The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin our routine proceedings, the Chair would like to welcome to the gallery today twenty-two Grade XII students from the Conrad Fitzgerald Academy in English Harbour West, in the District of Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune. They are accommodated by teachers Allan Spencer and David Hammond.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to recognize individuals who have spearheaded an organization known as the Georgestown Neighbourhood Association. That area of St. John's, Georgestown, is within the electoral district of St. John's East.

On Sunday, March 26, I attended a public meeting where about 100 citizens came out to support the efforts of the Georgestown Neighbourhood Association in ensuring that this particular part of St. John's, in its future development and growth, is in accordance with the appropriate developmental standards with attention being given to the restoring of the neighbourhood's tradition and the preservation of its character. Any future development must always be mindful of a neighbourhood and those residents who live within it. An association such as this will always be able to ensure that governments at all levels are sensitive to the needs of a community and its residents.

I congratulate the association as it embarks upon its structure and constitution, and I wish to assure the association that I will be available to work with it at its request and at any time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, today my thoughts and feelings are so very much with the Town of Glovertown, particularly with the family of Cliff and Lorna Perry. As so many of them are doing right now, I am constantly reliving the shock of Christopher Perry's tragic death last Sunday.

I remember the wonderful words Julie Sparkes spoke at the funeral yesterday. She told how Christopher, only twenty-four years old, had been so positive and happy about living and working in Glovertown. She told how delighted his many friends and arranged for them to go camping and hunting with him, always inspiring them with his positive approach to life. She said he had remained that way throughout his short life, always helping people and brightening their lives with his infectious laughter and sense of fun. His death is crushing his family and his town, and we all feel this awesome sense of loss.

I am sure I speak for all members of the House when I say to his parents, Cliff and Lorna, to his brother Darryl, to his sister Kimberly, to his grandmothers, Violet and Lilly, to all his other relatives and to his many friends, so many of them young, so many of them at the church on Wednesday, that we share your sorrow, grief and loss, and we ask God to guide you through the present shadows into the light of happier days.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Since 1998, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the National Child Benefit, has been committed to the establishment of a Community Youth Network in the Province for youth who are living in, or at risk of, poverty. This network enhances opportunities available for youth to participate in social and economic development by focusing on subjects such as learning, employment and community building.

As hon. members are aware, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is investing $2.8 million annually of National Child Benefit funding in the Community Youth Network and youth services. Of this funding, approximately $1.8 million is dedicated to community based projects to facilitate social and economic inclusion for our young people. This funding will be provided directly to community coalitions with the potential to enable and enhance the youth's opportunities.

The remaining $964,000 of the dedicated $2.8 million has been provided annually to the Health and Community Services Regional Boards for residential and mental health services for our young people. Funding to the Health and Community Service Regional Boards commenced in the 1998-1999 fiscal year.

Mr. Speaker, development of the Community Youth Network concept has required considerable up-front planning and consultation with youth and key stakeholders to identify the areas of the Province most in need of these services, and to ensure these communities had the capacity to develop and manage projects on a long-term basis. A special thank you is extended to the Development Team of 24 youth and adult mentors who were recruited in the fall of 1998 to develop the framework and supports for the community projects throughout the Province.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of announcing the locations which have been chosen as Community Youth Network sites. Eight projects will be funded, with at least one project in each of the Health and Community Services regions in Newfoundland and Labrador. The selected sites are as follows:

1. In the Labrador region, there will be a project with a hub in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for administrative purposes and satellite services in Nain, Hopedale, Sheshatshiu and Cartwright.

2. In the Grenfell region - and the regions are the six health care regions that I am referring to - there will be hub for administration purposes in the Labrador Straits and satellites in Port Hope Simpson and Flower's Cove. The Labrador Straits area includes the communities from Red Bay to L'Anse au Clair.

3. In the Western health region there will a project that will serve the Port au Port Peninsula-Stephenville-Bay St. Georges area and the southwest coast, building on the successful Community Education Network already active in that region.

In Central Newfoundland, there will be two projects. The first one would be an administrative hub in the Botwood-Peterview and a satellite in Springdale, with outreach to be determined through community consultation. The second project would be in the Harbour Breton area with outreach to be determined, again, through community consultation and liaison.

In the Eastern Region there will be two projects, one with an administrative base in Harbour Grace, serving the Trinity-Conception area, with satellite services in the Placentia area, and a project as well in the Grand Bank district with outreach to be determined again through community consultation.

Finally, there will a project centered in St. John's to serve youth in the central and downtown areas of the capital city.

It is intended that these sites will be funded to initiate ground work on potential partnerships and ways of providing programs and services based on strategies identified by youth. All projects will be youth-driven and draw upon the ongoing work of the Community Youth Network Development Team.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I suspect this is a re-announcement of the money that has been announced before in the National Child Benefit. I suppose it is a start in returning to the youth of our Province what has been taken from them. For years, programs and social assistance, which directly affect youth living in poverty, have been frozen. In their crusade for a zero deficit, the Liberals on the other side, with the ‘Tobinator' dancing merrily to their tune, have hacked away at the poor and the poorest of the poor in the Province. A government often needs to spend money and incur debt associated with that debt to invest for some future good, and investing in the youth of our Province is, of course, investing for future good.

I think we can never forget that a government that gives back part of what it has stolen from you is not really giving you a gift.

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.

We certainly support an initiative which is aimed at helping in the child poverty area. I was very interested in the statement except when we came to the last sentence which said that the funds will be used "to initiate ground work on potential partnerships," which is a bit of bureaucratic gobbledegook, which leads me to believe that the money is not being spent on the programming at all, but rather to do investigations and studies.

I think poverty, particularly child poverty, could be far better addressed by general programs that are designed by government to ensure that the wealth of our Province and of our nation is spread more equitably. The danger in programs like this is that the poor themselves are expected to solve the problem of poverty, whereas the problem is really one of society not paying particular enough attention to ensure that we eliminate child poverty, which we decided to do ten years ago in 1989. Since then, child poverty in this country has increased by at least 50 per cent.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MS KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As hon. members will recall, a few weeks ago I announced that my department, along with companies from across Newfoundland and Labrador, would be participating in several trade initiatives. Today, I am pleased to update hon. members on some preliminary results from these initiatives.

As we all know, companies which participate in these types of events know that it often takes months, if not longer, to finalize deals. However, these initiatives enable our companies to make valuable industry contacts, and to obtain strong leads for potential deals. It also gives us an opportunity to promote the capabilities of our companies to international audiences.

I am pleased to report that, in total, nineteen companies and organizations attended Globe 2000, BIO 2000 and New England Food Service Promotion 2000, and have all stated that these events were very beneficial to their operations.

Participants at Globe 2000 have told us that this event enabled them to meet qualified international distributors, to compare their technology with that of other companies, and to develop a number of very strong leads for future sales in Canada and around the world.

In addition, our biotechnology sector witnessed several developments at BIO 2000. During the conference I attended a meeting which took place between Terra Nova Biotechnology of St. John's and Omega Pharmaceuticals of New Jersey to discuss further business arrangements between the two companies.

During BIO 2000, I also had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, BIO, who is very influential in the international biotechnology sector. Mr. Feldbaum expressed an interest in coming to Newfoundland and Labrador to see first-hand our marine biotechnology infrastructure. Since returning from BIO 2000, I have extended a formal invitation to him, and I expect that he will visit our Province this summer.

Also during BIO 2000 I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Martin Godbout, one of the founders of Genome Canada, which is funded by the federal government. Genome Canada will be establishing five centres located in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia to provide laboratory facilities for researchers from universities, government and the private sector. During the meeting with Dr. Godbout, we discussed the concept of Genome Canada, and his commitment to ensuring that our Province receives its fair share of the research funding.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the New England Food Service Promotion 2000 proved to be very productive for our companies. In particular, Cabot Caprine Cooperative of Bonavista, producers of grade ‘A' goat cheese under the Lands End Farms brand name, reported a very successful trip. Renowned chef Stefan Czapalay, who prepared an exquisite meal during the event, was very impressed with the Lands End Farms goat cheese and has agreed to serve it on his menu in the upcoming season. Cabot Caprine Cooperative also anticipates having its products in the New England market later this year.

These initiatives play an important role in building a presence in national and international markets for our local companies. I look forward to reporting results from these and other trade initiatives in the very near future.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I guess, it is more good news from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology on a trade mission. While you can look at the good and bad of this, I am going to be positive today and I am going to compliment the minister.


MR. T. OSBORNE: I see the Government House Leader is very disappointed, but I am going to compliment the minister today. Because, minister, when we can promote our products, our technology and our manufacturing abroad, it is always good for this Province and this Province's economy. While I feel that in many areas we have probably fallen behind other provinces in doing that, I have to say -


MR. T. OSBORNE: I can hardly hear myself talk.

I have to say that this trade trip here has produced at least one success already out of Bonavista. If that is the case, well then, it is a successful trade mission. If that is the case, I cannot help but compliment the minister and compliment the company that were involved in this trade mission, and hopefully the other companies that have gone on this trade mission will also see success.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the minister for responding to my repeated request for some reports on the results of trade missions. While there is not a lot of good news to report, it is certainly positive that significant contacts were made and the significant interests, particularly by the Genome Canada project, Mr. Godbout, in this Province, this is certainly a positive thing. Obviously the significant step by struggling Newfoundland businesses, the lands and farms is struggling to develop a market and a clientele and that certainly is good news to see, and I hope to hear more reports from the minister on the success in whether Genome Canada - I don't know where their research facility is going to be located. She didn't indicate that. We should find ways of ensuring that not only is there significant research carried out here by them, but that we do have in place substantial -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - rules and regulations to ensure that the ethical standards and activities are properly carried out.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. NOEL: When I stop getting those enthusiastic greetings, I am going to become disillusioned with this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: When we get a strong enough Opposition developed, maybe we will consider doing that but at the present time I don't think that is a likelihood.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week I had the pleasure of welcoming a delegation from Greenland who visited this Province to learn about our experiences with, and approaches to, major mineral and petroleum resource developments.

The group of nine was led by Joergen Waever Johansen, Greenland's Minister of Social Affairs and Labour. The group's primary interests are in the social, economic and labour market aspects of mineral and petroleum projects and associated processes engaging communities, residents and indigenous peoples. Officials at the Department of Mines and Energy arranged a series of presentations which were given by a cross-section of industry, government and educational institutions. The delegates were impressed by, and appreciative of, both our hospitality and the quality of materials presented. I would therefore also like to acknowledge and thank participants from the Departments of Mines and Energy, Human Resources and Employment, and Education for their contributions to this successful event.

Mr. Speaker, seismic surveys conducted by Greenland's Geological Survey indicate significant potential for its offshore petroleum resources. Diamonds, gold, base metals and industrial minerals have also recently increased interest in the Island's mineral potential.

The Greenland Home Rule Government's goal is to develop mineral and petroleum resource activities as mainstays of the country's economy. The Home Rule is developing strategies to address immediate and longer term opportunities including, but not limited to, identifying and supplying specialized skills training, fostering students' career interests, and enriching both potential employers and employees to increase resident's participation in mineral and petroleum project activities.

In our increasingly interconnected world, economic and political issues are not contained solely by national boundaries. We must meet the challenges of the future by building bridges across borders and by forging new communities based on common interests.

Last August, I was pleased to welcome another delegation from Greenland and Denmark, a group of legislators and officials who were visiting to obtain information on how the Province manages the policy and regulatory aspects of developing its mineral and offshore hydrocarbon resources.

Mr. Speaker, it is important to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that we build upon our relationship with Greenland and Denmark, especially in sharing information on natural resource development. We have had tremendous growth in this sector over the years, especially with our offshore oil projects. We also have a mutual interest in the sustainable management of our shared marine environment.

Cooperation benefits us all. It is only through cooperation that we can achieve a stronger North Atlantic region and attain our shared goals.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the minister for sending me a copy of this penetrating and insightful statement. I thought the minister was going to get to his feet and read a job description; it is so rare when we hear from the minister in this House. I was delighted that he had an opportunity to do so today.

We have put questions to this minister on two occasions in the last week, Mr. Speaker, and you could not draw him out of his seat with a hand spike. So, there you are; but, I tell you, when it comes to glad handing, when it comes to being the official greeter, there is no trouble to get the minister out of his seat.

Having said that, there is something in here that I hope the minister took an opportunity to talk about with the delegation when they were here, and that was as it relates to indigenous people. Perhaps we might be able to learn something from Greenland and Denmark, how they deal with their Aboriginal people and indigenous people, that might be useful and beneficial for our people here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is great to see the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister out doing the job, meeting with other people from other countries, and learning. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I think the delegation from Greenland came to the best place in the world to talk about development of natural resources and how not to do it. I think they have learned all the ways not to do things, when they made this trip to this Province, because if we look at the way we have developed our hydro, our offshore oil, none of it has been developed in the benefit or to the full potential of the people of this Province. Again, I think the people from Greenland came to the right place to learn how not to do things.

Thank you.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is to the Minister of Justice. I would like to ask the minister how many lawsuits are now pending against the Province's health care corporations, and will he tell the House how much has been paid out by the hospital corporations and their insurers over the past four years in court ordered settlements and out-of-court settlements?

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

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the particular information concerning the health care corporations at hand and I will certainly undertake to provide those details to the hon. member. I can advise, however, that the Department of Justice currently have about 360 active litigation files in the department right now. That, of course, covers a lot of various departments of government. That is about what we have there now. I can certainly get a breakdown in terms of what ones concern the Department of Health and Community Services.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly would be interested, because in January I wrote the minister. He wrote me back and, on February 2, I wrote all the health care corporations in the Province. Out of the eight institutional boards, I have only had a response from one. That is going into three months now, I might say to the minister. I am certainly anxiously waiting to have it.

I am certain the Minister of Health and Community Services knows that there are seventeen lawsuits currently outstanding against the Western Health Care Corporation. Twelve are covered by liability insurance and the corporation is liable for all costs on the remaining five. I want to ask the minister: Does he know that so far this year- the three months that have gone this year alone - in the year 2000, that the Western Health Care Corporation has paid out $120,000 to settle lawsuits that are not covered by insurance and this does not include legal costs; and, of course, there is $60,000 they are paying in premiums that are not factored into those costs.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to have an opportunity to add some information with respect to the question. It is true that the Opposition health critic did write to the Department of Health and Community Services some time ago asking for information about lawsuits against the Health and Community Services Boards. There was a response given very promptly indicating that if there is a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Community Services, or the government, then we would have provided information about that, and so would my colleague have done so.

The fourteen boards that operate in the Province, we do not know from one day to the next whether or not they are involved in a lawsuit because it is not a lawsuit against the government. As I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker, it is has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with public policy. It is has nothing to do with funding. If there is a lawsuit from an individual or a group against a particular health care board or institution, it is because there has been somebody who has been somehow dissatisfied with treatment that they received in a system that we do not run and administer on a day-to-day basis. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice would not be responsible for providing any legal advice or anything of that nature; no more would the Department of Health and Community Services. The boards themselves would have engaged legal counsel to defend their case in the courts; and legal expenses, whether they be lawsuits or otherwise, are a natural part of the budgeting process for all the boards. School boards, health care boards, every single board that does work on behalf of the government for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador occasionally defends law cases. That is what they are doing in this case, Mr. Speaker.. It is normal business.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister is responsible for those boards. He appointed those boards. They are responsible to the Department of Health. I gather from what he said that the 360 that are now with the Department of Justice are not included the Health Care Corporation, if I interpreted what the minister said. So there could be more.

