The House met at 1:30 p.m

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Yesterday, two points of order were raised after the oral Question Period concerning comments made during the oral Question Period. The hon. the Minister of Justice rose to state that he believed that the Leader of the Opposition had made comments impugning his character. The Chair listened to the audio tapes and with some difficulty was able to hear the words: Kelvin, you knew nothing about it.

In speaking of the point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition stated, and I quote, "I heard the Minister of Justice in his interview last night and he indicated that he knew nothing about it. I did not say in this House today that he knew about it. You can take that to the bank. I certainly did not say it, and I did not cast any aspersions whatsoever on the character of the Minister of Justice. I stand here truthfully when I say that."

It is a well known principle and parliamentary tradition that one accepts the words of a member in a matter, particularly within the knowledge of that member. I refer hon. members to Beauchesne 494. In this case the Speaker must interpret the words spoken as their plain meaning would dictate and accepts the word of the Leader of the Opposition that he did not mean to impugn the character of the hon. the minister. Therefore, it is not a point of order.

The Chair would also like to take this opportunity to remind all hon. members that the recording equipment in this Chamber is very, very sensitive and it picks up all the ambient sound. If there were less background commentary taking place while members are speaking it certainly would enhance the ability of members to follow the debate and it certainly would improve the general decorum of the procedures in this House. So, I ask hon. members to refrain from interjecting and allow the debate to take place without interruption.

The hon. the Minister of Environment rose on a point of order concerning comments made by the Leader of the Opposition concerning the minister's approval of a certain policy. The hon. the minister stated that he did not advocate the policy. In the opinion of the Chair, the hon the minister was clarifying his position on that question and therefore there is no point of order. There is actually a difference of opinion between two hon. members concerning a policy.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, it is with deep sadness today that I stand to pay tribute to one of our long-term employees. Maurice Cheeke died yesterday after a short battle with cancer. He was fifty-five years old.

Mr. Speaker, Maurice, or Reese as most of us called him, was an inspector with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing in Marystown. We worked very closely together during my council years and ever since my election to provincial politics in 1997.

Maurice was a hard-working, kind and caring person whose devotion to the people he served went well beyond the call of duty. Just prior to Christmas, I called him to do an inspection in an attempt to find some solution for a family in South East Bight. I was not aware that he was not feeling well at that time, nor did he tell me. This assignment meant travelling a substantial distance by road and water but he made the trip and went out of his way to try and find a number of options. I was advised later that this was his very last day to work. The manager, knowing Maurice was not feeling very well, had volunteered to do this assignment for him but Maurice had graciously refused. That is the type of individual he was, always obliging, forever putting everything into his work. Maurice was a wonderful husband and father and a great friend to all.

I ask the members of this House to join with me today in sending condolences to his wife Linda, his daughter, Deanna, and the rest of his large and wonderful family, and also to the staff at Newfoundland and Labrador Housing in Marystown, who are grief stricken by his loss.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) Lewisporte and I forgot to relay the information to other members. It was only Cabinet I met with this morning. I apologize for that, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank my colleague, the Government House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by thanking my colleagues on both sides of the House for affording me this opportunity to make this statement.

On behalf of our children: Terry, Tina, Margaret and Kara-Lynn, I want to say thank you for the expressions of symphony and condolences so eloquently expressed a week ago Monday past, on behalf of all members, by all party leaders in this House: the hon. the Premier; the hon. the Leader of the Opposition; and the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, on Jacinta's death.

We have had an opportunity to view and listen to your kind words; I assure you that I speak for our children when I say thank you. Your support during our time of loss has been a source of strength for all of us.

Additionally, I want to thank all members who personally sent cards and letters of condolences, those who sent flowers, those who made contributions to the Sunshine Garden that is to be built in Jacinta's memory at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre, and to those who were able to personally attend Jacinta's funeral service at Baie Verte.

I want to say a special thank you to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor for his message of condolence and for personally attending the funeral service.

We want to say as well to the many former members of this House, colleagues and friends from both sides, who sent messages of condolences, and the many who personally attended the funeral service, thank you.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in their thousands - many who no longer live in the Province - have been so kind in sending their condolences to our family. We are grateful for your thoughtfulness and we shall hold dear forever your expressions of your memories of Jacinta.

Perhaps the most touching of all the tributes that we received during the past few days came from the hundreds of people who told us that they have never met Jacinta in person, yet they felt touched by her presence in a crowd and in the media. Such tributes from strangers cause us to realize how privileged we were to have had such a special person as a spouse and mother.

I want to say a special thank you to the people of Lewisporte district for their understanding, for their prayers both for Jacinta's recovery and for our family to find the strength to accept her illness, and for the countless acts of kindness sent our way during the past three-and-a-half years.

There have been many times during the course of Jacinta's illness when I have been anything but a full-time representative for the district, especially during the months prior to her death. Yet, almost without exception, the reaction of the people of Lewisporte district has been understanding, prayers and messages of support.

Jacinta loved visiting with me in Lewisporte district. From the peaceful, tranquil nights on Exploit's Island, to the annual seniors' party at Loon Bay, to skidooing with the Norris Arm Fire Department and the dozens and dozens of other events that she attended - she loved each and every one of them. She touched and was touched by all those she met, and even during her last visit to Lewisporte in December past, despite the advanced stage of her illness, she managed to make people laugh.

Jacinta would not want to be enlarged in her death beyond what she was in life. She was a plain and simple person with her roots deep in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Yet, her greatness was in her simplicity: her love for simple uncomplicated things; her love for her family; her generosity towards others; her charity for anybody in need.

We shall remember Jacinta for all of these things and more, but most of all we shall remember her courage in the face of adversity. She accepted her cancer and fought it bravely until the end. She refused to give up until the end, making sure that every family anniversary was celebrated, that every possible hour that she could spend at Ocean Pond was enjoyed, and that every excuse for a party and a "sup of wine" was embraced.

Her strength was reflected in the letters that she left to each of us, to be read by us after her death. How could a person, staring their own death in the face, be so concerned for those she was leaving behind, have the courage and the strength to put those thoughts to paper and to give advice to each of us on how to accept her death?

Yes, she was one of a kind. God threw away the mould when he created her. Yet she lives on and will live on forever in the Sunshine Garden at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre, in the faces of our children, in every trip we make to Ocean Pond, in every flower, in every whisper of the wind, and in every fibre of our being.

To us, she shall live forever as a wife, a mother, a partner, a lover, a confessor, an advisor, a campaigner, a moose-hunting buddy, and to me, most of all, my best friend.

To those who shared her life and death with us, thank you very, very much!


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

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, if I may have leave to make a member's statement, please?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

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

The new MacMorran Community Centre will be officially opened this evening. I want to congratulate the community and their supporters for doing a great job of developing facilities and services for area residents.

The MacMorran Centre is located in the Brophy Place area of Virginia Waters. It serves some 450 families in the neighbourhoods of Brophy Place, Kelly Street, Hunts Lane, McGrath Place and Blackwood Place.

Through the initiative of the St. Pius X Parish, the original Centre was constructed in 1983 as the Mount Scio Centre, and dubbed the "little blue house" by residents. Newfoundland and Labrador Housing assumed responsibility for maintenance and operation in 1990. In 1995, it was renamed in honour of dedicated volunteer Ruby MacMorran who contributed so much to the lives of people in the community and the success of the Centre.

The new 7,500 square foot Centre, with improved facilities such as a new medical clinic and gymnasium, will give it the capability of hosting large events such as forums, learning workshops and recreational activities.

MacMorran is truly at the centre of the community. It provides access and opportunity for all residents to participate in social, health, recreational, educational and cultural programs.

Construction of the new Centre was cost-shared by the three levels of government. I would like to acknowledge the support provided by the hon. Oliver Langdon, minister responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation; Mayor Andy Wells of the City of St. John's; and the federal government through the Labour Market Development Agreement and HRDC.

Most of all, I want to recognize community volunteers and the numerous partners who have given unwavering support and provided more than $125,000 of in-kind contributions. I want to particularly recognize St. Pius X Parish and the Browne family, which were instrumental in establishing the Centre and have been a crucial element in its continuing success. I also acknowledge the Centre's staff, Executive Director Mike Wadden, and the various NLHC employees who have worked with the community over the years.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, all of us involved with the community realize the late Jesuit Brother, Jim McSheffery, has been the foremost leader and inspiration the community has known. I had the honour of his friendship from the time I became the MHA for the community until his tragic passing a few years ago. He was the truest Christian I have been privileged to work with, and a great example for all of us. He will be forever remembered through the Brother Jim McSheffery Hall constituting the heart of the Centre.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating the MacMorran community on the official opening of their new facility.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this House to report on a literacy event I attended this morning at Holy Cross Elementary School, Holyrood, involving the Grade 1 classes of that school. I guess, Mr. Speaker, the Easter Bunny came a little bit early this year to these children, but certainly in the person of volunteers from the Aliant/Newtel Pioneers, the Tri-Con Chapter, bearing not eggs but books. Each child, Mr. Speaker, was presented with a personalized story book titled, A Book About Me, containing their name, the names of their friends, their teachers and information relating to their school and community.

Following the presentation of the books, parents, teachers and guests were invited to share reading with one of these students. It was an unbelievable sight, Mr. Speaker, as you saw these excited young children reading to the adults that were present. I cannot overemphasize the importance of highlighting these literacy events and congratulate the Tri-Con Pioneers, their corporate partner, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 904, the Avalon West School Board and certainly the school community of Holy Cross Elementary.

The Principal, Mr. Speaker, Ms Florence Costello, remarked on the significance of each child receiving their own personalized book and the opportunity for teachers to use it as a teaching tool. The Pioneers, Denise Lewis, Ken Russell, Doreen Russell, Lilian Crocker, Henley Crocker, joined Gus French, President of the Tri-Con Chapter for the presentation along with Marilyn Connolly, representing the Operating Engineers and the local municipalities represented by Mayor Dave Woodman from the Town of Harbour Main-Chapel's Cove-Lakeview and councillor, Sadie King, from the Town of Holyrood.

The Pioneers are a provincial wide organization of active and retired employees dedicated to not only literacy projects but to Hug a Bear Comfort Toys for emergency workers, the Finger Puppets that are used in the hospitals, Heart Pillows and Computers for Schools.

I would ask all the members of this house to join with me in offering congratulations to the Aliant/Newtel Pioneers and the Operating Engineers for their volunteer commitment to the children of Holy Cross Elementary School in Holyrood.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, late yesterday afternoon tenders closed for the provision of sixty satellite phones for use in a pilot project on the Trans-Labrador Highway. Officials from my department are presently evaluating the bids received and we expect to be able to announce the successful bidder within the next day or two. The use of these satellite phones for the pilot project will extend from Labrador West to Happy Valley- Goose Bay.

Mr. Speaker, over the last few months my department has worked closely with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and in particular, with the Labrador City-Wabush Rotary Club to address communication issues along the Trans-Labrador Highway. The portable phones will be available for pick-up at designated locations in Churchill Falls, Labrador City, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This plan was brought forth by the Rotary Club and from the time it was conceived we have considered it very appropriate to the given situation. This appropriateness will be more precisely determined upon the pilot project's completion.

The pilot project will begin once the phones have been delivered, expected within the next four weeks. Through this pilot project we hope to achieve a number of objectives. We hope to assess the impact of improved communications on the safety of the monitoring of public transportation in the area and determine if this arrangement is appropriate to address communication issues along the Trans-Labrador Highway. We also hope to determine the applicability of the concept to other remote transportation routes, such as northern Labrador during winter conditions.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the Rotary Club in Labrador City for this idea and we look forward to our continued cooperation with local organizations in Labrador. I am anticipating very positive results from this project in how it will now and in the future benefit all who have to use the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I would like to thank the minister for a copy of his statement before we sat today. Mr. Speaker, it is good to see progress being made on this issue and that sixty satellite phones are going to be used for safety reasons in Labrador. Labrador City-Wabush Rotary had a very good idea and it is good to see the government follow-up on their suggestions.

Mr. Speaker, if safety is the issue then we have to look at the whole picture. I expect a ministerial statement in the near future, Mr. Speaker, regarding the Labrador Highway being able to be used in a safety fashion given the experiences of this past winter. I would expect that the government will take action on the Trans-Labrador Highway, given the snow situation this year, and do something about it as soon as possible for next winter.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am a little surprised that the minister, in his whole statement, made no reference whatsoever to the work of the Member for Labrador West. The minister is usually more gracious than that, but it was the Member for Labrador West who, for six months, pointed out the concern about the need for emergency phone service on the Labrador Highway -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - offered research and ideas to the former minister; urged upon the minister many times the need for a solution. We are very grateful that there is a short-term solution, Mr. Speaker, and I think it would do the minister well to recognize that it was the urging and the work -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - of the Member for Labrador West that had brought this about.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to provide an update to members of the House regarding the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission.

The Commission was established in May of 2001 and began regulating fuels in October of that same year. Since that time, the Commission has made monthly price adjustments which has ensured price stability for consumers.

Following concerns about an unexpected jump in fuel prices this past January, my department directed the Commissioner, Mr. George Saunders, to conduct a review of the pricing model to determine if any adjustments were required.

This review took place from January 8 to March 7, 2003. Mr Saunders met will oil companies, consumer groups, resellers, and other stakeholders, and presented a report of his findings to government and the public on March 12.

This proved to be a very worthwhile activity, uncovering several areas which required improvement. One initiative which was implemented following the review process is an interruption formula. Under this formula, the Commissioner can change prices by following set criteria which warrant a price interruption.

In fact, due to instability in world prices as a result of the War in Iraq, the Commission has altered prices three times since March 15. These changes have resulted in massive decreases in the price of fuel for consumers. For example, since March 15, the price of Home Heating Fuel has been reduced by approximately fifteen cents per litre. This accounts for a substantial savings when filling an oil tank which can hold hundreds of litres.

This interruption formula has also insured the financial viability of small local resellers in rural areas. In the past, the lack of price adjustments during times of instability in the world marketplace put significant strain on this group.

Other recommendations were also made as a result of the Commissioner's review process. These reforms require amendment of the Petroleum Pricing Act. I will table a bill before the House this spring.

I am pleased to report that my department is confident that the Regulation of Petroleum Prices has been a worthwhile initiative which functions for the benefit of consumers. The mandate of the Commission has been to provide fair, stable prices for the public. I believe that this mandate has been met.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the minister for a copy of his statement before the House opened today, but I assure the minister, as the new critic for Government Services and Lands, that I, too, am taking it upon myself to examine all services offered by that department. Of course, the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission is one of those.

I have personally met with one group who is involved with the petroleum industry, and plan to meet a number of others, because I believe when half-a-million dollars of taxpayers' money is spent, we should be getting what we deserve from that.

As well, on gasoline products, we have the petroleum tax, Mr. Speaker - the highest in the country, I might add - and on top of that we have the HST. So currently what we have is a tax on a tax. I am sure the consumers of this Province are also concerned about that.

I can assure the members opposite, and the people of this Province, that whatever we can do on this side of the House to keep prices as low as possible, we certainly will.

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.

While the Petroleum Products Pricing Commission was designed to provide stability in prices, the minister is claiming credit for the prices being lowered three times since March 15. What in fact has happened, Mr. Speaker, is that those prices can go up just as fast because the Commissioner is now reacting more shortly to price changes, and the advantages of having price stability seem to have been lost as a result of the recent changes in the rules. So we really have to evaluate whether or not in fact we are getting stability in prices from this result, or whether we are just following the prices up and down, the way the market was before. So this needs to be further examined, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions this afternoon are for the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the Members for Kilbride and St. John's South, and the Member for Windsor-Springdale and I, toured the Abitibi mill in Stephenville and met with representatives from both management and the union. We then met with a group of twenty-five community leaders to discuss some of the challenges facing the mill, particularly the shortage of wood supply, escalating hydro costs, and transfer of the Port of Stephenville to private interests.

