The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before regular proceedings, I just want to rise and ask if the House would send a message of condolence to the Ridgeley family, the mother of the Member for St. John's West, and the grandmother of the Member for St. John's South, who passed away just recently, if the House could send condolences to the Ridgley family in that regard.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, we on this side would agree, and agree wholeheartedly, and we would like to second the thought put forward by the Opposition House Leader.


Statements by Ministers


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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday past, May 15, my federal counterpart announced the 1998 management plan for Northern shrimp. I am pleased to inform hon. members that for the second consecutive year, our inshore fishing sector is the major beneficiary of a significant quota increase.

The Northern shrimp fishery, because of a major increase in its biomass, presents one of the major fisheries development opportunities for our Province. For this reason, the Province has made the strongest of representations to the Government of Canada insisting that this Province be the principal beneficiary of any quota increases. I am glad to report that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has announced increases that have achieved our objective.

Last year, Mr. Speaker, due to the Northern shrimp quota increase, the inshore sector on the Northeast Coast of the Province was granted access to the lucrative stock for the first time ever, with a quota of about 10,000 tonnes. As a result, more than eighty vessels with total crews of 350 harvesters participated in this new fishery in 1997, and another 400 people were employed in the shrimp processing sector. Considering the fact that the inshore shrimp fishery did not start until July last year, this was a remarkable development.

This year, this Province will again receive approximately 90 per cent of the 23,100 tonne increase in the quota.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: And again, Mr. Speaker, the inshore sector will receive virtually all of the increase. In fishing area 6 off the Northeast Coast and Southern Labrador, the total allowable catch has been doubled for a total of 46,200 tonnes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Ninety per cent of the increased allocation will be available to owners of inshore vessels, and another 312 tonnes will be available to that sector in fishing area 4 in Northern Labrador waters.

In total, our inshore fleet now has access to approximately 33,000 tonnes of Northern shrimp, whereas two years ago this fishery did not exist in that sector.

Mr. Speaker, for the second consecutive year, this new inshore shrimp fishery will generate new employment and investment opportunities both at sea and on land. I anticipate that 1,000 fish harvesters will participate in this year's fishery, and approximately 1,000 or more will be employed in the processing of shrimp before year's end as new shrimp plants come on stream.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: I also note, Mr. Speaker, that the private sector's confidence in this fishery is demonstrated by the fact the processing sector has invested tens of millions of dollars into plant expansions or conversions to take advantage of the new opportunities that Northern shrimp is providing. These investments are taking place at such locations as Port au Choix, Anchor Point, St. Anthony, Port Union, St. Joseph's, Clarenville, Charlottetown in Labrador, Bay de Verde, Valleyfield and Old Perlican. Clearly, this will be of economic benefit in these rural areas.

I must also point out that in order to maximize the employment benefits from this new industry, I have made it a policy this year that all shrimp must be cooked and peeled before it is exported.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: All of the shrimp, Mr. Speaker, must be cooked and peeled in this Province before being exported. Some flexibility will be provided for the processing of whole cooked shrimp in a final product form as well. This, combined with the increased quota for the inshore, and the fact that an early price settlement for shrimp allows for a timely harvest, will also have the additional benefit of placing our industry on a stronger footing in the marketplace.

Mr. Speaker, this new inshore shrimp fishery is welcome news indeed for our fishery and our economy. It will have a landed value of approximately $50 million this year, and an export value of upwards of $100 million.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for a copy of his Ministerial Statement. It was delivered prior to the House opening.

Mr. Speaker, I find it passing strange that when questions are asked to the minister here regarding a federal matter, that he always shrugs his responsibility and says: I am sorry, but it is not my responsibility. But when it is good news, the minister will stand and accept responsibility. Mr. Speaker, the minister has taken a lesson from the book of the Premier, I say to people opposite: Delivering good news but failing to answer bad news.

This is positive news, I say to the minister, and the right people are benefitting from this particular fishery. The biomass of the Northern shrimp is increasing due to the decreasing of the biomass of Northern cod, and the people who should benefit the most from this new particular fishery is the inshore sector. I congratulate the minister for the effort he has put into this.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: It is a positive note for my district as well, where Fishery Products International is spending $11 million in the Town of Port Union refurbishing the giant FPI plant there in order to process Northern shrimp. A plant that was closed is now going to provide an opportunity for 150 plus people. That will generate new life into that particular area. This is a beginning.

I say to the minister, he almost contradicts himself here. He said, "I have made it a policy this year that all shrimp must be cooked and peeled..." In the next sentence he said: I am going to allow some flexibility.

I say to the minister: Do not allow too much flexibility. It is important that those jobs be maintained, and maintained where they are needed most, in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Does he have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for presenting me with a copy of his statement before the House opened.

I would echo the statement of the Official Opposition critic that this is indeed good news for the Province of Newfoundland, and it is nice to see that the minister's efforts in making representations to Ottawa were successful in this instance. It is very good news indeed that the inshore sector will benefit from the quota and the new investment that is going to be taking place.

I am also very supportive of the policy that the minister is announcing today, that all shrimp must be cooked and peeled before it is exported. This is amongst many other provincial preference policies, and policies that this Province needs in order to protect our jobs and employment. It is one thing that will be a constant theme in the coming months leading up to - later this year the MAI will be attempted to be passed once again. I think this type of provincial preference, like all sorts of other issues that are very important to the people of this Province, are threatened by the MAI; and we must be very vigilant about that. We will see whether the government is going to play a role in convincing Ottawa to not enter an MAI such as being proposed now in Paris.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I am please to announce plans -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Did you want to go by leave?

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

Does she have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise and certainly acknowledge the efforts the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has put into trying to secure these quotas for the inshore shrimp fishery in this Province.

I also want to commend the groups of fishermen in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador who, I know, over the last year have worked diligently to put their views to the minister in Ottawa and to outline a plan for this future fishery for themselves.

I would also say, Mr. Speaker, that we have to have some policy and legislation changes if fishermen who are onshore right now are going to be able to avail and partake in this industry. I would have to say that much work still has to be done in order to have their involvement and to make it viable. As you know, a lot of inshore fishermen cannot upgrade their licensing because policies do not allow it. I think that is where we have to make changes so that they can become involved.

I also want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I think the federal government should be investing more money in the processing of these new fisheries, so that communities, like Black Tickle in my district, that are adjacent to this resource, that do not have the capital and the infrastructure to be able -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS JONES: - to partake, are given the opportunity to do so.

Thank you.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to announce plans to undertake environmental and engineering studies during this year's field season in Labrador for the proposed Churchill River Power Projects. This work will provide a better understanding of technical issues leading up to the signing of a letter of intent with Hydro-Québec. It will also put the project in a good position to move forward on a timely basis during the next field season should an agreement be reached as planned later this year.

Last week the Premier, myself, and other government representatives participated in meetings with the Innu representatives. Mr. Speaker, I believe these discussions were positive and beneficial for both sides. I am pleased to report that the proposed field work has been discussed with Innu representatives in Labrador and they have agreed that it is necessary for certain baseline studies to begin this summer in Labrador. As a result of these discussions government has agreed, at the request of Innu representatives, to provide financial assistance valued at $150,000 to the Innu enabling them to participate in the environmental field work to be completed this summer. Both sides have also agreed during the meeting to a confidentiality agreement and to meet again later this month.

Mr. Speaker, Hatch Associates of St. John's has been selected to handle overall environmental management. This will include overseeing a variety of environmental field studies this year regarding archaeology, reservoir clearing, wildlife, fisheries and line routings, amongst others. Hatch Associates is a local company that will employ Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and the estimated value of this work is in the order of $250,000

AGRA Earth and Environmental Ltd. of St. John's has been selected to conduct a waterfowl study in the area of the proposed transmission routes on the Northern Peninsula and on the Churchill Valley up to Churchill Falls. The value of this work is approximately $115,000. Again, this company with offices in the Province will be employing local workers.

Mr. Speaker, the terms of reference for additional environmental studies will be developed and issued within the next two months.

With regard to engineering work, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has issued Requests for Proposals for final feasibility studies on both the proposed additions to the existing Churchill Falls development and the proposed Muskrat Falls project. This will involve geotechnical field survey work as well as additional engineering studies to complete full feasibility reports. It will include the preparation of cost estimates with an accuracy of plus or minus 10 per cent. A detailed construction schedule will also be developed for each of these developments.

As members are aware, the expansion to the current Upper Churchill development would include the construction of a new power house and the addition of two turbine generators, each with a nominal generating capacity of 500 Megawatts of power for a total of approximately 1,000 Megawatts. For the proposed Muskrat Falls development, the work would involve the study of the various alternatives for development of that site.

We should be in a position, Mr. Speaker, to announce the winners and to award the contracts for the further engineering work within the next three weeks.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

We certainly support the efforts by government and the Minister of Mines and Energy in the announcements today, because it is a first step of many steps that must be taken in the negotiation between Hydro-Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro before an agreement is finalized and reached between the two provinces. It is timely, more than timely I would think; the environmental assessments that are being done, the hiring of Hatch, the provision of monies to the Innu that would provide involvement to that community and to the people affected by that community as this project moves forward.

Also, the minister announced the engineering studies with respect to Muskrat Falls and the potential development of that specific site on the Lower Churchill. We support that. Obviously, this field season is important to get that work done because it would have an impact upon the negotiations that are occurring right now, I would think, and whether or not, at the end of the day, a positive settlement is reached between Hydro-Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro which will be beneficial for all people.

Mr. Speaker, we also look forward to when the minister stands or the Premier stands and announces that the feasibility studies that will be carried out with respect to the in-feed to the Island will be announced, and when that will take place. Obviously, government knows full well that the importance of an in-feed to the Island is a critical part of the successful conclusion of the Lower Churchill negotiations.

Mr. Speaker, let me finally say that any agreement that is in the best interest of the people of this Province, we will not stand in the way of it; we will support it, but we await the final details, the successful conclusion of negotiations between the Province of Quebec and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, before we take an opportunity to put our final stamp of approval on that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to hear that the very positive announcement made by the Premier just a little over a month or so ago is moving forward to the detailed study phase, which is very important to conclude.

I am also pleased, Mr. Speaker, to hear the Minister of Mines and Energy announce that there is a cooperative effort being undertaken with the Innu, instead of the kind of ultimatums that he was issuing the weekend before the announcement was made that this project and a few hundred people cannot stand in the way of what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador want. But it certainly appears that he has changed his tune a little bit and is operating a little bit more cooperatively with the Innu who, as we all know, have a very important stake in what happens in Labrador.

Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, these studies will be undertaken quickly and properly. I look forward also to the engineering studies being undertaken -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - particularly with respect to the power line to St. John's, which is a very important part of the overall proposal.

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, each year governments and stakeholders set aside a week to increase attention and awareness to the importance of health and safety in the workplace. I am pleased to announce, Mr. Speaker, that this week - May 18-24 - is North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. This is a joint effort of Canada, the United States and Mexico to simultaneously promote injury and illness prevention in the workplace and to recognize the efforts of those who have contributed to the improvement of health and safety in the workplace. The theme of North American Occupational Safety and Health Week this year is `Occupational Safety and Health, Partners Together in Safety'. In Canada, we are focusing attention on the prevention of illness and injury among young workers.

Mr. Speaker, to help raise awareness of occupational health and safety in our own Province, the Department of Environment and Labour, along with other stakeholders, have planned numerous activities. Throughout the week, the department is running advertisements in various provincial newspapers and on radio stations. As well, an information booth will be set up at the Village Mall on Thursday, May 21. Stakeholder groups, such as the Federation of Labour, the Employers' Council and the Federation of Municipalities, have sent mail-outs to their members informing them of the importance of occupational health and safety.

In addition to these activities, Mr. Speaker, there is another very important event which takes place at this time each year. I am referring to the presentation of the Occupational Health and Safety Leadership Recognition Awards.

The Leadership Recognition Awards program is an initiative of the Department of Environment and Labour. It is offered to all employers within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and its purpose is to recognize individuals and organizational efforts in the prevention of workplace accidents and injuries.

Last Wednesday, I had the honour of presenting the awards to the 1997 winners at a ceremony held at the Quidi Vidi - Rennies River Fluvarium here in St. John's. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to inform hon. members of this year's winners.

The first is the Award of Merit. This award is given to an employee or employees who, through alert and correct action, saved a person's life or prevented serious workplace injury. The award winners are Clarence O'Quinn, Don Skeard, Mike Hoots, Bob Manuel, Toby White and John Walsh of Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., Stephenville, who saw one of their workers crushed by a paper machine and were able to use pulleys and come-alongs to rescue him. Obviously he is alive and well thanks to the work of these people.

The second is the Volunteer Appreciation Award. This award is given to an individual who volunteered his or her time to provide health and safety training to promote an accident-free work environment. This year's winner is Bob Barry of TRA Grand Falls-Windsor Branch.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR LANGDON: The third award is for Outstanding Safety Committee. This award is given to the most proactive workplace health and safety committee that identifies concerns and implements recommendations, performs safety audits, and shows leadership. This year's award winner is the Occupational Health and Safety Committee of Labatt Breweries, Newfoundland. By the way, this is the second concurrent year they have won this particular award.

The fourth is the Health and Safety Program Award. This award is given to a company whose leadership and commitment has resulted in the implementation of an outstanding health and safety program. This year's award winner is TRA Grand Falls-Windsor Branch.

The fifth is the Minister's Award of Excellence. This award is given to a company that has demonstrated over time an improved safety record, enhanced product quality, improved training courses and overall company success. This year's award winner is McNamara Construction Company.

