UPDATED TO OCTOBER 18, 2017

Rules

The House of Assembly sets rules by which Newfoundlanders and Labradorians may petition the House to address a particular matter.

Those rules are outlined on the House of Assembly web site here: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/petitions/default.htm

They are also defined in the Standing Orders of the House here: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/standingorders/standing_orders90-97.pdf

To download a PDF of a petition template, click here: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/petitions/PetitionTemplate.pdf

 

 

 

Petition Dates

2016-17

Thursday, March 10, 2016
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Monday, March 21, 2016
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Monday, April 11, 2016
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Monday, May 2, 2016
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Monday, May 9, 2016
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Monday, May 16, 2016
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Monday, May 30, 2016
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Monday, June 6, 2016
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Monday, November 28, 2016
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Monday, December 5, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday, February 27, 2017
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Monday, March 6, 2017
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017-18

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Monday, April 3, 2017
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Monday, April 10, 2017
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Monday, May 1, 2017
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Monday, May 8, 2017
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Monday, May 15, 2017
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Thursday, October 19, 2017

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. PETTEN: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government should be reducing, not increasing, Marine Atlantic ferry rates to drive tourism growth and stimulate the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to press the province’s federal Members of parliament, the federal government, to reducing marine ferry rates.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

As my colleague just spoke in Question Period, Marine Atlantic rate increase has a great impact on tourism, Mr. Speaker, on the rubber tire traffic, the travelling public of the province who travel outside the province for vacations or just to get off the Island. It’s such a vital link.

It also has an impact on our grocery shelves and many other services we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians expect to receive. By these rate increases, it’s unfair with such a vital link. We do want the government to press the federal Members to get those rates reduced.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This petition is To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have an interest in participating in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to press the Government of Canada to schedule both preparatory consultations and inquiry sessions in communities in Newfoundland and Labrador in which grieving Aboriginal families live.

Mr. Speaker, as a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador, like so many of us, I’ve often been very frustrated at the fact that sometimes Upper Canada seems to think the country stops at Nova Scotia. I think there are a lot of people in this province who had high expectations, given the cozy relationship, this would no longer happen. Mr. Speaker, we see evidence of it continuing to happen today, despite the cozy relationship.

Newfoundland and Labrador has been left off the list of meetings to seek public input on the design and scope of the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. We are part of this nation, Mr. Speaker, and our indigenous people are just as important as any other person across this country.

A primary reason for holding this inquiry is to shine a spotlight on the tragedies, the people and the communities that have for far too long been ignored so that justice could be served. It is inexcusable that the schedule of meetings ignores our province where so many of these tragedies have occurred.

Indeed, the oversight is all the more difficult to understand, Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that the late Loretta Saunders, whose tragic death was the galvanizing event that triggered this inquiry, was an indigenous woman who called Newfoundland and Labrador her home. A significant portion of Newfoundland and Labrador’s people identify as indigenous, and they have an interest and a right to be part of the process of designing and scoping this inquiry.

Many of Canada’s indigenous peoples’ live in rural communities and many of these communities in our province are particularly remote. To be effective, the inquiry must go to places where people live. The people of these rural communities will surely tell you this, and explain why if they are to be given the opportunity to be heard in their communities during the inquiry’s development phase.

Mr. Speaker, our leader has written to Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, expressing disappointment on this matter. As the critic for women’s policy and an MHA who represents many Aboriginal constituents, I express my disappointment as well, and urge the provincial government to call on Ottawa to include Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government cannot justify discriminating Newfoundland and Labrador when determining the dates of the recreational ground fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to be vocal in calling for the Government of Canada to extend the recreational ground fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador to promote fairness, safety and tourism to our province.

Mr. Speaker, this really goes to the heart of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We settled here to be able to catch a few fish and that is what we have done for years and years and years. It is very important. It is one of the things that I think I enjoy most in life, going out and being able to catch a cod because it is what we are as people.

I come from a fishing community, grew up all of my life around the fishery. I cut out cod tongues. My father used to fight with me because I wanted to go the cod trap and haul traps with him when I was so young. Just to be around the fishery was important to me. But it is important to so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I know down in Flatrock I have people who come down and want to go out to the fishery. It is something that they really, really enjoy. It is part of who we are.

Again, Mr. Speaker, we look at the way today is and tourism is a very important part of Newfoundland and Labrador. For people to be able to come here and catch a cod is so important. But more so than anything else, Mr. Speaker, I watched several times now when I’d see people go out in small fishing boats and risk their lives because the recreation fishery is based on a three-week fishery. It is unbelievable. People want to go out and catch a cod, they feel it’s their right and anything else, but do you know what? There are times when it is very, very rough.

I know the wind was blowing last year, I watched a boat go out the harbour in Flatrock and I said Oh My God, I hope he don’t go. He did turn around and come back. But we should never be put in that position. We should never be put in a position where people lose their lives to go catch a few cod fish that is our God given right.

I believe we really have to push it to the federal government and make sure that the cod fishery is fair to us here in Newfoundland and Labrador, that the dates are changed, that people have the right to go out and catch the fish when it is a safe time to do so.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A day of firsts, a first question in Question Period and now my first petition in this hon. House.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS greater food security ought to be a priority for Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to set targets for improving the food security of Newfoundland and Labrador by promoting the growing in this province of more of the food that we consume.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, food security has to be a high priority for any government. As it was for our government, I’m sure it will be for the new government as well. We all know that we have a province that relies heavily on outside food sources, and we need communities and families in our province to have access to fresh and nutritious foods. Despite the fact that a lot of effort has been made to improve the conditions in this province in that regard, there’s still a lot of work to do.

Many families struggle with the cost of purchasing healthy food. There’s an ever-growing reliance on processed as well as fast foods that are due in part to the rising costs of imported foods. There has been lots of controversy recently about the cost of fruits and produce, for instance.

The drop in value of the Canadian dollar has resulted in the skyrocketing costs of nutritious foods. We also know – and I know Members on both sides of the House would acknowledge – that we have many health challenges in this province; diabetes, heart issues, obesity. The government often has talked about, in recent months, proactive measures. I think all Members of this House have an obligation to our people to actually put those words into action.

