The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Admit their Lordships, the Justices of the Supreme Court.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Mr. Speaker, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor has arrived.

MR. SPEAKER: Admit His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.


Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair.

His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor takes the Chair.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Ladies and gentlemen, it is the wish of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor that all be seated.

Thank you.

PREMIER TOBIN: May it please Your Honour, the House of Assembly, agreeable to Your Honour's command, have proceeded to the choice of a Speaker and have elected Lloyd Snow, Member for the District of Trinity-Bay de Verde to that office and, by their direction, I present him for Your Honour's approval.

HIS HONOUR THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR (A.M. House, C.M., M.D., LL.D., FRCPC): On behalf of Her Majesty, I assure you of my sense of your efficiency and I do most fully approve and confirm you as Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Your Honour, having approved of the choice of this House in constituting me as its Speaker, it now becomes my duty, in the name of the representatives of Her Majesty's loyal subjects, the people of this Province, to claim respectfully of Your Honour their accustomed rights and privileges, especially that they shall have freedom of speech in their debates, and that they may be free from arrest during their attendance in Parliament, and that I as Speaker may have full access to Your Honour's presence at all reasonable times, and that they have confirmed to them all their ancient rights and privileges which have been confirmed to them by Your Honour's predecessors.

HIS HONOUR THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: On behalf of Her Majesty, I do confirm this House in the enjoyment of all its ancient and undoubted rights and privileges.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

I take great pleasure in welcoming you to this First Session of the Forty-fourth General Assembly. This is a special anniversary for Newfoundland and Labrador and for all of Canada. Fifty years ago, in 1949, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador chose to unite with Canada, to build a greater nation than either had been before.

The Soiree '99 Celebrations will welcome the rest of Canada to our Province to celebrate, together, a wise choice and a brilliant future. The Canada Conference, starting on March 29, will bring together business leaders, academics, politicians, artists and the public to discuss our common past and share our hopes and visions for the future. On March 31, we will celebrate our Province and our country with a nationally televised gala concert. The Prime Minister and the Premiers of New Brunswick and Quebec will be there.

Recently, the people of Corner Brook and surrounding areas shared our Province with the rest of Canada by hosting the largest and most successful Canada Winter Games. My Government invites Members of this House to recognize the efforts of Wayne Trask, the President of the Host Society for the 1999 Canada Winter Games, and the over 9000 volunteers that made this event possible. My Government also wishes to express its gratitude to the major sponsors and official suppliers, including NewTel, Fortis, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, Colemans Food Centre, Robinson-Blackmore, Irving Oil and the Western Star. They and many others were an essential part of the team that made the Games such a great success.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

A New Mandate

On February 9, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador provided My Government with its second mandate. My Government sought that mandate based on a plan, entitled "Our Choices, Our Future, Our Time". It is a new plan for a New Millennium.

The plan calls for major initiatives in social policy, including investments to sustain and improve health care and education, as part of a Strategic Social Plan. It sets out concrete measures to ensure our economy continues to grow and diversify so we can afford the caring society our people expect and deserve. It commits the government to maintaining a stable fiscal position, so that benefits enjoyed by this generation do not become a burden on the next. It seeks to lighten the tax load through further reductions when it is fiscally prudent to do so. And finally, it sends a clear and forceful message to all who might doubt our resolve: we will accept no less than a full and fair share of the benefits from development of our resources.

My Government will use the mandate provided by the people on February 9 to implement this new plan.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

A New Millennium

As we bid goodbye to this decade and welcome a New Millennium, we should not forget the recent challenges we have faced as a people. Nor should our memory of how we faced these challenges be allowed to fade.

Together, they tell a story of a people who gained strength from adversity and who persevered to begin to build a better tomorrow for themselves and their children.

We entered this decade with an economy heavily dependent on a narrowly focused and poorly managed fishery. The historic pact between our people and the sea appeared irreparably broken by the collapse of the ground fishery, beginning with the Northern Cod moratorium in 1992. Thirty thousand men and women suddenly had their livelihood torn from them. Businesses, some that had lasted for generations, collapsed.

The early 1990's saw governments - federal, provincial and municipal - run crippling deficits and incur mounting debt. Governments were shaken into realizing that the excesses and inefficiencies they had inherited impaired their ability to meet the most basic needs of the people they served.

The promise of future prosperity seemed to exist only in the potential of our offshore oil and gas resources and a single project, Hibernia, whose development at times was uncertain.

In February of 1996, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador provided My Government with its first mandate. My Government was given that mandate based on a plan with three commitments to address the challenges we faced: first, promote jobs and growth; second, provide needed public services, especially health care and education; and, third, achieve sound public finances. The plan My Government set out has taken hold.

Our province, which throughout the 1990's had been last or nearly last in terms of Canada's economy, led the way in 1998 with 4.4 per cent growth. Three years ago, we were losing jobs, while other provinces were creating them. From February 1996 to February 1999, our economy created 21,000 new jobs. Unemployment fell by 5 per cent, from 20.5 per cent in February 1996 to 15.5 per cent in February of this year.

While unemployment is still too high, we are making strong progress. This is especially true recently. In February, 7,100 new jobs were created in Newfoundland and Labrador. This was the strongest rate of job creation in the country. And, it brought employment in our Province to the highest level ever in the month of February.

In 1996, My Government faced a potential budgetary shortfall of $290 million. Through prudent fiscal management, we have brought government expenditures in line with revenues. For the fiscal year about to end, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will achieve a surplus for only the second time since 1949.

My Government has provided needed public services. We have done so by spending only what we could afford and by spending our people's money more wisely. The fiscal stability we have achieved allows us to invest more in our priorities of health and education.

The outlook for the future is promising. National forecasting agencies, such as the Conference Board of Canada and the major chartered banks, are predicting that Newfoundland and Labrador will one again lead Canada in economic growth in 1999. The Toronto Dominion Bank predicts 3.5 per cent growth for our Province in 1999, the highest rate for any province, far beyond the Canadian average of 2 per cent. The Bank of Nova Scotia predicts 4 per cent growth for Newfoundland and Labrador in 1999, higher than the forecast for any other province and well above the Canadian average of 2.8 per cent. The Bank of Montreal forecasts 3.5 per cent growth for our Province, compared to national growth of 2.7 per cent.

While mega-projects such as Voisey's Bay and the new Labrador Hydro Project inspire confidence in our long term economic prospects, it is the diversification of our economy over the past three years that has led to our recent achievements and that will allow us to meet, and perhaps exceed, the promising forecasts for our economy.

We now have a more diversified fishery, a stronger mining industry, expanding forest industries and a more efficient agrifoods sector. Ours is an economy with strong growth in manufacturing, increased construction and new found strength in fabrication, shipbuilding and repair. It is an economy with a rapidly expanding information technology sector and sustained growth in tourism and cultural industries.

With First Oil from Hibernia in 1997, our Province took its place as an oil producer. With the Terra Nova project and future developments such as Hebron/Ben Nevis and White Rose, we are moving from a single project to a full-fledged petroleum industry able to take greater advantage of opportunities off our shores and around the world.

We have made good progress. We should take pride in our accomplishments. But challenges remain. We must keep our economy growing to create new and better jobs.

We must continue to re-invest in health and education. We must maintain sound public finances. We will meet these challenges by working together. The future is in our hands.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Full and Fair Benefits From Our Resources

For too long we have accepted the label "have-not" Province. Yet, we have a storehouse of natural resources. We have a skilled and committed workforce. Our story was never one of not having. Our story was one of not doing - a "did-not" province. We did not wait for the right deal. We did not stand firm and demand full and fair benefits for our people from the development of our resources.

Today and for the future, our people are writing a new story. Never again will we accept less than full and fair benefits from our resources.

Growth and Confidence

On March 3, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) released a study on the importance of energy developments to Atlantic Canada. The study looked at energy projects across Atlantic Canada, including Hibernia, Terra Nova and the new Labrador Hydro Project. It points to substantial and sustained growth for our Province well into the next century.

In the words of the study, "One of the most striking features of the project activity is the dominance of projects in Newfoundland and Labrador. About $18.8 billion in spending is identified for the province, equivalent to 70% of the total value of all Atlantic energy projects and more than twice the size of current provincial GDP".

