The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin our routine business for the day, the Chair would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all members to welcome to the House of Assembly, seventeen Canadian Law students and their teacher, Mr. Richard Knapman, from E.J. Pratt High School in the District of Trinity - Bay de Verde.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Industry Trade and Technology, I would like to take this opportunity to provide an overview to the House of Assembly of the benefits that have, and will continue to accrue to Newfoundland and Labrador from natural resource developments in our Province, specifically in the oil and gas, hydroelectricity and mining industries.

Four major oil companies, Mobil Oil, Husky Oil, Norsk Hydro and Petro Canada, have opened offices in the Province and employ a total of 80 people. This is addition to HMDC, which employs in excess of 700 people in the Province today. Halliburton will also generate up to 100 new jobs at its Integrated Well Services facility located in that great City of Mount Pearl.

The Terra Nova Alliance employs approximately 280 staff and contractors. In addition, the fabrication of two modules for Terra Nova at the Bull Arm site, costing $100 million, will employ approximately 700 people. It is estimated that approximately 1,100 people will be employed by the project during the pre-production phase. Furthermore, 450 long-term employment positions will be created during the operations phase. Mr. Speaker, 80 per cent of the total employment activity in the Terra Nova development will occur in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Hibernia project generated significant employment during pre-production phases, and continues do so now during the operations phase. Additional employment opportunities will result from related infrastructure developments. For example, 40 to 50 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will be employed at the recently opened $200-million Transshipment facility built by the Hibernia consortium at Whiffen Head.

Activity is ongoing for the Terra Nova Project. For example: The provision of engineering and procurement services for the topsides will be contracted to AGRA Monenco here in St. John's, to the Terra Nova Alliance. The provision of fire detection and vessel control systems for the Terra Nova FPSO vessel by SEA Limited, here in St. John's. The St. John's Dockyard Ltd. - NEWDOCK - announced plans this summer to establish a Newfoundland capability to fabricate subsea template and manifolds systems for the Terra Nova development. This led to an $8-million contract which will assist NEWDOCK in positioning itself to complete subsea fabrication work on other petroleum developments worldwide. NEWDOCK will also develop the ability to test subseas systems.

There are numerous other examples of contracts resulting from the Terra Nova project that have been awarded to businesses which are competitive in this Province, including services for freight forwarding, geotechnical, environmental, model testing, telecommunications, and equipment supply. As the project progresses, additional supplies and services will be required and companies in the Province will be in a position to meet these requirements.

Since the Hibernia project began, over 6,000 purchase orders and contracts were awarded to companies in this Province and approximately 100 firms in Newfoundland and Labrador have entered into joint ventures with international companies worldwide.

The skills and expertise gained by local companies and employees during the construction and start-up phases of the Hibernia project have subsequently led to new contracts and other opportunities in other parts of Canada and around the world. For instance: Cahill State Electrical completed work on the Confederation Bridge at Prince Edward Island; Pro-Dive Marine Services have secured contracts in the Nova Scotia offshore; OIS Fisher Inc. is completing the inspection and maintenance services worldwide; and Friede Goldman Marystown is completing rig modification for the Gulf of Mexico. Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to benefit over the long term from these projects.

The Labrador Hydro Project is another example where the future development of natural resources in this Province will contribute significant benefits. To date, over thirty environmental and engineering contracts have been awarded, with total value in excess of $10 million. Mr. Speaker, 85 per cent to 90 per cent of these contracts were awarded to businesses with a presence in this Province, and to date more than 300 people in Newfoundland and Labrador have worked directly or indirectly on the Labrador Hydro Project. It is estimated that when this project is under way, it will generate 70,000 person years of employment, with approximately 78 per cent of these positions expected to be filled by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The development of the mining industry has and will continue to provide substantial benefits to this Province. In 1997, the Province's mining industry employed an average of 3,000 people, with a total export value in the mining industry surpassing $1 billion Canadian dollars, making it the leading resource sector in the Province. The total value of mining industry exports is again expected to exceed $1 billion this current year.

Mineral explorations alone in the Province are forecasted to top $50 million in 1998. It is estimated that $35 million will be spent in Labrador with most exploration programs directed toward base mental targets. Mr. Speaker, exploration leads to the discovery of new resources and, in turn, results in the generation of new wealth through new investment and employment and business opportunities in one of this Province's primary engines of growth.

The government has made it clear its position will not waver in its commitment to ensure that the Province benefits from the processing of rich mineral deposits such as Voisey's Bay.

It is important to recognize that this Province has benefitted from the industrial benefits I have described and that there are significant benefits to be realized from future development of natural resources in the Province. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to working cooperatively with industry to ensure that these industrial benefits are maximized for our people.

Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is the good news review. It is not enough that the Premier goes on VOCM every Sunday and espouses for five minutes with all the good news reviews. It is not enough that we have the VOCM Good News Review every day. Now the minister is going to take up the slack in the House of Assembly with all these announcements.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, there is no problem with good news. Everybody enjoys a bit of good news, I guess, and to hear it again today in the House of Assembly. There is no doubt that the offshore and the benefits that could accrue to this Province, hopefully down the road, if we know it is five or ten years from now, hopefully that they will come.

We can all look at mining and hope the possibilities and potential for mining in the Province are significant and should be looked at in a positive vein. The messages sent out to the Province as of late are not consistent with industry and what can be done in this Province and where the real jobs accrue to this Province. We often wonder about Hibernia and Terra Nova, about the real benefits that have come from there. A second mixed signal we have gotten recently is about our resources again: IOC in Labrador West and the benefits that come through there.

Yes, it is good to talk about some of the good news and it is good to talk about our natural resources, but still the statistic remains today that last year we got some $78 million from video lottery machines. What did we get from our resources and royalty rentals? Some $29 million in rentals. That is what we are down to, those are bottom-line numbers, that is where it lies today.

As we talked about yesterday, there are many people in this Province, some who are going on short-term make-work projects, some 4,000 people, where do they go after next April? Are all of our resources going to come back to benefit them so we can put our own people to work in this Province? It is yet to be seen.

So as we watch the unfolding of the good news and the development of our resources, we will see at the end of the day if the bottom line reads more jobs for this Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is no wonder that we have great difficulty telling the rest of the country about our problems, and the 18 per cent-plus unemployment rate, and the difficulties we have in meeting our commitments to keeping people above the poverty line if we possibly can.

With all the good news that this government tells everyone, everything is all right, everything is hunky-dory. We have $1 billion worth of mineral development in the Province. If we were getting full benefits from our resources that $1 billion would translate into more than $30 million in mining tax and royalties for the taxpayers of this Province to meet its obligations to the people. There is something wrong there somewhere. It is all very well to say that Petro Canada and Norsk Hydro, et cetera, have opened up offices in the Province, but are they branch offices for the East Coast with main headquarters in Halifax, or they are full centre offices for the offshore development here?

The Terra Nova alliance may well employ 280 staff here. It should be double that with the engineering work that is being conducted outside the Province. There ought to be in place a board with the power to review and assess whether or not the Newfoundland benefits are adequate for this Province. It involves labour, business and government to review on an ongoing basis whether these companies are complying with the requirements for this Province with the power to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - exact penalties for noncompliance. These are some of the inadequacies, Mr. Speaker, of our policies that ought to be improved.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. MATTHEWS: Restrain your enthusiasm, I say to the Member for Cape St. Francis.

Mr. Speaker, as many of my hon. colleagues are aware, in 1988 the Peckford Administration of the day signed the Roads for Rail Agreement with the federal government, which was worth about $800 million.

At that time, a total of seventeen different projects were approved to provide safe, efficient transportation infrastructure throughout the Province. One of those projects approved was the Outer Ring Road, a modern thoroughfare that extends around the back of the capital city. It begins as a divided highway on the Trans-Canada Highway near Pitts Memorial Drive and will continue through areas such as Thorburn Road, Pippy Park, Portugal Cove Road, and tie into White Hills Industrial Park.

This morning, the Premier and I had the opportunity to roll out the announcement of this project -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: - officially opening the first completed section of the Outer Ring Road and allowing public access for the first time. We were joined by Mr. Gerry Berigan, Regional Director General for Transport Canada, on behalf of David Collenette, federal minister.

Mr. Speaker, this road is a significant part of the region's infrastructure, and one that represents the new growth that is taking place in our Province. It has numerous benefits. It will improve traffic flow in the capital city as well as have a positive impact on traffic in nearby surrounding communities. It will divert a great deal of the daily traffic from Kenmount Road which means less vehicles travelling on one of the major thoroughfares throughout the capital city.

It will be of tremendous benefit to the motorists in Mount Pearl, Paradise, and Torbay who want to access other communities - and St. Anthony, my hon. colleague reminds me -, without having to travel through some of the other heavier traffic areas of the city.

The provincial and federal governments have spent $35 million on completion of the first section of this road, the majority of it going to local construction firms and local companies supplying goods and services and the like. There will be a total expenditure of $68.2 million once the bifurcation road is completed linking the Outer Ring Road to Kenmount Road.

We have now begun construction on the Goulds bypass road. In the long-term we will be focusing on the bifurcation road and then the East-West Arterial at some point in the future when funds are identified. This will be the final phase of the St. John's Urban Regional Plan.

To date, we have completed 12 paved kilometres. Another 7 kilometres are remaining, with an additional 2.5 kilometres to be done on the bifurcation road, which is a total of 21.5 kilometres.

This morning, I outlined a great deal of the environmental precautions taken in conjunction with this project, and I think it is important to briefly share that with the Members of the House today, given the fact that when this project was announced there was considerable issue raised with respect to it being transversed through a park, and the fuss that was caused as a result of that.

