The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!


Statements by Ministers


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

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

Today it is a pleasure to inform members of the House of the proposed silviculture initiatives from Abitibi Consolidated, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, and the provincial government's own projects. Under these initiatives, approximately sixty-eight projects will be undertaken at an estimated cost of $7.1 million dollars. Once the specific tenders have been awarded, the department will be in a position to announce the particulars of every project. A second program involving both the federal and provincial governments through the Transitional Jobs Fund will be announced shortly.

The Province will be directly responsible for thirty-one of the projects, covering 4,100 hectares and involving all aspects of silviculture treatment.

Last year, we participated in a particularly intense program which resulted in over 16,000 hectares being treated and approximately 7.5 million seedlings planted. These projects created over 23,000 person weeks of employment, which translated into numerous direct job opportunities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Throughout the last twenty years, over 100 million seedlings have been planted and over 228,000 hectares have been treated through silviculture projects. Mr. Speaker, it is our intention to continue this path of forest management.

Silviculture plays an important role in the reforestation of our Province. There are three primary goals of silviculture initiatives: to maintain ecosystem health and integrity; to help alleviate the wood supply deficit; and to enhance the quality and quantity of the forest products of the future. This past year we had record production both in lumber and in pulp and paper.

Mr. Speaker, many people believe that silviculture initiatives are simply the planting of trees. In addition to planting, site preparation projects prepare areas for the future plantation of seedlings. In the case of natural regeneration, which is the predominant method of forest regeneration in Newfoundland and Labrador, thinning projects become necessary to increase growth speed and shorten maturation time.

Silviculture projects are an integral part of our holistic approach to forest ecosystem management. To continue this approach, it is necessary for us to take both short- and long-term actions to address the Island's wood supply situation. Mr. Speaker, in the last ten days we just recently had the official opening of the new federal Forest Resource Centre in Corner Brook. This research and development will be occurring on projects that will allow us to meet our long-term wood supply needs.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I just got the statement, and I thank the minister. I just heard half of his statement and I haven't read it all yet, but obviously it's about silviculture. Of course, the more the better, it's as simple as that, when it comes to silviculture. There is much more to silviculture than planting, the minister is right in that.

Of course, we have to make sure the companies keep up their part of the deal, I say to the minister, in contributing significant amounts to silviculture in this Province. If there is anything worthwhile in investment in this Province, it is for people to go into the forest industry who will continue with silviculture and create jobs in this Province. The more the better; I say that again.

As far as the Forest Resource Centre goes in Corner Brook, of course that is a good thing to see. Mr. Speaker, it is something that is much needed in this Province, and probably long overdue. We have to make sure that things that can be done in this Province which relate to forestry are done here and not at other institutions around Atlantic Canada, as we have seen before.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say, we continue to support as much silviculture as possible in the Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Oral Questions


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

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

My questions today are for the Premier. It has been since last Friday that the Call Centre, BPS Imaging closed down. There was a significant amount of public money put into it, and yet the Premier has yet to make any public statement with respect to it.

I would like to ask him this question: There has been $1 million of provincial money put into it, unaccounted for, and the Province does not yet know where the money was spent or what it was spent on. Can the Premier inform the House, today, where the money was spent by BPS Imaging?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. speaker, the Leader of the Opposition obviously has discovered that there is better mileage for him in focusing on a piece of bad news than focusing on the growth of this economy, because all this week the Leader of the Opposition has asked the same questions over and over and over again about the Call Centre, and, Mr. Speaker, he plays fast and loose with the facts.

He says the Premier of the Province has not made any statement on this Call Centre. That is false. I think I am quoted into today's paper, and I was quoted earlier in the week, on a variety of statements on the Call Centre. All of the questions that have been asked have been answered by the Minister of Industry, Trades and Technology. An audit is being done, as is reported in the paper this morning. Indeed, I think I have been quoted this morning as having said that.

What the Leader of the Opposition is doing, Mr. Speaker, is he has decided that there is political mileage in continuing to ask the same questions over and over and over. He does not want to wait for the audit, he is not interested in the facts, he is not listening to the responses from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and, Mr. Speaker, he is interested only in trying to score some political points.

Let me suggest to the Leader of the Opposition, that he wait for the outcome from the audit, that he deal in facts rather than allegations, that we move forward to try and build this economy, and that we try and build up our confidence, not tear it down unnecessarily.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I, as Leader of the Opposition, is asking questions and has been asking questions all week because there have not been any answers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: With respect to the audit, Mr. Speaker, the audit is being performed by HRDC, without the participation of your government, Premier, without the participation of the government and frames of reference, to find out where $1 million of public money went.

I will ask the Premier this today: Will he table, will he instruct the minister to table, the contract between the Province and BPS Imaging and lay it on the table of the House for all to see?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, just so that there is no doubt in anybody's mind; I think what is happening here with the Leader of the Opposition is very transparent, very, very, transparent. Mr. Speaker, for a solid week, with all of the issues that are confronting the Province, the Leader of the Opposition has asked questions only on one issue. Why? Because he wants to try and score political points by asking over and over and over again about a call centre.

He knows that there is an audit being done, he knows that we have to await the outcome of the audit before we can deal in facts, but yet he continues to ask questions, Mr. Speaker, based on allegations.

Mr. Speaker, I say to him, that all the questions he has asked have been answered, that the question of an audit is now under way. Mr. Speaker, we have confidence that a reputable auditor is going to do a proper job and that the information, when made known to us, will be made public.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if I am so transparent, it is too bad that what has happened to $1 million of public money is not so transparent, I say to the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: The questions have not been answered. So I will ask you again: Will you table the contract that the government signed on behalf of the people and BPS Imaging? Will you table the contract in the House as to where that money was supposed to be spent? Yes or no, Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we will take advice, and if we can table the contract, if we are able to table a confidential contract with a corporation, we will be happy to table it. What I do not know, standing here today, is whether or not the government can jump up with every contract and every piece of corporate information and table it. But, Mr. Speaker, if we can we will be happy to. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the information that we gather from the audit, we will be happy to make public as well.

What is the point the Leader of the Opposition is making, Mr. Speaker? What is he trying to allege? What is he trying to say? If he has something to allege, then let him have the courage to make an allegation, rather than to continue on asking questions, Mr. Speaker, for one reason only; because he is playing a very transparent political game with a very difficult circumstance that has affected the workers.

Mr. Speaker, I would have thought the Leader of the Opposition, would be saying: What is government doing to ensure that the wages of those who have been affected are going to be paid? That is the real issue, that those who have lost their wages get their incomes. That is the priority of the minister, that is the priority of the government, and that is what we are working on right now.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: But, Mr. Speaker, this transparent political game, I think, is very clear to everybody in the Province.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what is clear to the people of the Province is the Premier's unwillingness to answer the questions that have been put this week to the floor of the House. What is also clear to the people of the Province is the minister's unwillingness to answer the questions yesterday.

I will ask him the same question I asked the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology yesterday with respect to the employees: How is it that the employees are out two weeks' wages when HRDC provided up front all of the wages for this company up until last Friday when it closed? And how is it that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology can table in this House that part of government's money went to pay wages when they already had the money up front, Mr. Speaker? Answer that question, Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, having this member stand up and tell the House that he wants a standard of clarity is like asking the pyromaniac to be the fire chief.

Here is the gentleman who months after the deal was announced still cannot tell us where he stands on Churchill Falls, because he is terrified to take a position on Churchill Falls, now asking for clarity from this side of the House.

Mr. Speaker, clarity is to be found in doing a proper audit, getting to all of the facts and, based on facts, making a declaration to the House. That is what we are waiting for. But the Leader of the Opposition, in a very transparent manner, very political manner, very partisan manner, seeks only to play games with this file.

Mr. Speaker, our focus is on getting the information from the audit, and our focus is on making sure that every cent of wages owed to the employees affected is going to be paid. Mr. Speaker, that is our focus.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: As always, the Premier and government are late coming to the table, because if it were their focus to find out and to get the money for the employees, and if it were their focus to find out what happened, they would be participating in the audit by HRDC. HRDC would not have to inform the Province that they were doing it; and also, Mr. Speaker, why?

I ask this very simple question of the Premier: Why is it that the Province, when HRDC informed them that there were some problems and informed them that they would be conducting an audit, why was it that the Province did not see fit to participate in the terms of reference that would outline clearly where the provincial money of $1 million was spent, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have to say with great regret that I find the questions of the Leader of the Opposition - he is like a dog with a bone. He is like a little cracky that has his teeth around a wheel going rather fast. Mr. Speaker, he is like a little dog with a bone; he is gnawing and chewing and chewing and gnawing and he will not let go.

Mr. Speaker, even a basic understanding of an appropriate management process would lead the Leader of the Opposition to the conclusion that what you ought to do is wait for the facts before you draw conclusions.

Mr. Speaker, it has been said repeatedly in the House that an audit is being done by a reputable firm. Now, is the Leader of the Opposition alleging that the firm in question is not doing a reputable job? Is he alleging that there is a coverup? Is he alleging that there is a conspiracy between governments and the private sector?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: And if he is not alleging those things, why does he keep making these statements, redundant statements, prior to getting the facts?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what is transparent, as always, if there were any answers coming forward from government with the questions that are being put forward then I, as Leader of the Opposition, would not be asking the questions.

Let me ask the Premier this: Does the Premier know where the $1 million of public money went, our money? Was all of it spent on capital equipment? If not, how much? Was all of it spent on salaries, or any portion of it? If so, how much? How much of it was spent on outside consultant fees, if any? Of the public money that this Province put into it, was any of it spent on the dissolution of the partnership? Very straightforward questions, Premier, ones that you and your government should be asking yourselves.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many times we can say to the Leader of the Opposition in the run of a single week that there is an audit being done. That is the appropriate process here, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have had an economy that has produced a fair number of new jobs over the last year; 9,000 new jobs. We have had many new project start-ups. We have had a 22 per cent increase in the first two months of this year in our exports in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are going to go down this morning and participate in the export manufactures show again this year. Mr. Speaker, we have an economy that is moving forward.

Now the Leader of the Opposition has seized upon a failure. Mr. Speaker, none of us likes failure. I don't like failure, I detest failure, but it does happen; and you can't stop taking risks because you occasionally have a failure. What we need, Mr. Speaker, is to get to the facts. That is why we have an audit.

For the Leader of the Opposition to ask me or anybody else to speculate, in advance of the auditor doing his job, shows an abysmal lack of knowledge about how the process should properly work.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the Premier, when Paul Martin gets a hold of him he will see failure.

My questions today, Mr. Speaker, are to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Whatever way you want.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

We keep hearing that HRE is going to be client focused. In rural areas of the Province like my district, service to clients has decreased. For example, the office in Ferryland serves Trepassey and even as far away as St. Shotts in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's, almost 200 kilometres return from the office to that area, to the remote areas of the district.

Right now your department, Minister, has eliminated, terminated, the services of employees of your department going out into those areas that used to make a weekly visit. Financial assistance officers, for example. I ask, Minister: Why has your department cancelled visits out in remote areas from those offices and confined your financial assistance office and employees to their desk, and deprived residents of Trepassey and those areas of necessary services that they require?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, yes, the Department of Human Resources and Employment is very much client focused and determined that it will improve in this area over the coming years. As we have announced previously, particularly in the Budget, we have also ensured that we will maintain offices in all areas of this Province over the next three years as we make the transition in our new program and develop a new income support model.

At the present time, we are using all of the resources that we have available to us to provide the levels of service that are needed to people in various parts of the Province. It also means we are able to use the technology that is available to us to provide the kinds of services that are needed in various parts of the Province. So unless there is a specific area where there is a gap in that service level, I would suggest that our staff at the front lines are taking the appropriate measures to ensure that financial assistance is being provided appropriately to all of our clients and to all people who are in need in parts of this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the hon. member, I would just like to take the opportunity to welcome sixty Grades IV, V and VI students from St. Mark's All-Grade School in King's Cove, Bonavista Bay. They are accompanied by their teachers, Mr. Hayward Dobbin, Mr. Tom Maddox, Mrs. Diane Curtis, and Mrs. Alice Lewis, and bus driver Sam Connors.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess we get an extra thirty seconds on our Question Period.

Minister, what you said is not accurate at all. You have eliminated the service to people in the Trepassey area. Your financial assistance officers are not allowed to go out to that area, almost 200 kilometres return. The sick, the elderly, unemployed, people on social assistance, who need the service - some have difficulty with reading and writing and completing the required paperwork that often takes weeks back and forth exchanging material. Minister, it is not right what you are doing here. You are discriminating against rural areas of the Province that need help -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his question. He is on a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister, does she expect people who are on income support to have to travel close to 200 kilometres return at their own expense in order to avail of services that her department was always providing to that area?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, in most cases when clients are looking for information, or looking for income support, the usual means of communication with our office is by means of telephone. That is where people call to find out what they are entitled to. They call to find out if something is different from that they expect, or if something has changed. Our staff likewise can provide that kind of assistance in the majority of cases. This has not changed.