APEC forecasts that Newfoundland and Labrador is poised to enter a period of strong economic expansion. From 1998 to 2008, our economy is expected, on average, to be almost $800 million larger annually than it would be without energy projects. From 2009 to 2015, this increases, on average, to over $1 billion annually. According to the report, we will lead the Atlantic Canada provinces in related economic growth.

The study also predicts that Newfoundland and Labrador will lead the way in employment growth from energy developments. From 1998 to 2008, 135,200 person years of employment are forecast. Employment growth is forecast to continue from 2009 to 2015, with 78,400 person years of employment and over 11,500 permanent jobs.

The APEC study inspires confidence. It strengthens our resolve to stand firm to achieve full and fair benefits from energy developments for the people of our Province.

Voisey's Bay

A loud and clear message has been sent to Inco by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador: there will be no mine at Voisey's Bay unless the ore is processed in this Province. That is the choice. It is Inco's to make. My Government's position - the position of the people of Newfoundland - will not waver.

Labrador Hydro Project

On March 9, 1998, My Government announced proposals for a new $12 billion Labrador Hydro Project. These are good proposals for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They were secured by standing firm and demanding a development that is fair and beneficial to our Province.

One reason why My Government sought a new mandate was to secure a position of strength from which to negotiate with Quebec. With that new mandate, My Government will press for the right deal, not a quick deal. The mistakes of the Upper Churchill must never be repeated.

The benefits of standing firm are already tangible. On March 9, 1998, Newfoundland and Labrador secured the right to recall immediately 130 megawatts of power from the Upper Churchill project. In 1998, we received $30 million from the sale of that power. To put this in perspective, our Province received only $13.8 million in 1998 through royalties and Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation dividends for the sale of 4,700 megawatts of power under the original Upper Churchill contract.

Under a Guaranteed Winter Availability Contract to be entered into with Hydro Quebec, an estimated $1 billion will flow to Newfoundland and Labrador from the Upper Churchill. Our Province can expect to receive, on average, about $23 million annually from Hydro Quebec, effective from November 1, 1998.

The new Labrador Hydro Project represents a $5.2 billion gain for our Province and will create approximately 13,200 direct jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The project is being designed and will be managed in Newfoundland and Labrador. To date, of the $13 million in contracts that have been awarded, more than $12 million has gone to firms with a presence in our Province.

While this project is valuable, so is the Labrador environment. My Government will ensure a full environmental assessment of all aspects of the new Labrador Hydro Project.

My Government will press ahead with negotiations with the Government of Quebec toward the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the Labrador Hydro Project, while ensuring that the rights of the Innu Nation are respected and that they receive a fair share of the benefits from this project.


The past three years have been exciting ones for the oil and gas industry in our Province. We watched with pride as the Gravity Based Structure was towed out to sea and later we celebrated First Oil at Hibernia. There is someone in the gallery who has shared special moments with us. My Government asks this House to recognize the President of the Hibernia Management and Development Corporation, Mr. Harvey Smith.

Hibernia produced 24 million barrels of oil in 1998. For 1999, production is expected to double to 50 million barrels. During the first quarter of 1999, daily production is expected to be 135,000, rising to 150,000 barrels. Hibernia has four of the highest producing wells in Canada.

Above all, Hibernia has provided us with the skills and infrastructure needed to develop an integrated petroleum sector able to take advantage of developments off our shores and to compete for work world-wide. My Government will work with the petroleum industry, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board and the federal government to ensure that this opportunity becomes a reality for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As the $4.5 billion Terra Nova project moves toward First Oil in 2000, it is our people who are building components for the Floating Production and Storage Offloading Vessel. At the Bull Arm facility and NEWDOCK in St. John's, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will be utilizing our skills and our facilities to build a project and develop an industry.

A key part of this new industry is the $200 million transshipment facility at Whiffen Head. A $65 million expansion to prepare for oil from Terra Nova will create 400,000 person hours of work. A third tanker will join the Hibernia shuttle tankers and employ another 50 persons, most of whom will be from our Province.

The key to development is discovery. The key to discovery is exploration. To date, 23 significant discoveries have been made representing a total of 1.6 billion barrels of oil, 8.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 360 million barrels of natural gas liquids. The prospects for further discoveries and developments are great. Hebron/Ben Nevis and White Rose are fields we are confident will be developed in the near future.

Canada's oil and gas industry remains fixed on Newfoundland and Labrador as having some of the most exciting exploration areas in North America. This excitement was demonstrated by the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board's call for bids in September 1998, which resulted in a record $175 million in exploration commitments.

This year, two drilling rigs, the Bill Shoemaker and the Glomar Grand Banks, will be operating on the Grand Banks. Not since 1988, have we seen two rigs exploring at the same time there. Interest in our offshore petroleum resources is growing.

Industry expects that the combined Hebron, Ben Nevis and West Ben Nevis fields can yield 600 million barrels of oil. A consortium, including Mobil, Chevron and Petro-Canada, is now doing delineation drilling on the Hebron-Ben Nevis field, an important step toward determining commercial viability. The first well has been drilled. The results have sparked excitement within the industry. The well encountered 86 metres of net oil pay and demonstrated a test flow rate of 3,500 barrels of oil a day.

In the words of an Executive Vice-President with Petro-Canada, "With Hibernia producing and Terra Nova scheduled to come on stream in late 2000, this success at Hebron-Ben Nevis is particularly satisfying for our company, because it supports the potential for another development on the East Coast." This is good news for our Province.

So is the work on White Rose, which is estimated to contain 250 million barrels of oil. In 1998, Husky Oil conducted a major 3-D seismic survey of the White Rose field. Based on this information, Husky Oil recently announced it will drill delineation wells in 1999, at a cost of up to $80 million and employing 300 persons. The delineation drilling should allow Husky to determine potential reserves and commercial viability of this field.

PanCanadian Petroleum Limited, this country's second largest oil producer, and its partners Encal Energy Limited, Newfoundland Hunt Oil Company and Mobil Canada Properties are currently drilling an onshore to offshore exploratory well at Shoal Point on the Port au Port Peninsula. In 1995, the Hunt/PanCanadian Port au Port #1 well proved the presence of oil and gas in the deeper rocks of this area. Additional seismic data, acquired in 1996, detected a large structure beneath the Port au Port Bay. It is this large structure that is being drilled. The current exploration program demonstrates renewed interest in the potential of our petroleum resources on the West Coast. My Government will work with the petroleum industry to promote further exploration for petroleum, both offshore and on the West Coast.

We must also turn our attention to petroleum resources off our shores that we have not yet been able to exploit. Industry believes that the area south of Newfoundland holds strong potential for petroleum. Recently, Gulf Canada and Mobil Canada announced they wish to explore this area. However, before this can occur, our maritime boundary dispute with Nova Scotia must be resolved. In August of 1998, we agreed with Nova scotia to refer the dispute to federal arbitration. My Government will push for an early resolution so that industry can begin to explore this promising area.

Our offshore natural gas resource is immense, with an estimated potential of 52 trillion cubic feet. It is a valuable resource we need to exploit fully. My Government will promote development of natural gas, to increase the value of production, advance the prospects for a local petrochemical industry and achieve a high level of benefits for our Province.

Notwithstanding low world oil prices, Hibernia has lived up to its commitments, Terra Nova is moving ahead, as are Hebron/Ben Nevis and White Rose, exploration is increasing and there is heightened interest in natural gas. This proves industry's confidence in the future of petroleum development in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The oil and gas industry will be an important part of our economy well into the next century. However, a well-managed fishery will support our Province long after our petroleum resources are eventually exhausted. The fishery is our greatest industry for the future.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Traditional Industries

For generations our people have wrested a hard, but good life from the richness of the land and sea. This historic bond between people and resources has been strengthened through diversification in our traditional resources industries, especially the fishery.

Fisheries and Aquaculture

Our people faced a great challenge with the collapse of the ground fishery. Yet, our people persevered. Today, the new diversified fishery we have built is a growing contributor to the economy, especially in rural communities.

The value of fish landings reached an all time high in 1998, at $384 million. Peak employment in the fishery rose by 20 per cent, from 20,800 in 1997 to 25,000 in 1998. Diversity has been key. Today, more than 40 species of fish are commercially harvested from our waters, including non-traditional species such as sea urchins, skate and whelk. My Government will draw on funding from the $81 million Post-TAGS development agreement to create more jobs and further growth through fisheries diversification.