We have lots of tradition in this province. When you think about the traditional way of living in Newfoundland and Labrador, we’ve made a living from the land and from the sea. Historically, we’ve grown our own fresh food and we’ve eaten our wild protein from fishing and hunting. We don’t do a lot of that in Mount Pearl, but some of my constituents are taking those activities outside of the geographical confines of the District of Mount Pearl North.

This historical foundation is something that we can capitalize on. I urge the government to put into place a local farm-to-table approach via our agrifoods industry. That will reduce our reliance upon imported foods and fatty fast foods.

I know government has committed in its Throne Speech to a new strategy for agriculture. I look forward to supporting that effort because this is an issue that desperately needs to be further addressed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I present the following petition:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policing is vital to the protection and service of our province’s communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase the presence of law enforcement in the Conception Bay South area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, during the previous election and during the last number of years in Conception Bay South, policing has become a big issue to a lot of the citizens. Like I said, in the last election I knocked on a lot of doors and a lot of people have a lot of concerns with the presence of policing in the community.

I met with the town council who have a committee formed to increase policing. I believe, to my last knowledge, they’ve increased the policing by one unit. In saying that, we still don’t have a dedicated office for the District of CBS. A district with a population of 27,000 people, I think it does deserve that attention.

Whether it be extra policing by one unit, two units, three units, my argument has been when you have a community so spread out – if anyone ever travels to CBS, it’s a large geographical area. The people are asking for it. I’ve heard it loud and clear, and I call upon the House to give serious consideration to doing just that.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government promised to provide $280 million for a CETA Innovation Fund to build our province’s fishery into the future;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to be vigilant and vocal in demanding the federal government live up to their commitment of the $280 million in the Fishery Innovation Fund.

Mr. Speaker, this is so important. Today, earlier the minister made a Ministerial Statement where he and the Premier attended the Boston seafood show, and it is important. We realize in Newfoundland and Labrador – I know in my community there are a lot of fishermen who put a lot back in our community, and the fishing industry is so important to all of us. This fund that was promised to us – by the way, the prime minister of Canada in his election promised that this fund would become available and I hope that you’re working hard to make sure the fund does become available because it’s so important.

Mr. Speaker, we’re seeing in the fishery today a cycle, and it’s a cycle that happens in the fishery. The shell fishery, the shrimp, the crab, we’re noticing in the last little while there is a decline in stocks. We’re seeing it as it goes to the fishermen. I spoke to fishermen in my district this weekend and they tell me that their crab allocations are being decreased. It’s important that we have a fund put in place so we’re ready for the groundfish. I really do believe, as a person who was involved in the ground fishery all my life, the cod is coming back and we have to be ready.

The biggest thing with the Innovation Fund is for us to have our plants ready and our people ready to be able to do it because today – I can remember in my younger years you’d go to a fish plant and you would see so many people who could fillet fish and take care of cod and prepare the cod, but today I don’t know if they’re there.

We need to make sure the innovation and the funds are available to make our plants ready and our fish harvesters ready for this fund. So it’s important that we emphasize how important this is to the federal government and this is given to the province.

Thank you – like promised.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS our province’s seniors deserve quality care and assistance when residing in long-term care facilities; and

WHEREAS our province is currently experiencing an escalating shortage of long-term care beds;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to explore all options, including partnerships, to create new long-term care beds in this province.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have committed to a performance-based infrastructure and in our platform prior to November we had talked about last year building P3s, which in my view they are one and the same thing. Whatever model it is we explore, affordable housing is essential. Long-term care beds for seniors are absolutely essential.

Mr. Speaker, as a Member from rural Newfoundland, I often talk to seniors. No one wants to spend the last few years of their lives in an institution. The longer we can keep them at home, the better. For rural residents in particular, the longer we can keep them living in their communities with a view of the water, which most of us do have in our small, rural remote communities, is absolutely essential.

To me, when I, please God, live to be a senior, I don’t want to be living in a cement building where all I can see are the city streets of St. John’s or Grand Falls or Gander. We need affordable housing, Mr. Speaker, we need long-term care beds, and we need them to be in communities. So I certainly encourage government to explore every option possible to make sure rural Newfoundland and Labrador is provided the infrastructure it needs to look after its seniors.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension is urgently needed at St. Peter’s Primary school in Mount Pearl in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten and the growing school population;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to clarify its position and plan so that St. Peter’s Primary and other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador can properly accommodate students when full-day kindergarten commences in September of 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, for months now, but certainly more so in the last number of weeks, I’ve been receiving an increasing number of calls and emails from constituents in my district who are parents of children about to attend St. Peter’s Primary or who are already attending St. Peter’s Primary. I know the Member for Mount Pearl – Southlands has been receiving similar inquiries and has been advocating on behalf of his constituents as well.

The parents of students who will be attending St. Peter’s in the fall are looking for a clear plan on how full-day kindergarten will be accommodated and what the impact will be. So there are several questions that haven’t been answered yet that parents are hoping will be answered in the weeks ahead.

I want to acknowledge that the Minister of Education has agreed to have a conversation with me about these issues. I hope we’ll be able to get some clarity that we haven’t been able to get from the school board in recent weeks, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker.

We need to know: How will modular classrooms be utilized? How many of them will there be? Are they ordered at this point? What’s the impact going to be on class sizes? There are lots of rumors about that at this point. What’s going to be the impact of team teaching? How many classes will be impacted by team teaching? What grade levels will be impacted? These are the kinds of things that parents are asking about; but, unfortunately, to date, we haven’t been able to get those answers.

Parents are also concerned about the proposed extension. Funding was approved for this extension. Parents are wondering is the extension, in fact, on track for 2017. The contract has not been awarded. The tender has not been called. It should have been by now. Parents are now wondering if there is still a commitment on behalf of school board and government to the extension that is, in fact, desperately needed.

Parents did ask me to bring this matter to the House of Assembly, which I’m doing through this petition today. I look forward to further discussions with both the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the English School District as well.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I present the following petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2015 announced a new school for Witless Bay/Mobile school system; and

WHEREAS the planning design of the new middle school is ongoing;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to ensure that the announced school will be built and will meet the needs of this growing region.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this region of the province from Bay Bulls to Bauline has seen extensive growth in the past number of years. The K to 6 school in Witless Bay has approximately 380 students. Mobile Central High again has a large portion of students. The region itself has seen tremendous growth in terms of young families, people moving into the area, being able to live outside the boundaries of the City of St. John’s, but being close enough to commute back and forth.