Mr. Speaker, the immediate problem is the shortage of wood supply, which is resulting in a shutdown of the mill and the layoff of most of the 300 direct employees, and will also impact more than1,000 indirect jobs.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is: In light of the fact that government has known of these shortages since 1990, and stated in its Forestry Development Plan that if the wood shortage problem is not addressed immediately and effectively, some portion of the existing pulp and paper industry will cease to operate in the foreseeable future, why hasn't this government acted on this problem over the last thirteen years, but instead allowed it to get to a point where it is now threatening the entire operation of the Stephenville mill?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, in one of his preambles, said the government knew about this problem back in 1990. I have to correct him on that. We knew about this problem back in 1980. When Abitibi-Price signed a deal to operate the Stephenville mill, (inaudible) took this over, they were promised a twenty-year wood supply; nothing less, nothing more. Since that time, Mr. Speaker, a lot of things happened in the 1980s with regard to the insect infestation. We lost over 20 million cubic metres of wood, enough for a ten-year supply, AAC for the Province.

In the meantime, Abitibi announced just a few weeks ago, or a month ago, that they would have some downtime in Stephenville because of a lack of fibre. Before this, there was nothing the government could do about it. They were bringing in 40 per cent of their resource from offshore, their need for fibre for the last twenty-odd years from the offshore. There are all kinds of reasons to give for that, as the hon. member certainly must have been told on Friday. In the meantime, we, in consultation and in conjunction with the Abitibi people, have set up a task force of government officials and Abitibi officials to look into what can be done, if there is anything that can be done. We cannot grow the trees overnight. They knew back in 1980 they had a twenty-year supply. We cannot grow them overnight, even though we have some of the best silviculture programs in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WOODFORD: We had meetings - I think it was the third meeting - with the Abitibi people the day before yesterday and again as late as yesterday evening, Mr. Speaker. Things are going very well. We are trying to address the problem. We realize the importance of this mill to Stephenville, to Western Newfoundland, and to the Province as a whole.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: So, it is very important that we do address it and we are on the right track, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, what we need is an action force not a task force, something has to be done immediately about this problem.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, Abitibi officials have informed us in Stephenville that they want to develop a business plan that provides for the ongoing operation of that mill for the next thirty years without any shutdowns, not even for a day. They have a quality workforce. They have a quality product and customers that are lining up a year in advance to buy those products.

Mr. Speaker, can the Premier please explain to the people of Stephenville, and surrounding communities, why his government has ignored this wood supply problem; why he has not done anything about it; and why he is already publicly acknowledging that this mill should only be open for eight months of the year when the company wants to make a full year, thirty-year commitment?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think what is more important in this debate is maybe the Leader of the Opposition who did make a visit and expressed some concern, rightfully so, for the circumstance in Stephenville. We are doing something about it, Mr. Speaker. We have a task force with Abitibi Consolidated and the government that are pleased with the progress they are making to date. We are trying to find the answers.

Maybe the people of Stephenville would like to know whether or not the Leader of the Opposition shares the view of his candidate in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, who says the answer, as far as he is concerned, is: Close the mill in Stephenville completely and open a brand new mill in Labrador next to where the wood is. Now that is what his candidate is in the public domain saying. So, does he agree with his candidate in Happy Valley-Goose Bay who says: shut down Stephenville, there should never have been a mill in Stephenville? That is not our position, Mr. Speaker. Our position is, let's find a solution and we are going to do it together. He has to answer to the people whether his candidate is speaking for a position that he supports or whether he has a loose cannon up there that he has no idea what he is going to say from one day to the next, Mr. Speaker. That is what the people of Stephenville would really like to know, what is the position of that party because it is all over the map, quite frankly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier believes in free speech, why shouldn't I allow my candidates to speak freely?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker -


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

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Earlier this session I questioned the many implications of this government's continued decisions to remove significant sums of money from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in order to finance government's fiscal mismanagement. The removal of some $150 million over the last three years, including $50 million this year, has resulted in layoffs of Hydro employees and a potential rate increase for customers.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is: In light of the fact that this continued bleeding of Hydro is also resulting in an estimated 38 per cent increase in power costs for Abitibi, would he not acknowledge that his government's financial mismanagement and depletion of Hydro's cash resources could result in the layoffs of even more employees in the Stephenville area and is hurting our Province's economy?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In dealing with the issue of free speech and free choice, again, the people of Stephenville would like to know about their freedom to choose Mr. Ron Dawe or not as a candidate. There is free speech for you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: The people of St. John's South would like to know about the freedom of speech for the Member for St. John's South, who is publicly on the record saying: I can't speak about that because the communications director for our leader is not in the Province. Where is the freedom of speech? That is what we have operating over there. That is the crew.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, to answer a serious question with a serious answer. The Leader of the Opposition knows, and as a matter of fact the head of the union knows, that the issues with respect to dividends have nothing to do with operational costs at Hydro and have nothing to do with rates with respect to Hydro. It is all regulated through the PUB. He knows that. The people involved know that. If you want to try to pretend it is different, than you can go ahead, but you will be misleading the people of the Province very badly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Profitability certainly has something to do with layoffs, Premier. You have stated, and you continuously preach and your government preaches, about the wonderful job -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Again, I remind hon. members, when addressing the House they ought to address the Chair and not the individual members of the House.

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier and his government continuously preach about the wonderful job that they are doing in creating jobs in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, so let's talk about profitability.

If Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is the gem, the crown jewel, of Crown corporations, and if it is very profitable, in the words of the Premier, the very words that he used in this House, could the Premier please explain how he can justify the layoff of workers at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in rural Newfoundland and Labrador where unemployment is at its highest, from a corporation that he admits is very profitable? What kind of example is that for other profitable corporations in this Province, Premier?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) his answer now, because this is (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The Chair will do that.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. NOEL: Mr. Speaker, I and the members on our side of the House sympathize with everybody who loses jobs in our Province and everybody who has their income reduced and everybody who doesn't get hired for jobs, either by public or private companies in the Province. That is why this government is so committed to creating jobs in our Province and that is why we work so hard at that, Mr. Speaker.

As hon. members know, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is set up to operate as a business. That is what is required under the legislation of the Province and that is what is required by its regulator, the Public Utilities Board, which this year as demanded that it reduce its spending by $2.5 million.

The Leader of the Opposition, himself, Mr. Speaker, just told us that he was out speaking with the Abitibi Mill in Stephenville a short time ago and heard their concerns about increasing hydro rates in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I had a meeting, myself, with the representatives of the industrial -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. NOEL: - customers in the Province and they indicated the same concerns.

We all know, Mr. Speaker, that the mandate of Hydro is to deliver electricity to ratepayers at the best possible cost and as efficiently as possible. That continues to be the mandate, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

It would be my belief that all purchases by government for new furniture and equipment for former Premier Tulk's home would have government purchase orders, invoices, and delivery slips. These documents, Mr. Speaker, will clearly show us who authorized the purchases; when the authorization was made; where the purchases were made; when delivery of equipment occurred; and who delivered that equipment.

I would like to ask the minister: Will she table today the documents for the purchase of the desk, computer, fax machine, VCR, laptop computer and shredder, that were brought to Mr. Tulk's home?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I have no trouble at all tabling those documents when I get them. I would assume they are back in the department so we can certainly make the inquiry and do that.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: Can she tell us if all the purchase and deliveries of equipment to former Premier Tulk's home were made at the same time, and can she confirm, for example, that at least one item, the fax machine, was purchased at Corporate Express Canada Inc. just days before the former minister resigned from government and opened a campaign office to run in the federal by-election of May, 2002?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I have not gone on a witch hunt in terms of what the former minister did or did not do. Clearly there is an accusation, an allegation, being made here. I will certainly inquire. I said I will table any documents I can find with respect to where it was purchased and when it was purchased.

Let me say right now that I thought the concern that was being expressed by the Opposition was that, in fact, we get back the furniture that is presently in Mr. Tulk's home, and we are doing just that. We have called. It will be back within government in two weeks, which is exactly the concern that was expressed by the Opposition about the fact that government assets were still in Mr. Tulk's home. Within two weeks they will be back in government inventory.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, the minister has not been on a witch hunt. She has not been on any hunt. They cannot find the furniture.

Mr. Speaker, I realize from the minister's statements in and outside the House that government employees move furniture and equipment in and out of government offices on a regular basis. We realize that is true, but it isn't every day that government employees are sent to the home of a former Premier to deliver government-owned furniture and equipment and expropriate private property. These government employees surely remember what happened that day.

I would like to ask the minister: Has she identified those government employees, and has she asked those government employees about the situation, or have they also been lost?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry Trade and Rural Development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, let we start by saying: When you tell the truth, you never have anything to hide from.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: I can guarantee you, when this minister stands to answer a question, it is the truth you will get and nothing else.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the furniture that Mr. Tulk had at his home, I cannot imagine the member opposite suggesting it was expropriated. Nothing could be further from the truth. What Mr. Tulk asked was to have the furniture stored elsewhere. I would expect, if you are talking about a desk, a chair, a computer and fax machine, and you are bringing more of that same into the home - I would not have additional room to store it. As a courtesy to the minister, I am told, at the time -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS FOOTE: I am telling you what I have been told, that he asked to have it stored, so it was stored at his request. Now, where it was stored, I do not know. I do not care. I do not care if he ever gets it back, to be quite honest with you, because my only concern here was to make sure that government's assets were returned to the Province, and they will be - every single piece of equipment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the President of Treasury Board.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development said in this House yesterday, and I quote, "Because, Mr. Speaker, they have not been able to track down the former Premier and minister's equipment and furniture, for this reason a decision was made by the Deputy Minister to leave Mr. Tulk with the furniture and equipment in his possession until his own could be returned to him."

It is my understanding, Mr. Speaker, that a deputy minister cannot authorize the disposal, the loan or the lease of government assets. It is also my understanding that a transaction of this sort would have to go to Treasury Board for approval.

I want to ask the minister if there was a submission to Treasury Board seeking authorization to allow Beaton Tulk to retain the publicly-owned Crown assets that had been placed in his home?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I think members opposite, and all people listening, would recognize that a government has all kinds of employees, all kinds of offices, and every time equipment is moved from one office or another, or Human Resources and Employment -


MS J.M. AYLWARD: Let me finish, I would say to members opposite. I am not sure if you really want an answer or if you are going to continue on a witch hunt. I think it is an important answer to the question, if I am able to make it.

I would say, Mr. Speaker, that in all of the times when offices are opened and closed and changed, Treasury Board is not the one consulted. In fact, in many cases the work orders would go through Works, Services and Transportation, if there is equipment moved or anything along those natures.

In fact, I have to say that departments, we do give our officials discretion to run departments. In fact, they do act as CEOs of the departments and our deputy ministers do in fact run departments as it relates to equipment and government business as the policies are determined. So, I would say to the member opposite that most of the equipment change, most of the day-to-day operations do not run through Treasury Board and I would think that most of my colleagues would think-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: - that Treasury Board has a long enough handle on what is going on without having and showing as little disrespect to our deputy ministers and others that you would require them to send every request to Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about moving government equipment from one office to another (inaudible). We are talking about moving government and public equipment into a private home. That is a different matter altogether and outside the jurisdiction of any deputy minister in this Province, I say to the minister.

Now, that minister admitted in her statement yesterday that there is no record that private property was removed from Mr. Tulk's home. In fact, there is no inventory and they can find no place of storage.

I want to ask the minister: Has there been any official investigation to verify Mr. Tulk's charge that private property was removed from his home? And, if Mr. Tulk swears an affidavit, as the minster indicated he would, that private property was removed from his home, will the minister request a police investigation into Mr. Tulk's charges?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, this is an absolutely new low for even the members opposite - a new low.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: The members opposite know that it is not unusual for Ministers of the Crown, premiers, and in fact deputy ministers and other officials, to have government equipment in their homes. That is not unusual.

Member's, for instance - we tend to work in the evenings and on weekends so we tend to need the use of that kind of equipment and furniture in our home offices. That is not unusual. It is not unusual at all. The fact that Mr. Tulk, at the time, asked to have his furniture stored somewhere because he could not accommodate it in his home, because he was being told he needed more modern equipment and furniture to carry out the duties of Premier, at the time, then that is not an issue for us. The issue for us is getting back government owned furniture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to conclude her answer, quickly.

MS FOOTE: That was a concern that was expressed by the members opposite, the fact that someone would have in their home assets belonging to the government. Well, we are getting them back. That is what you said you wanted. They are coming back.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to conclude her answer, quickly.

MS FOOTE: Let me say again, Mr. Speaker, that was going to be brought back long before the member opposite brought it up as an issue. Long before!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS FOOTE: Maybe we should ask where all the furniture is that Brian Peckford bought just before (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland, a final supplementary.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A question to the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Loyola?

MR. SULLIVAN: It is unusual to have government equipment in private members' homes. Unfortunately, minister, this is not an isolated incident. The AG has reported substantial losses of artwork from government offices which have never been found.

I want to ask the minister: How many thousands, or even millions of dollars worth of government assets are in private homes and private businesses as a result of negligence and incompetence of this government?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I must say we really strongly feel and believe, as do, I am sure, the people of the Province and others who are here today, that there are more critically important issues facing and confronting the people of the Province today than this matter. Everyone of the forty-eight members here, more so than anyone else in this Province, would understand the use of the private home as an extension of your office to do your work. I would ask the members opposite to stand up and name themselves, those who have never had a fax machine purchased from the government, from their constituents allowance or otherwise, to help them do their work at home?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER GRIMES: You might be one. There are two of you. Okay, that means there are eighteen who have them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a well known tactic, and our eager friend from Placentia & St. Mary's fell into the trap. He is willing to betray the rest of his colleagues because he knows that the others have this equipment at home. It is normal practice, Mr. Speaker. The issue is not to take the lead of the Leader of the Opposition and send the police in. I know the Member for Ferryland was embarrassed to ask the question, but he was doing it under direction -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier now to conclude his answer, quickly.

PREMIER GRIMES: - because he had to take the lead of the leader, Mr. Speaker. It is normal practice. The issue, as the minister rightfully pointed out, is to return the equipment that is no longer properly in the hands of the former member, and that is being done, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier.

The Premier's statements this week that his plans for long-term care in Corner Brook are not privatization are totally unbelievable. When a private corporation builds, owns, operates and makes a profit for providing services, that is privatization. It is no less privatization than a private hospital like those proposed by Ralph Klein in Alberta, where, regardless of standards, the public will pay and a private corporation will take a profit.

I ask the Premier: How can the people of this Province believe that providing long-term care services to the private sector for private profit is not privatization?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure if the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, the Leader of the NDP, would take five minutes to listen to exactly what is being said, he would understand it completely and clearly and totally.

The fact of the matter is that access to the system in Corner Brook, that we are talking about, will be the same in the future as it is today. It is controlled through the public system, through a common entry assessment mechanism that has been in use everywhere in the Province. The charges and fees that are associated with it are exactly the same as they are today. No change. No ability for whoever runs it or operates the facility, as a physical entity, to make any changes in that. That is done the same tomorrow as it is being done today.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the staffing levels are all there guaranteed and only permitted by the government to meet national standards. It is not that it is private and the operator can decide what level of care they are going to offer. None of that applies. It is fully controlled, fully regulated, fully accredited, fully determined in terms of access and charges by the public system.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: It is publicly funded health care, publicly run health care, with an opportunity to get it done at possibly a savings to the taxpayer of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It has also been revealed this week that government is unwilling to replace the provincial recreation centre, despite its claim of intending to develop a wellness strategy, stated in the Speech from the Throne, which also pointed out that 60 per cent of the Province's residents are not active enough to achieve health benefits. This government's only solution for a provincial recreational centre is a privatization scheme where the public pays, once again, for private profits.

Can this government no longer determine and plan priorities? Why isn't this government doing something creative and forward-thinking such as considering the redevelopment of the Memorial Stadium site as a provincial recreation centre? Why aren't they doing that, Mr. Speaker, instead of, once again, going to the private sector and pretending that this is a solution for real planning and real proposals?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, in the response that I have given to the sports governing bodies, with whom I have met, I have been very clear to point out to them that in going out and looking for expressions of interest to replace a provincial training centre, that I was willing and interested in looking not only to the private sector but also to the not-for-profit, to the volunteer sector, to any partners who are out there who would like to take this opportunity to come forward with suggestions for ways that, in partnership together, we can provide for training needs for more elite athletes in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that in Newfoundland and Labrador we are somewhat unique, even in the past, in having had a provincial training centre at Torbay Recreation Centre. There is no other province in the country that has a provincially funded training centre for sports athletes. The only other ones are funded by the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister now to conclude her answer quickly.