Finally, an award is available for innovative safety solutions. Unfortunately this year there were no nominations for this category.

I want once again to extend congratulations to the winners of the Occupational Health and Safety Leadership Recognition Awards for 1997. I applaud their tremendous efforts and dedication to improved health and safety in our workplaces. I want also to commend each of the individuals, groups and companies that were nominated this year. Certainly their efforts should not go unnoticed and I encourage them all to apply again next year.

Mr. Speaker, the theme of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week reflects the importance of partnerships. Each and every one of us has a part to play in occupational health and safety, as is evident from the Leadership Recognition Awards program. I encourage all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to reflect on what they can do to ensure illness and injury are prevented in the workplace.

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

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

Due to the absence of the critic for this particular department, I am pleased to rise and respond to the statement put forward by the minister. I, on behalf of our caucus, want to congratulate the winners of the 1997 Occupational Health and Safety Leadership Recognition Awards, and I want to applaud the companies, individuals and groups who were nominated.

I am also pleased to compliment the minister in his compliments on the prevention focus. As members know here, I have been an advocate of prevention strategies in health care, in educational services, and I am pleased to endorse and to compliment the minister for these initiatives.

I want to say to the minister, in his statement at the end of the paragraph, where he says, "In Canada, we are focusing attention on the prevention of illness and injury among young workers," I don't know why the word `young' is in there. Because it should be all workers, I would say to the minister, not necessarily young or old or any other group like that.

I also want to say to the minister that just recently, in doing some research on prevention, I came across the February-March 1998 edition of Canadian Health Care Manager. This particular publication is concentrating on these kinds of initiatives. I say to the minister, at any time in Canada, since this is a Canadian focus we are talking about, there is between 8 per cent and 12 per cent of the Canadian workforce off on disability. This translates into about 55 million hours which are paid for either by workers' compensation or a private insurance carrier. Of course, the cost ultimately is borne by the employers.

I would say to the minister that we also have research in this article which says that $4 are saved for every $1 spent on disability management. It gives recognition nationally to three or four companies, one of which has a Newfoundland connection. They mention here nationally the great work being done by Gibraltar Mines Ltd., by MacMillan Bloedel, by the (inaudible) Corporation. It mentions the work as well of Inco, what they have done to handle their disability management strategies. It is recognized here nationally.

I just wanted, if I could, to say to the minister some of the data on Inco, because it is very interesting. Inco has -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: If I could have leave just to finish up the comment on Inco.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

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

I just wanted to mention that Inco does have a disability management program. It has been in place since the late 1980s. In 1987 there were 75,734 days lost to disability in Inco's organization. In 1995 that was reduced to 11,345, and in 1987 there was $30 million spent on workers' compensation. That has been reduced to $19.5 million.

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the minister. I know his House Leader does not want to hear that, and he is trying to stop me from speaking -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: - but we also say to the minister, let us get on with statutory review and the legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Does he have leave?

By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join with the minister in recognizing Occupational Health and Safety Week in North America.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that in Canada we have about half of the population of the United Kingdom, yet we have three times as many fatalities on an annual basis. Seven hundred workers per year are killed in industrial accidents.

Mr. Speaker, in this Province alone, last weekend we had two fishermen die on the job, one of the most unsafe jobs in the country, Mr. Speaker. So the focus on Occupational Health and Safety, and the prevention of illness and injury in workers, is very, very, important and cannot be overestimated.

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the focus on young workers; there is good reason for that. The reason for that is that young workers quite often do not know what their rights are, and do not know that they have the right to refuse unsafe work. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, the proportion of accidents and injuries in younger workers is very, very, very high as a percentage of the overall workplace situation.

Mr. Speaker, they do not always have the kind of training that they need in order to operate safely; they do not know they have the right to refuse unsafe work; and quite often they are asked to do things they should not be asked to do, and are expected to do them because they have very low job security . So it is very important that workers understand their rights, and any effort by the ministry in promoting Occupational Health and Safety is to be commended and appreciated.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, in light of the closure of BPS Imaging Partnerships, I take this opportunity to apprise the House of pertinent information regarding the matter.

Mr. Speaker, this government has been working diligently, through our partnership with NewTel Enterprises, known as Network Newfoundland and Labrador, to attract call centre business to our Province. This type of activity, which is increasingly being utilized by the banking, insurance and other business sectors, is growing at a rate of 20 per cent each year.

The demand for this type of activity has created an extremely competitive environment. Therefore, governments that compete recognize that up-front financial incentives are a necessary part of the equation in a company's decision on where to locate.

Mr. Speaker, in the case of BPS, Network Newfoundland and Labrador was in negotiation with the owners for six months before they successfully landed the call centre, having competed against other jurisdictions offering incentive packages. Both public and private sector groups approved the BPS project, Mr. Speaker. The decision to provide a forgivable loan of $800,000 to cover start-up and equipment costs was made in light of the stiff competition we were facing. To put the type of capital costs associated with this type of business in perspective, Mr. Speaker, one piece of equipment alone, called a predictive dialler, can cost $800,000.

The $800,000 was tied to a commitment of 840,000 person hours of work over a four year period. For a period of time, Mr. Speaker, there were 210 people employed at the call centre, the majority of whom were previously unemployed. This was an investment in our people.

Mr. Speaker, BPS Imaging Partnerships consisted of two partners, both with impeccable credentials. One has been in the call centre business for ten years and was operating call centre businesses in Ontario and New Brunswick. The other has been in the film processing business for thirty years and has a strong relationship with the Bay.

There was nothing in the background checks, financial information, or business plan, that was required as part of the due diligence that we carried out, that indicated in any way that this venture would not be successful. In fact, everything pointed to a very successful business venture.

But businesses fail, Mr. Speaker. If governments did not try to attract business because of the risk of failure, we would never have achieved the other successes that we have. For example: the privatization of the Marystown Shipyard, where today there are 1,100 employees; the St. John's Dockyard with 200 employees; Newfoundland Farm Products with 300 employees. Widebody RV in Bishops Falls with thirty employees, and Lotek Marine Technologies with twenty-two employees, are just two more examples of successful businesses that we have attracted to the Province, and there are numerous others.

Mr. Speaker, we first became aware of difficulties with BPS Imaging in January, when we were advised that there was a significant loss of revenue triggered by the ice storms in Ontario and Quebec. It is common knowledge that the Canadian economy suffered overall during the ice storms. The Conference Board of Canada said that the storms will cost $1.6 billion in lost output. While this was one of the factors in the demise of the call centre, there were also differences of opinion between the partners which resulted in a dissolution of the partnership, with one of the partners remaining as the sole owner of the company. Anyone familiar with business knows that this happens, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I regret that this business has closed. More importantly, I regret how the centre closed, putting 124 employees out of work. I have assured the employees that I will do everything possible to make sure they get the money that is owed to them. I will continue to work with NewTel, through our partnership in Network Newfoundland and Labrador, to attract other call centres here that can provide employment for our people, especially those who worked at the BPS Call Centre.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what a change in seven months. Seven months ago, in August - October 27 and October 28, the Premier, standing in his place announcing the tremendous economic impacts of this call centre, predicting that it would have at least a $9 million spin-off for the economy over the next three to seven years.

Mr. Speaker, the minister's statement today amounts to nothing more than one big excuse for government's failure to provide security for its investment in any business opportunity for the people of the Province. I will not say much more than that, but I will have an opportunity during Question Period to question the minister with respect to what has taken place with this call centre.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By all means.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I see on the opposite side there is a very successful division of labour between the ministry. The Premier delivers the good news in the fall, but it is left to the minister to deliver the bad news in the spring when it all falls apart.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: A very sensible division of labour, I say to the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I am assuming that the $800 million is lost, although I know the minister herself was trying to put a spin on it the last couple of days that it was a contingent loan and, after all -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Eight hundred thousand, yes. That is all gone, and the minister was putting a spin on it that this was a very successful training program. Mr. Speaker, at a cost of $5,000 or $6,000 per job, I think there are cheaper ways to provide the kind of training that the people got.

If I were the minister, Mr. Speaker, I would not be praising the St. John's Dockyard as a success with 200 employees down from the 400 to 600 who working there when it was operated by Marine Atlantic, who still should be operating it today, or it should be operating on a better basis.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Oral Questions


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the minister's statement with BPS Imaging and the call centre, I would like to ask the minister this question.

She indicated in her statement that government provided an $800,000 forgivable loan. Was that all the money that government put into this call centre? If so, she can state it. If not, was there any more money, or in kind sort of support, given to this call centre?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the $800,000 was put in to cover capital and start-up costs, and that is customary when you are trying to attract this type of business across this Province. Look at any other province and they have done the very same thing. The federal government and NewTel, the private sector, Mr. Speaker, have also put money into this initiative. This was approved by both levels, federal and provincial governments, and by the private sector.

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

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

I will ask the question again to the minister: Did government put any more money, or in kind investment, into this company outside of the $800,000 she has just indicated in her Ministerial Statement?

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

MS FOOTE: The $800,000 was the extent of the money that was put into this company. The company did apply for EDGE status. There is no upfront money that comes with EDGE. If, in fact, the company meets the criteria under EDGE, then they are entitled to their rebate of the payroll deduction. That, in fact, did happen, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: The logical question, Mr. Speaker, is: How much was rebated to the company, as an EDGE company, with respect to under the payroll reduction? So there was an $800,000 forgivable loan. How much more was provided,in terms of the benefits of being an EDGE company,to this company?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly get the dollar value, but it was nowhere in that vicinity.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: In light of the public controversy, the minister has not even taken the time to understand what fully government - she is going to endeavour to get it for us. I respect that. When she has it, I hope that she can provide it to the House.

Let me ask her this question: What guarantees did government obtain from the company that the public investment put in was secure, and that the provincial Treasury would not be out, I would think, close to $800,000 to $1,000,000? What guarantees were provided to government?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, let me repeat: The $800,000 that was put up front was to cover the start up costs and the equipment costs, to do into the call centre business. This is not usual, Mr. Speaker.

Having said that, the $800,000 was tied to a commitment of 840 person hours of employment which would have translated to about 160 jobs a year over four years. That did not happen, Mr. Speaker. We know that and the hon. member knows that. But the $800,000 was tied to employment levels; it was a forgivable loan. If they had met that, then we would not have been able to go back to them for the remainder of the $800,000.

Mr. Speaker, there is a company there, we know they did not meet their commitments and we have told them that we expect them to live up to their commitment.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: They have just gone out of business and they expect them to live up to their commitments.

Let me ask the minister this question: Is government a secured creditor for the $800,000 forgivable loan?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, there were no secured creditors, either by the bank, by NewTel or by HRD. There were no secured creditors. The first call, once the assets are tallied, the first call on it will be Revenue Canada, the second will be the employees. It is the employees who are first and foremost in terms of our concerns with this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister and government do not invest their own personal money the way they have invested money in this situation.

We were told last August that this company had a licensed partnership with Hudson Bay Company Portrait Studios nationwide for the marketing of its photographic services. This partnership was used by government then, and by the Premier's announcement, as a selling point for the deal and the investment into it.

Let me ask the minister this question: What was the nature of this partnership? What was the nature of the guarantees that gave the government so much comfort that its investment was secure?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, as I stated in my Ministerial Statement earlier, the partners in this venture have incredible credentials. You have the call centre operator involved in this who has been in business for ten years, and when they came to the table, was doing call business activity in Ontario and in New Brunswick. You have the Balsamo family out of Ontario. It is a film processing company and has been in business for thirty years and has long standing relationship with the Bay. The Bay, Mr. Speaker, obviously had enough confidence in these two companies to give them the licence to do the portraits for the Bay right across this country. So clearly, everyone who came to the table had every confidence in this venture.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister alluded, in her Ministerial Statement, that there were some divisions between the partners. Can she confirm that late last March of 1997 the Vice-President for Hudson Bay Company came to the Province, told the employees that they were no longer an independent call centre and that they were now completely owned by the Hudson Bay Company? When she confirms that, if she can, did that have any impact upon this call centre closing down?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, in addition to the ice storm, which had a significant impact in terms of the loss of revenues, the other important thing to remember here is that as a result of that there were some differences of opinion between the two partners, which I mentioned earlier. That resulted in a dissolution of the partnership. That meant the sole owner was then the Balsamo family, the film processing company.

The film processing company, Mr. Speaker, had no experience in the call centre business. It was the other partner who, in fact, was used to running call centres. This left the Balsamos as the sole owner of the call centre.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, how did government disburse its money, the $800,000 forgivable loan? Was it all up front? Was it over stages, based upon the commitments made between the partners to the Province, that when they met certain targets that so much would be forwarded or did government provide the $800,000 lump sum, one cheque, up front to this company?

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

MS FOOTE: Let me state again, Mr. Speaker, that what we did was what is done for every call centre when they come looking for incentive packages. We were looking to attract that first national call centre. We wanted to prove that we could do this business and we can, Mr. Speaker, if you look at the quality of work that has been performed by the employees.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: There is nothing to stop us from attracting further call centres, Mr. Speaker. The $800,000 was given up front because it was part of the start up and equipment costs that had to be covered. As I mentioned in my statement, Mr. Speaker, one piece of equipment alone, the predicted dollar, can cost $800,000. That will give you some idea of the types of costs that these call centres incur when they are setting up. If there is one set up it is not an issue, Mr. Speaker.