I want to say to the minister, if the number of lawsuits that are with the Western Health Care Corporation are typical of the ones that are here in this Province, there are probably hundreds of lawsuits currently pending against health care corporations in this Province that could cost the corporations and their insurers millions of dollars.

Does the Department of Health have an estimate of the cost of lawsuits to the Province and to the companies that provide liability coverage for the corporations? Because, minister, it is you who appointed these boards, they are responsible to the Department of Health, and they get their funding from the Department of Health.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In every budgeting process, as I just indicated in answer to the last question, boards that operate and provide services on a daily basis to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, like health care services, because they contact and come in contact with hundreds of thousands of people a year, will occasionally come across a particular person or group who might not be satisfied with the treatment, attention or service they received and might seek recourse through the courts. Normal business, normal practice, and in their operating budgets every board - again, whether they be school boards, health care boards and so on - always have some money available to them to defend any actions that might arise during the year in the courts, if it goes that far. It is a normal part of the budgeting process.

I guess he wants to try to play politics with it again and suggest that there is some public policy issue we should be dealing with here as the determiners of pubic policy and the law. I do not understand what anything that happens on a day-to-day basis has to do with this Legislature. When the people have decided they have a right to take an action, somebody will defend the action. It is funded, it is paid for, it is normal business, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Maybe he should know. He said the fourteen health care boards. I can only find twelve. I would like to know where the other two are, if the minister could let me know, because I have only written twelve there. I would like to have the names of the other two. I have not been able to find them in the Province.

It does have implications here. I ask the minister this question. Has the minister made any effort to inquire into the reasons for these litigations? Does he know if they have anything to do with the decline of health care services and the shortages of medical personnel in the Province?

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

MR. GRIMES: No, I take my role very seriously, as a person that is responsible for setting policy, determining the law that covers it, and trying to secure as much funding as we can for the boards, despite the resistance of the member opposite who wants to suggest we are wasting $100 million a year.

Maybe at some point in time he will come out and suggest whether or not he really feels that we need more money in the system or not, because then he wants to talk about lack of personnel and so on. Those things only happen when there is a lack of money. We are trying to get more money. His comments have not been helpful, they are not useful. Maybe he would like to explain to somebody why in one breath, even today, he is asking, do I know, and is it because we do not have staff, and in every other speech that he makes here and elsewhere he says we are already wasting $1000 million.

Mr. Speaker, we take the policy role seriously. The administration of health care on a day-to-day basis is not done by me, as the minister. It is done by the health care boards with paid professional staff starting from the CEO right down through all the medical professionals. They administer the system and occasionally there are actions taken that end up in the court. It happens every year. By the way, it might be interesting to note, maybe he should research himself and find out how many lawsuits there were against the health care boards in the seventeen years that they were the government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Because there were some and it was handled, it was dealt with it. It is normal practice, Mr. Speaker, it is not a political issue. It not something that I ask about on a day-to-day basis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is your responsibility, and as the chief person responsible for health in this Province it is your responsibility to these boards. We have no accountability legislation for spending several hundreds of millions of dollars; $600 million to $700 million turned over to boards in the Province and no accountability legislation, and the minister is trying to wash his hands of it.

I ask the minister: Will he, as the person whose ministry appointed those boards, appointed boards responsible for close to close to $700 million in this Province, contact them and ask them to comply with my request of February 2 to supply information that should be public information here and which we have a right to know?

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

MR. GRIMES: A straight answer, Mr. Speaker: absolutely not. I have never tried to tell the boards how to do their jobs. They are health care professionals and managers. They know how to run the system. I'm sure they will respond on a timely basis depending on how urgent they think that request it compared to other things they are doing every day of the week on an urgent and emergent basis. I am sure he will pursue the issue further. He can contact them and ask why they haven't given an answer on a basis that he thinks is timely.

Mr. Speaker, he keeps saying it is my responsibility as the minister. We have to understand that in the last election there were two platform positions put forward about how to administer health care in the Province. We said that we believe in the board system. We empower them to do their job, they hire professional staff and they do the work. They suggested to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that they would abolish the boards and that if he was the Minister of Health - I have offered him the job on five or six occasions, all he has to do is come over here and take it - if he

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. GRIMES: - was the minister he said he would fire all the boards and then, rightfully, he would have to stand in this House and answer that question -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister now to conclude his answer.

MR. GRIMES: - because there wouldn't be anybody else doing anything in health care except he himself.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: We believe other people have something to offer, not just him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Two-thirds of the work that was performed at Marystown in the first year of the contract was on the books before Friede Goldman took over. In the second year of the contract the guaranteed work was not delivered. With only nine months remaining in the third year of the contract we hear now that there have been layoff notices as of Friday.

A couple of days ago I asked the minister what the people of this Province received in return for $150 million worth of assets. She responded: The people are receiving work. The people of Marystown are not convinced of that and clearly the record does not show it. I will ask the minister again: What are the people of this Province receiving in return for $150 million in assets?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the layoff notices, first of all, I think it is very fair to say that in the whole history of the work done at Marystown and the facility down there, over a thirty year period, that it is very common that layoff notices, because of the way the union agreement is written, must be put in place when the company does not have the work on its books on a long-term continuous basis. Very often workers receive layoff notices but are never laid off because before the time period is up the work has become available.

In regards to receiving the amount of work down there, I think it is very fair to say right now - and I have spent some time over this past twenty-four hours looking into the situation - that right now at Marystown there is just as much, if not more - my information that I am receiving and I don't have it all in yet from across Atlantic Canada and Quebec - is that there is more work at Marystown right now then there is either in the St. John's Shipyard, in Nova Scotia or, possibly, in Quebec. I am not sure of Quebec yet.

There is a downturn in this industry at the moment that, in spite of the high oil prices, this industry hasn't rebounded the way everyone thought it would. There is a global recession in this industry and we are very fortunate that right now there is work ongoing in our offshore and that the Sedco 714 rig is in Marystown at the moment with more than 300 people being employed bringing the rig up to Canadian standards.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With a $1 investment, there should be more work there.

What was agreed to by the members of Local 20 of the Marine Workers' Union and what was finally signed by government are not the same agreement. The assets were to be protected. That was not written into the agreement.

I would like to ask the minister why government changed the agreement without consulting the union, especially after the union had agreed to make the necessary changes and concessions in their collective agreement?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, for years and years the government had made it very clear that we wished to privatize Marystown, that we wished it become a full-scale industry run by the private sector, as I think and I believe everyone in this Province knows is the correct way to do it.

After going to the world market on many occasions, Friede Goldman was the only company that expressed a strong interest and that we felt had the capability to take over this industry and to develop it in our Province, especially in light of the oil sector that continues to grow on a day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month operation in this Province.

When we were negotiating with Friede Goldman, we weren't negotiating for them to fail. We were negotiating for them to succeed, and this industry has been privatized.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is very clear that government gave away $150 million in assets without protecting them in the agreement after they told the union they would. It is very clear that government are not enforcing the penalty on man hours.

What the workers at Marystown want is a secure industry and secure employment. With only nine months left in the contract, how can government -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With only nine months left in the contract, how can government guarantee that they will have that work? Minister, the people of this Province are tired of government playing, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? with taxpayers' money.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, since Friede Goldman took over this operation, and as I have pointed out, there has been a worldwide recession, both in the shipbuilding facilities around the world and the fabricating, in the oil and gas fabricating facilities around this world. We have worked very closely with the company. We have been successful in helping them get work. We have formed a joint committee to sit down with the workers. The union is on this committee, the management is on this committee, Friede Goldman International is on this committee, and my department is represented on this committee. We are very carefully working with them so that any opportunity - and I mean any opportunity - we aggressively go after it, whether it is one the union is aware of, no matter who is aware of. We work diligently with these companies, and we are determined that we will continue to work with the companies until that yard is fully occupied.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Education. Minister, the Report of the Ministerial Panel on Education is a condemnation of the way government managed the education system this past decade.

Many of the panel's recommendations call for reinstatement of programs and resources that were slashed without consideration of the impact on education. Do you now accept that it was a mistake to cut so many teachers from the system, cut curriculum and teaching specialists assigned to school boards and in the Department of Education, virtually wipe out support for professional development, cancel public examinations and the numerous other programs that the panel recommends you now restore?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, as usual, the member opposite is misreading the situation. He is suggesting things happened, that didn't happen in the past. I would suggest that the hon. member opposite read the Report of the Ministerial Panel, look at the recommendations, and take a great deal of comfort in those recommendations because we are going to enforce them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: In just four years, from 1996 to the present, this government has cut $66 million in funding for primary, elementary and secondary education, slashed the number of teachers by 15 per cent, over 800 full-time teachers. Section 9.8 of the report lays out a three- year implementation schedule with two additional years for curriculum development and implementation. Is that the schedule you plan to follow? Does the minister think that an additional expenditure of $3 million in 2000-2001, which is a mere increase of seven-tenths of one per cent, is a serious response to the crisis today in education?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the co-chairs of the Ministerial Panel clearly indicated that there is no crisis in our education system. Clearly there have been issues identified with which we have to deal, and the recommendations are there for us to deal with them.

In addition to curriculum, we have put much more back into the system in the way of curriculum. In fact, we put on more courses with respect to spelling, if the hon. member opposite would like to take them.


MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, we have reinvested time and time again in education and we will continue to do so. If you look at the $125 million we put back in just recently, at a time when we have severe declining student enrollments, we have kept teachers in the system who would otherwise have gone by the wayside. We have made a concerted effort to ensure that the reduction in the teacher workforce has not kept pace with the declining in student enrollment. We are very committed to education. I would think the hon. member opposite would see our commitment to implementing the recommendations in the most recent report as an indication of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: Minister, yesterday I was a lousy principal, today I am a lousy speller, but I will tell you one thing: I can read, and I can read between the lines, and I see where this government is going! I see where it is going, Minister, and you have to be held accountable!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Let's just go to one of the recommendations: The panel recommends that school board directors be appointed by the Cabinet and made subject to the direction of the Cabinet. If you do that, will there be any point in having school boards, Minister, if they can't give directions to their chief executive officer?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the panel identified in their consultations, a (inaudible) between the department and the boards. They recognize that if you have a Department of Education that is setting education policy for this Province, and you have boards out there that are implementing that policy, it is important to have that liaison there, just as we have with the President of the College of the North Atlantic. That is a Lieutenant-Governor in Council appointment, and that is what is being recommended here with respect to the education directors.

Mr. Speaker, they speak from both sides of their mouth. One minute they are saying: Get rid of boards, boards are useless; they don't want boards. The other side of their mouth is, now you want to control of boards.

We don't want control of boards. We have elected school boards. If we wanted control of those boards we would have appointed them, but we didn't do that. The fact of the matter is, we are going to work very closely as we have always done with all of our boards.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaking of boards, my question is for the Minister of Mines and Energy and concerns the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board and a decision made by it now subject to the approval, or not, of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I read in the paper that the Minister of Mines and Energy is negotiating with the operator instead of exercising his function under section 25 of the Atlantic Accord, which is to either approve or disapprove of the decision of the C-NOPB or attempt to reach a consensus with the federal government on that.

What is the government doing, negotiating with the operator, when its role under the Accord is either to approve or not approve the decision of the C-NOPB with respect to the increase in the production at the Hibernia site.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to know now, as well, that the Leader of the New Democratic Party is doing up-to-date research by reading the front page of The Telegram before he comes to Question Period.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: He makes sure he is very current and fully briefed in terms of the issues of importance to the Province. As well, Mr. Speaker, it is nice to know now the official position of the New Democratic Party; it is always important to have these things, as I see it, on the record in this Legislature as the official position of the parties. Because if I understood the question, the official position of the New Democratic Party, which is the great defender of unionism and negotiation in this Province and in the world, is that we should not negotiate. I have understood that the Leader of the New Democratic Party is saying: Isn't it shameful that a minister representing the people of the Province would dare to actually try to negotiate something with somebody?

I would expect that if - and I am sure it won't happen in my lifetime. I won't go as far as the Progressive Conservative candidate who ran against me and turned out to be not truthful, because he did at a rally in Grand Falls-Windsor say: If the Tobin administration is re-elected I will have to leave Newfoundland and Labrador. He is still in Bishop's Falls, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: In any event, we take the approach that any time we can negotiate an arrangement it is better than taking a unilateral action. We understand we have the authority to take unilateral action in the final say, in the final analysis, if all else fails, and we would do that, but we would rather negotiate the arrangement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is interesting the minister likes to create diversions when he responds to questions rather than respond. Can the minister tell us what is the position of his government with respect to the decision of the C-NOPB and what is that decision? What is the position of the Government of Canada with respect to that decision, because they have a role to play too?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I understand now that maybe he is not against negotiations. Maybe he is changing his mind just even here in a matter of a few minutes.

In any event, it is clear again that if he read the full article for his research he would understand that the actual deadline is in a few days and that early next week the Minister of Mines and Energy will indicate, at that point in time, whether or not the negotiations were successful and whether we have agreed to an arrangement that we think, and are convinced, is in the best interest of Newfoundland and Labrador, or whether the minister will actually decree what the position will be in two or three days. Maybe he can wait to read The Telegram on Monday or Tuesday of next week and then ask a follow-up question after that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: What is the position of the Government of Newfoundland with respect to the increase being sought by Hibernia in terms of increasing production, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I guess I gave him too much credit in the first instance. He didn't read the full article, because it does indicate that the Province is in a discussion suggesting that if the annual production rate is going to increase beyond what is now in the present accord, that we would entertain allowing that to happen provided the royalty regime is also changed to give us more beneficial royalty impacts to the Province immediately. That is the discussion that is occurring.

When he gets elected to be the premier of the Province - because he has always said he would like to lead something, he would like to be in charge of something; that was his line when he was going to leave the provincial Legislature to become the mayor of St. John's -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. GRIMES: Because his speech was: I have never run anything, I would like to run something, please let me be mayor. When he gets to run something, Mr. Speaker, then maybe he can tell the world what his position is. Our position is we will entertain a change if it is beneficial to Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

My questions today are for the Minister of Health and Community Services.

On March 15, the government announced $2 million towards the Provincial Breast Health Centre in St. Clare's Hospital and that was really a great announcement. Coincidently, the same day Health Canada released a study that directly linked second-hand smoke, and smoking in fact, but particularly second-hand smoke to an increase in breast cancer. My question, specifically, and this is very specific, is: How many fines have been levied under the tobacco control amendments the House passed last spring, and how many licenses have been revoked from the tobacco vendors?

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

MR. GRIMES: I don't know, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: I would ask the minister if he could please find out, because as well as providing breast screening and breast cancer clinics for the women we would also like to have early intervention and prevention in view of the fact that so many of our young people are smoking.

I noticed that the Minister of Government Services and Lands is not here, but this question is specifically for him or somebody else who can answer. Several years ago legislation was passed regarding smoking in restaurants, bars, clubs and other public places. What I would particularly like to know is how many fines have been levied against the owners of the public places around this tobacco legislation, against this anti-smoking legislation?

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

MS BETTNEY: Again, Mr. Speaker, similar to the response from my good colleague the Minister of Health and Community Services, I do not have that kind of specific information at this time. I will have to take it under advisement and pass it on to my colleague the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

There is time for one quick question.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is for the Minister of Justice. Minister, on January 21 I wrote the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation concerning the New Year's Eve celebrations on the St. John's waterfront and asked several questions as to what was involved in our cost. Four days later I received a letter back from the same department and I would just like to read it. It is signed by the Director of Communications. At the bottom of that page it says: "A formal reply to your request will be forthcoming from the Department of Justice in due course." Minister, we will soon be into the third month of my request. I just wonder what you consider to be a reasonable length of time for my questions to be answered. How long more do we go before your department takes the time to give me an answer?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the request from the hon. member. It is currently being processed by department staff. It takes some time to do these things. We are quite a busy department. We provide advice to all departments of government and we defend government in all of its actions, and I guess it is a matter of priorities. I will certainly check into it further for the hon. member to see exactly what the status is at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has ended.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to report from two committees on which I had the honour of serving.

