the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: I am hoping to take the Government House Leader's job in a little while.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: You will see what (inaudible) look like from this side, and see if you can see me any better. I hope the scenery is better after the next election than it is when we look across now. We hope it is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: A lot of these people have been around so long now, and all these new guys are just dying on the vine. They are waiting to get into Cabinet, they are dying on the vine, I say to the Government House Leader. This potential of people out there, who cannot get their chance to get in and get that vine to flourish with new ideas. The Member for Fogo & Twillingate and the guy from Labrador West are itching to get in close. Everybody was upset when we read in the paper about the member. To think the Member for Topsail, the new guy on the scene, is going to get in before some of these. No wonder the people got irritated, and we had to have a reading, finally, of that statement, a statement in the paper. I think I read that over the last day or so.

I can see the-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The Member for Labrador West said the Member for Fogo & Twillingate wrote a letter to the editor. How come the Member for Topsail got ahead of me?

MR. G. REID: I don't know. (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The Member for Topsail, I would say he should not be ahead of you. The Member for Topsail, they put him on a committee. I would say that message, that anonymous letter received, came from the Member for Topsail, probably. He probably sent it himself. I would say that is probably what happened. I heard that on that note was: He did such a great job on this armed RNC, and those -

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you getting on with now?

MR. SULLIVAN: I said, the Member for Topsail probably sent that little note, anonymously, saying: I heard going into Cabinet next is the Member for Topsail. He probably sent that note to the media himself, I would say. He probably did. He upset some long hard-working people back there who are making great contributions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You are not allowed to say where he is, I say to the Government House Leader. I would have said it, except I am not allowed to say something. It would be unparliamentary to refer to where he is. The Member for Topsail is a step ahead, but I -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. He is probably out wondering where he is going to be after the next election; that is probably where he is now. I would say he is out knocking on doors.

I told the Member for Labrador West - I will not say it on the public record, I told him in private - where he is in the pecking order.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: When he comes in he will scare me off, probably, and I will have to stop. I do not want to make him feel too bad.

I know the Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board is getting pretty impatient. He wants another stack of questions. What I hope to do now - no, I will have to hang on for a minute because my colleague is not ready to be turned loose yet. He is going to be unleashed now in a minute when he is finished his conversation, and he is going to go back after the minister.

In the meantime, it does not take much to upset a few people across the House by the thoughts of - who were the two who were going to go in? The Member for Topsail and the Member for - who was the other one?

AN HON. MEMBER: Bellevue.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Member for Bellevue. Well, normally the Parliamentary Assistant goes in next. That is pretty well an unwritten rule. That did not apply in the case of the former Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair, or Eagle River was the district. There was an exception there, but everybody knows that member is an exception to just about everything there and we knew he was not getting in. The former Premier had him there to run around.

I am getting notes here. It looks like the Minister of Finance's writing there. I will deal with him on that, if we cannot take up the time of the House on important matters there; because we know we would not want to raise the House to that particular level.

I will get back to 2.4.03, Labrador Affairs is the heading. In this particular area we see a whole new vote of $101,100, in Labrador Affairs.

Now I am going to unleash my colleague, the Member for Cape. St. Francis, to get the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to let us know what this $101,100, what specific aspect - I know it is mentioned here, "...for the development and implementation of Government policy and programs relating to the impact on the Labrador Region."

In Labrador Affairs, we have had a general -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Under 2.4.03. I will leave it to my colleague. Maybe the minister might answer, or turn it over to my colleague here and he will continue.

We have used up one hour and thirty-four minutes out of sixteen hours.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I believe the hon. member's question was relative to 2.04.03, and this is charged with the development and implementation of government policy and programs as it relates to the region of Labrador. This is a new group set up; or, it is actually one individual set up within the secretariat to do these.

The hon. members may recall, for example, in Transportation we have some initiatives and so on. It was felt appropriate to have one person coordinating these efforts.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Again, as long as the two microphones are turned on and I can see the lights, I will not be interjecting by recognizing the members.

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

With respect to 2.4.03, Labrador Affairs, they are all new sections but nothing budgeted for them and nothing revised. It was all new this year. When is this starting up? Has it been started? Have there been people put in place? How many staff? Just more details on the whole thing, please?

MR. DICKS: It is one person who has been hired. The others follow from it, the Employee Benefits - it is a common category - Transportation and Communications. My recollection is that the person was recently hired, just within the past week or so. I know it came to Treasury Board at the last meeting for approval. So if the person is not hired he will be shortly. It is a male, I know.