As a result of the road going through we have already collected in excess of 100 car wrecks, and have recycled them and put them to their appropriate resting place. In conjunction with the Memorial University Botanical Gardens, 28,000 tons of organic materials and other soils were used to rehabilitate Sheppard's Pit, which is an abandoned gravel pit in the park area. The MUN Botanical Gardens is using the site as part of a research project to examine the potential use of selective native plants along the road's right-of-way in conjunction with present hydro-seeding practices of this department.

Another 23,000 tons of organic soils were utilized to expand the overflow area in the Pippy Park Trailer Park and to construct a planting berm along Allandale Road. The berm was hydro-seeded and planted with tree seedlings by the Junior Forest Rangers and local scouts.

Trees, shrubs and other items removed from the road construction zones have been used by the Grand Concourse Authority for landscaping around newly constructed trails within the City of St. John's by Booth Memorial High School and by other school landscaping projects.

Various trees, shrubs and other plant materials obtained by the road construction areas were placed in local nurseries for one winter and then replanted along some recreated stream sections along the Outer Ring Road.

Finally, Green teams from Newfoundland and Labrador Conservation Corps. were hired to carry out projects dealing with stream enhancement and fish habitat improvements of a number of brooks that run across the Outer Ring Road.

As we continue the completion of the remaining major projects identified as part of this agreement, similar measures will continue to be taken to ensure that the environment is protected and, where possible, enhanced.

My department has received a great deal of positive feedback on the road, and I encourage the hon. members of this House, my hon. colleagues, to get out and drive the Outer Ring Road for themselves. I am confident that once they experience first-hand how modern and efficient the Outer Ring Road is, the majority of them, if not indeed I would suspect 100 percent of them, will be extremely pleased and delighted and look forward to the completion of the rest that has to be done.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for giving me a copy of his presentation here today when I sat in my chair in the House of Assembly, but I want to congratulate the minister on a job well done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: But, Mr. Speaker, the minister referred to: in 1988 the Peckford Administration signed the $800 million agreement. Now maybe what we should be doing, if we are looking for a name, maybe we should be calling it the Peckford Parkway or the Crosbie Freeway. Only for those people we would not have the Outer Ring Road today!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: I will make two points, Mr. Speaker. This Outer Ring Road is professionally designed, there is no doubt about that, and it takes into consideration safety issues, I would assume, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

The minister referred to the surrounding communities like Torbay, Paradise, Logy Bay, and those areas benefitting from this Outer Ring Road. They most certainly will, and I can attest to that because I live down in Logy Bay.

AN HON. MEMBER: It should be called the Trans City Highway.

MR. J. BYRNE: There you go.

The other point in this presentation today, the minister announced there is going to be a start of the Goulds bypass. Again, we can thank the Member for Ferryland for presenting petition after petition in the House of Assembly for getting the Goulds bypass.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, one thing that just came to my mind, maybe we should call it the Trans City Highway.


MR. J. BYRNE: It is not a bad idea.

Mr. Speaker, the minister referred to other groups within the city benefitting from this, the Grand Concourse for example. There is no doubt that they have benefitted, and I congratulate the minister on that.

In all sincerity, this is something that is very beneficial to the City of St. John's. I look forward to the completion to Torbay Road and Logy Bay Road, where they will hook up to the White Hills. The minister tells me that the road will be completed to Logy Bay Road in approximately two to three years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am not going to congratulate you too much more. I think I have done enough of that. I have a few questions for you that you might have to address later on.

Anyway, it is a job well done and the city will definitely benefit from the Outer Ring Road.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was never an enthusiastic supporter of the Outer Ring Road so I am afraid I cannot join in the celebratory mood that hon. members feel today.

Mr. Speaker, this road has been controversial and still is controversial in terms of its necessity, in terms of its effect on the park, and in terms of the value for money. If we went by what the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal said yesterday, the same amount of money, based on the minister's formula, could have been used in small business to produce 15,000 jobs on an ongoing basis.

So let's not assume that any money spent has the same effect, whether it is spent on roads or whether it is spent on small business or spent on jobs. The same amount of money, if it were used on small business development, would have created 15,000 jobs and we would have gotten some of our money back in terms of the taxes that would have been generated by such a thing.

We have it, and we have to see what the effects of it are going to be. We have to see what the costs of it are going to be to the city to connect up to it. There are a lot of roads in this Province that need to be developed. This may not be the top priority.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair, does she have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: No leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am wondering if we can connect the Outer Ring Road to the communities in Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Unfortunately, while I congratulate the accomplishments of the people in the capital City of St. John's, it is very frustrating to be able to share in the enthusiasm for this development.

As you know, I have communities in my district that still do not have roads around the villages themselves, and we have communities that are still awaiting a commitment on whether the Trans-Labrador Highway will reach their communities. Communities like St. Louis are waiting for the minister to rise in this House and say that they will be connected; but we understand why we are not in the Roads for Rail Agreement because we never, ever got rails either. We are hoping that while the rest of the Province has moved from rails to roads, that someday we are going to move into a road transportation system as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Topsail, does he have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: No leave? They hon. member does not have leave.

The hon. the Minister of Forestry Resources and Agrifoods.


MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the Members of the House of Assembly of the importance of the agrifoods industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. its potential for further expansion and its contribution to the economy.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible), Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Topsail.

MR. WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in my place to say that I sit here as a member who sits on the government side of this House, and I would like to have the same privileges that every other member has. I am referring to the member from Labrador, as a point, who can speak as an Independent member. What I am saying is that it should apply to all members of the House.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, it is not a point of privilege and it is certainly not a point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

When Ministerial Statements are presented in the House, the Chair will recognize the critic for the Opposition in response to that. Any member who speaks after that is by leave of the House, and the hon. member does not have leave.

The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

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

I would like to inform the Members of the House of Assembly of the importance of the agrifoods industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, its potential for further expansion, and its contribution to the economy.

Farm cash receipts have consistently increased in the last two decades. In 1997, the farm cash receipts were $73.7 million. Our value-added industry is worth approximately $300 million, and our industry employs in the vicinity of 3,500 to 4,000 people.

The dairy industry is alive and well with production tripling since 1983. The industry produces over $24 million of milk at the farm gate. Newfoundland dairy producers, on average, are the largest farms in North America. The dairy industry has room to grow, and will do so.

The value of locally grown chicken was about $40 million in 1997, with a total volume of 22.2 million pounds, up 52 per cent in the last ten years. This Province's per capita consumption is the highest in Canada.

The egg industry is worth $8.5 million and produces 6.7 million dozen eggs. One hundred per cent of our eggs are produced by Newfoundland and Labrador farms.

The fur industry has taken a pro-active approach to expansion by preparing a strategic plan. The industry can utilize local marine by-product wastes, has a skilled, committed and knowledgeable human resource, and has a base of superior breeding stock. The fur industry is on its way to bigger and better things.

Our livestock sectors, such as hogs, beef and sheep, make significant contributions as well. Their farm cash receipts are in the vicinity of $4 million.

The berry industry has sales at the farm gate in the vicinity of $1.1 million. With growing consumer awareness for healthier products such as cranberry juice, our organically grown wild berries and the market opportunities make it very stable. We also have the Markland Winery producing some of the healthiest wines in Canada and North America. Over 10,000 people supplement their incomes from wild berry harvesting in this Province.

Vegetable production is worth $4.8 million and has a great potential for secondary processing opportunities, and we are exploring those as we speak.

The floriculture and nursery sector is the fastest growing industry in agriculture. It is up over 120 per cent in the last ten years. The value in 1997 was $8.9 million.

Mr. Speaker, we have an aggressive research and development program that includes: alternative feeds, which is a strategy to reduce feed cost to producers through utilizing more waste products and through growing grains and corn. This reduces reliance on imported feeds. Livestock producers are annually importing over 50,000 tons of feed. We want to change that, and we are.

We assist with livestock and crops that require diversification to provide stability. We are also researching and experimenting with new crops such as currants, partridgeberries, cranberries, ginseng, and others.

We have plotted a course for the future of agrifoods through the development of the Agrifood Strategy. Today, I would like to table that Agrifood Strategy for the House of Assembly so that anybody who is interested in the agrifoods industry will have the opportunity. We are also doing an advertising campaign to promote awareness of agrifoods in this Province and that is working quite well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is going to look for direction from the members here, because we are now ready to move into Question Period. The Opposition has not had an opportunity to respond to the Ministerial Statement. It is Private Members' Day. Unless members are in agreement that we stop the clock, or we move the Private Members' Day ahead, then the Chair will have to call Question Period.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me, if I might, say that this side will give leave for half the amount of time that the Official Opposition spokesman requires on this, but we will not do that today for any other individuals in the House.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, at the time we would get a running thirty minute Question Period and the time would come out of private members. It is normal only for the critic to respond anyway, so we certainly agree with that.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the minister for his statement prior to the opening of the House.

I say to the minister that farming is one industry that offers great hope for rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Sometimes when you are talking to other people outside the Province, and I know especially in my district, when they ask me what activities take place here and you say, fishing, logging, and farming, they look at you as if you are telling them a falsehood; because they do not realize what the farming industry means, or that it is happening right here in this Province.

I say to the minister, having said that, that the minister and his department should start paying special attention to what is happening in the farming industry. He spoke about root crops here. It was only this year that the potato farmers - and it happened on the West Coast, I think, for probably the first time - saw a blight affect the potato crops that is probably going to ruin some farmers. It is nothing new right here on the East Coast because it has happened the last three years in a row. I say to the minister, this is what happened in Ireland in the 1800s when they had the famine, the agricultural famine, the potato famine over there.