Mr. Speaker, the Social Services Committee has considered the matters to them referred and approved without amendment the estimates of expenditure of the following departments: Human Resources and Employment; Education; Health and Community Services; Environment and Labour; and Justice.

As well, on behalf of the Select Committee appointed to draft a reply to the Speech of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, I am pleased to present the report of the Select Committee as follows:

To His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, the Hon. A.M. House, C.M., M.D., LL.D., FRCPC:

May it please Your Honour, we the Commons of Newfoundland and Labrador in Legislative Session assembled beg to thank Your Honour for the gracious speech which Your Honour has addressed to this House.

It is signed by me as well as by the Members for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair and Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: When shall these reports be received?

On motion, reports received on tomorrow.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act."


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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My petition is on behalf of the residents of the Shea Heights area again. I have a couple of more petitions in and I just wanted to read the prayer of the petition to the House:

We, the residents of Shea Heights, wish to petition the hon. House of Assembly to address the need for wheelchair accessible housing units in the Shea Heights area. We are asking the government to consider the fact that people with disabilities in their families need to be able to utilize the support of family and friends within the community of Shea Heights. If persons are forced to live in units outside the community, it compromises the help and support that families so vitally need.

Mr. Speaker, the community of Shea Heights within the City of St. John's is a large community. There are quite a number of housing units in that area. None of them are handicap accessible. So I am asking government again to respectfully consider putting handicap accessible units in the Shea Heights area so that families within the Shea Heights area who want to continue to live within their own community to be close to family and friends, so that they can rely on the help of family and friends, can continue to live within their own community.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Motion 1, otherwise known as the Budget Speech. I understand the debate last week was adjourned by the Member for Cape St. Francis. I understand we may not hear his melodious speech today. I am happy to see that there is another member, which I am not allowed to name, absent from this House, but I would call Motion 1.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today to have the opportunity to -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible)

MR. MANNING: I have not even started yet, I say to the Government House Leader, and he wants to reply already. I have to make sure I have the opportunity to respond to those so-called facts. I am always concerned about the facts from the Government House Leader, because most of them are only facts in his mind and certainly relates some concern.

I want to try, if at all possible, today to stay on course. I got up here the other day to make a few comments and bring forward some concern, I guess, with the Auditor General's report and the Government House Leader decided he was going to try to put me off course. Today I hope to have the opportunity to make a few comments on what I believe are some serious concerns, not only in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's but indeed throughout the Province.

I want to touch on a few things, the concerns that are out here in regards to the health care issues, education, the massive out-migration that we are seeing in rural Newfoundland and a growing aging population that is in many parts of our Province. There have been a lot of concerns over the past couple of days in regards to the ambulances. That has been forthcoming. I want to touch on a few of these issues, and hopefully I will get the opportunity to do so over the next little while.

To start off, from an education point of view out in the rural parts of the Province, I was pleased to see yesterday a new report brought forward on education in the Province. While I only had the opportunity to partake in some small discussion on it so far, there are certainly some positive things there. It is great to see that the government is acting on some of those concerns that have been raised and recommendations that have been put forward. Hopefully over the next little while we will see more of that.

At the same time, there is a lot of concern out there in rural Newfoundland, and especially in my district. I will use the concern of a place like Fatima Academy in St. Bride's. There are concerns there of what is going to happen in education over the next few years because of the declining population, even though Fatima Academy is a necessarily existent school under the act. The fact that we have a low birth rate and other concerns out there makes us wonder whether we are going to be able to offer the courses and the level of education to these students that they so rightly deserve.

Over the next little while we are hoping to see some initiative brought forward by the government on these recommendations that were brought forward yesterday to ensure that some of these initiatives would be forthcoming that would sustain and certainly maintain a level of education in small rural communities like St. Bride's, that will be there for the students and into the future.

In other schools, they are looking for funds. In schools like Laval in Placentia, they need some necessary repairs. I have met with the minister on this. She has had correspondence from the parents and groups and individuals in the Placentia area, and certainly these concerns have been brought forwarded. Infrastructure improvement is something that is needed also. Even though we have a $125 million school construction program over the next couple of years, there are a lot of small jobs that need to be done. In the Placentia area, the gymnasium had to be closed down at Laval earlier this year. This certainly created some concern for the parents out there. It is something that needs to be looked at.

In regard to other schools, we saw a major improvement made to Dunne Academy in St. Mary's last year, which is going over quite well with the amalgamation of the schools from St. Vincent's and Riverhead being brought forward into St. Mary's - the additions that are there - but there still needs to be some work done in that area also. St. Catherine's Academy, on the Salmonier Line, is a new school that was built a few years ago, one of the great schools in the District of Placentia & St. Mary's. Last week I attended the drama festival there, sponsored by the Avalon West School Board, and I will hopefully bring some remarks on that at a later date.

Definitely, there is a need for money to be spent in education. While we understand there is some concerns with the amount of dollars we have, we have to try to make sure that rural Newfoundland is not left out in the cold on these issues, and hopefully we will get some of these concerns brought forward.

In regards to health care, I guess one of the major concerns in my District of Placentia & St. Mary's is the fact of a doctor or doctors in St. Mary's. Hopefully, over the next little while, where there has been a lot of effort put in by the local groups, and concerns, and the health care board, we can arrange to have a doctor down in St. Mary's and help forwarded there.

The fact that we have health care boards in the Province that are operating with a $40 million deficit, and through the provincial Budget we only see $17 million coming to help those deficits, it is hard for those health care boards to compete with other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States for doctors. I guess the government, in its wisdom, should do what they can to enhance the board's financial situation so these boards can get out and try to find the necessary medical services that need to be brought into the communities, not only in my district but definitely throughout the Province.

Another part of my district that is certainly in need of medical attention, medical services, is the Mount Carmel area. We are certainly short on ambulance service in that area. They had a doctor up there also back awhile ago, but we lost that doctor there due to circumstances. They also had to close up their pharmacy there, so there are a lot of people very concerned over health care services.

As I say earlier, especially with an aging population, one of the major concerns with an aging population is the health care issue. Living in rural Newfoundland, and having the opportunity to touch on some of these issues, and certainly to bring forward concerns that people have - I met with several councils, development associations, in the area that brought forward these concerns.

Out-migration, as always, is a concern that is no different in my district than it is in many districts in the Province. We have seen a massive out-migration here over the past three or four years, upwards of 40,000 people. While, at the same time, there are certainly bright lights on the horizon of the economy of the Province, there are many people concerned with the fishery, and the fact that maybe the government is not putting enough emphasis on the fishery. In my view, the fishery has been put on the back burner with government, and gas and oil has taken the front show. I am very concerned about that because the fishery means so much to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, it means so much to the people in the communities of the District of Placentia & St. Mary's. I think the government needs to ensure, in all its wisdom, that the fishery is front and foremost in discussions on any budget detail.

In regards to other things happening in the district, tourism development - our tourism industry is growing. We are creating infrastructure and things that need to be improved in order to attract tourists here, and more money into marketing is a positive sign. We have to sell ourselves to the world. Our tourism market is not only here within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a global economy and we have to ensure that we sell Newfoundland and Labrador to all parts of the world and hopefully attract people here.

At the same time, we have to continue to build the infrastructure and indeed to train the people who are the front line people in the tourism industry. It is great to see projects forthcoming, such as Super Host, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, and have different programs available for these people. We certainly need to enhance those programs to ensure that as many people take part in them as possible. One thing that certainly needs to be done, and it leads into another department and at the same time plays a major role in the tourism development, is the road work throughout the Province.

I happened to be down in St. Mary's yesterday and there is definitely work that needs to be carried out. People in the year 2000 should not have to drive over pavement full of holes, and other problems in the road. I think in order to continue to create a growing tourism industry we need to ensure that roads are properly done.

In my district there is a major road that has not had any work done on it for many, many years and that is the Colinet Road, we call it. We met with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation on that road a few months ago, and hopefully we can work together to try to create some improvement to that road. It is not easy, I know, with the budget that the provincial government has for the provincial roads program this year. With around $17 million it is not easy to do a lot of these roads, but hopefully over the next little while we can work together and come up with some plans and certainly start making an effort in doing some work with these roads.

I guess one of the major things that people are concerned about in my district - because of the fact that most of the people involved and employed in the district are employed in seasonal industries - is the changes to the EI regulations that happened a few years ago, that have created havoc in a lot of families.

When I speak about EI regulations, or I speak about changes in that regard, I don't talk about individuals because I believe that the impact is not only on individuals; it is on families. There are a lot of families that have been affected negatively by the fact of the EI changes over the past couple of years. As an example, I had two gentleman in to see me a few weeks ago who worked the same amount of hours, the same amount of weeks on a construction site the past summer. One was receiving close to $200 less per month on EI than the other person. While I explained to him that he had to go back for labour force attachment over a period of 104 weeks, and so on and so forth, a lot of it is complicated to the ordinary person. It creates a lot of havoc for families. A $200 a month decrease in your EI payment while you are unemployed in the wintertime certainly creates a lot of problems for somebody with a growing family and small children, and other concerns and issues that they have. It is something that needs to be addressed.

I am glad to see that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, on his latest trip to Ottawa, had some conversation with the Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada, Ms Stewart, and hopefully they will be addressing some of these concerns over the next little while. While I think that we cannot sit behind and wait for it to happen, we have to put forward Newfoundland's case. As far as I'm concerned, Newfoundland should have a special case for the simple reason that most of the industries in the Province are of a seasonal nature. Whether you are working in the forestry, whether you are working in mining, in a lot of cases year round, whether you're working in the fishing industry, tourism industry, agriculture industry or basically any industry that provides employment here in the Province, most of them are of a seasonal nature and therefore we need to have an EI system that reflects that.

In rural Newfoundland people do not have an opportunity to have three or four jobs. Usually you are involved in the fishery, or you're a carpenter, you work in the local store, or you're involved in the tourism industry or whatever the case may be, and you don't have the opportunity to go from job to job or have three or four jobs. You are lucky to be able to have one. Therefore, we need an UI system for Newfoundland that reflects the concerns that we have and certainly reflects the situation in which we find ourselves living.

These are some of the issues that certainly the people in Placentia & St. Mary's are concerned about from a budget point of view and something that they expect and hope that the government will look at over the next little while. While we understand every government is operating on tight purse strings, at the same time it gets back to the fact that where you spend your money you spend it wisely. Hopefully we can spend the money that needs to be spent throughout the Province in a wise and positive way.

To get back to the health care issue for a minute, one of the number one concerns in the Province - and not only in the Province - I think studies have shown the number one concern in health care is the fact of having enough dollars put in, but also the management of those dollars. Throughout the country we are hearing a major health care debate now. It is healthy to hear that debate. At the same time, we all have personal situations I am sure that we can relate to in the health care.

I myself spent the past Christmas in the Health Sciences Centre. My mother was in there and had open heart surgery on December 29 and spent about a month in the hospital. I have to give credit to all the people, whether it is at the Grace General Hospital or the Health Sciences Centre here in St. John's, or the Placentia Health Centre. Certainly the doctors, the nurses, the LPNs, the staff, you name it, everybody seems to be going out of their way to try to do whatever they can for the patients. While nobody wants to be lying in a hospital bed, it certainly creates a positive atmosphere when those people are out there trying to do the best they can.

At the same time these people, in a lot of cases, are very stressed. Their workload is very heavy. The responsibilities they have are very great. We need to address those situations and address the concerns people have with being overworked.

I can remember being in there during Christmas when they were having an awful job to get people to come in to go to work, because they had worked so many shifts prior to Christmas. During the Christmas and New Year's break - as I said, my mother had her operation on December 29, which was right into the middle of the holiday season - they had quite the job to get people to come in because of the workload that they had. I think it is certainly something that needs to be addressed, especially in the cardiac parts of the hospital. They are short on nursing staff there in order to be able to carry out more operations.

I think we certainly need to address the concerns that have been put forward by these people. Because without good health care, without good health, the rest of the things do not fall in place. I think the number one concern is and should be the health of all of us. So it is certainly something that needs to be addressed. We call this Budget For The Health Of Our People For The Health Of Our Economy. At the same time we have to be concerned that really it is the number one concern. While we can say it is the number one concern, we have to be able to put our money where our mouth is and ensure that it is the number one concern.

I am very pleased to see the new Janeway hospital going up. I can remember back a few years ago I, along with many other people, were very concerned about the Janeway hospital, because it is a hospital that is for children. Again, it is something that none of us wants to see, a child having to end up in the hospital, but it happens so much. We require facilities such as the Janeway. I, for one, was very concerned about the fact that the Janeway was moving from its present location to side by side with the Health Sciences Centre. As I go back and forth to the hospital to visit different friends or family members of mine, I think that at the present time now it is a step in the right direction, and that is going to be a great hospital down here now for the children of the Province. Just the look of it alone, and I think the atmosphere, and certainly the way the building is being constructed - it seems like there a lot of time and effort have gone into it. I certainly applaud the people that are involved. I think it would be, as I said, a step in the right direction. It is something that not only the children will be comfortable and happy with, but something that the Province will certainly continue to support. I think that we have to do that. At the same time, there is always concerns, whether we have enough medical staff to take care of our children, take care of our family and friends in the health care situation.

Hopefully over the next little while we will see more emphasis put on that. I agree 100 per cent with the provincial minister, that the federal government has to take the health care, in my belief, a lot more seriously than what they are at now. They have to put in more money. I understand where the federal government may be coming from with the fact of managing the dollars, but at the same time, anyone who thinks that we do not need more money in the health system on the federal level is certainly dreaming and is up in the stars.

Those are a few issues to touch on. We are very concerned about the impact, I guess, that the growing industries are having on rural Newfoundland. I certainly am. While I am very pleased that we have an oil and gas industry in the Province, very pleased that many people are working, at the same time we have to remember that from the two shifts out at Hibernia, compared to when the Trepassey fish plant was up and running, there were more people working in the Trepassey fish plant than working on the two shifts at Hibernia. So a lot of emphasis should be put on the fishery and rural Newfoundland, and a lot more emphasis, I think, should be put on the survival of rural Newfoundland. Hopefully over the next little while we will see that.

The Budget touched on several different aspects and I do not have time to go into all of them today but these are a few that I wanted to touch on as they reflect and relate to the district I represent. None so much as the state of unemployment in the area and the opportunity for people to obtain work, and more money put in to training some people for these positions. Our young people need to be properly trained. The College of the North Atlantic in Placentia, for example, just completed a six week training course for jobs with Marine Atlantic. I'm very concerned over whether those jobs are going to be there for those people or the opportunity for these jobs are going to be there. Therefore, these are the kind of questions that need to be asked, and while sometimes you upset some people by asking some questions and making some comments, well, all I can say to that is: Tough. Those questions have to be asked, those comments have to be made, because the people I represent are looking for opportunities and are entitled to these opportunities and therefore that is why I bring those concerns forward.

In regards to the Budget overall, even though it is a budget for the health of our people and for the health of our economy, I am very concerned that the government in many cases, as I look forward, is not taking it all 100 per cent seriously. We have to be able to spend the dollars wisely. When I look around, there are several places that the government can, if it wanted to, improve on their spending habits, whether it is a small amount here or a large amount somewhere else. It all adds up in the end, and therefore we have to be responsible for the taxpayers money whatever way we can.

So, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER (Mercer): The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: Yes, thank you. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to have made a few comments on the Budget, and I am sure I will look forward to listening to some other of my colleagues do the same.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes today to touch on certain aspects of the Budget.

Our Budget was presented in this House on March 22. It seems like a long time ago but in reality it isn't. There were certain sections in the Budget that are, to me, very noteworthy and very worthy to look into. In this year's Budget there is an amount of money voted for home care in this Province, home care owners or whatever. The day after the Budget my colleague, the critic for community health, made a phone call to the department only to be told that the department had not decided how they were going to spend the money. I think that is entirely wrong.

Since 1996, almost on a continuous basis since being elected to this House, I have raised the issue of community care here. I have quite a number of homes in my district and surrounding my district and from time to time I visit many of them. To say in a budget that yes, we are going to give $1.5 million or $1.8 million or $1 million, or whatever, for the care of these people who live in these homes, we are going to do that, then I think it is incumbent upon government that somebody should have had their mind made up as to how we were going to spend this money. Yet nobody in the department knows if it is an increase for the people who own the homes, exactly what it is for; if it means we are going to now subsidize homes which were previously not subsidized. Nobody seems to know, and I think that is entirely wrong.

I'm not so sure about the present minister, but I heard the past minister and the minister before her both have said, on numerous occasions in this House, that the form of health care that these homes provide in the Province is certainly the best bang for their buck, and I would certainly agree with that. I have visited, as I said, many of these homes in my district. I have been in them quite often. I see the care, the loving and the sharing. I watch what people in the community do for these residents so that they can be looked after, what happens when in the community there is a senior citizens' party which is planned. I know of the care these patients are given, to be transported from the homes to whatever particular group is hosting the party.

It is very interesting to go in there on a Sunday or a Saturday afternoon and see the enjoyment on a lot of these peoples' faces because the people who own these homes are loving and caring and they provide service, which I don't think anybody else in this Province is providing.

As I said, the previous minister, and the minister before her, have both said it is one of the cheapest forms of health care in this Province. I think it is very incumbent upon government, when they presented the figures in this House, to have been able to say: Yes, we are, here is what we are going to do with the money. We are now going to subsidize homes which weren't previously subsidized, or we are now going to spend money to improve the conditions of the homeowners who have not had a raise since 1989.

Their expenses have gone up. The cost of insurance, the cost of food, the HST and all of these things have been added in. Yet there is absolutely nothing being done for these people, for the homeowners, the people who own the homes. I am not talking about the residents who live in them. I can only talk about the care the residents who live in them get.

If we want to talk about government and we want to talk about savings in government, I go back to some years previous to 1996, before I got elected to this hon. House. I knew of a patient who lived in one of these boarding homes and he got to know me quite well. He was a very kind and gentle man who loved his Newfoundland music. Any day of the week you could go in to this particular home, he had his own stereo, and all you could hear blaring out of his room was Newfoundland music. He loved his Newfoundland music.

Yet somebody in the health care division in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador said: We shouldn't leave this gentleman any more in this home. At the time the home was being paid $905 per month to look after this gentleman. They took the gentleman out of that home and they put him in Hoyles-Escasoni Complex . I am not saying that the gentleman wouldn't receive the same level of care. I am sure that he would. The problem was - and I inquired of a friend of mine who issued the cheques from the Department of Health and Community Services to the homes in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador - the expenses for this one individual went from $905 per month to over $7,000 per month. For one individual, our costs went over and over again and it was in excess of - this gentleman told me because he issued the cheques - $7,000 per month.

To me it is wrong. To me somebody in the Health and Community Services in this Province should have stepped in and said: Hey, we can provide the level of service that this man needs at $905 per month. Yet some genius got it in their mind that he shouldn't live there anymore, we should take him out and stick him in Hoyles-Escasoni, and now our costs should go to $7,000 per month.

To me it is ridiculous and a total waste of money. It was money that we were spending. We were giving the person the proper care and the proper attention - probably he received better attention from the people who owned the home than he was now going to receive in the environment he went into. I don't mean in the health end of it, but I mean in the social end of it: How well this gentleman was treated, how well he was looked after.

I often wonder today if he is still gets to play his Newfoundland music. I often wonder today if he gets the kind of visits he got when he lived in the home, which is not in my district but borders my district. I wonder does he receive the same attention today as he received then. I would venture to say that he does not receive it.

I can think of other homes in my district that I have visited on a very timely fashion. There are times that I wish I would have more time to go in, because some of these homes that are dealt by the Waterford Hospital, some of them are ex-patients. For a first-time person going in they might be a bit nervous because of some of the people who live in this home, but when you go in you see the loving and the caring that these people are very capable of giving. Then we see other times when we take people out of these homes and rent an apartment and we put a big sign on the fridge for some of these poor souls, and the sign on the fridge says: So and so, take your pills.

I know one guy they moved out of a nursing home close to my district. They put a sign on the pills - and I won't say the fellow's name - they put his name up: Take your pills. Well, if the guy opened the fridge door and there were 500 pills in the fridge, he took the 500 of them. There was nobody there anymore, giving that gentleman the care and the attention that he needed. When he received his money once a month or twice a month from the department of social assistance, that money was spent on alcohol.

I have to wonder, are we really giving these people the best care or are we throwing our money at the wind saying: I hope it blows back at us; and if it blows back at us, I hope this man is looking out to himself and receiving the care and attention that he did receive when he lived in this home.

I am going to go so far as to say, no, he wasn't. No he wasn't, because I know the individual and I know what the individual is capable of doing. I know when he gets his money - and I don't know where he is today - but I know when he got his money he wasn't capable enough of saying that I should set aside some of this money for food. Every cent of the money that he received went into two areas, one being alcohol and the other one being cigarettes. I am going to go so far as to say that most of that gentleman's money went into alcohol. Did we improve the man's living conditions? Did we improve on his quality of life? Absolutely not, we didn't do it. To me, it is totally wrong.

I have had the opportunity to visit people who live in my own district, who live in their own homes, homes that - I know people who have dog houses which are better equipped, more heated.

MR. HEDDERSON: Dog houses?

MR. FRENCH: Dog houses, I say to my colleague for Harbour Main-Whitbourne, dog houses that are better insulted, better looked after than the homes that some of these people live in.

I have been in those homes, as I am sure members on both sides of this House have. To me, it is a shame. I was very lucky in having one particular gentleman move out of the residence where he lived, a house that was well in excess of 100 years old, and have that gentleman taken and put in a personal care home where today he still resides and is a very, very happy man. I received numerous phone calls after this happened, from this man's family. They were very pleased that we now have put him in an area where his quality of life - where he can receive a bath.

On the day that I visited him, it was on a Saturday, and I will never forget going into his house. His brother knocked on the door and got him up from sleeping because he didn't sleep upstairs anymore; he slept downstairs on an old daybed in the kitchen. I asked the gentleman what he did when he needed a wash. He said: I use that pan of water right there. Well, the pan of water that he used was no bigger than a bowl that you would probably put on your dining room table with apples or fruit or something in it. How the man could give himself a quality of life in his own personal hygiene just blows me away, because it couldn't be done.

When we are allocating money in the Budget, I think that before we get to that process it should already be marked out as to how we are going to spend it and where we are going to spend it. In the case of the personal care homes in this Province, that was not done.

As well, in the field of culture and recreation: the other day in Estimates - as you know, I was there and you were there yourself - I asked a question of the minister and told the minister how surprised I was that they had $1.5 million in their budget which was not allocated and nobody in the department knew where this money was going to be spent. The minister did tell me that he was waiting on a report from his officials to him to say: Here is how we should spent that $1.5 million.

I have no problem with having that $1.5 million there. I would support that, as I did in the Estimates Committee; but again, when we are allocating these amounts of money - and there are sport organizations in this Province of ours, like the Newfoundland and Labrador Amateur Sports Federation, the Newfoundland and Labrador High School Athletic Federation, the Newfoundland and Labrador Parks and Recreation Association, and on and on. If some of this money is there for them, then the money should be allocated. Somebody should have been able, on the day of the Budget or the day after the Budget, to say: Yes, we have an increase of $1.5 million for you. Someone, the next morning, should have been able to say: Yes, here is where this particular allocation of funding is going to go. We are going to give an increase here; we are not going to give one there. We are going to it here; we are not going to do it there.

Yet, sport organizations in this Province have absolutely no idea of where this money is earmarked for, or exactly how it is going to be spent. We do have some idea, probably, of where it is earmarked for, but we don't know as to who is going to receive this money, where it is going to go, and how much each individual group's grant from this Province is going to increase. I believe that is wrong. I believe it is wrong in community health, and I believe it is wrong in culture, recreation and youth. As I said, I think these funds should have been allocated. Somebody the next morning should have been able to pick up a phone and say: Yes, here you are.

I am going to look forward, over the next several months, as we have predicted increases from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in this Province. I have my own theory on where this money is going to come from, because I do know that the money is not in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to give to this Province. It is not there. They are going to have to get that money, and how are they going to get that money without having rate increases or whatever? Where is the extra - I believe it is an $80 million figure the government shows as revenue. Where is this money going to come from?

If the organization doesn't have it, they have one means of getting it and that is to raise electricity rates in this Province. If they are going to do that, then at the end of the day we, as taxpayers in this Province, are the ones who have to pay.

When we said there was no tax increase, 500 different brands of alcoholic beverages at the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Commission were increased. Now you may not call it a tax increase, but it was an increase to the consumer in this Province. If it was an increase to the consumer in this Province, on top of that increase you have to add on your taxes. So, was it a tax increase or was it not? I am going to say that yes, it was, even though somebody in this hon. House said, no, it wasn't. I believe personally that it was a tax increase.

As I asked questions today, and I still have a couple of more to ask along the same lines - the questions that I asked today were involving finances that were spent on New Year's Eve on the St. John's waterfront. Almost three months to have to wait to receive a reply as to how we are spending the taxpayers' money in this Province, to me, is nothing short of criminal; when we had somebody in the department who budgeted several hundred thousands dollars to carry out our New Year's Eve celebration, only to find at the end of the day that went up four or five times over and above budget. Why was that? Who in the department is responsible for that? What did we spend the money on that necessitated going from $200,000-some odd to almost $1 million? Who organized it? Who was in charge? Who was paying the bills? What bills? Who were they for? By and large, who was in charge of this, to having an over-expenditure of 400 or 500 times more than they estimated they were going to spend on our New Year's Eve celebrations.

Someone in this Liberal government should answer for that. Someone should answer as to why these expenses got so out of hand and why they were allowed to increase by so much.

The questions are not difficult, Mr. Speaker. I asked the nature of the expenditure, the amount of the expenditure, the date the payment was made. I asked for the person, firms or organizations who received these payments, and I also wanted to know the procedure by which the goods or services were selected. Did we go to public tender or did we just throw it up in the air and where it dropped and whomever's name was on the piece of paper that turned up is the individual we chose? If it was, there is something wrong. When an expenditure goes from $200,000 to almost $1 million, it says to me that there was nobody in charge; there was nobody steering the ship. It was a ship that was adrift, and somebody should have taken responsibility for these expenditures.

I didn't only want to know what happened on the St. John's waterfront; I wanted to know how much money was spent throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That was also part of the question. How much did the whole New Year's Eve thing cost us on New Year's Eve? How much did it cost the taxpayers of this Province. I do know there was some money that was allocated for areas of the Province that was supposed to be, I think, something involving the fishery, and there was $200,000 or $300,000 of that money used on New Year's Eve to offset expenses for celebrations on the St. John's waterfront.

Mr. Speaker, as well - I don't have much time left but I cannot let go without firing a shot at the CBC, our national television station, who, on New Year's Eve, for the job they did on the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, for the treatment that we, as the easternmost Province in this part of Canada and the Province who were going to be the first in North America to celebrate New Year's Eve, the treatment that CBC gave our Province was absolutely ridiculous and nothing short of criminal.

I was very happy to hear the minister say in Estimates that after those particular celebrations, he did write our national television station, CBC, and he did register a very formal complaint on the conduct that CBC showed to the Province of Newfoundland on that very night, because it was ridiculous.

They were all over the globe; they were all over the map. The NTV station was certainly much better in covering our celebrations, much better in covering the celebrations than our national television station was. I understand that may have been because somebody wanted exclusivity and they could not get it and they could not receive it.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to add those few words. As well, I am glad to see that we have another report on education in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I heard Dr. Len Williams this morning on local media saying that the recommendations in this report are by and large the same recommendations that he made several years ago. Why didn't we enact those regulations in the first place? Why did we have to go back and have these same recommendations presented again? To me, it is wrong. It is criminally wrong. How much money have we wasted by not enacting this -

MR. SPEAKER (Smith): Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to rise and speak this afternoon. I would just like to say that I recognized, when the Minister of Education was up, that she said there wasn't any crisis in our education system. I would like to tell the minister this afternoon that the definition of crisis is different for her than it is for me because I see, in my district, a big crisis. When you see a school where disabled children, special needs children, are having to be taught and kept in a room six feet by eight feet with no windows, I think that is a crisis today because of dollars not available by the school board to do expansions to the school, badly needed, particularly in the Brian Peckford Elementary in Triton. When I visited that school and saw what these special needs children had to go through every day, it was ridiculous. To recognize that there is not a crisis in our buildings is just a dream on behalf of the minister, the department and the school board. I am not necessarily talking about the programming but about the facilities. When you see schools that need roof and water system repairs then that is a crisis to me.

In one school in particular, Dorset Collegiate, they have to truck in water in tankers. That to me is unbelievable. I had to see it for myself to believe that water would have to trucked in in fire trucks and other special containers so that the school could stay open, all because the money is not available in that district to attend to some of the needs of the schools there. When you are talking about children going into a facility where water is not readily available like it is in other facilities and in other areas, I think that this is a crisis also. I go to the school board and ask them about the situation and what can be done, and every time they say: We don't have the dollars, we haven't got the money, go to the government, go to the minister. The minister has to give us the money to correct these problems. To see these children have to go through that in this day and age is just unbelievable. It is not right for them to have to go through that.

In the housing in our Province today it is unbelievable also to see some of the things that our disabled people have to go through in trying to find accommodations to meet their needs. I have calls almost every day, on a regular basis, of disabled people looking for adequate housing and coming back to me and saying: The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation spins it back again to the government saying they don't have the dollars to provide adequate housing for disabled people.

Even this morning I had a call from a gentleman who said he is at his wit's end. He doesn't know what to do. All he keeps getting is the runaround by the Housing Corporation saying: There is nothing we can do for you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: They have a perfect member, I say to the hon. minister, a member who is concerned, a member who really takes everything to heart when it comes to his constituents and who is going to work hard on behalf of his constituents.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Maybe the member had laryngitis or something and didn't know how to speak. I'm not sure, but I wasn't here at the time.

Mr. Speaker, when people call me and say: I have to take my wife on my back to get her down over the stairs to get her outside, it is unbelievable. I had to see this for myself. I have seen it now several times. When you go back to the Housing Corporation they say: We don't have the money to retrofit any of our own units, or build new units, or do anything for disabled people.

This Budget took $12 million out of the budget for the Housing Corporation. In this day and age we can't do that with so many needs in our housing needs for our disabled people, and not only the disabled but our seniors too. Seniors find it difficult getting up and down stairs and find it difficult getting access to adequate housing, particularly in rural Newfoundland. There are areas in my district where there are some housing units, but back in the days when they were built they weren't built to address the problems of disabled people and seniors.