MR. J. BYRNE: This person, if he is hired - you say `he' so I am assuming it is a male - what would have been the qualifications for that person to be put in that position? Did it go through the Public Service Commission? Did it go through the department? Could you give some more information on the individual?

MR. DICKS: The person is hired under the normal hiring policies of government, competition for it, I expect. The hiring now is done by the departments under the supervision of - the Public Service Commission, rather. He went through the normal hiring process.

MR. J. BYRNE: This same section, Labrador Affairs, I see in Transportation and Communications $30,000. Would that be for a vehicle or is it for tickets for flying or what have you? Purchased Services and Professional Services, can you tell me what those would be for?

MR. DICKS: These are general allocations that we have. Transportation and Communications, I believe the person is based in Goose Bay. It would be necessary for him to travel back and forth about Labrador, also to come to St. John's and/or Ottawa periodically.

The Professional Services are allocations given in the event that some sort of consultant study might be needed during the year. It is a common allocation in virtually every other department. The rest of them, I think, are pretty straightforward.

Purchased Services are for the cost of meeting facilities around Labrador. He will have to meet with various groups and so on; to pay for a meeting room in a hotel, for example, would be an appropriate one, and $1,000 for furniture. So these are the normal categories and within normal limits we deal with in these circumstances.

MR. J. BYRNE: The same section, 2.4.03, subsection 03, Transportation and Communications again; $30,000, you say, is for travel in around Labrador I suppose. Does the minister think that is realistic, that figure, with the rates that are being charged for flying in and around the area of Labrador?

MR. DICKS: Mr. Chairman, as the hon. member knows, it costs more - you can sometimes fly to Toronto for about one-third or a quarter of the cost to fly to Goose Bay or to Labrador West. It is a feature of travelling in our Province that is extraordinarily expensive. Recently I have noticed it has increased quite a bit. It is going to be necessary for this person to coordinate quite a number of areas. He will be working with the Labrador lands claims people. He will also be working with transportation and so on. So there will be a lot of travel back and forth to the Island. In addition to that, there will be a lot of travel around Labrador itself and it has to be all by airplane virtually. So it gets quite expensive. Obviously, I hope the person does not spend $30,000 but -

MR. J. BYRNE: No, I am wondering if it is enough.

MR. DICKS: Well at this stage, not having experience with the position and the office, it is a guess; but I would take it that the people involved who do a lot of travelling understand and have made a fair estimate; it went and passed Treasury Board officials in the Budget process for approval.

As the hon. member says, it is expensive. I mean a ticket - we have hon. members here, you know what the travel expenses are like into Labrador. It is an expensive area. It is a lot for one person in government generally. Very few people in government would spend $30,000 unless they are at a ministerial or deputy minister level; but in a case like this, yes, it is pretty expensive stuff.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, 2.5.01, Voisey's Bay Project. We have heard a lot of talk recently in the media with respect to Voisey's Bay - some good, some bad.

MR. DICKS: 2.5.01?

MR. J. BYRNE: 2.5.01, Voisey's Bay Project.


MR. J. BYRNE: Would the minister be able to give us an update on the situation with respect to Voisey's Bay in light of what has been in the media in recent times?

MR. DICKS: Yes, if the hon. member means where we are in terms of the agreement with the company, and if they are going to proceed and so on, we are holding firm to our position that we are not going to approve the mine to go ahead alone. The company obviously - because of nickel prices and frankly probably having paid more for it than it would be worth at current market prices - are trying to persuade us that they should develop the mine and remove the ore to the mainland or elsewhere for refining and smelting. Our position has been: No, we are not going to permit that. So we are at an impasse with them.

We have had an independent study done. The company recently released a report it had done - and I forget the name of the group - which basically said it wasn't viable. The hon. members remember it became public within the last couple of weeks. That was a report, frankly, which we believe was done to try to persuade us to let them go ahead. We have repeatedly said: No, there will be no mine without a smelter and refinery. It will all be done here in this Province or you cannot mine any ore.

What we had done at the same time that this report came to us last fall was we had our own fiscal agents in New York, Merrill Lynch, carry out a study, and their conclusion was that even at today's nickel prices, which are quite depressed, they could still earn an 11.5 per cent return on capital. So it is our consistent, firm position that there will be no mine without a smelter and refinery being built in this Province.