With that tremendous growth, we have seen the need for further expansion. In the past number of years, we have seen classrooms being done to St. Bernard’s, as well as portables, to accommodate that increased growth. I know the minister was up to St. Bernard’s a few weeks back to open Education Week and at that time had an opportunity to see the full breadth and scope of St. Bernard’s, the challenges in terms of classrooms and the ability to accommodate students.

He was given a tour by the principal, and I know now has a good understanding. As we move forward in the budget process on behalf of those families, communities and those that attend that institution and moving forward, I impress upon the government on their behalf the importance that we move forward with this very worthwhile initiative.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government cannot justify discriminating against Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in determining the dates of the recreational ground fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to be vocal in calling on the Government of Canada to extend the recreational ground fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador to promote fairness, safety and tourism.

Mr. Speaker, I’m going to get up every day that I can because this is so important to so many different people in our province. I talked to Members over on the other side and everywhere you go – people at work even here at the House of Assembly that enjoy getting out for the recreational fishery. We all believe that it’s our God-given right to be able to go on the water and catch a fish. We do realize that the moratorium came in and there was a time that we had to stop fishing. It seems like when you talk to most people – even the fishermen when you talk to them, they feel that the ground fishery is coming back. This is a part of who we are as people.

Safety is a very, very important time. When you look at there’s three weeks in the summertime and a week in September – I’ve been involved in the food fishery since it started and, to tell you the truth, I’d say last year I didn’t get out at all in September; the year before I think I got out once, and the year before that once.

Mr. Speaker, September is a hard time on the water for fisher people. We’re putting people’s safety in front of everything else. I think it’s important that we make sure the federal government realizes how important this is to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s very, very important. Not only is it important – it’s important that people do not risk their lives to catch a few codfish. It’s important that we don’t put people in jeopardy.

I spoke to a gentleman yesterday. He told me that September is the time of year he likes to get his bit of fish to keep for the winter because it’s the best time to do it. We’re putting people on the water when it’s not safe. It’s not fair to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to be doing that.

Also, another big part of this is our tourism industry. Tourism is a very important part of rural Newfoundland and a part of Newfoundland in general. Mr. Speaker, I tell you, when somebody that’s not used to going out and catching a codfish gets the opportunity to go out and catch one, it’s an experience that they hold for the rest of their lives. This can be sold as a huge tourism attraction for the whole province. If you talk to all the tourists in boats and everybody that’s around, it’s a real good idea to be able to promote that they can go out and have their people on the tour boats be able to catch a fish.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the remediation of the Manolis L site is an urgent federal responsibility;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to bring pressure to bear on the federal government to remediate the Manolis L site.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, this is not a new issue; it’s been off the waters of Change Islands and Notre Dame Bay for quite some time. It’s been an issue that the hon. Minister for BTCRD has brought to the floor on many occasions for action. Our former government also lobbied to have this site remediated.

Prime Minister Trudeau has promised to remove the oil from the vessel; he promised this during the campaign stop in the province. The people via petition are now calling for action on this and they want the potential environmental disaster prevented. Is this another promise that people are waiting on? We need action.

Thank you very much.

 

 

 

 

Monday, March 21, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. PETTEN: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Terra Nova trestle is an indispensable link in the Newfoundland T’Railway Provincial Park;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to give priority to repairing the Terra Nova trestle when allocating infrastructure funding this year.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the previous government committed to repairing the decking on this trestle, but when the engineers went out to do the repair the abutments were in bad shape. So basically they had to stop the re-decking and more work was required. We have cabins on the other side of this trestle that are going through the river, which is creating a danger. We have tourists who use the T’Railway. Right now you have a barrier set up there – it stops and then you have to travel back a fair distance to get back on the main trail.

It’s a safety concern. Livyers use it, cabin owners, and tourists and locals. So, I respectfully ask for immediate attention to be given to this very serious issue.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS greater food security ought to be a priority for Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to set targets for improving the food security of Newfoundland and Labrador by promoting the growing in this province of more of the food we consume.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador imports 90 per cent of its produce, which means Newfoundlanders and Labradorians aren’t surviving on their own without outside help from national and international agricultural industries. This should be a cause for concern for all of us. We do rely heavily on outside food sources and we need to do more to ensure that our families and communities do have access to fresh and nutritious foods.

I know that for many families the cost of purchasing healthy foods is a real struggle. There is too much of a reliance on processed foods and fast foods. That has something to do with the rising costs of imported foods like fruits and produce.

The current value of the Canadian dollar has also impacted the cost of nutritious foods. This is a complex issue. There is a lot of work to be done. We want to work with government to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to tackle food security in this province.

We have lots of health issues in this province. We’ve heard the government talk about proactive measures, as I mentioned before. We have to be proactive when it comes to tackling food security.

I would encourage government, once again, to put into place a local farm-to-table approach, working with our agrifoods industry and hopefully, ultimately, that will reduce our reliance on imported foods and fatty fast foods as well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have an interest in participating in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to press the Government of Canada to schedule both preparatory consultations and inquiry sessions in communities in Newfoundland and Labrador in which grieving Aboriginal families live.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, it’s certainly an honour for me to rise in this House today to bring forth this petition a second time, and I will continue to bring forth this petition on behalf of the people until we actually see some concrete action.

This is Aboriginal Peoples Week, as has been discussed in the House already today, and I call upon our government to stand strong and united in demanding that the Aboriginal people and communities of our fine province are included in both the preparatory and inquiry sessions, Mr. Speaker, because the preparatory sessions will outline and define the scope of the inquiry that will take place. It’s very important that the voices of the people in communities be heard.

Yes, we acknowledge there were some provision for certain people to travel; we want the voices of every person who wants to be heard to actually have that opportunity. It’s only fair and it’s something they deserve.

Many of Canada’s indigenous peoples live in rural communities, and for us here in Newfoundland ours are particularly remote, and the travel, to be honest, is prohibitive. The expensive travel is prohibitive. So many voices will not be heard unless the inquiry and the people involved with the inquiry and the officials actually travel directly to these communities where the people live. The people of these rural communities will surely tell you this and explain why, if they are given the opportunity to be heard in their communities during the inquiry’s development phase.