Over the last years, I think the department and the Housing Corporation should have been moving in a direction where so many units each year should have been retrofitted to accommodate special needs people and disabled people so that they could live in adequate housing and have a reasonable, good lifestyle and live in comfortable surroundings. I have seen seniors and disabled people having to do without a lot of the privileges we have because there is no one there to help them. You go to a housing corporation and ask: Can you do anything for me?, the only answer you get from them is: No, we can't, because we do not have the money because the government will not give us the amount of money we need to do a proper job.

That is the answer I get, particularly in my regional office. Money is the issue with all these.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Pardon, Minister?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you want tax breaks?

MR. HUNTER: Minister, you have control of the purse, you have the knife to cut the pie. You know what portions of the pie have to go to what areas. It is not for me to tell you were to get the money. You know where the money is coming from. The government knows how to cut the pie and you have to look at -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. HUNTER: I know how to cut the pie, I say to the minister. Someday I will have a chance to cut the pie in the right way. If the ministers do not know how to do it, maybe they should not be in office, I say, Mr. Speaker. If they do not know how to cut the pie right -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) money (inaudible) Friede Goldman owes us.

MR. HUNTER: There is lots of areas, Mr. Speaker, I would say where they know where the money could come from. A lot of lawsuits is one area where they can save a lot of money to put into the needs of our people in this Province. There is a lot of other areas. Development of our resources is an area where we can find a lot of money. If we could only find a right way of developing our resources, not in a way that is going to be non-beneficial for us for the next one hundred years, or fifty years or twenty years.


MR. HUNTER: When we get in power, we will show you how to develop our resources. We will show you how to cut the pie right so the people of our Province could have better benefits from all aspects of our tax dollars and our resources. I say to the hon. minister that we can give you lessons on it if you require lessons. We would certainly be glad to meet with you and give you some lessons on how to develop our resources, how to cut our pie right so that we can take care of the people of our Province who deserve to be taken care of. Particularly the people in need, like disabled people and seniors in our Province.

The minister wants to make a point, Mr. Speaker. If you want to make a point, minister, you can make a point.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Yes, make the point.

MR. TULK: Make the point?


MR. TULK: Do you actually believe (inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Yes, I say to the minister, I actually believe that things can be done a lot better if the government could only sit back and look at itself, look in the mirror, and see the things that we are doing, and look at some of the things they have done in the past, and look in areas where they can make corrections and do things right.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I believe everything I say, Mr. Speaker.

I also sympathize with the people of this Province that need services and our social programs. It is scary to see a man have to lug his wife down over a set of stairs to get to a car to take her to a doctor. Not only that, when he gets his wife outside then he has to travel to Gander to see a doctor. The man is on social services. Then social services says: Sorry, we cannot help you get to the doctor in Gander because there is a doctor in your town that can see you. They have gone to that doctor and that doctor said: I am sorry, there is nothing I can do for you, you have to go to Gander to see a doctor.

This man is at his wit's end. I sympathize with him. I am certainly going to try to help him every way I can to see that he can get adequate housing and service from our social program to help his wife to get the proper medical attention she needs. It is important that we recognize that problem.

We recognize that a lot of disabled people, particularly in schools, disabled students, need to get from one level to the other. I have seen children who had to be carried over stairs. I think in this day and age we have to make sure, not only in the restructuring, that availability of education, of the infrastructure, is there to protect and to give each student the privileges of every other student so that they can travel within the school to get from level to level in a reasonable and safe way. I have seen things done that are not safe.

I say to the government that if we do not do things the right way and we do not make it safe for our seniors and people who are depending on our social program, then there are going to be a lot more lawsuits. The government is going to end up in court a lot more often because people are starting to recognize that their needs are important to them. It is important that government supply the needs of the people that need this special attention. If they don't get it, I would say that people are starting to recognize and say: I don't have to put up with this, so I can have a lawsuit against government. If someone's wife falls down over stairs and gets hurt because no one will help this social services recipient then he is going to consider a lawsuit against the government for not being there when he needs them. Not only for social services recipients, but in other areas.

With the Urgent Repair Program, I get a lot of calls from people. One called me yesterday. He had nine buckets put around his house to catch the water. They approached the Housing Corporation and they said: It is not an urgent repair, it is not emergency basis. These are seniors. How can seniors get up and repair their own roof? They can't do it. They need help. They need that social program there to protect them and give them that service when they need it so that they don't have to go around all day trying to catch water falling from their ceilings.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister would like to have something to say? Perhaps he wanted to tell me something about seals because I don't understand a lot about seals? Is there anything you would like to tell me about seals?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) tell me about your position on seals.

MR. HUNTER: Would you like to tell me something on seals?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible)?

MR. HUNTER: You know everything about seals. The hon. minister knows a lot about seals. I have to admit, I don't know very much about seals, but I know a little bit about marketing and a little bit about the way you develop a product and an industry. It all depends on supply and demand. I would like to say to the minister that it is not the facts on seals he needs to learn. He needs to learn the facts on how to market them and needs facts to know how to develop an industry. That is where the problem lies. It is not because there are too many seals out there. It is not because nobody wants to kill the seals. It is because nobody knows how to develop an industry and secure a proper market for them so that the industry could develop and use the resource that we have. The minister doesn't want to listen to that because he doesn't understand it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: You should be listening, minister. I said you know a lot about seals, I agree with that. I don't know anything about seals, but I -

AN HON. MEMBER: You just proved it.

MR. HUNTER: I proved the problem, I say to the hon. minister, is that we should attack areas that can develop an industry by supply and demand where you develop a market and an industry based on supply and demand. That is where we should be concentrating on.

MR. EFFORD: What else did you say?

MR. HUNTER: I will get the answer for you tomorrow if you would like to hear what I said.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) tell you?

MR. HUNTER: You can tell me. Minister, if you want to tell me, sure I will accept it. Tell me.

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

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

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) tell him what he said. Here's what he said: There's not a problem out there that there are too many seals. There's not a problem out there that nobody knows how to kill the seals. The problem, he said, is that there's nobody who knows how to develop an industry to take care of the seals.

AN HON. MEMBER: Also the market.

MR. TULK: Also the market.

MR. EFFORD: I am definitely going to have something to say.

MR. TULK: You're going to have a word.

Listen. Stay in an area that you know something about. I'm not sure what it is but stay in an area that you know something about. We would like to know what the area is so figure it out first before you stand up. I will keep talking.

MR. HUNTER: No point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: No, you asked me to make the point.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: I was just fishing, Mr .Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: That is something I do know a lot about. I say to the minister, if you would like you can travel to my district with me and I can show you a good many houses that I've gone to in the past year that, I tell you, give me a great experience with housing; in addition to the hours I spend in the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation office, trying to get things for our regional office out there. Every time I go there they say: It spins back to the government. The government doesn't provide us with enough money to do the work that has to be done with the housing problem we have in rural Newfoundland today.

Housing is a big problem, particularly when it comes to special needs people and senior citizens.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: That is your opinion, I say to the minister, but if you want to travel with me I will show you where I got my experience from housing by going into kitchens and sitting down there with people and discussing the problems they have in housing. A person says to me: I have to carry my wife down over a stairs on my back to get her to the car, to get her to a hospital, and then I go to Housing and they say to me: You go back to the Liberal government who doesn't put the necessary money into our programs so that we can have adequate housing for our people, our seniors. That is the problem with housing, I say to the minister.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Sometimes. It depends.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I would say to the President of Treasury Board, I don't know if she visits houses in her district with housing problems but I know for a fact I get a lot of calls from her district, too, about housing problems; and problems that she, when she goes back to the people, says: There is nothing I can do for you; we don't have the money to put into the program.

I say to the minister, if she doesn't believe what I am saying, talk to the people in your district, your constituents.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, the statement just uttered by the Member for Windsor-Springdale is entirely incorrect. In fact, there was over $400,000 spent in the District of Grand Falls-Buchans last year on upgrades to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing units. Let me set the record straight. My phone in Grand Falls-Windsor is plagued by people from his district calling me for help, and I am the one who can provide the answers for them and get the work done.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Mr. Speaker, I have an answer for the minister. The reason she gets calls from my district complaining about the housing, and the Housing Corporation, is because, when they call me and ask me to help them with their problem, and I go to housing and they say the money is the problem, go to the government and try to get them to put more money, then I tell the people to call the President of Treasury Board. She has the money to put into housing, and if she doesn't put it in there, blame it on her, not me.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUNTER: I am the one out there fighting for these people, trying to get these problems corrected. It is the government, it is the Minister of Finance, that is not putting necessary money into the Housing Corporation to fix the problems in our Province today.

I would say that if you want to look into it, I would certainly be willing and happy to go through these problems and to these doors with you and we will explain together what the problem is.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I am terribly concerned about the member's health. He is over there, getting red in the face, and I know needs it - do you want to take another swallow before you get up again?

MR. EFFORD: Here, look, take a seal oil capsule.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Have a seal oil capsule. It will do you good. Are you okay now?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the hon. minister that some time, if you like, we can go together to people in your district and to people in my district and we will sit down together and explain to them why they cannot get the problem corrected. I would certainly be happy to do that.

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board, on a point of order.

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to able to tell this House today that I don't need the Member for Windsor-Springdale to deal with the constituents in Grand Falls-Buchans. They are well represented and I won't need you to come with me to solve anything.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't have to say much more; the minister knows what the problem is. The other side, the government, knows what the problem is about the housing in Newfoundland and Labrador today. I am just here to serve my constituents the best way I can, and if it means fighting with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing on a daily basis -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HUNTER: I haven't even got my list out yet.


AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Leave is denied.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few minutes, I say to grandfather Government House Leader. It is a great experience, isn't it? It is a great experience, I say to the Government House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a few words today on the Budget Debate and in response to the Budget that was handed down in this House approximately three weeks ago. It wasn't that long ago when I had an opportunity in response to deal with an issue of omission, in the fact that there was absolutely no attention given to one issue of great importance to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, that being the addressing of the concern in this Province with respect to some reprieve on gasoline taxes.

It was claimed by this government, prior to the Budget, that the Budget would allow an opportunity for government to address the concerns with respect to fuel taxes and petroleum taxes in this Province. Unfortunately, as we saw in the Budget, that did not happen. In fact the Budget was completely remiss and silent on dealing with the issue of taxation reprieve on this issue.

FuelFax, which is a document put out for gasoline price monitoring, gives in fact the comparison of the cost of a liter of gasoline and the tax consequences pursuant to the tax regime of each province. I would just briefly like to refer to some of the details found in the most recent edition of March 28, 2000.

In St. John, New Brunswick, we have a total cost of a liter of gas of 73.5 cents; in Halifax 75.8 cents; and, at the time of the printing, in St. John's, 83.9 cents. We now know that has been reduced by some 2 cent a liter. In fact, there was a reduction approximately a week ago.

What is interesting is the fact that the percentage of taxes continues to be higher in this jurisdiction than in any other jurisdiction, as we do this comparison in Atlantic Canada.

Last week there was an opportunity when the federal Minister of Finance in Ottawa extended an invitation to the provinces, and in particular to the Finance Ministers and Energy Ministers of each province, and the Minister of Finance basically said: We will consider the reducing of gasoline taxes and taxation on petroleum products if, in fact, the provinces were willing to do the same.

Sadly, the response in this Province was that they would not entertain such an idea. In fact the Minister of Finance, when asked directly, indicated that the additional revenues that are received are needed to deal with the increased costs of governance as a result of the increased price in the liter of gasoline in this Province.

I would submit that it is a very weak argument, and it is an argument, of course, that again has disappointed Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who were seeking from this government, for the first time, recognition of the fact that this issue has gone unaddressed. Basically, it is an issue that the government has completely ignored and pays no attention to whatsoever.

This FuelFax document which was released last week - again, the date is March 28 - shows, in comparing the taxes in New Brunswick on a liter of gasoline, it was 30.3 cents in terms of provincial taxes; in Nova Scotia 33.4 cents; but in Newfoundland and Labrador, it was 37.4 cents; again, over 7 cents per liter between Newfoundland and New Brunswick, and exactly 4 cents per liter between Nova Scotia and this Province.

So the Province does have an opportunity, I say, Mr. Speaker, to in fact limit the burden on ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, but sadly it has refused to do so; in my view, one of the biggest omissions that we see in the Budget that was handed down approximately three weeks ago.

In speaking on the Budget it is clear as well that, in terms of vision and planning, there is some real difficulty that this government will face in the not-too-distant future. I would like to give a few examples as to how this Budget exposes this government's lack of direction and planning. These examples include the following: That this is the last year for the HST transitional grant from the federal government that injected $350 million into government revenue since 1997. I remember debating in this Legislature in 1996 and in 1997 how, in just a few years, in the year 2000-2001, there would be once and for all a termination of the revenues received from this HST transitional assistance grant from the federal government.

Well, we are here. It is the year 2000 and this is, in fact, the last year that this Province will receive assistance from the federal government pursuant to the Harmonized Sales Tax transitional plan that was entered into between Newfoundland and some of the other provinces and the federal government approximately three years ago.

Another example, Mr. Speaker, there is just a year or two remaining on the 850 million Roads for Rail Agreement that has paid for 90 per cent or more of road construction in the Province over the last decade; just a year or two remaining.

My colleague who sits next to me in this House, the Member for Baie Verte, I hear him constantly talking about the condition of roads in this district. In fact, there is even some concern that there will be a protest, a public protest, in the next few days by residents of his district on the Baie Verte Peninsula who simply are saying that they have had enough. They can't simply travel and conduct their affairs and conduct their lives on a day-to-day basis because of the condition of the roads in that district.

Here we have - as a result of this issue being not addressed and in terms of direction and planning for the future - just a year or two remaining on the Roads for Rail Agreement that has paid for more than 90 per cent of road construction in this Province for the past ten years. The question has to be asked: What next? What happens next? Where is the direction? Where is the plan, in particular in this area, with respect to roads maintenance and roads construction?

Another example: Government has already spent the $350 million payment it received in 1997-1998 from the federal government for taking over the coastal Labrador ferry services, but it still has to run the ferries. It still has to run the service, so the question is, again: Where is the direction, where is the plan when, in fact, government has already spent this $350 million payment it received some two-and-a-half to three years ago?

Another example: The former Liberal government cashed in our perpetual right to collect $8 million a year from Ottawa under Term 29 for $100 million and then spent all the money. Again, it was a grant that was automatic, it was expected on an annual basis, the Newfoundland government would receive on an annual basis this amount of $8 million per year, but because it received up front, in lump sum form, this amount, the money is gone. Again, where is the plan and where is the direction?

A further example: The Liberal government drew down $42 million in federal money intended to help fund health care expenditures in the years 2001-2002, 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. Again, what we are doing is spending now monies that would have been anticipated to have been received within the next one, two and three years.

Another example: Transfers from Ottawa will continue to decline in proportion to population decline, a revenue shrinking formula for this Province adopted by the federal government when Brian Tobin was our representative in the federal Cabinet. This is the man who sat around the federal Cabinet table, was a participant, was a corroborator in the very decisions that are now effecting negatively Newfoundland and Labrador in this way. Now, of course, he wishes to be the great champion, the great health champion, not only for this Province but for indeed all of Canada and, in fact, he was a participant and sat around the Cabinet table in Ottawa a number of years ago when these very decisions were made that so adversely affect Newfoundland and Labrador today.

AN HON. MEMBER: John, did you say he was a robber?

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Corroborator.

Transfers from Ottawa, another example Mr. Speaker. Offshore oil development will not generate sufficient growth and net revenues to the Province in the foreseeable future since Ottawa will claw back 75 cents in equalization payments for every dollar the Province receives from offshore oil development.