It is an impasse with the company. Having said that, we believe that over time prices will improve and it will become viable. In fact, we believe right now if the company turned their mind to it they would find the economics are still there for them to go ahead with the project. We are resolute on our conditions for development of this project.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

With respect to this project in Voisey's Bay, we know that Inco is a pretty major player in the production of nickel in the world, and they are up now against - and as you mentioned, the rate per kilogram or whatever is down probably 33 per cent, I believe. Correct?

I don't want to be too cynical here, but seeing that they are such a major player, could they have played a part in deflating the rates paid for nickel, just to make a better case to the Province to forego a smelter on the Island? Do you follow what I am saying?

MR. DICKS: Yes, I understand. Inco is one of the largest players in the international nickel marketplace, but I don't think their position is so dominant that they can control the price. The trouble with nickel is it is a very common occurring element, relative to things like platinum and gold, and even silver for that matter, so the ability of any one company or individual to corner a marketplace in a metal that is so readily available is virtually impossible.

I believe what you see instead are other factors at play in the international marketplace. Places like Cuba, Russia, Australia, all have very substantial deposits. You could probably find them in other parts of the world as well. Those are just three or four that spring to mind. What was happening, and the long-range concern or issue, I believe, that we have to face, is that Voisey's Bay was such a rich deposit that if it were brought into production on a timely basis it would probably preclude development of other nickel sources in places like Cuba and so on, where it is more expensive to produce it. Because with this source of supply, Inco would - and I don't know if these figures are correct, but if it is of this magnitude - probably control about 10 per cent of the annual supply of nickel going to market. That gives you a very substantial position in the international marketplace and allows you to influence not so much the current price as - what it does enable you to do is keep less profitable nickel producers off the marketplace, if you want to undercut them.

It is probably the equivalent of what would occur in some place like Saudi Arabia where you have, and can produce, oil at $1 or $1.25 a barrel. Well, if you choose to, you can cut prices to the point where other jurisdictions cannot produce, so you control the supply of oil not so much by the price, although you regulate in that fashion, but by, over a longer period of time, discouraging other people to get into production.

In this case, it is also complicated by the fact that the precious metals really have not moved since about 1988. The actual price of precious metals in the world has declined over that period of time, whereas most other commodities have increased. You also have the phenomena that a lot of the Eastern Bloc countries are dumping a lot of their stockpiles of gold, silver. The Russians, for instance, are affecting the supply of diamonds in the world.

A large number of these metals and gems and so on are factors in international politics and international economics. One of the reasons metals have been a little bit difficult to predict as well has to do with countries that have stockpiles releasing them. Gold is a typical example. Switzerland recently decided to sell off half its gold supply. That has kept the price of gold down.

If you follow the precious metals market, to some extent there is an artificiality in it, but you have to remember that these metals are not just produced and used; they are also stockpiled by different groups. Depending on the release and availability in the international market place, they depress or they increase the cost to consumers.

In the case of nickel, I don't pretend to be an expert by any means, but I do know there are some other resources out there, particularly in a mine in Australia and one in Russia that are very rich as well. So that will, to some extent, affect the viability of this deposit (inaudible). But having said all that, the ore is so close to the surface and it can be mined so easily that the long-range prospects for this are very good. Probably in pure economic terms, although it is not the richest deposit of ore (inaudible), it is probably the one that can be produced at the lowest cost, which, in economic terms, is what really matters.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister, for that answer. Either you know what you are talking about or your name is changed to Grimes.

MR. DICKS: I take lessons from the hon. member next to you.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

Anyway, with respect to Voisey's Bay Project, 2.5.01, the Salaries: We spent $77,500 last year and it is up to $189,600 this year. Can you tell us how many people are employed, under that subhead? I would assume the $77,500 is down because it started part way through last year. But can you give us some information about the numbers of people and the qualifications, what type of individuals are there?

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Yes. These are four temporary positions, and in addition to that we have Mr. Bill Rowat on loan from Ottawa. Mr. Bill Rowat is a former Deputy Minister of Fisheries and is on loan from Ottawa. So there is no salary allocation for him, but we have four other individuals, a director, an analyst, an administrative officer and a secretary who work there as well. So there is a total of five people. They are all temporary positions. Mr. Rowat is on loan from Ottawa because the Voisey's Bay office is set up to get this project moving and it will have a limited lifespan; although I could not at this point say what that will be.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

With respect to Transportation and Communications, subhead .03: It went from $77,000 up to $138,000. I might as well get you, while you are on your feet, to - we have Professional Services, $50,000 up to $150,000, and Purchased Services from $10,000 up to $15,000. Could you give us the details, especially with respect to Professional Services, $150,000, who it would go to and what services?