The hon. member present has identified a specific area, Trepassey office, where he is suggesting there is a particular difficulty that clients are experiencing. I would like to know the specifics of the situation and I will take it under advisement.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is not only applied to the area. I just want to illustrate very briefly to the minister what has happened in her department. On Wednesday of this week I attended an appeal with an individual - a social services recipient - over sixteen dollars. A person who qualified to get $16 was what the appeal was about. Because you have prevented employees from using their own vehicles, have taken away the $39 every two weeks, that employee of your department hired a cab to come from my district into St. John's. When the appeal was over, hired a cab and went back, at $100 cost, I say to the minister, for a $16 appeal. This has happened, I understand, with every financial assistance officer employee in the whole region, Minister.

Are you being penny wise and pound foolish by spending tens of thousands of dollars when you eliminated that $39 every two weeks for employees of your department for the use of their own vehicle?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, the income support budget that we have in this Province is one that is very costly. At the present time we spend in the order of approximately $230 million on providing most basic, most needed income for people who have no other recourse, nowhere else to turn.

Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent upon us when we spend those kinds of dollars, where there are so great needs in so many other areas, that we spend them prudently and that we are very efficient in the services that we provide. Now in doing so we have to look at all areas of our operations and ensure that we take the most appropriate measures to provide cost-effective services. Mr. Speaker, throughout the past couple of years we have taken a number of measures which have enabled us to reduce our income support costs from $250 million, which is what it was in previous years, continuing to reduce to this area where we have it to $230 million at this point.

What that enables us to do is to be able to invest in programs and services which will have a long-term benefit to the people of this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude her answer.

MS BETTNEY: It is through this means that we are able to really change the lives of people in this Province and address the greatest needs.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What you have done is, you have crucified people in rural Newfoundland who are a long distance from your office. That is what you have done.

I want to ask the minister: Has your department done a financial analysis - and if she has would she table it - of eliminating the $39 per pay period and hiring taxis now? Have you done an analysis as to what the cost would be on this particular issue?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, on an annual basis we do a complete financial analysis as we go through the budget process of every area of our expenditures. This is one that we will monitor as we have monitored other policies in the past. I would suggest to the member again that if there is a particular instance, such as he has referenced with a $16 cost for an appeal, that he would provide me with those details and I will look into it.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation regarding the Public Tender Act.

Mr. Minister, while we are pleased to see that the minister is consulting with the public and taking some of their advice, namely on the public tendering registry, we are nevertheless concerned about some of the things the minister said yesterday about what he will do with the Public Tender Act. To what extend does the minister see an increase in the Request For Proposals process at the expense of the public tendering? Does he really think it is fair for the government to hand-pick contractor winners? And what recourse do companies have if they are excluded from the RFP?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A Request For Proposal process -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you for the question because it gives me an opportunity to explain how an RFP works. Basically, an RFP proposition is in effect a tendering mechanism of sorts. It is a different type of tendering mechanism. It is a mechanism that allows everybody to respond to a Request for Proposal and provide all of the information as per the specifications that are laid out.

Now with respect to what we propose to do with the Public Tender Act, we are not intending, as I said yesterday - I say we as government are not intending, or government-funded bodies - to use an RFP process as a matter of course. The RFP process is one that will only be considered after two or three things happen. Number one, the head of a government-funded body - i.e. a deputy minister or the chairman of a government corporation - deems it is the appropriate way to go in a certain circumstance. Number two, after Cabinet has given permission or approval of that process in those particular circumstances; and after undertaking as well to report the reason for and the RFP exemption to the House of Assembly if and when that process is used.

Simply put, the process will not be used very often. It will only be used in cases where a normal tender is deemed not to be the best way to get the best value or the best solution, if you like, to a problem or situation that needs to be addressed.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Mr. Minister, government has not really given the rationale or the reasons why these actions are necessary, and government has given no evidence that the existing Public Tender Act has restricted economic development. Therefore, why are these actions necessary at this time?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Let me say to the hon. member that every piece of legislative change that we announced yesterday came forward after extensive consultation with all of the stakeholders out there, including the industries, government-funded bodies, the Construction Association, the Road Builders Association, the Newfoundland Manufacturing Association. All of the organizations, without fail, support the amendments that we have put forward because they are as a result of the input and the consultation that we undertook with them.

As a matter of fact, of the five or six organizations that were with me at the table yesterday - one could not make it but I heard them this morning on CBC news, the Newfoundland and Labrador Chamber of Commerce - also heartily endorse the approach that we have taken to deal with some changes to the Public Tender Act.

Simply put, the amendments that we have put forward are the amendments that we think are appropriate; they are the amendments that the industries think are appropriate; they are amendments that the members of the industry associations individually think are appropriate; they are amendments that the Hospital Association and the Municipalities Association think are appropriate. And we believe that their collective judgement, along with ours, is at least as good as anything we have heard from the other side.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I beg to differ. I do not think all of the groups are fully supportive of the changes you are making - the impression you are giving here in the House.

Will the minister ensure that all public tenders for all areas are advertised as widely as possible? Will he ensure that in any move to electronic tendering, consideration will be given as to whether businesses in all areas have access to electronic media? And when he speaks of moving away from advertising in generally circulated newspapers, what does he mean? Does he mean he is considering advertising tenders only in limited circulation newspapers which only companies in the immediate areas can easily access? Accessibility to all.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: A short answer to the question is: Absolutely, yes. We are making those changes in terms of tendering advertising requirements to do exactly what you suggest, to give the widest possible opportunity to everybody who has an interest in bidding on government business.

The current situation, Mr. Speaker, is this: We are required by law to advertise in newspapers only that are in general circulation in the Province. That, in essence, says we have to advertise in The Evening Telegram and in the Western Star. Basically that is it, because they are the only papers in general circulation.

The point has been made over and over to us by, as an example, the municipalities. When I was in Goose Bay, they said: Why on earth do we have to advertise in The Evening Telegram for $7,600 worth of work when we know the supplier for the last twenty years has been here in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, or in the Labrador area. We understand that. So we are saying: Okay, you can advertise in a local newspaper if the circumstance is appropriate. You can also advertise on the Web site. There are five different electronic systems out there now that take care and are in the business of putting forward tendered documents on behalf of both the federal and the provincial government, and we think it is only appropriate that we join that network of bidding processes that gives everybody maximum advantage.

With respect to the other issues, I would like to take the opportunity, because the hon. Member for St. John's South was not in the House yesterday - I understand why, and I regret that he could not be at the press conference because he has always -

MR. T. OSBORNE: Why did you call it for yesterday?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Last week I called it for yesterday, Tom. You would understand that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: I did want, having said that, to acknowledge the interest the hon. Member for St. John's South has taken in this -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to take his seat.

MR. MATTHEWS: - and I want to thank him for the contribution he has made to the extent that he has been involved.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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. A five-year moratorium was announced on all commercial salmon fishing here on the Island, and the total allowable catch for salmon in Labrador was greatly reduced. As the minister is aware, many commercial salmon fishermen took part in a licence buy-back, while others opted to wait and hopefully be permitted to fish commercially for salmon stocks again.

Minister, there are approximately 200 remaining licences in Labrador, and there are approximately 100 remaining licences here on the Island. Since salmon stocks are still at a level that will not allow commercial salmon activity, some fishermen who retained their licence would now take part in a licence buy-back if it was an option for them.

I ask the minister, if government is considering taking part in a licence buy-back and offering that opportunity again for those commercial salmon fishermen.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have had a number of discussions with the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the hon. David Anderson, on this issue, not only for the Island portion of the Province, as the hon. member points out, but for fishermen in Labrador too. Most fishermen now recognize that the commercial salmon stocks are not going to be at a point where they can be harvested to make a living for quite some time, and most of the people are willing to participate in a buy-out program. We have had discussions with Minister Anderson on this issue. We are waiting for a decision to come down, and when that decision comes down we will certainly support a buy-out program.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister if he is aware of a licence buy-out program now about to take place, or about to be announced, on the north shore of Quebec, where the Province of Quebec and the federal government have opted to take part on a 50-50 cost-shared basis to buy out the eighty-seven existing salmon licences in that particular area.

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

MR. EFFORD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am very aware of the participation that has taken place in the buy-out program in Quebec. Our position is, in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is a federal responsibility. The federal government is managing the resource, the harvesting of the resource, and the financial responsibility lies with the federal government.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't quite clear on the minister's first answer. Is the minister saying his government would participate in a licence buy-back, or is he saying they would not take part in a licence buy-back, but would support the federal government in taking part in that? The provincial government in Quebec and the federal government are cost-sharing the buy-back, 50-50. Would your government, Minister, be willing to take part and enter into a 50-50 agreement to buy back the existing licences in this Province if the fishermen opted to take part in that program?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe the hon. member opposite. Yesterday, on the TAGS program, they wanted to give up on the TAGS program and assume responsibility here in the Province. Today now they want to relieve the federal government of their financial responsibility to the commercial salmon fishermen. What does he think, that they will manage and we will take over all of the financial responsibility? Absolute nonsense, Mr. Speaker!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question period has ended.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, question period was thirty minutes and thirty-two seconds.


Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given


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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wanted to provide some information with respect to the question asked earlier in the week by the Leader of the Opposition respecting the changes planned by the federal government with respect to the bankruptcy legislation as it applies to student loans.

Mr. Speaker, the information, as we have it, is that the government, both federally and provincially, pays a risk premium to banks for issuing student loans without the usual establishment of credit that is required for other loans. Defaults had been increasing, and measures have been taken in the federal budget, including extended repayment schedules based on income, tax credit interest relief, and other measures, to try and address this issue. The issue, Mr. Speaker, has never been a major one in Newfoundland and Labrador, since our students have the lowest rate of default and the lowest actioning of bankruptcy filings.

In any event, however, we are writing the federal government asking for a further clarification since, in our view, the changes to the bankruptcy legislation are unnecessary. Our view is that the federal government should give the other changes, the other initiatives, the extended repayment schedules, the tax credit interest relief, et cetera, a chance to work if they are convinced that they are such good initiatives, Mr. Speaker, and such action has been taken.

Thank you.


Orders of the Day


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

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

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


Committee of the Whole


CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please!

Order 2, the hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to take a few minutes today to talk about some particular parts of the Budget. One thing, along with my colleague from Bonavista South, I always find intriguing is Government House and why we, as a Province, continue to put the amount of money into this that we do put into it. I think it is excessive and I really and truly believe that it should stop.

Last year I had the opportunity to be in Alberta, and while doing a tour, I guess, of their Legislature, and their particular building - the Lieutenant-Governor is provided with an office which is actually in their building. It is not very far off, but it seems in this Province that we have to spend this amount of money and I personally feel it does not make a great deal of sense. To me, it is a waste.

As a matter of fact, I feel the same way towards Government House as I do towards the Senate. If ever there was an institution in Canada which, in this member's opinion, should be done away with, it is the Senate. It has been -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Well, Roger is not the only one, I say to the Government House Leader, who feels this way about Government House and certainly about the Senate of Canada.

As a matter of fact, in my opinion, it has been a haven for all political parties, to poke people away, I guess, who have nothing better to do. Sometimes I think we wheel them in and wheel them out. It is absolutely the biggest waste of money in this member's opinion, in our government; absolutely the biggest waste of money, Mr. Chairman, in Canada. Of course, I feel the same way towards what we spend on Government House.

While I could probably concede to the fact that we should have a governor in this Province, I am not so sure that we should be spending the amounts of money that we spend. When you see what it costs for a Secretary for the Lieutenant-Governor - and the salary increase I believe this year was, as my colleague from Bonavista South said, some $30-odd thousand - then I think we are getting into the ridiculous area of spending our money. I feel that it certainly has been and will always continue to be a waste of money, a complete and utter waste of money.

As well, Mr. Chairman, we see from time to time where certain amounts of money are being spent, and I guess it is always interesting to know where it goes. I would have a question for the minister, but I guess I can probably hang onto it until he comes back. If somebody over there is keeping a few notes for the minister, I would like to know, under the Office of the Executive Council and the Cabinet Secretariat - it is on page 19, It is Transportation and Communications. I believe the amount voted is $78,500. I would like to know who that covers, how many people are involved, and why the increase from $25,000. Actually, in 1997/98 it went from $25,000 to $68,500, and now in the 1998/99 fiscal year we are going to budget $78,500 for that particular department. I would really like to know who it covers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. FRENCH: You can supply me with an answer? Thank you very much, sir. I would like to know where that amount of money is going to be spent.

As well, Salaries, $135,100. Again I would like to know who is being covered, under Cabinet Secretariat? Who is being covered in that particular area?

As well under Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat, again Transportation and Communications is $71,000. I would like to know who is being covered under Office of Executive Council, who that covers, and as well who is being covered in that particular area, under Salaries?

As well under Intergovernmental Affairs, Grants and Subsidies of $37,800: I would like to know what kind of grants and who they would be supplied to. Why is it there? Who do we give that particular amount of money to? We spent $37,800 in 1997/98 and we are going to spend another $37,800 in 1998/99. Again I would like to know who would qualify under the Office of Executive Council, Intergovernmental Affairs, to receive these particular grants and subsidies, exactly what they are for, who uses them, and so on. We would be very interested, Mr. Chairman, in knowing who is receiving that particular amount of money.

Again, 2.3.03 which is on page 21, Resource and Economic Policy: The Salaries vote there is $240,600. I would like to know who that covers, who they are, and the salaries paid? In Transportation and Communications we voted $49,400. I would like to know who receives that money and who is covered in that particular department.

As well under, Executive Support in the same department, or I assume that it is the same - it is Current - 2.4.01. Again there is Transportation and Communications of $100,000. I would like to know who is being covered, or who has access to that $100,000. In the same department there is $253,400. Again, I would like to know who has been covered in those particular areas.