Another issue is the damage that moose caused to farmers' crops. This is something that I have brought up here in the House many times since I have been elected. It is moose here on the East Coast; it is caribou and moose on the West Coast. I think that the minister's department has the answer in solving this problem, if he would only show some initiative and go out and allow a simple thing as a early hunt to take place prior to the regular hunting season. This is a real problem, it happens on a yearly basis, and it has the potential to ruin farmers.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: The dairy industry in this Province provides employment. It provides opportunities for many people to live and support their families -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - and most of the dairy farmers in this Province now are self-sufficient in feed for their animals. I commend them for that and I thank the minister for showing some initiative.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

On August 31, government announced a review of its policies with respect to small hydro projects, cancelling some of the ongoing initiatives and adopting the very policy this party presented in February of 1997.

I would like to ask the Minister of Mines and Energy today: Will he take this opportunity to update the House, and through the House to people of the Province, on this review?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I think that question is better put on the Order Paper because I could take up the whole of Question Period talking about the energy review, its purposes, its mandate, and those kinds of things.

Mr. Speaker, we are not immune to listening to reasoned argument, if the Opposition puts forward reasoned argument. As I said in my answers to questions at that point in time, if there was no attraction of legal liability we are certainly willing to look at these things. We were looking at small hydro, but I ask him to bear something in mind. We are limited in the amount of hydro left in this Province for future development, and they are limited to - the cleanest form of electricity, of course, is hydro, and we are limited by the 150 megawatts of clean hydro power that is left. That is the future growth.

As he knows, on a separate track, we are dealing with the federal government in a sub-working table to look at the cost of managing the in-feed cost to carry some of the gigantic power resources from Labrador into the Island.

That is all part and parcel of the total energy review, but it would take me the entire Question Period to take him through the processes and what we are doing with respect to consultations, et cetera, to arrive at an energy policy for the Province.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand the issues confronting the energy needs of the Province. I want to say to him, all I asked was: Could he update us on the review? Is it under way? Is there a completion date? Those are the sorts of things generally we are after.

I would like to ask him this: In announcing the review, the Premier and the minister said they would retain specialized expertise to advise on scientific and technical matters. Can he tell us who these experts are, and what exactly their areas of expertise are? For example, have you retained experts in environmental assessment, wildlife, alternative energy sources, as well as energy production, pricing, and economics?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, again that would require a very long answer. Suffice it to say that the terms of reference for a number of specialized consultants are being finalized probably within the next week or so, which would put us in a position to go out and to start building that team of expertise.

I should point out that when we were dealing with the Lower Churchill negotiations to arrive at a point in time where we could actually begin formal negotiations, we had hired a number of experts, particularly in the U.S. The company that comes to mind is Reid Consulting, who are world-class managers of electricity costs and forecasting, and that kind of thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: They are an established company that has been around, I think, about seventy years.

Also, we hired some Washington consultants to help us to deal with the whole business of the FERC rulings. The FERC rulings, as you know, opened up the entire electricity market in North America into a deregulation period. So that federal agency - there are massive piles of documents that had to be gone through and understood properly in the context of how we would sell our power and transmit our power.

The short answer is that there are a number of consultants that we are building into a team; we are finalizing the terms of reference probably in the next seven days or so.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: So we are clear, the questions today - the spirit and the intent of them - are directly towards the private development that was occurring on our lakes, rivers and streams. Governments then announced on August 31, a review that effectively cancelled those private developments.

I would like to ask the minister this question: When the review is completed, can he make a commitment that the entire review, all of it from page 1 to page whatever, will be make public for the House and each member of the House, and through us to the public generally, on what was said at that time and, I guess, the findings of the review being conducted by your department?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the intention is to review energy policy from top to bottom and to come to a conclusion on what our forecasted needs are; how we should best meet those needs, particularly in terms of economic development. We are looking at the whole package and it certainly is our intent to publicly consult with stakeholders to look, as I have told you, at new and innovative ways to generate new capacities of energy; because we are restricted right now to about 150 megawatts, as the hon. member knows.

I have absolutely no problem making public a document, and the findings and the research and the conclusions that we come to with respect to the energy policy which we will hope will guide us for the next twenty or thirty years.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I want to be sure that I am hearing the minister right; what is being conducted is a review. I will ask him a quick question before I get to my next question. So government has not taken a firm policy direction with respect to the privatization or non-utility generators, NUGS as they are often called, in terms of saying there will be no privatization of lakes, rivers and streams. Has government taken that direction, or are they just reviewing that policy as it now exists?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I thought I was clear but I will say it again. We are limited by the amount of power that we currently have. The two larger projects are Granite Canal and Upper Island Pond. When you go beyond that, you are into projects that are roughly 20 megawatts and 30 megawatts, depending upon the river. Then it goes down into rivers that are perhaps 15 megawatts and the like. What we have done -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I am going to answer the question, if you will allow me to answer it. What we have done is we have taken two rivers that had a particular contract, negotiated in good faith with Hydro, and we negotiated our way basically out of it to pick up the costs for whatever those particular proponents had expended at that given point in time.

So the two contracted rivers are now removed from the system. We have frozen all other small hydro development until such time as the energy policy and the experts that we will hire will review what is left on the Island and how we develop. Don't forget, we cannot choke ourselves off. We cannot be so obstinate as to choke ourselves and say: Nothing will be done. Because that will halt economic development and choke us off from the rest of North America.

We will never be competitive if we have to, for example, bring on extra thermal generation. Thermal generation handcuffs you to the price of oil. It is nice when it is down, as it as currently has been for the last eighteen months, but if the price of oil starts taking off as it did when we signed the Upper Churchill way back when, when oil was $1 a barrel, look where it got us. We have to be careful not to hem ourselves in or to take a political judgement because it is expedient. Let's rely upon the experts and let's see what the experts have to say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I agree we cannot hem ourselves in. The point we have made consistently is that if development of lakes, rivers, and streams has to occur to meet the needs of energy in this Province then it must be done, but must be done by Hydro alone. That is what we said, Minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: So we are clear on it, that that is what the entity is in place for.

You have talked about negotiating your way out of the two existing agreements. Let me ask you this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me? It must have been. You certainly know, because you must have gone to it. That is why you announced in September.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister this final question: Has government or Hydro agreed to compensate for the contracts that have now been put on hold? Has there been any form of compensation to the companies involved, either directly from government or by Hydro? If so, how much? When was that decision made, and could you make that public?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, on the Web page I could not find your document. I looked under www.wishy-washy and I couldn't find it anywhere.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: That should get another supplementary.

Mr. Speaker, let me make it clear again. There were I think from the private sector about thirteen proponents, if my memory serves me correctly. During the original bid there were four selected. Four were given contracts. Two are proceeding, two were halted by mutual agreement with a payout for the costs up to that point in time. That is what I just told you. I cannot remember the exact cost, but I think in one case it was $800,000 for their cost to date, and the other one was either $400,000 or $500,000 for their cost to date.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: You know, you cannot have it both ways. If you want those stopped there is a cost. Mr. Speaker, if you want the contracted rivers stopped as you asked us to do, we went and negotiated and paid the fair price for the costs incurred to date, as you asked. We did not want to attract legal liability by unilaterally cancelling these contracts. Because then we are into massive lawsuits and you would be up saying: How did you get into lawsuits?

Now, of the thirteen private sector proponents that put forward proposals there were two left contracted which we mutually negotiated out, which frees up those rivers, which says they will not produce hydro electricity and will carry on in their natural state. Of the other eleven, there were no contracts in place, even though proponents spent capital dollars to prepare for various calls.

For example, on the Voisey's Bay smelter, you will recall that when Inco was talking about a very large smelter -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. FUREY: - it would require some - I think it is important, Mr. Speaker, to answer this properly, fully and clearly for the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

There were some 200 megawatts at that time required for the smelter and refinery. When Hydro went out for a proposal it attracted, I think, twelve or thirteen propositions from the private sector, as well as Newfoundland Hydro themselves. We are not liable for those costs. These are private individuals and private companies that expend significant sums of money to prepare very complex documents to put them in a bidding process, but that does not attract any costs for the Province.

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

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

I would have assumed that as the former Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology he could find his way through the Internet. If I could just get the attention of one of the Pages, if you would like to have a look at the policy, I have a copy here for him, if you want to pass it over to the minister.

The question is simply this, I guess. In asking the question of compensation, could the minister make a commitment today to table exactly what the compensation was for the companies involved - he has indicated that in one case there was $800,000 -, to whom, and when the compensation was made, so that we all can have a look at the sums of money involved?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely no problem to do that. I went off the top of my memory which is sometimes dangerous to do, but I thought it was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Now, Mr. Speaker, keep that attack dog under control, or at least feed him once a week.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I said off the top of my head that I thought it was roughly $800,000 in one circumstance and about $400,000 or $500,000 in the other. The specific details, the specific companies, I will be happy to do it and make it public as soon as I can.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Health and Community Services. I am sure the minister is fully aware of the tragic death that occurred at St. Clare's Hospital this morning. I want to ask the minister if she will confirm that this man in his early thirties was at risk. He was under constant care, twenty-four hours a day, until yesterday, when he was put on close observation. That is every fifteen minutes. I ask the minister would she confirm that.

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

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

It was interesting earlier today when I said no. One of my colleagues mentioned about this incident and I said: No, it would not be an issue that would be raised today because of the sensitivity of the matter. Because, in fact, Mr. Speaker, this man died less than twelve hours ago. I think, out of fairness to the family, it is in very poor taste at this point in time that this issue be raised in a political forum when the member opposite knows there is a press conference being held at 3:00 p.m. today.