Clearly you can see what the costs were. The $800,000 was up front and that is no different than what was done with the Air Canada Centre in Winnipeg or United Parcel Services in Moncton, New Brunswick or any other call centre that you want to go to. It is the same practice. It is the business. If hon. members do not understand the business of attracting call centres, that is their difficulty.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what I do understand is that when you are handing out close to $1 million of the people's money you do it with some security and some strings attached. That is what I understand, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: The government's rationale for the failure - the minister has mentioned it twice - is that the ice storm in Ontario and Quebec this winter killed the company. It seems pretty incredible. You used it as a reason, I say to the minister. If that was the case, was the company under-capitalized to such an extent that an event like this could have spelled doom for the company, or was the government concerned up front that the company was under-capitalized?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I say again, the impact of the ice storm was felt throughout this country. If you look at the impact on Canada's economy overall, you can see the impact it would have had on a company trying to do business.

People were going in to have their photographs taken. They were not going to go in during an ice storm. The employees were down there booking appointments for people to go in. These appointments never did materialize, Mr. Speaker.

Clearly, there was an issue here, but again I go back: I said that was one factor, Mr. Speaker, of a number. I think the most important one here is the dissolution of the partnership and what transpired after that.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that about 30 per cent of the company's market would be in Quebec and they were meeting about 26 per cent of that. That is my understanding, coming from comments made by the employees down there.

I would like to ask the minister this question: She has referred to the dissolution of the partnership, have any of the other partners, since dissolving from that company, come back to do business with government in any way, shape or form? If so, has government participated, financially or otherwise, with any of the partners to date?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, we have another call centre operating, the Cabot Call Centre, which is operating very successfully. One of the partners, in fact, is operating that call centre. I would hate to think that the member opposite will make any disparaging remarks about that particular call centre at a time when we know we can do the business, we are doing it well and we are hoping to attract others.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't need the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to put words in my mouth, because I certainly will not be making any disparaging remarks about a company that is doing business in this Province unless there is public money involved that isn't being accounted for or not being handled in the proper way.

I will ask the minister again: If one of these partners is doing business in the Province right now - and she has indicated another call centre - has government participated financially with Cabot Call Centres, I believe is the name she referred to? If they have, to what extent, financially, is government involved in this operation?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the same approach was taken with the Cabot Call Centre as was taken with BPS. It was brought here, again, with the endorsement of the private sector and both levels of government. Yes, the same approach was taken, and yes, the financial commitment up front equated to about $5,000 per job.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, a final question for the time being. The minister talks about this predictive dialler cost, anywhere upwards to about $800,000. My understanding is that for the company that just went under, the cost was $500,000, which was paid for by the Province. Where is this piece of equipment? The $800,000 loan that you gave, Minister, a forgivable loan, that was used to pay for some of the capital equipment up front. My understanding is that the piece of equipment she refers to cost $500,000. Did government not find it necessary, in view of the fact this was a major investment in a company, that should something happen they would have security, so that if this piece of equipment were sold at least some of the people's money could be recouped?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I talked about the cost of setting up a call centre. I talked about the cost of equipment and start-up costs. I mentioned, as an example, what it would cost for a machine like a predictive dialler, which is, by the way, still on the premises at the call centre.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I understand too that the federal government participated through Human Resources Development. To that extent, can she inform the House if any of the wages of the people who were hired by this call centre were subsidized, and to what extent they were subsidized by the federal Department of Human Resource Development?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, we are going to do everything we can to make sure those employees get the wages that are coming to them. Through the transitional jobs fund, HRD did in fact help to subsidize the salaries for those employees. That is the purpose of the TJF fund. It is to provide people with an opportunity to train, to find employment, particularly in areas where they were having difficulty finding employment. That is the purpose of the TJF fund. This fund was put to a good purpose at this call centre.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Would the minister inform the House when he expects the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to announce the groundfish opening for cod in area 3PS?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, during last week's meeting with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and all ministers across Canada, I questioned the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on what time he was going to make the announcement, because a lot of the people, the harvesters and the industry, are quite anxious to know when it is going to be made. He would have had it made, but he was reviewing some scientific information he needed to take another look at. He said, give him a week to two weeks and he would be making that announcement. That was last Wednesday, so I would assume some time within the next seven to ten days.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister if he is aware that there have already been two fisheries closed in that particular area, namely the skate fishery and the monk fishery, because of the high catch of cod. I ask the minister if he has made the federal minister aware of that situation, whereby fishers in this Province have been geared up, spent their money to take part in those fisheries, but because of the high by-catch of cod have been unable to carry out their fishery in area 3PS, and when those people can expect to go back fishing again?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, one of the bright looks in the groundfish industry is in the 3PS area. It is not new news today that there is quite a substantial amount of cod in that area. Yes, the hon. member is quite right, there have been a couple of fisheries close because of the large amounts of by-catch of cod.

The problem the federal minister is having is that scientists gave him some more information. We don't want to jump too quickly and open a fishery without reviewing all of the information. I think that is the reason why we are in the position we are in today; we acted too hastily, too quickly because of pressure from industry. The information that was coming forth was not reviewed to everybody's satisfaction, the decision was made too quickly, and as a result we had a total collapse of the groundfish industry in Newfoundland. Six years later, we are still wondering if there is going to be a fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador in the near future.

I would expect that after next week, when the federal minister announces the 3Ps fishery this year, that all of those fisheries will resume, because one of the things we are all advocating is that it will not be a direct cod fishery by the larger boats, but whatever cod is allocated to the larger boats would be used for a by-catch to harvest other species that they normally would not harvest or would not be able to harvest. As you said, it is closed now because of the large by-catch of cod. So, probably in a week to ten days.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, as you know, there were many problems experienced in the 3Ps cod fishery last year. This year, the FRCC has suggested a quota of double the amount taken last year. I think there was 10,000 metric tons allocated last year, and this year FRCC is suggesting 20,000 metric tons.

I would like to ask the minister: What rules and regulations will he be suggesting to the federal minister to make sure that the same mistakes are not repeated, as happened in this particular area, as was put forward last year? I ask the minister, what his own department is doing to make sure that every pound of fish that is caught in area 3Ps is processed in a timely manner?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, when the 3Ps cod fishery opened in 1997, we all would have thought that, after a closure of almost six years, we would have learned something from our past. I do not think I ever saw, in my years living in Newfoundland and in the fishing industry, a fishery persecuted so badly as it was last year.

We participated in meetings all of this year, not with the federal minister but with the industry, with harvesters, with fishermen's committees, with the processing industry, with the unions, with the local office, DFO, and I have said very clearly, as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for this Province: If the mistakes of 1997 are repeated in 1998, I cannot stop the harvesting but I will stop every fish plant in Newfoundland from buying groundfish if it is harvested in the manner in which it was harvested last year.

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

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

My questions are to the Minister of Education.

Last week, in the House, he indicated that School District No. 2 might be considered as a pilot project in terms of teacher allocation and school board funding. I was wondering if the minister might want to give some details on what he means by the term, pilot initiative or pilot project, and how this particular designation of pilot will help to solve the teacher allocation problem in School District No. 2?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I did not want to add any particular detail to that discussion at this time, Mr. Speaker, because there are some discussions going on between parent groups in the different communities on the Northern Peninsula, in particular in the Southern Straits of Labrador and the school board. There will be a follow-up discussion with the Department of Education after they have made their final decisions with respect to organizing the school system for the year beginning September of 1998. I think any speculative comment at this point in time, as to what the government may be looking at in future years, would probably not be helpful at all in terms of issues that are being dealt with in the short-term with respect to District 2 and other districts in the Province.

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

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

Mr. Minister, this particular school district closed eight schools last year and they are closing another three this year. Eighty per cent of the schools have two grades in one class, three grades in another class or four grades, et cetera, et cetera. Mr. Speaker, there are no programs in art education. One school has music offered to its students.

I want to say to the minister: Is the minister today saying that he is prepared to initiate a program-based curriculum for School District No. 2? Is that the thrust of the initiative to which he has committed himself in consultation with the school board?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We will have a discussion, not only with District 2, Mr. Speaker, but with all of the school boards in the Province, through the Newfoundland and Labrador School Board Association, as well as with the teachers of the Province through the NLTA, commencing some time after school opens next year, as to what the future may or may not bring with respect to teacher allocations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Any speculative comment at this point in time would not be particularly productive. I certainly would not want to raise expectations or hopes in any region of the Province, particularly on the Northern Peninsula and the Southern Straits of Labrador, that may not be able to be attained or deliverable by this government, by previous administrations who spent a period of seventeen years responsible for delivering educational opportunities. In fact, Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the hon. member might lead people to believe with this line of questioning, the programming offered in rural communities, in small schools in Newfoundland and Labrador, is better today than it was fifteen years ago.

Mr. Speaker, it is not responsible for anyone to suggest - because we found no way to do it anywhere in Canada, anywhere in North America, anywhere in the Western civilized world, where any government has had enough resources to try and make a blanket statement suggesting that a student in a small rural isolated area with a school population of K to XII, less than 100, should expect the same program options that are available in Mount Pearl, St. John's, Gander, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver. It is not realistic. The programs are better now than they were a decade ago, and we are going to work with the school boards without causing any undue expectation to see that we do what is in the best interest of the students at the appropriate time.

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

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

Mr. Minister, last year responsibility for delivery of distance education was transferred to the school boards. For the most part this has been a very positive initiative, but at Garrigus Collegiate, for example, a teacher was taken out of his math class to teach math 2201. Now, it so happens that his own students are taking distance education ten feet away from the teacher, separated by a wall.

I ask the minister: Is that a reasonable approach for distance education? Why would you not at least let that teacher teach his students separately, and do distance education at some other time? Will you give that kind of new allocation to the school board in District No. 2?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure the hon. member, if he wanted to pick any one particular example, can try to portray it as being less than the ideal circumstance in any one given instance. The fact of the matter is that because of the fact that a teacher in a particular school on the Northern Peninsula is made available to offer distance education, it means that not only the students in that school get access to that programming, but students in twenty or thirty schools, not only in that district but in all regions of the Province, get access to a program they otherwise might not be able to avail of during their high school years.

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that on balance, if you ask those students, if you ask that teacher, and if you ask that school board, if they would rather see twenty, thirty or forty schools with 200, 300, or 400 students have access to a program, rather than see that teacher teach two or three people in the same building and no one else have access to the program, they would all vote to have it delivered the way it is today.

Not only that, the hon. member I am sure is not suggesting that the Minister of Education makes those kinds of administrative arrangement details in the school system. It is done in conjunction with department officials, the school board, school based administration, and they make decisions that are in the best interest of the majority of students; because that is the only thing they are concerned about in this whole system.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Health and Community Services. Early intervention is an important part of dealing with developmental and other concerns among young children. There is a serious lack of resources to deal with preschool children who need assistance. The failure to provide those resources is costing our system more in the long run. We are being penny wise and pound foolish, I say to the minister.

There are 17,000 preschool children on the Avalon Peninsula, and the Janeway receives 300 referrals a year for speech pathology. All of these, I might say to the minister, are intensive cases that need special particular corrective action. With only five speech pathologists -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I see we have a new Speaker here.

These five speech pathologists cannot come close to doing the job, I say to the minister, and the service is spread so thin it is not dealing with the problem effectively. I just ask the minister: Is she aware of those specific concerns with speech pathologists? And what plans does she have to provide corrective action to this problem?

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

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

I stand proudly today in the House to hear the Health critic finally speak to the benefit of prevention and early intervention. That is why today I am going to reiterate some of the initiatives that we announced in this year's Budget, based with a picture - and I will show it, Mr. Speaker - of children's faces on the cover; for the first time ever identifying programs and services for early childhood intervention, for preventative services, a child services act looking at children under the ages of two being cared for in their home, providing the types of supports and intervention that children need. Because we believe, on this side of the House, that we must for the future, and certainly beginning right now, begin putting real money into the whole system of programs that focus on prevention and early intervention.

We have, through our National Child Benefit programs, Mr. Speaker, allocated funding to put towards a number of issues. It is important to note that, as was referenced in a previous report just a few days ago by the member, in fact, it takes a village to raise a child. We are working very closely with our communities, with our community health, and also with our own department, to focus on early intervention and prevention, particularly as it relates to children, because that has been our priority and that is why we focused on this initiative in our Budget.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No wonder she would talk about everything other than the question I asked, because they have done absolutely nothing on this issue, I say, absolutely nothing!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: There is not $1 in the budget to deal with this problem at the Janeway. Someone from my district went away, outside the country, for $80,000 tuition for two years, to correct a problem in a young child that could have been addressed and saved this system a lot of dollars in the long run.

I say to the minister, there is a six-month waiting list just to get an initial assessment in this particular area, not even considering the period of therapy.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: In light of the fact that if you refer a two-year-old child, you will get an assessment and you will get just minimal intervention, I say to the minister - the child is almost four. In many cases the window of opportunity is closed.

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 - and we are talking about speech pathology, I say to the minister - does the minister feel the waiting list is too long? And I ask her: Has her department done an analysis of what the long-term costs really are by trying to be penny wise and pound foolish?

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 will say again - I do not think the member listened - when you have allocated $10 million focused on prevention and early intervention, come-on -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I would say to the member that we are focused on children and early intervention, and he would know that every available speech pathologist that we have been able to hire has been hired. In addition to that, we have also put back in place a bursary program for other allied health professionals that are required in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

So, while he might not want to hear it and listen to it, we have allocated money, specific monies, for the first time ever. It is hard to accept, I know, but that is the truth and that is the reality.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: And we look forward to implementing more preventive programs.