Under Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, 2.4.02, Transportation and Communications has gone up to $255,800. I would like to know the reason why it has gone to $255,800. It went from $82,000 in 1997/98 to $170,800, and now there is a very substantial increase again, Mr. Chairman, to $255,800. I would like to know why. I would like to know who looks after that amount of money and where the travel is. Is it strictly for travel between the Island and Labrador? The Salary vote in the same department is $434,700. I would like to know who the salaries are for and how much they are all being paid.

Mr. Chairman, in 2.4.02, down towards the end, Purchased Services. In 1997/98 we budgeted $9,700 and that went to $86,000, and in 1998/99 we are going to $159,700. I would like to know why. I would like to know where that money is going to be spent, on whom will it be spent, and who again qualifies to get in here to spend this money. Who has the right to charge off expenses under Transportation and Communications to that particular department, especially in light of the fact that it is $255,800? Who is spending the money?

Does that mean that ministers who travel into parts of Labrador can charge expenses into this, or do they just have the right to charge them into their own particular department? I would really like to know the answer, if the Premier and other ministers have the right to charge off expenses to this particular department or do they not. As well, why the Purchased Services in that particular area are $159,700. I would like to know what we are going to purchase for $159,700.

I guess in our Committee meetings we asked some of these questions and we were told: Well, these things would have to be done in the House of Assembly, so that is where we are today. I have asked quite a few questions and I trust that the answers will be forthcoming. I do not know who over there is keeping track. I guess nobody, and at the end of the day there will probably be no answers given because nobody probably really knows, unless they read Hansard, and the only time they read Hansard is when it is to their own advantage, I guess.

Again, these questions have been asked, and I think answers should certainly be given, not only to me but to this House.

Mr. Chairman, I would ask you to certainly take this under advisement. I don't hear any answers, I don't see anybody making any notes, and I'm beginning to wonder how I am going to get answers to the questions I've posed this morning.

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

MR. DICKS: The only thing, I will be frank with the hon. member, is I have answered all these questions at least once or twice already; so I would refer him to the record. I don't mind answering questions, but to go through the Estimates on a detailed basis, category after category, and answer the same questions for different members I don't think is reasonable. I mean, the hon. member has asked, the hon. Leader of the Opposition, and the hon. Opposition House Leader. Fair is fair, but I'm not going to go through this day after day answering the same questions over and over. If you have a new point I will answer it.

Thank you.

MR. FRENCH: Well, you know, Mr. Chairman, I asked a question one day when we met in Committee of the very same minister, and was told in that meeting that I should wait till I got into the House of Assembly to ask the question. That is what the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board told this member here. I wish -

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

MR. DICKS: I am quite prepared to answer the questions, Mr. Chairman. If it's a new question that hasn't been asked, I will answer it, but I think in fairness to all members, when the answer has been given, unless the member needs further clarification - but to get up and use the time of the House to ask the same questions over and over frankly is a waste of time. It's a waste of time for hon. members here, it's a waste of your time, it's a waste of my time. If there is a reasonable point to be made, if there is a nuance or something else, that is fine.

If the hon. member feels that he is being done an injustice I would refer him to the record. Fair is fair, but I'm not going to stand here and go through every detail of those that I have answered two or three times before.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: I want answers, Mr. Chairman, to those questions. I was a member of that Committee. I asked them in Committee and was told to wait until I got into the House of Assembly. Well, that is where I am now. Now I'm asking the questions. The minister either wants to answer them or he doesn't want to answer them.

MR. DICKS: The minister has answered them.

MR. FRENCH: He either wants to answer them or he doesn't want to answer them. In my opinion, he hasn't answered them for this member here. I'm not saying that some of these questions weren't asked before, they probably were, but it's possible that I wasn't in the House when they were asked. So, you know, again they are there, they will be recorded in Hansard, and I trust that somewhere down the road I will get an answer to them.

There are some others there I have heard answers given for, but in these particular areas - I don't recall, Mr. Chairman, people asking questions in some of these incidents, on Purchased Services of $150,000-odd or $80,000-odd. I don't remember that question being asked. I'm not saying it wasn't. This member here certainly doesn't remember it being asked. If it was, I wasn't here when it was asked, and I certainly wasn't here when it was answered.

I lay these questions out there and either I am going to get an answer or I'm not. Maybe down the road I will place them on the Order Paper as I did last year with quite a few questions, and again got no answers. If this is the forum that we have to deal with this in, then I think I deserve the right to be answered, as an elected member of this House. I really don't care who the questions are put to, but at the end of the day I think I should be given an answer. Okay?

On that note, Mr. Chairman, I will concede to my colleague.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, I have no objection to answering the hon. member's questions. Quite right, any member of this House has a right to ask any particular question about any of the details of the Estimates.

I think what I pointed out is that we have been at this for a long time. I've answered the questions. What I invite the member to do, so this can be a more productive exercise for us all is - the records are in Hansard. I will refer the hon. member to Hansard. You might want to go through it, because we have done this. I'm not being unfair to the hon. member, but we started with the first page of this. I mean, that is my book. We went through it detail after detail, and to go back through it all again, frankly I don't have the appetite for it.

It is on the record. I know the hon. member may have missed it, and I understand that. We all have other obligations to attend to. Some of the other hon. members have been here. I think I have given frank and fair and fairly detailed answers to this. If there is some specific item I would be delighted to do it, but I really don't have an appetite to go through everything for the third time.

I would invite the hon. member to consult Hansard, and if there is something there you are dissatisfied with I would be delighted and happy to give you a more detailed answer, but I have done it at least once, and in a lot of cases twice before. It is on the record, and I say in fairness to the hon. member, consult the record. If you wish more detail I will be happy to give it to you, if it's available, and if not I will seek it out.

Other than that, if there are specific questions that weren't asked - and I've listened to the hon. member. All the Professional Services stuff, all the salary details, all the other things, each category, I have done it. Transportation and Communications, Employee Benefits, I explained that four times in some cases. In fairness to the hon. members, I don't mind doing it, but please, you know, your tolerance gets a little low at a certain point after doing this day after day.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

While we acknowledge what the Minister of Finance has just said, we also want to note that we have been so accustomed on this side to having to ask the question so many times, repeatedly, over and over again. We tabled 100 questions on the Order Paper last fall and I got two replies, both of them from the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Of the 100 questions we put on the Order Paper last year, we got two replies. We are still awaiting replies to the other ninety-eight questions.

I do have to say that the Minister of Finance has been attentive in his chair during the Executive Council section of the budgetary debate. However, I think he should recognize that it is not reasonable to expect every hon. member to be rushing every day to find Hansard and do a check-off list to see if indeed the question that he might have relative to some particular aspect of government expenditure has indeed been asked, and moreover has indeed been answered.

So when you establish the criteria for questions and answers, what the Minister of Finance is suggesting to the Member for Conception Bay South is that he would have carefully listed down all the questions he wanted to have answered and then he would have done a comparative analysis with Hansard. That is a fairly unreasonable request to ask of any hon. member, given the nature of the constituency that the member has in Conception Bay South. In fact, that would preclude the give and take that occurs in questions asked on the floor of the House. I think the Member for Conception Bay South has reason to expect the Minister of Finance to answer his questions directly.

MR. DICKS: Yes, and I agree.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: I am only too delighted to be of help to the hon. members opposite. You must forgive me because I took the hon. Opposition as a monolith in its approach to this. I can only admire its approach to it. It is like a Roman army entering against the Gauls, with great attention to detail and methodically going through each category of the Estimates. I was delighted that such a productive, inquisitive and detailed approach was taken. I automatically assumed that of course hon. members were pouring over Hansard each night to see the progress made in battle and to come back and pick up where they left off in their siege engines and batter down the walls once more. But in that I have obviously done the Opposition an injustice. Perhaps they are the Gauls and we are the Romans.

In any event, if any hon. member has fairly direct questions about any head of category that has not been asked me at least two or three times, I would be delighted to respond. I did indeed think and assume that hon. members had a very coherent plan here and we are obviously, to my point of view on the outside, deliberately pursuing it with great expedition and to some extent interest I thought as well, but perhaps I am mistaken. I stand to be corrected by the hon. member.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Finance is right in that we on this side do our homework and are very methodical; however, that requires some time subsequent to the preparation of Hansard. At this stage we have not had an opportunity to share the information with the Member for Conception Bay South. We have not done the careful analysis required because of the time constraints that we operate under in the House, but I am sure that the Member for Conception Bay South has made meticulous notes of the questions he was asking this morning. He will, I am sure, come back to re-examine those questions and to see if there is anything in Hansard which addresses his concerns.

Mr. Chairman, I wanted to ask the Minister of Finance a couple of questions relative to the Premier's expenses. I am not sure again whether or not the details have been forthcoming. It would be relative to the operation of the Premier's Office and the tendency of government to engage in extensive public polling. I am wondering if the Government House Leader, given that the Minister of Finance had to leave the Chamber for a few moments, if we could go to the section. I am not sure where it would be.

MR. TULK: Where are you?

MR. H. HODDER: I am talking about the expenditures that have been incurred for public polling, all of the public opinion polls that have been conducted, where that would be found in terms of the Budget, and whether or not that occurs as an expense of the Premier's Office or whether that is broken down by department and occurs individually in each departmental listing of the Estimates. Maybe the Government House Leader might be able to let us know that. We do know that last year there was an expenditure of more than $60,000 - well, $59,000 - expended by the government.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: I have asked the question, I say to the Government House Leader, under the Premier's Office, and that would be in the Executive Council.

MR. TULK: What heading?

MR. H. HODDER: That would be under 2.1.01.

MR. TULK: Okay.

MR. H. HODDER: That would be on page 16.

MR. TULK: Yes, I have that.

MR. H. HODDER: I am wondering if the Premier's Office does include the expenditures for the conducting of public opinion polls. We know there have been a great number of them done, and there has been some public release of information relative to that. We know what was spent last year; however, we want to know: what kind of public opinion polls are anticipated for this year; if there is any planning that goes into that; when we can expect to know on what you are going to conduct public opinion polls; and how much the anticipated expenditure might be.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentlemen has brought up a topic that is very, very, interesting. It is on the Premier's Office.

Mr. Chairman, I think my friend from Terra Nova would know this, probably better than anybody else in the House, about expenditures in the Premier's Office.

I want to first of all say to the hon. gentleman opposite that I think we can recall in this Legislature when the number of people employed in the Premier's Office was second only to the number of people who would have been employed in Works, Services and Transportation. Now we are talking, of course, about pre-1989. The cost of running the Premier's Office before 1989, before the Wells' Administration took over, before the Liberal Administration took over, was phenomenal. It was almost the single biggest expenditure in government.

MR. LUSH: It rivalled the Premier's Office in Quebec.

MR. TULK: Yes, it rivalled the Premier's Office in Quebec, at least as big as the Premier's Office in Quebec.

Mr. Chairman, there was a tremendous cut made in 1989. There has been a tremendous cut made in the expenditures in the Premier's Office as a result of the work of the Minister of Finance, as a result of the work of this Administration and previous Ministers of Finance here and so on.

The hon. gentlemen talks about how much is spent on polling. On the one hand, they get over there and say: Why do you not consult? Why do you not find out the opinions of the people? Why do you not go out and find out what the people of this Province want you to do? Why will you not listen to them? Why will you not hear them?

I do not know of any better way, of any more of a scientific way, of getting the opinions of people than by an opinion poll. Yes, I think there was - was there $60,000 spent last year?

AN HON. MEMBER: Fifty-nine thousand.

MR. TULK: Fifty-nine thousand. Even I have the figures too high. We are so cheap, we do things so cheaply, I cannot believe we do them for the price that we do them. So I thank the hon. gentleman for telling me that they were done for $59,000.

Mr. Chairman, let me say to the hon. gentleman, and I say this to him in all sincerity: Stop playing little games over there. Stop being so silly. We live in an age when you have to find out what people think. The opinions of people are important. We do not live in an age where government is operated in total isolation from the people they serve. I would think that a $59,000 expenditure last year is a small amount of money to find out what people think in this Province.

As a matter of fact, the Minister of Finance has just undertaken another means of finding out what the people of this Province think, and it is being done very efficiently. But, I will tell you, it is being done in a manner that is so inexpensive compared to other budget consultations in this Province, it is hard to believe you could get that much information for so little money.

I am talking about, of course, the audio-visual connection through the information highway that the Minister of Finance undertook this year in Budget consultations. I understand - I do not know if my friend from Lewisporte would probably know this as well, and I think the Member for Terra Nova; no, the Member for Terra Nova was out of the Province at that time because of a personal problem with his son, but I can guarantee you that he will certainly find this out next year and in many more years as he continues to sit in this House - that it was a tremendous success.

I believe it was nineteen stations across the Province that sat down and had a discussion not only with the Finance Minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: Eighteen.

MR. TULK: How many?

AN HON. MEMBER: Eighteen.

MR. TULK: Well, it could be eighteen, nineteen, twenty. Don't go nit-picking. There were a fair number of places. No, it was nineteen. There were nineteen stations around the Province. The Minister of Finance sat down in St. John's and listened to all the people from across the Province, all those different groups. Different groups went into different stations, and they talked to him and they talked back and forth to each other and so on, on Budget consultation.