I would say again that I would like to express our sincere condolences to the family at this time. I would ask the member, if he would, at least wait until more than twelve hours have passed, get the information from the CEO, and we would only be too happy to speak about it at another time.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A press conference is occurring, as the minister said, that is correct. That is not the point of the question. The Minister of Health and Community Services has a responsibility for the protection of people in this Province today, this very minute, and yesterday! Minister, I am asking a question to you. Less than four months ago I had several calls from people concerned, calls from families of people who were involved. Less than four months ago a person fell from a seventh floor of the very same hospital to his death. I mean, that is very unfortunate.

I want to ask the minister: Why aren't people who are at risk, I say the minister, placed on a psychiatric floor, or at least in a place where they are safe, and not on the highest floor of a hospital? That is her responsibility.

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I think we have really fallen to extremely low levels here today, and I'm embarrassed to be a part of this, but I will certainly answer this part of the question. I would say again I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family.

I ask that the member opposite at least wait until more than twelve hours have passed. We know right now that as we speak they are preparing to address a number of issues around this incident. The member opposite also knows that in regard to the previous incident the chief medical examiner, in fact, would have done a full investigation and presented that report to the Minister of Justice. I think, in the fairness of what is happening, let's try to keep the politics out of this very serious instance until a reasonable period of time has passed, and then I would only be too happy to answer. Please, I urge the member opposite to show some compassion and some consideration for what has just happened.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is this minister who is making this political, I say to the minister. This problem is not a medical one, it is an administrative problem. People who enter institutions in our Province who are at risk deserve to get the protection that their families and the public expect in those institutions. Now, do we have to go through a scene like we saw at the Health Sciences before where we had several deaths before something was done.

I offer my deepest sympathies to the family head. It is not political. If the minister wants to think this is political... I ask the minister, before anything happens again, will you move immediately and demand, as the person in charge of health care in this Province, that all psychiatric patients and patients who are at risk in hospitals today are placed on a psychiatric floor or in a place where they are safe so we can never have this happen again?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: It is with regret again, Mr. Speaker, that I stand to answer this type of question at this point in time, but I will say, unlike the member opposite, I have a lot of confidence in the staff. I have a lot of confidence in and support the CEO and the board. I know that nobody intentionally puts anyone at risk, and I am not even admitting to any risk.

What I am saying today is in the interest of the family, and of the staff that have to deal with this incident right now, who are very concerned and have undergone critical stress debriefing, in addition to the family members, I urge the member opposite to show some compassion, some consideration for the family and staff involved, until such time as this can be addressed in the proper way. Please, I ask the member opposite to show that compassion.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

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

Let me point out to the Speaker what I just heard from across the House. The fact that the Minister of Health & Community Services was playing politics with this very tragic -


MR. TULK: I say to the hon. gentleman, I will make the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, what the hon. gentleman is doing is imputing motives to the Minister of Health & Community Services about something that she said in this House, that she is playing politics with this very tragic incident.

My point of order is that the hon. gentleman should not do that. He knows he should not do it, and he should take -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Before, Mr. Speaker, he accuses the Minister of Health and Community Services of doing that kind of thing, he should take a good look in the mirror.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, there is no point of order, Mr. Speaker. I accept that ruling here. It is very unfortunate that I had to listen to this nonsense in the House today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions this afternoon are for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. They have to do with an issue of policing. It has become a topic in the past several months, and again today there are media reports, on the issue of staffing of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. We saw back in September the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association showing concern that members of the street drug team were being reassigned to other duties due to the need for resources in other areas of the department. We see today, and we hear repeatedly, concerns by members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary that since 1991 we have seen a reduction in the personnel of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary of some seventy members. We also see a statistic that Newfoundland has the highest population-officer ratio in the country, and we see a population shift to urban centres in this Province, namely centres that are patrolled and under the jurisdiction of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

My question to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General is simply this. In view of these expressed concerns, Mr. Minister, by both membership and personnel of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary through their association, and indeed the public at-large, what steps will you take to ensure that the public of this Province is adequately protected.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, let's put the issue in context first. This is not the official position of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. These remarks are attributed to Mr. Cadigan, who is a lawyer working for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association.

The Association at this time is in negotiations with Treasury Board to negotiate salary matters and others. No doubt, Mr. Cadigan is doing his work and is trying to drum up public support to get people on side with the police.

The only problem is that some of the statements the man is making are not accurate. In the paper he said that there were 383 officers employed in the RNC jurisdiction in 1991.

I have a note here from the police itself. Three hundred and eighty-eight, the paper says. On April 1, 1991, the actual police strength in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was 359 police officers. They were authorized to have 377 but the actual number was 359 not 388.

Mr. Cadigan goes on with his alarmist remarks. He further stated that break and entries are occurring at alarming rates in recent months. The RNC says statistics complied by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for the past five years reveal minor fluctuation in the break and entries and an overall decrease in robberies.

Mr. Cadigan quotes: Figures for 1997, provided by Statistics Canada, show Newfoundland in well out front of all other provinces, as well as the national average, in population per police officer.

These same statistics would suggest to you why that is the case. During the same period, 1997, the same statistics point out -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer quickly, please.

MR. DECKER: - that Newfoundland had the lowest provincial crime rate in Canada in 1997 compared to twenty five cities -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Compare St. John's with twenty-five other cities in the country with a population - Newfoundland comes twenty-fourth out of twenty-five with respect to robberies.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer quickly.

MR. DECKER: Twenty-two out of twenty-five with break and entries; twenty-five with respect to motor vehicle tests. That should answer the question as to why we have the ratio that we have.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to take his seat.

MR. DECKER: We do not have the crime. If the hon. member wants more police officers, maybe he should go and cause more crime.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, these are the words of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a shameful comment for him to make.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make the following comments in response to what he is saying. In addition to what the police officers themselves are saying - in fact, there is a lady in my district who operates a store in the Churchill Park area, who has had her business enterprise broken into on five different occasions since January of 1998. She has gone public, and she has said the problem is the result of an inadequate complement of police officers.

There are convenience stores and grocery stores and garages who cannot find staff and personnel to work these particular grocery stores late at night and in the early morning hours. They are simply afraid.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: We have senior citizens who have expressed concern repeatedly that they are afraid to remain in their homes alone.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to the minister: There is a problem, there is a concern. He has the statistics. When is he going to do something about it and recognize the problem with respect to personnel of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, yes, there is a concern and I certainly would apologize. My last remark, an attempt at humour, was obviously unfair and I withdraw that last remark. I certainly do, Mr. Speaker. If a shop owner has her store broken into five times, it is a very serious matter. There is no doubt about that.

I just returned from a Ministers of Justice conference from across the country, which I was at earlier this month, and there is indeed a perception across the country that crime is on the increase; but the perception does not match the reality.

Now there are times when there are fluctuations and, as was pointed out here in the statistics from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary themselves, there have been minor fluctuations. What we have witnessed from time to time is a fluctuation, but when you look at the overall statistics there is, in fact, a decrease in crime across the country. Newfoundland is one of the lowest jurisdictions in all of the country for crime; and St. John's, when compared to other cities of the size, is pretty near the bottom of the whole country.

These are the facts. Let's not try to alarm people by trying to suggest to them that this is a dangerous city in which they live, this is a dangerous Province in which to live, when the statistics do not bear that out. Remarks that the hon. member is making are alarmist remarks, and the hon. member should have better sense. He has been in a lawyer's position -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to take his seat.

MR. DECKER: - he knows the harm that statements such as he is making can cause. They are unwarranted, unfounded, and they are dangerous.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to the minister not to get overly excited. Let's deal with this issue. Let's put it in the proper perspective. People have a right to be safe. They have a right to be safe. They have a right to feel safe. People have a right to be protected and feel secure in their businesses and in their homes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister directly: Is he saying that we now have an adequate complement of police officers with respect to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in those jurisdictions over which the RNC has control? Is that what the minister is saying?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says that people have a right to be protected, a right to protection, to feel safe and all of that. I would suggest to the hon. member that with remarks like he is making, the position that he is taking on this is really an attempt to alarm people for no reason. The statistics do no bear out what he is saying.

The hon. member will know that since 1991 there have been changes in the way that we police the area which is policed by the RNC, just as there have been changes in areas where the RCMP is policing in the Province.

The paper talks about 388 officers. There were never 388; there were 359. There are less than that today, but since 1991 some of the duties that the RNC were responsible for have been changed. For example, the Sheriff's Office assumes responsibility for court security; that used to be the RNC. The Sheriff's Office has to service subpoenas; that used to be the RNC. The prisoner escort is now done by the Sheriff's Office; that used to be done by the RNC. The St. John's city itself assumed the responsibility for the enforcement of parking regulations. So to compare 1991 with 1998 is comparing apples and oranges. There have been changes taking place, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.

MR. DECKER: In addition to that, many jobs that were done by the police are now done by civilians. So there have been changes for the better made in the police force.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if I could, on a point of order, I think we have reached a point - according to our Standing Orders - where we have to call Private Members' Day.

MR. SPEAKER: Private Members' Day. Yes, I was just wondering if members wanted to give us some notice of motion.



Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This opportunity today gives rise to a chance for any and all of us, as Members of the House of Assembly, to not only focus and congratulate the volunteers in our given districts who work on behalf of the communities, who work as a part of the different organizations that function in our different areas that look out for economic development activities in the different districts, but it also gives us an opportunity to allow people to see just how the overall approach that the government has taken to economic development initiatives and our social strategy can come together. It is a matter of laying before the House evidence of the overall approach to tying together the different, and some would say sometimes competing, interests of the economic development activities to compare and integrate those with the social side.