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


Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees


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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a report of the mineral licences and mining leases issued for the period April 1, 1997, to March 31 of this year.

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the annual report of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities on the operations carried out under the Automobile Insurance Act, 1990.


Notices of Motion


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

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, I will on tomorrow ask leave to present the following resolution:

WHEREAS the development of youth internship programs provincially have allowed high school students direct linkages to the workplace, providing important practical skills; and

WHEREAS these programs have enhanced educational partnerships with employers, schools and provincial friendship boards to the benefit of our youth, they have demonstrated useful linkages from schools to work, improving the future employability of our students; and

WHEREAS industrial opportunities, especially in our resource sector, will create many new employment opportunities for young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House support initiatives by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that Human Resource Development Canada continue its strong, meaningful, financial support for these very worthwhile programs.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Orders of the Day


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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 2. I would move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole.

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


Committee of the Whole


CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please!

Order No. 2, the Estimates.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

I refer the Minister of Finance to page 27 of the Estimates. If we could, we would like to continue on where we left off the other day when I was asking a few questions there. I want to refer particularly to Section 3.1.01, under the title: President of Treasury Board. I note, in the Estimates under Salaries, that the salaries went up from $123,500 to $135,000.

MR. DICKS: What number?

MR. H. HODDER: Number 3.1.01, page 27.

I was wondering, Mr. Chairman, if the minister might be able to give us some reason for the increase and why, in the next number, subsection .03, there would be a decrease in Transportation and Communications?

MR. DICKS: Yes, I believe the hon. member is referring to 3.1.01?


MR. DICKS: The salaries, I think, were pretty much on budget. Last year we had budgeted $125,700 and we spent $123,500. The base budget remains the same. The only difference this year - the base budget is the same as last year, I believe, $116,000; but on top of that, of course, we had the extra pay period of $4,467. There are salary increases of $3,300, which is the 2 per cent roughly; step progression of $1,133; temporary assistance and overtime of $2; and this contains my car allowance of $8,000 as well, for a total of $135,000. All of those things add up. I think that is pretty much the (inaudible) for each minister's office.

Transportation and Communications, these are the telephone costs, including fax machines and cellular phones. It also covers the cost of the travel of any Member of the House of Assembly to represent or accompany at official functions. That is a total of $24,800; last year it was $40,500.

As I mentioned earlier, last year was a particularly active year with the Churchill Falls stuff, the Innu land claims, things of that nature. In addition to that, I had a couple of matters that were specifically assigned to Treasury Board, if the hon. member will recall. One was Marble Mountain and the other was Newfoundland Farm Products. We have been working closely with both groups to - in the case of Marble Mountain, just to make sure that it is remaining relatively viable considering it is the third bad winter season we have had. The other is Newfoundland Farm Products, and we have been doing a lot back and forth with the Corner Brook plant and the members representing that group to see about finding another alternate use for that plant.

The hon. Member for - it used to be called Mt. Scio - Bell Island. I think it is now -

AN HON. MEMBER: Conception Bay East & Bell Island.

MR. DICKS: Conception Bay East & Bell Island, yes. He has been doing a lot of work with me and has been travelling back and forth (inaudible). That is the reason it is at that figure.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Yes, that is (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: The cheaper the price, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Not a nickel, I am afraid.

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

Just to repeat, under Transportation and Communications, that would account for the $13,500 that was spent more than what was allocated last year.


MR. H. HODDER: Given the fact that this year the same circumstances apply - in other words, the assumption is that the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island will still need to accompany the minister so he can keep things in order and make sure that everything is ready for the minister, and his briefcase is in the right place and all that kind of thing. Mr. Chairman, do we understand that the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island will not be as busy this year - in fact not even as busy as he was anticipated to be last year - because it is lower than the estimate for last year? Or are we not going to be paying the same kind of monitoring to the businesses and the Crown corporations that the minister noted a few moments ago?

MR. DICKS: Yes, Mr. Chairman, we hope to be less busy with these activities. The Farm Products matter has moved along. We hope to be able to reach a decision on that in the next several months.

I would say that these Estimates are a matter of art and design. The department puts in a figure. Sometimes they increase it; sometimes they leave it as it is. I suppose it would have been easy to budget $35,000 and come in under, but we try to live within our budget as much as possible. Sometimes some of those things are unforeseen.

As an overall matter, I hope I will travel a lot less this year. The Innu land claims have been pretty much resolved. Bar none foreseen, you wonder how much Churchill Falls itself may take up. The travel expenses are estimates that are sought at the beginning of the year based on the usual amount of travel, and I hope this year will be at the ordinary rather than the extraordinary end of the spectrum.

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

I would like to move on to 3.1.02, Executive Support. I note that last year the budgeted amount was $323,300; but, in fact, $477,500 was expended, for nearly a 30 per cent increase over the estimate for last year. Given that the minister would have known beforehand the general outline of what the expenditures might be, and recognizing what he just said, that a budget is a guiding document, not necessarily a precise document, because things do happen and adjustments have to be made - that is recognized in all budgetary processing - I wonder if the minister could tell us what happened to drive that number from $323,300 for salaries up to $477,500 last year?

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I do not have all of last year's salary details, but I can point to two additional salaries that were put in the department this year.

One was Mr. Sid Blundon, who was with another department of government. He was assigned to Treasury Board to assist with the privatisation of Newfoundland Farm Products. He is now down there pretty well permanently to act as government's liaison. As members are aware, government has a very substantial financial exposure. It was felt that during the time period that would be needed to do the transition to a privately owned corporation, Mr. Blundon would serve in that capacity. That happened during the year, and there was a salary allotment of $86,000 there.

In addition to that, because of the collective bargaining requirements that we had - and we had pretty extensive negotiations last year - and knowing that Mr. Smart would be moving on to other things, he was my ADM and is now in Forest Resources and Agrifoods as the DM, we brought in Mr. David Gale as the executive director to assist with us so that he would, I don't know if you would say learn the ropes. Mr. Gale had a fairly substantial experience and background. I believe he was with the Libraries Board. We brought him in as well. That was a portion of the salary there. It was about $32,000. I believe that accounts for the majority of it.

I am at a little bit of a disadvantage, because while I have the details for this year, I don't have the comparison for last year to say what the increase was. I know Mr. Blundon was added and I know that Mr. Dave Gale was as well, part way through the year, and I expect that accounts for the difference. Other than that, the staff is pretty much the same. The base budget in the system is around $350,000 for the secretary of Treasury Board, the comptroller general, assistant secretary, who would be my ADM, and then the three secretarial staff.

So, other than the two additional employees who were seconded, really, during the year, one for the privatisation of Newfoundland Farm Products, the other because of collective bargaining, there would have been no other difference in our budget year over year.

MR. H. HODDER: I wanted to then go to the Estimates for 1998-1999. We have $408,500. If we have had the transfer of employees from one department to another, and then they have been replaced, why then would the budget for last year be $323,300? Yes, it did jump to $477,500. When employees moved, why would we not be back to $323,300 or thereabouts?

MR. DICKS: I can account for some of the differences. If you look at the projected revised it was $477,500. What we did was Mr. Blundon is now no longer an advisor to Treasury Board. He is with IPL, and I think his salary is being paid out of there. So that our salary figure is adjusted downward by $86,000. Maybe the simplest thing to do is for me just to run through what the current year's estimates are, because it went up to $477,500 and is now down to $408,500.

If you take our salary base at $351,000 for three executives, that is a secretary to Treasury Board, comptroller general, and assistant secretary. Of course, secretary to Treasury Board is the equivalent of a DM position, and is in fact a DM position. We have an extra pay period this year for all those salaries of $13,517, salary increases of $10,000 - that is the 2 per cent that each will get - step progressions of $790, rounding to twenty-four dollars. The $86,000 is added in and then taken back out. Mr. Blundon's salary is out, and Mr. Dave Gale is $32,000. That is from now until August. That figure may change somewhat because Mr. Smart will leave and Mr. Dave Gale will assume his position.

If you add up all those figures onto the $351,000, adjust back out for the $86,000, it will bring the salary this year down to $408,500. Let me just do a quick addition here. Twenty-three thousand dollars is made up of the pay period and the salary increases, about another $1,000 there for step progression, which brings you up to about $24,500, and then Mr. Gale's position is about another almost $33,000. The big difference last year was Mr. Blundon who came over on our salary for a while moved on to IPL and it was adjusted back down afterwards.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I was not quite sure, from the initial explanation, as to where these gentlemen were starting with the department and when they were leaving, but it is quite understandable what is happening there. There is still a substantive amount of overlap in terms of the budgetary time, the positions that they are occupying and when they are going to be moving to other positions.

Mr. Chairman, I want to move to - in the same category - item No. .05, which is Professional Services. We have $180,000 allocated there. Nothing was spent last year. I guess the two questions would be: Why did we not spend anything last year and why would we find it necessary to put $180,000 back in this year? What explanation can the minister give us for that?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The $180,000 is a figure that was put in there as consultation fees for privatization. As the hon. member knows, the policy of government is to privatize, not so much government services as government enterprises. We did it last year with Newfoundland Farm Products. It is a continuing effort of government to place in the private sector activities that have been carried on by the government which really are private sector businesses. The Marystown Shipyard falls in that category as well.

I am not a great fan of consulting services. I find a lot of times you can pay too much for very little. By and large, most departments have the expertise to conduct these matters internally and often find that the advice we get internally is better than what we get externally.

Having said that, we did put in a figure in the event we needed to move ahead with any privatization and if we needed any particular form of outside advice to assist us. There are no particular ones on the horizon but we thought that, given the nature and the breath of government, all those things fall to Treasury Board in the final analysis for review. That figure was put in in the event that other departments identify areas of privatization that they wish to proceed with and should it also be necessary for us to engage a consultant.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

Of course, the $180,000, if one does not spend it, then one is 18 per cent along the way to finding money to balance next year's Budget, I say to the minister. So it is better than putting it in certain cushions here I am sure. It makes it easier to complete the process next year.

Mr. Chairman, on the Professional Services, I wanted to ask the minister what the policy of government is relative to the advice they would get going to the outside, admitting that last year they did not, and what the policy is relative to how it determines the selection process for selecting outside consultants like that. Is that done exclusively by the minister in consultation, or is there a public proposal process that one would go through for consultations, that he has already admitted he is sceptical of but wishes he would not have to do them this year like he did not have to do them last year.

If you have to use this money, how will the general public, the citizens out there, be able to find out that there is a public consultation process that might be followed? How would they know about it? How would the minister determine the expenditure of that money?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I don't know if the member drew the wrong conclusion from what I said. It was not a public consultation process. What government does is it will go out and hire, for example, a management firm or an outside group, basically a professional group, to give advice as to how to manage the privatization, the figure to ask, how to draw up a draft proposal for privatization and so on. It was not in the nature of a public consultation on the whole issue of privatization. That is something that if we determine it, where appropriate we would, of course, do it.

What I say to the hon. member is, it is a matter of discretion for the departments concerned and for central government through Treasury Board, to determine whether or not a department should engage a consultant. For example, we did this last year, as I mentioned, in the Finance Estimates for specific advice on mining tax legislation. The reason we did that was, we had no in-house expertise on that and we sought the advice of two consultants who were both operating at the university level and who had very in-depth knowledge of mining taxation systems in place like Australia and South Africa, to help us develop models that we could follow.

When it comes to privatization, I know in the past government has hired management consulting firms. I could name them but the hon. member would know the sorts who are generally associated with accounting firms. I do not see anything and, as I say, I am a little sceptical because often I find that there is a tendency to run off and engage in external consulting when we have internal expertise available. So having said that, if the hon. member asks about the process, it is usually left to the departments if they want to engage a consultant, to come to government and suggest a process to follow, and that is often by inviting proposals. As the hon. member knows, the expertise to do certain things is rather confined, so what departments will often do is go to a number of known groups with the expertise and ask them to invite and submit proposals.

Today, for example, the hon. Minister of Mines and Energy announced the engagement by Newfoundland Hydro of a list of consultants, to whom it was giving work, to come back and report to Hydro on the feasibility of doing Muskrat Falls and so on, like that. That was cleared by a Cabinet committee.

It is a little bit different in Works, Services and Transportation where we have a list of engineering firms, for example. What the department does, it rotates among the qualified engineering firms in the Province, the engineering and architectural work on major design projects, be it highways or buildings, hospitals and so forth. So depending on the department, you would have to look at whether or not it is in the ordinary course; and generally speaking, in the ordinary course of things, there is a list of consulting firms such as engineers.

The Department of Justice, in recent years, has tendered for legal services and if a particular issue arose where you needed a consultant and there was a limited number of people, you would not go to public tender. You would do a proposal call and they would indicate to the department what services they would offer and at what price.

So that is a general outline as to normal governmental process we followed.

MR. H. HODDER: As a follow-up question, which is not directly related to the topic here - I have long held the view that many things that go out for proposal calls could indeed be tendered. For example: When I was the Mayor of Mount Pearl I went to public tender for financing of major capital projects, and found that it was quite a sensible thing to do and would highly recommend it to any municipality or to government. I know government goes to tender for certain financial services.

I want to get the minister's comments. He kind of indicates that he would probably rather go to a public tendering process if that were feasible at all. I come from a background of saying: If you can do it by public tender, then that is the route to go. I am wondering if the minister has done any examination, within the purview of his department and throughout the government, to increase the amount of work that is called by public tender as opposed to just seeking the consultant process approach?