MS BETTNEY: So we are looking, Mr. Speaker, to the private sector and to the not-for-profit centre, including Memorial University and others.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

When The Rooms is completed next year, the Art Gallery at MUN will be transferred to the new $48 million facility. Obviously, we are quite proud of our Newfoundland and Labrador artists, and we acknowledge their expertise in managing our galleries; however, we are a small but growing part of the Canadian and the worldwide art community. As the minister knows, we must try to obtain the real or long-term value for every dollar we spend as a Province.

Will the minister confirm that she and some of her officials have recently travelled to London, New York, and Paris, to visit these large art galleries? What was the purpose of this travel, and why was it deemed necessary to visit these specific galleries?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I can confirm, first of all, that I did not travel to London, New York, and Paris, specifically to visit art galleries. I did travel to London to meet with officials of the Government of England to look for their co-operation with us, with our government, in being able to share exhibits when The Rooms opens so that they can work with us.

We have, with The Rooms, a $50 million facility that will bring together the museum, the archives and the art gallery. It just so happens that, given our English history and our French history and culture, that there are many, many archival documents, as well as documents within the museums in both of those countries, that we could benefit from being able to share exhibitions, to display, to even loan and to copy from the archives. I actually accompanied, at the request of the Francophone Association -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to conclude her answer quickly.

MS BETTNEY: - visited Paris and to Bayonne in the Basque country in France to try and achieve some of those co-operations.

Mr. Speaker, if I could have just -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has ended.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, youth and youth-related issues are of high priority to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Young people in our Province are making valuable contributions to our social and economic development; contributions which are providing valuable input into the many policy changes of government.

Today, I am pleased to table the 2001-2002 Annual Report for the Department of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to table six reports for boards and agencies associated with my department, namely: the College of the North Atlantic, the Student Investment and Opportunities Corporation, the Provincial Apprenticeship Board, the Private Training Corporation, the Council on Higher Education and Memorial University Pension Fund.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, today it is my pleasure to table the 2001-2002 Annual Report for the Department of Health and Community Services, along with the reports for our fourteen health and community services boards. I want to point out to hon. members that the department has also prepared a CD-ROM containing all of the reports, and this is attached inside the back cover of the departmental annual report.

This afternoon, Mr. Speaker, I am also tabling copies of the Annual Report for the Premier's Council on Social Development. As you know, the Premier's Council advises on implementation on the Strategic Social Plan and other social policy issues. All of these reports are in keeping with government's commitment to openness and accountability and highlights our work and achievements during 2001-2002.

I look forward to working with officials in the department, the health and community services system and the Premier's Council on Social Development in the coming year as we continue to move forward with health and social initiatives for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On March 19, 2002, government made the commitment that annual reports for departments and agencies would be tabled during the sitting of the Legislature. Government is and will remain open and accountable to the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to table the Annual Report for the Department of Works, Services and Transportation for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2002. The report details many of our achievements and accomplishments for the department over the year 2001-2002. The report shows that our staff have worked diligently to provide safe, efficient and sustainable transportation and public works infrastructure for the people of this Province.

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to table in the House today the Annual Report of the Department of Environment for 2001-2002. This past year saw the Department of Environment make progress in a number of areas related to its mandate. The provision of safe, clean drinking water for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador continues to be a priority for this government. As the lead government agency on drinking water safety, the Department of Environment made public its action plan on drinking water quality when we released the Source To Tap document two years ago.

Working with the Departments of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Health and Community Services, and Government Services and Lands, we implemented the Multi-Barrier Strategic Action Plan. In the 2001 Speech from the Throne, this government committed to the development of a long-term provincial strategy to address solid waste management. In that year we appointed a Waste Management Advisory Committee and that Committee conducted public consultations throughout the Province and provided its recommendations to government in the fall of 2001. This work provided the foundation for the Newfoundland and Labrador Waste Management Strategy which was released in April, 2002.

These key areas only touch the surface of the initiatives of the Department of Environment but they are representative of the commitments made and the commitments kept by this government. The Annual Report for the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board, Mr. Speaker, was previously tabled in December, 2002.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I wish to table the 2001-2002 Annual Report for the Department of Mines and Energy, and the 2001-2002 Annual Report for the Bull Arm Site Corporation. The 2001 annual reports for the other six agencies which report to my department, namely: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro; Churchill Falls-Labrador Corporation Limited; Gull Island Power Company Limited; Lower Churchill Development Corporation Limited; Twin Falls Power Corporation Limited, and the Canada -Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, were tabled in the House last year. I will be tabling the 2002 reports for these agencies within a few months.

The Department of Mines and Energy was very active in fiscal 2001-2002. First oil was produced in the Province's second oil project, Terra Nova. The White Rose project was sanctioned by Husky Energy and Petro Canada. The offshore boundary arbitration with Nova Scotia moved forward, negotiations resumed with Inco to develop the Voisey's Bay deposit in Labrador, and negotiations continued regarding the development of the Lower Churchill River.

The department also worked on increasing exploration investment through promotional activities, meetings with key stakeholders, attending national and international conferences, strengthening our incentive programs, developing new mineral and petroleum data bases for the exploration community, and generally making our Province more attractive to investors.

Mr. Speaker, I invite members to review our accomplishments in fiscal 2001-2002. This report documents the very successful efforts of the dedicated and extremely competent people in our department. They are accomplishing a lot in serving the citizens of our Province well. We will continue doing that in the years ahead, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to table the 2001-2002 Annual Report for the Department of Labour, which highlights the activities of the department for this fiscal year.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table for the hon. members, two additional reports for agencies which report to my department. They are: the Annual Report of the Labour Relations Board, and the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division Annual Report. These reports are tabled today as part of government's continuous commitment to be open and accountable to the public.

The mandate of the Department of Labour is to foster a positive labour relations climate which is conducive to economic growth, competitiveness, prosperity, and to promote and ensure safe, healthy workplaces.

The annual report shows that we are working hard and successfully to meet this mandate. We are seeing a continual decrease in the loss of time claims accepted by the Workplace Health and Safety Review Commission. This is extremely encouraging, as employment within the Province is also on the increase.

I am pleased to present the 2002 Annual Report of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division. This reports provides an overview of the activities of the review board throughout 2002.

The continuing efforts of the division are a reflection of government's commitment to injured workers and employers in Newfoundland and Labrador. The dedication and hard work of the staff of the division is evidenced in the fact that there is no current backlog of cases within the WHSCRD and we currently have the shortest waiting period on workers' compensation appeals in Canada.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to present the Annual Report of the Labour Relations Board. The Labour Relations Board is a quasi-judicial board established to adjudicate and mediate disputes under the Labour Relations Act, the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act, and the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act and others.

During 2002, the board continued to work closely with employees, unions and employers to respond effectively to the challenges and opportunities presented to the board. I would like to commend them on their initiative and look forward to working with them in the future.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Labour will continue to work with industry stakeholders on major initiatives designed to improve workplace labour relations and health and safety. Building on the progress of our strategic approach, the Department of Labour will continue to respond to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for us.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: In accordance with the Internal Economy Commission Act I hereby table the Report of the Commission of Internal Economy for the fiscal year April 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002.

Answers to Questions for Which Notice has been Given

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

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present a report of a question from the Member for Labrador West regarding details with respect to funding provided by the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund for projects that took place in Labrador under the heading: Other Labrador Initiatives.

The question was basically centering around the activities from 1997-1998, up to and including March 31, 2003. The question was made to the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. Also, that such schedules should include the date and approval, the amount approved, the location of each project and the description of that work.

I table that information now.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide just a little more information to the question that was asked me during Question Period with respect to The Rooms, because I think it is important that people of the Province understand that in the past, because of the state of the facilities we have with the museum, the archives and the art gallery, that we have not even been able to receive exhibitions from other provinces or from other countries. The state and the condition that we would have to hold them in was such that these countries and other provinces did not wish to loan us their exhibitions. It is very important now, with the new facility coming on in 2004, that we be in a position to take advantage of these resources; to share our culture with them and to help share what they have of ours with people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, there is one other piece of information which I think people will find interesting. When I met with the government officials in London, one of the things they were able to provide my officials and I with, at the time, was an exhibition of plates, very old photographic plates that dated back to the Grenfell days in Labrador. They had them there, that somebody had donated to the Government of England. The Government of England, as a result of my visit, offered to return them to this Province. So, that is one very tangible outcome.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the discussions that we had with the Government of France, we have since learned, since my return, that the Government of France has already contributed $15,000 towards the Francophone celebrations in 2004 here in this Province. They will be contributing $15,000 towards the building of chaloupe, which we see as being a very important part of our Francophone history. I am very pleased with the outcome of those two trips.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday the Member for St. John's East asked me about the selection procedures for candidates applying for the international Baccalaureate scholarship for those students that we are going to give scholarships to, to attend Holy Heart of Mary next year. I have that information. I would like to table it.


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

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to bring forth a petition to this House from residents in my district, certainly residents of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In particular, from the residents of the Marysvale and Georgetown areas, addressing the conditions of their roads. In particular, a road in Marysvale, Ryan's Road.

I would just like to read to you the petition. The prayer is that they certainly need improvements to the conditions and physical state of Ryan's Road in Marysvale. They have to use the road on a daily basis to gain access to the only variety store, convenience store in the area. They are asking, if possible, to make sure this road is upgraded, perhaps paved at best. The drainage problems need to be properly addressed. The bottom of the road should be taken care of through pavement, regardless, to prevent future problems. Certainly, they would thank the members of this House and the government for listening and doing something about it.

This is an extension of a previous petition to this House. Again, it is a petition that is necessary because this particular road, Ryan's Road in Marysvale, leads to the only convenience store in the area; that is the Hilltop Video and variety store.

This particular stretch of road, this Ryan's Road, has been problematic for the customers and the residents using this road. Problematic, not only at certain times of the year, but almost all times; especially when you get any deluge of rain or snow. The point of it is that this is a gravel road and it needs upgrading. It should be taken care of by the maintenance of the local depot, but in consultation with the depot I came to the realization that they are hard pressed, I suppose, to come forth with the materials required to carry out this job. Namely, even the very basics of Class A gravel that is necessary to bring this road up to a standard that is acceptable.

The thing about it too is that this convenience store, being the only store in the area, certainly there is a great volume of traffic back and forth over this road. We have complaints from these customers that they are tearing mufflers off their vehicles, they are tearing up their tires, scraping the bottoms of their vehicles. In general, customers are virtually saying that on bad days when this road is in a bad state, which is just about every second day, they are bypassing and going -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEDDERSON: By leave, just a minute to finish up.


In finishing up, Mr. Speaker: The petition certainly is brought forth by these people. They would like, again, for the minister to make a commitment, not just to put it on the list but to make sure that the money is available to allow the local depot to upgrade this road to a standard that is acceptable for the safety of the motoring public.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, rise today - and we spoke yesterday, also, for two hours in this House - to present a petition, again, on behalf of the residents of Harbour Round in my district. I will read the petition first and then have a few comments.

We, the undersigned residents of Harbour Round, in the District of Baie Verte, do hereby petition the House of Assembly to upgrade and pave our roads. The deplorable and unfit condition of the roads in our area makes traveling to and from school unsafe for our children, as well as jeopardizes the safety of the residents and the traveling public, hurts economic growth opportunities and depicts government's lack of commitment to rural areas of our Province.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we spent two hours of debate in this House talking about road conditions throughout the Province. Each member on both sides of the House, from all areas of the Province, talk about the situation we are facing this year, probably the worst ever, as we see the list of bad roads grow throughout this Province, of over 1,500 kilometres of old pavement throughout the Province, and, on top of that, 900 kilometres of gravel road on the Island portion and hundred and hundreds of kilometres on the Labrador portion.

Mr. Speaker, year after year, day after day, especially rural members - I know I have presented a number of these petitions. On behalf of the people of Harbour Round today, who last week, Mr. Speaker, when we saw a little bit of spring, which should be good news for most people - it is bad news in that, as one parent described it, it is the end of the season of winter pavement. The roads are starting to thaw out and we are starting to see the old pavement break up and chip away. Worse again, in this particular area of my district, Mr. Speaker, the people in Harbour Round have the gravel roads to contend with.

As many of them have said many times - and these were school children mostly, who were so upset last week. When we did see the good weather and it was starting to get a little bit warmer, with these gravel roads, as they are described over and over, driving over the potholes is like driving over - what is the word they use when they scrub the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Washboard.

MR. SHELLEY: Washboard, that is right. One of the members used it earlier today. It is like driving over a washboard time and time again, especially when they see these roads day after day.

Mr. Speaker, the point I make today is for the students. I have talked to many of those students day after day. As a matter of fact, I sat on a bus with some students in Woodstock just a short while ago. They asked me to sit in the back of the bus and see what they had to face every single morning going to school and what they had to face every evening coming home.

As many parents know, it is a chore these days, lots of times, to keep encouraging children to go to school with all kinds of other problems. When you have to look at a bus ride - we have to remember, after the school reform, the distances that these children have to travel now are further than they were before. They are traveling over long distances on deplorable road conditions, and it is certainly not encouraging to have you child get up every morning and face that, and then after a long day in school get on those buses and head back home again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, these are the types of petitions. People throughout the Province with these road conditions are asking this government to finally live up to what they should do with the deplorable road conditions in our Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of approximately 1,000 students in the Conception Bay South and area, I guess all around Conception Bay. It came about, I guess, as a visit from my colleague from Harbour Main-Whitbourne and myself to Queen Elizabeth High in Foxtrap. I will just read the prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

We, the undersigned citizens of Conception Bay South and Holyrood area, wish to bring to your attention the lack of programs available for students to travel to Labrador on exchange trips;

WHEREAS it is the duty of the provincial government to encourage cultural exchanges within our Province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS programs have been cancelled that allowed for interprovincial cultural exchanges;

THEREFORE your petitioners ask that government provide the necessary funding to allow for these cultural necessities.

As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Like I said, Mr. Speaker, I have almost 1,000 names there. I guess this all came about because of an industrious teacher by the name of Lynn Verge, a teacher of mine, actually, back in Queen Elizabeth.

AN HON. MEMBER: Lynn Verge?

MR. FRENCH: Lynn Vatcher, sorry.

She developed a theme, uniting Newfoundland and Labrador through the eyes of our youth, and it came about from students of English 2202 and Literature 2204. Actually, Mr. Speaker, they read a novel entitled Whiteout by Mr. John Houston, and they became extremely interested in the Aboriginal culture. Through their learning, they came to realize exactly how ignorant they were about the Aboriginal culture, especially the Innu of the North.

These students actually had a negative opinion of the Innu until, Mr. Speaker, they got into their studies and actually found out what it was all about. Of course, it is all because of negative stereotyping, as we know, and is certainly not surprising considering the media attention that has been given to Davis Inlet and Sheshatshiu for the last number of years.

Mr. Speaker, these students felt that unless they could experience the culture first-hand, they certainly would not be able to deal with the stereotyping. Of course, that is what they are hoping to do. It is interesting to note, and this came up not by prompting by me nor my colleague from Harbour Main-Whitbourne, but they said the first time they had followed the media on the Davis Inlet issue was the first time they discovered the $25,000 ad campaign that the government opposite was conducting at the time. They thought that, because of that, there should be, obviously, some money available for cultural exchanges.

This group of students, I guess, Mr. Speaker, consider themselves, or they explain to us that they were the forgotten ones. They are not able to avail of scholarship programs because of their levels in education. As well, Mr. Speaker, they are not all-star athletes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) to clue up.

MR. FRENCH: Just to clue up, yes.

As well, Mr. Speaker, they are not all-star athletes, and they certainly do not have the resources to partake in expensive sports.

There are a number of goals, as well, that these people have planned for themselves and they certainly would love to do an exchange with the people of Labrador, students of Labrador, where they could go and experience their culture.

Mr. Speaker, this is a government that talks about three members from Labrador. It is the first in history where two Cabinet ministers are from Labrador, and I suggest to them now to step to the plate, lobby the other Cabinet ministers and restore cultural exchange programs in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, before calling the motion that we will be debating today, I would like to move first reading of Motions 4 to 8 inclusive. Those are: Order 4, Bill 5; Order 5, Bill 6; Order 6, Bill 7; Order 7, Bill 9; and Order 8, which is Bill 8. Motions 4 through 8, Mr. Speaker, I move first reading.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board to introduce the following bills, carried:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act." (Bill 5)

A bill, "An Act to Amend The Income Tax Act No. 2." (Bill 6)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." (Bill 7)

On motion, Bills 5, 6 and 7 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services to introduce a bill, "An Act To Revise The Law About The Practice of Optometry," carried. (Bill 9)

On motion, Bill 9 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Emergency Measures Act," carried. (Bill 8)

On motion, Bill 8 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. LUSH: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker.