MR. DICKS: This group is doing several things. One is, they are dealing with Voisey's Bay to try to move forward the development of the mine site and smelter and refinery. The other thing they are doing is dealing with Ottawa on the equalization. One of our big concerns, which we have spoken of often, is the fact that these resource projects are subject to equalization offsets.

Mr. Rowat, in particular, was assigned here by the federal government to help us deal with these issues and ironically, he is dealing with his colleagues in Ottawa on behalf of the government, to negotiate a new arrangement for equalization that will see us lose less revenue from equalization as royalties increase.

The reason that you have $138,000 here for Transportation and Communications is that Mr. Rowat is between here, Ottawa and other places dealing with Voisey's Bay, Inco and so on, dealing with the principals involved. This is a position that requires an awful lot of travel.

With respect to the Professional Services, I do know that the $50,000 we paid last year, for example, had to do with bringing two experts in International Mining Taxation Law here to the Province. I met with them myself. This also touches on what type of royalty regime we will impose, generically, to catch large projects like Voisey's Bay which are far beyond and have excessive returns on capital.

We have had advice from two people; one I believe is an American, the other is with a university in Canada but was originally from England. They are probably two of the most knowledgeable people whom we could find to comment on different types of taxation systems in places like Australia and South Africa which have comparable types of metal deposits to what we seek to develop here.

So we spent $50,000 last year. Personally I was involved with these people, and I found their advice very helpful in moving forward with a type of tax regime that will make sense for this type of deposit and would yield returns that we believe are appropriate to the taxpayers who are the owners of it, and yield an appropriate economic rental. The $150,000 we will spend this year will probably be an enlargement of that work. We will probably have to get finer details and models on what the effect on equalization will be as royalties are produced from the various projects. The overall issue also includes the offshore, because that is subject to substantial equalization offsets.

So this is for professional advice that we may deem necessary from time to time.

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

With respect to the taxation and the royalty regime, when can we expect some kind of a finalization of the regime itself? It has been ongoing now for some three years I think, two years for sure. Before the last election I think the former Premier was going to call the House together to put something in place, or whatever the case may be, and we have nothing yet. Can the minister give us an update on when we will have that put in place, and can he give us any indication as to what it may or may not contain.

MR. DICKS: There has been no final decision by government as to what it will contain. I know that we, in the Department of Finance and Treasury Board, have looked at it. We have at least two alternatives that we believe make sense and that would be the basis for an appropriate regime for the Province.

As to when we would do this, I suspect it will be done prior to any final decision on Voisey's Bay and that mine proceeding; for the reason that I believe we have to be able to give to any investors who are going ahead with projects in this Province some general sense as to what the return to taxpayers will be, how much they can borrow, what they will have available to service that debt, and what will be returned to the shareholders in these corporations.

Our progress with that legislation, I believe, is very much contingent on the overall progress on these other issues, but that isn't an issue for me to determine. That is one that will be done by my colleagues in Cabinet, government, and this House in the final analysis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

With respect again to the taxation and royalty regime: When Inco purchased Voisey's Bay or whatever, some $4.5 billion I think was the figure, somewhere around there?

MR. DICKS: If I can just comment on that: The public perception is that they paid $4.2 billion. I actually looked through the documents that are probably about five inches thick. They didn't actually pay that amount of money. What they did was they paid something in the vicinity of $600 million. I believe it was maybe $592 million or something like that. The balance was in shares that were issued out of the new company. So in effect, they didn't pay $4.2 billion for it. The actual cash outlay was about $600 million.

Then what they did was they acquired Diamond Fields, in essence. That increased the value of Inco, which enabled them to issue the shares. So it wasn't a payment of $4.2 billion, as I read it. I stand subject to correction. It was a combination of shares issued on the basis of the value that had been acquired. So it wasn't a cash outlay. When you look at it, one of the fallacies is that many investors will look at it and say: What type of return can they use on $4.2 billion? I believe that is wrong for a number of reasons. One is the money is sunk, but secondly, they didn't pay $4.2 billion. A substantial portion of that represented shares that were issued because of the added value of acquiring that particular property. That was, in essence, close to the present value of a stream of payments that will be created as a result of development of the mine and its eventual return to shareholders.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, I'm having trouble hearing the hon. member.