Renewed prosperity from the sea is illustrated by the Northern Shrimp Fishery. Before 1997, this fishery was conducted exclusively by offshore factory freezer trawlers. In 1997, My Government successfully pressed the federal government to allocate a large portion of the increase in the quota for Northern Shrimp to inshore vessels from Newfoundland and Labrador. This success was repeated in 1998 when our inshore vessels received 90 per cent of the quota increase. This has allowed 200 more of our inshore vessels to enter this fishery, to supplement their landings from other species. Recent investments of $60 million in new shrimp processing facilities in places such as Clarenville, Port Union and Old Perlican will allow our people to take full advantage of processing jobs for this important species.

My Government will continue to press the federal government to ensure that any increase in the Northern Shrimp quota goes to our inshore vessels.

Charles Reardon is in the gallery today. Mr. Reardon is the Chair of St. Anthony Basin Resources Incorporated. This company, Clearwater Fine Foods and Icelandic interests, have built in St. Anthony the most modern shrimp processing facility in North America. Scheduled to open within the next month, this facility will employ 150 people and is well positioned for future expansion.

The snow crab fishery is now the most important in our Province. In 1998, catches were 53,000 tonnes, with a landed value of $106 million and a market value of $230 million, nearly one-third of the total output of the fishery.

This is more than three times the level of catches and more than eight times the landed value of crab in 1992. This increase in harvests has allowed 2,000 small boat enterprises into the crab fishery and the diversification of 17 existing processing operations into crab production. Crab processing employs more than 7,000 people during peak production and is an economic mainstay for many rural communities.

My Government is awaiting decisions by the federal government on shrimp and crab quotas for this year. We anticipate higher quotas, leading to further growth and employment, especially in rural areas.

Many small boat operators face difficulties in obtaining loans. My Government is committed to finding solutions to the financing problems facing this valuable sector of our fishing industry.

We must continue to work toward fully developing the potential of aquaculture in our Province. My Government will do so by assisting industry through such measures as $9 million for research and development, a $5 million working capital fund and $1 million for sectoral marketing strategies.


Over 5,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians make their livelihood from our forests. We must manage this resource prudently to ensure continued growth and prosperity for our people.

Our pulp and paper industry enjoyed record newsprint shipments in 1997, with the three mills shipping 741,000 tonnes, an increase of 1.4 per cent from 1996 levels. While shipments slipped in 1998 due to the strike at Abitibi Consolidated, they are expected to rebound to healthy levels in 1999. Confidence in the pulp and paper industry's future is evidenced by recent investments totalling more than $100 million by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper and Abitibi Consolidated to increase capacity, quality and productivity.

Production from saw mills is at record level, with more than 100 million board feet to be produced in 1998-99. This production and related wood operations employed 3,000 persons during the past year. My Government will work with the saw milling sector to develop its full potential, especially for value added products.

To ensure that this industry continues to grow, we must replenish our forest. Presently, the demand for wood on the Island exceeds supply by about 20 per cent or 500,000 cubic metres annually. As a result of My Government's partnerships with industry and the federal government, over $40 million was invested in silviculture between 1996 and 1998. The viability of over 40,000 hectares of forest was improved and over 60,000 person weeks of employment was created. We must continue this work. My Government, over the next three years, will work with industry and the federal government to implement over $40 million worth of silviculture projects, treating 43,000 hectares and creating over 60,000 person weeks of employment.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:


Our mining sector, even before Voisey's Bay, is an important element of our economy. Employing over 3,500 people, the mining industry is projected in 1999 to achieve mineral shipments in excess of $1 billion for the second consecutive year. This reflects real growth of over 50 per cent in the past decade.

The most critical element in mineral development is prospecting. Exploration remained historically high in 1998 at $46 million. While exploration peaked in 1996 at $92.5 million due to the excitement caused by the Voisey's Bay discovery, sustained and healthy levels of exploration demonstrate the industry's confidence in the potential for further finds.

To keep the engine of exploration running, My Government, in consultation with the mining industry, will put in place a mineral prospecting incentive to help locate the mineral deposits that will result in more mines and related industries for our Province.

Agrifoods Industry

With falling barriers to global trade and improvements in transportation, food products can be sold more efficiently around the world. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.

Two billion dollars is spent annually on food products in our Province. This provides a strong local base for our producers to supply and a springboard to increased exports. We must diversify and add value to the commodities we produce and the food products we manufacture. We must continue to identify and invest in sectors with significant growth potential such as small fruit. Through prudent investments and strategic marketing we can grow an industry that already employs close to 4,000 people across our Province.

Manufacturing Industry

The impact of the collapse of the ground fishery was felt by our manufacturing industry, as ground fish products formed a large part of manufacturing shipments. Like the fishery, we have reshaped manufacturing through diversification. In 1998, our Province almost doubled the national average for manufacturing growth with more than 6 per cent.

Brian Dobbin, President of Newfound Developers Limited, will tell you that our manufacturers can compete and win in the global market place. He is with us today in the gallery. Mr. Dobbin's company and Cottles Island Lumber Company recently entered into a $30 million contract with a Chilean company to manufacture homes here, ship then to Chile and erect them there. These homes are being built in Cottles Island, providing 30 full time jobs.

The advantages to investing in Newfoundland and Labrador are significant. We have a skilled, productive and loyal workforce. Our capital is one of the most cost-effective cities in the world in which to do business. In KPMG's 1998 study of 42 cities in seven countries, St. John's emerged as number one. For 1999, KPMG broadened its survey to include 64 cities in eight countries. This time, St. John's was second, a mere half-point behind the leader.

We have created an attractive environment for responsible businesses through the EDGE program, research and development tax credits and the lowest corporate tax rates for manufacturing in Canada. We need to spread the good news across the country and around the world. That is why My Government, in partnership with industry leaders in our Province and across Canada, is establishing a Prospecting Team to attract new industries and investments to our Province.


A growing economy, together with My Government's investments in public infrastructure, are fuelling continued growth in the construction industry.

Non-residential construction grew by 5 per cent to $1.5 billion in 1998. This growth was boosted by My Government's spending on capital projects, which totalled $242 million in 1998, up from $214.5 million in 1997.

Residential housing investment continues to grow, from $453 million in 1996 to $527 million in 1998, the highest level since 1990.

Continued growth in the construction industry is expected for 1999, given My Government's substantial investments in public infrastructure, as well as work on the Terra Nova project.

Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway from Labrador West to Goose Bay will be completed this year at a cost of $10 million, bringing the total cost of this phase of the project to $53 million. Pending environmental approval, construction will commence this summer on Phase II of the Trans-Labrador Highway from Red Bay to Cartwright, at a cost this year of $36 million. The people of this area have long awaited this essential building block to further economic development. My Government is making it a reality.

Fifty-six million dollars will be spent to improve the Trans-Canada Highway and regional trunk roads. My Government will spend $16 million on upgrading and rebuilding other highways throughout our Province.

These initiatives, totalling $118 million, represent the largest highway construction program since Confederation. In addition, My Government will commence the largest program of construction of schools and hospitals since Confederation.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly;

Fabrication, Shipbuilding and Repair

We are developing new strength in fabrication, shipbuilding and repair, providing new opportunities for our people to benefit from development of our resources and to compete for work world-wide.

The new operators of the Marystown Shipyard, Friede Goldman International, are aggressively pursuing work around the globe relating to construction and conversion of offshore drill rigs. The Marystown Shipyard, which currently employs about 400 people, reached employment levels of up to 1,100 during 1998.

The Bull Arm facility, where Hibernia's Gravity Based Structure was built, will employ 700 persons this summer in construction of two topsides modules, a flare stack and deck assemblies for Terra Nova's Floating Production and Storage Vessel. In total, over $100 million in work on Terra Nova will take place at this world class facility. Even more exiting is the recent announcement that Bull Arm will be marketed globally, at private expense, by a consortium headed by industry giant Brown and Root.

NEWDOCK in St. John's will begin construction this spring of subsea systems for Terra Nova. When this work is completed, NEWDOCK will be a world leader in subsea systems for which long-term demand is strong.