Now, I put down this resolution. There are a lot of positive things out there. The government has been trying to inform the public over the last couple of years of the positive approach we have been taking to economic development. It really does need to be laid before the House as well and put on the record for the future, because as we move forward into a more prosperous future we will evidently see that this was the groundwork that was laid that will have helped us to arrive at success at some future point.

We are having successes in different locations throughout the Province. We have initiatives which have been undertaken. I want to, for the benefit of all hon. members, put forward for you today some evidence of the effectiveness of the approach being taken through the strategic economic plans of the twenty Regional Economic Development Boards, and also the overall strategy and policy of the government when that comes to tying together all of these initiatives, with the potential for social audits by the group responsible for the social side of initiatives undertaken by the government, and to make sure there is a coordinated approach to the overall policy initiatives of government.

For the benefit of the record, although it is written here, I want to read the resolution into the record. It goes as follows:

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has initiated a planned approach to focus on the key areas of social and economic development in the Province; and

WHEREAS government in consultation with economic development partners throughout the Province has established Regional Economic Development Boards (REDB's) in 20 economic zones throughout Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS the regional economic development boards are grassroots organizations within both urban and rural centres in the Province which are implementing strategic economic plans for their region based on local and provincial consultations; and

WHEREAS the Premier's Council on Social Development has been established to oversee the implementation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Strategic Social Plan; and

WHEREAS the Strategic Social Plan has evolved out of one of the most thorough and far-reaching consultations on a social strategy ever undertaken in Newfoundland and Labrador - and possibly even in Canada; and

WHEREAS the Strategic Social Plan and Strategic Regional Economic Plans of the REDB's are a cornerstone of the path chosen by the people of the Province for our future social and economic development;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House now go on record as supporting and encouraging the regional economical development boards in the implementation of their strategic plans and the many hard working grassroots volunteers to continue their excellent work on behalf of the people of the Province;

AND THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED this House support and encourage the continued linkages and working relationships between the social and economic developments sectors of the provincial strategies for economic renewal and social responsiveness.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of good things happening in the Province today. There are regional challenges, of course. I have a lot of regional challenges in my own area, a lot of the other MHAs have problems and challenges in their areas, but the overall positive message cannot be quelled, it cannot be put down, it cannot be minimized in any way. Because there is a lot of good happening here in the Province.

I have recently attended some meetings with economic zone partners in my district, as I am sure most hon. members here have also been involved in some of these consultations on the strategy and approach being taken by the strategic planning models that have been developed everywhere throughout the Province. It is almost as if in each zone you are seeing a coming together of all of the people who in the past would compete for initiatives, would compete on different things for economic development. They are starting to focus and channel their efforts, almost as if they are pulling on the same piece of rope, trying to tug away, to do the best thing for their given district. It is proving to have some results, even if in some respects at this stage of the overall development we are seeing just the leading edge of what will, we would hope, achieve success.

We are seeing that coming together. The past difficulties in local communities is dissipating. That working together is bringing communities that are diverse and some distance apart together for economic development purposes. All of us who have had doubts in the past about how these initiatives would work, I think it is giving us some strong evidence of the fact that the plan itself can work and it can work well.

Let's look at some of the things that government itself has done on the economic policy side. This is how I would like to do it. I would just like to talk about some of the economic support initiatives that government has undertaken - through the Regional Economic Development Boards and with their support and overall facilitation in the different districts -, and then also to talk about some of the social elements of the overall initiatives that are being undertaken under the Strategic Social Plan, and how that can then come together. Along with hearing from other Members of the House on this initiative, I would then like to try to bring it together in my closing remarks later.

Just look at some of the things that have been done. The business investment fund under the Department of Development and Rural Renewal has been a cornerstone of the provincial government's input and financial support for economic development initiatives in the Province. It has become one where they have put forward some $7 million per year, and they are also continuing to manage an investment portfolio of some $160 million. That $160 million investment portfolio, which resulted out of previous organizations and other initiatives, these are repayable monies to the treasury. Those repayable monies are generating a return to government - in repayment of debts and purchase back of equity positions taken by Enterprise Newfoundland and currently through the Department of Development and Rural Renewal - of some $16 million back to the treasury on an annualized basis.

That it is providing flexibility on the economic development side. It proves that some good prudent fiscal management efforts have been taken by the investment analysts, those who look at the different proposals and determine as to whether government should put the money in to them or not. It is obvious that some success is there.

The overall default on a lot of this money that is out in the economy is small. Really, if we look at it, we have supported some 3,600 jobs through the facilitation of that $160 million in total, and $7 million that has been invested over each of the last two years. Those 3,600 jobs have in fact been not only created but in some cases supported and maintained. That is a key element of what is happening out there in rural Newfoundland.

Furthermore, the government has some cost-shared initiatives. We have the SRDA agreement, which has seem some $30 million invested in the provincial economy through a shared approach between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. That $30 million has been put in to some 112 initiatives throughout the Province. That in turn is generating also significant benefits for the provincial economy.

We have also in partnership with the Government of Canada, through the Transitional Jobs Fund, seen significant investments to the tune of $41 million of federal funds entirely. That $41 million is coming out of the employment insurance initiatives. That money has gone into 155 different projects throughout the Province. That is having a positive impact and it is not entirely just a federal issue at this stage. Because all dealings with the federal government now where they invest in initiatives in the Province are done on a consultative base with the Department of Development and Rural Renewal. So we can see that although we do not have any direct financial involvement on TJF initiatives, we sometimes are involved in putting other monies in there. We do give what someone would refer to as a government blessing to these initiatives when they are brought forward.

Under the Comprehensive Labrador Agreement, and I think one of my colleagues will comment further on this, there has been some $3.8 million in initiatives this year alone. That has gone into some thirty-three different areas in Labrador. I would hope he is able to comment further on some of these initiatives, and the necessity and the overall positive impact they are having on the economy there.

There are two others I want to mention before I get directly into my own district. One is the Economic Renewal Agreement, which has seen $100 million of investment in the Province. That $100 million has seen $20 million going to the area of aquaculture, which is a key element of the overall provincial strategy for renewal of the fishery. Also, it is a development of new technologies, and something I have had the pleasure to be involved with very closely over the last little while, particularly with an American aquaculture company interested in coming to set up shop in my own district. I am very pleased with that initiative.

We have seen some $22 million under the Economic Renewal Agreement invested in tourism. That is also another positive. That has seen positive benefit and results in tourism infrastructure and the overall approach taken to the promotion of tourism in the Province. We will get much in the way of results in the future with the increase in visitation and the overall ability of local economies to captivate people or capture them on their travels around and keep them interested in spending money and staying for a longer period of time when they come to visit.

Furthermore, over the next three years, we have the labour market development agreement which is seeing significant quantities of government funds going to support the labour market development. It is really helping us in the overall strategy of what is going on in the Province.

All of these positive amounts of money are creating good economic benefits for the whole Province. It is Province-wide, it is not just urban. It is generally more rural in its overall focus and where the monies are being concentrated. It is something I think that we have to make sure we have to get on the record in the House of Assembly.

In my district we have seen the development of a significant number of initiatives currently underway. There are many developments underway in the community of Burgeo. I have been actively involved with the fish plant operator there, Seafreez, and other local partners to oversee a strategy to get the fish plant in Burgeo up and operating again. We have good support from both the federal and provincial governments on that initiative.

Recently the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and I travelled to Portugal to see the owners of the fish plant in Rose Blanche. That is actively being pursued by no less that two potential operators at this stage who are interested in working a deal out with the Portuguese owners currently to see that local plant up and opening.

In the community of Burnt Islands, it is regrettable that the operator there who has operated for many years, a person with a very strong business background, Mr. Eric King, passed away over the past couple of weeks. He was a strong economic engine for the community of Burnt Islands. His fish plant operated and continues to operate there quite well through the moratorium on a fresh fish basis.

There are other initiatives that have been undertaken. The community of Isle aux Morts has seen significant losses in the fishery over the past while, it has seen a large out-migration, but as far as Isle aux Morts goes there is some hope. There is the new operator from New Brunswick interested in locating there. So there are things happening in that respect in the fishery.

Seafreez Operation in Port aux Basques is operating this past year as much as it ever has. It has had the highest amount of employment in so far as the number of employees over a long-term basis employed goes. That has seen significant improvements.

The other area we have to look at are tourism generators in my district. It is noteworthy to point out that some of these are initiatives that were brought to the table many years ago and have finally been brought to fruition in the district as a result of the support of the local Regional Economic Development Boards, the Southwest Coast Development Association and others. We have seen the development of a railway heritage museum at the gateway entrance of Port aux Basques for people departing the ferry. We have seen the development of the old stone lighthouse -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, could I have just a couple of minutes to clue up?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Okay, if you want to fit it all in. That is fine. I will be seated and conclude at the end.

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

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

I wanted to stand today and make a few comments on what I believe could be the debate of debates for this Province in rural Newfoundland and Labrador right now. We are at a very critical stage in this Province's history when we talk about rural Newfoundland and Labrador. As a matter of fact, I will go so far as to say it is the most important debate of this Province's history at a very critical stage in our history. That is what is happening with rural Newfoundland and Labrador, what makes Newfoundland and Labrador so unique, not just to the country but to the world.

The uniqueness of rural Newfoundland and Labrador is known worldwide. Not just across our nation, but it is known worldwide. It is the people, the culture of this Province that we live in, that we are all so proud of.

The real fear - and I know that this fear is shared by many members in the House of Assembly, as we see it. I want to go on record again, as I have done so many times in this House of Assembly, as saying that when we do hear a good news story, and when something happens in your district - and I have been on public record and in public places where I have commended things. Of course, the media never carries when you have commended good news stories that happen in your district. For example, North Co. Logging Industry now in my district, the minister helped out with that. There was an initiative driven by people locally in my district and I commended him publicly. We have done all that.