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The tendering policy of government does not fall within Treasury Board, it falls within the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. Most of what government would procure through the tender process are goods more so than services.

What I would say about the public tender process is that, often you find with consultants, there is a narrow range of expertise. If you were to choose some topics, for example, hydrology surveys, there is probably a limited number of groups that have that expertise.


MR. DICKS: Exactly. It is a little bit different than supplying banking services, for example. Where one knows that there is an ability in the private sector generally to provide goods or services, we would generally tender for those. That is part of the reason we tender for legal services, for example.

If you look at an area such as engineering the same is true. Banking services, we in the Department of Finance do call for tenders for banking. In an area, however, where you would be looking for a group to provide you with a $150-million syndicated loan for the government - this year we may borrow as much as $400 million, $500 million or $600 million. What you do in a case like that is you go to a syndicate composed of all the major brokerage firms, because no one of those brokerage firms would be able to place all that money at a given time, and you agree on a fixed fee. It's standard in the industry, for example, to charge about a seventh of a per cent, or seven-tenths of a per cent. In some areas there is a standard fee.

By tendering for it, you don't get any greater value, and you have to be concerned about the ability to comply with the requirement that government has. One thing the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador would not want to do is to try to place an issue of $150 million and find there were not enough takers. In areas of finance in particular you have to be very careful, because it's not only a matter of tendering, as to who can place the money, but also where we can get it at the best rate.

For example, if we are refinancing an issue, as we did - last year we had two Swiss issues that came due. One we did in Switzerland, because at the time the exchange rate and the interest rate were low by comparison with what we would have to pay in Canada. When we assessed the one later in the fall we found that it was cheaper to borrow in Canada over the long term, by the best judgment we could make. Very often some things really don't lend themselves to tendering. Standard banking services do. Matters of higher finance are subject to finer analyses, and you generally engage the majority of the group in the investment community to place those for you.

As regards a general program of tendering for government services, that is within my friend's department, in Works, Services and Transportation. We have a public tender act to follow, which gets criticized at times, but we certainly do comply with the letter of it in engaging contracts with the public for goods and services.

MR. H. HODDER: If we could move on to the next section, which is 3.1.03, it is called Budgeting and Human Resources. It deals with the appropriation provided "for the preparation and monitoring of the Provincial budget, collective bargaining, classification and organization and management reviews, insurance services and the formulation of financial, human resources and administrative policy within Government."

Mr. Chairman, that is going to cost $1,616,200 this year. It seems like there are going to be a lot of consultations on budget coming up this year, because we only spent $1,589,500 last year.

I'm wondering if the minister can tell us why there has been a sizeable increase; not a great big increase. What is he going to be doing with all the extra money for those Budget - what is it called, preparation and monitoring of the provincial Budget? Who does that preparation and monitoring, and why would that cost us $1.6 million?

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) all these people over the next three years. The Premier said -

MR. H. HODDER: There is a three-year budget done.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Premier said, in one sentence, 7 per cent over three years. What are they going to do with all these people over the next three years?

MR. DICKS: As the hon. Member for Ferryland knows, one can set objectives, but realizing them is a different matter. What all these people do, Mr. Chairman, is they help us establish a budget, but more importantly they help us keep on target.

We monitor departments on a monthly basis, we monitor our revenues on a monthly basis, and we have individuals who work closely with the departments, to put it kindly, to ensure that our budgetary objectives are met, insomuch as we are able to achieve that fine end.

The other thing that members are aware of, as well, is that in the ordinary course of things government and Treasury Board have rules that they apply. These individuals work with the departments to ensure that those are complied with as well. So, we have a substantial group.

We also have insurance services. Hon. members opposite, I'm sure, being healthy people may not be aware of this, but we have a lot of services that we provide and monitor. We have group insurance, life insurance, dental insurance and so on, and we have a fairly substantial group of people who receive and monitor the claims and work with Blue Cross. As members know, we have held those premiums, and in fact have reduced them over the last number of years; and that is challenging.

We also have a group in there, organization and management, which are subject to constant complaints and submissions by many of our employees that their jobs are underrated compared with others. We have a group that works very diligently to ensure that our compensation systems are appropriate, and that complaints of our personnel are handled in a reasonable way.

It is a fairly substantial group but, I submit to hon. members, a necessary group to achieve, on the one hand, budgetary compliance and secondly, administrative and employee fairness across the 35,000-plus people who work for government. It is a fairly modest allocation.

I notice the hon. Member for Bonavista finds himself in total agreement with me as always.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I want to ask the minister if he could give us a breakdown of the cost of the consultation process that he has gone through in the last several years, of the visitation that has gone from community to community? It generally occurs in January and February, in preparation for the Budget. It usually comes down some time around the first to the middle of March, thereabouts, but this year a little later than that.

Mr. Chairman, I wonder if you could give me a breakdown as to the cost that would be involved in that kind of preparation of the budgetary process and perhaps indicate, as well, if there is any increase in that budgetary allocation for next year?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Mr. Chairman, those figures would be in the Department of Finance, not in Treasury Board because that would come under their vote. It is hard to segregate it, because I don't believe we had a special allocation last year for the Budget hearings. When I say last year I don't mean this February because some officials of the Department of Finance travelled with me so that would be out of the regular travel. My travel came out of my travel vote and so on. The other costs would have been some printing and so on like that.

So we have been very conscience of the costs and this year we changed the Budget consultation process for several reasons. One was that we had a three-year budget plan. The second one was that there were places we could not reach because we visited nine sites. Now nine sites is challenging in the months of February and March in Newfoundland, and to go beyond that - we had many demands and it was rather difficult.

So what we did this year was we decided to emulate the Angel Gabriel, with whom my learned colleague is more than passing familiar, I am told. Rather than have a series of visitations we had one visitation in the nature of an AV session. We had in the morning a video link up with about seven or eight communities around the Island and Labrador. Then in the afternoon session we had another ten or dozen. So in the whole day we took into account a dialogue with about eighteen communities around the Island. It was good because what we did this year that was not the case last year was - let me put it in context.

Last year people would come in and present to myself and some local members in some cases and we would listen, not comment and bring those thoughts back to Cabinet. This year what we did was engage in a dialogue with the various communities. We allowed people to put forward views and had other people comment on them. So it was more in the nature of a dialogue as opposed to a presentation. That was constructive and much less costly. The AV time, I would suspect, was not all that costly. It was probably in the range of several thousand dollars compared with several tens of thousand of dollars to travel and so on.

I would say that the process this year was very instructive. It is always helpful to engage the public. If any of my colleagues were to engage in any consultations I would suggest that that methodology is one that is helpful because not only do people have an opportunity to present, they also have an opportunity to dialogue and to discourse with each other. That, as we know, is perhaps more fundamental and educational than a lecture as often is the case with presentations.

Thank you.

I may have to step out for a minute but my learned colleague, the hon. House Leader, could carry on.

MR. TULK: Okay, sure.

What I will do is take some questions.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, noting that the Minister of Finance has to step out, and for the benefit of the Government House Leader, we were discussing page 27 of the Budget document. It is under 3.1.03, under Budgeting and Human Resources. I was going to ask a question there relative to subsection .05 which talks about Professional Services.

Last year it was budgeted for $50,400, of which $25,000 was used. Why would we increase the Budget by 100 per cent, beyond what was actually used last year. If we got through last year on $25,000, why would we want to increase it this year? There must be some logic to that. If not, we should have left it at $25,000. That was the actual that was used last year.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I would think - if you look at the, it says Professional Services - it is used to cover the government's share of the cost of negotiations, conciliation interests and rights arbitration board meetings.

MR. SULLIVAN: There were no negotiations, boy.

MR. TULK: Here we go. You cannot give answers. The hon. gentleman is right beside himself today over there. I do not know what the problem is.

I would think that those numbers are pretty flexible. Depending on what happens in a given year, you might spend all of your budgetary amount or you might not. I would say to the hon. gentleman, I guess it is put in there, more or less, to say that there is enough to cover it, and if it is not used it is probably transferred to some section of the Budget to be used somewhere else. I would think it is more a safeguard than anything else.

MR. H. HODDER: Of course, it could be another $25,000 added on to $180,000 (inaudible) category. That makes $205,000 of the several millions of dollars needed next year to be able to balance the Budget.

Mr. Chairman, why don't you look as well at the fact that last year Purchased Services was budgeted at $92,700. It actually resulted in the expenditure of $100,800. It is down this year to $82,900. I was wondering if the minister might be able to tell us why it went up by 10 per cent last year and, compared to last year, why it is down by 20 per cent this year?

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I will take this under advisement for the hon. member. Again I understand this is the cost of printing the annual Budget, advertising tenders, government insurance, meeting rooms rentals and all related expenses associated with the pre-budget consultations, negotiations, conciliation and arbitrary board hearings.

If I could, one of the things that the hon. gentleman might keep in mind here, is that in the pre-budget consultations this year there was a different format used. I do not know if it is the case or not, but it could very well be one of the factors that is being considered here. There was a pre-budget consultation that was done by audio-visual from somewhere around the Province using the communications network that we have in place in the Province. It is my understanding, to be frank with you, that we have found that process to be a great deal cheaper than it would be if you had to take two weeks and travel all over the Province with the necessary staff and so on.

So maybe that is the reason why it is built in there, but the hon. gentleman, I am sure, will supply an answer when he comes back.

MR. H. HODDER: I think last year you had hook-ups to eighteen different communities.

MR. TULK: Yes. I am not sure if it was eighteen or twenty-one, but it was a fair number of communities and it was all done within one afternoon. I think the cost, if I wrote it correctly - I remember the Minister of Finance made a comment on it, and don't hold me to this - was somewhere around $10,000. I can assure you that was probably a lot cheaper than having people travel around this Province for two weeks.

MR. H. HODDER: I would tend to agree and it also might have had a greater impact in terms of the immediacy of the commentary.

MR. TULK: As a matter of fact, most people who were involved with the whole process found it to be very worthwhile, from the feedback that we have received. Not only could they communicate with government but they were also communicating with each other.

MR. H. HODDER: If I could, since the minister raised the issue here: Did you have a breakdown? I have seen the communities listed somewhere in the information that does come out to all hon. members. Is there any intention this year to further expand that, to be able to have more communities, to be able to participate from their own local communities in the formulation of the Budget process?

MR. TULK: As you say, it was basically more or less an experiment this year, to see if it would work. I think the results - the Minister of Finance might want to contradict me - from what I have heard, it was very successful, and I have no doubt that he will certainly be considering bringing in other communities, because you can do almost as many communities as you want to within an afternoon or a couple of days? I have no doubt that he would want to expand that as far as it is possible to do. I think this kind of meeting, this kind of consultation process, is going to increase rather dramatically in government in the coming years anyway, because the cost of travel, the cost of hotel rooms, and all that kind of stuff, is far more costly and far more inefficient than the type of pre-Budget consultations that the Minister of Finance undertook this year.

The question from the hon. gentleman was: Are you considering increasing the number of communities that you will look into in your new method of pre-Budget consultations? I told him that I think you might.

MR. DICKS: Yes, Mr. Chairman, we considered that. I should say that one of the differences is that there is a limited number of communities that you can hook up by video, but the number of audio hook-ups is much greater. What I hope next year is to be able to have a greater number of communities where you can have video back and forth. This year what we did in the afternoon session was, we used the audio and had the video on our side imputed into the government web site, and that worked very well. It is a good illustration of what one can do creatively with modern technology.

The difficulty one has is in terms of the number of places, how many you can productively do. To do eighteen in the run of a day is a fairly substantial number. So it is always a question of measuring productivity and people's desire to have input against the futility of doing it in a certain fashion. But we review it each year. This was a different way of doing it this year, and I thought it was very successful. We may look to expand that next year, yes.

MR. H. HODDER: These Budget consultations were also on the regular Internet.


MR. H. HODDER: What was the response through the Internet, not through your video? There was also a possibility of responding by way of e-mail. What was the general response by e-mail consultation?

MR. DICKS: We had a fair number of inputs via e-mail and via fax. People are using those technologies much more. I am surprised this year. I think we had - I do not know if it was 160-odd, either e-mails or faxes. I could get the hon. member the breakdown. I just do not have it with me.

It is, I think, sufficient to say that people are much more aware, I am sure, as he is, if he is on the Internet; you are starting to get a lot more e-mails to your office, and people looking for information and so on. That was true this year. I know the number of e-mails this year, I believe, was up substantially over last year.

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, and that is a positive thing.

MR. DICKS: Oh, absolutely.

MR. H. HODDER: Many of the schools, of course, are hooked up through Distance Education and other methodology. Have they been accessed as well for the budgetary consultations? In other words, these communities where Distance Education would be located, they could be hooked into the provincial network fairly quickly. Have you considered using that particular methodology? I say that because these are all in the small rural communities, and we talk about rural Newfoundland. I was wondering if you considered making that methodology available to those small rural communities?

The possibility is there for use, it is owned by the public, and possibly letting ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in rural communities, who might not otherwise have access or input, participate in the preparation of the Budget.

MR. DICKS: That is precisely what happened this year. We had people in Springdale and Port aux Basques, for example, and even Stephenville - which is not a rural community - who did take advantage of it. Several of the sites were at the government facilities as well, at the hospitals or at the community colleges. So it is a good method to tie people into it.