I believe it cost the Province $10,000. Can you imagine the cost of dragging officials all around the Province to hear those nineteen groups of people on nineteen different nights, hotel rooms, airplane travel, cars, and all that kind of stuff?

I say to the hon. gentleman that this government - and I know that is what he is interested in - is communicating with people. We are listening to people. We use polls, we use the electronic media, we go out and visit. My travel budget last year got eaten up by the rest of the ministers around here, taking them out to visit all those regional economic development boards, travelling all over the Province to see what people thought about economic development in the Province.

We do it very efficiently; we do it very inexpensively. We do not live high off the hog with the long cigars, the stretched limousines, and all that kind of stuff. We do it very, very well.

As a matter of fact, I say to the hon. gentlemen, if he went back and did a bit of research pre-1989 - I would even say pre-1996 - dug up the facts, and looked at the amount of consultation that took place before 1989 compared to today, and then compared - because there is hardly any pre-1989 - his political allies, the Tories -

AN HON. MEMBER: Double Daylight Savings Time?

MR. TULK: Double, double Daylight Savings Time. We were up all night, all day; we could not get to sleep.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) coffee.

MR. TULK: You could not get a coffee in the morning at Tim Horton's because there was no coffee; there was no morning. It was just going around - the sun never set.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Newfoundland - the place where the sun never set.

I think the Minister of Environment at that time was the hon. John Butt.

AN HON. MEMBER: He led the way.

MR. TULK: I believe he led the way in that great endeavour. He had Newfoundlanders going around - they did not know whether they were asleep, whether they should go to bed, whether they should get up. I think it was at 1:00 a.m. that we used to get a little bit of dusk, and before you knew it, it was daylight again. John even have the sun running the way he wanted it. He had the sun slowed down. That is how the Tories operated. He said he did that after consultation with the people. The only thing he consulted with must have been a crystal ball or something. He must have looked into a crystal ball, because before half the summer was out, the Premier of the day was trying to have the time switched back again.

I say to the hon. gentleman: Yes, we do consult with people, we try to communicate with them, and I have to say to him that we are using every means possible. The Minister of Finance and the Premier today are using every means possible to make sure -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you know what (inaudible)?

MR. TULK: Oh, absolutely.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Charlie Brown.

MR. TULK: I say to the hon. gentleman that he should look up to Charlie Brown when it comes to intelligence.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Labrador West, on a point of order.

MR. CANNING: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to advise all hon. members to treat him gently this morning. This is his 50th birthday.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that?

MR. CANNING: The previous member.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I just want to conclude, Mr. Chairman, by saying: Yes, we use every means possible, we use the most modern technology that we can find, to try and stay in touch with the people in this Province whom we govern, and I want to say to the hon. gentleman that we do it very cheaply.

As to what we are going to have to spend this year, I suggest to the hon. gentleman that we will come in on budget, that we will not overspend our budget this year, that everything will be well, and that we will communicate and we may - I understand there is a possibility that before the fall is out, all of us may be communicating face to face, hand to hand, door to door, with everybody.

I understand, by the way, that they have not held the nominations in the hon. gentleman's district yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: They have not held the nominations yet. He is one of the few Tories left. I do not think the Member for Ferryland has his held either.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) and keep the opinion polls going (inaudible) to keep the government on the side of the people.

MR. TULK: That is right. Oh, we have to, absolutely. We have to do opinion polls. We have to hear from our people. We have to know what they are saying. We have to know what they are thinking so that we stay in touch and do what the people of this Province want. I will tell the hon. gentleman that it is a very small price we pay for hearing from people.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

I get concerned sometimes when we ask questions, because when I was asking the questions I asked them in a very neutral manner. I did not ask the questions in any way questioning the policy of the government.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, not only was the hon. gentleman speaking in a very neutral tone; I could say to him, too, that he is spinning his wheels.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

The Government House Leader assumed, of course, that the question was asked for justification. I merely asked the amount that was planned to be spent this year, and whether there was any idea as to what public opinion polls would be conducted on, what topics. I did not say whether they were good or bad. I did not draw any conclusions. But the Government House Leader jumps up and automatically, like a hurt chicken, goes off fluttering in all kinds of directions and goes back to Brian Peckford's days, gets into Clyde Wells' days. We know where he stood with the Clyde Wells' government.

AN HON. MEMBER: In the gallery.

MR. H. HODDER: Up in the gallery is where he was. It is a case of where maybe if Clyde Wells had done a public opinion poll, that is where he would have stayed. But times change and the hon. member went out and consulted with the people and apologized to the people in his district and said to them: You know, Sam Windsor beat me in 1989, and I have learned my lesson. I am going to apologize to the people for not being attentive to them. I should have returned the telephone calls that were waiting on my desk leading up to the 1989 election, and he did a good job. He went on bended knee from door-to-door, spent three years - talk about doing door-to-door consulting with the people. This hon. member, the Government House Leader, spent four years going door-to-door consulting with the people.

Now I have to give him credit, at the end of the four year consultation period he had completed his job because in 1993, on May 3, when the votes were counted, the Government House Leader found himself again elected to the hon. House. I suspect, next to the Member for Terra Nova, he has the longest sitting record.

I do want to follow up on the comments made by the Member for Labrador West and wish him well on his 50th birthday. Just to note that this is the fifth year in a row that we wished him well on his 50th birthday. It is against -

MR. TULK: And I am going to tell you something else (inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: See, this is what happens when you are in government, you just continue to say the same things over and over again. The member is obviously having a very good day, assuming that indeed it is his 50th birthday. Whatever birthday it is, if it is, then we wish him well. However, I am not quite sure whether or not the information that was given to the hon. House by the Member for Labrador West is indeed accurate. I rather doubt if it is; a little tiny bit off here, I would assume.

Mr. Chairman, on the issue that I was raising questions about, which is the issue of consultations with the public, I asked questions of the Minister of Finance a few days ago relative to the use of technology in the consultation process. He had given the House information relative to the number of consultations and I complimented him then for using technology to do it. Some members know that I do have a commitment to using technology to consult.

However, I do say to the Government House Leader, that the difficulty I have with the consultation process, if you want to use technology, is that many small communities in rural Newfoundland who cannot come into Springdale or come to the community college or come to those centres, where the nineteen centres were - most of them were set up in some of the existing government offices. Some of the people in rural Newfoundland, in the small communities - I did say to the Minister of Finance then, to expand it to make sure -

MR. TULK: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I have to correct the hon. gentleman because the truth of the matter is that this was an experiment. By the way, it was not only just government offices or community colleges. In my own case, for example, they used the facilities of a high school in Lumsden. So the truth of the matter is that it would not surprise me - last year we did nineteen, it started off being eleven, then it ended up being nineteen - if next year you see forty or fifty, because you can do this almost anywhere in Newfoundland now.

We are way ahead of the rest of Canada, if the hon. gentleman does not know it, with the information highway, in information technology.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: I have some knowledge of that, but I have to say, when it comes to the information highway the Government House Leader is simply road kill.

I say with all due respect, if you are going to consult with the people - and I made this point the other day to the Minister of Finance - to use what we have out there by way of distance education and to make sure that in the rural communities where we have distance education facilities, that these indeed are used. There may be a limit as to how many consultations you can have over a two or three day period, but at least then the opportunity will be available and it will be of minimal expense to the taxpayers of the Province.

Mr. Chairman, I do believe that the Opposition House Leader has a series of questions he wants to direct; and given those non-answers, as usual, justification for the Peckford, or lack of justification for Clyde Wells' strategy, on no money spent on public opinion - $5,000 or something spent in one year. Of course, then when he got into trouble with Newfoundland Hydro he had all kinds of consultation after that. He spent $10 million in consultation with the legal advisors. He didn't spend it talking to ordinary Newfoundlanders. He spent $10 million of taxpayers' money on legal advisors here in St. John's. Clyde Wells talked to a very select group. He didn't need to go out there. When you are next to God, then you don't have to have consultations like that. That would be in his opinion, of course.

I say to the hon. the Government House Leader, that I ask the questions in a very neutral manner, not drawing conclusions. In fact, I just wanted additional information following up from comments we had made a few days ago.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I thank the Government House Leader for his commentaries. I will probably let the Member for Ferryland, that great historic district, a member who has lots of questions, never runs out of questions, and knows the Budget inside out and upside-down, if he would probably share with us some of his research and the benefit of his detailed analysis.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, anything he didn't mention there I will try to mention in my next eight or nine hours here.

I'm going to start with where I left off earlier this morning, talking about budgets. I will just use this as an illustration now. On Wednesday I went over to an appeal for a constituent of mine who was appealing - and I don't mind saying what they were appealing there. I certainly won't give names. The person has seen his own doctor for thirty-five years, approximately. Because there is a doctor in the area they are telling that person now: You must go to a doctor in your area. The cost of coming to see a doctor in St. John's would be around $16 once a month. So he has to give up his own doctor after thirty-some years and take on a new doctor.

I said: Appeal it on principle. We appealed it on principle and it went through an appeal, and the person came into the appeal board. I said: You will get reimbursed for coming in, $15. I happened to say to the person who was there representing the department: Did you come in on your own? Did you drive in on your own? He answered: No, I got a taxi. I said: You got a taxi in from the district? He said: Yes, we can't use our own vehicles. I said: Sure, you used to get a vehicle allowance. He said: No, that is cut out; thirty-nine dollars every two weeks. I said: You mean you drove from Ferryland to your residence, called a cab, came up to St. John's, $50, went out to a $16 appeal, called a cab and went back again to the district, another $50; $100, in fact, for one $16 appeal?

Here is something that was changed in the Budget, and this affects a lot of people in rural Newfoundland. The district served by the office in Ferryland runs from Bay Bulls right up to St. Shotts in the District of the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's. St. Shotts in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's is served from Ferryland, almost 100 kilometres one way up from St. Shotts to Ferryland. An employee would go up to that area once a week and either house visit and serve people -

MR. TULK: Would the hon. member permit a question?


CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, is the hon. gentleman saying that it is a policy of the department that they no longer will pay for people to use their own cars to go to appeals?


MR. TULK: It is a policy of the department?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. I tell the minister, I will make it clear.

AN HON. MEMBER: The last one I went to they got $0.15 a kilometre.

MR. SULLIVAN: No. The client, the person who is appealing, will get their kilometres paid, but in the Department of Human Resources and Employment this past month, or since April 1, probably, I don't know the exact date, all the financial assistance officers right now - they used to get, on their cheques every two weeks, $39 to allow for use of their own car, and then they would get some kilometres when they went on the road.

Now that is terminated. They go to their office -

MR. TULK: You are talking about the social worker?

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, the financial assistance officers.

MR. TULK: Whatever.


MR. TULK: The employee of the department? You aren't talking about the client of social services?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I'm talking about the employees of the department. The employees of the department now have to call a cab. If they want to go to a staff meeting, they call a cab. If you are in Ferryland and your staff meeting is in St. John's, you call a cab. You get a cab from Ferryland to go into St. John's; probably $75, $50 from Witless Bay and Mobile area, maybe $100 probably from there, each way. The meeting is over, you get a cab and go back.

In fact, on Wednesday of this week the department paid out, for a cab ride return, only half-way - it's not even halfway to my home in Fermeuse in the district, about 35 per cent of the distance to Fermeuse - they paid $100 to send someone in, take a day, for an appeal on $16. They were forcing someone, saying: We won't pay you $16 to come into St. John's to your doctor you have seen for thirty-five years because there is a doctor a bit closer to you.

A $16 appeal - and it is not every month that applies. Some months the person has had a letter, he has an income that he doesn't draw, he has a drug card on it. Maybe four times a year at $16, and they paid $100 for one shot. Now, if you want to go to another appeal from that office, and there are appeals - and I handle them the same as anybody else in their district - that is what happens; sit back, get a cab, wait for the cab to show up, or order it for a certain time, and drive to your house. If you go to the office in Ferryland and you happen to live in Renews, or if you are in the office in Ferryland and you live farther away, call your cab. The cab will take you in. What happens if the office is in Trepassey? Call a cab. Come to Trepassey, bring you into St. John's and bring you back. I mean, it's ridiculous.

The minister is here now, and I'm delighted. In the Trepassey area, and I made reference to this in question period I say to the minister, there was an article in the local newspaper there - I think it was sent in to your department, Minister - in The Southern Post. People in that area - and I know the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's, St. Shotts is in his district - if they want now to apply for social assistance, they have no income, they won't come up once a week any more now to that area. Once a week they would come up and everybody would flock there and they would have questions. They have to send in a form and it is sent back if it is not filled out completely. Some people are not really skilled. Some people do not have high literacy levels. That happens. That is widespread in the Province. We are seeing some improvements, but it's there. Forms often go back and forth. The service has been reduced. They don't see the person out in the field any more, and that is a big problem.

I'm saying to the minister: Minister, why don't you reinstate the $39 every two weeks, at least for people who live in rural Newfoundland? If you do it in an urban area it's not so relevant. Minister, the same cut doesn't have to fit everything. I have a suggestion to the minister now that might help solve the problem in rural Newfoundland. When I get her attention I'm going to make a suggestion as to how it might solve the problem.