Of course, there is great discussion now as the parties attempt to negotiate a mode of development with respect to White Rose. Of course, the Terra Nova project is in full swing and the Hibernia project on our offshore. Do you know a sad fact? This Province received more in revenues from gambling on an annual basis then it did receive from royalties on the Hibernia project. What an absurd statistic that has to be reported by a government when it can say that we received more in gambling royalties then we received from perhaps one of the greatest industries this Province has ever known. Again, it is a question of direction, it is a question of planning and the lack thereof, that concerns me as a member of this Opposition.

When we look at these various examples that I just referred to, one has to question clearly where we are next year, and how in fact this government is going to adequately protect the needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in its preparation for the budgetary process when we look at how funds that will have stopped this present year, and because of receiving up-front payments, the inability for this government to adequately protect the interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the immediate future, in the next two to three years. It is an issue of concern. As part of the budgetary debate we, as an Opposition, have to raise these issues, questions and concerns so that government may have an opportunity to take these points into account and hopefully, as this is a budgetary debate, may be in a position to respond and get up from time to time and participate in the debate.

As my colleague for Waterford Valley mentioned several days ago, it is members on this side of the House who generally carry the debate. We generally, as a part of the parliamentary process, do our part to attack and suggest ways of improving the situation. If government is so proud of its record and feels that this Budget is the greatest thing since sliced bread, why don't government members stand and defend what it had to say on March 22 here in this House?

Yesterday we received an education report, which I must say has certainly baffled me in terms of how it is being received by government. Because we see a number of fundamental issues that were addressed in this report. I will just highlight some of them. It was highlighted in today's paper. They are: Increased professional development for teachers; development of a new model for distance learning; increasing the school day for K to III from 4.5 hours to 5 hours a day; creation of music and reading special programs; employment of two kindergarten to grade XII auditors; and future appointments of school board directors being made by Cabinet. Some of these changes are so fundamental and sweeping one has to question: Where was this government during the last three years when in fact in response to this report it has accepted, almost in total, the recommendations that are being made by the two very distinguished educators who prepared this report? If this government is prepared to accept these recommendations, there were obviously significant weaknesses and deficiencies in the system that were found to exist by these two educators and these recommendations are being accepted by this government in total form.

One of the biggest surprises - I ought not to say "surprise," but the fact that this government is prepared to recommend it - is what this report had to say with respect to the reinstatement of public examinations. I remember quite clearly in this House approximately four years ago when the then-Minister of Education, the present Minister of Health, stood in this House and announced the discontinuance of public examinations. He defended it to the hilt, saying it was not necessary, a form of standardization was not necessary, that schools were more than capable of ensuring that there would be a degree of equality and fairness and standardization without the requirement of public examinations. Despite the fact that our post-secondary institutions spoke out loudly against that particular decision, the Minister of Education of the day, the present Minister of Health, said: Regardless of criticism from post-secondary institutions, regardless of criticism from Opposition, regardless of criticism from our high schools and their teachers and administrators, we will march on ahead and continue a policy of discontinuing the need for public examinations. However, upon review of this very issue, as one of many issues that was reviewed by Dr. Sparkes and Dr. Williams, the report recommends that we need a form of standardized testing to protect the interests of children and protect the integrity of our post-secondary institutions.

What does this government do? It accepts this recommendation, which I believe it should have.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: What I am saying is that we have had so many deficiencies in the educational system throughout the past number of years, two esteemed educators note these deficiencies, and government immediately accepts all these recommendations. What this proves, I say to the hon. Minister of Fisheries, is that this government has been negligent in its duties and responsibilities as it relates to many areas, but, in particular, as it relates to the educational system in this Province. The fact that the changes in recommendations were so widespread, and the fact that they were accepted in the form they were, is proof that the Minister of Education has lost touch with her department. It took this report to find and identify these deficiencies to allow her, once and for all, to realize that some significant changes had to be made.

I think, and I would argue, that the biggest example of what I am saying is what government is doing with respect to public examinations. We knew it was wrong. We indicated it was wrong four years ago. Post-secondary institutions stated that it was wrong. The authors of this report recognized that it was wrong. Finally the government did the right thing and reinstated it. That is just one area where, finally, government has seen the light, I guess, and has made the necessary changes by accepting the recommendations that were found in this report.

Another issue I would like to address before my time expires is an issue that has been addressed quite frequently in this House over the last ten days or so. It is dealing with the development of the Lower Churchill deal, perhaps one of the most significant public policy issues in our Province today.

Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition referred to this year's Throne Speech. He indicated that the Throne Speech, in reference to the Lower Churchill, said the following:

"The project must be led and managed in our Province. A majority of benefits must flow to the majority shareholder, Newfoundland and Labrador. Engineering management must be based here. Procurement offices must be located in our Province. First consideration should be given to provincially-based companies where they are competitive in terms of fair market price, quality and delivery."

After the Throne Speech was read in this Chamber, we see an article in the French Canadian newspaper Le Devoir which express concern. We have comments made by the Premier of Quebec and, in fact, the Premier of this Province on an open-line show. In a conversation with the Premier, I believe it was, one day, he said his discussion with the Premier of Quebec was confrontational. Those were the very words that he used. He said the words were confrontational.

MR. SPEAKER (Mercer): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Why were they confrontational? Because the Premier of Quebec read what was in our Throne Speech. In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, he could not accept it, he could not take it. Therefore, I would suggest that negotiations are simply off the rails.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) Peckford, (inaudible), Ottenheimer, (inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I thought he had something good to say.

Just a few words about the Budget. I would like to say that shortly before the Budget was presented, Premier Tobin issued a warning to the Province's health boards.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Let me quote him. He said: If the name of the game is simply spend the money and then send the bill, there will never be any incentive to have a sustainable health care system.

Mr. Speaker, Finance Minister Lloyd Matthews then presented the health care budget. What was ironic about it was that he paid the bills for the health boards. After Premier Tobin said that they could not do that, Mr. Matthews said that he would pay the bills for the health boards, and he did it in the Budget.

Mr. Speaker, before the federal budget, the provinces were lobbying for full restoration of the transfer payments that were cut in 1995. This is also ironic because the Premier was sat around the Cabinet table in Ottawa when those cuts were made, and now he is here in Newfoundland saying that the government should reinstate the cuts that were made to the federal transfer payments in 1995. When they did not get it, Premier Tobin was in Ottawa and he was leading the parade of complaints against the federal budget. Since then, the provincial Health and Finance Ministers have continued to meet to jointly pressure Ottawa for more health funding. In our Province, the Finance Minister repeated that concern in his Budget Speech.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a minute about the transmission line from the Lower Churchill. The framework agreement that was signed -


MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, can you hear me?

MR. SPEAKER (Mercer): Yes, indeed.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Let's calm them down, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Do you want to get up on a point of order?

MR. TULK: No, I am not (inaudible) sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Do you want to stand and speak on the Budget Debate?

MR. TULK: No. (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member does have a point. The members to my left are making far too much noise.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the framework agreement signed by Newfoundland and Quebec in March of 1998 set out some basic conditions for negotiating a new power contract to develop the Lower Churchill. Newfoundland had a make-or-break condition. That was to have the transmission line delivered to the Island for over $2.2 billion, and they wanted Ottawa to help finance that. While the transmission line was not a part of the negotiations with Quebec, there was never any doubt that it was absolutely essential that it had to be met before Newfoundland would agree to the power contract with Quebec.

In a province-wide speech on March 9, the Premier said: Our objective is to provide long-term stable electricity rates to the people of the Province. We have reached that point where power requirements have to be met by burning oil. There are very few suitable hydro sites left for development on the Island and, quite frankly, burning oil is both expensive and runs counter to Canada's commitment to lower greenhouse emissions.

It is interesting to note that the Premier was advocating for a power transmission line to the Island. That was in March of 1998. In November of 1998, Jim Thistle, who is the government's chief negotiator with Quebec, told a CBC morning show that the basis for negotiations have been achieved so far but certainly they have to include a transmission line. A year later, in December of 1999, the Premier had an about-face. He reversed his position, Mr. Speaker. He told The Telegram, Tracey Barron and Brian Callahan, who is up in our gallery - he mentioned to these reporters that the transmission line was no longer a make-or-break condition for development on the Lower Churchill. He no longer thought that a publicly-funded transmission line was the best way to bring energy to the Province, and that he now favored a natural gas pipeline from offshore with the infrastructure being paid by the private sector.

He is now after doing an about-face on that. On April 3, the Premier said: The Province's goal of having a natural gas pipeline within five years may be on the back burner.

Last year, Premier Tobin challenged oil and gas companies to work together to achieve the goal but now says it may be better to go slowly.

Without a transmission line from Quebec, Quebec once again holds all the cards. They will be the only customer for Labrador power. We either sell to Quebec on Quebec's terms or not at all. That is a frightening thought when you look at what is after happening and transpiring with the Upper Churchill contract.

In the House last week, Premier Tobin characterized the Hibernia agreement as worse than the Upper Churchill agreement. He claimed that Smallwood and Peckford had given up long-term revenues for short-term jobs.

Let's have a look at some of the facts. First of all, on the transmission line: In the Upper Churchill agreement, the Smallwood government gave up the right to collect royalties and taxes for the entire seventy year life of the contract. Churchill power was sold to Quebec for a fixed price of 3 mills per kilowatt hour, which dropped the 2.5 mills this year and will drop again to 2 mills in 2016. Quebec will make more than $60 billion over the life of the contract, but it will cost Newfoundland hundreds of millions to cover CF(L)Co's operating deficit, a cost that will be extracted from already scarce financial resources that now pay for health, education and so on.

The contract can be re-negotiated in 2041, but very few Newfoundlanders who were living at the time that contract was signed, and even some Newfoundlanders who have been born since, will not be around to see the re-negotiation of the Upper Churchill contact.

By contrast, the Hibernia deal pays a royalty to the Province based on production. The royalty was 1 per cent of revenue at the startup and will increase by 1 per cent every eighteen months until it reaches 5 per cent. When the project achieves payback, the royalty will jump to 30 per cent and could increase progressively from there to 42.5 per cent. Royalty revenues from Hibernia, which reached about $28 million last year, could reach $75 million or $100 million within the next three to four years. Unfortunately, the net benefit to the Province will be a much smaller percentage of that as the amount that we collect in royalties - because of the transfer payments that will be clawed back from equalization payments.

It should be also noted that Hibernia, unlike the Churchill Falls project, is subject to provincial corporate income taxes and provincial sales taxes, although at a reduced rate, I might add.

The Province could have collected higher royalties up front if Hibernia partners had been allowed to use a floating production platform - there is no doubt - but the Peckford government insisted on a gravity based structure in order to maximize long-term benefits to the Province not just from Hibernia but from new offshore oil industry. The Province's involvement in the construction of the GBS platform base gave technology transfer skills that will enable local workers and businesses to compete for jobs and contracts in the oil industry at Hibernia, Terra Nova, White Rose, Hebron, and even throughout the world.

The fact that the provincial economy is in the middle of an oil-led boom is proof that the strategy worked. What is ironic is that when the Province does get the opportunity to re-negotiate the Upper Churchill contract in 2041, the Premier will be pushing probably 85 or 90 years old at that time and will likely have to rely on the revenues of the industry that Peckford built to pay for his health care and pension.

An economic forecaster, Scotia Economics, once again gave a rosy prediction of the Newfoundland economy, and once again the economy numbers are predicted based on offshore oil production. As well, the oil industry is expected to help the economy in other ways. Spinoffs from this sector include increased expertise in offshore technology and the revival of shipyard activity as rig servicing requirements rise, the report says.

The report goes on to say that slightly stronger markets are anticipated for the Province's iron ore and gold output; but, ironically, Voisey's Bay Nickel again has been indefinitely postponed.

So it is not based on that. I may add, it is not based on the Upper Churchill. It is based on the oil-led industry in this Province. That is what is leading the economy in this Province. That is what has led the economy last year in this Province. That is why this economy has a higher GDP. That is why this Province's economy is able to compete with the economies of the other provinces.

It is not the Upper Churchill contract. It is not the dismal record that this Premier has had on the Voisey's Bay negotiations. It is the oil industry, an oil industry that was negotiated long before this administration was ever put into place; an oil agreement, I may add, that was so favorable to the Wells' administration that they ultimately signed the deal.

When we are talking about budgets, and when we are talking about the economy, and when we are talking about GDP, when we are talking about the level that this Province is performing at, it has nothing to do with the administration that sits across the House. It has absolutely nothing to do with Voisey's Bay or the Upper Churchill. It has to do with the offshore oil industry. That is reported time and time again. Every financial forecast that comes from this Province, or is made about the Province, references the oil industry, and that is the reason this Province's economy is doing so well.

There are other areas of the Budget that I would like to speak on as well. Let's look at some of the deals that government has made, at some of the mistakes that government has made: questions that I had today on the Marystown Shipyard, the deal that was made there; the fact that workers at Marystown are crying out for work; the fact that workers in Marystown have been asking for more work and have not been getting work that they deserve; the fact that this government signed a contract and they themselves broke the contract by not enforcing penalties on the company they signed the contract with, when they did not live up to their part of the bargain, when they did not live up to suppling the employment rates that they promised.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology will stand in her place and say: Yes, but they did put $8 million worth of capital improvement to the shipyard, but that has never been audited. That has never been proven by audit. We are taking the company's word for it. Let's say that, yes, in fact, they did spend $8 million. What is to stop Friede Goldman from taking every bit of asset, every piece of equipment, out at the Marystown Shipyard and shipping it down to Louisiana? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

So the $8 million in improvements, who owns that? Who is it going to benefit? The workers at the Marystown Shipyard? Hopefully, if they get to work. Ultimately we have given Friede Goldman $150 million worth of assets for $1. They have not lived up to their employment promises. They have done, supposedly, $8 million-worth of capital improvement; but did they really? Because of the fact they did not live up to their employment promises, we were supposed to fine them $5 million. Did we do that? No, we didn't.

Now you look at $8 million in capital improvement, less $5 million that we were supposed to have fined them and didn't, how much money did Friede Goldman put into the shipyard? One dollar upon purchase and $3 million in capital improvement. What did Newfoundland get out of that deal? Broken promises. What did the workers at Marystown Shipyard get out of the deal? Broken promises. What did this government give to the people of Marystown? A broken promise, because they did not enforce the penalty. They did not audit the number of man hours that were supplied by Friede Goldman. They did not audit the dollars that were supposed to have been spent on capital improvement.

Furthermore, when sat down in consultation with the workers at Marystown Shipyard, when they were sat down in consultations with Local 20 of the Marine Workers Union, they promised that one of the conditions would be that the equipment, the assets, could not be removed. That was a concern the shipyard workers had, and that was the basis on which the shipyard workers agreed to have government sign the contract. Now government did not include that clause. Government did not put into the agreement the language that would prevent Friede Goldman from removing every last pound of capital asset in that facility. They did not put anything in the contract to prevent Friede Goldman from doing that. Friede Goldman can pack it up today, put it on a barge and ship it out and this Province does not have one legal leg to stand on to prevent them from doing that. This Province does not have a leg to stand on to prevent them from doing that, I say to the Speaker.

When you look at that, the Province did not go back to the Marine Workers Union, Local 20. They did not go back and say that we have decided to change our mind. We have decided to omit that clause from the contract. Do you still agree, even though we promised you we were going to put it in there, we were going to protect your assets? The Province didn't do that. The Province tried to hide that. The Marystown Shipyard local asked for the details of the contract and were refused time and time again, but finally now the details of that contract are starting to leak out. What do we find out? We found out that government hoodwinked the employees of the Marystown Shipyard.