With regard to the schools themselves - I am thinking of the elementary and primary and pre-secondary high schools - the difficulty you find is that in order to involve a lot of people in the community who want to be involved, a lot of times they are working during the week so it is inconvenient to schedule it during school hours. So you tend to find that Saturday, for this type of thing, would be the day where you would get the best selection of people who could be available. Now, having said that, there would be nothing to prevent high school students or those people taking part; but it is in the nature of things that an evening session or a weekend session works better in terms of getting greater involvement of the greatest number of people.

MR. H. HODDER: Of course, from my perspective I have always advocated for community use of schools.

MR. DICKS: True.

MR. H. HODDER: If they are there on Saturdays and Sundays, they should be used.

MR. DICKS: Probably the must underutilized asset in the Province, aside from some of our roadways.

MR. H. HODDER: Yes. The building doesn't cease to exist after 3:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m., or on Friday evening. We should be using those facilities for more public purposes than we do.

MR. DICKS: True.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to go back to one other comment on this section, and that is the Purchased Services. I was asking this while the hon. minister was unavailable. I am wondering why it was at $92,000 last year, it went to $100,000, and now it is back to $82,000. The hon. Government House Leader did share some information, but in order to avoid, shall we say, repeating the thing, because he did indicate he was taking copious notes and he was going to bring back the information later on, I am wondering if the minister would permit me to ask for his comment on that so we could finish up this section?

MR. DICKS: Is this 3.1.03, or .04?

MR. H. HODDER: This is, Purchased Services.

MR. DICKS: What we had last year in this category is, this includes the cost of printing the Budget, advertising tenders for government insurance, meeting room rentals, and related expenses associated with pre-Budget consultations, negotiations, conciliation and arbitration board hearings. That is a figure that includes a variety and host of things.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman.

I believe now that the hon. Member for St. John's East has a battery of questions that he has been anxious to ask, and just cannot wait -

MR. DICKS: Which are eagerly anticipated as well.

MR. H. HODDER: Being the critic, he has advised me that now is the time for me to let him get those questions on before we run out of time.

CHAIR (Penney): The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Chairman, I will just continue on from where the Member for Waterford Valley left off. We are on page 28 of the Estimates, dealing with Strategic and Human Resource Policy. We see that: "Appropriations provide for the human resource management function within Executive Council, Department of Finance and Public Service Commission; and the development of service quality initiatives, government-wide training and development initiatives and strategic human resource plans."

Mr. Minister, maybe before we get into some detail with respect to the actual figures, I wonder: Could you be of some assistance in enlarging on exactly what is meant by `the development of service quality initiatives' as it relates to strategic and human resource policy.

MR. DICKS: There is a belief in government that we can always do things better. The emphasis on service quality is something that has fairly broad currency across the private sector as well as governments. The idea is to try to inculcate in our employees the idea that we can do things better, and that we have an obligation to do it as well as we can for the public we serve. I guess it is trying to determine ways that we can better serve the public. We have a group of people dedicated to that initiative to make people aware of, and to think about, what it is they are doing in their daily jobs and to find ways to achieve results that the public would want.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Are there people specifically dedicated to service quality initiatives? I mean, people hired within the department or within Treasury Board whose specific job description is to deal with service quality initiatives?

MR. DICKS: Yes, that is the case. I am just looking for the salary details here. That was the function, originally, of the Public Service Commission. What happened as a consequence of some of the changes that were made were these positions were put out into the departments. It was felt that rather than have it all centralized at the Public Service Commission, it would be best done in the departments where you had people who were more intimate with the department, who knew the workings of the department, and rather than just generalize theoretically about how to better deliver programs, to actually have that done at the departmental level. For example, in our department we have three positions right now for people as staff training and development officers. We also have a career development officer and a clerk in that particular area.

I suspect if you go back - and I am just dealing with strategic, or rather with the service quality - If you go into each department I think you will find people specifically devoted to personnel training. This would be, to some extent, fairly central for us because we also administer, for example, the larger number of programs across government, and I am thinking particularly of programs to integrate disabled people into our workforce. We have a program that we call `The Opening Doors', but also within departments we are helping them coordinate the training of staff as well. That would be the component that we would have, and that is approximately five people in the department. I am sorry, there is another WPEO as well.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So, do these people work in concert with, you know, individuals in other departments on a day-to-day basis, or are they primarily there to advise and work with Treasury Board or other offices within the Department of Finance?

MR. DICKS: Well, we do both to an extent. We have our own people but Treasury Board is one of the central organizations of government, so a large part of what we do is to develop policies that are consistent across government. For instance, Classification and Pay would be there as well. I suspect that these people do both.

We have been attempting over the last year or so, after program review, to devolve to the departments a lot of the decision-making that used to reside in Treasury Board, and we are taking on a monitoring function. What we are trying to do right now is coordinate with the departments, plans for skills enhancement if you will, further education and so on. The departments are primarily responsible but we would try to coordinate that across government. So these people would work with our own employees but also with the departments themselves to develop training programs.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So, is it fair to say they are relatively new positions?

MR. DICKS: Now, that is a good question. I frankly do not know if these are totally new positions or if these people might have held them elsewhere and then been put in our department after we devolved some of the responsibilities from the Pubic Service Commission. If you like, I could probably get a clear breakout as to - my notes only would have this year's Budget details. I would not have it from two or three years ago, to say whether or not the people I mentioned have always been there. I cannot say because some of these - we have been in transition over the last year or so with program review, so I would just have to double check on that.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Before we leave that, I wonder: Is the minister familiar specifically with the types of service quality initiatives? Are there those that stand out in the minister's mind that were dealt with specifically, say within the last fiscal twelve-month period? Are there particular initiatives, contracts, programs, that were in fact the mainstay, I guess, of those individuals whose job it is and whose mandate it is to develop these service quality initiatives?

MR. DICKS: We have been doing a number or broad-based things. We first of all had public service reform that we have been carrying out, which is a broad initiative across government. The other thing that we do is: we have in-staff training sessions; we have our own meetings; we also send our staff off on training seminars, such as in finance. We would send people off to - I specifically asked that we identify people who go on a course on derivatives that was in Montreal, so we are fairly active in promoting it.

I guess I am a little suspicious of great, broad-based things, and we are going to change the world with this new initiative we have. I think there is danger in us all of `sloganeering'. You know, you have gurus of management theory, you could come along now with - and it seems that each book season there is a new one that becomes evident as being the prevailing one, so we emulate the Japanese until we find that their economy is in tatters for reasons that were not apparent, so then we run off to the newest management guru who will find some new theory that we should all espouse.

I'm a little suspicious of all that, but at a basic level we try to instill in people a sense that the job you do is important, is a job that you should do well, and you try to find encouragement. What I would like to develop over the next year or so, if we can, is a way of rewarding people for jobs well done. What we are lacking in the public service, in my view, is some sort of incentive system. It could be cash or it could be some other sort of awards system. One thing we don't do very well, if at all, is to recognize exceptional performance.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: You mean within the public service?

MR. DICKS: Within the public service. I think we promote people that we deem to have done a very good job, but there are other people who probably won't be promoted or who don't get promoted, for whatever reason, who deserve equal recognition. If there is a service quality that we can improve, or help instill in people a sense of quality, it is to recognize exceptional achievement. We don't have any kind of system that does it in a -

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Didn't the Public Service Commission have some program in place whereby public service was recognized on a regular basis? If so, did it terminate, I guess, when the role of the Public Service Commission appears to have been downgraded to some extent?

MR. DICKS: I don't think there was a program that would satisfy most of the concerns we would have. You know, we get our twenty-year pins and your twenty-five-year certificates and things like this, but there is no incentive based system in the public service to compensate people for new ideas, for handling a budget, arriving on target, or bettering it. We are trying to move to a system of business plans for departments whereby they set out what their initiatives will be for the year, how they will achieve them, and how they manage to stay on target and so on.

It's a fairly complex thing because government is a large organization. We employ over 35,000 people. If there is an initiative we have to try to do something with, I believe it is to try to find ways to recognize exceptional service, so that people will feel an incentive there to do well.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Would these people who work within the service quality initiatives be people with an economic background?

MR. DICKS: Within my department?

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I'm speaking again specifically of the service quality initiatives, those individuals who are employed specifically in that branch of the department. Would these be people specifically with an economic background or -

MR. DICKS: No, it has more to do with human relations than it does with fiscal awareness or implementation.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Transportation and Communications, under section You mentioned there were some travel implications with respect to Strategic and Human Resource Policy. I don't know if you are in a position to elaborate on that, but we see an expenditure in the 1998/99 Estimates, proposed, of $28,200. Is that reflecting the point you raised earlier?

MR. DICKS: Yes. Part of what we do is to allow people to travel to worthwhile conferences and so on. That is where that would come. If you look at the category before that, .02, this would be the area where you would have membership and conference registration fees. We encourage our people to be active in their professional associations, if it's appropriate. It also includes funding for payments to Workers' Compensation on behalf of injured employees as well. That is unusual, because we don't have that in other government departments.

It is the travel, it is the membership and conference fees, which doesn't amount to a lot of money. In this case it is high because it includes our Workers' Compensation. We encourage people to take advantage of seminars, ones that are educational and can help them improve their skills.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Under Professional Services, again under the same heading, we see a figure budgeted and revised, again in the 1998/99 Estimates, identical to the other figure of $12,700. I wonder if you could give some indication as to the nature of these services, and to whom they are provided, and they are provided by whom.

MR. DICKS: This is a vote for the hiring of consultants to come in to deliver specialized training courses. It could be in any number of things across government. It could be occupational health, I suppose, although that is one we generally coordinate through the workers' compensation group. It could be in human relations, it could be in financial management; a host of things. It could be in health policy, for example, things like this.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So again, this is an expenditure for anywhere in government, not necessarily directly for the benefit of those individuals within Strategic and Human Resource Policy?

MR. DICKS: Yes, exactly.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I notice in Revenues; we have a Federal Revenue of $4,300. Again, that figure appears to be constant with the figure both budgeted and revised for '97 and '98.

MR. DICKS: Yes, the next two categories, .01 and .02, what we do is - the federal government participates with us from time to time on courses that we sponsor. So we would charge them a fee for service. The $58,000 figure there, as well; we charge back to departments an amount to defray the cost of covering these as well. What we have done over the last couple of years is changed some areas within government so that where one department of government provides services to another, we do a charge-back just to make the department more accountable. It is very easy to make demands and use services, but if you are not conscience of the cost then you make excessive demands. So what we try to do is fine tune it. We have done this in some cases with use of (inaudible) space.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So that is interdepartmental revenue, is it?

MR. DICKS: Yes, that's right.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Okay, let's move to the -

MR. DICKS: As you can see, it is not the full cost of running it. We will probably charge back, and I am not being comprehensive here, some proportionate share of the - we would probably charge a fee per participant to defray some of the actual out-of-pocket expenses. For instance, the external consultant and so on, some of a travel costs and what not. The $58,000 that we receive is well below the approximate $500,000 we have from year to year in training costs, but it is a way of ensuring that people are aware that it is the cost and that when they do it they do take full advantage but not undue advantage.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Do you see this particular office within the department as a growing office in terms of training programs and - as the word is used there in the heading; a Strategic and Human Resource Policy. Is this an area of government where you see some growth in its inter-relationship with other departments or is it an area where we have reached, perhaps, the maximum?

MR. DICKS: Well, I am suspicious of anything that grows unduly. I would say it is a worthwhile item for us on an annual basis but I would not want to see it double or triple. I mean if there is a worthwhile training program, well and good, but too often these can easily become ways of avoiding doing the service that we are paid for each day. I don't think this will grow unduly. I think we are very conscience of it. The departments themselves have training sessions. This is an intergovernmental type of training. It is for, I suppose, instigation or instilling of various management skills and specialized skills. I think we are doing it within a reasonably adequate - I don't question so much the intent and nature of the courses as other initiatives that we might have that really would not result in a lot of expenditure.

If we were to instill an award system, for example - aside from whatever monetary aspect you might have, you would not need to engage a lot of different people to do that. What we are doing, to the extent we are doing something extraordinary with the three-year budget plan and the public service reform, we are budgeting for that separately. This is our sort of ongoing training program, but I don't see this growing to any extraordinary extent.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The next section, Accounting and Systems, under heading 3.1.05.

I am going to just jump down the page there for a moment and then go back over some of the other headings. The one that really stands out in my mind is under Information Technology, where we have estimated for 1998/99 over $7 million. Again, similar figures to the revised Budget of last year and the original budgeted figure. However, in almost each department we see separate costs and separate expenditure under Information Technology. As you go through the Estimates, regardless of the department, regardless of the committee in which the various hearings are being held, there is always a figure which stands out, namely Information Technology. Of course, this one is no exception, where we see in excess of $7 million on Information Technology under the heading of Accounting and Systems.

So my question is: Why is it necessary that there be this kind of cost to the public treasury when, in fact, we see each separate department, in and of itself, having a significant cost being dedicated to Information Technology.

MR. DICKS: We are trying to control the cost of IT in government by co-ordinating it. Part of it is cost, part of it is just the nature of IT systems. What you do not want departments to do is to go out and contract for a system which is incompatible with existing government systems. To the maximum extent possible, we have tried to co-ordinate the IT function in Treasury Board. What we do, however, is, where we, for example, would approve say $1 million dollars in social services or the Department of Health and Community Services for a new system, we would put that money in their budgets but it would be subject to our control, because we have a person in charge of IT for the whole of government.

What you also see here is a fairly large vote, because the Budget mechanism requires an awful lot of money to control - and we are also dealing with the Year 2000 problem, so we have a fair expenditure in there on that as well.