A suggestion, I say to the minister, that might solve the problem is this: In urban areas, it is one thing, but in rural Newfoundland - if you are in Ferryland and you have to serve from Bay Bulls on one end to St. Shotts on the other, right up to the District of Placentia & St. Mary's, why not allow the financial assistance officers in rural Newfoundland, who are spread out, to go to those areas once a week like you used to do? If a person needs assistance in an urban area at least they can get on a bus and get to the office and go in and help fill out a form.

Right now in Trepassey, for example - and an article was forwarded to one of the directors in charge of an area there, that article that was in the local newspaper - why not allow them to go once a week? When they go there they flock to him. They see the person at the restaurant, they need help filling out a form. Older people, people who haven't got the same literacy levels as other people, need assistance. They are often back and forth with forms. They don't see anybody any more. The client now is left out there dangling, they are a statistic out there. At least get into remote areas once a week for a few dollars.

They can't any more. They aren't permitted. The only time they can go is when they have meetings or they go to appeals, and they hire a cab. I asked the person - I didn't know this until I happened to say: Are you heading back home now? Are you going back in your car, are you driving up? He said: No, I don't have my car. I asked: What happens? The person said: I had to get a cab. I mean it is crazy to get a cab to drive from his office to his home, and then get a cab at his home to take him in and take him back. I mean rural areas, minister, is a big (inaudible). You might get economies in the urban areas by not paying - for two weeks, to put that on a cheque of a worker, it is good for morale. It is good for morale if they can get $39.00 every two weeks on their cheque. It helps and allows them to use their vehicle and then they only have to charge by kilometre, which is considerably lower when there is any distance involved, than hiring a cab.

If we are in a small area of the city, it may be more economical to hire a cab. That is possible. I ask the minister: Was there an analysis done to look at the cost of that particular item? Because what is happening here, apart from the cost factor, is that people are feeling isolated out in rural Newfoundland, in the Trepassey area in particular. They are being isolated because it is almost fifty miles to get to the nearest office. Nobody comes up anymore, they are not allowed to come up anymore. The minister can check on this with other offices too. They are not allowed to go up there anymore now. What happens? You have no income - 30 per cent are unemployed - you have to go on social assistance. One month you might be on assistance, the next month you may not be on it, because you are just at the level that qualifies you. So, when you are in that category, you need more continuous contact. We have ignored the people out in the field and we need to do something about it and provide a service.

We were going to have a client focus, a service driven area now, under this new restructured Human Resources and Employment. And what have we done? We have become an office like HRDC. Now, you are out in a remote area - how do you expect people on social assistance to come in, 200 kilometres return? Sure, they do not have any income. They are at the minimal level at which they can survive, and they have to come in to the office. People are not permitted to go out, there is no reimbursement. Someone goes out on their own expense. On their own expense they have to leave and go out.

So we should be looking at servicing clients, at lease every so often, in an area. There is no set guide office there. There is none of that. But at lease he can go and maybe get a room at the town hall, or whatever the case may be, once a week and continue a service. It was there, it is gone now under the new structure, and we are becoming bureaucrat. The HRDC office is what we are like now. If you need anything, come into St. John's. That is not good and the people cannot afford it.

How many people out there, on social assistance, can afford to go 200 kilometres return. First of all, they do not have a car. Who is going to bring them in? Even just to cover gas, to come that distance alone, we are looking at $20.00. For a person on social assistance, $20.00 a week to pay somebody for gas is a big cost. It is causing administrative problems. I think we need to look at it. We sort of lose focus when we look at the dollar. In fact, I feel that in rural areas, we do not save money. In fact, I think that we are spending more money now, it is costing us more money now; penny wise and pound foolish in rural areas.

I would like to see an analysis. I asked the minister this morning if she has done an analysis, to look at it in an urban area to see if there are economies there; because nobody wants to waste money. But, there comes a point in time when you have to balance the cost and the value of the service that is out there. Right now it is not being done appropriately.

I will leave that issue. There are a lot of other issues out there, especially in health, an area that I am a critic in. There are tremendous-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)


There are numerous concerns. The minister gets up as if everything is fantastic. You know, what a tremendous system! Look, talk to people out there today. The calls I get! If I had to ask the minister questions, I could ask questions from now to December and I would not get through every single issue that I have on health. I would have to pick and choose and try to raise issues that have broad public importance out there, where we can at least shame this government into reversing certain things they have done. We were fortunate in one.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are close. As it goes from red to purple to blue, things are becoming more (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to my colleague there, he is telling us that things are far from rosie and there are a tremendous number of concerns. People speak about the fantastic system we have in reorganization, and I want to mention this. Back when they announced, a few years ago, we are going to restructure the health care boards here in St. John's - and I said: I support that in principle. I support a reorganization if it is going to eliminate more structures, more capital costs, more maintenance in buildings; I am going to focus it under four roofs instead of seven. You are going to get economies, because we are not going to be wasting on maintenance, basically, that we could be using for health care.

If that is the purpose of it, I support it. I am not opposed, in principle, to consolidation and moving particular areas to get economies where we can have more money to provide the service, unless they are provided in capital and other costs. I support that.

What has happened, as anyone who visits the hospitals, and I happen to visit occasionally, visiting relatives and friends - there is hardly an occasion when I go to a hospital, hardly a visit, from the time I get to the main door until I get to a hospital room or back, that I am not stopped by at least three people. Everyday almost, people calling you aside in hospitals saying: Look at the condition. Look at those little bugs on the floor. I think they call them silverfish. The carpet is rotten. `We don't do any cleaning.' Cleaning people are saying, we had national housekeeping week. They took an hour off to celebrate the occasion and they could never catch up on the duties they had to do. They are so pressured -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am just using examples of some of the concerns in hospitals today.

MR. TULK: I thought you were talking about the House Leader. I was just going to say (inaudible) like that.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, we are not. I am talking about housekeeping.


MR. SULLIVAN: Housekeeping. Something, I say, that government has not done a good job with.

MR. MATTHEWS: Loyola, be good to him today because it's his birthday.

MR. SULLIVAN: If he will tell me how old he is. Other people have said but I have to hear it from him, and then I will decide if I should be good to him or not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: He would love to be fifty.

MR. TULK: Loyola, don't count your (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Fifty-four, that is what he is. He is five years being fifty, someone said, that will make him fifty-four, five years being fifty. Because he was actually fifty and then it is four years since that. That is what I figured.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) want to be fifty (inaudible).

MR. TULK: Do you know what I got for my birthday last year?

MR. SULLIVAN: You don't have to tell me, on public record, if you don't want to.

MR. TULK: But do you know what I got?

MR. SULLIVAN: Tell me.

MR. TULK: Two Newfoundland cry babies.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Who was the other?

MR. TULK: Seriously. Have you seen them?


MR. TULK: Boy, I tell you something (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Do they rival the Cabbage Patch.

MR. TULK: Seriously, have you ever seen those?


MR. TULK: Well I will tell you something, somebody should put together a market (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Who does them? Who puts them out?

MR. TULK: The lady next door (inaudible) crafts. It is not that (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. They are not a product that is being marketed. Is she the only one or do other people do similar -

MR. TULK: No, but I tell you, is somebody (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Bring in your cry baby.

MR. TULK: I will bring it in Monday.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, bring your cry baby in and we might -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't want one for my birthday. I don't want a cry baby for my birthday. It is the last thing I want, I say to the minister. But what do you give a sook on his birthday except a cry baby? That is basically what you do. He is sooking if he does not get it his own way.

I remember the former House Leader. Your former House Leader was a sook. When he did not get his own way in here he was a sook, a bully and everything. Well this guy, I must say, is not as bad as the other guy. We would stay here all night just to irritate that former guy.

MR. TULK: I got one called (inaudible) and the other called Jack.

MR. SULLIVAN: You have a problem. You have a big problem.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Jack? Where's Jack? The fellow right here? Oh, this Jack. He will keep you on the ball.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you for that compliment, I appreciate it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Listen, there are so many brains in there that they pushed his hair out of the way, I say to the member. He is growing right up through his hair, that's right.

MR. J. BYRNE: At least I have proof I got a brain, you don't.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) surprised at the level of debate (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell you one thing, when I see him rise in the House the answers to questions increases by 200 per cent, I can tell you that.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, somebody said he is taking lessons from the Minister of Education and somebody else piped up and said: No, he doesn't need any lessons from anybody.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Imagine. That's it, boy. The Bellevue Member is a philosopher. If had to listen to ifs, maybes and hads and all that - I am never one, I say to the member, to dwell on the past. I only look ahead. I am only going to start looking back when I plan on going that way, I say to the member. That is why I am going to keep look ahead.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe. Who knows?

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He will show you the next time how much support he has in his district. Won't you?

MR. MATTHEWS: You are still the leader, Loyola.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you for your vote of confidence.

My only regret now is that I am not the critic for Works, Services and Transportation, even though this guy is doing such a job. He almost had it finished off -

MR. MATTHEWS: Loyola, what are you doing in the next election? Give up Ferryland and come up to St. John's North and run against me.

MR. SULLIVAN: Run against you?

MR. J. BYRNE: I am thinking about that.

MR. SULLIVAN: If we run against you in St. John's North, you are not going to survive the nomination, I say to the minister. The minister is not going to survive the nomination.

I have a better idea, minister: If you dislike it so much in here, why don't you come up to Ferryland and run against me?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Come down my way.

MR. MATTHEWS: Matthews is a good Southern Shore name.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it would be fantastic. You will fit right in up there. All you have to do is see your colleague from Topsail, take out a membership like a couple of your members have done in an organization, and hand out the list and you should do alright.

AN HON. MEMBER: I am not interested in the Women's Leagues.

MR. SULLIVAN: Anyway, I will not say too much to the Member for Topsail. I will not get into that on the official record. I will leave that for a side issue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Graham's phone call.

MR. SULLIVAN: Like whose?

AN HON. MEMBER: Like Graham's phone call.

MR. SULLIVAN: Like his phone call, yes. That was pretty good. I found that funny yesterday, I have to say; one of the more funny moments.

I will not get too specific, but: We, the undersigned members of the Catholic Women's League of Canada, Topsail District, do hereby petition the House of Assembly. Who are the members who signed it? Who are they? I have to say, the Member for Humber Valley acknowledged - the Member for Torngat and the person who orchestrated it, the person pulled what could be -

MR. TULK: Women working.

MR. SULLIVAN: Women working, sure; I agree. The more women working the better for society. The better off we will all be, I would say.

MR. FRENCH: Judy, you should give them to Ralph, Rick and Wally.

MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, the Member for Topsail, that has to be the most hilarious there. That will teach the members of this House to read petitions before they sign them. How many sign petitions without reading them?

MR. SHELLEY: Not many. I always read them.

MR. SULLIVAN: Not many, yes.

MR. SHELLEY: Outside the House.

I told him: I knew you were a sleeveen, but I did not think you would betray your own buddies, your own colleagues. If you had to get somebody else -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is unparliamentary? Well, I withdraw calling the Member for Topsail a sleeveen. It is slang. In fact, I told him yesterday he was, personally. I will not say anything behind his back that I would not say to his face. I have told him that.

Now, I was talking about the problems with health care. I just touched on some of them. I said as I visited hospitals, in to visit family members

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, and that I do not. But if I wanted to relate the incidents, there are days I receive eight or ten specific calls. In fact, there are so many that it is impossible to deal with them. When I get an opportunity, between now and the end of this session, I will cover some of the topics.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, ask them. I do not mind being asked any questions.

I said, as I visit hospitals - and I have had occasion to visit more frequently lately, by visiting either a family member or relative or friend, somebody who has been in hospital - it is a rare occasion when I don't get stopped at least once, and sometimes up to three times, from the time I leave a room until I get to the main door; people relating problems and concerns going on in hospitals.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is my strategy, and I hope it will be contagious and we will get the other side to go to sleep too.

In the system today people are having to work with less. There are less workers in hospitals. A big concern of mine in hospitals today is the cleanliness aspect that is resulting in infections and other problems. I know my colleague for Conception Bay South has raised it before.

A person working in the system told me - not recently, this was over a year ago - that: We are told to dilute the cleaning fluids, the concentration, weaken it, have a lower concentration now in cleaning floors and so on in hospitals. An employee told me that. He said you don't care if I (inaudible), it's fact. I know the hospital the person works in, and in fact I raised the issue in the House about a year or two years ago. That is what they are telling me.

They are only cleaning certain areas that are more in contact. The garbage is not getting emptied as regularly. All these things are adding up. The minister said, about the infection rate: You are better in a home than in a hospital. That is why we are getting you out of hospital quickly. Granted, it's good to get people out of hospital as quickly as possible, provided the support is out there in the community health end to be able to look after these people. It's not there.

I went to a hospital about six months ago. I got on an elevator at the Grace Hospital, and a gentleman said: Mr. Sullivan? I said: Yes? He said: I'm back here in hospital. I was out four days and I'm back in with an infection. I raised the issue in the House I think last fall. He said: I'm back in again. Six other people who were in with me at the time are all back again with infection. They put us out too quick, pushed us out of the hospital, and we are back in again.

How productive is it, running people out through a revolving door when there is no one to care for them outside? In fact, a family member here in this city told me, they will come in during the week and change bandages, but on the weekends they don't. When you have drainage and other things, post-surgical procedures, people who have drainage and so on and need bandages changed, it's very important. A family member either has to do it or it doesn't get done, because the people aren't working on weekends. In other words, you can't get sick on a weekend.