AN HON. MEMBER: Say that again.

MR. T. OSBORNE: The government hoodwinked them because the government said: You compromise on your collective bargaining agreement, you compromise, you give up certain rights, and we'll protect your assets. We'll protect the number of man hours you are going to get. We will protect you.

Government failed on both counts. Government did not protect the assets and government did not enforce the penalty when Friede Goldman refused to live up to their part of the bargain. Who are the winners here? They are not the workers at the Marystown Shipyard. The winners are not the employees of the Marystown Shipyard. The winners are not the people of the Town of Marystown. The winners are not the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Who are the winners? The winners in this deal were Friede Goldman.


MR. T. OSBORNE: The winners were Friede Goldman, because they got $150 million worth of assets for one dollar. They can remove those assets at any time they like without any obligation to this Province, without any obligation to the people of Marystown, without any obligation to the workers of the Marystown Shipyard. They can remove those assets without any obligation to anybody. They can bring those assets to Louisiana - state-of-the-art equipment, they can remove and bring it to Louisiana. What can this Province do about it? Nothing. In common fashion by the Premier of this Province and the member for that area, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, in common fashion they hoodwinked not only the Province, not only the people of Marystown, but most especially the workers at the Marystown Shipyard. Because they sat down with those workers and made promises to those workers that they would deliver certain conditions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. T. OSBORNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: Leave denied.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will have it noted for the record that the Minister of Fisheries is feeling so beaten up that he is denying leave.

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

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

That Minister of Fisheries is taking some chance, because some of the folks from over here are going to be with him and he is going to be outnumbered out on the water.

MR. EFFORD: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Let me tell hon. members opposite, I will not be worried about being outnumbered on the water on my boat, because they will be in the little punt coming behind.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

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

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

I stand today in the Budget debate. Before any budget is passed, and before we give a right to spend any amount of money, we should ask ourselves how the money is being spent. More than how the money is being spent, how is the money being managed? To find out how the money is being managed we look at the Auditor General's report. One of the things I find in the Auditor General's report that is disturbing is that it shows almost $2 billion - $1.905 billion - was paid to sixty-three Crown entities for government operating grants for 1997-98. The House of Assembly has received only five reports, representing $163.5 million of this $1.905 billion. So we have to ask ourselves: How is the money being managed when we can put out nearly $2 billion, and so far we are accountable for only $163.5 million of those dollars?

We see a thread going right through the Auditor General's report about mismanagement or non-accountability of the taxpayers money. When we need so much money, when we are looking for so much money these days to put into health care - and we do not mind that the money is being spent for the good of the taxpayers, or to advance programs against poverty as was announced in the House today, the youth program - we agree with all of that, but when money is being mismanaged, not accounted for, then I have a major concern for that, when there are lineups in the hospitals, lineups for cardiac surgery, and lineups for diagnostic testing.

About a year ago, I had a diagnostic procedure done myself. It was called an EMG. I waited from May 1997 until July 1998 to get that test. The lineup for an EMG is one year in this Province. Because when the doctor's office called me with the appointment and they had thirteen months later written down I called back and said: Is this accurate? This says thirteen months' time. Is that next month, or next year and another month? She said: No, there is a lineup of a year. Because I could not believe it, I called over to that particular department at the Health Sciences Centre. It was confirmed that the lineup was a year. Not because of the machine itself, but I guess because the machine is not operating twenty-four hours a day, as it should be. I do not know what the reason for that was. I did wait one year to get a diagnostic test done.

AN HON. MEMBER: What should it have been?

MS S. OSBORNE: What should it have been? I suppose a couple of months would have been reasonable, I would not have minded that, but a year is a bit long to get a diagnostic test done when you have a condition and you are not really sure -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Certainly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: If I am a cardiac patient and I am waiting to have a triple or quadruple bi-pass, any wait is too long.

AN HON. MEMBER: I know somebody who waited two years.

MS S. OSBORNE: If you have been diagnosed with any kind of cancer, if you have tumors, or if you have lumps and you are waiting to have a diagnosis made on them, any length of time is too long. If you are waiting, as I was, just for a diagnosis and it wasn't life threatening, a couple of months is not too bad, but thirteen months is a long time.

The lineups would depend on the severity of the illness, but if you are a cardiac patient waiting - I understand there are over 400 people waiting for cardiac surgery now, and when the extension is completed at the new Health Science Complex it will be reduced by 150 per year. Because more and more people, maybe because of stress or because of diagnostic equipment, are being diagnosed with chronic heart conditions, then I would suggest that for anybody who is waiting to have cardiac surgery, tomorrow is the day if you are waiting to have cardiac surgery.

Added to that - I hadn't planned to talk about cardiac lineups - I know several people who have been over in the hospital who have been prepped for surgery, they have been dieting from the evening before, they are all ready to go down to surgery, they wait for six or seven hours the next day, and then their surgery is cancelled. It is detrimental. The time line of getting their surgery is detrimental, but the stress they are under while they are waiting for this cardiac surgery has to be absolutely tremendous.

In any case, I will go back to the governance of money which, if it was taken care of and if there was more accountability, then there would be more money put into the social services end of government in terms of health, education, poverty, child poverty, and child abuse et cetera. We could relieve the hefty caseloads that some of our social workers who are out in child protection have so that they can adequately take care of the children whom they administer, the children who they serve.

Not only are we looking to be accountable and have a wise accounting of the money that we spend, but if this money were saved, if we were keeping account of it wisely, then it could be back into the services that are required.

There are more places through the Auditor General's Report where I see non-accountability. Under Accounts and Loans Receivable in Government, on page 75, the Auditor General states: "...Government does not know how much money is owed to it at any given point in time." We are being asked to endorse a budget, to pass a budget, for all the billions of dollars when government does not know how much money is owed to it at any given point in time? Except as, at the end of March 31 each year, where this amount is determined for year end.

The Auditor General's report also states on the same page: "Our review of Government departments also indicated that a significant portion of their accounts receivable are in arrears and that their cash management program, which includes the collection of these accounts, is not adequate." This is the taxpayers money that is being spent and the taxpayers money that is not being collected while we are crying out for more money, as I said, in health care and in other social programs throughout the Province where our most marginalized and vulnerable people are involved in those social programs. They are the ones suffering because of this government's inadequacies in accounting for the money that it spends. These are not my words, these are the words of the Auditor General, and she has some serious concerns.

The Department of Development and Rural Renewal: reporting on the performance of small business loan program is inadequate. There are no reports on the actual number of jobs created, or what economic benefit has resulted from the loan program. Seven million dollars is invested in this program each year without adequate structures in place to determine if the program is achieving its intended purpose, and without any reports other than audited financial statements to the House of Assembly.

Loans were made to companies that already had loans. As one of my hon. colleagues said in the House this week: What is the criteria to get a loan at the Department of Development and Rural Renewal? It is to already have a loan that you are not paying on and you can get another loan. Her review identified concerns with seven of the forty-two files reviewed regarding the future viability of loans being made while loans were still in arrears.

Adequate security was not always obtained prior to the loan disbursement, and funds were disbursed prior to the conditions of the loan being met; more money being put out which could not be accountable for - or just put out. Once the loans are issued, there is inadequate followup to ensure that the conditions for the loan continue to be met, and only 25 per cent of ENL's total loan and equity portfolio of $78.2 million is estimated to be recoverable.

Now, we have taken money from the taxpayers, and that is only 25 per cent of $78.2 million of the money belonged to the people of this Province that I am sure, if they were asked, they would certainly have put in another direction; but 25 per cent of the taxpayers' money is not able to be collected. If we were to go to the people of the Province tomorrow and say: We have taken $78.2 million of your money and we have put it out there in non-recoverable loans, would you rather that we did not do that or, in the event that we did it to create employment, would you rather that we were more accountable for it so that this money could be recoverable to put back into the social programs of this province that are so sadly lacking?

Loan remission for students - not only are we doing the Province wrong but we are doing wrong to students. Loan remissions are provided to borrowers who qualify in accordance with established loan remission criteria. "The success of this program depends largely on the Department's efforts to inform students when they begin and continue through their program of study, as to the eligibility criteria they must meet in order to qualify..."

The Loan Remission Program was announced in 1994. The criteria were not finalized until 1997-1998. The students did not know what the criteria were in order to get a loan. As a result, students enrolled in programs prior to 1997-1998 may have been unaware of the criteria they would be required to meet to qualify for loan remission, and it is unfair to require students to comply with criteria that they were not aware of at the time their studies began and at the time they got the loan.

What we have done is given out loans to students. The criteria were not in place for four years, or the criteria were not announced to them for four years. They go back and they do not qualify. Well, hello, how did they know how to qualify when the criteria wasn't given out them in the first place? So, what the Loan Remission Program has done is disqualify students who did not know what the criteria was in the first place.

The department was not applying its criteria of requiring students to submit their loan remission applications within ninety days of completing their studies, and because the department relaxed its loan remission application deadline criteria of ninety days, it was unable to process all the loan remission applications. That piled up over at CIBC and the students were charged an extra 5 per cent premium on top of their loan as a result of not having the remission application in, because they did not know the criteria in the first place, because the criteria was not supplied to them for four years. Talk about putting our students behind the eight ball and not making it very easy for them to get loan remission, I think the government has shown that in the administration of this fund it has really fallen down.

Speaking again about accountability, we talk about the Newfoundland Government Sinking Fund. The Province maintains these voluntary sinking funds even though there is no legal requirement to do so. Government has still not conducted any cost-benefit or other analysis to determine whether it is making optimal use of cash resources by maintaining $450 million in voluntary sinking funds. This raises the issue of whether this is the most efficient use of cash, given the Province's borrowing requirements.

Once again, we are talking about nearly $450 million. Oh, my gosh, what the health care boards could do with that; $450 million that we are not taking care of; $450 million that we are not accountable for the best use of the money. I am sure that Sister Elizabeth Davis and the people in the other health care corporations throughout the Province would be delighted to have an amount of money like that. I am sure that the Avalon East School Board and the parents out in St. John's West, in the district where I live, who are losing their high school, losing something that they already had, would be delighted to have money to build a new high school so that the students don't have to get two or three transfers to cross town to get to school.

Another demonstration by the Auditor General of where we haven't been accountable for the taxpayers' dollars is the EDGE program. Although department officials were aware that a number of EDGE companies had leased Crown land at a dollar, they couldn't provide the Auditor General with any information regarding which companies had leased this land, what land had been leased, or what the land was being used for. The Department of Industry, Trade and Technology, who is responsible for administering this program, could not provide the Auditor General with any information.

There was absolutely no accountability for what was happening in that department. After significant effort was made by the Auditor General, a list of EDGE companies that are leasing Crown land at a dollar was provided to the Auditor General. They compared that list with those EDGE companies that have had their status revoked, and all of the companies on the list who were leasing land for a dollar had, in fact, had their status revoked.

Monitoring of Crown land is usually limited to sending out affidavits to individuals. The Auditor General noted that some of the regional offices are not even sending out the affidavits. The Auditor General noted weaknesses with respect to the collection of accounts. More specifically, $1.3 million or 48 per cent of the accounts receivable at 31 March 1999 were in excess of one year overdue. That is another $1.3 million that is owed to the government; $1.3 million of taxpayers money that is owed to the government of this Province.

I didn't take time, Mr. Speaker, to add up all these amounts that I have talked about here today. In fact, I haven't spoken about all the amounts that the Auditor General has referred to in her report, but I would suggest that if we had even a portion of that money that has been handled most unwisely by this government, if we had just a portion of the money, that the people, as I talked about, who are requiring cardiac surgery, the people who are living in poverty, single, employable people who are living on $91 a month, which includes - $91 a month is the total amount of money that they receive if they are living with family. Now, if they are living outside of the family unit they get $133 per month. That is for their lodging, for their food, for other amenities, for personal products, and for entertainment. I'm sure that after they've used the portion of the $133 a month for their food and lodging and personal care products, there's not a lot left over for entertainment.

Of all these millions that I discussed today that are being misused, mishandled, not accountable for, not being collected, on behalf of the taxpayers of this Province, if we were being accountable for the money that is owned by the people who we serve, then I suggest that the people of this Province would be served a lot better.

I am going to sit down now and defer to one of my hon. colleagues.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today as well to speak with regard to the Budget and Finance. I am sort of being goosed along by my colleagues here, which is good to see, really good to see.

I suppose the first thing that I would like to see back in the schools is spelling books.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: If we could get spelling books back into the curriculum, and the spelling bees.... I must say, I got some nice -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: Despite what the minister says, I did get prizes for spelling in my day. I really did. With regard to animal names and that sort of thing, I must say, that was one of my weaknesses.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: That is a terrible thing to say. We can understand; because when you look at someone who cancelled public exams, who got rid of them, who said that they were of no value -

MR. MANNING: Cried for the teachers.

MR. HEDDERSON: Cried on the steps of the Confederation Building. When you hear someone like that say something like that to you, and then you look at a book like this - words are important. I don't know about the spellings, but words are important.

I am not sure. Was that a public exam back in those days?

AN HON. MEMBER: For Roger it was.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: I say to the hon. the Government House Leader, yes, spelling should certainly return to the schools.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: It was there, and you can see the effects of such a spelling course.

Mr. Speaker, I will get back on track, if I could, and talk about the Budget and the allocation of funds especially with regard to the school system, the K-XII school system in Newfoundland and Labrador.

With regard to the allocation of funds, I must say that when we look at the curriculum development that has gone on in the Province, the schools, over the last ten years, there has to be some accountability with regard to what has happened there.

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you spell goose?

AN HON. MEMBER: G-o-o-s-e.

MR. HEDDERSON: Some people do stutter when they are spelling.

I will get back to what I was speaking about. With regard to curriculum development, I must say that the curriculum development over the last decade has been a hit-or-miss situation, and the curriculum in the schools today certainly needs to be looked at. It is not, I might add, that the money wasn't spent. The money was spent for curriculum development in a lot of pilots but unfortunately, I say to you Mr. Speaker, these pilots, I should say, crashed, these pilot courses. What started off with great expectations often just sizzled out. These curriculum developments which should have been going on and which were started, unfortunately never carried through.

Again, I welcome a report, the report that came out the other day, that clearly indicated that curriculum development is a key and it is a key that should be zeroed in on at this particular time. We hope that the Budget - it not only this Budget, but future budgets - will certainly reflect good curriculum development. We can talk about public exams and auditing, but if you do not have a good basic curriculum the system is going nowhere.

I also might add that with regard to the money that was allocated in the Budget for education, the aspect of maintenance in the schools has to be a priority. It is a priority for the school boards. I am hoping it is a priority certainly for the Department of Education. Because the school buildings in our Province need to be maintained at the level of all government buildings in this particular Province.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that when it comes to allocating funds for the schools in this Province you are talking about something like fifty-five cents per square foot. When we look at a building like we are in right now, you are talking about more of $2-plus per square foot. It is clearly a discrepancy there. With the traffic that you have in school buildings of students going in and out of that building day in a day out, I cannot tell you how important it is to maintain those buildings, not only for their safety, but also for their health.

When we talk about the health, in 1998 there was a big to-do about air quality testing in this Province. The air quality testing was done. Not in all schools, I might add. There were some schools that are in operation today that have not been tested for air quality. To look at that, we have to wonder if these schools indeed need to be tested. I would say yes, they should be tested. Not only that, but the schools in 1998 that certainly were given air quality tests should indeed be followed up on.