My Government will work with these and other firms involved in fabrication, shipbuilding and repair to increase orders and employment.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

The New Economy

Alongside growth in the industries that have sustained us for generations, we are building a new economy for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Information Technology

Newfoundland and Labrador entered the information age before others when Marconi brought his information technology to Signal Hill in 1901. In Newfoundland and Labrador today, 200 IT firms, employing 6000 IT professionals and support staff, generate a half a billion dollars for our economy. From 1992 to 1997, growth in the IT sector averaged 10.4 percent per year. My Government will work with industry to ensure continued growth for this important sector.

Around the world, and even beyond, our IT companies are making their mark. When the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral in June of 1998, it carried a number of Canadian experiments related to the oil and gas industry. A Newfoundland and Labrador company, ZeddComm Incorporated, designed and built the power and computer control systems for the experiments. They were also responsible for much of the testing and integration with NASA, meeting some of the most stringent standards in the world. We can also take pride that two of these experiments were designed and built by Memorial University's Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering. Mr. Emad Rizkalla, President and co-founder of ZeddComm, is here in the gallery today.

A subsidiary of NewTel Enterprises, xwave solutions is one of the top five Canadian-owned information technology services companies that designs, builds and runs IT solution. With more than 1000 IT professionals, including over 500 employees in St. John's, xwave is helping to lead the way for a dynamic IT industry in our Province. Bob Newell, President of xwave solutions, is in the gallery today.

Today, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are among the most connected people in the world. They will soon be even more so. My Government, through the $6 million Community Access Program, will ensure all our people have access to the Internet through our schools and libraries by the end of this year.

To make government services more readily available, My Government will progressively offer more services to the public through the Internet.


The goal of the Cabot 500 celebrations was to increase non-resident visits to our Province by 20 percent over 1996 levels of 305,000. In 1997, this goal was exceeded, with 369,700 non-resident visitors, an increase of 22 percent. These non-resident visitors spent $204 million, a 25 per cent increase over 1996. This set a new benchmark for tourism activity.

Despite predictions to the contrary, tourism was up again in 1998. Three hundred and seventy-two thousand non-resident visitors spent $207 million in our Province in 1998. With Soiree '99, tourist visits and tourism expenditures are expected to increase again this year by about 10 per cent from 1998.

In 2000, we will mark the 1000th anniversary of Leif Eiriksson's journey to North America with the Vikings 1000 celebrations. In commemoration of the Vikings' settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, the only authenticated Viking Site in North America, we will celebrate this milestone year with events and activities, including museum exhibits, debates and symposiums, cultural and artistic projects, Viking ship flotillas, and the re-creation of a living Viking village at L'Anse aux Meadows.

My Government's goal is to achieve 500,000 non-resident visitors by 2002, generating more than $250 million for our Province's economy. Stelman Flynn, President of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador is in the gallery today. He is a tourism operator in the Labrador Straits, an area that has seen strong growth in tourism. In 1998, vehicle traffic on the St. Barbe ferry increased by 34 per cent over 1997. Pinware Provincial Park during the 1998 season had more than 54 per cent more camping units than in 1997. Mr. Flynn can tell you about the potential for increased tourism throughout our Province. That is why My Government will double our Province's tourism marketing budget from $1.8 million to $3.6 million for 1999.

Cultural Industries and Cultural Infrastructure

The richness of our land and sea is matched by that found in the stories, songs and history in our cultural heritage. Cultural industries, such as sound recording, publishing and visual arts, employ 2800 people and contribute $200 million annually to the provincial economy. My Government will continue to promote cultural industry.

Government assistance to cultural industries totalled $6.25 million from 1992 to 1998. Every $1 million of investment in cultural industries yields a direct economic impact of $2.4 million and an indirect economic impact of $3.4 million. Given the significant growth potential for cultural industries, My Government will pursue a new federal/provincial funding agreement to further promote this sector.

The expressions of our cultural heritage deserve a home fitting of their importance in our society. The renowned artist Mary Pratt is in the gallery today. She is chairing a Task Force on Cultural Infrastructure to advise My Government on developing a larger, more modern art gallery, museum and archives for the New Millennium.

Small Business

Across our Province, and in every sector of our economy, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are generating growth and employment through entrepreneurship. Confident in their abilities and this Province's future, our entrepreneurs are investing and taking risks. We all share in the rewards. My Government salutes the skill and determination of our entrepreneurs.

We salute people like Craig Williams of Innova Multimedia in Stephenville. This firm created five full-time jobs exporting educational multimedia products throughout North America. We salute people like Terry Whey of Terry's Tents in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, designers and manufacturers of tents, backpacks and specialized aircraft coverings. Starting with one employee in 1992, this company now employs six and markets its products across Canada and around the world. We salute firms like Restwell Mattresses in Harbour Grace. This family-owned business has 11 employees and has grown at a rate of 15 per cent annually over the last 15 years.

From small beginnings, businesses such as these make a big difference to our economy. My Government through its Strategic Development Fund has helped small and medium sized businesses take advantage of emerging opportunities. We will continue to do so.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Social Policy

Government is about more than jobs and growth. It is also about vital public services, especially health and education. Our people are concerned about social programs. My Government has listened. My Government is acting.

Strategic Social Plan

In 1996, My Government put in motion a fundamental rethinking of how social programs are designed and delivered. We embarked on an innovative project to prepare a Strategic Social Plan. In August of 1998, after extensive public consultations, My Government presented its Strategic Social Plan, entitled "People, Partners and Prosperity". It is a long-term vision founded on values that have defined us as a people: self-reliance, collaboration, equity, fairness and social justice. My Government is implementing many initiatives in keeping with the Strategic Social Plan, notably education reform, the redesign of income support, measures to combat child poverty, and child, youth and family services legislation focusing on prevention and early intervention. My Government, in partnership with the Premier's Council on Social Development and groups across the Province, will phase in implementation of the Strategic Social Plan over the next two years. To support these efforts, My Government will provide support in the forthcoming budget to seed implementation, including funding for flexible initiatives in prevention, early intervention and community capacity building.

Guidelines will be available shortly, inviting community groups to submit funding proposals for demonstration projects consistent with Strategic Social Plan objectives. Projects that emphasize partnership arrangements among community groups to support prevention, early intervention and community capacity building will be given preference.

The Strategic Social Plan is about building collaborative partnerships among government, communities and regions of the Province to foster creative problem-solving and achieve social and economic well-being. It is about working together in a spirit of cooperation for mutually beneficial outcomes. It is about rejecting "we/they" responses that contribute to divisiveness.

Through collaboration with local health, education and economic development boards and by involving communities, My Government will address the concerns and aspirations of our people. The Central region of our Province is the initial region for implementation of the Strategic Social Plan. My Government will use experience gained from the Central region to explore new collaborative practices with other partners and apply the lessons learned as implementation is extended to other regions. The approaches embodied in the Strategic Social Plan, including opening up the public policy process to community participation and working on issues of social and economic development in tandem, are being recognized nationally for their innovative and progressive thrust. The Strategic Social Plan puts our Province on the leading edge of social policy development in Canada.

Health and Community Services

Our people are concerned about the quality of our health system. My Government, despite declining transfers from the federal government until this year, increased funding for health in the 1996 Budget, the 1997 Budget and the 1998 Budget. My Government will again, in the 1999 Budget, increase funding for health and will do so by an amount that exceeds the increase in funding under the CHST provided in the recent federal Budget.

Concerns - legitimate concerns - remain. We must stabilize our health system and provide it with the fiscal flexibility needed to address the changing health needs of our people. That is why, in 1997, My Government provided health care institutions with an additional $20 million. This is why, in 1998, a further $10 million was provided for this purpose. And this is why, in January of this year, My Government committed to provide health care institutions with an additional $15 million. As a result, funding for health care institutions is $45 million more than it was in fiscal year 1997-98.

My Government is spending a further $5 million for special purchases of medical safety and emergency equipment this year. My Government will continue to take steps to ensure that there is an adequate supply of health professionals in our Province, especially in rural areas. And My Government is investing more than a quarter of a billion dollars to build and improve health care facilities across our Province.

Money alone will not cure what ails our health system. While we need to provide adequate funding, we also need to achieve efficient delivery of services so that this funding is wisely used. My Government will draw on the experience and advice of nurses, doctors and other health and community service professional during a second Provincial Health Forum. Together, we will build a better health system for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Education Reform

My Government is proud of the constitutional amendment that made possible reform of our education system. On September 2, 1997, the people of this Province chose democratically to have our children live together and learn together. They chose to build the best possible education system we can afford.