Mr. Speaker, our leader has written to Carolyn Bennett, who is the federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, expressing disappointment on this matter. As the critic for Women’s Policy and an MHA who represents many Aboriginal constituents, I express my deep disappointment as well and urge this provincial government to call on Ottawa to include Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our people are just as important as every other Canadian, and it is high time that Upper Canada starts treating us with the respect we deserve. It was touted that a federal-provincial government will yield results with a close working relationship and we’re hoping to see that delivered, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member’s time is expired.

MS. PERRY: Thank you very much.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government promised to provide $280 million for CETA innovation fund to build our province’s fishery into the future;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to be vigilant and vocal in demanding that the federal government live up to its commitment of $280 million for the fisheries innovation fund.

Mr. Speaker, we realize today is the federal government’s budget day. We, on this side of the House, are hoping that this will be part of their budget today that they will announce that $280 million that will help our fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We all realize the importance of the fishery to this province. Right now we can see in the province that the shell fishery, our shrimp and our crab, are on a little bit of a decline and our groundfish is coming back. Mr. Speaker, this fund is set up so that it can help our industry, help our harvesters, help people out there get into the new of type fishery like we had to do when the ground fishery went down.

It’s very important that the federal government live up to its commitment of the $280 million. We put pressure on them to make it so that rural Newfoundland can survive because that’s the gist of all of this, is making sure that our fishery survives.

Mr. Speaker, I urge the government to work with their counterparts in Ottawa and make sure we get this fund.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for the District of Conception Bay South.

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government should be reducing, not increasing, Marine Atlantic ferry rates to drive tourism growth and stimulate the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to press the province’s federal Members of Parliament and the federal government to reduce Marine Atlantic ferry rates.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

This is the second time I’ve presented that petition because there are a couple of things that brings it up. I know when we were in government and I was part of that government – I wasn’t an elected official, but I was in the department actually where Marine Atlantic resided.

The governing party now gave us a lot of grief any time anything happened with Marine Atlantic – especially rate increases and whatnot, and fair game. We have Members over there that have made a career out of bashing Marine Atlantic every opportunity they got, anything they’ve done.

On this issue, I just have to say their silence is deafening. There’s not been a murmur; there’s not been a word of any sort. You’re raising rates for tourism. I mean, it’s our lifeline; it’s our grocery store shelves. I’m surprised that there’s no one up over there who actually took it upon themselves to ask their federal cousins why these rates are increased and why not reduce them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS firefighters, both career and volunteer, are exposed to many hazards in their line of duty; and

WHEREAS firefighters, both career and volunteer, risk their lives and well-being to serve our communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to bring forward workers’ compensation legislation containing a presumptive cancer and cardiac clause for firefighters, both career and volunteer.

Mr. Speaker, this issue has been talked about for many years. I recall debating this issue during my time in local government. As part of the past administration, there was quite a bit of dialogue about this issue as well. During the recent election campaign, our party committed to enacting the legislation that I’m speaking about here today had we been elected and successful in forming government.

We have to acknowledge that our fire and emergency services professions – their health is impacted, no doubt, by the work they do. There was a report in 2013 by the Statutory Review Committee on Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation. It recommended that our province should enact legislation containing a presumptive cancer clause for firefighters. Most provinces already have it, Mr. Speaker.

A full-time career firefighter who serves for a specified period of time and develops a specific form of cancer is presumed to have developed that cancer as a result of having served as a firefighter. Many provinces also have a presumptive clause with respect to a heart injury that a full-time firefighter suffers within 24 hours of attending a fire scene in the performance of his or her duties. The firefighter is presumed to have suffered a work-related injury.

This recognition impacts the firefighter’s ability to receive compensation. Enacting such legislation is the right thing to do. We were committed to doing it and we’re calling upon the new government to do the same.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 11, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policing is vital to the protection and service of our province’s communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase the presence of law enforcement in the Conception Bay South area.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I presented a similar petition a couple of weeks back and I plan on continuing to do so as I have a lot of these petitions from the people in my district, from the Member opposite for Harbour Main and also my colleague, the MHA for Topsail – Paradise.

Right throughout the district there is a huge concern on policing. We have had an increase in the last number of weeks. I know there has been an increase in patrol vehicles. The community of Conception Bay South is the largest town in the province, probably the second largest municipality, and right now we rely upon two, maybe three police vehicles.

As it was well published, last week we had an armed robbery every day. A couple of those happened to be in CBS, and it is not uncommon. It’s a daily occurrence.

During the election it was hammered home to me loud and clear that people have concerns and they don’t feel safe. We don’t have a police presence in the sense – you can’t go find an office. It wasn’t a dedicated office. It was kind of a satellite. That too has since been closed down.

I commend the increase in police patrols. There have been some improvements there but I do lobby the government to give strong consideration to establishing a dedicated office for the Town of CBS. As I said, it’s a fast growing community. The people are asking for it and I am advocating on their behalf.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker.

It’s certainly an honour and a privilege for me to rise in this hon. House again today and bring forward my petition which I have brought forward on a number of occasions as well, Mr. Speaker.

This petition: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have an interest in participating in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to press the Government of Canada to schedule both preparatory consultations and inquiry sessions in communities in Newfoundland and Labrador in which grieving Aboriginal families live.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, in my prelude I said I had brought this petition forward to the House now – the House has been open for three weeks and I’m bringing it forward at least on a weekly basis. I will continue to do so until such time as we see results, as we see an announcement from the federal government that says they are actually going to conduct their consultations right here in the communities in Newfoundland and Labrador where people are affected.

We will not quit and we will not sit back and wait idly for them to make a decision. We will continue to apply pressure. We call upon our Members in government, sitting on the government side of this House in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, to join with us so that the results can be delivered for the people of our Aboriginal communities.

This petition I have here today – and this being at least the third one, if not the fourth one – has 12 pages of signatures, Mr. Speaker. It’s a very important issue and a very important concern to all persons in Newfoundland and Labrador, not just our indigenous people.

We really want our voices to be heard and we feel strongly. It’s fine to send down a few plane tickets and pay for some hotel rooms to bring some people up to Halifax to ask about what we think the consultation should look like, but it’s not good enough, Mr. Speaker. It’s okay to do that if you’re doing that in conjunction with going to communities, but not in and of itself because it’s not enough.