Another basic issue of concern is out in community health, using resources, or getting resources, I should say. They are using what resources they have. They need more resources. People need to get out on continuing care and they need to get out to care for people at home. They have eliminated other things, for example. They tried to get away with it on blood work by forcing people to pay for it. They didn't get away with it, I hope. I didn't get a call back since. I'm assuming that policy is reversed now, it's stopped. The minister said: It's not a policy change, it's a practice change. They had a practice change. What dictates practice if it isn't policy? That's what dictates practice, a policy change.

In other areas things are happening too. I say to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, a person called me last week, for example, and they were at the hospital. They have a young child who has rheumatoid arthritis. They got a bill in the mail a couple of weeks ago for a knee splint and a splint and a brace, $24 and $40-some, whatever, $60 or $70. I just checked to see is this the new practice. When the Health Care Corporation came together all under the one, they started adopting certain practices that some hospitals weren't charging for this, some were, and now everybody charges. The Janeway didn't really charge for this before, for young kids.

Here is the person; I said to him: Do you have insurance? He said: No, I'm on social assistance. I said: In that case submit the bill and they should cover it in that instance. That is what I recommended. I didn't hear back from him. I assume that is what happened and they got that paid for. People who are not on social assistance, right now they are starting to have to pay for splints and braces. I know if somebody wants to get a cast, if you ask for fibreglass you pay for that cost. That is understandable. If you are going to do plaster of Paris, a regular one, it's provided. We don't expect to give you a Cadillac or an increased service and expect to get it when you can provide another one, and that is understandable.

Those are some of the many things on which we are getting nickelled and dimed to death. Pay this little bit here and a little bit there. And departments out there, to find those last dollars in resources to meet budgets and so on, are squeezing the people on the periphery who just do not have the resources. Someone who has insurance and they can afford to do that and so on, that is one thing, but for other people out there, that is a big concern. Because many people who have young kids in particular who have different ailments, getting them to hospital alone, as we have a reduction of services in rural areas like...

We used to have cottage hospitals all over the place in the Province and we closed them down and said: We are going to get more regional hospitals and have them better equipped, so we are going to save money. But what they have done out in these areas now is, they have really decimated the services in these areas, and what is happening to the people? The people have to drive great distances now to have medical attention. To have a baby now, you have to drive halfway across the Province. My colleague from Baie Verte - for a baby to be born in Baie Verte, you have to go to Grand Falls or Corner Brook, for instance. There are extra costs. If there is a problem with the pregnancy, for example, you have to come in early; you are coming in considerably before that time. You cannot be close to home. You are away from family, away from friends, or people to visit. People with other young members in their families are removed from their own setting in an area.

What we have gone to is a centralization of services in a few small locations in the Province. What has that done? It has increased the costs today so much for these people. It is not the medical costs; it is transportation and other costs. I will use an example like this: Compare it to a kid who is involved in hockey, and the cost of signing and paying your registration was $200 or $300. I know one individual who this year spent $3,600 in transportation because they were so far removed; $3,600 in transportation costs, when you look at your sixty games over the year, and other costs, and about $200 or $300 in registration.

Today, the medical service is provided but people have to travel so far afield to get it, they have to stay in hostels, they have to stay with friends. We raised an issue here in this House earlier. I know the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans would be familiar with the issue. An individual came to me - unfortunately he is not with us any more - a young guy stopped me in the lobby and we raised a question here in the House on having a service in Central Newfoundland for people who need dialysis. I know the member made reference to it, I think, in speaking in the House, and we asked questions here in Question Period on that issue. In fact, I provided his number and name to the people who interviewed him, CBC, and all those other people who called to get his name. We provided it and they did follow up, I must say, and (inaudible). One of the questions raised here in the House, I said: You have to have a service in certain areas of the Province.

That young man, leaving his home and his family to come to St. John's, in a big area like Central Newfoundland, could not have access to that service. It is ridiculous to think that in a large area of the Province, Grand Falls - Windsor, the Gander area, a large area... I am delighted something happened, because local people said in Gander: We are going out and we are going to purchase it. And the Grand Falls - Windsor group said: We are going to do it. They went out - and hopefully it did not come to that, that the response was driven because of that - but the local people took it as an issue also and it resulted in getting the service. It took the plight of one individual and what he had to go through to get attention.

It should not have to come to that, where large areas - we cannot have dialysis in every little nook and cranny of the Province. That is not practical. There are costs to setting up and costs to maintaining it. But we can have it in Corner Brook and we should have it in the Grand Falls - Windsor, the Gander area, which we now do. Thank God we have it. It is a convenience to other people. Just imagine leaving your home three times a week and driving to St. John's from Central Newfoundland. When they get back home, there is no time to go back and forth again.

We have to look at having services within a reasonable distance for people because the cost is unbelievable; the effect on the family is devastating in many instances and so on, as we have seen.

Another particular issue I want to touch on, too, we are a government that reacts. Too often governments are reacting to situations, and I will use an example. A young man on the West Coast of the Province who has been in the media a fair amount a few years back contracted HIV and AIDS from tainted blood at the time, and a lot of haemophiliacs did at the time. I raised the issue as Health critic. I said: Look, this Province is dragging its feet. I know it was the previous Administration under Premier Wells. We are dragging our feet, we have not got on board. Nova Scotia took the bull by the horns and said: We are going to do it. That is what drove the issue in getting a settlement for people who were infected with tainted blood and contracted HIV and AIDS.

Now we see a similar situation, I see. I have asked the minister questions in the House on it, and we have raised it, and my colleague raised that issue here in the House I think at the time when I was in Ottawa with the All Party Committee. Three provinces in this country, namely Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, have come out and said they are prepared to do something for people who have Hepatitis C. Three others are willing to move in on it. We were not mentioned as one of those provinces. We are one of the four we have not heard from.

We are always there. There are only twenty people in the Province, and I have spoken to some of these people who were unfortunate to have contracted Hepatitis C due to tainted blood. There are only twenty in the Province. The least we can do is that people who were afflicted - getting it is devastating enough, and having to live with it for the rest of your life. Twenty per cent of the people, I think, don't live extra long to be able to deal with it. It is the 80 per cent who will live varying amounts of time. That in itself is afflicting enough. There are only twenty people here in our Province. We are not talking about big amounts of money.

We just threw out $1 million to a company that went up the spout, we will say. We don't even need that to look after those other twenty people. Even less than that, only half of that, to look after the people who got Hepatitis C, that is all we need. If we were scrutinizing and monitoring our affairs here in the Province, we would have better utilized the resources we have. We could be looking after these people.

Federally, Allan Rock has taken such a pounding over it he is not even going to be in there with our Premier and Paul Martin. He is probably not even going to be there. He might not get out of the starting gate, he has been so crippled by that. Even Mike Harris, who is considered to be so cold and callous, we have a new Mike Harris. He is leading the charge on Hepatitis C. The warm, compassionate, considerate Mike Harris, the Premier of Ontario, said: We have to help these poor people out there. Here, the cold, uncompassionate Allan Rock has turned his back. He said: The file is closed. That is what he said, it is closed. Mike Harris said: That file is not closed. I am going to open that file again, and I am going to do something.

It took Nova Scotia with HIV, AIDS, and it took Mike Harris in Ontario, and a unanimous resolution... One of the last things, I think, the outgoing Leader of the Liberal Party, your party of the same stripe in Quebec, did was present a resolution to deal with this in Quebec, and they got all party support there. That helped the cause, but they were not prepared to ante up. Bouchard was not prepared to ante up in dollars. He felt it was a federal responsibility, it should be done.

Mike Harris said: He who pays the piper calls the tune, and we will pay the piper on this one.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said?

MR. SULLIVAN: Mike Harris in Ontario said: We will help all the people affected in Ontario. We don't care what Allan Rock does at all. So Allan Rock, I said, has put himself in a position that he is not even going to get out of the starting gate with the Premier and Paul Martin in this battle for leader. He has severely damaged his reputation that would have made him a credible candidate. He had problems in Justice, they hounded him. He is in Health and they have hounded him. They had to get rid of Diane Marleau in Health, and now they have to get Allan Rock, and he has been dismal.

He accused a physician, the Reform Health critic there, the Official Health critic of the Government of Canada, of being an ambulance chaser and so on. Really, the person in the ambulance - the doctor is usually the person who is giving assistance. He said to the lawyer: He should be called Allan's chaser, Allan Rock. He had a comeback a while after. But it is not going to solve the problem until they come together. In this government, that minister, when I raised that issue here first, would not stand in her place and apologize. Allan Rock apologized initially. I asked the minister: Minister, will you apologize, because this government is one of the provincial governments that were responsible for the Canadian Blood Agency? It is an agency set up by the provinces to safeguard and ensure that there is a proper safe supply of blood made available. That was delivered to the Red Cross, but it was the Canadian Blood Agency that was responsible for that, and this province is one of the provinces that are responsible for that. She would not even stand.

Finally, we embarrassed the Premier. The Premier eventually stood up and gave an apology. Then, of course, the minister, when she went out to the microphones of the media, gave an apology. But she would not do it here, let alone compensate for it. She would not even give an apology. We finally dragged an apology out under pressure. Finally we came in at the tail end of the line and decided to compensate people between 1986 and 1990.

Justice Krever - there is a strong and legal case here because he will pay millions out in the courts. In fact, some people are going to the courts anyway. That is where the settlement is coming through, through the courts. Settlement is occurring and that process is still ongoing.

I spoke with an individual last week on this, and I have talked to one particular person of the twenty identified, on several occasions on this particular issue. To drag their families through this court process and so on - people prior to 1986, again we have six provinces that are willing to play ball, and Newfoundland and Labrador has not been willing to play ball with twenty people out there. Half of what we gave to BPS, half of what we gave to a company that has gone up the spout, bankrupt, half of that would have at least provided some form of compensation for people who are affected, who are living every single day with a particular disease that was obtained because there was not a safeguarding of the blood supply and proper screening given to people. On that question even Justice Krever went so far as to say, we should compensate beyond the 1986 period.

There are many, many issues. I do not know whether I should go on for the remaining eight or nine hours we have left under this. Still I can tell you, I would not come close to addressing some of the major concerns -

MR. J. BYRNE: See if you can. See what you can do.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I do not want to. I have gone three or four hours already out of the hours we have used up. I do not want to deprive my colleagues of an opportunity to get their two cents worth in on this $3.5 million Budget.

I heard on the radio this morning, as I was coming to work, that construction is six months ahead of schedule on the Janeway, and it is going to open in the year 2000. They announced before it was going to open in 1998. Then they announced a few months ago the fall of 1999. Now they are six months ahead, and it is going to open in the year 2000.

I do not know who is doing the Math for this government, but it simply does not add up, I say to my colleagues. How do you have something, I say to the Member tuning in there for Labrador West - the new structure, the Janeway, was going to be done in 1998 initially. Then they said: Well, with further delays and things, it is going to be in the fall of 1999. I heard on the radio this morning that the weather has been good, construction is six months ahead of schedule and is now going to open in the year 2000. So, how can you be six months ahead of schedule and open a year later? How do you manage that? I haven't figured that one out.

MR. SHELLEY: They are so far ahead, they have gone back.

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to my colleague, I just hope that the iron ore mineral resources coming out of the ground in Labrador West are going to be pelletized and done in Labrador. If not we should line up on the border there and we should prevent anything from getting out of there without being processed. The mineral act says that is must be done. It does not have to yield the highest possible margin of profit. That is the reason it should go there and it should not go anywhere else. Sept-Iles is it they are looking at? It should be done in Labrador, employ Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, because it is a tremendous boost to the economy here in our Province. We know the company does have what you would call a very, very generous agreement on paying royalties here to this Province. You either tear up that agreement on royalties or you put the pellet plant here, and if you don't give it in jobs in a pellet plant here you will pay the price in royalties. We have to be out doing that. The same as we are saying with Inco, it is either a smelter and refinery or there is no mine, we should be saying, either that or you pay dearly in royalties.

So, we have to look at it. But, I would prefer the former, saying we want it here. We have to have it here, our mineral act says it. Where else would it happen? Where else would they allow you to go in and take minerals out of the ground and bring it somewhere else and do further refining on those particular minerals? It would not happen anywhere else, and it should not happen here in our Province. I certainly hope that the Member for Labrador West will not buckle under and cave in for a few measly dollars in royalties, and sacrifice - how many extra jobs, 500? Is it 400 or 500 extra jobs? Its hard to say, but it depends on the size of that, how much they are going to pelletize and the technology. How many are working in the pellet plant with IOC now?

AN HON. MEMBER: Four hundred and fifty.

MR. SULLIVAN: Four hundred and fifty people. So, that is a very significant employer. There are not too many companies operating in this Province that have that many employees. IOC has about what, 1,600 now, roughly?

AN HON. MEMBER: A bit more.

MR. SULLIVAN: A bit more. Because it was over thirty some hundred at one time and it dipped to 1,400 or 1,500. It's on a pretty even keel now I think again.