The motion is, "That this House Approves in General the Budgetary Policy of the Government." We are resuming the adjourned debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think I can safely say that I do not support this motion, that we approve the budgetary policy of this government. In fact, we do not even know what their plans or policies are. How can you approve what they do not even lay out?

The minister tells us they are going to balance the Budget 2008, and does not even give us any plan. Then she goes out in the media and says: Oh, we have a good plan. People agree with our plan.

Whenever we ever find it, maybe my colleague from Placentia & St. Mary's - I hope he finds that plan because we have not been able to see it. We have not been able to see that plan at all.

The last day when I adjourned debate, on Tuesday - yesterday being Private Members' Day - I was in the process of going through the different items in the Budget Speech, and I think I got as far as page 30 in the Budget book. There is a lengthy Budget Speech, a long speech that did not say a whole lot for the number of pages. I think it could have been condensed into two or three pages, but I feel an obligation to comment on it. I think I stopped on page 30 the last day.

I was speaking about the Municipal Debt Relief Program, and it is important. Over the past number of years there have been municipalities that have been able to avail of a program to get a debt burden lifted from them. I know of several municipalities in my district that had a tax burden that was too high. They had $700,000 or $800,000 of burdens on infrastructure, water and sewer, that they could not really meet the interest payments and there was no hope of ever paying off the principal.

The program did work in several communities, and I am sure all around this Province there are numerous other communities that had an opportunity to have a certain amount of that burden lifted. They were left with an amount that was felt they could adequately support, a debt level they could support. Of course, with a certain tax structure to ensure certain revenues coming in, basically in line with their budget, they could meet these. Since that, some have been able to do it with reasonable comfort, certainly with no excess funds but they have been able to meet their debt obligations, and other communities have had to struggle.

There is one particular community I know that has had to struggle to meet that, because, with the declining population, declining tax base and revenues coming in, it is kind of difficult to be able to meet that debt requirement.

Now, we have seen in this Province, there is a significant deficit of municipal infrastructure. We are talking about water and sewer, and there are also roads. The roads in our Province are in a bad state, and there are some municipalities that cannot afford to participate in a 50-50 cost-share on roads. I have spoke to many municipalities in my district that cannot come up with the $10,000 that is needed to cost-share the $20,000 expense on a municipal or council road, we will call them, or a town road.

So, it is kind of difficult to do that when you are a small community. In fact, one community in my district is so small that it only has a handful of taxpayers, only has about forty taxpayers, twenty-some residents. It is a town, it constitutes a town, so they cannot afford it. How do twenty-some people with no business base support an infrastructure program? It cannot be done. There are other communities even larger than that, with a few hundred people, that are not able to meet the ongoing needs for infrastructure.

So what is happening with roads now within towns? I am finding town roads right now are full of potholes. Some of them are in worse shape than if it was gravel road. The only consolation they have in spring thawing is that we find that at least there is some pavement to maneuver around the potholes. In other areas there is a lot of damage. People reported damage even on highways, with a lot of potholes and a lot of work needing to be done.

Towns do not have that money in little communities, and there are many of them around my district. I am not going to get into naming all of the communities. Some of them have made representation. They would love to be able to do the work, but they cannot do it unless they can come up with their own share of money. So if they can never cost-share it, what is going to happen? Year after year the condition gets progressively worse and there is just no money there to be able to do it.

We have seen around our Province there has been a significant amount of money pumped into roads over the past number of years. The former federal minister, John Crosbie, negotiated a deal in the Province here to spend, I think $800 million is the figure to be used on roads over a period of fifteen years, from 1988-2003. This year we are seeing the end of that road infrastructure program. We are in bad need now of negotiating with the federal government an infrastructure program for roads in our Province. When the railway went, we got an infusion of money. The roads have been able, at $800 million, for the Trans-Canada and trunk roads, to put a significant infrastructure in place. Now we have to be able to maintain that and there are still some areas that need to be done.

I have spoken with people in different parts of this country - people who have come here to visit - and the roads that have been completed in the last fifteen years have been in very good shape. It has been very positive and tourists comment on that, but other areas are bad. If only we could negotiate another road infrastructure program with a federal-provincial to hopefully be able to do other areas of the Trans-Canada and trunk roads, because the trunk roads system - even in my district I will make reference. In my district, from Witless Bay area, within the town, back to the Witless Bay Line needs to be done. That is only a short section about a couple of kilometres in length. It is not significant in length. Then, another section between Cape Broyle and Ferryland needs to be done, and then just south of Ferryland. In a lot of areas of that main highway there are a lot of potholes.

As I was going up to Trepassey on Saturday, I took note of the many areas you have to navigate around potholes and so on, on the highway. I guess, fortunately in one sense, for driving purposes, there is not a huge amount of traffic in that area because we have seen a declining population. It is fortunate, from the driving perspective, because when you are not meeting somebody you can move around those potholes, but there is a significant deterioration of our roads and our structure. We need to have a significant input into it.

Also, even here - and I understand there is a problem dealing at the municipal level on the Goulds bypass road. One of the ramps on the Goulds bypass road - two years the road has been constructed. It is finished and it has not opened. I understand there were concerns in getting the city to address the area of Goulds Elementary School there, or the primary school in that area, to be able to address those concerns in that particular area because there are no sidewalks and kids are going to school there. People are contacting me, indicating that there is ramp, an access to that particular road, put in place and it is not even opened up two years later. That is the only ramp off that road from the time you leave Bay Bulls Big Pond until you get into the Ruby Line, and it has not been opened.

What is happening is, you are not moving as much traffic off the Goulds road as you normally would. If that was open, any traffic that has a destination to the Goulds area could be using that particular ramp, coming off that ramp, and they have not been using that. I have had numerous requests about that. Hopefully, it will be put in place this year that the city - if that is still the delay. The last time I checked, I spoke with people in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, and that was the concern at that time. Whether it is planned to be rectified now, I am not entirely sure, but I made that inquiry when I had a lot of calls from people on it.

Mr. Speaker, we need an infrastructure program to continue the effort across the Province, because a good portion of our Trans-Canada now, I must say, significant work has gone in out of this federal money, this influx of federal money. On trunk roads, there are many nice highways now. If you go down to CBS, even the Goulds bypass road, out to CBN and those areas, which I drive on some of these roads reasonably frequently, I find that they are in good condition, I must say. They expedite traffic. They keep traffic from going through the communities. It was really a major problem. If you had to drive from St. John's, down the Roaches Line, go to Carbonear before Harbour Grace, it was a nightmare with all of those communities. I know Mr. Speaker would certainly be familiar with that area there. Now, with Veterans' Memorial Drive, I think that is the correct name of that road there, I had an opportunity there just a while ago to drive that and it certainly makes things a lot easier. It moves traffic off the other areas in those communities, and makes it a little bit easier for people to move about within those communities.

The same thing will happen with the Goulds area too. I think traffic on the road in the Goulds area will be lessened somewhat because people who would normally be going from my district into the Bidgood's Plaza area there, who now have to go out through the Goulds area, will be able to come down Doyle's Road area when that is completed. That will move traffic off that main road going through the Goulds, and expedite things there. However, it could cause some problems to the Doyle's Road area, and hopefully that will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction very shortly.

We have seen a fair amount of road work done. We look in Labrador, for example, the Trans-Labrador Highway, where we received a chunk of money from the federal government in lieu of taking over the ferry system to Labrador. The ferry system, to run it here, this Island to Labrador, costs a fair amount of money. They had projected that the cost would go down as the road got completed, and the traffic volumes would go down and so on, but, what has happened? That did not happen. The cost had gone up to over $20 million. I think it was in the $22 million range, the difference between the revenues they take in and their expenses. Along with trying to do the highway, the pot of money would get depleted and you would use it up. In the next several years we would find that the money would be run out and then we have to face meeting that shortfall out of provincial funds forever, actually. Forever! Still we do not have the funds to complete the highway. It is imperative, too, that we see a link between Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Lake Melville area down to Cartwright, where the new road begins to connect it down to Red Bay - which was isolated before. These communities were isolated. People had to depend on other modes of transportation to get there, either fly there - wintertime. People operate, and still do, by snowmobile in the wintertime. It is important to have an appropriate system of transportation because transportation is vital, Mr. Speaker. It is vital to businesses operating. It is vital to the efficient moving of goods and services, and for people. Also, to encourage people to spend their money. If they move around more there is more business generated, the mobility and so on. This isolation is being eliminated with the Trans-Labrador Highway, and that is the very positive step, I might add. It is great to see it. It is great to see everybody getting hooked up to that particular link.

Even St. Lewis, a decision was made after on that. Pinsent Arm, I believe, was raised in addition, I understand. But, the main highway certainly is well along and, hopefully, over the next while we will see some work and a strong inroads made between Cartwright and back to the Lake Melville area. I think it is vital for communication. It is vital to bring the people of Labrador closer to the Island portion of the Province, not only physically, but in all aspects. It is important. We are part of one Province. We want people there to feel a strong part of our Province. I think we have to do things that would bring us closer together, not facilitate the movement of goods and all services through Quebec into our Province. The more we can bring it together, the more positive it is for our future and the future of Labrador; and the needs, too, of Labrador, in particular, because it is a particularly expensive area to visit. It is expensive for people there. Thank God, traditionally, most people there have had good paying jobs or employment was very high especially with mining towns there and people were able to have a decent standard of living.

As we find out, as the workforce shrinks at those mines and more automation and equipment occurs, we are seeing a decline in populations there. I know at one time there were thirty-some hundred people working at IOC. To my knowledge now, it is down to about half of that amount approximately, which means there are less employed directly there with automation, new advances and so on. It is important to stay competitive there. We understand those things but what that means is there are more areas - there is a higher chance of unemployment then in those areas and there is a higher reliance, I think, on other services, whether it would be under social programs in our Province because of that.

So, a healthy workforce, a high participation rate in the workforce and a high employment rate are all conducive to the health and economy of our Province. There are strong indicators of the fiscal ability of a Province to prosper and grow. We cannot just look at factors like the GDP and say because our GDP is going up that things are great. Well, things are not great just because it is going up.

I heard the minister making reference there also that: look, we have been so successful - she said in the media yesterday - at growing our provincial revenues. One thing they have been more successful at, Mr. Speaker, is growing our debt. Because our debt, compared to provincial revenues, was $235 million two years ago; 235 per cent of provincial revenues. The projection now is that our deficit is 258 per cent. So, the debt has gone up significantly in terms of our revenues. Our debt is now 258 per cent of the revenues that we are taking in, when it was only 235. How can you say we have been successful at growing our revenues? If you are, you have been more successful at growing our debt. It is all right to grow provincial revenues if they are going up. But, Mr. Speaker, when the debt goes up faster than the revenues, there is something wrong. That is telling us we are getting deeper in debt. There is a bigger problem occurring. There is a problem we are passing on to our children.

The goal of this government should be to reduce that from 258 per cent, the debt, as a source of provincial revenues and get it down. Start that downward trend because that means we have an economy that is more prosperous. That shows why we may be making more money. That is like the person who goes out and gets an increase in wages at $10,000 a year and goes out and spends $15,000 more because they got a $10,000 raise. That, to me, Mr. Speaker, is not fiscal responsibility. It is not what we should be doing. That is not addressing the concerns of our Province. That is turning your back. That is telling people in this Province today - the children there - that you are going to have to assume a higher debt because of our irresponsibility.

What are the people saying to the government and telling them? Young people are telling government: we do not want your debt. We will go out and take the debt in Alberta where we can get a job where it is a lot lower; or Ontario or some other part of the country. Any other part of the country is not as heavily indebted as the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Economist will tell you that. I have references here which I will get to a little later, on another topic, where we are fiscally. I will talk about that and some of the statements that were made yesterday a little later this afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, I was talking about the Trans-Labrador Highway and transportation, but another important part of this whole thing in Labrador is a ferry replacement program; not only for the people of Labrador. People of this Province, too, depend on the ferry service. Close to St. John's there is Bell Island. In particular, other large populations use it in Fogo Island and also a much smaller population on Change Islands. There are others right across - in different areas of the Province, from the south coast. We had one - in fact, it was just a resettled community there that was depending on the ferry service. So we have ferry services depending on many parts of the Province; St. Brennan's and others. There are numerous ones out there.

We are finding that this government has been saying for a decade - I do not know but more - they have been saying: a vessel replacement program. They have a plan to replace the ferry system. We are seeing an aging fleet of vessels in our Province. It is going up. The ages are going up immensely. Some are beyond their lifespan, in the high thirty years of age. What did the government do to try to alleviate it? As my colleague for Cape St. Francis says, they went over and hired a rust bucket in Estonia, that does not meet any standards, for $500,000 U.S. At that time, in the ballpark of $750,000 or a little more Canadian. Now the figures are about $8 million and climbing. Well beyond the halfway point of getting a brand new vessel built that could have been built here in our Province.

We are putting all these things on the back burner and it is taking its toll, Mr. Speaker. We are putting in a roads program that is only half what is usually spent from a provincial budget. Our roads are in desperate shape in most parts of our Province, as I have just addressed. The federal money that came has improved the Trans-Canada. This pot of money that came, with the Trans-Canada and the trunk roads agreement, has improved those areas, no doubt, but in other parts of our Province, we can't get to them fast enough. They are way beyond their time, to where it is causing a lot of damage to vehicles and people. There are a lot of complaints because the roads are in such terrible shape. Sometimes there is no identification there to tell you, you are coming up to a pothole that you might even get lost in, or ruts and so on. Some of them are there and people are not even aware of them. In fact, people have been cut back, staff wise, and I guess they can't keep ahead of it. One of my colleagues said: If you had to keep putting them up wherever they are to, it would be easier to put up a sign saying, there is no pothole on this stretch, because it is getting to that point in some areas.

Ferry replacement is important. They are going to consider replacing it. That is what the Budget said: We will consider replacing the Hamilton Sound. That is pretty good news in the Budget, to say we are going to consider something. It is not a very concrete or very compelling thing to tell people who are depending on an aging ferry system. We have seen trouble in the past. I think my colleague from Baie Verte made reference to one before. They had the boat in the water and it kept going around and around and around. It was like a spin top. They had tremendous trouble in the past with some of these vessels. So, it is important that something be done, because we are at the point now where we are going to have to spend tens and tens of millions to get us back on an even par to where we were ten or fifteen years ago on the ferry system. We are going to have to spend millions and millions to get our road system back to where it was ten or fifteen years ago. We are going to have to spend millions and millions on other infrastructure to get us back to where we were to.

What we are doing is, we are allowing a depletion of assets where there is an infusion of money needed. We have gotten to the point where we have not been managing our expenditures, controlling and making decisions. We have done a lot of patch work and band-aid approaches that waste money. We have got to use it to get something there of greater permanency, so that, Mr. Speaker, our transportation system, our ferry system - there are a fair number of people in this Province who depend on a ferry system.

MR. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon? There are a fair number of people who depend on a ferry system in this Province, on the South Coast and the minister, who just passed a comment there across the House, in his district too, on Fogo Island and in the Twillingate area. There is a strong dependancy on it there, too, I might add.

We can see that an efficient service is important, one that is accessible. There are significant numbers who live there. I am not sure of the number, but I think in the vicinity of 3,000 people, probably, on Fogo Island. I think there are a couple of hundred or so people, in that range, on Change Island, on the north end of the island, who depend on it. There are traditionally numerous other areas. Bell Island is another fairly populated area. So, efficient service is important, and a service that is competitive.

If you want to talk about transportation in general, across the Gulf of St. Lawrence: People come here, but a lot of people turn around in Cape Breton with the costs there and getting the availability and getting traffic through. If someone has just a week of vacation left, they don't want to spend a day or two waiting to get a crossing at a higher cost. They will see Cape Breton and see other areas.

Now, we have been successful in increasing tourism here because people who come here, see what is here. They see what we have to offer. They have something special in Newfoundland and Labrador, they have a people. One of things people comment on most - it is not just the beautiful scenery or certain aspects they like, whether it is areas like my district, archeology or historic premises or whether it is in Bonavista, or Barbour House, wherever it is. Every district has a lot of things to offer. Things that people remark to me a lot about are the people. The people are different. You know, they are friendlier. They are more hospitable. They can drive down a road in rural Newfoundland and someone will speak to you, and chat with you and so on. They are a friendly people because people grew up that way.