The funny thing about air quality testing, I say to you, Mr. Speaker - I know it happened in the board that I was employed with - was that prior to the air quality testing the board sent in people to actually clean the schools. They cleaned them and then they came in and did the testing. In many cases, the testing showed up very positively. I say this clearly indicates that maintenance is the key to ensuring that we have schools that have good air quality. With the allocation of funds to boards, clearly there is not enough funding to make sure that the schools in our Province are adequately, not only cleaned, but maintained.

In my district alone, I got a letter the other day from the principal of Ascension Collegiate that he was sending to the director indicating something like ten or fifteen learning spaces, administrative spaces in that building, which have been damaged over the last year by water coming in from a leaky roof. Two computer systems were lost, books were lost, and the records were damaged. I tell you that not only was there damage done, but right now in that school, in many of the classrooms, there are no tiles in the ceiling because it is of no value to replace them. Because with every rainstorm they have to be taken down and thrown out.

Again, not only maintenance but major roof repairs should be done as quickly as they arise in order for the school boards, the principals, the students, to stay ahead of a situation that often develops as a result of this. It is most important that we take care of the buildings that we have already in our system today. If we do not, as we know in our own houses, keep up with the maintenance somewhere down the road there is a cost to be paid.

Here is another thing too. I had the privilege just last weekend to be at the opening ceremonies of a 4A competition out in my district at Roncalli High School in Avondale. I tell you, I was certainly impressed by the attendance at that 4A girls basketball, and the teams from all around this Province came together for a weekend of good competition, of getting together in a social setting, of making new friendships, of displaying their talents, of seeing yet another part of the Province.

This sports event is sponsored by the Newfoundland and Labrador High School Athletic Federation. I might add that this particular year that sports Federation has been given an extra boost financially in this Budget. I think that is absolutely tremendous, because the organizers, the people who are involved in the sports Federation, do tremendous work, and a lot of the work that is done is done in a volunteer fashion. They have the support, as we clearly see here.

There is one difficulty the Federation is still having, and that deals with Labrador travel. I say to you that you realize how difficult it is for teams in Labrador to travel from Labrador to the Island part of the Province. It is an area where there have been cuts in years gone by, and often times decisions have to be made by the regional directors of this Federation to allow this team to go and this team not to go. That is terrible in a province where we want to encourage the involvement of youth, especially in a healthy activity such as sports participation in hockey, in basketball, in volleyball, or whatever other sport sponsored by that particular Federation. In this particular case, if the Labrador travel allowance, or subsidy, or grant, to the sports Federation is not adequate, means should be found to make sure that every team that has the right to travel outside of Labrador to compete on the Island part of the Province be given that particular right.

As I finish up, again, I say to you that indeed we have a long ways to go, especially in the education system, and it is a constant struggle, but we want to make sure that the money that is allocated is spent in a way that, as we move forward, we are not paying for past mistakes. That if indeed you look back over the decade and see the things that were taken out of the education system that now have to be replaced, that is not where we should be at this particular time. Education reform will occur and is continuing to occur, if indeed the money that is allocated and spent in a wise fashion and that the priority areas are taken care off and done adequately.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that I leave it at that and I pass it along again to one of my colleagues who, I am certain, will get up and have some words to say with regard to it.

MR. SPEAKER (Smith): The hon. the Minister for Waterford Valley.


MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to start off my few comments - we are not going to be very long, because I understand that every time the Government House Leader speaks now I'm supposed to add so much more time on. I think an agreement has been made between the House Leader on our side and the Government House Leader that with every interruption I am supposed to just keep on going.

I listened with some interest at the beginning of this session, because in the Speech from the Throne we heard the words mentioned that the plan is working. When His Honour stood in front of this House he said some weeks ago that the plan was working - that was on March 14 - I was expecting to hear that there was great news coming, great pieces of evidence that showed the plan indeed was working, after we have been told what the plan really was.

When I heard His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor listing out the various things that he said constituted evidence as to why the plan was working, or how the plan was working, I found that there was not much evidence there whatsoever. I wrote on that particular afternoon, while His Honour was reading the speech here in the House, if the plan is working, we had better talk to the nurses. If the plan is working, we had better talk to the teachers. I wrote, if the plan is working, who has been talking to the social worker? Certainly, if the plan for this Province is working we wouldn't have the discontent we have in this Province with nurses and social workers. We wouldn't have teachers stressed out like they have never been stressed out before. I wouldn't have teachers calling me almost on a daily basis to tell me that life in the school system is not what it was even a few short years ago. Since I left the teaching system, they tell me things have changed significantly.

If the plan is working, why do we continue to have such high levels of out-migration? We know that in certain parts of this Province there is almost a daily exit from the communities. When I hear tell of the plan working, I wouldn't want to tell that to the people who live in some rural Newfoundland communities, because to them the plan is not working. Their children, their sons and daughters, have been forced to move to other parts of this country or to other parts of North America.

Mr. Speaker, on that same day I said here: If the plan is working, where are the jobs? Where is the employment in rural Newfoundland? While we know that there are significant employment levels in St. John's, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South, the great Northern half of the Avalon Peninsula, I say to people who are out in rural Newfoundland, and they say to me: Where are the jobs that we were promised in 1989, 1993,1996 and 1999? Where are the jobs?

When I talk to people who are living out in communities - just yesterday I was talking to a councillor in one of our rural communities and he said to me: How can you expect us to collect taxes when there is 70 per cent to 85 per cent unemployment in my community? How can you expect me to go out and be party to forcing people to pay money that they don't have? While we talk about transferring all of the local autonomy down to the local communities, and we say to let municipalities take care of themselves, we have to give them the means to be able to do that.

When I listened on March 14 to the Lieutenant-Governor reading his speech, the first big heading was: The plan is working. I had to ask, where? Because certainly it is not working in rural Newfoundland.

Then I wrote here on that same day: How about the young people whose post-secondary debts are really a mortgage on their future? For them is the plan working? We know the plan is not working because when we have people call us and say: I'm $50,000 in debt on student loans....

I say to the House that just a few day ago I was in the foyer of this building and along came a young man that I had known for a few years. He is an intensive care nurse, and a very good one at that. So is his wife. They are both intensive care nurses. He said to me: Harvey, my wife and I have put in our resignations because, between the two of us, we have $85,000 in debt on student loans. With the wages we are being paid in Newfoundland and Labrador, we just can't afford to pay off our student loans and get a house, start a family and have a car. That is reality. He and his wife had taken a job up in the Yukon where they were getting significantly more money living in a more rural part of that territory, and they were moving on. Mr. Speaker, these are the young people who are saying to me: The plan is not working.

Our hearts go out to these people because when you have young people who have all of those talents and here we are two well-trained, Newfoundland trained, Newfoundland son, Newfoundland daughter, and they were now saying they could not afford to live in Newfoundland and Labrador, pay off their $85,000 in student loans, have a home and perhaps even might want to start a family. The resources certainly were not here. The wages were not here for these young people to be able to do what they would like to do with their lives.

We know, Mr. Speaker, on this side there are no quick fixes. When we cause the Lieutenant-Governor to sit in his place and put words in his mouth - we know how the speech gets written. This is the executive of the government that writes the speech. The Lieutenant-Governor delivers it, and when he is asked to say the words, "the plan is working", I could not help but write down another comment here on that very day. I said: Ask that to the seniors of this Province who have not had an increase in their pensions for a long time. Ask that to the seniors on Park Avenue in Mount Pearl who, in the last rain storm, had to have seven beef buckets in their living room and their hallway to catch the rainwater because the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs housing division said they did not have a crisis.

They said that is not a crisis. They need eight five-gallon buckets in their house. We have had the people come in and say to this man who is seventy-nine years old, his wife is seventy-seven, they have no income other than their old age pension, trying to live together, trying to maintain a house, and to have someone say to them: No, seven beef buckets in your living room and in your hallway is not enough. That is not enough beef buckets. When they came in and did the investigation, they told them: No, that is not a crisis.

Mr. Speaker, I have to ask the question: What is a crisis? These older people who are trying to live in their own home, we should be encouraging them. We should be facilitating it, because if these people have to move out into any other kind of senior accommodations it is going to cost this government a lot more money than that.

I say to hon. members, on that particular day when His Honour was here, right in front of us, and we hear His Honour saying, the plan is working, I have to ask the question: For whom? Is it for the seniors? The answer is no, not for those seniors on Park Avenue in Mount Pearl and for a whole lot of other seniors in this Province. Not for our young people who have a mortgage on their future; it is not working for them.

Mr. Speaker, it is not working as well for the teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not working for the social workers whose caseloads have been on record as being more and more cases put on them and they just seem to be so overwhelmed by all of it.

We know that this government has put a plan in place. We just want to point out to them that it is not working. For that reason, we on this side of the House do not have any confidence in this government. We have no confidence in this administration. We do not believe that they have a plan that is worthy of the words to say that it is working.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by my colleague, the Member for Ferryland, the following amendment:

I move that all of the words after the word "that" be struck and replaced with the following: This House condemns the government for its failure to accurately represent the true state of the economy of the Province and the government's consequential failure to take appropriate budgetary action to deal with the real problems.

This amendment, non-confidence motion, is moved by me and seconded by my colleague, the Member for Ferryland.

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

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

MR. TULK: I would ask the Chair if, by leave, we could all say, yes, we believe. I have heard that motion enough times that I am sure it is in order.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, has the Chair ruled the amendment in order?

MR. SPEAKER: It is in order.

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

I am sure that the Government House Leader has some familiarity with these particular motions.

Having said that, we would like to see the government take actions that would be worthy of what the Lieutenant-Governor said on the day he was here in this House. When we look at the groups that I have mentioned already, then we have to consider the meeting we had this morning. When I listened to my good friend, the Member for Baie Verte, tell me of the number of roads and communities he has in his district - when I learned this morning that there is still something like 1,200 to 1,400 kilometers of dirt road in Newfoundland and Labrador. Then when I find out what percentage there is in that one district, how many roads need upgrading, I want to say to the Government House Leader: Is the plan working? Obviously it is not working because if it was working the people on the Baie Verte Peninsula wouldn't have waited for fifty years for some pavement.

AN HON. MEMBER: Since Confederation?

MR. H. HODDER: Since Confederation the people on the Baie Verte Peninsula have not had paved roads.

In addition to that, we know that the little bit of money that has now been budgeted for roads in this Province is woefully inadequate. I was so surprised this morning to hear the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation make a presentation in which he said that he didn't have sufficient money to be able to do all the things he would like to do. Mr. Speaker, he hasn't got enough money to even do the necessary things that need to be done.

I say to the minister who is listening in the back out there, that this morning I thought his comments to the Estimates Committee were very forthright, they were very straightforward, and I know him to be that kind of person. He put the case before the committee this morning to say that we in this Province have to do more with finding money to do the necessary things on our roads. Then we look at the 1,200 kilometers or 1,400 kilometers of roads which are still dirt roads - we admit that perhaps we shouldn't put pavement on all of them, but they should all be upgraded.

When we look at these matters, including the other matters that I have mentioned here, we believe that the motion that we made and the presentation we made should be able to convenience this government, the very members on the government side, that they have no choice but to vote for this amendment. When we say: Is the plan working? The answer is, no.

Mr. Speaker, I want to get a chance to speak again because I will want to talk more about the situation, for example, in Marystown, on the Burin Peninsula. I just want to say two or three words on the Burin Peninsula, because on the Burin Peninsula, since 1989, there has been a management of decline. Clyde Wells used the expression, managing decline. I didn't realize at the time that he was using the Burin Peninsula as a pilot project, but that is certainly what has happened. The Burin Peninsula is Clyde Wells' pilot project in managing decline because the Burin Peninsula, whether it is the fishery, whether is the shipyard, whatever it is on the Burin Peninsula , the last eleven years have been nothing but managed decline.

I could speak at some length on that but I am told by my House Leader that he wishes to have a few comments before we finish the session for the day. In deference to him, I am sure I will get a chance to continue this address later on.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for Waterford Valley was right; there are people here just jumping up and down to get an opportunity to support this. I am sure the members on the government side would agree that the House should condemn the government for the failure to accurately represent the true state of the economy of our Province, and the government's consequential failure to take appropriate budgetary action. When you look at the Estimates, I still cannot figure how there is $136 million extra in the health care budget when the Estimates only show $31.7 million.


MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I say to the minister. How come the minister preaches $137 million and the estimates show something different? I thought the Estimates should reflect what the government has put forward as expenditures under the Health and Community Services budget here. It is only showing a total expenditure last year - less than I figured - of $1,212,387,700. It has gone to $1,244,165,200. When you go from $1,212,387,700 to $1,244,165,200, that actually comes out to $31.7 million. That is all that is here. I would like to know where the other $106 million are that we are not shown in the Estimates.

MR. HARRIS: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: I think I know. I think that is the $100 million that he said you could save.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi is not in charge of the math department. How could he figure out that, when it is $1.212 billion last year and it is $1.244 billion? If you save it the money is still there. You just use it for something else. You have to understand that. If you were going to save that $100 million, it would not be $1.244 billion, it would be $1.144 billion, if you are going to take $100 million out. So how can you save $100 million and then spend it? Maybe that is the philosophy of the New Democratic Party. Maybe they spend what they do not have. We know that historically. Bob Rae is an example of that and Mike Harris is trying to clean up the mess there that was -

MR. HARRIS: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: I wonder, since the Opposition House Leader is so good at math, if he could tell us the public debt when the Tories formed the Government of Newfoundland and the public debt when the Tories were defeated by Clyde Wells in 1989?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: There has been a 40 per cent increase in the public debt in this Province since 1989. In fact, a certain amount of debt was there prior to 1972. If you look at the interest on $700 or $800 million, I think, in that time - I researched it in fact, I went right back to 1949, I might add - and if you calculated the interest on the debt that was carried from the Smallwood government to this day, how much interest has accumulated in that time, and what fraction of that could you attribute to the debt today? There was a 40 per cent-plus increase in public debt from 1989 to 1999. That is the significant amount of increase in debt.

I raised it before in the House and the government said: That is interest that was put on the debt from 1972 to 1989. Granted, a certain amount of that would be, but we have to remember that Premier Wells when he was here incurred debts in the hundreds of millions of dollars also. If you look at that debt, we are not even paying down the debt, we are incurring debts, even though they are small, which means the several hundred million dollars we are paying in interest now is going to pay on the debt and we are not even retiring the debt.

I'm not an advocate that you have to wipe out all the debt now, but I do believe I'm a strong advocate -

AN HON. MEMBER: Stockwell Day.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not Stockwell Day.

I am an advocate of a balanced budget, and that if you freeze the debt to the way it is now in twenty years' time the debt would be less significant and will be a smaller fraction of your GDP. I think what is important is the debt to GDP ratio; that is far more important than what your current debt in dollar value is. I am sure -

MR. HARRIS: Winston Baker (inaudible).


MR. HARRIS: Winston Baker (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right. If you have a growing GDP and you have a debt that is staying the same, that is positive. Actually, we pay roughly 15 per cent, basically, which goes to retire the debt. I might grant that we have moved. Now we are only dependent, about 40 per cent, on foreign debt in foreign currency. Nova Scotia has more. There are in bigger trouble in Nova Scotia. They have a bigger mess to clean up because they have a high amount of debt that is dependent on foreign debt, subject to fluctuations and so on in currency and things that can impact severely.

Now, I wasn't intending really to get carried away on this today. It being such a late hour as it is I will -

AN HON. MEMBER: What were you intending to get carried away on?

MR. SULLIVAN: Health care.

I will adjourn debate.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move, it now being 5:30 p.m., that the House adjourn until Monday of next week.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Monday, at 1:30 p.m.