So a lot of people in the area are employed, but if we need new jobs and more people, bring people in. Live there. There is room to build houses there, room to grow there. We need people. People will go there to get work. Wherever they can get work and a decent income, people in this Province are willing to call that their home. All you have to do, and people are talking about it here in this Province, is be willing to relocate. There are people who have been relocating from this Province at the fastest rate of any province in this country. We have been going out of this Province here for years, before I was born and since then. They have moved to everywhere. They moved to Cambridge, Ontario.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I say I am. I was close to being the first Newfoundland born Canadian; close. My wife's first cousin was first. I almost made it. I won't tell you when I was born. It wasn't April Fool's Day but it wasn't far away, in 1949. Born a Canadian. He was born a Newfoundlander and Labradorian. So, that makes him pretty old. Just because he looks -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am not talking to you, just about you, I say. There is a difference in talking to you and talking about you.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) talking about me?

MR. SULLIVAN: About you, yes. I didn't bring it up, I didn't raise it.

MR. TULK: Who raised it?

MR. SULLIVAN: I can't point any fingers, no.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, if he doesn't do it, who over there is going to do it? It's either that or nothing, I say to the Member for Labrador West. If he doesn't do it, he is a very resolved individual. He can get a resolution to all your concerns over there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, yes, and they are so widely accepted, almost as widely accepted as the one I presented yesterday. He got his done in about ten or fifteen minutes, when I had only taken a minute.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He could have. Well, I would have liked a few minutes to debate too but I could not pass up the opportunity. I hope the wording of that resolution - in fact, when I get an opportunity, there are letters that came out from the MS Society. Everybody got them, I think, all members. I noticed the signature there of the president who was a friend back over the years. We were involved a lot as Kinsmen with the MS Society. I think we used to raise about 25 per cent of their budget in Atlantic Canada. I must send him a copy now of the resolution endorsed, because we are one of the few provinces in this country, I am not sure if we are the only one, that does not provide - and I have it in my office. I just have to scan it there. I get the MS Society newspaper on a regular basis. I am on their mailing list. I have been involved with the organization.

They named up, I think it was, eight provinces. I don't know but nine. I will have to count it to make sure. We are one of the few that are not funding certain drugs to the same level. When I look at that later this afternoon, when I get back to my office, I will see what's there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, there could be three. It is a large number anyway. I don't think it is everybody except us, but it is close.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Are they? Okay. And some of them came on-stream recently too, I think, because I get their magazine and I usually follow their magazine. At least I read certain articles in it, however often it shows up. It seems like I get it probably once a month.

Almost everybody knows somebody or has a member - actually, a good friend of mine from my home town, who lives in your area, has MS too; a guy who works in the school system as a counsellor there and has been active there, from my home town, Ern Condon who has been active in - is he a counsellor too?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he is a counsellor in the school system but is he a city councillor, a town councillor?

AN HON. MEMBER: A town councillor.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. Diagnosed a few years back. I guess you are probably aware of that. He is doing fairly well.

But almost everybody has a family member, a friend or somebody close who is affected by it and it can be a debilitating disease. The stats there, I think, show the four different types. On that letter I think there are four different categories of MS, I believe, described, the varying degrees and so on.

That resolution hopefully will enable this government and the minister there to consider it. My colleague, the Member for Cape St. Francis, asked that question here in the House. He asked a question here on supplying new drugs that can enable people -

MR. J. BYRNE: It worked.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that worked. They got results and so on. It is important that we look at it, because it enhances the quality of life, it enables people to keep from getting medical treatment, and it saves dollars. One of the themes I will try to put forward, and I brought it up here in the House with young people too; apart from this disease - I will use speech pathology as an example. I raised it in the House; occupational therapy and so on. At the Janeway there are only five and 17,000 preschool children here. From an early age of one, two, three and four, it is so important to get early intervention.

I have a resident in my district - and you might have seen it in the media - Joey Farrell, the young kid who is autistic or has pervasive disorder, compulsive disorder or whatever the title, had to go away because the parents felt at that age he was in the category where he could move into the main stream if he got the early intervention. We went to appeals with departments, sat down with people and nothing could be done. They started a massive fund-raiser last November and the child is now down in the US. The mother is a nurse who moved away. His father who fished for years moved away. Their family had to relocate. They closed up their house in Renews and they are down there - $80,000 Canadian tuition for two years.

Since November they have raised $65,000, up to now, up to today, and it is put in a trust and forwarded as needed. Hopefully, by September they will have the whole $80,000 raised and raised right here, right up on the Southern Shore and around St. John's. Now that should be put to rest. There should be funds to do that now. Down at the Janeway all referrals that come in now are for intensive work. They know the ones that were marginal are not getting attention now because you have to be almost an emergency case to get treated, whether it is a medical problem or whether it is a problem not specific to the physical health, like speech pathology and so on, and 300 referrals. They can only put them in for a block of so many weeks and then they have to move on to somebody else, and they do not get the intervention that will correct it. So, what will happen to these people? They will go into the school system, they will need student assistants, they will need extra teachers for those units, they will have extra costs for the rest of their life. Some of them will have difficulty becoming functioning members of society, and they will be costing this system so much money in the long term.

What we need to be looking at is an analysis of what the long-term cost of this will be, by not spending a few dollars up front, because there is an atrocious cost in our system today with dealing with some of these things.

Another example that I will use is occupational therapy. There is one occupational therapist at the Janeway - one - 100 people on the waiting list. There have been people on the waiting list for over two years and they cannot get help. Some motor functions they need, if they utilize them early they can have normal functions, but they are not getting the early help they need. Therefore, they can never become as well physically, or as contributing members, because we are not getting early intervention. It is costing us an arm and a leg in the long term. We have to start realizing that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and we have to start dealing with it.

Politically you know it does not sell as well; political does not sell. Prevention does not sell as well as a person waiting for cardiac surgery who has to get in and is almost on his death bed. Preventing it is not an item that is a grabber of the public: proper exercise, proper eating. All of these things are important contributors to a longer life, but how do you promote it?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is becoming more (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is coming very slowly. Two examples that I used, like at the Janeway, for young people - preschoolers with the occupational therapist, one occupational therapist, and over two years on a waiting list to be seen . Young kids need help and they are not getting it. The speech pathologists cannot do it; they cannot do it.

The minister said in the House that we reinstated a bursary program - reinstated - they scrapped the bursary program. That is why we have a problem out there now, because they did not see the need. They figure: Oh, if everybody is employed, or there is in excess of one or two around, we do not need to continue it.

What happens today if they do not stick around? They are trained, they spend money, they go out of the Province. Now we need people, just like we are going to need nurses in the future. We are exporting them all over the place and we are going to need them. My colleague is (inaudible). No one over there wants to speak. We are exporting them all over the country. We produced nurses who work in Florida, Texas, and all over the place, in other parts of the country, and we are going to be crying out for them in the future because we have an increasing population. We need more nurses working on the front lines. They are overworked. The hospitals are understaffed.

I worked in hospitals. I worked up on the floor in a hospital, I worked in emergency, I worked in radiation. I know what it was like then, and I see what it is like now. I speak to people - the frustrations, the demands. Almost every patient in a hospital now is an acute care patient. They need special attention.

Years ago, you would be in a hospital for two weeks before you had your surgery. The patients would walk around and visit other people in the hospital. After they recovered they were there for another two or three weeks. Today you are in the door - and there is nothing wrong with getting prepared for surgery and bringing you in the same day, but there is something wrong with sending you home through a revolving door when there is nobody out in the community to look after you. That is a problem, a concern, that a family has to deal with. That is why there is such a high infection rate and readmissions.

The minister tries to give us some statistics on that in a statement. I even have it there in my folder. I found it so hilarious that I saved it. She made it last fall - I even kept it - a statement on the lowest infection rate in the country, and using general statistics out in the community. People come in and get a little incision at day surgery and you count that in the statistics. I am talking about a scratch or a stitch, putting in a suture and saying: Oh, we don't get any infections.

I am talking about surgery done in hospitals today and people being pushed out when they have draining tubes coming out of them. You cannot get people to see them on a weekend, for two and three days there is no nurse available there, and you are not following up on infections and they are back. People should not have to go through that agony. Those are some of the things.

Another thing, I might add, I would like to know, and maybe I will ask the minister one of these days, is: How many lawsuits are out there now under the Health Care Corporation? Because I know of several. It is unbelievable, the number of lawsuits. Is it happening because, as I said before, when a person from my district died, he returned from a hospital, he was sent home, and the judge at the inquiry ruled that person should have been referred to a cardiologist.

Are they pushing people away because there is such a shortage and they are so overworked? We saw it at the Waterford on the news yesterday, only six out of twelve general practitioners there, there are not enough. There are hospitals in this Province now down to a level where they can hardly function and they are going out of here to other parts of the country, other parts of North America. They are going. Then we have to go out and try to recruit people and bring them in, whether it is from England or South Africa, from wherever we bring them in. We bring them in from numerous other countries, too, but some of them have been trained either in South Africa or in England because they are more adaptable to move into practice here. If they were trained in other areas, they have to go through a period of some further training. So those types of things have not been addressed.

We are facing a critical shortage of doctors in our Province in many specialized areas. We have young kids today who need psychiatric services, counselling, and services of a psychological nature, but to get into the Janeway Hospital today, with only seven beds in psychiatry, it is unbelievable; you have to be an emergency. I had a call a couple of weeks ago from somebody with a child, and they were at wits end. I said I would just follow up and see what the story was with the agencies, and the proper procedure for getting to see somebody. He called back after and said: Look, we got in. It was an emergency case, and that was the only reason I got my child in.

These are young kids, seven and eight, twelve and fourteen years of age. People needing that important medical intervention at a critical time do not have access to it because we are understaffed at these institutions, and that is one of the reasons, I might add, that people are leaving. They are so overworked and so stressed out they can only take it for so long. You just cannot work under those conditions all your life. That is happening, and that is contributing to doctors leaving. There will be doctors leaving this Province in numerous areas over the next month. They are scheduled to leave; they are out. The minister, I am sure, is well aware of that if she is in contact with the boards and what is happening out there. So there are serious particular problems we are having here.

Another concern, what they are doing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, the road. I thought he was talking about eroding medical services we have here in our Province. We have seen an erosion of that of unprecedented proportions, I say to the member, unprecedented proportions. We have seen an erosion. We have had an avalanche, I would say. I would hardly call it erosion. Erosion gives the impression that it is slowly happening. It is almost an avalanche, wouldn't you say? It is coming down around our ears. We are barely keeping our heads above the mud slides that are coming down.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he rowed and rowed and rowed and still he got nowhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He is talking about the Regatta, is he?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I dealt with the road. The minister, I must say, realizes the importance of it. If you would like to hear the minister - I do not want to aggravate the minister any more. He has told me, he has given in writing to me, that he is going to do something. I asked him when because if he does not do it soon I might take him up on that challenge and come out to St. John's North, I say to him. I might do that if he does not do something soon. Anyway, so much for the road. The point was well made. It was not initiated by me. It was initiated by one of the twenty boards under the authority of the Government House Leader, the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, The Irish Loop Regional and Economic Development Board, which is a fantastic board; it is getting organized, getting staff in place. They are up-and-running there. They instituted - they called a public meeting and invited all the municipalities. They invited me and I went to the meeting. They had petitions which they passed out to me to take back to all the communities, spread them in all the stores, and as they got them filled out they sent them in to me.

I had 800 at one time, then I had one and then two. That is why it was dragged out. I did not intentionally drag it out, I say to the minister, but if I had them all at the one time, I might have kept a few and presented them later. Who knows? But they did come in on that basis and I wish I had a few more - I would remind him again - but I think the point is made. He is engrossed there in some important, top level Cabinet documents. I would not want to take his train of thought away from something important. He could be signing something, I say, like the Member for Humber Valley or the Member for Torngat Mountains signed. I do not want to take his mind off it without reading it, so I make sure the minister is reading what he signs. That is the important thing. I hope he is reading what he is signing, because that can get you in a lot of trouble. Enough said on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Loyola, (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I have one of them too, I say to the Member for Torngat Mountains. Can you give me the chapter and verse that is in? `He who is without sin cast the first stone'. So have you been throwing stones all the time, or have you failed to throw a stone?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, nobody threw a stone. Yes, that is right, I remember that. We couldn't get his attention on the bypass road, we couldn't get attention on anything else, and we talked about those without sin casting the first stone and we saw him. We had to duck, as we say, to keep from getting hit with a boulder from the minister. Is that what happened?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: We could use a lot of crushed stone too, I would say to the minister. The survey is all completed. We would like to get some work done before we get to the crushed stone level. I didn't hear tenders called yet up on Port Kirwan Road, I say to the minister. Would they be out soon, I am wondering? I hope he is signing off some papers there now to have tenders called on Port Kirwan Road. I say to the minister, are tenders not ready on that yet? Someone said that was a priority, and I concur.

In fact, in the last year or so I went around with the supervisor and we went to all these sites and had a look at them, and I sat down with the former minister who invited us over there, the Minister of Human Resources and Employment. They had a list. There was something left off the list inadvertently that they got put back on; it was an oversight. They are hoping to get started.

CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: My time is up. What do you do when your time is up?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SULLIVAN: When your time is up I guess you have to answer the call.

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Leave to clue up.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I should be able to clue up in a couple of hours.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sorry, I am not the Member for Waterford Valley. Pardon me.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Or the Minister of Education.

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, listen, if the Member for Waterford Valley is going to stand and speak again, I would say to the hon. gentleman he could have leave from now to the time the Estimates run out. Don't do it, Loyola, stand up and keep going. I beg you, stand up and keep going!