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Minister, am I right in assuming that Inco purchased Voisey's Bay from the future earnings of the development itself? Is that in there somewhere?

MR. DICKS: Yes, I believe so, in part. I wouldn't put it quite the way the hon. member does, but when you buy something your ability to finance that acquisition is based on the profits you are going to earn from what you acquire, presuming that it is a business venture. In essence, that is the case, yes. They were able to buy this and justify it to their shareholders and their lenders on the basis that it would yield a certain income stream back to the company over the life of that mine.

Of course, that is very dependent on the world price, the size of the deposit, the time in which it would take to develop it, and it was taken to be about a twenty-year span. They do what they call due diligence, in which they make assumptions about the price of nickel, and they price it at around (inaudible), the cost of production and the reserves, so that they would determine the eventual amount that would be taken out of it. In essence, yes.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

With respect to the taxation and the royalty regime, you mentioned $600 million was the outlay, the cash up front, I suppose, to purchase.

MR. DICKS: It is of that magnitude.

MR. J. BYRNE: In that vicinity, okay.

What I am getting at is, in the taxation royalty regime that is forthcoming, I'm under the impression that out of that $600 million there was no money forthcoming in any form of tax to the Province. For example, if I go out and buy a house, a car, or something, I'm paying taxes. In this situation, there was no money forthcoming.

Will that situation be able to develop again, where someone can go out and pay $600 million for something within this Province, in the mining field or whatever the case may be, along those lines, and not have to pay any taxes to government in the actual purchase?

MR. DICKS: These types of transactions do not necessarily attract taxation to the people who are paying the money. The people who receive the money are taxed on it. If there is, for example, a capital gain, if you had bought shares in diamond fields at five dollars and you sold to Inco at forty dollars, for that you would be taxed. So, there is tax involved in the transaction.

In terms of what the hon. Member is speaking about, our royalties back to the Province, royalties are calculated, not on what someone pays to buy a mine but rather on the value of production from the mine itself. That is what we receive value on. That is based either on the value of the ore, based on its tonnage in some cases - it is a quantification of weight or alternately quantified in the percentage of royalty that is applied against the value that you get from selling it.

So in the case of Voisey's Bay, what would happen is: The government would have collected taxation from the people who sold their shares and made a profit on it, and then when the money goes in to develop the mine, we will then get a return from the value of the ore that is then mined, smelted, refined and eventually sold. We will also collect taxes back from people employed and so on. We will collect taxes back from any profits a company makes on it and so on. But you do not tax people who pay to buy shares. That is not normally the way it is done. You tax, in that case, on the people who actually made a capital gain. Although, in some case, the money that companies use is money that comes out of retained earnings on which taxes have already been paid.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

I understand the process whereby there will be taxes forthcoming as the project is developed - that is understandable - on the royalties, the material coming out of the ground and what have you. For example, if I go out tomorrow and buy 5,000 acres of land, I have to pay the HST on it. So, if a company like Inco is purchasing the rights to do that mining, and are after spending $600 million on it, why was it not possible to look at that upfront? I mean, these are two different issues we are talking about here. I understand the answer you gave, but I do not think it was to the question I asked.

MR. DICKS: Well, the hon. member is right. If Inco had gone out and bought the land, they probably would have paid tax on it, but if the hon. member went out tomorrow and bought the shares in a company that owned 5,000 acres of land, the hon. member would not pay the HST on the shares in the company. Because taxes apply to certain commodities, so nobody in the Province, nobody in the country, is taxed on the purchase of shares; but if you buy assets you are taxed on that, an incident of taxation.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister. I think that we could discuss this all day long, I suppose.

MR. DICKS: I should say to the hon. member, that is not to say that is fair or there are not alternate ways of doing it; but that is just the current system in place in the country.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is the very question I am asking you. I understand the situation today. So the question I am asking you, under the taxation or royalty regime that is being looked at, will this situation that I am discussing now, or putting forward, be considered - some changes or implementation of some other policy with respect to that in the future?

MR. DICKS: Yes, Mr. Chairman, the question of appropriate things to tax, or appropriate transactions, is always a matter for the House to determine if it has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the sale. The only thing you have to bear in mind is that in order to get development in any area you cannot tax substantially higher than any other jurisdiction because people who want to invest, companies that want to invest, will not channel their money into an area of high taxation if they have a similar alternative elsewhere. So when we bring forward a regime through the House, the hon. member may very well raise that question and maybe government may consider doing what he suggests.