People in rural Newfoundland grew up, and in urban areas, and knew each other in the neighbourhoods and so on; not like big cities. People did not go to bed and lock their doors. They left their keys in their cars, and things of that nature. Now we are seeing a little change from that to a degree, but still, there is something about rural Newfoundland, especially when you look at the elderly people, the friendliest. Hopefully, it will be passed on to future generations so people in the future will be able to offer that as probably one of our best attractions, our people here in the Province.

So, these are some of the things, but people need to get here. With the increasing cost of transportation - the cost of flying here is becoming expensive. It's fairly expensive now. At least there is a competition out there now. Other areas are offering reasonably cheap fares to get from here to Halifax, or Toronto or wherever. Competition in the industry is important. It is healthy in industry. People in Labrador know about transportation and the cost, and the lack of competitiveness sometimes that drives up fares. Competition keeps businesses down. It keeps fares down for people. It drives you to a more competitive business. You need to run a more efficient business with competition there. So, that is all a part of it. They look at cost cutting. They look at dealing with what the consumer wants, and sometimes they may reduce consumer demands in what they offer in flights to get cheaper fares. There are a variety of things that are happening with competition in the industry there.

Of course, we know today that there is trouble in our major carrier in Canada. They filed for bankruptcy protection. That puts the future - it raises certain question marks there. Although most people, I think, believe that we are going to see a continuation of our major carrier here in the country but other areas are stepping up and providing the competition to allow people to be able to avail of cheaper flights. That is positive in terms of tourism because if there are limitations, especially in the summertime, it is vital that we have sufficient numbers. That is why our transportation and tourism ministers - I am sure they are cognizant of that and will be working together to reduce the barriers that are preventing people from coming here, spending their money and adding to the coffers of our Province; coming here for certain attractions. Our Province has a lot to offer under these particular areas.

Transportation is one of the most important factors in operating a business. The cost of getting goods and services, not only to the business but getting them to the market is vital. I know a little bit about that, having spent twenty years in business moving products and services to different parts of the world - from Japan and the UK, the United States and other areas in Europe and elsewhere - that transportation is important. We are dealing with different transportation modes. We are dealing with different currencies. We are dealing with other areas. But, transportation is vital. If we do not have competition on these routes we are going to find that it is more difficult to do business. So we have to move toward tearing down barriers in transportation. I know with the tariffs, for example - my colleague from The Straits & White Bay North has talked about it. He talked about the importance of reducing tariffs for the export of products here. Shrimp, for example, is one particular one. Why are they going to come back here to process it and pay a 20 per cent tariff on that? We need to remove barriers.

In the UK, for example, you could not completely - when in business - skin the fillet and take the bone out and send it there because of tariffs. So you had to sell it with the skin on. You had to fillet it and send it with the skin on. The market, of course, wanted that to a degree but also because there were certain prohibitive tariffs that prevented moving goods and services into countries.

The European Union has moved, in light of a global economy, to tear down barriers within countries of the European Union. We need to do that between us and the European Union. We need to do it as done between us and the United States. Most people today fought the free trade issue. The Government of Canada, at the time, moved forward. That was the Mulroney government. They said: free trade is important between Canada and the United States for opening up boarders. There is a big market in the United States. If we could move into that market, which is ten times the size of ours, there could be new opportunities. There was resistance that it would destroy our economy; it would have an adverse effect. The Prime Minister of the day stood and opposed this. As soon as he got in and got elected, he wanted to expand it to North America; take all of North America into it because they seen that there were positives. The Ontario manufacturing industries and other spin-off industries. We tore down barriers and we opened up new doors for exports around North America under this particular agreement. They seen the benefits of that.

I do not want to get into it, but there were also a couple of other promises that came at that time. It was not on transportation, so I will make quick reference to them. That is the time when they talked about what they would do with the GST if they were elected. The Prime Minister: When we get elected the GST is gone. Was that the one Sheila Copps resigned over? After she did a poll and found out she would get re-elected, then she resigned and got re-elected to keep her commitment. When they got in the GST stayed, of course. They figured they needed that revenue on GST. Of course, the helicopters, they scrapped that. We have a force that needs, or is in bad need of helicopters. Now they have to go back and do it again because they left a gap without having sufficient resources there. So, we are dealing with the same problems.

You have to look and think, they must be of a political nature, those types of things, because you do not agree with them when you are in Opposition, but when you get in you agree with them. There are lots of things. I think we have to move beyond political things. If you realized something and you got in power and said: look, it can work better this way. I think the flexibility and the commitment to change is positive, and it is important.

Sometimes everybody do not have access to all the facts. When you get them you might change your opinion. You might change an opinion when all the facts are laid on the table. I believe that we have to look at things in the full perspective and make the best decisions. Governments have reversed decisions in the past the same as that. Why do you stick with it, if you think a decision is wrong? The way I look at it, if you are in business and you think you are doing something wrong and hurting your business, you cut fast. You would cut your losses quick and move on to something more positive. That is the same way it should be with the taxpayers' money. You should do the same thing. I think it is important.

A Future of Jobs and Growth in the Province: Of course, the Strategy for Jobs and Growth, we all have seen that and looked at it. There has to be an overall, not only a strategy but a direct and strong effort made to increase labour productivity in our Province. Labour productivity is important. Labour productivity is one of the markets of a successful economy, and a measure of the fiscal performance of a Province.

Employment, unemployment, marks your fiscal performance in a province. It is very important. And, of course, when you look at how a province is doing, are we doing well? You have to look at a lot of factors. You have to look at our tax structure and our taxation. We are one of the highest taxed individuals in the country, our Province, the highest taxes.

If major companies want to put offices here, and their employees are getting a fairly good income, would you put it in an office where the personal income taxes are higher or lower?

I know of an individual who told me he is living in an area - I will not name the place - that has a lower taxation, in Europe, rather than here. He could even live here, because when you are offshore it does not matter where you live. He is living there because of the really low taxation. It is enticing. He said: I do not want to lose $20,000 or $30,000 of my income on taxation. I can provide a better life for my family. I have more income, much more access to major centres of the world from where they are living, because taxation does drive businesses to locate in areas.

Not just business tax, I might add. Personal income is a very important determinant in where businesses develop and the rate that you would charge. That is important. Of course there are other factors, and I am not naive enough to think it is the only factor. There are numerous factors: closeness to market, closeness to supply and so on. There is transportation, access to transportation. That is why I say in this Province, and I made reference to it earlier, transportation is a impediment in this Province to carrying on activity and the movement of goods and the provision of certain services. It is important. We have to minimize. We can never eliminate our geographical barrier in terms of some businesses, but we can reduce the handicaps there, or we could look at our location as positive in some other area. While it may be a handicap in a certain business, there are positives that it can have in other businesses. It is away from the main stream. It is quieter, more peaceful, an attraction to tourists. In today's market, with the high access to technologies today, business can be carried out in different parts of the world. The location sometimes is not the particular determining factor in a lot of particular provisions of certain services.

One of the references made here in dealing with that is Payroll Tax Relief. Up to now, it references here that it will increase to $600,000 or less, you will be exempt from paying the payroll tax. Above that, between $600,000 and $700,000, you are going to pay a decreasing amount in that particular category depending where you are. There is a phase approach between the $600,000 and $700,000, and beyond $700,000 you pay the full rate of payroll tax.

Most of the payroll tax, you might not realize, or most people might not realize - I know people close to the situation realize - the payroll tax that we take in, in our Province, if you look at, even here in this Budget, I will just make reference to the amount for the benefit of knowing how much we are really taking in, in payroll tax, it is $88 million we are proposing to pay in payroll tax. Forty-two per cent of that is paid by ourselves, to ourselves. That is an in-and-out item. Forty-two per cent of $88 million, so that is, I guess, in the mid-thirties. Forty-two per cent of payroll tax we pay ourselves, to ourselves. Really, only 58 per cent of the payroll tax - about $50 million of that $88 million, really, in that ballpark - we get from other sources, and 1.7 per cent of that or 1.8 per cent of that comes from municipalities. Municipalities in our Province pay a per cent of that. The federal government pays about 9.5 per cent of that tax. If you look at it all, governments are paying about 53 per cent. Out of the $88 million of income tax, 47 per cent is coming from business. That is less than half of $88 million,. You are looking at about $42 million to $43 million that is coming from businesses. The rest is coming from government, municipalities to a lesser extent. To a great extent the bulk of it, then, out of the rest, is coming from our own Province. We pay $35 million into our own coffers and then we take it out. That is not even a figure, basically, that affects our bottom line, where it is an in-and-out item.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Forty-four per cent of $88 million, I say to the minister. If you want to work it out, I said around 42 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I said provincial. Forty-two per cent of $88 million, I am sure he could work it out. I would say it is in the vicinity of about $36 million, if I had to take a quick guess at it.

Mr. Speaker, with small businesses in particular trying to get off the ground, they struggle. I think it is important, and certain incentives are needed. In act, the minister states here - and I will just finish on the payroll tax - in the minister's Budget Speech she said this would remove, by increasing up to $600,000 and then have it phased in between $600,000 and $700,000, this addition this year will remove160 employers from the tax roll, saying there are 2,200 employers now who do not have to pay the payroll tax since 1998. There is an additional 120 employers who will benefit from a tax reduction, because there were 120 employers who came within the range, I guess, of between $600,000 and $700,000 of payroll income.

Whatever way you look at it, this tax, a payroll tax, is a tax on payroll, a tax on salaries, and salaries are paid to people who work. It is a tax on jobs, so payroll tax is a tax on jobs. There is no doubt about it. When you put a tax on jobs, what does a company do? What does a small business do, if they have enough employees to have a payroll where twenty employees, for example, could end up paying tax easy enough? If you have twenty or twenty-five employees and you are at the level now that: Look, I am about $600,000 and my payroll is going to go over $600,000 - between $600,000 and $700,000. Before, I guess, they would said: If I have an extra employee, I am going to go over on that and I am going to have to pay a payroll tax, so we will get by with one less. We will get by with a payroll that is just slightly less, and the efforts would be made to keep the payroll down. That might be extra work, where you might reduce an employee. Now, by putting it in between $600,000 and $700,000, well, at least it says to an employer: If it goes to $620,000, at least I am going to get a break. A marginal break is going to decrease on that extra difference. So that sort of eases your way in and says: Well, it is not a big amount. It is only those that are $700,000 now who are ones that are going to have to pay the full shot over the $700,000 payroll. So you can see it is a carrot to dangle for those that fall into that category, no doubt about it.

We have seen small businesses in our Province get a lower rate, basically, on their corporate income tax, the corporate income tax of 14 per cent. Small businesses now have said the small business threshold - I think the small business one was 5 per cent, the reduction in what constitutes a small business. The minister said that, the threshold of income now, above which a corporation will pay tax at a much higher rate, is set at $200,000. Then she goes on to say: It will increase by 50 per cent over the next four years.

Well, it will, but this follows on the heels of the federal government because the federal government has announced that small business is going to be from $200,000 to $300,000, so it is kind of impractical to have our Province at one level and the federal government at another. It can be done. We do it provincially with taxes. In fact, provincially we have three tax brackets, personal income tax, and federally we have four now. So we have seven tax brackets now. When at one point we had ten, and we simplified to three, now we are gone back up to seven again. We are making the tax more difficult and more complicated now, that ordinary people cannot even fill out their own tax form. They have to do a provincial now and a federal one at different tax levels.

I was on the business tax, and they have indicated that it is going to increase. The federal government announced that they are going to increase it, so the Province figured we might as well follow along with the federal government because if not we are going to be getting red tape and differences in calculation of taxes. So we will move it the same as the federal government is doing. It will go from $200,000 to $225,000 next year, and $250,000 the year after, and $275,000 and then up to $300,000. So after four years of business then that has an income threshold of $300,000 will be considered a small business and they pay the low rate of tax of corporate income tax - small businesses - of 5 per cent instead of the 14 per cent.

That is positive for small businesses, no doubt about it, anything that can give small businesses a break to get off the ground. Most businesses do not start off as big businesses. People start off with small businesses and as their market increases, as the product they produce increases, or they seek new markets, expand their businesses, their employees go up in number, they need that little help at the early stages, basically, of their growth so they are not affected. That is very important, I might add, that we look at having small businesses able to get through difficult periods, because anybody who started in small business or who has been at small business - I have started at business, too, and you could call that small business, the beginning. Basically, you are working around the clock, and I have done that pretty well seven days a week. You work fifteen or twenty hours a day. Many days it is twenty-four hours before you get a break, around the clock, depending on the season and so on, and what is involved. Other times there are downtimes, but you have to work when it is there. Many people working in their own businesses, whether it is a small store, are working long hours today. They cannot really afford to hire many people. They are working as many hours as they can themselves. Businesses are finding it more difficult. The owners are worn out pretty well, exhausted from trying to put as much time as they can into their own businesses. They do not get a break. That is happening, whether it is in corner stores or whether it is in personal care homes. We are finding that people are spending long inordinate hours in their own businesses and so on. In numerous other types of businesses out there, people are doing it, too. I see it around, and every area around this Province has small business, because small businesses are the backbone of an economy. It is where the majority of jobs and growth is occurring. Big businesses today out there, you are seeing a downsizing. Highly innovative technological advances are reducing workforces and so on, and the growth today in this country and in this Province is coming from small business. That is why you have to give them an enticement so that small businesses can get over that particular hump, the growing pains and so on, and be able to get a good productive workforce and be able to expand their business base. They it is important, that there be incentives to do it.

How many have ever heard tell of major corporations today increasing in capacity? When we have gone through computer companies, we have seen massive shutdowns in the technology sector. We have seen shutdowns in the automobile industry. We have seen reductions with companies like Bombardier, and numerous companies have gone through reductions in workforces. Sometimes, with contracts, it might drive workforces back up in cases and so on, but, generally speaking, we have seen big business reduced.

I made reference earlier, even a company like IOC in our Province had, I think, thirty-some hundred employees at one time and they are operating at roughly half that now, so we can see - their production levels have not gone down. They are still putting out significant tonnages there. In fact, what they have put out, I think, has increased, to my knowledge. I do not have all the figures on that. It is not my critic area, so I would not have it at my fingertips, but productivity has gone up with increased technology, new equipment, machinery. You have to invest to stay competitive. That is the important part of business.

That is not bad. We do not want to see less jobs. There might be less jobs there, but there are more jobs created because of new technology by the people designing these machines, by building these machines, by people servicing these machines and so on. There are other types of labour. There is a shift in the type of jobs and the type of labour that we see today. That is important. That has happened. So, the ordinary type job we saw years ago has changed a lot and we cannot just live in the past, because if we do not plan for the future and move along with the future, we quickly become a product of the past, and we cannot let that happen.

Also mentioned here, a Corporate Income Tax Holiday for New Small Businesses to start up. It says, "...during the next three years operating in designated growth sectors of the economy." Those sectors are listed in backup information here. I will not go through all of them but they are listed as certain sectors that are considered growth sectors that you would qualify. In other areas, the traditional sectors and so on, you are not going to get this corporate income tax holiday in those particular sectors there because they are not basically considered growth areas. They are ones there is competition in and so on. Why would you give someone a tax break, a new business, to compete against somebody who is in business and struggling to stay afloat? That is what we have to cognizant of, not serving one at the expense of another. We have heard too often, Mr. Speaker, and I have heard people complain, and questions have been asked in this House, where incentives have been given to a business to compete against another business that has forced them out of business. To me, we cannot be doing that. We cannot be unfairly giving one a competitive advantage over another. It cannot be done. We have to look at it in all fairness.

There is reference made to Venture Capital Tax Credit Program. It says it is going to be enhanced. So, I guess any particular enhancement in areas that would give credits in these areas is important. We also need investors, the people, venture capital and aspects - a flow of cash and availability for people to be able to get into business, because today if you want to go to a bank and borrow money you must have a detailed business plan. It is difficult to get money from a bank. They almost want - I have not gone looking for business loans for some time, I might add, but they want a lot of collateral. They want a large amount. If you are not into an established business and have an established credit rating that enables you to be able to operate and show that you have had successful business experience, it is pretty difficult for new people to start. So, emphasis has to be on helping develop new business and we are moving into new areas of business in our Province.