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to do something now that is equally as bad, if not worse. I am now going to allow my colleague for Cape St. Francis to stand.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Not so bad. I say to the Government House Leader, thank you, I am not so bad. We will see what we can do. We really enjoy the Member for Waterford Valley when he is up on his feet. He makes a lot of good points, common sense, and especially with respect to education. When he is asking questions of the Minister of Education, Mr. Chairman, he has some excellent, hard-hitting questions. Cuts to the chase, very short questions to the Minister of Education, and we get nothing but long-winded -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: You say he makes sense?

MR. J. BYRNE: All the time. He makes sense all the time. We only get long-winded answers, Mr. Chairman, from the Minister of Education. It is too bad now he is not standing in his place today and giving us a few answers that we can -

MR. MATTHEWS: That is why I keep my answers short, (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation says he keeps his answers short. That is the same thing as the Premier saying he keeps his answers short when he is up putting on a performance for the galleries. That is the same thing as that, now. They are taking lessons from someone over there. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the Minister of Health and Community Services, and even the Minister of Human Resources and Employment must have been taking lessons from the Minister of Education in giving answers, I can tell you that.

The best minister on that side of the House for giving straightforward short answers is the Minister of Environment and Labour. If he doesn't have an answer he tells you he doesn't have an answer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is right, he is not here, but I don't mind giving someone a compliment if they are not around, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is all the time.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is all the time. I won't get into that.

With respect to the Budget, we are here today debating this Budget, and we have spent a fair bit of time on this Budget, all the members on this side of the House speaking to the Budget, asking questions, making sense. We don't get a lot of - I just noticed something on the other side of the House, Mr. Chairman. If you look to your left, what do you see? Not a lot. You don't see a lot if you look to your left, do you?

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't see a lot to the right either. There is not a whole lot on the right.

MR. J. BYRNE: There is a lot on the right, there is no doubt about that.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, the Budget itself: Again I have spoken a number of times in this House on this Budget, as I have spoken on the other four or five budgets since I have been here. This Budget again gives the wrong impression to people. I know it is -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, wrong impression, big time, I say to the Government House Leader. Other budgets in the past, since I have been here, have been similar to this one, but, Mr. Chairman, this one takes the cake; let me tell you that.

MR. TULK: Why?

MR. J. BYRNE: In giving a false impression to the people of the Province.

The Government House Leader asks why, which I am about to get into. Why does this budget give false impressions to the public out there? One of the answers is this, I say to him: It says, government continues to be prudent in it's financial management and accordingly is providing for $30 million contingency reserve again this year. They are being prudent, Mr. Chairman, and we have the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Premier this whole week avoiding or skating around questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition on this side of the House, skating around questions and not giving forthright answers to the questions that have been asked here with respect to BPS.

MR. SHELLEY: Get up on a point of order. Come clean.

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology: Come clean. Give us all the answers, please. This is a very serious issue. It started out at $800,000 and then we know its up to at least $1 million. Then the money that HRD put in is $2 million on the first company, then before that company is gone under we have one of the partners leave and start up another company, and they give $1 million to that company to basically compete in Newfoundland with the previous company. And they are saying that they are going to wait now on an audit by HRD.

Now, they are refusing to do their own audit. They will not give us the details of the negotiations or their involvement with respect to the audit with HRD; the Province. That begs this question: Why are they hands off and staying away from the audit at HRD? The answer to why they are staying away, in my mind, Mr. Chairman, is they know they do not want to make the audit public because of what that audit is going to say. If HRD, the federal government, has the audit they can wash their hands and say: Well, its not our audit, we can't make it public. That is what the answer is going to be and that is the angle that this administration has taken with respect to the BPS situation.

So, there is a lot to this story, a lot to be told with respect to the Opposition Leader. There are going to be a lot of questions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, there are too many leaders. There are going to be a lot more serious questions asked in this House and we are going to get to the bottom of this. I am sure we will get to the bottom of this in due course, to this very -

MR. McLEAN: (Inaudible) the auditors.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Government Services and Lands now is saying something about don't trust the auditors. I trust the auditors fully. No problem at all, but the Province will not appoint any auditors to do the job. They are going to depend on the HRD, the federal government auditors. The problem with that is this: Government is going to be able to wash their hands, the provincial government, and say, we can't give you the audit, we can't table the audit, its not our audit to table.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: This is government money, the provincial money. They should be watching out where their money went, shouldn't they? There should have been something in place in the beginning with respect to the money that was spent on this. There should have been a contract signed and some collateral put in place.

How much money have the investors, the private investors, put into this project? I do not know. That is what we are trying to find out, Mr. Chairman.

Again, the Salaries -

MR. McLEAN: (Inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: But we probably will never see it. That is the problem. Don't you understand what I am saying? Is it that complicated, I say to the Minister of Government Services and Lands? Is it that complicated that you cannot figure it out?

MR. SHELLEY: Trust me, he says.

MR. J. BYRNE: Trust!

MR. SHELLEY: We are from the government and we are here to help.

MR. J. BYRNE: We are from the government and we are help to help. Let me tell you, Mr. Chairman, we, on this side of the House, are here to ask questions, to make sure that government toes the line, and are upfront and forthright with their spending of our dollars, the taxpayers' dollars, in this Province.

I only got up for a couple of minutes, Mr. Chairman, so -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Are we? No sweat! I will keep her going for a while.

Mr. Chairman, I asked this morning - and this gets back again to the expenditure of government money. It is something that I have a major concern with.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation this morning answered a few questions, kind of answered questions, did not really answer questions, my questions with respect to the changes in the public tendering.

One of the concerns that I have - and I asked the minister this morning - with respect to the changes in the public tendering, is this: The situation with the request for proposals. We all know and the minister tried to say it was similar or the same as public tendering. We know that is not the case. He said it is similar. It is a form of public tendering and what have you, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. But in actual fact, under requests for proposals, the minister can go out and ask two, three or four companies for a request for a proposal.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or everybody!

MR. J. BYRNE: Or everybody, that is correct. He can limit the request to two, three, four, or whatever the number may be. By doing that, he could actual exclude people who want to put in a proposal. So it is not a true public tendering system, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. That was the major change with respect to the Public Tender Act, or the proposals that are coming.

We have not seen the legislation or the amendments that are coming in, and I am looking forward to seeing that, of course, and what the actual details will be, Mr. Chairman. These changes that are being proposed on the surface, give the Minister of Industry, Trades and Technology a fair bit of latitude.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It does, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. The minister's statement said: In unique situations, they could circumvent the Public Tender Act.

Now, my concern here is this: On the - what would be the right way of putting it? Upfront, looking at it, without having the legislation in front of me, it does appear that it could be weakening the Public Tender Act.

MR. TULK: Agree to call it twelve o'clock.

MR. J. BYRNE: Eleven fifty-two, I say to the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Eleven fifty, I have. You have ten more minutes.

MR. J. BYRNE: He said agree to call it twelve. No, we cannot do that. I have a lot to say on this Budget and I do not know if I have enough time to say it.

MR. SULLIVAN: He wants to get ten more minutes in. I cannot cut him short.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation said they did not go far enough.

Well, you know me, Mr. Chairman, I believe that this is opening the door for political advantages to certain companies. It could actually happen, with the request for proposals and opening the door to the Minister of Industry, Trades and Technology for unique situations. By the way, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, is it possible that other departments could funnel requests for proposals through the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology? Is that a possibility? To me that would be a major concern if that could happen. Therefore, these other departments could circumvent the Public Tender Act also. This is what I am talking about; weakening the Public Tender Act.

The Act was brought in by a former Tory government, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to give a level playing field to everybody concerned. I do not know, without seeing the legislation - and I look forward to it - as it now stands if it will be a level playing field anymore, I say to the minister.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do you believe that government has 100 answers to (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, the minister just asked a good question. I will try to repeat it. He asked the question: Do I believe that the government has 100 per cent answers to all the situations out there or can private industry help? I agree, they can help. There is no doubt about that. But if you have a situation where you want to put out a request for proposals - and I think you referred to the biochemical waste the other day. That is a situation that arose. That is an example.

So if government does not have the people on staff to know exactly what needs to be done, obviously they are going to have to hire somebody to do it. So they could request the expertise in that field and give a contract to the individual or company to look after the interests of government. Because, once they come in with a request for proposals, for any given situation, it has to be analyzed, studied, looked at and decisions made as to who or what is the best situation for government. Someone has to do it at that point, so why not do it up front, hire a group to look at the situation, put a tender out and then make a decision on it? To me you could be putting the cart before the horse. That is possible, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. You are going to need the expertise. Someone is going to have to make the decision anyway at the end so why not have those people up front?

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Exactly. Yes, but you are changing the Public Tender Act, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. When you have not really given the rationale or the reasoning -

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) exceptional circumstances.

MR. J. BYRNE: But who decides exceptional circumstances, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation? The minister is over there now playing games, Mr. Chairman. Who is going to make the decisions on extreme circumstances and special circumstances? Who is going to decide on this?

MR. MATTHEWS: The deputy.

MR. J. BYRNE: Deputy who? Deputy Dog? Deputy who?

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That's one department, another department and different departments -

MR. MATTHEWS: No, no. It is the same everywhere.

MR. J. BYRNE: The same everywhere. The minister says, the same everywhere.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I agree that it hopefully will be applied uniformly. No, I have no problem with that. But again, if you go back to the request for proposals and the latitude that is given the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, there are concerns there that some projects could be funnelled from other departments through that department to get around the Public Tender Act. I mean that is a legitimate concern, I think. The minister, if he is in any way logical thinking at all, will have to agree to that. That is something that would have to be addressed. It has to be, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) it could be any department (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Exactly. The minister just confirmed my argument there. He said it could be any government-funded body, could be any department. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology would make the decision. Therefore the concern I have, the minister just confirmed it, has to be addressed. If it is only going to be in unique situations, who decides what a unique situation is?

I don't want to get back and try to be too negative on this, but we saw an example of a request I think for a proposal under the Trans City situation where government ended up in court and lost, and it still remains to be seen what happens here. That is a fact. The minister cannot deny that. That is reality, that is the situation. Are we opening up the doors to more of that? That is all I am saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I hope you are right. The minister says there is no relationship, what was the word you used, to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The minister is over there now, Mr. Chairman, trying to rationalize. If he had said some of this this morning when I asked the questions in the House of Assembly and he wasn't prepared for the questions... Now he is over there rationalizing the whole situation, and is explaining in his own mind to me -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The minister says the consultation and input they received resulted in the recommendations to changes in the Public Tender Act as they are today. We haven't seen them yet so it is hard -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is one person's opinion, I will say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. We have not yet seen, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the amendments that are going to be forthcoming. When we get those amendments, we get into the detail, and we see the meat of what is being proposed, then we can be more specific.

On generalities and what we have seen so far, I am bringing concerns forward now that I brought forward in March, actually, when I said that the minister was talking about making changes to the Public Tender Act, and I hoped he would not weaken the Public Tender Act. That is all I said. I had dealings with the Public Tender Act when I was in private business. I had dealings with the Public Tender Act when I was Mayor of Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove. There were some problems, Mr. Chairman, with the Public Tender Act, there is no doubt about that, and they need to be addressed.

One positive thing I have to admit and congratulate the minister on, is this Registry of Local Manufacturers. I think that is going to be positive for the people; it is going to give them access and opportunity to government contracts, and that is a positive thing. But I am thinking, in my mind, that the minister and the government are using that section to step into the changes with respect to the Request for Proposals and more latitude for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to legitimize that section, Mr. Chairman, so he is using one section which was positive to maybe legitimize something that may not be as positive.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now the minister just made another statement I have to repeat. He says: This change brings us in line with what is going on in other provinces.

That is something I have always had a problem with, Mr. Chairman, that whatever happens on the mainland, he thinks it has to be good for Newfoundland. That is not necessarily so.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) whether you agree with it or not. We cannot be disadvantaged by (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: He just mentioned another thing about the Trade Agreement. What impact will this have on the trade between interprovincial -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, thank you. I thank the minister for that.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I got off on this tangent with respect to Works, Services and Transportation and the changes to the Public Tender Act. I appreciate the input that the minister has been trying to give me over the past twenty minutes or so, Mr. Chairman. I am going to move on now because that remains to be seen. We will wait to see what is forthcoming with respect to the legislation or the changes, Mr. Chairman. I am sure that at that point in time we will have many questions for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, there will be full debate in this House of Assembly, unless this government and this Administration decide to bring in closure as they have done so often before.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No. I have at least eight more minutes, Mr. Chairman.

MR. SULLIVAN: We have a few things (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, I will adjourn debate then.

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 Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole on Supply 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, under the order of business I would like to move first reading of Motions 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Those are five bills. We have agreed, I think, that we will move first reading on them. If we could just have them read for first reading.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill Nos. 17, 19, 22, 24 and 25 be read a first time. All those in favour, `aye.'


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

Motion carried.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Securities Act," carried. (Bill No. 17)

On motion, Bill No. 17 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Elections Act, 1991," carried. (Bill No. 19)

On motion, Bill No. 19 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act," carried. (Bill No. 22)

On motion, Bill No. 22 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Tender Act," carried. (Bill No. 24)

On motion, Bill No. 24 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to introduce a bill, "An Act To Provide For Participation By The Province In An Intergovernmental Joint Purchasing Agreement And To Repeal The Provincial Preference Act," carried. (Bill No. 25)

On motion, Bill No. 25 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

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

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