I never have a problem with that. The record will always show in any Hansard in this House since I have been here in five years that I have no problem commending people - whether it is government officials, and especially local people - for driving initiatives that make our Province more prosperous in coming up with jobs and everything else.

I want to say it again, now, I am going to repeat that because the minister just walked in. I want it on record again and I want to say it. I just made a statement I would like for the minister to hear. I have said it many times in this House, in every single Hansard - as a matter of fact, I have gone back over them just to make sure that I have been consistent in saying it, and publicly at times with the minister and so on.

We get back and forth in this House with some rhetoric and some political games being played and so on about how we have to criticize the government and the government has to say all the good things and so on. The truth is that we know there is good news and bad news mixed in there. I want to go on record again today in saying that there have been times when I have complimented or commended government officials, right on up to the minister if I had to. That is how far I have gone publicly. When an initiative was taken, especially by local people - and I used the example of North Co. in my district - or anywhere around the Province, say with the seal industry, or wherever there were initiatives taken at the grassroots level -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am being very serious with the minister. I have commended people publicly in my district. I am on record. I have commended officials at the time, right on up to the minister at that time, Mr. Speaker. The minister at that time for forestry was the now Government House Leader. Where help has been -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I do not want his head to swell too big here today. My whole point in saying this, and I have done it, and people in my district know I have done it, is that at those times we have commended each other, or where people have worked in consultation with the government, where the government has helped them through a process, and at the end of the day there was a job there. If it was one job or five jobs or ten jobs, that was the goal. That is always the goal. I can be fair in saying that I think that is the goal of every member who sits in their seats in this House.

Anytime I hear of a new initiative, of course in your own district, the first question I ask anybody I talk to in business, and I'm sure the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile is the same way, is: How many jobs are going to be there? That is my first question in my district because we need the jobs. That is always the bottom line, that four letter words, jobs. The keys is the s, jobs. Whether it is one or two.

I have commended different officials, and the bureaucracy a lot of times that we condemn.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: The minister will get a chance to speak. I would like to ask him to stop interrupting me now so I can make my points.

Mr. Speaker, I am trying to make the point that we all supply those, and we do the rhetoric back and forth. It will always go on in this House of Assembly: the rhetoric and politics played, the Opposition criticizing, the government saying everything is wonderful, and so on.

Also, I am always a realist. I am an optimist but I am a realist. I can list out ten things. I could take the minister's paper and go one, two, three, four, five, six, seven or ten or twenty, or whatever it is.

MR. TULK: Why don't you?

MR. SHELLEY: I have done it. That is my point. I have said to the minister already that I have done that, but the minister also has to come halfway and say too that all the problems are not all solved. It is not all rosy out there. Many times it is, Mr. Speaker. The good news review comes on and the big press conferences are called. I will say this. Many are the times when we see these major press conferences about mega-projects that they are going to take on. The people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, especially when they hear about the Hibernia -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I will make the point again, Mr. Speaker. When the people of this Province hear another big announcement about Hibernia or hear the minister, like today, talking about Terra Nova and so on - I am not saying that it is not true what he was saying, that there were fifty jobs here or seventy jobs there, but the people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, the people in Fleur de Lys, Ming's Bight, Rose Blanche and other places are saying: I've been listening to this for twenty years, I have been listening about Hibernia and the different governments over the years, but I wonder am I going to get any benefit whatsoever from this great news that we hear about these mega-projects? Are my roads going to be paved? Am I going to have a decent hospital in my community? Am I going to get a job out of it? Am I going to be able to go to work because of this great news that flashes across Here and Now and NTV and so on?

When the minister stands and makes the good news review, like we have seen so often here, and we saw it again here today, the people who are sitting in their homes in some of these communities and in Southern Labrador, as the member talked about today, are asking: What benefit is that for us? Rightly so. They are not greedy, because they are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who own the resource that is in the ground in Labrador City. They own the oil that is off our shores. They own the forest products that are going out of here day after day. What the people in Newfoundland and Labrador, especially rural Newfoundland and Labrador, are saying today is: With the bounty of resources we have in this Province, there is something wrong.

We do not need a consultation team the minister talks about. I do not need an expert from Ottawa to come down and tell me, when we have 150 years' worth of supply of iron ore in Labrador West, that we only should get certain benefits from that. The people in Newfoundland and Labrador are saying we should get it all. It is the proper greed, and the greed has come to fruition for the simple reason that they have seen it so often before. They have seen it so often before in this great Province of ours, a province of 500,000 people, which has some of the best offshore potential in the world. We have Voisey's Bay, the biggest nickel find in the world, we have Churchill Falls, the biggest hydro development in the world, and here we are with 500,000 people, with 22 per cent unemployed. There is something wrong!

Let's take it a step further. I think a lot of the members agree with me -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am going to get to that point now, I say to the member.

I think the minister agrees with me too. I am not doing this on any particular time, I am not doing it on any particular party. I am just saying that basically it is a history we should look back over. Everybody says history is boring but we have to learn from our history.

Mr. Speaker, let's go another step further, let's bring this down another stage. Let's talk about Labrador only. The land mass of Labrador has approximately 30,000 people. I don't think I am very far off. Now just try to put this in your pipe and smoke it. Thirty thousand people there, and we have the Iron Ore Company of Canada, the largest producer of iron ore in Canada, we have Voisey's Bay, the biggest nickel find in the world, we have Churchill Falls, the biggest hydro development project in the world, we have a bounty of resources in forestry up there that we have not even touched yet. We have 30,000 people. I don't know what the percentage is, so I will skip it for now and just say a lot of people are looking for work day after day.

Especially what is significant about what happened in Labrador City just a little while ago was that the people of Labrador - because I lived there. Not a long time, I don't profess to be a Labradorian, but if you lived there - and it was for six years - you got a feeling of what those people are talking about. My family still works there. I still have brothers and sisters who work in Wabush and Labrador City. My brother worked there for fourteen years. Good incomes are coming out of IOC. They are the highest probably per capita, I would venture to guess, income revenue into the Province through taxes, through their average salaries, in Labrador West. I would venture to say that is right. Per capita, with the population size and so on, with the wages and everything in the Labrador West area, they are probably the biggest contributor to the provincial coffers with respect to income taxes and so on in the Province - personal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That is what I just said, the highest wages. Nobody disputes that. I am just making the point that these people have contributed to the economy, through the coffers of this Province, with their income taxes and so on.

That just adds insult to injury when people see what happened in Labrador City. I am not going to get into the numbers or anything else, just the principle. Forget the numbers, because companies can throw numbers at you on viability and economic -

The minister will agree with this one. You are going to agree with me a lot today, Minister, I would say. The minister will agree on another point I am going to make, that companies - and he has dealt with lots of companies -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I have sat around board rooms with some pretty big companies, too, when they throw the numbers at you, and the statistics, and how economically viable it is for them, and they have to take care of their shareholders and so on.

Forget the statistics and the numbers that came at you, because here is my stand on what happened in Labrador City. That company that was up there for thirty-eight years to date, made anywhere near $40 million in some of their worst years and up to $110 to $120 million profit a year, for thirty-eight years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: They had some bad years, but on average the Iron Ore of Canada did pretty good.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am not disputing numbers here today. Let me just say this to the minister, to see if he is satisfied with this. Over thirty-eight years, the Iron Ore Company of Canada has been a very profitable, lucrative company, and have done very well here. Yes, they put people to work in Labrador City, but aside from the statistics and the numbers that the companies throw at you, the bottom line is that this company is about to now expand - and they expand for only one reason. Any company expands for one reason, to make more money. At the end of the day the Iron Ore Company of Canada is going to make more than they are making now. They are going to expand and modernize because there are going to be less people working there.

The reality is that the Iron Ore Company of Canada is going to be making more profits, they are going to have less people working from Newfoundland and Labrador, and they are going to be shipping our resources out to benefit people in Quebec. Now I say Quebec, but I do not care if it is Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island or anywhere else. I am talking about this Province. It should not be shipped anywhere. The statistical numbers they use for their argument should be out the window.

Here is my bottom line on it: The Iron Ore Company of Canada should not have the gall to even suggest that they are going to expand outside of this Province to develop a resource that is in our Province. Before you get into numbers and throw around statistics on feasibility, that is what I believe. That is what it comes down to in this whole debate today in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, that the people of Labrador West basically have hit the nerve.

What happened in Labrador West has hit the nerve of a lot of people in this Province. Do you know what they said when they heard that announcement of IOC - the people around my district and everywhere else that I have talked to - here we go again. I thought we were going to be tough on our resources.

The statistic that we gave today is the only one we need to know in this Province. Last year, $79 million for video lottery machines came into the government. How much came in from our royalties on IOC and our forestry and fishery? Twenty-five million dollars. That tells the whole story right there.

My point today is, yes we throw the rhetoric back and forth and we play a little bit of politics back and forth, as they say. You can go on with whatever you want. Yes, there are times when we commend small business and government's initiatives in the right manner, but the question has to be asked: How much (inaudible) initiatives? At the end of the day, the bottom line is how many jobs are created. Because we know right now - and the questions we got after yesterday were for the future of this Province. I am not worried about next week or next month. I am wondering about a year from now.

Those were the questions I asked yesterday to the Premier, that I thought they were legitimate and specific. At the end of the day, next May or June, when 4,000 or 5,000 people are finished with the TAGS program and it is all dried up and the federal government is saying, `That is it; we are tired of giving those Newfoundlanders more money', then we are going to say: Now what happens? Where is the plan? What is the plan for rural renewal? That is what we have to get down to.