A well educated people is of paramount importance to the Newfoundland and Labrador of the future. Our education system has demonstrated it can meet that challenge. For example, on the Canadian Tests of Basic Skills, our grade 12 students recently performed better than 57 percent of students nationally. As well, results from a national test of reading and writing skills released this month were very positive, with 13 and 16 year-old students from our Province performing as well as, or better, than students nationally.

The goal of giving our children access to quality educational opportunities is one we all share. Education reform is about achieving that goal. But our Province confronts significant challenges that will require difficult decisions to be made. Newfoundland and Labrador has gone from the highest birthrate in the country to the lowest. This is resulting in a sharply declining student population.

Declining enrolment means fewer teachers. However, My Government has not reduced teacher allocations to the same degree as the decline in the number of students. That has resulted in an improving pupil-teacher ratio. We now have the most favourable pupil-teacher ratio in the country.

This must be contrasted with what has been happening in other provinces. Over the past eight years, the pupil-teacher ratio has improved in only one province, ours. By contrast, the reverse has been true in wealthy provinces, like Ontario and Alberta, as well as in the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. For the 1997-98 school year, the pupil-teacher ratio in our Province was 14.7. This compares with a Canadian average of 16.4 for 1996-97, the last year for which national figures are available.

Because of declining enrolments, school consolidation is necessary. Consolidation has already been implemented throughout most of our Province and is now underway in the Eastern Avalon and on the Burin Peninsula. School Boards must provide for meaningful student, parent and public participation in the decision making process. My Government will ensure that this occurs.

Last year, My Government committed $125 million for school construction and upgrading. Sixteen new schools will be built, six will be re-developed and over 100 will be refurbished. My Government is committed to providing our children with healthy, well maintained schools equipped to promote learning.

My Government understands that some students need specialized assistance to realize their full potential. That is why My Government, in 1998, provided funding for additional teachers for special needs students and additional funding for student assistants. My Government will continue to take the steps needed to meet the educational needs of students with learning disabilities and those with physical and mental disabilities.

Affordable Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary education is critical for those entering the job market or seeking a better job. My Government is committed to making post-secondary education more accessible.

Summer employment provides students with an important source of funding for their studies. My Government will continue to assist students through the Student Work and Service Program. In 1998, 2200 students found work as a result of this program. Scholarships and bursaries are another important source of funding. In 2000, our students will be greatly assisted by the federal government's Millennium Scholarship Fund. My Government will help students in the meantime through the Newfoundland and Labrador Awards Program. This year, as in 1998-1999, about 2500 students will receive awards ranging from $500 to $1000.

My Government is helping to stabilize the cost of student fees. In the forthcoming budget, My Government will provide an additional $11.9 million to the College of the North Atlantic and Memorial University to strongly support these institutions and allow them to freeze tuition. The tuition freeze will be reviewed no earlier than 2001.

Even with our efforts to stabilize costs, provide scholarships and increase opportunities for summer employment, My Government realizes that some students will face difficulty repaying their loans upon graduation. That is why My Government will continue its loan remission and interest relief programs.

Children and Families

One in four children in our Province lives in a family that receives social assistance at some point in the year. Many more children live in families of the working poor. As a society we cannot afford to ignore the potential of these children. Parents in need must have the means to provide for their children and be able to avail of meaningful opportunities to build a more stable and prosperous future for themselves and their families.

My Government will continue to promote the well-being of our children and their families. Programs initiated under the $10 million National Child Benefit Provincial Re-investments Program in 1998, will move from planning to implementation. These will include licensed infant child care and family child care services, expanded family resource centre programs, and community based youth networks. These initiatives add to our resources for prevention and early intervention, key goals under the Strategic Social Plan.

We cannot allow another generation to fall victim to the tobacco industry. We must protect the health of our young people and force tobacco companies to pay for the damage their products have inflicted on our society. My Government, in partnership with the recently formed Provincial Tobacco Coalition, will implement a long term comprehensive Tobacco Reduction Strategy. Over the next three years, My Government will commit $900,000 to implement this strategy.

We will undertake an aggressive campaign to educate our young people about the harmful effects of tobacco use. My Government will also bring forward legislation to facilitate the recovery of damages caused by the tobacco industry. Legislation will also be introduced to license the sale of tobacco products, thereby providing a better means to prevent the sale of cigarettes to minors.

My Government will release a provincial nutrition policy for comment and discussion during this session. This will assist government in developing programs and approaches to ensure that appropriate standards for food security and basic nutritional requirements, particularly of children, are addressed.

My Government will introduce a new Adoptions Act to replace a statutory regime whose time is long past. The new legislation will be more sensitive to the needs and wishes of both adoptive parents and adoptees.

Municipal Government

Extensive consultations have been conducted with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities and municipal administrators around a new legislative framework for municipal government. My Government will introduce a new Municipalities Act during this session that will strengthen local decision making. This, too, supports a key goal in the Strategic Social Plan.

Literacy Strategy

Our growing economy will provide opportunities for good, well paying jobs. To take advantage of these opportunities, our people need to acquire the necessary skills. Basic literacy skills are essential. That is why My Government will introduce a Strategic Literacy Plan as part of our Strategic Social Plan.

New Strategic Economic Plan

The current Strategic Economic Plan was released in June of 1992. It was based on the circumstances of our Province shortly after the groundfish moratorium and the views expressed by the public in 1991.

Our Province needs a new Strategic Economic Plan, informed and inspired by the challenges and opportunities the New Millennium will bring. One such new opportunity is the enormous growth potential for electronic commerce. My Government will consult with the public in preparing the new Strategic Economic Plan. A new Strategic Economic Plan should be integrated with the Strategic Social Plan, to provide an overall strategic agenda for the economic and social development of our Province.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Sound Public Finances

When My Government was making its first budget in 1996, we faced a budgetary shortfall of $290 million. For the fiscal year about to end, My Government will achieve a budgetary surplus, only the second this Province has achieved since 1949.

In 1999-2000, it will be necessary for My government to incur a modest deficit in order to make needed investment in priorities such as health care and education. Because My Government has been fiscally responsible, we now have the ability to do this. We will do so because it is better to run a modest deficit that we can afford than to cut services the public cannot afford to do without.

The ability to make this choice did not come easily. It was earned. My Government was forced to make difficult decisions and our people shared the burden of restraint. This ability to choose can be maintained only by ensuring that our public investments are made wisely.

We will incur a modest deficit rather than reaching deeper into the pockets of taxpayers. My Government, despite the loss of revenue that will result from the recently announced federal income tax cuts, will not raise taxes this year. My Government will take steps to further reduce personal income taxes and soon as it is fiscally prudent to do so.

My government will introduce a Low Income Senior's Benefit in the forthcoming budget. Such a benefit will assist those in greatest need, whether they receive a pension from the public sector, or a pension from the private sector or no pension at all, except for the old age pension. Our society is appreciative of the contribution older persons have made and we recognize the difficult circumstances that those with low incomes face. It is particularly important to recognize their contribution in this, the International Year of Older Persons.

Other Business

You will be asked in this session to consider other legislation, with a view to its enactment. These bills will be tabled at the earliest opportunity so that Members can properly prepare for their debate.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly

By making the difficult choices when we had to and by believing in ourselves, the people of our Province are making this our time. If we continue to pull together, the future will see greater prosperity and happiness for our people. My Government, inspired by that prospect, will work tirelessly on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They expect and deserve no less.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly

Estimates of Expenditure will be laid before you in due course and you will be asked to grant supply to Her Majesty. I invoke God's blessing upon you as you commence your labours in this First Session of the Forty-fourth General Assembly. May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.

His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor and the Vice-Regal party leave the Chamber.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I shall ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting Apprenticeship And Occupational Certification," Bill 1.

Motion, the hon. the Government House Leader to introduce a bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting Apprenticeship And Occupational Certification," carried. (Bill 1).

On motion, Bill 1 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to make a speech to the members of this General Assembly, and for greater accuracy I have obtained a copy. Is it agreed that the speech be taken as read and that copies be distributed to members?


MR. SPEAKER: Agreed.

The hon. the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, hon. Members of the House, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to respond to the speech from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor welcoming members to the First Session of the 44th General Assembly.

As a newly elected member it is a privilege and an honour to stand here today representing the wishes and concerns of my constituency in Burgeo & LaPoile.