The only thing I say to all hon. members is that the mining industry in particular is subject to very liquid cash flows. Money flows from Indonesia, to South Africa, to Canada, to Paraguay, to Uruguay, depending on where people can earn the highest return on their capital that they are spending and, secondly, they also have an eye to political stability. So you might not choose somewhere where you might get a big return because you may not be sure you will be owning the mine next year, because governments do silly things like take away mines from people who make investments. So you have to be very careful when you try to tax people who are prepared to put venture capital forward to develop resources of any sort.

The hon. member raises a fair question for public debate. The only thing I say to him is that in developing a regime we also have to ensure that it is a regime that is competitive so that we don't lose the overall advantage of having people use their money to develop our resources in the Province when they might choose to do so elsewhere.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

Section 2.6.01, Communications and Consultation, Salaries. Last year you had budgeted $286,600, you spend $323,700, and it is up to $346,100. Could you tell me the reasons why there is such a vast difference? What individuals or types of individuals would be in that position or positions?

MR. DICKS: These positions within Executive Council are communications positions and deal with responses or questions that we get from the public, questions such as the hon. member would ask for example.

The salary budget was increased $40,000. We had a WPEO position there. Now, will the hon. member forgive me if I don't know what a WPEO position is? What we have is an executive director, a director of public relations, director of information services, a departmental program coordinator, media monitor - that is a person who checks to see what is happening - clerk-typist, communications officer and word processing equipment operator. Those are the positions. The total of Salaries, including the pay period of $11,000, salary increase of $8,400, step progressions of $759, and overtime and assistance of $37,700, totals $346,000. Those are, for the most place, students who come in here and rotate in and out, I understand.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

Section 2.6.02, Internet Operations, that looks to be a new section this year.

MR. DICKS: I am sorry, 2.6.02?

MR. J. BYRNE: 2.6.02, Internet Operations. That is a new section and you have $76,000 budgeted there. Can you tell me what that specific operation is for? I know it says here, "Appropriations provide for the administration and coordination of Government's Internet service." It does not seem to be a lot of money because in every department - the Estimates Committee I was on - I looked at the money that was being spent on Information Technology. In some departments it varied from a couple of hundred thousand to maybe up to $1.5 million. This cannot be for the complete administration of that?

MR. DICKS: No, the hon. member is correct. This is not an IT position to help the departments with their budgets, or anything like this. This is solely to coordinate and administer the Internet activities of government departments. Various government departments have information available to the public via the Internet, for example. The hon. member may receive e-mail, for example. I get e-mail requests from the public looking for information of various sorts. We also have a government site, and from that site you can visit government departments, tourism and other areas off that.

What we are doing is hiring somebody to coordinate all that. For the reason, as the hon. member knows, as much as (inaudible) in Transportation and Communications, the fastest growing communication device in the world right now is the Internet. One of the most important things we can do over the next few years is develop a strong Internet presence, whether it be for people looking for pure financial information, information about government positions, for example, that we may be hiring, information on tourism and things of this sort. So we see its importance and we have hired someone to coordinate all the efforts of government to develop an appropriate Internet site.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you.

With respect to 2.7.01, Financial Administration, .02, Employee Benefits, it went from $1,000 up to $5,000 spent, and $10,000 this year. Why such a drastic difference there?

MR. DICKS: Mr. Chairman, the Employee Benefits categories are memberships, conference registration fees, and course requirements. These are courses that we send people on, and membership fees in organizations to which they belong. This is the Financial Administration arm of government. We try to keep our people up to date with current financial administration procedures, so we send them off periodically for training and things like this, to attend conferences with other financial administrators. Last year we spent $5,000. It was felt we would need $10,000 this year. That is the category, right?

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you.

Under 2.8.01, Public Service Reform, a completely new section there, with $485,400 to be voted. Could you explain the Salaries of $344,400: who they are for, how many employees, what have you? Just explain that whole section to me.

MR. DICKS: In reply to the hon. Opposition House Leader's questions earlier, I pointed out that government is carrying on a public service reform. These are the positions. We have a program coordinator; the salary is $86,000. That is the actual - Mr. Faour, former Clerk of the Council, who is on temporary assignment. These people are all on temporary assignment.