The jobs and benefits from the small business initiatives will take us in the right direction, but I am talking about an overall plan that is going to suffice, that rural Newfoundland and Labrador survive.

Does the minister believe that those initiatives are enough at the right time, or is it going to take too long. Where are we going from there?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, when you get up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, let me finish my remarks. I want to go on again and finish it off, and try to summarize my main point for today.

There is no doubt about it that we all agree and we should acknowledge that there are problems in rural Newfoundland and Labrador - a big part, in part, by the fishery. Nobody can dispute that.

Secondly, some of the initiatives by the government towards small business are a step in the right direction, there is no doubt about that. We commend that part. What I am saying is, is it too little, too late? Is it going to be enough to suffice the out-migration and the $40,000 -

MR. TULK: What does that mean, too little, too late?

MR. SHELLEY: Too little, too late.

MR. TULK: Is rural Newfoundland going to close down, or (inaudible) stop out-migration next?

MR. SHELLEY: There is a danger right now in a critical time - and this is the first remark that I started with, when the minister was not here - I think we are at the most critical stage -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, all I am saying is that rural Newfoundland and Labrador needs a desperate shot in the arm as soon as possible, and as the end of the TAGS draws near we have to have a full overall plan that is going to carry us past that stage.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: On a point of order, I understand that the outdated Member for Cape St. Francis wants leave of the House to withdraw an outdated private member's resolution. Since everything over there is outdated, we would like to have the whole works withdrawn.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, by leave.

The Government House Leader is partially right. I wish to withdraw, or remove from the Order Paper, a private member's resolution that is not pertinent at this point in time. By leave I would like to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair acknowledges the presentation made by the member.

The hon. the Member for Topsail.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is certainly a pleasure for me today to rise in my place and speak to this particular resolution; I might add in support. I should qualify what I am saying, in support of.

I am a little bit surprised, I suppose, that we are even standing here, even speaking on this particular resolution. I think we probably should have voted on it immediately, because, you see, where it starts with: WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has initiated a planned approach to focus on the key areas of social and economic development in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, that says it all. This government has gone out and met with the people involved. Unlike things in the past where it came down from the top, this comes from the real people of this Province. It is their idea. It is what they want to do.

As I try to speak on this particular resolution, as usual, the members opposite want to do a little cat-calling to try to throw me off in what I have to say. I must say there are times that I am at loss as to the attitude and approach that comes from the other side of this House. When I sit here and listen to the doom and gloom that comes from that side of the House, it is a wonder that all of us did not commit suicide.

When you look back in our history of 500 years, and look at the struggle that we have had, we have always made it. I could go back to 1985, and that was not so very long ago. We had 24 per cent unemployed in this Province, 24 per cent.

MR. TULK: When?

MR. WISEMAN: In 1985. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was the Tory Party who was in government at that time. If you look at statistics of out-migration, and you look at 1979-1986, some 44,000 people left this Province, but that does not make it right. They had a problem when they were here and they did not address it.

I can say that when we came in here as a government in 1989, I was here as an executive assistant to the minister. I recall that we were paying $550 million in interest every year on the debt that was accumulated by the Tory government that had been here for seventeen years; $550 million a year, $12,000 a minute.

They do not want to hear that. They do not want to hear about what the past was like.

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

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

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) certainly not pertinent to the issue. Also, a correction there: The debt has increased by 40 per cent since 1989, if you look at the total debt in 1989, I would like to remind the member.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. member was taking advantage of the process so he could further engage in debate.

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

MR. WISEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What I have said is very factual, actually. I know that the members opposite have a great inclination to do what is right for this Province, but I do not believe they have the inclination that we have on this side because we do things. It is easy to sit over there in Opposition and say about all the things that they would do. It is so easy.

MR. TULK: I have not heard anything they would do yet.

MR. WISEMAN: Well, they would do everything. The problem is that there is not enough money in the country to pay for what they want to do. We have to be responsible on this side of the House.

MR. TULK: They have an energy policy which says here: Newfoundland and Labrador is without energy.

MR. WISEMAN: There you go.

Mr. Speaker, I remember back in 1992 when I was an executive assistant to the Minister of Environment and Lands. I remember travelling across this country and meeting with the Ministers of Environment. She was also the minister responsible for the Status of Women. We all know that in any downturn in the economy it is the women who bear the brunt of it. They are the people who carry the brunt of any downturn in the economy.

We told about the devastation that would happen and how crucial the fishery was to this Province, but this Liberal government never gave up trying.

MR. TULK: No, and we are not going to either.

MR. WISEMAN: The Minister of Development and Rural Renewal says he never will.

I should add that he did this in my district last night. He spoke to the Chamber of Commerce and talked about the successes we have had with development in this Province. It is through the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal that these things are happening. He knows the Province, he knows the people, and he knows the issues. He is very open to suggestions and very accommodating.

I heard the Member for Baie Verte talking about the devastation that is happening in the Province, but he did not say what this government has done for his district. He did not say that this government has invested some $868,372 in his district since April 1, 1996. No, the Member for Baie Verte did not say that because that would not be appropriate. That is good news. You are looking at resource development, logging, mussel farming.

I believe all of us in this House have a responsibility to stand up and say that which is right and that which is fair. Somehow, I guess, the political system does not allow it. You cannot blame the system, I suppose; you have to blame the people in it.

I remember travelling to Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune with the Minister of Environment and Labour. In fact, we were there the day that the fish plant opened in Gaultois. If you could see the look of joy on the faces of those people as that boat came in loaded with redfish, and how enthused the people were as they milled around the plant, getting ready to process this redfish.

Lo and behold, the first boat came in, and twenty minutes later another boat came in loaded, and twenty minutes later another boat came in loaded with redfish. That plant had been closed for some time. They had just been devastated because their school had been lost in a fire; but did they give up? No, they did not give up. The member for the area went down and met with them and met with the Minister of Education to find a resolution to their problem. It happened because this government is a proactive government. We don't sit back and hope that things are going to happen. We do them. We are indeed a very, very active government.

The Strategic Enterprise Development Fund has invested in 502 projects with $19 million, which levered an additional $71 million from other sources to create and maintain some 3,500 jobs.

This morning I was at the opening of the Outer Ring Road with my colleague, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and the Premier. That road begins in my district. Can you imagine how important that road network is to the people who live in my district?

This Liberal government is putting in the infrastructure. We are putting in place the infrastructure to carry the economy of this Province. We can entice to Conception Bay South and Paradise, companies who have already invested in the offshore. In fact, there is a building being constructed there right now.

I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed today when I rose in my place to seek leave to respond to that statement made by the minister, because it is important to the viability of my district and the people who live there. I was denied that privilege by the Opposition. Yet, we give privileges to individuals who sit as Independents and who sit as one individual representing themselves and a party. I believe that if this House is going to be fair to all of us, then either nobody gets leave or we all get leave to speak.

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, if the member is going to speak I think he should make his statements accurate. I just heard the member say that he was denied leave in this House to get up to speak about the opening of the Outer Ring Road. He talked about a member here sitting independently, representing herself. I say to the member that nobody sits in this House representing themselves. They represent their district and their constituencies.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: To that point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: To that point of order, partially what he says is correct. The last little part of the statement that she is representing herself is incorrect. Technically that is incorrect, but the truth of the matter is that the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair is a member of this House. She is not a member of a party, so in that sense she is by herself, in the same way as the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

The truth of the matter is that the hon. gentleman from Topsail has the same rights as the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi and the Member for Cartwright L'Anse au Clair.

The other truth is that one of the people who denied the hon. gentleman leave to stand up and make a comment on something that concerned his district today was the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright-L'anse au Clair speaking to the point of order.

MS JONES: Yes, please. Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify that I am an elected official, the same as every other member in this House. I am here to represent the people in my district and I have every right to speak, as does the Member for Topsail. I do not think any member who has something to contribute in this House should be denied the right to express their opinion and represent the people they are elected to.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe the points made by the hon. the Government House Leader and by the hon. the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair are appropriate, to the point, and are accurate. It really is not the point of order that was raised, though. There is no legitimate point of order.

The hon. the Member for Topsail.

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

I raised that issue. I know it is not in keeping with the resolution we are debating here, but it ties in pretty well because we are talking about development. I am talking about the development in my district. I want to add that my district is a very progressive district, the fastest growing area in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I want to tell you that the people in my area who are interested in development are very active, and it ties in with this particular resolution because the vast majority of those people -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WISEMAN: By leave, Mr. Speaker, just to clue up.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. WISEMAN: The vast majority of those people are volunteers. These are the people who advise government on how they wanted to see this Province develop.

Just to tell you a quick little story, because I think it is important, the business community is ready and willing to help rebuild this Province and to do whatever it takes to get it moving. I can tell you that a company in my area spent some $200,000 in the developing Topsail Beach, at no cost to the government, but government in its wisdom gave them $40,000 to pretty well complete that job. Can you imagine that we have business people in this Province who would donate $200,000 worth of time and equipment to do a project, at no charge, to the community or to the Province? This government is on the right path. Mr. Speaker, we will get there, and we will do a good job for the people of this Province. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not used to all this applause in the House when I get to my feet but I do appreciate it. I want to rise today and speak to the resolution that has been put forward by the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

I want to start by telling you that the whole economic development process is a process I was very close to prior to getting into politics. I was part of the steering committee that was set up to set up the provisional boards, then I was part of the provisional board process which did the consultations with communities who helped form the framework for the economic development boards we have now.

When this whole process and concept was passed along to communities and regions across the Province, it was difficult to get communities to buy into it because of the fact they were losing an existing structure, because the rural development associations would no longer be the regional economic arm for a lot of their communities. It was difficult to buy in, but they did buy in to the process and they did become involved in it.