The people of the District of Burgeo & LaPoile are optimistic and they have good reason to be optimistic. We are seeing improvements and diversification of the fishing industry, the Isle aux Morts seaweed processing venture, the mussel farming at Margaree and Rose Blanche, the intended mussel processing at Rose Blanche, positive indicators that the groundfish industry is recovering, and this affects positively every community in the District of Burgeo & LaPoile.

Also, with government's commitment to and success with rural revitalization and non-traditional industry, the social and economic ills caused by out-migration will dissipate and eventually disappear.

The people of the District of Burgeo & LaPoile are also optimistic due to government's commitment to tourism and transportation. The District of Burgeo & LaPoile is the gateway to this Province and, being its gateway, the people, and particularly those of Port aux Basques and surrounding area, want to make a good and lasting first impression on those entering our Province.

As part of this first impression, one of the essential ingredients is a proper road infrastructure. Highway and secondary road improvements would no doubt lead to maximization of positive economic spinoffs for tourists facilities in the District of Burgeo & LaPoile, including the Dorset Archaeological Site at Cape Ray, the Rose Blanche Lighthouse, the Port aux Basques Railway Heritage Site, and the Ann Harvey Trail at Isle aux Morts, as well, of course, as the beautiful Golden Sands of Burgeo.

We acknowledge there are concerns about the efficiency and reliability of the Marine Atlantic service to our Province, but a collaborative approach by all stakeholders, including management and employees, Hospitality Newfoundland, the Trucking Association, business interests, and both levels of government, will lead to a first-rate service which protects all parties fairly.

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne referred to many issues that are of interest and concern to me, as they are to all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. I would like to comment on some of those issues now. First and foremost is government's continued commitment to health care. I am proud to stand as a member of this government, a government which not only recognizes the stresses and strains imposed on our health care system but intends to address those challenges with concrete programs and initiatives. Health care is this government's number one priority, and will remain so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Another area I would like to highlight is government's continued progress in the area of education reform. As parents, we must be involved in decisions that affect our children. This government is committed to ensuring meaningful public input into significant decisions that directly impact on the children of this Province. We are also investing in our children's future. This government is reinvesting the savings from education reform into needed infrastructure, a reinvestment of $125 million to date, the largest infrastructure investment in this Province in fifty years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, we have a Strategic Social Plan that is the envy of the country. This innovative and progressive initiative will guide government in the implementation of a significant social policy agenda in the coming months and years. We have a plan for heath care, education, and social services. It is a plan that will see us into the next millennium, and ensure quality services for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have much to celebrate in the coming years as we look forward to the tourism opportunities created by Soiree '99 and Vikings 1000 years. As we make plans to share with the world our historic and cultural richness, government is committed to ensuring the success of both events. My district will no doubt benefit from these celebrations. As the gateway to the Province, we expect to welcome thousands of visitors to our shores this year and next.

As this decade comes to a close, this Province has much to celebrate. This past year we led Canada in real gross domestic product growth, and leading economic institutions are predicting we will repeat that achievement in 1999.

We are on the road to prosperity. That prosperity is due in large part to the development of our major resources. Offshore oil and gas, hydroelectricity and mining represent a significant contribution to our economy.

On the West Coast of the Island, residents are excited by the prospect of petroleum development in my. hon. colleagues' district of Port au Port. These are indeed exciting days and this government is committed to ensuring the Province receives full and fair benefits from all major resource projects.

Mr. Speaker, our economy is also growing in manufacturing, information technology, a diversified fishery, and small and medium sized businesses. Government is committed to supporting the development and growth of traditional and non-traditional industries. We also recognize the importance of small and medium sized businesses, especially the contribution that small business makes to our rural economy.

Mr. Speaker, I share government's confidence in the entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and am proud of our policy of continued financial support for the development and growth of small and medium sized businesses.

This government has a new mandate from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Today we have outlined how we plan to achieve that mandate through the continued implementation of our social and economic plans. We are embarking on a new decade, a decade of opportunity and growth.

In closing, the Speech from the Throne demonstrates government's commitment to addressing the concerns of the people of this Province in a prudent and reasonable manner. It reflects our optimism and our hopes as we enter the new millennium.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to thank His Honour for his attendance here today, and I move that a Select Committee be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the Gracious Speech from the Throne.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Honourable members of the House, it is indeed a privilege for me to stand before you today to second the motion that has been put forward by my colleague from Burgeo & LaPoile. It is also a privilege to be here today representing the people and communities of the riding of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, as a member of the current government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: At this time I would like to congratulate all members on both sides of the House for their election and re-election to their respective positions.

As officials of this House, we have an enormous responsibility to those that elect us. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have entrusted in us their voice for the effective governing and management of the affairs of this Province. Like all members of the House, I recognize the importance of this position and will do what is required to serve in the best interests of all people.

This government is representative of what the people want. This government has demonstrated strong leadership, a vision for the future, and a commitment to carry on with the diversification that our provincial economy requires in order to continue to prosper.

In this government's vision for the future, and the new millennium, it has not lost sight of the past. We have to look on those things that have worked best for us, and build upon them.

In my own district I have seen many examples of this, of how people working together, on their own, have made significant changes. The Eagle River Credit Union was started by a handful of people in the Labrador Straits. When the commercial bank in that area decided to pull out in the early 1970s, because of decline in business and reduced investments, the people took matters into their own hands and they built their own banking system. Today they have four credit union branches, with an investment value of over $25 million.

Another example of people taking initiative on their own is the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company Limited. When all other fish plants in Labrador were on the verge of bankruptcy and facing closure, the people formed their own cooperative. The company is totally owned, totally operated, by Labrador fishers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, it has five fish plants along the Coast of Labrador, it employs over 600 people, and it markets its product all over the world. This is what being a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian is all about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: It is about being innovative, it is about being able to overcome challenges and being able to take pride in what we can create from each and every experience. This government encourages local input, local investment and local participation. This government operates in consultation with its people, ensuring that we all receive maximum benefits from resource development and maximum satisfaction from social policy initiatives. This government is committed to rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, it is evident in a number of industries but more particularly in the diversity of the fishery. I am pleased to acknowledge the renewed growth of the Northern shrimp fishery. For the first time, we have secured shrimp quotas for the inshore fishers. We are processing our product on shore, creating jobs in our rural communities. I am delighted to hear today that government will continue to press the federal government to ensure that any increases in the Northern shrimp quota will go directly to the inshore fleet.

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased that the Speech from the Throne has addressed the priority areas of health care and education. Government's continued commitment to health care is encouraging to the people of the Province. It demonstrates the responsiveness of government to address concerns as they are brought forward. We have to continue with our efforts to attract and retain professional health care staff to our rural communities.

Education is also a priority with this government. Education reform will lead to an improved school system for all children throughout this Province, including those in my District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair. We cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that our children receive the best possible education. This government has given its people the tools to make this possible, through elected school board representation and through community consultation and input.

This government values our natural resources, and Labrador is a land rich, very rich, in natural resources. The Labrador Hydro Project will be a viable economic boost to the entire Province. It inspires confidence in the long-term future of Newfoundland and Labrador. This government is committed to ensuring that full and fair benefits are front and centre during negotiations so that returns may be maximized for our people; all of this, ensuring that a full, comprehensive, environmental assessment is carried out.

Government is committed to working with Aboriginal groups to reach a fair land claim settlement. These settlements provide certainty through definition and protection of treaty rights for Aboriginal peoples. Land claim agreements will establish the rights and obligations of all parties, offering investor stability and a clear set of rules. Land claim settlements ensure that the benefits of economic development are shared in a fair and just manner among all people. We look forward to the continued progress on land claims with our Aboriginal peoples.

I also support government's continued and firm stand on the Voisey's Bay project. Without a smelter and refinery there will no mine or mine mill in the Province. As the hon. Premier has said, never again should we settle for less than what we deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I am excited about government's commitment to Labrador issues. There are unique challenges for the big land and I believe that this government is keenly aware of such challenges and will continue to be sensitive in its approach to addressing them.

Labrador, with its wealth of resources and the commitment that this government is providing, will aid in the certainty of future development - and to this, the vital infrastructure of the Trans-Labrador Highway. Mr. Speaker, the equation becomes complete.