What I would say is, if there is an area of government that will probably grow over the next several years, it will probably be this more so than any other category. It is just that the manner in which we conduct business becomes increasingly technological and the expenditures, just to keep current with the latest programs, the latest hardware, is considerable. What happens, of course, is that new and better programs come out but you need new and better computers with more power to run the program themselves.

I don't know if it was planned obsolescence or just improvements in technology, but the cost is extraordinary. Having said that, you do need to keep current because information in an enterprise as complex as government is vital.

We spent - I am just making a rough estimate - between $17 million to $20 million per year, on average, on Information Technology. So it is necessary for us to have a fairly substantial staff just to monitor our programs. As you know, it is very easy to push the wrong button and the screen goes all kinds of funny colours and someone comes in and fixes it for you until the next time you do it, if you are a novice like myself. So we find it is an area where we need an increasing number of people with fairly substantial skills to assist us.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I notice in the Introduction to Accounting and Systems, the very last sentence: "Included as block funding for information technology initiatives".

Again, in view of your answer, are you saying that this is really restricted to this division within the department, and any funding which is attributed, say to the Department of Education or the Department of Health and Community Services, with respect to information technology, is above and beyond this figure?

MR. DICKS: No. What we would do is, where we have made decisions on IT programs for particular departments, we put it in their budget. As well, there are some ongoing programs where we have been doing things. We know that this year we will need to purchase this equipment or we have committed to buying certain programs and maintaining them in government departments. We would do that.

Above and beyond that, though, we have allocated this $7 million roughly for new IT initiatives, but departments would have to come in and compete and tell us: Look, we would like to do this, and we would say: Well, that is a very good idea but we would rather you did that, or perhaps you should only do this amount of it now, or we would like to change it because we are going with this system rather than that.

To start with, it is very hard to get people with these skills in this market. I mean, the demand for people with IT skills is incredible. People are getting offered very great amounts of money. It is hard to keep them in Canada, let alone in Newfoundland and Labrador. So we believe we can best provide the service necessary throughout government by co-ordinating that function. If we left it to each department to go out and try to recruit people who could make these judgements and who would be knowledgeable above the current IT systems and stay current with it, we just would not be able to satisfy the demands in fifteen or so government departments.

So this is an area where it makes sense to centralize so that you can have a corp of people who - you know, we develop a critical mass of people with the necessary skills to provide that service throughout government. Just given the nature of the demands for these sorts of people, it would be virtually impossible for each department to maintain a separate and adequate IT service. It has working fairly well for us.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I am sorry, what was that?

MR. DICKS: It has worked fairly well for us by doing that in this fashion.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The control and reporting of public money. Obviously, any project or any advance of funds on behalf of the public, there would be the control and reporting and record keeping which is presumably an integral part of the accounting and systems branch of the Executive Council.

I am just wondering, in terms of the kinds of issues that were raised today in Question Period with respect to the call centre, control and reporting of public money, when we have x number of hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds being advanced for private purposes, presumably for public benefit, a strict accounting and a strict record keeping ought to be made available and one would think, Mr. Minister, is accessible in this particular branch of government. Therefore, if details with respect to financing arrangements and control of public funds, if that information were to be requested, not only by politicians on a day-to-day basis but by the public at large, how accessible would that information be in terms of the description which is being given, namely control and reporting of public money?

MR. DICKS: All of the money spent by government is subject to audit. You have recognized a couple of different things. One is that the discretion is vested in the departments as to how to best use the money. We ensure that it is spent in the way it is allocated; or, if it is not, it has to be subject to approval.

An audit only ensures that the money is spent as it is allocated. It does not necessarily ensure that every decision was the wisest or best decision, because those are discretionary and you cannot make every decision for every group within government.

What we do is, we ensure that: Yes, if it was $10, it was spent where it was supposed to be spent. If we allot, say, $100,000 for travel, you cannot go out and buy furniture with that, or vice versa. What departments can do is, if part way through the year they find they need money for some other category of expense, they would come to us and we would say: Yes, we believe it is proper and appropriate that you can transfer funds unto this category, say, allotted for furniture, and use it to buy new computer equipment, for example. That is not by any means exhaustive. We monitor it and we consider budgetary requests during the year, but by and large we defer to departments when they say: Look, we believe this is the best usage for the money.

On issues of a higher nature, or of a higher political sensitivity, as the hon. member has indicated, by and large the departments, when they make these decisions about what and how to use this sort of money, that is not subject to our scrutiny. I am not necessarily a part of that decision making, nor are my people. If the department in its wisdom decides this is as good venture for the Province and has money allocated for that purpose, they make that decision.

As the hon. member knows, government lends out and re-lends each year millions of dollars based on reflows of money back to the Treasury, out to different groups. The department has for many years carried on business supports, for example, where we lend money on a ongoing basis. We would audit to make sure the money loaned was loaned to businesses and did not go for some other purposes. But whether or not it should have gone to business A or B is a discretionary decision for which the department is accountable, not Treasury Board. We are accountable for the fact that if it was loaned to business it does not end up buying cars for government, for example.

That is the nature in which we perform audits. One might see a different system, but there is a manner in which government has to operate and you cannot have a central agency make all the decisions for a government department. Otherwise you would not need a government department. You may as well just have a Treasury Board to run government. It is not necessarily the worst idea either, mind you.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: But under Freedom of Information requests, for example, of a particular expenditure within a particular department, would that information be collected from, or at least confirmed, with all proper checks and balances with respect to the information which is being provided? Would that be coming through the offices, presumably of the Comptroller General, or the control or reporting aspects of the accounting division of government?

MR. DICKS: No. My recollection of the Freedom of Information Act is that the request has to be made of the minister who supplies the information. We would not audit Freedom of Information requests to ensure that the minister properly replied. But the nature of the Freedom of Information request is that it normally goes - I think it has to be addressed to the minister or the deputy minister, and the information is procured and provided directly by the official concerned in the department. If we were requested to, we would provide the information if it were within our control.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: As the hon. member knows, the process is there. I forget exactly what it is. I know there is an appeal to a court and there is a protection for Cabinet information, but in the general run of things most information requests go to the department and they provide it directly.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: And you are saying not necessarily being confirmed by this particular office, provided by the department, by the minister, it is signed off presumably by the minister -


MR. OTTENHEIMER: - based just on information contained within his or her own department?

MR. DICKS: Yes, but that information would be as accurate or more accurate than we would have. Every nickel the department spends does not come through us. The department has a budget, it spends the money. So for us to get the information we would have to go to the department in many cases to get that level of detail that is often requested. So it is more expeditious to go to the department itself.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: What is the basis for provincial revenues of almost $1.5 million?

MR. DICKS: Now this is under which category?

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Under 3.1.05, Accounting and Systems; 02 states: Revenue - Provincial, $1,450,000.

MR. DICKS: Yes, those are charge-backs to the departments, I believe. I am just looking for the actual detail on it. That is the $1,450,000 you are referring to?


MR. DICKS: What we do is, we recover from the pooled pension fund the salaries and IT expenditures to run the services there.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So these are monies that are received on an annual basis?

MR. DICKS: Yes, they would pay us the actual cost of running the IT, and the salaries for people to determine the pensions and make the payments to payroll and so on like that.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So is this a contractual relationship?

MR. DICKS: It would be. The only reason I am hesitating is that I don't know that we have a formal contract per se but it is a contractual arrangement. Of course, as you know, contracts need not be in writing.

What we do is charge back to the pension fund the cost of running the pension fund. Otherwise the pension fund - you could set it up independently. The pension fund could go out and hire its own employees to issue the cheques and so on like that, but that would not be the most cost-effective way of doing it. So what we do is, we have a group of people in government who manage the pension fund. We also have a committee that monitors that. It is made up of employee representatives as well as government representatives. We select and review the people who invest the money for us. We then run computer systems to issue the cheques monthly, and we also have programs to monitor the performance of our investors for us. We also have a sinking fund of $1 billion. We have people who are continually seeking to invest monies as they come due, to match them with pensions that become payable at some given point in time.

So it is a fairly complex undertaking. We manage an awful lot of money. What we do as well, because it is a cost to government, we have a reasonable charge-back to the pension fund for providing those services.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The next section, 3.1.06 under Opening Doors, this is a program that the Treasury Board presumably has been actively involved with for years, dealing primarily with the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Agreement.

We had some discussion, Minister, a little while ago with an individual in your office, you may recall, just a few weeks ago. I think there was some suggestion made by yourself that there may be some avenue available to this particular person under the Opening Doors program. I think there was going to be some inquiry made on his behalf.

I am wondering, from your perspective, how you see this program doing generally? Is it meeting the expectations of the department and is it - again, I will ask a similar question to what I asked earlier - is it a program which can grow, in your opinion, or are there certain limitations to it?

MR. DICKS: We very much would like to see it expand. The Opening Doors Program gives individuals who are disabled an opportunity to work in departments. Frankly it operates outside the Public Service Commission Act, because the problem that you have is that departments are obligated to hire the person who is ranked best able to do the job.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have disabilities that prevent them from being ranked at the highest level. So, in competition they would lose out because their disability effects their ability to perform as efficiently as people without disabilities. So, what we run over and above the normal government hiring is a program that gives disabled people an opportunity to work within the workforce, although they don't have the same level of skills. I don't know if skills is the right word, it is probably not fair; but because they are precluded by their disability from being as productive.

The other reason that we have to be careful too is that when departments sometimes have to change people, they are not always - and I am being frank about this - as sensitive, because they look to have the most productive workers retained. I know several years ago, when I had to meet a budgetary objective, we were $70 million in the hole at that point. I believe that it was in 1995. We went to the department and said: Look, you have to economize and you may have to lay people off. The first people offered up were the people who were in Opening Doors positions, because they were not as productive and they were making very hard decisions, which in my view was not appropriate. We said, no, you cannot offer up people who are in your department on the Opening Doors Program.

This is one of those areas where I believe it is responsible and appropriate for Treasury Board to maintain this program, centrally, because otherwise you would lose control of it and you would find that the general policy objective of government, to integrate disabled people into the workforce as much as possible, would not be met. Frankly many of the people who are working on this program probably would not be able to have obtained these positions without this type of program.

This is one area that I would like to see expanded in the Provincial Government. I do note that within the last year or so we have co-operatively, with the federal government, co-ordinated our services for providing employment for the disabled. That is one of the reasons that you will see the Federal Revenue figure there. So, we are seeking to expand the opportunities.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Do you know the exact numbers? Do you know the number of individuals who have benefited from Opening Doors?

MR. DICKS: A year ago it was 52 and I do not have a current number for you. I can find out, though. It is a good question.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Certain costs seem to have increased significantly, minister, when looking at the revised figures of 1997/98; Transportation and Communications and Professional Services, for example.

Let us go to Professional Services under heading: 3.1.05. We see a revised figure of $2,000 last year and a Budgeted figure in the Estimates of $30,000 this year. In the details, Mr. minister, what is the explanation for that increase?

MR. DICKS: That has to do with training. We have increased substantially. I believe we have more people. If I could just say, we have fifty-six permanent positions here.


MR. DICKS: Fifty-six right now. The federal government has a program called The Federal Job Experience and Employment in the Public Service called JEEPS. So we are trying to coordinate our services with them.

A couple of these notes tie together. If you look at .05 and .06, 05 has been increased because of the need to hire external consultants to deliver some specialized training.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: And in .06 there is a slight decrease.

MR. DICKS: Yes; .06 actually was for meeting rooms. We budgeted $2,800, but of course if you hire people to provide courses you sometimes need to have facilitates in which they do it. This year, we have increased it by about more than twice what it was last year, although it is down somewhat from what we actually spent. I think last year it was little higher in some cases because we had just started coordinating this with the federal government.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Getting back to the program, generally: Is there a part of the Province which benefits, I guess, mostly from this program as opposed to another region of the Province, or is there an effort made to expand the program Province-wide?

MR. DICKS: We do try to make it generally available throughout the Island. I think, frankly, the majority of people tend to be in St. John's. These people are often profoundly disabled. So by the nature of services in the Province, most of them tend to reside in St. John's where they have access to the type of fairly intense health care needs that they have from time to time. Of course, the workforce generally in the Province, St. John's has more per capita than most other parts of the Island. So the majority of these positions I believe are in St. John's. There are others outside but the bulk of them are here in this building in fact.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The revenues received from the federal government, again under heading .01: Is this done on a pro rata basis? For example, we see a total amount to be voted, $1.9 million; revised last year, $1.3 million; federal government revenues, $250,000; and this year $475,000. So is it done proportionately depending on the total cost of the program, and do we receive a certain percentage, dollar for dollar, from federal government revenues?

MR. DICKS: It is cost-shared. I do not know what the exact amount of cost-sharing would be but it looks to me to be somewhere in the vicinity of 20 per cent federal.


MR. DICKS: I know this is cost-shared. I do not have the actual level of details, the agreement itself. We were running an Opening Doors Program before the federal government came on with this new plan. What I am not sure about is whether the federal government plan may be - the incremental amount may be cost-shared on a different ratio than is appearing from the Estimates. It looks right now to be 80/20 in our favour, but that may be just - the federal revenue may be an incremental amount to what we were already providing. So maybe in the new order of 70/30. I will check on that and find out for you.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The reason I ask is that the federal revenues, as shown as a part of these estimates, almost double in the Estimates for 1998/99 compared to the revised figures of last year.