What we have today is good, economic, strategic plans for all areas of the Province. We have already mapped the groundwork for economic development and it has been done at the grassroots level by people in their communities, in their particular capacities, whether it be in business, fishery, forestry or whatever the case may be.

In addition to that, I can speak specifically for the two zonal boards in my district. They have not only laid a strategy or the groundwork for economic development, but they have also been very active in organizing a lot of the stakeholder groups. They have organized women's groups along the Coast of Labrador, given them a voice, a network, and an opportunity to be able to interact on social policy issues.

They have also been able to coordinate the youth, which was one of the sectors - and you will probably find the same in most rural areas of the Province, and especially in an area like mine where you have barriers to transportation. It is very difficult to bring people and groups together. They have been able to do that with the youth sector to a certain degree. They have also been proactive in representing industry sectors. They have helped set up the first sawmillers association that we have, because the forest industry is relatively new in parts of Labrador, and therefore it is another sector that was not necessarily organized in such a fashion. They were able to do that.

In addition to their strategic plans they have been to coordinate and network some of the interest groups. Now they are at a point where they have to move on. The economic foundation of their communities is at risk in most cases and they have to bring some employment there. They have to move on, develop the strategies they have outlined, and in order to do that they need some tools. They need more human resources within their organization, they need more people out there in the field working with the stakeholder groups, organizing, implementing and so on, and they also need to have financial capital. They need to have an investment of funds which they can put into the infrastructure that is required so that businesses can build on it.

I am going to give you one example in particular in my district. You look at the Historical Development Corporation. The Corporation was founded somewhere probably in the early 1980s. What they have done over the period of time is they have been able to develop in the infrastructure of the region. They have built up sites such as Red Bay. They have put all the tourism infrastructure in place that was needed for the local businesses to build on it. They made sure the interpretation centres were there, the visitor centres were there, the oral histories were done, the archaeology work was documented, and then the business sector moved in and they developed, based on that.

What we have right now is several businesses operating in the tourism sector. We have a number of people employed. We have an additional, probably, $2 million in revenue coming into the area because of it. That is just one example of how the infrastructure was laid and the business development built up on it. We have to do that in other sectors. These boards have identified that in their plan.

I am just going to talk about the forestry sector as an example. You look at areas like in Cartwright right now, where the development of the forest sector by private business is imperative on certain angles with regard to the transportation of the product. Until they can transport the product out of the community in a reasonable cost-effective process it does not make the business as viable. Therefore, it is not as attractive to the people that are investing. That is just one example. There are many others that have been identified. Working capital, laying the infrastructure, is very important in order for business to be able to build up on it.

Sometimes I find it very frustrating when I look around the district, and also around Labrador, and I know the wealth of resource that we have, not only in the forestry, but in the fishery, in the mining industry, in potential energy development and so on. It is very unfortunate we have to go through periods in our history where we have all of these resources but yet we are still strained economically, the viability of the communities is still low, there are still high unemployment ratios and so on.

We have got to look at a way to bring both of these together. I think the zonal board has developed the framework for doing it, and all of us have a responsibility to support and implement wherever possible. When you talk about implementing development like this, in some cases the private sector will do it, but not all parts of this Province have the private sector base to be able to implement the kind of progressive business development that is going to take place in some of these areas, for a number of reasons. One such reason is that maybe the financial capital was not in that particular region to do it and so on.

We have to look at more innovative ways of being able to develop and implement the strategies that are outlined. What I would say to the boards in my area is: Look at what you have done and see the successes that have already happened within this district and within the zone, and start building on that. We have had successes.

I want to talk about the shrimp company for instance. The shrimp company was started by fishermen along the Coast of Labrador who needed a place to be able to sell their product and be able to develop within the industry. Today, we have a multimillion corporation which employs 500 people to 600 people along the Coast of Labrador, with five processing plants, and it is still owned and operated by people at the grassroots level. When you get into rural areas of the Province you might want to look at concepts like that. Concepts where you can buy into it and be able to invest in it so that it is not just one person or one business that that responsibility is left to rebuild.

I say to the minister opposite, that the former member's quest can be seen in the sea urchin surveys along the Coast of Labrador. It can be seen in the productivity we have been able to produce in the plants this year, and not necessarily within the crab fishery, the shrimp fishery, or any of their other fisheries that are thriving, progressing and employing people along the Coast of Labrador.

I apologize for the diversion, Mr. Speaker, but some things are noteworthy and should be noted. I am sure the Government House Leader knows that.

What we have to do in rural areas of the Province, and my district I think is a living example, is that we have -

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

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I wonder does the hon. member think that that is where the former member should stay?

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would reserve comment for a later date if I may, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure I will have lots to say on the subject.

However, as I was saying, when you get into the rural areas of our Province you have to look at more innovative ways in order to be able to develop, to invest and so on. We have to look at examples that have been successful, things that have been built on and what has worked. Because in more cases than not you don't have one particular individual or business with the capital to be able to invest. What you do is you pool resources. Everybody buys into the process of economic development. We have done that in a number of ways. I outlined the shrimp company as being one. We have done it through the credit union process.

Let's talk about literacy and information technology. What started out as neighbour helping neighbour, teaching them to read and write, has developed into full-fledged literacy centres and information technology centres across the district. It employs a number of people in the field, but it does more than that. It helps, it assists, it brings people in the community to a level where they are able to go out and make themselves employable. It gives them the skills they need to look for jobs and so on, and that is what this process is all about.

In order for a lot of these communities to be able to succeed, they have to have proper basic mechanisms in place. What I mean by that is that we are not only looking at an economic strategy for rebuilding the economy of our Province or building on the economy of our Province, but we are also looking at a social strategy. I think that when you look at situations and you see money being invested into the social network, into housing programs, into transportation links, into education programs, it is all a very integral part of building a very viable economic society. Because as you know, any money that is invested in these particular aspects of social development is money that is going to derive a return for the government, and it is also going to benefit the local area.

If you look at housing upgrading, or investing in facilities for senior care, what you are doing is you are meeting the social needs of a particular community, you are creating more employment in the long term, you are spending money in the interim so you are getting a shot into the local economy and then you are getting businesses participating in this who are generating revenue back into the government.

The social aspect is as important as the economic aspect. Obviously they both go hand in hand because when people's social needs are met they are more inclined, they are in a better frame of mind, to be able to make tough decisions regarding the long-term economic stability of their communities.

I see a tremendous amount of potential around our Province and in the rural areas of our Province, potential that I hope we will build on over the next two to three years. I am hoping that we will take the strategies that have been put in place, the economic plans, and we will all contribute to seeing that these things come to fruition, that they are implemented, and that they bring positive and beneficial employment and sustainable economic structure to a lot of these areas.

I look particularly in my own area. I look at the Trans-Labrador Highway, an influx of some $150 million to $160 million into the economy of these small communities to create a transportation network which is going to strengthen their economic base overnight when it is completed. It is going to allow them to be more competitive, it is going to allow them to bring in investment in, and it is going to allow them to attract industry on a scale that they are unable to do right now.

I had this argument earlier today with someone else about whether the highway will strengthen the economy or will it not. I gave them this example, and the example I am going to give you now. Obviously, it is going to strengthen the economy. You look at the forest sector in my district alone. Right now we have so many cubic metres of wood, of squares, that are sitting in a community that have been cut, that we have a market for, that we are able to sell. The problem is, we cannot get it to the market. Therefore, we cannot claim the amount of money that we are owed. Therefore, the business is in a position where it becomes vulnerable, where it may or may not be able to make up for that net loss. This is one of the living examples that we are faced with today of the impediments of transportation.

I know there are other members in the House who want to speak on this important resolution. I know as well that the economic development boards and the work that people around this Province are doing at the grassroots levels are important to them and they have comments to make on it as well, but in closing I just want to say that it is the people in the communities around this Province who will make the ultimate decision as to whether their communities make it, as to whether their economic base maintains the stability that it is at or increases to a more substantiated rate.

It is the hard work and the commitment that they are presently giving, and I want them to be encouraged by the process that they are involved in. I think that we have a responsibility to them to ensure that the plans they have laid out come to fruition and we can do that by investing the money that they need, by following the direction that they have laid out, and by listening when they come to us and explain the social and economic needs that they have in their area right now, and address it with them one-on-one in consultation with the other partners and those who will implement such developments.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker just to clue up, I appreciate the comments of members opposite and also hon. members on this side. The one thing, though, that most of them did not focus on was the social side. I just want to make a couple of little points on that.

Under the Strategic Social Plan there are some initiatives which should be put on the record. The government has allocated $10 million in early intervention and prevention programs for low income families and their children, some very significant investment. Social assistance families retain the National Child Benefit to the tune of $7.7 million of extra expenditure on the part of the government; $1 million to children's food foundation, something not to be dismissed; over $7.5 million in employment programs for youth; $3.3 million into additional teaching units to help children with special needs and disabilities; $2 million to increase community based services targeted at addictions, mental health, and home support services; and an additional $100,000 for seniors initiatives.

Those are some of the social initiatives that are being funded under the Strategic Social Plan. That, in concert with the overall Strategic Economic Development Board's plans, will bring us to the point of this resolution, which is for the House to go on record as supporting the overall bringing together of social initiatives with the economical development initiatives that are currently the policy of this government.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I ask that the motion now be put.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, we should go on record that it was

supported unanimously.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Let the record show that the motion was supported unanimously.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Before the House adjourns, I think that tomorrow we are back on the bill of the Minister of Health and Community Services.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I think I had better move that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. I move that the House adjourn.

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