Provincial infrastructure continues to be the priority of the current government. The Trans-Labrador Highway will connect the vast areas of Labrador and will facilitate transportation between communities for both social and economic growth. This will make a positive difference in the lives of those who live and work in the remote, isolated areas of Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased with the recent news that the people on the Quebec Lower North Shore are seeking their government's support for the completion of their highway. If completed, this will give the people of my district direct road access to the North American market.

It is true that the Labrador Straits has welcomed strong tourism growth. Other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are also experiencing significant growth in the industry. Through events like the Labrador Winter Games, the Bakeapple and Crab Festivals, as well as other events that are synonymous with our culture in this Province, we will see a significant tourism boost.

Government's commitment to increase the tourism marketing budget will encourage more visitors to Labrador, as well as to the rest of the Province. I should also add that I am pleased to have a representative from my district leading Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, the industry's voice in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Government's commitment to building the new economy is providing a sense of hope for the people of this Province. It is promoting a brighter future for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and I am proud to extend my support to these efforts.

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne addresses the concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and it demonstrates government's commitment to deal with these concerns. I agree with His Honour; the future of this Province will see greater prosperity and security for all our people from every sector. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve no less and will get no less.

In conclusion, I would like to say that it gives me great pleasure to stand here today and second the motion put forward by my colleague, the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile. I look forward to working with all my colleagues in the House of Assembly during the next session.

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

My first task this afternoon is to welcome all invited guests to the Chamber, all the people in the galleries, and to say that this is an opportunity not to delve into the partisanship of this House but an opportunity this afternoon, in dealing with the Speech from the Throne, to highlight in a very constructive and very forthright way the differences, as I see them, with respect to this Speech from the Throne, and what our Party and what the Official Opposition has stood for in recent times.

I invite you back Thursday for Question Period.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I invite you back Thursday when we will invite government to come back to reality in Question Period and deal with the issues in the House of Assembly.

Notwithstanding that - I will not take up much time this afternoon - I will say this: The Speech from the Throne today addresses many of the things that many of us who have sat in this Legislature have already come to know. It addresses many of the announcements that government have already made.

Let us talk about the economy. Government has highlighted, time and time again, the Premier has highlighted, ministers have highlighted, how the economy has grown and how we have led the way. True enough, and it is time for some good news in Newfoundland and Labrador, but we must balance it with reality, that we are also leading the way in many other things.

We are leading the way in out-migration. Some people say that when 7,000 people left this Province in 1996 it really did not matter. Some people say that when 9,000 people up and left in 1997 that it was not indicative of the type of economy we were building. Some said that in 1998, when over 11,000 people left this Province, that it was not indicative of the type of economy that we were building.

I say, and our party has said time and time again, that there is no more single public important issue today than the out-migration of our best and brightest. That is what is occurring in Newfoundland and Labrador today. Over the course of this sitting and over the course of this Assembly we certainly will do our job, on the one hand of being an Opposition of holding government accountable, but also, more importantly, of being a party and a government in waiting, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Secondly, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about government's commitment to health care, the first call on the public tax dollar should be health care. It is a commitment that we made during the election, it is a commitment that we stand for today, and it is a commitment that we will stand for until we go before the voters again.

If we look at, honestly, the amount of money in Canada Health and Social Transfer, it represents less than 1 per cent of what we spend in health care in this Province. If we look honestly at what has been reinvested - and I use that word strongly, "reinvested," because what has been taken from the health care system across this country, and in particular in this Province in the last three years, has been nothing short of criminal. If we look at what has been reinvested, or about to be reinvested, the major question is: Will it keep up with the rate of inflation? Will it keep up with the demands of our aging population on the health care system? Will it keep up to a point where we will be providing more front-line nurses, more front-line health care workers, in every aspect or the system?

Those are the questions that this Party will be asking of government when we see its own spending priorities with respect to the budget, when it is announced some time in the latter part of March.

There is no question that when it comes to the post-secondary education system government has indicated that in order to stabilize university fees, in order to stabilize for all students within the post-secondary system, they have injected some $11.7 million. I was looking forward to a better view. I was looking forward today to a more fundamental shift in how we deal with post-secondary education.

If you look at all of the economies around the world in recent contemporary times, especially those examples that are very close to home in Ireland, you will see that government took the public policy view that the stabilization of fees was not enough. That there was a redirection, a refocusing, a rethinking of a fundamental building block of our system of our economy. Because if we do not provide the type of wealth and growth and produce the type of minds that we need to grow the economy, we will be talking about health care and the demands upon it and the troubles with it. We will be talking about the increased loads in social services. I did not see it in the Throne Speech, but over the coming days and weeks we will have an opportunity to debate and flesh out what is important from that public policy perspective.

With respect to our traditional industries, there are many who talk about the fishery. There is some good news in some sectors of the fishery, but in 3PS signs are encouraging. Certainly, as the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile indicated, it represents I guess significant momentum for the people in his district from Margaree, Burnt Islands, Isle aux Morts, et cetera. There are people along the northeast coast who have not received the same sort of news. What we intend, as a legislature, what we intend to do to revitalize rural Newfoundland and Labrador will become a focus of the debate in the upcoming weeks and months in the House of Assembly.

When we look at the forestry, there is no question, it is clear, that in ten years our forest industry in terms of producing wealth has gone from about $49.8 million to close to $100 million. I was looking forward, in the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, to a commitment by government to place a moratorium on mechanical harvesters. To see that new technology, while it has to occur, that it must occur in a balanced way.

The Premier can shake his head but realistically, in the last five years I say to him, the number of jobs that have been lost as a result - and we must balance it, I say - are: 109 people in Badger, eighty-four in Triton, eighty-seven in Springdale, 122 in Deer Lake, thirty-two in Hawkes Bay, fifty-three in Norris Arm, thirty-six in Point Leamington, thirty-seven in Hampden, thirty-four in Parson's Pond, twelve in Hare Bay, twelve in Horwood, and forty-nine in Corner Brook. We must balance the interests of new and emerging technologies with the impact on employment.

Let me say finally that today and throughout the course of this sitting that accountability in government will become a hallmark of what this party stands for. Demanding accountability from government, demanding accountability so that people understand where our money is being spent. You cannot manage what you do not measure. We have seen in numerous and continuous Auditor General reports in all aspects of what government does - from health care to education, for resource industries - a lack of accountability. How do we understand what we are spending in the health care system when some health care boards in this Province today cannot even provide to the Department of Health an analysis and an accounting of what money government gave them? It is a fundamental weakness and a fundamental flaw. While the health care system needs more money, more money does not necessarily mean better management. Accountability in government is essential, it is important for each and every citizen in this Province.

Let me finally say that in this sitting of the House of Assembly we are beginning the celebration of fifty years of becoming a full-fledged partner in Confederation. We must understand what that has meant for us over fifty years, the impact that it has had on us, but this sitting will focus on what it will mean for this Province, from our point of view, for the next fifty years. We look forward in the coming days and weeks to holding government accountable, to advancing our point of view, and to begin again and to renew our commitment each and every day in this House of Assembly for the people of the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to address the motion and reply to the Speech from the Throne for the first time as the leader of a parliamentary group in the House of Assembly. I am pleased to have with me my colleague from Labrador West. We are a group and a party that has a lot to offer both this House and the Province in terms of our approach to public policy, as it has done both in Opposition and in government throughout Canada.

The motion today is an opportunity, in a generally non-partisan way, to respond to the Speech from the Throne and to the statements about what the government intends to do.

We are, this year, in the 50th year of our Confederation with Canada, a period which has brought much progress. Many positive things are happening in our Province, as previous speakers have talked about. We have much to be proud of, as witnessed by the magnificent demonstration of our history, our talent and our vigour as a people in Corner Brook in the planning and the conduct of the Canada Winter Games. We all, in this House, congratulate and celebrate with the 9,000 volunteers, all the people of the West Coast and the Province as a whole, who played a part.

We are yet still at a crossroads in Confederation which generates some ambivalence about our position in Canada. We need to examine why so little progress has been made in the last two decades in relation to social and economic disparities between our citizens and Canadians as a whole. We need to demonstrate our ability to control our destiny as a people. We have yet failed to have or exercise the kind of control we need over our resources that is demanded by an independent people so that we can use it to determine our own future and our own priorities.