These communities as a whole are impacted. Men, women, children, grandparents, nieces, nephews, everybody wants to share their views and their concerns about what is happening with murdered and missing Aboriginal persons, Mr. Speaker.

We want these community consultations to take place right here in our province. We want Members of the government opposite to work with their federal cousins and make sure they deliver the results that the people of this province are expecting.

Thank you so much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I’m glad to rise today and present a petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension was announced to the Robert E. Howlett highway on March 25, 2014; and

WHEREAS the environmental assessment, design and engineering of this project is complete; and

WHEREAS continued residential commercial growth has increased traffic on the Southern Avalon;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to continue with this significant piece of infrastructure to enhance and improve traffic to the Southern Avalon.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, over the past 15 to 20 years, certainly on the southern Avalon, we’ve seen tremendous growth in residential development, in terms of commercial development, significant manufacturing and small business operations. Obviously, the fishery along the Southern Shore and the southern Avalon is extremely important.

There’s one major highway to the southern Avalon. With that growth and with the boundary to the City of St. John’s, we’ve seen tremendous growth in regard to the amount of traffic on that highway. That’s why for many years we’ve lobbied to see new infrastructure built, so we could see an extension to the Robert E. Howlett which would bring that traffic and highway up beyond Bay Bulls Big Pond, bringing it down to drop it in at the city limits of Bay Bulls and St. John’s after Middle Pond. As well, it takes that heavy traffic volume out of residential areas as you go through Middle Pond and around Big Pond and those areas which are so important.

I know there’s infrastructure money that the federal government has talked about in the budget. I’ve had discussions with MP O’Regan for the area, very good discussions, exchanged information in regard to his efforts in terms of getting recognition and partnering to get funding to do this. I also have written the provincial Minister of Transportation and Works and actually advised him that this is indeed a worthy project, is shovel ready and shovel worthy.

So we look forward to the coming weeks and months ahead in regard to this piece of infrastructure which is so vital and important to the southern Avalon to continue the economic growth and certainly to continue to meet the transportation needs of that region.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of residents in the Mount Pearl area. To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension is urgently needed at St. Peter’s Primary school in Mount Pearl in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten and the growing school population;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to clarify its position and plan so that St. Peter’s Primary and other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador can properly accommodate students when full-day kindergarten commences in September 2016.

And is in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve spoken to this issue in the past in this session of the House of Assembly. I’ve also had an opportunity to correspond with the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and I thank him for the response.

There is some more particular information that is needed by parents from the school board to address some specific concerns that still have not been addressed. Overcrowding is the fundamental issue at St. Peter’s Primary. It’s not about staffing. There are great staff and a very engaged school council. It’s not about ratios. The issue is that there isn’t sufficient physical space for the programs that are proposed for September 2016.

The fact that government and the school board have delayed the planned extension that was budgeted for, it now won’t be ready until at least 2018. That means that we have a bad situation for at least two school years. This is an extension that should be fast-tracked.

There is inadequate space for the play-based learning model and teen teaching for full-day kindergarten. Soon there will be no outside play space due to modular classrooms and the eventual construction. The parking issues are atrocious and will only get worse. Students will be eating lunch at their desks for the next two years. We’re concerned about what supervision will be in place over the lunch period for kindergarten classes, particularly the ones with over 27 students in them and there will be at least three of those.

Rezoning the school two years ago was an unfortunate decision that I spoke against at the time. The move to K to 3 has made this situation worse. We need the extension. We need accommodation for outside play space. The parking issues need to be addressed. Some of the supervision issues that are being raised need to be addressed as well.

This is fundamentally about overcrowding. There is more that can be done, and I hope that the school board will take the necessary action.

Thank you.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again today to present the petition I presented – this is probably the third time now. As I said, I will continue to present it.

It is: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policing is vital to the protection and service of our province’s communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase the presence of law enforcement in the Conception Bay South area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, those petitions, I have a stack of them. Actually, they were delivered to me right throughout the community. I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again today that it stretches from the MHA for Harbour Main right from Seal Cove right down to my colleague for Topsail – Paradise District, right at the beginning of Paradise. The entire district is calling on an increased police presence. As I said yesterday, I made a commitment I would advocate for the residents, and I’m continuing to do that.

Like you say, it’s fine to have a police vehicle – if you live 30 minutes outside of Fort Townshend, you need a dedicated office that people can see, locate it. There has to be something manned. It’s fundamentally flawed in my mind when you’ve got a town the size of CBS that is arguably the largest municipality in the province outside the City of St. John’s, and we’ve got three cars that sometimes they’re called away and you’ve got one vehicle on – we only had two up until about two weeks ago.

We don’t have anywhere to go, there is no office space, and there is no recognition the police force exists. There was a building there at one time with a satellite office. That’s no longer there. I’ve spoken to the town that, I think, would be willing to have conversations with the RNC to provide some sort of office space. It’s an issue within the municipality, it’s an issue I discussed with our town council, and it’s an issue I continue to speak on. I have a lot more petitions to present, Mr. Speaker. It’s something I’m passionate about. Like I said yesterday, I got the message loud and clear from the constituents, and I guess my role in the House of Assembly is to stand and speak on their behalf, which is exactly what I’m doing.

So I once again call upon the government to give some consideration to having a dedicated office with dedicated officers for the Town of CBS. Protection is everything. As we know, armed robberies are happening on a daily basis, and they are happening in CBC probably on a percentage-wise more than anywhere else. Crime, accidents – we have a lot of drugs. It’s a lot of things happening in our society and people don’t feel safe.

If you don’t feel safe, Mr. Speaker, that’s a pretty sad statement. I think increased police presence will give an increased sense of security, and no doubt increasing police presence will give people more sense of security.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It’s certainly an honour and a privilege for me to stand in the House and present this petition today. To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS our province’s seniors deserve quality care and assistance when residing in long-term care facilities; and

WHEREAS our province is currently experiencing an escalating shortage of long-term care beds;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to explore all options, including partnerships to create new long-term care beds in this province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we have an aging population in this province. I’m sure all Members of this of this hon. House place great value on our seniors. Our seniors are certainly the reason for being for all of us. They deserve the best of care in their golden years. As a government, we have a responsibility to ensure that we do what we can to ensure these years are as enjoyable as they possibly can be. The government of the day certainly has a responsibility to address this major issue.