Over the past several years there have been areas in which we have seen growth in the technology sector to an extent, although the technology sector has hit a rough time. I think it is only a bump on the road, and we will get through this downturn, and we know in the sector under markets there has been a tremendous downturn. It is not permanent and, like most areas, you hit your peaks and your valleys and so on and you just have to be able to - hopefully, most companies are not overcapitalized during those valleys. That is really what happens when a lot of companies go under. Maybe what they do, they overcapitalize in good times and they put themselves in a tentative financial situation. They have to be cognizant not to always capitalize solely on borrowed money. If you sacrifice some of the basic equity or cash available on times to pay for parts of expansion, it reduces your debt and you are not as leveraged as much and you can more withstand downturns in the market situation. That is important.

I think what is needed, too, for businesses is business experience, business advice. Be active in educating people who are eager to learn. A lot of successful people today around the world, even in this Province and elsewhere, are success stories. I can name them; they are out there. I know of several who have gone bankrupt before. They started a business, went in it and learned through experience, through hard work, and they have rebounded. If they are entrepreneurial in nature, if they want to succeed, they will keep at it until they do, but it would be a lot easier if you could learn it without going into receivership and having to start up again. I think advice and knowledge imparted to people in that is important. I think we have to focus on doing that.

The minister announced there is a new Red Tape Reduction Committee. Well, I can tell you, it is a nightmare. It is a nightmare the red tape that somebody has to go through in terms of business, even in terms of anything here. If you want to get a school built there is red tape; from the school board to the Department of Education, to Works, Services and Transportation and back again, the bureaucracies, and so on. I experienced what is involved from dealing with cases in my district, and it is pretty frustrating.

So, new businesses out there with tremendous red tape - and people are eager to go into business. Everybody does not have the business experience to start a new business. If they are expanding they build up experience, but everybody is not always knowledgeable in accounting procedures. Some may have the know-how to do something, some may have some marketing ability, but not too many people can combine it all. Mr. Speaker, there are not too many people who can combine it all. When you have a small business you cannot afford to have an expert hired in everything because you will not have a very positive bottom line. You will not be in business for very long. That is why we need, at least, avenues that will reduce red tape.

The minister says, "A new Red Tape Reduction Committee, comprised of experienced and respected entrepreneurs, will be established in 2003. Its mandate will be to identify opportunities to reduce, streamline or eliminate the regulatory burden of government "red tape"..." Now, I am really interested in finding out what type of committee, the entrepreneurs on the committee, the time they have to devote to that committee, how it will operate and imparting basic knowledge and advice to streamline this bureaucracy of red tape that we deal with.

I am a strong believer, and I have always been a strong believer, that we do not need a string of management personnel up the line, going from one hand to another. We need to have more front line empowerment of people. We need to empower people in the front line to make decisions and back them up. If they do make a mistake they may have to learn it the hard way but we have to do that. We will streamline our costs. We will reduce management. We do not need the bottom lines of bureaucracy.

The business I operated in, we did not have big lines of bureaucracy. A couple of people in charge of operations, with 100 people, that type of thing. We do not have a long line of - several, from managers to whether there are directors in here or a whole line of authority in certain areas. We need to look at getting through a lot of the red tape. I think a lot of productive time that could be used in government is spent in meetings. Not that meetings are not always productive, but so much time is spent. Unless you are accomplishing something and directives there, it can be non-productive time.

Businesses do not want to be running around in frustration for months, and months, and months, streamlining government decisions to cut red tape to facilitate the option for people to get through the permit stage if there are things they need to do in developing their business. We need that type of advice. It has to be ready at hand. We need to have an open door policy or something, where people can come in and get this; not being sent from one area to another, from here to here and all over the place. That is why I think it is positive that we work hand-in-hand with the federal government. Try the federal government, try ACOA, try HRDC, okay we will try Industry, Trade and Rural Development, try Tourism, try somewhere else. People are frustrated being bounced around from place to place. Look, we should have a common operation.

I know this year the federal government said they are not going to continue their arrangement here with the Province in the funding of certain programs. I think they were 70-30, I believe, the bulk of programs; in that range. We need to develop relationships with the federal government. We need to be able to carry on and streamline business and the reduction of red tape in business. I hope that committee's mandate will identify opportunities to reduce it, to streamline it, or eliminate the regulatory burden of government red tape which can unintentionally act as a barrier to new job creation of business growth, especially for small business.

I deal with small business a fair amount in my district. I get a lot of calls from people with small businesses in my district. I have some experience of twenty-some years in it. I spoke with people yesterday on an initiative that is going through bureaucracy and red tape; as late as yesterday. I spoke to that particular business three times in the last four or five days, the frustrations there and what is happening - and people who have been in business, to a degree. I will not get into it any further because I do not want to reveal the nature of any businesses, but they have gone through the frustrations and delays of waiting. It is another few months that they have to wait. I am trying to at least facilitate and put forth certain view points that hopefully might expedite this. I really think that if an opportunity is not availed of now, in a few months time the door might close. Therefore, people are getting a little concerned with that, that the clock is running on time. Sometimes decisions in three months are too late. That happens. I am aware of it and I know it.

When you are out there - and I have talked to a lot of small businesses. I understand a lot of the frustrations. Some I have worked with through a system to, at least, speak to people and put forth the positives of that business and what they should do even to get what we call self-employment benefits, SEB. They will get their EI while their business is starting. Some have been turned down. I said: Look, the competing businesses don't consider it competitive against them. You should not be turned down for that reason if businesses see it is not interfering with theirs in the neighborhood.

If a business up in Renews applies, they say: Well, that service is in St. John's. How many people want to drive for an hour and twenty minutes to avail of a service? You have to look at geography and so on. So there are numerous little details. Part of my work deals with assisting, sometimes giving advice, or sending them where they can get advice or who they should talk to, to get started.

I have had requests in the last two or three weeks from three people in particular who want to start new businesses. They have an idea there and they want to go with it. That is positive. I am delighted to see young people come out who are eager. It is a good proposal, but what they have to do is go and get their business plan, of course, and those things. They are standard things. A business has to be viable. We do not want to see a business start and be gone next year. No one benefits by that; not the public, not the person themselves and certainly the lending agency does not benefit by it at all. These are some of the things that we need to do in the business sector, and reference are made here to doing that. I do not think we can remove red tape fast enough.

Another area: New Research and Innovation Fund. It said, "...an initial investment of $5 million." Research and Innovation. Well, research is badly needed here in our Province. In fact, a big chunk of the federal dollars in research does not come into our Province here. We have very few areas - most of the money for research in our Province comes from federal sources. We have R&D. Well, Memorial University is one of the primary areas; Marine Institute. There is certain amount in the hospital setting within research laboratories here. But, we are severely lacking in an influx of R&D money here into our Province. We are not getting our fair share of money so we have to stand up and say: We need more money. Because there are people working - there are opportunities. The yacht that won the America's Cup, Swiss, I believe, was tested here in this Province. We have very positive things here to put forth to the people there, but we need to get more and a bigger share, and not only in research money. We are getting less than half the per capita share of jobs in our Province. If we only had the federal money and the federal jobs in this country - if you took the average per capita per Province, we are only going to need half as many federal jobs per capita as they are in other provinces of the country, but we are not getting them. We are not getting that per capita share. We are not getting our fair share. We are seeing a shifting of jobs, siphoned out here federally, right back from New Brunswick as they go into forestry. You see them going into Halifax now and looking at air traffic, weather forecasting and so on. The whole array, whether it is through Moncton or Halifax or other sites across the country, we are seeing a pulling out and a moving away from this Province.

We have not gotten a fair share of that federal dollar. We are small, we have seven members, and that tells it all. We have not got size, but we have things that they want. We have to ensure that we don't relinquish anything without a fight and that we fight for every single thing that we should rightly have. We should be pushing. We are a strategically located area in this country. We are the access to Europe, access to other parts of the world, through BC. Here are the gateways to the west and the east, basically. We should be getting more of our share.

Now, it is a little tangent from research and development, but research and development dollars that are primarily coming here, the amount from the federal government - there is very little in provincial. I am glad to see there is $5 million put into the research and innovation fund. That always helps.

It says here, "The fund will be targeted at high growth "clusters of excellence" in areas like marine technology, pharmaceutical research, biotechnology, and the oil and gas industry." Well, right here, the technology, the oil and gas industry and marine areas are areas that we can certainly relate to quite well. We should be getting more of a share of monies federally, whether it is into pharmaceutical research in private companies. Now, the amount of research done by private companies here in our Province is minimal, and we would like to see more. I know larger centres in other areas are well developed and established in those areas.

We do have a university here, Memorial University of Newfoundland, that has availed of research dollars, and that is important. It creates jobs too and establishes a reputation. It is a challenge to be able to get more money to siphon into that particular pot. So, that is very important.

We talked about a New Business Attraction Agency, "The attraction of new investment, new companies and new industries to the Province in strategic growth sectors..." and so on. Important!

"RuralEXPO 2003, it said, "was a great success in showcasing and promoting economic potential...". We didn't have to be at that to know, but I am sure most people in the Province don't really appreciate or know what our Province has to offer. We have a lot of areas all over the Province that are producing some unique products, from Central Newfoundland to the West Coast and the East Coast of our Province. It is not only the City of St. John's that is involved in the primary industry or manufacturing. We see a significant amount done in numerous areas of the Province out there, from producing wood products in Central, whether it is producing gloves or other items, there are areas all over the Province that are specialized and have been successful in developing their businesses, away from the traditional ones. There are a lot of other areas, from Bishop's Falls, I think, making cabs or backs for trucks. I have taken in some of the events here when they have, I think it is the Manufacturers' Association, when they have been down at the Curling Club and they have been at other areas and, of course, when they have had it at larger centres, before at the stadium, and even now at Mile One, and when they have marine shows, an appreciation of just what is basically there.

Companies, one in my district, C & W Welding, have made boats for patrol off the Coast of Chile, I think, in South America. They produce a highly technological process, computerized equipment, their cuts and designs. It is very interesting. I had an opportunity to be in the facility on a few occasions. Most people are not aware of the technology that is used. In marine lighting, for example, in Trepassey, MariTeam. The machines are several hundred thousand dollar machines that you put in your program and put your sheet of metal in and it cuts it a certain shape and design for making fixtures for marine, whether it is cruise ships or whatever. It is quite interesting and it is employing people, twenty-five and thirty people. They supply steady employment in that industry.

Other areas we have seen where we are getting in - it is a tougher market to penetrate - getting into bottled water. The water is always difficult. You have to tie into a marketing network and you are competing with other networks from Evian who have tied into marketing contracts and others. but getting in there and marketing our products is very important. It is a big part of some of the industries, marketing. We have the products in a lot of cases, but input in the market.

Fisheries Products International have been marketing products from their secondary processing in Burin as an example. While I think at one time they had about forty different products they were producing, I think the four or five main ones probably account for 85 per cent or 90 per cent of their volume of business but they have tried many others. Some did not move like others but there are certain speciality products all over. I could name them in almost every community, (inaudible) products.

MR. FITZGERALD: Atlantic Marine.

MR. SULLIVAN: My colleague from Bonavista South tells me Atlantic Marine Products down in Catalina, the old Mifflin premises, and products there into the sealing industry. Oil is put into capsules, I think. It is processed there and the pelts are used. I spoke to someone who bought their product and they told me that it was an excellent product they have been putting out there, and it is a tremendous one, so they are employing people. They are things that were never done before. Some of these have not been done. We are moving into areas, so we need that. Sometimes they do marketing and small companies cannot do it. They cannot access the capital to do their marketing on it, to sell it, because we are dealing with a global community, and major companies like Fisheries Products International have been successful in doing it. They have capital and when they purchased Clouston Foods, too, and they had an established network in the United States, in Massachusetts, that all gives an aspect.

For years, during tough times with FPI, the Clouston Seafoods arm, basically, of that, has kept them above water and has done quite well. They have responded to the markets and the acquisition of product, raw material, for their operations. It is a world market that our companies are competing in.

It is not just these. It is all the other industries out there, the fishing industry, all over the place. Everyone has their own unique product they offer. I have seen a host. In my district there have been numerous. There is only about half as many there as there used to be. At one point we had Trepassey. That is gone. We had one in Fermeuse, that has not been in operation. The one in Aquaforte is operating. The one in Calvert is not operating anymore. There is one in Tors Cove that is operating. One in Witless Bay operates. The one in Bay Bulls is gone. There are two in Petty Harbour. Well, there were three or four in Petty Harbour but there is no significant production going on through either level, because they depend a lot on groundfish. Some managed to get into other areas, so we have over half either gone or not in operation. So, we have seen a lot of employment changes. We have seen in Cape Broyle, another one I missed, is operating. That is still in operation there, and they have for some time. They are some of the operations there, but we are finding that the number of employees has gone way down.

Areas have been hit hard, really, in growing a business in this Province. The people who have been hit the hardest in the industry have primarily been plant workers. The fish harvesters have managed, while hopefully crab is still healthy and hopefully it will be, because it has been their saviour. For awhile shrimp, too, was significant but it is not as profitable. It is the prices and the cost in operating boats and so on, to get it. It is a lot more expensive than crab, but hopefully the crab market will be sustained and the stock will be sustained. It is as every bit as important, because if something happens to that, God helps here in this Province. We are in for a pretty difficult time, because even the total sales of groundfish have not even come close to what the sales - even in good times, basically. You have to look at and adjust it for inflation of what is coming in, in total volume now, by the sale of these other species now, shellfish, that we have entered into. There are serious problems if that drops out.

The people who have been hit the hardest, I was saying, have not necessarily been the harvesters. Some have had it pretty tough since. People who could fish before cannot fish now. They did not have a groundfish license before, even though they could fish, and now they are told they cannot get one. They are not core, and there are hundreds of people who have fallen between the cracks out there today, but the plant workers are the ones who have been hit the hardest. The number of plant workers in the Province, the total number of hours worked and so on in there has been devastating. To put it mildly, it has been devastating. Anybody around the Province in rural areas that have these, in most of these areas it has been total devastation. We have seen workforces crumble, not a worker in plants that had 650 people, 300 people, not a worker. In some areas they are scraping by now on crab to get 420 hours of work. That is what is happening. Some are only getting 380 hours and they are having to depend on a short-term project to get them forty hours. That is happening because of the change.

A lot of these people too, what is going to happen in the next few years, will move into the age bracket, their late fifties and sixties, and they will phase out of it. What is going to happen? We are not going to be able to hire people. There will be nobody to go to work in a fish plant in this Province if you look at it in the next decade. People are not coming out of school, they are not going to work for 400 or 500 hours, whether it is $8, $10 or $12 an hour, for $4,000, $5,000 or $6,000, and another $5,000 or $6,000 in unemployment. You are not going to be able to obtain people to go to work today in this Province. You are not going to be able to get them because young people do not want to work on a very minimal amount of money for the year. They want to have certain luxuries at least, or necessities, whatever you want to call it. Whether it is a vehicle, eventually you are going to need a home, and you cannot do it. You cannot do it on a job that employs you probably 400 or 500 hours for the year. It cannot be done. There is going to be a great opening, a vast opening out there, looking for labour to go to work, and that will not be there.

There are different solutions. We will not give them all of our solutions now, I tell you. I do not want to do that, I say to my colleagues. No, I do not want to offer them too many solutions. Every month or two we feed them one and they adopt that. We cannot give it all away, Madam Speaker, I might say, but there are certain solutions that can move us in the right direction.


We have not seen it since the closure of the moratorium in 1992. My colleague for The Straits & White Bay North is pretty familiar with the fishery. We have not seen anything at all or very little done from a provincial perspective to deal with the devastation of the fishery. We have not seen it. They have been saying: It is a federal responsibility. The processing end, the employees, workers and so on in the plants operating in our Province is a provincial responsibility - the processing and certain aspects of the industry are. So, we are being let down in that area, and it is unfortunate because our Province has to move forward. People want to get work. They would like to be able to stay at home and get work. What are they doing now, the people who have some skills? They are going to other provinces. From the South Coast, I think they are going to PEI and other areas to work and coming back again in the fall. Now, I know people left here to get work years ago - up North and other areas - only to get back for a few months a year.