MR. DICKS: Yes. My recollection is that we entered into this agreement with the federal government in the last year or so, so it may be taking some time to wrap up, to have it operating at full level. But I will get you the details and just let you know what the federal agreement is and how it is changed over the last year or so. I know that we provide them with space, for example, to run this program and we co-ordinate it as well.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: A couple of more questions, under French Language.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) the Opposition House Leader. I wonder if the hon. gentleman, without taking any of his time, would let me put a motion here that needs to be on the Order Paper. I neglected to do it under Notices of Motion.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Yes, I think so, if you would let me. I can do anything you would let me do.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. TULK: Yes, you can do that if you want.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that a further estimate of expenditure related to a contingency reserve in the amount of $30 million be referred to the Committee of Supply; and I do that on behalf of the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just a couple of more questions for the minister, at this particular time, dealing with the French Language, training and translation services for Departments, Crown Corporations and Agencies to better serve the francophone population.

In terms of French language training, included in this cost, would this be the cost of training to ministers, to the Premier, to individuals who may want to avail of French Language education, or is it restricted to, as is indicated in the description, translation services for departments and simply providing Francophone services to the Francophone community? How expansive is this particular provision?

MR. DICKS: C'est le tout Monsieur. Il est nécessaire que la province fournisse des services en français aussi.

It really covers all of things you have mentioned. It is tutorials for government employees, Cabinet Ministers, as you mentioned, and others who wish to avail themselves of this service. It also includes, for example, under subsection 10, a grant for the operation and maintenance of the Mainland school community centre, and contributions to Francophone organizations.

This past weekend I was in Corner Brook where we had a meeting of

the Association Francophone de Terre-Neuve, the Francophone Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are quite pleased with what progress we have made in setting up a separate school board and so on.

So, this is where, virtually, most of the costs are. The only thing is that there may be some amounts in education pertaining to the schools that are not included here. But the general French Language services for central government are all here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. DICKS: Oh, no more than half.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mais est-ce que le coût aussi des leçons de français pour le Premier ministre est là aussi?

MR. DICKS: Oui. C'est ici les salaires oui?

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Quel numéro?

MR. DICKS: Quel numéro? C'est le numéro un.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: C'est le numéro un, salaire pour le Premier ministre.

MR. DICKS: Non. Pas le Premier ministre... pour les professeurs...les personnes...

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mais je me demande qu'est-ce que le coût pour les leçons de français pour le Premier ministre.

MR. DICKS: Le coût? C'est minimal.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: C'est minimal?

MR. DICKS: Oui, parce que les (services des) professeurs ne sont pas gratis mais (ils) sont là pour tous.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mais combien ça coûte Monsieur le ministre? Est-ce que vous savez le coût des leçons du Premier ministre?

MR. DICKS: Non c'est une somme globale parce que les professeurs sont là pour tous.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Pour tout le gouvernement?

MR. DICKS: Pour tous les employés qui désirent des leçons; les ministres et aussi les employés, les sous ministres et les greffiers comme ceux qui sont là.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Oui mais aussi, mais aussi le Premier ministre.

MR. DICKS: Oui, oui.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Deux cent quarante-sept c'est pour tout le gouvernement?

MR. DICKS: Tout le gouvernement

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mais combien ça coûte surtout pour le Premier ministre.

MR. DICKS: Pardon pour...

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Combien ça coûte les leçons de français pour le Premier ministre seulement?

MR. DICKS: Seulement? Non, non. C'est impossible parce que les leçons..

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Pourquoi impossible. Vous êtes le ministre des Finances n'est ce pas?

MR. DICKS: Il n'y pas de frais par personne. Il y a un professeur pour..les leçons sont gratis pour toutes les personnes...

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

MR. DICKS: Qui les désirent.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Oui demain peut-être je voudrais la réponse demain...exactement le coût des leçons de français pour le Premier ministre.

MR. DICKS: C'est (inaudible) impossible mais je pense que ce n'est pas cher.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: O, merci mais demain avec les détails exactement?

MR. DICKS: Ni "demand" demain.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Demain? Merci beaucoup Monsieur. Merci.

MR. TULK: If they keep this up, we are going to demand translation services.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are going to have to increase the budget for Hansard.

AN HON. MEMBER: I tell you, you are not all going to be Prime Minister. I can guarantee you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Il ne (inaudible) pas français.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Il parle français?

MR. DICKS: Il ne (inaudible) pas mais il est possible qu'il parle.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Est-ce qu'aussi il y a une occasion Monsieur le ministre pour les conservateurs aussi? C'est un coût, c'est une occasion pour le gouvernement, pour le Premier ministre. Y a-t-il une occasion pour nous aussi?

MR. DICKS: The Clerk is very concerned for Hansard, so I am afraid we are going to have to digress into a language that neither of us understands.


One final question, Mr. Minister, under Grants and Subsidies, under French Language: Specifically, what is the nature of these grants and subsidies totally $133,000? I believe you indicated earlier that this was for the school in Mainland, or is this for the translation - what aspect of these estimates with respect to that community or that school necessitates $133,000?

MR. DICKS: This is for Mainland, but it also includes contributions to Francophone organizations as well.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: And it is a figure that does not show up in 1997/98.

MR. DICKS: That is right. This is a recent innovation.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. DICKS: Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. TULK: We are allowing people to sit down today, boy.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I would sooner stand up. I am sitting down all day, I say to the Government House Leader. I need the exercise.

While we are on that topic -

MR. DICKS: Is the hon. member speaking in Gaelic today?

MR. SULLIVAN: Combien (inaudible) vous le Premier.

MR. DICKS: So you are speaking in Gaelic?

MR. SULLIVAN: No. How much are we spending on the Premier's French lessons? Could he give us the breakdown on that one? Combien (inaudible) vous le Premier?

MR. DICKS: The Premier has an occasional lesson, but it is not broken down by hourly rates; a modest cost.

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the minister: I gathered from his speech that he was only having occasional lessons. I don't think anybody believes otherwise.

Information Technology, Page 30, the last item under Executive Council. "Appropriations provide for information technology development projects to be undertaken on behalf of government departments." A cool million there. Could the minister tell us what specific areas that was directed to? Because it is a new head here in the Budget.

MR. DICKS: The determination has not been made yet. What we will do, Mr. Chairman, is when we get through the year if there are worthwhile initiatives we will fund them from this category. There is no shortage of demand, by the way.

AN HON. MEMBER: Slush fund.

MR. DICKS: Only for IT.

MR. SULLIVAN: I think those are all the specific questions. We do have some, I am sure, general comments we would want to make under this that I will make. When we get to the other heads I am sure the minister will...

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) did a good job.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) too much praise.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I wouldn't give him too much praise at all, I say to the minister.

MR. DICKS: Do you want to make those now, or did you want to report progress? We only have about fifteen minutes left. It is up to yourselves.

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon? We will report progress now?

MR. DICKS: No, no, carry on. I didn't know if you were indicating that you -

MR. SULLIVAN: No, we were not ready to have a vote on this thing.

MR. DICKS: Sure.

MR. SULLIVAN: We want to have a few more hours on Executive Council, because it is such a major area here, and a few comments. They won't necessarily demand specific questions on each line item, I say to the minister. I think we have gone through that from beginning to end, unless some other members when they get up may have some specific things they might want to ask, beyond what the members have asked.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Public opinion polls, Mr. Minister, where might that be plugged in? Or is that spread so thin that it is sort of very well disguised there? Where might that be, I ask the minister?

MR. DICKS: I don't know. Didn't we cover that? I believe that would probably be in a Professional Services vote somewhere. I am just thinking. I think there were some in the Premier's Office. I think that came up in the course of these Estimates discussions here in the House. Does anybody recall? Do you recall when we did this where exactly they were? Anyway, carry on.

MR. SULLIVAN: I was just going to comment there. I find it unusual. I know I had some comments there (inaudible) being recognized when my colleague was speaking, Budgeting and Human Resources there. Collective bargaining, classification and organization and management reviews, $1.6 million here. I think I had a comment there.

I am not sure what collective bargaining we have, I say to my colleagues. The only collective bargaining I heard on all these agreements was a statement by the Premier saying: We have funds; we will give you 7 per cent over a period of time. That is basically a take-it-or-leave-it approach, and so on. It must be kind of frustrating to go through all of this process here when it was already predetermined. I heard the hon. Minister of Finance and Treasury Board make that statement, too. Not only the Premier, but the Minister of Finance and Treasury made that statement.

MR. DICKS: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board on a point of order.

MR. DICKS: The hon. Minister of Finance and Treasury Board said 5.5 per cent. The hon. Premier said 7 per cent.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, the hon. -

MR. DICKS: On the point of collective bargaining, Mr. Chairman, there are more things to be bargained than money. There are many items. There are more things, Horatio, et cetera. Money is of worth to some employees, as it is to us all, but the issues at the bargaining table often revolve around issues such as the hon. member mentioned: things such as the rights and privileges of temporary employees, casual employees, and so forth. Merely because a monetary matter is determined doesn't mean that collective bargaining doesn't take place in a worthwhile fashion.

MR. SULLIVAN: Wouldn't you think the monetary part aside takes up a reasonable amount? Because sometimes people make concessions on other items to be able to garner something in the monetary line, and sometimes they sacrifice monetary to get others. I am certainly well aware that extensive bargaining goes on back and forth, and a lot of these have a monetary significance.

I certainly apologize to the minister if I indicated that the minister said 7 per cent over three years, or whatever, 7 per cent over thirty-nine months. I guess it depends on the contract terms, I think. The length of the contract and so on can vary. Really what we are talking about is roughly 2 per cent a year, I guess, what it comes down to.

Certainly, I might add, we have not had the most progressive collective bargaining going on in this Province since 1989. First of all we had Bill 16, I think. We had that roll back. That strong arm of government came down and rolled back wages; went out and negotiated with people in good faith and said: We are going to have a wage. We will negotiate. We will spend $1.5 million out there in salaries and we will do some negotiating now and we will come to an agreement. Then we will come back in the Legislature and we will pass a bill and we will roll it back, Bill 16. If I remember correctly it was about two years later, I think, maybe three years, that they came back, and Bill 64, if I remember, in the House is the one that sort of rescinded that and eliminated that particular bill on collective bargaining there. So that allowed an increase to occur.

People since that, I say to the minister, have been feeling the crunch. We have had a reduction in the number of employees here in government itself. People are working with no increase in wage for a period of nine years approximately. On top of that we have seen the cost of living increase. We have seen the factors of inflation, and other factors that contribute to an increase in the cost of living along with an increase in the cost of housing, goods, food - you name it - the energy sector, communication sector, all of these areas. The cost of gas is going up to drive back and forth to work, another cost, and no real monetary remuneration of any form.

Really, people today are living on less and are worse off than they were. Even if you factor in 2 per cent a year, it is very minimal - and I am sure they all got their big cheques last week. I am sure they looked at the size of their cheques, and to show you how significant that small amount was, it is not even factoring in - thank God we have had a low rate of inflation over a period of time. Thank God we are getting some spin-offs from the United States that have been positive from an inflationary nature here, and in our country we have slowed down the rate of inflation. That was something horrendous, and that is certainly a positive aspect there.

When that happens, though, in certain parts of the country and wages do not increase, people who live in an area where it is more expensive to live sort of get more of a lion's share of the punishment under that type of system because if there are marginal movements at all - there are none in wages - there is a higher cost of moving the goods and services to these areas and it creates a greater burden on people who live in these areas.

That is why people in Newfoundland and Labrador - people in Northern Labrador know all about what I am talking about, I say to the Member for Labrador West. It is making the cost of buying food in Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair, in Labrador West, in Torngat Mountains, in Labrador, in Labrador East, Lake Melville. All of these people know about it. We also know here in our Province the cost of bringing goods in from the US, tractor-trailer loads of goods coming in here. We feel that out on the periphery you are impacted more by those trends than people near the hub where the movement of goods - where there is a more competitive aspect there, where you can have other choices and other (inaudible) of goods and you don't have that transportation cost.

Maybe the member for Labrador might think we should give a bigger increase to the people in that sector. Actually the way to do it, I guess, is to try to make it on the other end. You cannot really control it on the wage end, I will admit. You have to treat everybody alike, but you can control it by levelling the playing fields in those areas and so on. I am sure that is why the federal government kicked in $4 million this year under free freight assistance into roads, highway construction. The $108 million we are seeing spent this year in this Province on roads, $96 million of that is federal money. When you look at the Labrador portion, when you look at the $52 million or so under the trunk roads, the Roads for Rail Agreement there, the Trans-Canada and those trunk roads. Of course, the other $4 million I just referred to under the free freight assistance they kicked in. Those are initiatives that you can use at least and put it on the back end of things to be able to feed some money back directly into these areas rather than to go out and say we are going to pay you a direct subsidy up front. They are initiatives where I guess you would be able to put it in through the back door.

Whatever the case may be, I think it is important that people who have experienced a great degree of difficulty over the last while have not really felt - and I am sure people out there in the collective bargaining process cannot really feel that it has been really good faith bargaining out there overall when after months, and years I might add, of bargaining, they turn on the radio and hear what is going to be given in a wage for the year. That is a very new brand of collective bargaining, I say to the minister. It is the type of bargaining that we did not even have with the former Premier, I say, and the former Minister of Finance. It was not announced as you would announce a government project, announced across radios, TVs, newspapers across the Province, to let everyone know.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) sit down and we will let the clock run.

MR. SULLIVAN: With that enlightened statement from the Government House Leader, I now adjourn the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

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: Mr. Speaker, before we close, the motion being debated tomorrow is the motion by the Member for Labrador West, a very intelligent motion, well put, well said, and well written.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

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