When we see the ever looming failure of the Upper Churchill agreement, the recent decision of the Iron Ore Company of Canada to expand into Quebec rather than this Province, the diversion of expected jobs from Terra Nova to the United Kingdom, and the recent announcement of a Nova Scotia shipyard to build supply ships for Terra Nova, all these cause us to question ourselves as a people, and to challenge any government, of any party, to demonstrate that we can have development on terms that ensure the benefits of our resources are also ours. This challenge applies both to renewable as well as non-renewable resources.

This government sees itself as having a mandate to negotiate an agreement on Voisey's Bay with Inco. However, a recent analysis presented to the environmental assessment panel by Inco shows that the fiscal benefits to the Government of Canada of the development will be ten times the benefits to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Unless a vigorous challenge and fundamental change is made to the rules and arrangements which allow this inequity to prevail we will forever be chasing, unsuccessfully, the brass ring of prosperity and equality.

We intend to provide vigorous but constructive opposition to the full extent that the rules of this House and our energy allow. We intend to be a voice for fairness and justice for those who, despite our prosperity as a country, still struggle for the basic means of survival, for adequate shelter and nutritious food, for guaranteed health care, and full access to drugs and treatment when necessary. We intend to be a voice for former public servants who are entitled to fairness in their pensions, for police officers and nurses who demand respect for the collective bargaining process, a voice for women who still suffer from inadequate attention to pay equity in the public and the private sector, for injured workers who continue to seek to restore fairness to our system of Workers' Compensation.

We intend to be a voice for students and young people whose future depends so much on public policy that supports opportunity without strangling their ability to participate, for families who supported education reform and are finding that restructuring proposals violate the principles they fought and voted for, for those who need jobs, and for all those who look to government to address the complex problems and issues of our day with vision, leadership and compassion. They expect and deserve no less. We intend to play our part in this House to ensure that these principles are foremost in the minds of government and in the minds of the people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to join with other members in thanking His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor for his eloquent remarks today. I thought he did a marvellous job of putting forward both the tremendous potential, as well as the challenges confronting Newfoundland and Labrador. I join with colleagues in giving him our thanks for his remarks today before the House of Assembly.

I want to join, I know, with all members of the House, and all sides of the House, in acknowledging you, Sir, and congratulating you on your re-election as Speaker of this place. Mr. Speaker, I want to assure you on behalf of the members on this side of the House - and I think I can speak for members on the other side of this House as well - of our great respect for the role that you play, our understanding, recognition and acknowledgement that this place cannot function without the role you play. I want to assure you that we stand ready to cooperate in every way necessary to ensure proper decorum in the discharge of your responsibility, and indeed in the discharge of our own responsibilities in this place.

I want as well to congratulate the newly-elected Deputy Speaker, and the Chair of Committees as well, for undertaking their important responsibilities today, in this place.

I want to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition and indeed the Leader of the NDP on their re-election, and I want to congratulate them formally today, here and now in this place, on their efforts during the recent election campaign.

I noted the words of the Leader of the Opposition who said he was inviting us all back Thursday to hear the questions. I want to invite him and his colleagues, and indeed that of the NDP, back for the next five years to hear the answers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, and maybe five years more beyond that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: I think the Leader of the Opposition is an excellent Leader of the Opposition. I have seen three now since I first got here. I hope this one hangs around for awhile. I am sure he will, I am confident he will.

Mr. Speaker, I want as well to congratulate all of the members who were elected in this past election. I particularly want to congratulate the new members who are here for the first time in this Chamber. I think all of us know, in particular our families know - and there are many family members here today who have come for the swearing in ceremony -, that the decision to allow one's name to be placed on the ballot for whatever party, in whatever constituency, is not an easy one. It is not one you make just for yourself. It is one in the first and foremost you make in consultation with your families. It means a giving up of one's privacy to a very large extent, giving up the time that you would otherwise enjoy with your loved ones, and frankly your own personal and private time, and to come here and to serve.

I think the first meeting of the House for the reading of the Speech from the Throne, immediately after an election, is a good time for us to reflect, before the occasional partisan air which tends to imbue this place reasserts itself, reflect upon what it is we do.

What we do is we come forward out of a partisan process called an election. We put forward competing visions about how to best advance the agenda and the cause of Newfoundland and Labrador. We allow ourselves to be judged by the community at large, by our own constituents, and then we seek to serve in the best way we know how in the role that has been given to us.

The role of each and every member is vital and it is important. It is as important on that side of the House as it is on this side of the House. At the end of the day, the will of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is served when we have both a vigorous and energetic and forward looking government, and a vigorous, energetic and forward looking Opposition. I sense today on this, the first meeting of this Chamber after the recent election, that we have, indeed, both of these qualities present in this place.

I think the Leader of the Opposition said it very well when he said today was not a day for a long and partisan debate, and I agree. It is not that kind of a day, but I do want to confirm that government understands that the number one priority facing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador today, the number one priority for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador today, the issue that we are seized with and prepared to deal with, is the question of quality, substantiable health care for Newfoundland and Labrador.

We will see in the days ahead when government brings forward its budget, and when it is presented by the Minister of Finance, that that priority issue, that social issue, takes highest priority when it comes, to quote the Leader of the Opposition, for the call on the public dollar.

The Leader of the Opposition made some reference to the CHST and some suggestion that it represents 1 per cent of the health care expenditure. The fact of the matter is that the CHST -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Oh, I'm sorry, the increase, okay. The CHST last year, in the last budget year, amounted to some $280 million, and as a percentage of the health care budget is closer to 28 per cent than 1 per cent, and as a percentage of the budget of health care, education and social policy combined is in excess of 10 per cent of all three together.

Mr. Speaker, it re-enforces the notion that in a country such as Canada if we are going to continue to provide access to quality health care; if we are going to continue to ensure that our citizens have access, affordable access, to quality education; if we are going to continue to ensure that those who are most in need, no matter where they live, are given a fair opportunity to rise above their circumstance, these dollars, these numbers, illustrate the need for cooperation between the government of the provinces and the Government of Canada. That is something that we shall seek in the days ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I have to let you in on a secret. I looked across the floor at the Leader of the Opposition in advance of both his remarks and that of the Leader of the NDP and I told them I would speak just five minutes. This compels me then to say that I look forward, on behalf of my Party, in working with members opposite in the best interest of Newfoundland and Labrador. For while the partisan process brings us here and determines who gets to fill these seats, at the end of the day there are times when that partisan process is actually put aside and we work together. I can think of a few. I think of the work we accomplished together for education reform. I think of the work we accomplished together to ensure post-TAGS benefits for fishermen and fish plant workers dislocated from the fishery. I think of the work that we have accomplished together at times in the area of social policy.

Mr. Speaker, this year is the 50th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador's Confederation with Canada. I think already a great spirit, can-do spirit, has caught the imagination of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nothing better exemplified that can-do spirit, which I think is at work in this Province in 1999, than the tremendous opening ceremonies we saw, for example, at the Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook, and the absolute magic, imagination, and artistry of one Jed Blackmore who wrote, produced and pulled together that wonderful ceremony for the whole of the country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the 50th anniversary year is one that will occupy us, challenge us, and I think excite us, and one that we will not soon forget.

In a few weeks, a Canada Symposium will be hosted here. Distinguished citizens from all across this country will come to share with us their thoughts about Canada, their thoughts about Newfoundland and Labrador's role within Canada. On the 31st, all members are invited to participate in the gala performance, together with the Premiers of Quebec and New Brunswick, and, of course, the Prime Minister of Canada.

I say to members opposite that as we occasionally clash from time to time - not all members can have the same objective, quite, calm, dispassionate attitude of the member opposite, Mr. Jack Byrne - some occasionally rise to partisanship.


PREMIER TOBIN: Jack and I are not in that group. Pardon me, Mr. Speaker, for not using the member's proper district.

As we go through this year, and as we occasionally find ourselves seized by partisanship, let us remember too our role as the representatives of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the voice of the many interest and the many disparate regions of Newfoundland and Labrador. Let us find the time, when the need arises, to pull together always for the good of our Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that an address of thanks be presented to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne with which he has been pleased to open the present session of the House of Assembly.

The members of the Select Committee will be the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile, the mover; the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, the seconder; and the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

All those in favour of the motion, 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

I declare the motion carried.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House revolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of Interim Supply to Her Majesty.

Thank you.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Thursday, March 18, 1998, at 2:00 p.m.

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