We are finding now that rural Newfoundland is not maintaining its population. We are seeing a downward slide. It is reflecting in our school systems in the Province. It is reflecting all over in all aspects of rural Newfoundland. People have buildings out there that they cannot maintain. If you look at parishes that had community halls, and they had churches and facilities in every area. They are all scaled down now. They cannot even operate them - over to committees. They are closing some and they are consolidating. They are trying to deal with changing times.

It has happened in the school system too in my district. In Trepassey, for example, they have agreed to go into one school. In the Ferryland system, they said: Close them all. They closed Cape Broyle. The recently closed ones in Fermeuse, the Renews school. They are the more recent ones, just in the past few years; all into one complex. They wanted to see change. They wanted to see it happen, but they wanted to see appropriate access to programs and an appropriate facility to work in. We do not mind busing people if we are going to get the education opportunity. They were positive in that area.

I must say, there is only one other area - and I hope the Minister of Education will do something on this. There is one other area left. I received a letter today before I came here to the House, from the air quality that was tested in the school in Bay Bulls. It is not safe for kid to be in there. I did not see the report, but the intent of the letter was that something has to be done immediately. You have to retest it because the testing results show a concern. That school should be taken out of the system. There is $4.5 million allotted for the area, but I understand there is in the vicinity of about $5.9 million needed to shut down the school; to go from three to two schools in the area. One in Mobil and one in Witless Bay. It could take in K-6 in Witless Bay and close the Bay Bulls one there, which has Grades 4-6. Then the Mobil system would be reconfigured, because it has a gym that is below standard. I have seen water over the floor and condensation. It is in a bad state of repairs. There are problems with washrooms, you name it, in numerous parts of these facilities there. There is a descent school in Witless Bay.

People are asking that extra money be allotted to do this, to allow people to at least go to school in an environment where they are not getting sick. I do not think that is too much to ask today, to allow a child to go to school and be able to stay there without getting sick. Would you want your child to leave in the morning and come home and be sick in the evening by going to a school setting? I think it is awful in this day and age that that could happen. We have to be more understanding of those particular concerns. Children have enough things to worry about without worrying about their health in education. I mean to keep children motivated, the access - they have to go on a bus. Some are young and away from their parents all day at a young age. Look, the last thing you want is to be sick and trying to learn. You cannot learn if you are hungry and you cannot learn if you are sick. Certain steps have been made with school breakfast programs - I think that have worked - to try to help alleviate that particular area, but people should not have to do that in this modern age.

We send millions and billions in the long term in aid to people all over the world, and a lot of it is needed. We see it now in Iraq, the strong need for water and food in that area. But, we have people here in our own Province, too, who are in need, and people who are going to school in systems that do not have an adequate air exchange and adequate facilities to eliminate the potential of picking up certain illnesses and so on. That is important.

We have a school now - a question was asked in this House - not even built, not even finished, and there are certain problems that have set in, in that particular one. I understand that is being pursued through the courts. So these are some of the concerns that we have in this particular area. If we are going to do something, we need to improve that, I might add.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am glad the minister was listening to some of these requests in education. Not only will he listen, I hope he will do something about it here.

We looked at other areas referenced here, Regional Economic Development. Well, it is unfortunate really. I find it unfortunate that when a Throne Speech was just read here, and a statement made reference to looking at a federal-provincial cooperation in a particular committee - I think, was referenced there, I do not know the exact wording - the minister, who represents our Province, did not even know about it. He heard it for the first time when the Lieutenant-Governor sat in the Chair and read the Throne Speech. That was the first time he heard about it. That is not saying much in terms of renewed federal-provincial cooperation. I think we have to work hand-in-hand with our counterparts, whether you like them or not, whether they wanted to get rid of them, I might say, in a nomination campaign before but could not do it. That should be past then. You tried but did not succeed. He won and he is still there. Now, you have to work with him while he is there. I suppose it is kind of difficult when you did not want him in the first place.

One thing about politics - I guess there is a good thing about politics, the people get their say. People decide who they want, basically, and that will happen in due course for anybody. It happened in the last election with the federal minister there. The people decided at nomination time they wanted him and they decided they wanted him, I guess, in the House of Commons. I guess the people who count in the final analysis are the people who render the final judgement. They are the key things and the key ones that count.

I think we need to move past the politics of that now because we do not want to jeopardize our Province's ability to compete, to avail of programs, to get our fair share of government money because of political likes or dislikes, or whatever the case may be. I think we should use it to our advantage. Work cooperatively with them, pass out the olive branch, invite them in to sit down, bury the hatchet and get on with dealing cooperatively with things that are good for our Province in general.

The second last heading in this Budget Speech was: Ottawa's Stake In Our Future. It goes on to say, "The federal government has taken a unilateral decision not to renew these agreements anywhere in Atlantic Canada or elsewhere in the country. This government states categorically that it does not agree with that federal decision. The upcoming year will mark the first time in three decades that the federal government has not partnered with the Province to assist in advancing our economy agenda. This issue was raised at every pre-budget consultation session this year." Why? The question I would like to know is: Why wasn't the federal government prepared to work with our Province? Is it that the federal government's direction, things they wanted, that the Province became political in their nature to accomplish it? Is that one of the reasons? I am just asking questions. I have not been told the reason. Why do they not want to work with us? I think what we need to put forth is a vision for Newfoundland and Labrador, a role not only with Atlantic Canada, within Canada, and how we can work together co-operatively in the long term to accomplish this. We need a long-term plan, I might add. To tell us that after three decades they have poisoned relationships with the federal government, that they do not want participate.

In the Throne Speech here, it says, "For this reason...", they made a call, and the minister states here in her Budget Speech, "...in the recent Throne Speech for the federal government to partner with us in a new model of federal-provincial cooperation through a Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Economic Development Board." They have asked for it. That is what they have asked to happen. Gerry Byrne, the federal member, our provincial minister in the federal government, never heard about it until the Lieutenant-Governor was reading that in the Throne Speech.

I was really surprised to hear that comment, really surprised. If you want to mention that, maybe he was not approached. Maybe there were no inroads. Maybe the proper homework was not done. It is just a speech. You get on and get it over with. I think it tells us far more, that you can read between the lines. Far more you can read between the lines. It does not say much for federal-provincial relations here, between us and the Government of Canada, and I think that is sad.

I think we need to enhance and to grow the relationships here, and to work co-operatively. It does not matter what political party is in power. We have seen successes accomplished in Quebec with governments of every political stripe, because the people of Quebec pushed to get a result. Here in our Province, we have not. We have thrown in the towel in many areas.

It goes on to say, "If the federal government does not respond in a positive or timely manner to our proposal, these funds will have to be applied prudently to priority programs...". This Province budgeted this year $5.5 million in this particular area, which means, if the federal money does not come, there are a lot of areas that got funded that will not be able to continue this year if we are not going to go on and continue. I think that is important, because $5.5 million is not going to go very far if we are looking at a comprehensive economic development agreement to look at assisting areas that are showing growth and promise, to become self-sufficient down the road in the future in our Province but need some assistance now to be able to get there. I think that is important.

We are talking about an All-Party Symposium on Equalization. This fall, the minister indicated - I think it is in the fall - "We propose convening a symposium of all Members of this Honourable House and all federal Members of the House of Commons and Senate in the Fall to examine Equalization prior to the five year renewal of the program...". Yes, I am sure they will see an all-party committee, and they see the leaks coming out of those committees beforehand and so on, as they did with the All-Party Fisheries Committee, but I think we do need to look at equalization. It is very important that we look at it, because we have not been treated fairly. We have not, and the Constitution Act 1982 indicates that equalization is entrenched and is ensured so that provinces can have, and give their people, a comparable level of public services at comparable levels of taxation.

I feel, and I have said it in news releases before, and I have a copy here that I will get to a little later - that I will probably get to some time in May; who knows?- that shows that we have not been treated fairly. I feel that the Government of Canada is violating, I think it is Article 16.2 of the Constitution Act 1982, where we are not getting comparable level of services and we do not have them because we are handicapped by the federal government's unfair use of the equalization formula. They have capped it for (inaudible). One area is unfair. They have capped it. When they capped it, what did they do? They do not equalize up to 100 per cent to cover it. It is only up to 80 per cent. When they lifted the cap for one year in the federal election in 1999, when they lifted a cap just that one year, $38 million we got, and there is a Senate committee put forth. We would have gotten hundreds of millions of dollars that we lost because of that. That is one area in which we are not being treated fairly, that is limiting the purpose of equalization set down basically in the Constitution Act. It limits us from accomplishing what was intended in the 1982 Constitution Act. It limits that.

Second area: They are unfairly treating us and not allowing us to equalize to the level that we should in this country, as they have taken Alberta and the Atlantic Provinces out of the formula. They are using Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They are the five provinces whose economies they compared in looking at the standards. Out of that there used to be two that were not a net recipient, Ontario and BC. Now, with BC becoming a recipient on the receiving end of equalization, there is only one province in that five that is a contributor. The Alberta economy is prosperous. Having them out of there distorts the final figures.

There is no truer indication of the fiscal performances of economies of any provinces than having all provinces in that formula. That is called the ten-province formula. That should be there, it should be put there, it shouldn't be a five-province formula, it should be a ten-province formula. That is the second way that we are not getting our fair share under equalization. We are capped and shouldn't be.

People say: But, we are going to revisit this in 2004. That is what they tell us: Revisit that in 2004. We don't have the authority. That is wrong. This cap was put on unilaterally by the Government of Canada. It was removed unilaterally by the Government of Canada and legislation in the House of Commons during the last federal election, and it was basically just for that year only. They can do it on their own, entirely, without any consent of the province. They have done it before, when they put it there. They have done it, when they lifted it for one year. They can do it this year and next year. They can lift that. All they want is legislation by the Government of Canada. They managed to get it on the eve of a federal election, so they would be perceived as giving more money to the province to secure more votes. Basically, that is not a very good motive. If that was the motive, there should be an election every year. I guess you will get change of governments pretty fast if you have elections every year.

The Premier smiles. The Premier doesn't want to see one every year. He doesn't want to see one every four years. I think he might be thinking about legislation, now, to have one every ten years, maybe. Maybe for life, I might say, like the Senate of Canada, up to seventy-five.

PREMIER GRIMES: Ten years would be (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He said, ten sounds good. He will never get ten years, Madam Speaker, he will never see ten years in that Premier's chair. He will only see to the call of the next election. That is all he will see in that chair. That is when it will come to an end.

I am not so sure, Madam Speaker, I am not really convinced that he is ever going to get to that. I am not sure but he might even throw in the towel in June and say: I have had enough of this. Someone else can have it. That is what I think he might do. I am not sure; I have him kind of figured out. He does not even like to lose a hockey game, not to say an election. We used to let him score a few goals so he could win, when we used to play.

Apart from that, I do not want to reveal the Premier's real thinking because he is faced with a lot of options there. Do I go to the people? Do I quit and run and enjoy my retirement - in the spring, golf balls all over the southeastern part of the United States. What do I do? He has his choices.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will not get into that. What he does in his own private life is his own responsibility.

I will get back there because I know in my time allotted to me I want to get to cover everything I can. I do not want to get diverted.

I was talking about Ottawa's stake in our future. I am not really convinced Ottawa cares too much about our future, because I have not seen Ottawa being so concerned about our future. Ottawa has been very concerned about the future of Quebec. We have had premiers in this Province who have been pretty concerned about the future of Quebec, and rightly so; we would like to see Quebec a part of this country. Who wouldn't? But we would also like to see Newfoundland and Labrador become an equal partner within the Confederation of Canada. We are not an equal partner. Maybe it is time - I have been a believer that there should not be an appointed Senate. In an elected Senate, they would have none. One thing about the U.S. system, at least in the Senate of the United States a little small state like Rhode Island can have as much say in the Senate of the United States as California, with over 30 million people.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or Delaware.

MR. SULLIVAN: Or Delaware, another small one. There are a lot of small ones. They do not have big populations - Connecticut and other areas. There are numerous ones with small populations that have as much say in the Senate there. That is important because what does it do? You have your House of Representatives that is elected basically on your population, which is fair. The people have a voice in the House of Representatives by electing their representative. Then you have a Senate that does not allow a big region of the country to be able to suppress the rights and prevent smaller areas from having some influence in the final picture, because they are separate entities.

We have, in this country, ten provinces and representative territories, and if we had representation in a Senate I think we would have a better functioning Senate. The Senate could be elected. What is wrong with having an elected Senate? People elected in that upper house with a purpose, similar to the United States, that functions quite well. That way it does not allow larger ones to walk over, trample on, smaller, less prosperous provinces, or states would apply in the United States.

Madam Speaker, there are many particular areas, I might add. There are many particular areas of concern that I have with federal-provincial relations. It is not just the relationship between this government and the Government of Canada. Overall, our fitting place in Confederation, I want to see us to have a more significant role in the Federation of Canada. I think we should have that. I think we should be treated as an equal partner.

We have a vast array of land. We have water surrounding us, international waters. We have a wealth of resources, but we have not been able to use them for the benefit, the full benefit, of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The Atlantic Accord - we are not the principal beneficiaries. It states in that, that we shall be the principal beneficiaries of these offshore oil and gas resources. Who is the principal beneficiary when the government of this Province gets $230-some million and the Government of Canada gets $2.5 billion? Who is the principal beneficiary? Can you be a principal beneficiary, I ask members, if you are getting $235 million and your buddy is getting $2.5 billion out of your resource? Who is the principal beneficiary? I would say: Give me $2.5 billion, give someone else $235 million, and I would consider the person who got the $2.5 billion the principal beneficiary. That is what is happening in the proposals here on even just one of the offshore oilfields here in our Province. That was done by a Memorial University economist. I think it was done for this provincial government. I am not sure who it was done for, but that was a study that was done which showed they are going to reap over ten times what we are getting, and they call us the principal beneficiary. That is like playing a hockey game and you lose it 10 to 1, and they tell you that you won. That is similar. We lost 10 to 1 and we won the game. Who is going to believe that? That is how silly, how farcical, it sounds to tell us that, and they expect us to believe it. We are not going to believe it because it is not true.

Now we have an All-Party Symposium on Equalization. I am looking forward to seeing an All-Party Symposium, or seeing something done with equalization. I am not so sure it will get to see the light of day. We are hoping for a change, a new fresh approach, a new renewed relationship, a stronger voice, by bending the arm of those in the Government of Canada, because we have not been able to do it here. This government has not been able to do it. They have not been able to agree with the federal minister. They cannot agree with some of the federal members. Their relationship is non-existent, so how do we expect to get a better relationship and better times and more input into our future? I cannot see it happening, but we need to keep trying. That is the best they can do. They want to get an all-party committee. They cannot do it on their own. They are telling us that this government cannot influence the federal government at all. They want to get an all-party committee. They want to get the NDP and the PC Party here to go with them and try to accomplish something, in terms of Ottawa. Well, if that is what it takes, you will not get any particular objections from anybody over here, if that is what it takes. Just to tell us themselves, just to name that, tells us they have not been effective. They have not been able to do that. They have not been able to accomplish what we want to accomplish. That in itself is a telling tale, I would say, Madam Speaker. It is an admission of defeat, that we have not been able to accomplish, and now they want to prolong the agony to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They want to go for five years to prolong the agony to people. At least put it to the people and let them decide who they want to make their case with Ottawa.

We have heard it before. Who do you want to negotiate, Ed Byrne or me? I have heard that before. Who do you want to negotiate? Yes, a former Premier said that. Now we are saying: Who do you want to negotiate? Let's bring it to the people in a reasonable time frame.

I hear people saying: I believe in this, but I am not going to do this. I believe in doing this, and I am not going to do this. Now, if you believe in something wouldn't you try to do it? If you believe in four year terms don't you go in four years? Somebody here before believed in three year terms and two-and-a-half year terms and went in two-and-a-half year terms. Look, there is only one thing worst than forcing people to the polls too often, and that is making them wait too long. That is the only thing worse, because you delay the agony. You delay the whole process.

MR. NOEL: What do you believe in? You guys do not say what you believe in.

MR. SULLIVAN: I have been telling the Minister of Mines and Energy what I believe in for the last two hours here today but he has not been interested in what we believe. I have been giving a whole dissertation on our economy. I welcome the minister, do you want me to repeat it? If he wants me to repeat what I have said for the last two hours I will repeat what I have said for the last two hours.


MADAM SPEAKER (M. Hodder): Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I might tell my colleagues, I might not repeat it today. I will repeat it on April 28, maybe for him. I will get a copy of Hansard and read from it, if you want me to repeat what I have said.