The purpose here is to try to make some changes in the public service. We have often heard that morale has been bad over the last couple of years. We have come through a difficult period. It is trying to improve our efficiency in the public service, trying to improve our morale, trying to create a better situation for people to work in, and ultimately improve the services we provide to the public.

We have an executive director in addition to a program coordinator, program development officer, personnel officer, communications officer, and a secretary to the ADM. The subtotal of those is $315,000. There is an extra pay period this year for $12,000, salary increase of $8,400, step progressions of $3,011, rounding for one dollar, and temporary assistance and overtime of $5,400, for a grand total of $344,400. This is the Public Service Reform initiative you have probably seen something about from time to time.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

You mentioned something when you answered the question with respect to the Public Service Reform with respect to improving morale within the public service. I brought that up probably four years ago in the House of Assembly, the morale within the civil service, and the impact all the lay-offs were having. It goes on and on. Can you give me some example of how you are improving the morale within the civil service within this vote?

MR. DICKS: No, Mr. Chairman, I cannot give it within this vote, but I give it to you overall in the Department of Finance. When you give people salary raises, they feel better going to work each day. I think the most important thing you can do to make employees to feel appreciated is the fact that you finally see your way clear, after many years of fiscal restraint, to tell them they have greater job security and to tell them that they are going to get a pay increase. So, I think that is the best thing that we can do for morale in a short term. In the longer term, I believe we can help people feel that their jobs are recognized. I believe one of the things that we do not do in the Public Service is recognize people who make exceptional efforts. So, things like this: I think that we can do a better job by communicating with our public employees, by telling them what is happening, and trying to do a better job of explaining government policy and what their role in it is.

There are many things that we can do improve morale. I thing that we have taken some fundamental steps in the last little while that show that we are turning the corner, and that we understand and appreciate the value of public servants to the Province and the services that they provide to people.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Minister.

With respect to the answer: You mentioned trying to give people security in their jobs. Does the minister really feel that the government is doing a good job here, because during the last election government promised that there would be no more lay-offs, then within a month or two after the election they were laying off 1,500 and 1,600 people. So have we seen, definitely seen, the last of the lay-offs within the Civil Service, and actually, will we start seeing people being hired back on?

I know people personally who work within the Civil Service who are overworked and understaffed. You talk about morale! I find that people are at the breaking point. They are getting to the point where they cannot take it any more. They have to go back and work overtime in the evenings, on the weekends, doing the work that probably two or three people were doing before. Are you being realistic in saying that morale in the civil service is better now, and you are actually doing something about it? Because I do have problems with that, to be honest with you?

MR. DICKS: Mr. Chairman, I agree with what the hon. member says, in large part. It is very hard to work meaningfully at your job with great dedication, if you are worrying about losing it. We did not say in the last election that there would be no more lay-offs. What we said was that we would restore a sense of permanency to the public service, and I believe that we are doing that.

The hon. member made a couple of other points, and it must be late in the day because I forget what they were. All I say to the hon. member is that -

MR. J. BYRNE: Anymore lay-offs coming.

MR. DICKS: No more lay-offs. What I say to him is, whether or not we start hiring people, that in effect is happening, Mr. Chairman, right now. For example, with the school boards, we are hiring more than 200 teachers this year. That is a first time in recent memory where we actually have added new people to the workforce.

The other phenomena that you have in government is that because of economic uncertainty outside government, fewer people leave the public service. There was a time when people worked for government for a period of time, then they would go out and move to the private sector. That has happened less frequently in recent years because there were not that many positions available. As a result of that and a consequence, we have had fewer hirings in the public service and our public service average age is rising. I expect that within the next four or five years, there will probably be substantial opportunity with the government as people who are now growing older and reaching retirement age come out and are replaced by younger, more vigorous people. Probably not the hon. member or myself.

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

It is 4:56 in the afternoon, maybe I should move that the Committee rise and report?

MR. DICKS: Agreed.

MR. J. BYRNE: Government House Leader?

I move that the Committee rise.

MR. TULK: Oh, you moved it? Go ahead.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again. Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

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

MR. TULK: I wonder if I could get the attention of the Opposition House Leader.

There is a motion to be debated tomorrow?

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it is the motion put forth there and notice given last Friday in the House by the Member for St. John's West.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House adjourn until tomorrow at two o'clock.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, May 13, at two o'clock in the afternoon.