I was absolutely shocked, I have to say – I’m digressing a little bit from what I had intended to talk about – when I heard today in the House no denial for the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, but no support whatsoever by government opposite for looking at public-private partnership for seniors’ home care. I find that very disturbing, Mr. Speaker. It makes you wonder where the priorities are and where the people versus profits really fit in the minds of the Members opposite.

Long wait times for long-term care and acute care services remain in our health sector today, and left unchecked these wait times are going to continue to grow, Mr. Speaker. Aggressive action needs to be taken and it needs to be taken now. Our seniors deserve better, far better than what they are receiving from the government of the day.

Newfoundland and Labrador is facing an increase in demand for long-term care and community support services. With the population aging and prevalence of chronic disease and disability increasing, the government must find a way to meet the needs of seniors and their families.

Mr. Speaker, I am at a loss to understand why the government will not consider public-private partnerships because it is in other jurisdictions a very successful model that works without cost to the government. I would venture to say it would save government much more than what it will supposedly make by privatization of many of our services in this province, such as the Liquor Corporation and God knows what else we’re going to hear about on Thursday.

One thing I do like is the commitment to provide a cost-benefit analysis on all of that and we’ll certainly be posing the question for the people of the province –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. PERRY: – what’s in the best interest: partnerships for the people.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 18, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government cannot justify discriminating against Newfoundlanders and Labradorians when determining the dates of the recreational groundfish fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to be vocal in calling the Government of Canada to extend the recreational food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador to promote fairness, safety and tourism in our province.

Mr. Speaker, the fishery is a huge part of our province. It’s a huge part of who we are as a people. This government across the way don’t realize that; they don’t know how important the fishery is to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I talked to a lot of fishermen and fisher people and they tell me that they all agree with the recreational fishery, but it should be done and let the fishermen and the fisher people in this province get out and catch the cod. It should be something that this government is doing to ensure there are markets in place. It’s the one thing that can keep rural Newfoundland alive. Everybody in rural Newfoundland and Labrador and everywhere in Newfoundland understands the importance of the fishery other than the government.

Mr. Speaker, the recreational fishery is important to our communities. I urge the minister to talk to his counterparts. They’re talking about a tag system. Let the people know what’s happening and let the people know where we’re to. Also, let the fishermen know when and schedule for a recreational fishery.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the lifeline of the residents of Bell Island, both socially and economically, is its ferry service;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to confirm that every measure be taken to expedite the modifications to the existing wharf structure, ensuring that Bell Island returns to two-ferry service as soon as possible.

And as in duty bound your petitioners, will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, Bell Island and the people who are serviced by the ferry service there have been reliant on a two-ferry service. We invested, as an administration, over the last number of years millions of dollars to ensure that people would have equitable access to transportation so it would grow the economy.

We’ve moved from a reliance on income support to a commuting service, Mr. Speaker, that 525 people a day travel to the mainland part of the Island and work in the service industry, work in professional services, are health professionals, to ensure their stability and their financial contributions are significant. We’ve been down to one ferry. There’s been no work done on the Portugal Cove side terminal for the last five months. Even though there was a contract let, the breakwater itself – which is another issue around parking – has all the construction equipment there and all the materials ready to go, but nothing has been done.

We’ve been urging the department to work a deal with the contractors to start moving that forward. We have issues around parking, which becomes a safety issue. We have an issue around new ferries coming here and no ability to put them into play because of the fact that wharfs won’t be done.

More importantly, the people of Bell Island are worried about having a two-ferry service that they always had. This administration talks about diversification and their policies about growing tourism. Well, Bell Island’s one of the hottest growing areas for tourism in this province, and you’re stifling that because you’re not moving forward on the contract that was put in place.

So I urge the minister, and I urge him to work with his colleagues to ensure that the contractor gets on site and starts doing the work they were contracted to do.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS our province’s seniors deserve quality care and assistance when residing in long-term care facilities; and

WHEREAS our province is currently experiencing an escalating shortage of long-term care beds;

WHERUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to explore all options including partnerships to create new long-term care beds in this province.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, it’s very difficult for me to stand here this afternoon. We are all very angry in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. As I stand here and present this petition on behalf the people calling for more long-term care beds to take care of the seniors, Mr. Speaker, who’ve given their entire lives to this province, we face an announcement of another loss of 50 long-term care beds in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The people of this province have certainly been let down by this Liberal government. It is well known that we have an aging population in this province and seniors need to have adequate care facilities.

The announcement today that mass layoffs are coming will do nothing to improve the standard of care for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Is this the stronger tomorrow you promised the people? Remember, no layoffs under a Liberal government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. PERRY: Mr. Speaker, I’m getting some heckling from across the way. The person who called last year for double dentures and cut it all out altogether this year, Mr. Speaker.

In our district, we don’t like to lose things. We don’t like to acquire something by losing something else. We lost our dialysis today. We lost our clinic in Hermitage today. We lost services to rural remote communities like Rencontre East, Gaultois, McCallum. These people can’t even get a doctor, Mr. Speaker, now they have to travel even further to get to a doctor. It is absolutely deplorable that you called upon them to vote for you and this is how you treat them. The government has a responsibility to address this major issue – no thoughts whatsoever of honouring the promises they made to the people.

Not one single word came out in the budget on long-term care but they ripped the partnership program that we had in place for 350 long-term care beds. There is a shortage of long-term care beds and the plan to address this would make a massive difference to individuals and their families and it would create a lot of jobs, Mr. Speaker. We need those jobs today more so than ever. Long wait times for long-term care and acute care services remain in our health sector today and left unchecked, these wait times will grow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. PERRY: Mr. Speaker, is my time concluded?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS. PERRY: Okay. Well, I certainly will be back to speak in this House again, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. PERRY: The people of this province deserve better!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I commend the Member for St. John’s East – Quidi Vidi on her speed. She’s very fast and races to her feet quicker than I can some days, Mr. Speaker.

Today’s petition that I’m presenting relates to food security.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS greater food security ought to be a priority for Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to set targets for improving the food security of Newfoundland and Labrador by promoting the growing in this province of more of the food we consume.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this petition is more important now than ever, given the budget that came down last week. The price of food, which in many cases is already at outrageous levels, is now going to go up because of the increase in taxes that this government is placing on fuel.