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: (Inaudible) you do not remember what you said.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I can remember what I said. I can remember what I said and the Minister of -

AN HON. MEMBER: Human Resources and Employment.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, Human Resources and Employment. He wondered if I can remember what I said. I sure can remember what I said, very carefully what I said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Exactly, but he would like the exact words. He would like to have the exact words.

AN HON. MEMBER: ( Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, the minister knows that is not true. He knows they do not change everyday. There are some things in this House that remain the same, I say to the minister. There are some things that remain the same. Some fundamental principles you stand on.

Then the minister talks about, "...we have consistently made a case that federal transfers, like Equalization, which are largely per capita based, should not fall in lock step with population declines." Well, do you know what they are telling us? That we should not have federal transfers tied in with population decline. In 1994-1995, prior to that, they were not tied in. Who changed it? That government and the Government of Canada, and not a squeak out of that government over there when they said that. We fought it and said it is going to be detrimental to our Province. I calculated from 1994-1995, by going back through the budgets up to the year 2000, that an accumulation on Canada Health and Social Transfers of $750 million less in the coffers of our Province because they allowed us to do what they are telling us should not be done. Then they have the audacity to come here in the Budget. I did not even realize it was there in print. I did not even realize they had said it. They had said: ...shouldn't be allowed to happen. They sat down and they took it. Who was the Minister of Health at the time? Who was the minister? I think it was -

AN HON. MEMBER: Loyola, say something to get (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am trying to think who the Minister of Health was when that happened. I cannot remember. They have changed them so often. We got them kicked out so often, one after the other, we cannot keep track of it. But they were there, and I know who the Premier was and I know who the federal minister was. The federal minster was Brian Tobin and the Premier was Clyde Wells. He was the Premier of the Province at the time. We stood up and we criticized it. We said on occasions that it was a mistake.

Why should we look at per capita? Our population has been going down. Our share has been dropping. We had hundreds of millions of dollars they have taken because of population decline. Now, almost a decade later, they stand up in a Budget Speech and tell us that we should not be in favour. We should be against. We do not like what you are doing. Ten years later and a billion dollars later. A billion dollars later they tell us. Then they expect people of the Province to believe what they are saying when they are ten years sitting on it and we haven't heard a word. We are still haven't heard it. In the Budget Speech we heard that sentence and that was it; and they are talking about: Building Our Future Together. Building our future together; this country. Well, that is not exactly what is happening.

I might even pass on to something else that I certainly would like to get in before the Easter Break. I will make a final comment on this part of the Budget Speech before I get to my copious notes of aspects of that Budget Speech that, I think, is important that we reveal and put forth to the people of the Province. It says: We have done all we can. That is what the Finance Minister said, "And, Mr. Speaker, we have done all this while maintaining the best record of sound, prudent fiscal management since Confederation, by any measure." Well, that leads me now into something that I would like to comment on.

Yesterday I heard the minister telling us - on NTV yesterday evening she told us about the great plan we have. What a great plan; how everybody are praising it up. Well, here is what the Bank of Montreal said about your plan. She said that is only one source. I have a source from the Toronto Dominion Bank and the Bank of Montreal, conning us all over. I have a quote here from Moody's. I will tell you what Moody's says about it, the credit rating agency that rates this Province. I will tell you what they say about it.

MR. NOEL: I have a quote here on speech making. Look, it says: Be sincere, be brief, be seated.

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell the minister what we have to do here. We see this Budget Speech - the Liberals and the minister talks about all they have done and all of the credit and what fantastic things they have done, but I would say the party that takes credit for the rain must also be prepared to take credit for the drought, because what has happened -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Woodrow Wilson said, "The way to stop financial "joyriding" is to arrest the chauffeur, not the automobile." So we have to change that. We have to arrest that chauffeur in the next election. We have to tell him that we have to stop this financial joyriding that is going on here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have to stop that!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Robert Frost was a noted literary individual. Everybody knows about Robert Frost. He said: A liberal is a person who is too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.

I would like to get back to something more specific on the fiscal situation in our Province. The minister told us - when you read this Budget you thought we were getting a fantastic document. What did it tell us? First, they told us our cash deficit is $213 million, then they said our consolidated deficit is $286, and our accrual deficit is $666 million. What does all that mean? What does that tell us? Well, let us look at a cash basis. Our deficit last year, according to the government on cash basis, was $60-some million. Now, it is $213 on a cash basis; three-and-a-half times as large. So our cash deficit has gone up three-and-a-half times as much. Where is our accrual deficit? Our accrual deficit has gone. She has not told us what it was for the fiscal year just ended. I have asked that question, and I have asked it here. We have not heard her projection on that. We will see that in September, hopefully, with the Public Accounts, but we have not seen it.

The year before last it was $473 million. This year they are telling us it is going to be $666 million. Is it somewhere in between or is it more? It has been going up steadily from $179 million. It has gone up to $350 million. It has gone to $473 million. Next year it is $666 million. What was it the year just ended? We haven't heard that. We have not heard those projections. Maybe they are trying to hide these until the report comes out in the fall and we see what the public accounts will show. We haven't seen it. I have asked for it, but they have been reluctant to let us see it.

Mr. Speaker, here is what the Bank of Montreal said. Just on the one I mentioned, it said, "It is true that the consolidated accrual deficits have been shown in public accounts for some time. But the public accounts come out well after the end of the fiscal year and they receive little attention. It is the budget that the public focuses on." That is what the Bank of Montreal said. Well, the true account will come out in September.

A question I asked, too: Why did government keep the public accounts secret from September, when it was completed and audited by the Auditor General, confirmed by the Auditor General, and not released to the public for two months? Why?

AN HON. MEMBER: We were waiting for her announcement.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a good question. They were two months. They were waiting for something good, an announcement they could hide it with when they released it. Is that what the minister is saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: They were waiting for her announcement.

MR. SULLIVAN: Her announcement. Oh, waiting for the announcement, the one that is going to decimate the member sitting next to you. Is that the announcement? Well, you got it. It is up to the Premier how long you have to wait to endure that agony. That is how long you have to wait.

Here is what the Bank of Montreal said, contrary to what the minister said in the media yesterday. It says, "A deficit of $666 million, or per cent of GDP, is simply not sustainable." That is what the Bank of Montreal said. It went on to say that, "Newfoundland's debt levels are by far the highest in the country. Its net debt stood at $8,925,000,000 as of March 31, 2002, or 64.9 per cent of GDP. With strong nominal GDP growth, we estimate that the GDP ratio will fall to 60 per cent by March 31, 2004." The Bank of Montreal says, "A falling debt/GDP ratio is good, but the problem is that government revenues are rising much more slowly than the nominal GDP." As the nominal GDP is going up, government revenues are rising more slowly. It goes on to say, "In Newfoundland's case, debt as a percentage of government revenue is perhaps a better measure of the government's ability to pay."

What is the best measure of your government's ability to pay? Is it your debt as a percentage of government revenue? How much revenue you are taking in should be tied into how willing, or how much able you are to pay that debt. The more revenue, the better you can pay the debt. They are indicating, the Bank of Montreal, and the statistics are here to show it, that the debt is going up faster than the government revenues are going up.

Two years ago, if you took the debt, it was 235 per cent of government revenues. Today, the debt is 258 per cent of government revenues, which means it has gone up by 23 per cent in two years.

The Premier did say we can better afford to pay our mortgage, and our debt has gone up higher than our revenues have gone up. When revenues go up this far, and the debt goes up faster, and the gap gets wider, you can even look at the graph of personal disposable income in our Province; the gap has widened. Personal disposable income has not increased like the GDP. People do not have more money in their pockets. They just do not have it.

No wonder the Bank of Montreal is concerned, and no wonder other economists - no wonder there were warnings even last year by Moody's to this government. I have a copy of what Moody's said. I will get an opportunity to look at it and make reference to it because the minister asked me yesterday, he wanted to know what did Moody's say about it. I said I will tell you what Moody's said about it. If I get time today, I will do that; if not, I will do it at the appropriate time.

It goes on to say, "Newfoundland's debt spiral must come to an end." That is what they said, it must come to an end. That is what the Bank of Montreal said.

The minister said they are only one source, one opinion our of several. What did Toronto-Dominion Bank say? Here is what they said, "The government indicated that it would aim to eliminate its deficit gradually between fiscal years 2004-05 and 2007-08 by targeting a modest $75 million per year, although it provided no clear plan on how that goal would be achieved." That is what Toronto-Dominion said. They are telling us they are going to cut $300 million from our deficit by the year 2008 - that is what the government said in this Throne Speech - but Toronto-Dominion said, you have not given us a plan.

How are you going to do it? Where is the plan? I haven't seen it. They haven't shown it. Trust us. That is what is there in this Budget, trust us. I think the minister should stand and tell the people of this Province how she plans to cut $300 million over the next four years from that. Show us your projected revenues, show us your projected expenditures, and show us how you are going to cut $300 million over the next four years, as you said here. The Toronto-Dominion Bank Financial Group said, you have said you are going to do it although you have provided no clear plan on how you would achieve it. That is basically what they are saying. They have not produced any evidence to support that.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is after saying that about ten times.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is the first case, I say to the minister over there. That is the first time I have made reference to the Toronto-Dominion Bank, to my knowledge. I do not think I have raised this in the House at all before, because I have only read it a couple of days ago, two or three days ago, and I wanted to get an opportunity to be able to speak to it.

I would like to touch base on the next issue. We have been talking about how tuition has gone down at Memorial. Well, I did a little research right back to 1984-1985 on tuition costs at Memorial University. Memorial University tuition costs, the fees were $468 in 1984-1985. Right up to 1989, they only went to $554 - up to 1998. What happened then? When this government got a hold of them, in five years this government increased tuition costs by 46 per cent and drove them to the ceiling, the tuition costs in this Province.

Now they come back in the last three years, and no one is going to complain, with a 25 per cent cut in tuition; but they went from $468 a semester up to as high as about $1,800 or something - or at least $1,600 a semester, I think, was the peak. So they have tripled tuition. In 1989, when this government came to power, tuition then was $582, and now today it is three times that. With the decrease, it is about two-and-a-half times still, or more than that - actually, more than that.

We have seen a tremendous increase in tuition, and then they are the government that salvages tuition costs. They are the government that instigated the highest tuition increases we have ever seen, 46 per cent (inaudible), and then they went and doubled it and then they tripled tuition costs, and then they went to three-and-a-half times tuition costs. That is what happened.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Tories went from zero to 500.

MR. SULLIVAN: So it went from zero to five. You went from five to what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Three hundred and fifty per cent, that is what they went up in tuition costs, and now they are the saviours of that - and we supported it. In fact, we have being saying all along it has gone up too fast. It has gone too high. Everybody would like to see free tuition, but we do not like to see a 350 per cent increase in tuition and then scale it back 25 per cent. It is a long way from what it was, I can tell you. This government has contributed to the highest growth of tuition increase, I would say, in our Province's history.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation asked the last day: What did Moody's say about it? I will just make a quick reference to what Moody's said last year when they gave them an increase in credit rating. Here is what they said - it is not what the minister said in her statement here in the House, that I also have. It is not that. In fact, what did the minister say? She said: In announcing the upgrade today - now just listen to the difference between what Moody's said and what the minister said - "In announcing the upgrade today, Moody's noted the province's strong economic growth, improved fiscal position, and the resultant improvement in key debt ratios, such as debt to GDP. Moody's also point to the level of fiscal support..." - that is what the minister said. Here is the minister's statement. I will have to read it again because you can see such a comparison to what the minister said and what Moody's said.

The minister said, "In announcing the upgrade today, Moody's noted the province's strong economic growth, improved fiscal position, and the resultant improvement in key debt ratios, such as debt to GDP. Moody's also point to the level of fiscal support provided by the federal government, and the likelihood of a continuation of this support in light of Canada's improving fiscal position..." And also because of the healthy situation of Canada.

Well, Moody's had quite a different twist to it on their Web site that very day. The report is not the way the minister twisted the words to make it sound like this government was doing a tremendous job with its finances. Quite the contrary. Here is what it said: ...today Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island rating upgrades reflect in part our assessment that the federal government's stronger position lessens the likelihood of transfer reductions comparable in scope to those imposed in the mid-1990s. In other words, the reason why, "Within Canada the Atlantic provinces are most reliant on federal transfers as a source of revenue and, as a result, are most susceptible to systemic entrenchment in such transfers." So, because of a recognition of stable transfers.

It went on to say, "Our assessment that the provincial sector now operates in a more stable system of federal supports prompts the rating upgrade to A3 for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador." That is not what the minister said. The minister said: Our strong improved fiscal position, strong economic growth, resultant improvement in key debt ratios, such as debt to GDP. So, that is what Moody's said.

Moody's went on to say, "While Newfoundland's credit position remains among the least robust of Canadian provinces, it is important to recognize the now-reduced risk posed to its bondholders." That is because of fiscal transfers. "The province now faces more difficult budget circumstances and is relying to a great extent on non-recurring measures to enhance its short-term financial flexibility." It went on to say, "The use of such measures in response to ongoing spending pressures posed by last year's costly salary agreement is unsustainable, and severely limits the potential for further credit improvement." That is what it said. Moody's tell us that what the Province is doing is unsustainable. That is what Moody's is telling us.

I have other statements here that I can go through, by another leading bank, the Bank of Montreal economics department. The Bank of Montreal's economics department said, "Despite supercharged growth in three of the past four years... Newfoundland's fiscal position has become more precarious. The province has incurred increasingly, larger deficits in each of the past three years and the pattern is expected to continue..." It goes on to talk about other areas. I will make reference to this statement. It says, "Clearly, Newfoundland's fiscal position is a cause for concern and could act as a drag on economic growth. With very high debt levels... the highest by far of all provinces) and the highest personal income taxes in the country, the province is in a difficult situation." That is what the Bank of Montreal said last year around the time that Moody's made this statement also. When the minister got up in the House she talked about, you know, the glowing rendition of why we are getting an upgrade from the government. That is far from the truth, I might add.

If you want to look at it, just look at the Fraser Institute audit of provincial government's fiscal performance. Where did they rank us. We went from fourth place last year to eleventh in a national study of budget performance. Fourth to eleventh. We went to the bottom of the heap. That is where we went, and now we are trying to paint a rosy picture to tell the people of Newfoundland and Labrador we are in better shape than we have ever been before.

The minister said yesterday on TV: We have been so successful at growing our revenues. So successful. However successful the Province was in growing the revenues, they have been more successful at growing their debt because their debt has gone up at a significant higher rate than revenue. A 23 per cent increase in debt to revenues over the last two years; that is higher. That is like getting a $10,000 increase and spending $15,000 because you now make more money. That is not sustainable. The banks tell us it is not sustainable and the economists tell us it is not sustainable. There are ratings here where we rank in the country in terms of this, and don't anybody try to tell us and try to paint another picture on it that is not accurate. I can tell you, what we are hearing from this government is not the real truth of the economy of our Province. All you have to read is what the economists and other people are telling us.

The cash deficit went from $60-some million to almost $213 million, and we are getting better. The last accrual deficit was $473 million and now it is $666 million, and we are getting better.

Before I adjourn for the day, I will say again, there is only one thing - if you listened to what the minister said - that this government has been successful at and that is growing the debt at a fast pace in this Province, and they have done a good job.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: If growing the debt at a fast pace is a mark of a successful government, then this government has been pretty successful, I can tell you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: They have an abysmal record. Offshore oil and added revenues have increased the revenues of our Province, nothing this government has done. They have been an impediment to a more rapid growth of government revenues in this Province. That is what they have done, Mr. Speaker. They know it and the people of Newfoundland know it, and we hope they get a chance to render their judgement on what they think about the fiscal mismanagement and incompetence of this government in due course.

With that, I adjourn the debate for the day.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. LUSH: Is the hon. member finished, or did he adjourn the debate?

MR. SULLIVAN: I adjourned the debate.

MR. LUSH: Adjourned the debate.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of motion that I will move on the next parliamentary day that the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. nor at 10:00 p.m.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I also move that the Government Services Committee will meet on Monday, April 28, at 9:00 o'clock to review the estimates of expenditure of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, and the Resource Committee will meet on Monday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m. to review the estimates of the Department of Mines and Energy.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House on its rising do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Monday, April 28, at 1:30 p.m.