Labrador communities have seen the Air Foodlift Subsidy being removed. The health of the mind and body is partially a result of the foods that we eat. We get 90 per cent of our vegetables from outside the province. Because of this, we only have enough fresh vegetables for several days if there is a problem with the delivery of food. We also make a lot of fishery food products, but we send 80 per cent of these products outside of the province. This helps people have jobs and businesses make money, but it means there is less food from the fishery for the people in our province.

Our province has a lot of communities that are spread out. Many communities in the province don’t have their own grocery store. This means that people buy food at corner stores or drive to nearby towns to go to grocery stores. For every 10,000 people in our province, there are 14 fast food stores, eight corner stores, four gas stations with stores and three grocery stores. There will be a need now for this more than ever before. With no regard to the health of the people of the province, this government has imposed taxes without any consideration for those affected.

There are fewer farmers and we need more farmers. There’s less land being used for farming. We need to use more of our arable land for farming. Our farmers are getting older and not many young people are becoming farmers. We need to do more to attract new entrants to farming. The cost of buying land and growing food is high. Many of the animal feed and fertilizer used on farms also comes from outside the province.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll conclude by saying there’s a growing interest in food security in Newfoundland and Labrador. The time is right for all sectors to work together to achieve food security and to create a healthier food system.

Thank you.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, present a petition. I’ve presented this before and I will continue on, I guess, on this one as well.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government should be reducing, not increasing, Marine Atlantic ferry rates to drive tourism growth and stimulate the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to press the province’s federal Members of Parliament and the federal government to reduce Marine Atlantic ferry rates.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

As I’ve stated before, Mr. Speaker, Marine Atlantic ferry rates have a distinct impact on every one of us here, whether it’s the grocery shelves, whether you’re travelling or you’re coming in – off the province. Tourism is a big factor. With our rubber-tire traffic, as I said before, it will definitely have an impact.

Now on top of that we have a 16.5-cent a litre tax added to our gasoline. So not only are the rates at Marine Atlantic increased, but that 16.5 cents will definitely have a detrimental impact on in-province tourism for sure and, no doubt, it will affect the prices on our grocery sales.

One other point to that, as I say about tourism, we have a $13 million tourism budget. A couple of months ago we were told it was going to be increased by a million dollars a year for the next three years, but that never happened.

In closing, I just want to say, you have 16.5 cents a litre on your gas, ferry rates have increased, there is no new money for tourism, which we have a successful tourism campaign, but we can always be better. I do encourage government to press their federal cousins and try to get some relief on the marine ferry rates, because I suspect we will see a big drop in tourism this year.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I guess the Member is not going to vote for the budget because there was no announcement in this year’s budget for it. So that’s good to hear.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, to the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy as introduced in Budget 2016 unfairly targets the middle class; and

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy also asks low-income earners to pay more than their fair share instead of increasing taxes to high income owners;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge this government to immediately stop the introduction of the temporary Deficit Reduction Levy.

Mr. Speaker, we’re hearing from everyone. We’re hearing from people all across this Island, all over the place. I know every message I’m getting on Facebook – I’ve received more messages since this budget came down than I’ve ever received in the last eight years I’ve been in this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I like to be fair, and fair to people. I think that’s the name of the game, we should all be fair. This levy is so unfair. It’s unfair to the poor people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at this, here is a person or a family that’s making $25,000 a year and they are expected to pay $300.

AN HON. MEMBER: No way.

MR. K. PARSONS: Yes they are. If you look at your own thing it shows $300. It’s not wrong. That’s what’s wrote here on this.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: People from $25,000 to $36,000 pay $300. It’s right here in your document.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: You’re supposed to sit down when the Speaker stands up

MR. K. PARSONS: I don’t listen to you (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the Speaker is standing, I say to the Member for Cape St. Francis.

I am not going to allow Members of the House to disregard and disrespect the authority of the House. I’ve recognized the Member for Cape St. Francis. I ask for order in the House.

The Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, listen, this is about fairness. It’s about being fair to people.

I’ve received calls and emails from people in all the districts, in the other districts in this province, and they all tell me the same thing; this is so unfair. How can you justify that a person of $25,000 a year is going to pay about 2 per cent of their income, versus a person who’s making $200,000, $300,000 pay 0.18 or 0.15 per cent? It’s just an unfair tax.

I ask the government, I really ask you to think about it, and all the backbenchers and everybody in this House of Assembly are getting emails; you’re getting people’s concern. People are really concerned about this tax. Do the proper thing and cancel it.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 decreased the amount of funding available for health care services; and

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016, Eastern Health has reduced routine breast cancer screening in women aged 40 to 49; and

WHEREAS early detection of cancer results is the best prognosis possible;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to direct Eastern Health to reverse its decision and to ensure that the population-based Breast Screening Program is accessible to women aged 40 to 49.

Mr. Speaker, we’re all very upset with Budget 2016. I go to bed every night and pray that the Members opposite will have the courage to stand up and vote against it and vote with the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We just listened to the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi talk about the direct impact it’s having on people’s lives. People may die as a result of this move, that’s how serious this is.

Early detection of breast cancer makes all the difference in a woman’s survival rate. Many of these women have young children. They all have friends and families who love and care for them. To take such a backwards step when it comes to women’s health is absolutely deplorable, Mr. Speaker. I truly hope that this decision is reversed and reversed in short order.

There’s no price tag we can put on a person’s life. It was their own member opposite, who represents us in Ottawa today, who stood in this House year after year after year, a person who experienced breast cancer herself and lobbied for the breast cancer screening to take place, Mr. Speaker, at the age of 40. We did that. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the women of this province deserve no less. I would say almost every single day I get an email from women in this who are under the age of 50 and they’re looking for breast cancer screening, or they’ve already been diagnosed.

It’s becoming a problem, and it’s an issue that’s confronting women’s health. Our health, Mr. Speaker, is just as important as anyone else’s in this province. I call upon the Minister of Health and the Members of Executive Council to reverse this budget, many components of it, including this one.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m pleased to have an opportunity to rise and present a petition in the House of Assembly today.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the seniors of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and care; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a responsibility to act in the best interest of our seniors; and

WHEREAS the government has decided to shut down Masonic Park Nursing Home and reduce long-term care beds in the region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and not bring undue hardship upon the residents of Masonic Park and find alternative measures that will allow them to continue to stay at the place they call home.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve spoken a number of times in this House about government and Eastern Health’s planned closure of Masonic Park Nursing Home, and I will continue to raise the issue. It’s one that’s affecting 40 families in my community, in my district, and the impacts go much further than that, Mr. Speaker. There have been several statements made in this House of Assembly that are simply not true, and can’t be supported by any evidence whatsoever.

The minister has stood in this House and said the long-term care facility at Masonic Park is in a state of disrepair. That is simply not true, and there’s no evidence to support that.

Mr. Speaker, the minister certainly said in response to my questions in this House that all residents would be moved down to the Veterans Pavilion at the Miller Centre and all would be well. That’s also not true. In fact, there aren’t a sufficient number of beds at the Veterans Pavilion to accommodate all of the residents at the Masonic Park Nursing Home.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has also said that there are no reductions in long-term care beds as a result of these budget decisions, both at Masonic Park and the Waterford. Again, it’s simply not true.

The minister said today that there’s a higher need and demand for long-term care in the Central Region and Western Region. I would acknowledge that to be true; however, what he didn’t say is that there are over 60 families today in the Eastern Region – 60 individuals who are in need of long-term care beds, in need of placement in long-term care homes. So how can you possibly justify removing 50 beds from the system when there are 60 people today waiting, and the numbers show that there’s going to be increased demand for the next 20 years?

These people are waiting. As a result of people waiting for long-term care beds, they’re occupying hospital beds that they shouldn’t be. That’s resulting in people lying on stretchers in hallways. It’s resulting in people sitting in emergency rooms for longer hours. It’s resulting in cancelled surgeries. It’s just not right. Closing long-term care beds and closing the Masonic Park Nursing Home –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENT: – is just not right, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy, as introduced in Budget 2016, unfairly targets middle class; and

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy asks low-income earners to pay more than their fair share instead of increasing taxes to the high-income earners;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to immediately stop the introduction of this temporary Deficit Reduction Levy.

Mr. Speaker, as all MHAs go across this province, I’m sure every district because I – this weekend the talk of my whole district is the budget. People are looking at this levy as being so unfair, especially the lower income and the middle class. It’s unfair because it’s not done in proportion. It’s not done to what they make versus a person with a high income.

If a person is making $60,000 a year they have to pay this much, probably 1 per cent of what they’re making, while somebody who’s making $300,000 or $400,000 has to pay a less percentage of what they’re making. So they’re looking at it as really unfair.

Mr. Speaker, every organization – even the former premier, as was said today, is looking and saying this levy is just unfair. A lot of people are looking at it as too much too fast.

I ask this government to reconsider this. It’s too much of a burden on our people. It’s too much of a burden on the low- and middle-class income earners, the hard-working people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Reconsider this levy. It’s just unfair.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PETTEN: Bad back and all, Mr. Speaker, I beat her. It’s not easy to beat her to her feet.

Mr. Speaker, I bring a petition to the House, I’ve brought it here on numerous occasions and I’ll bring it again today.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policing is vital to the protection and service of our province’s communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase the presence of law enforcement in Conception Bay South area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve brought this up on numerous occasions. Many of my constituents have very big concerns on policing and police presence in the district. Like I said before, there is nowhere to show the RNC are anywhere near the community, only when a police vehicle passes by. We used to have an office, that was closed I believe last year or the year before.

I’ve spoken to the town, and a lot of residents keep encouraging me to keep the fight going. I think it’s something we could work on to get some presence in the community. It would be great to see a dedicated office with some dedicated officers for my town. I know the residents are calling upon – with the level of crime. The need is there and I’ll keep advocating for them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We do have time for another petition, very quickly.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to present a petition in the 90 seconds remaining.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the seniors of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and care; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a responsibility to act in the best interest of our seniors; and

WHEREAS the government has decided to shut down Masonic Park Nursing Home and reduce long-term care beds in the region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and not bring undue hardship upon the residents of Masonic Park and find alternative measures that will allow them to continue to stay at the place they call home.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I know I literally have a moment here. The issue is not about the state of the building at Masonic Park. In fact the real savings here is going to be about operational savings because we are eliminating 18 jobs from the long-term care system.

It is really unfortunate for families and for residents, and I ask the government once again to reconsider its position.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I bring the following petition to the House of Assembly:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Witless Bay Line is a significant piece of infrastructure; and

WHEREAS the continuation of the Hebron and Long Harbour projects and the commercial and residential growth on our region has increased the volume of traffic on this highway;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to continue to upgrade this significant piece of infrastructure to enhance and improve the flow of traffic to and from the Trans-Canada Highway;

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this piece of highway connects Route 10, the Southern Shore to the Trans-Canada Highway. Over the past number of years, it has certainly become instrumental in regard to just general travel for residents back and forth between the two regions, but certainly from commercial industrial activity and employment. Many residents from my area travel back and forth to Bull Arm, Long Harbour, and even commerce back and forth, even the fishing industry in regard to transportation of various fish species back and forth across that piece of infrastructure.

Over the past number of years the previous administration – we invested somewhere around $1.5 million to the various sections of that piece of highway. It continues to need upgrades, some maintenance work to maintain it, but very heavily used.

From an economic development point of view – and we’ve heard chatter in this House from the government on economic diversification. We haven’t seen a lot of details, but from this piece of infrastructure it’s extremely important. I certainly urge government and the Minister of TW to continue to have a look, do maintenance and continue to build this infrastructure that’s so crucial to the Southern Shore and the access to the Trans-Canada Highway.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government cannot justify discriminating against Newfoundland and Labrador when determining dates for the recreational ground fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to be vocal in calling the Government of Canada to extend the recreational ground fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, promote fairness and safety in tourism in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve presented this petition a number of times. To tell you the truth, I was hoping by the time the 1st of May came along that this would be put to bed and people in the province would know what’s happening with the recreational fishery.

It’s very important, Mr. Speaker, especially in these times of doom and gloom and everything else in our province, that people can look forward to going on the water and it’s safe. That’s the main thing I emphasize every time, is safety, that they don’t be pushed out on weekends when the wind is high and they’re taking chances, and taking chances with their lives.

Also, Mr. Speaker, people are wondering – because a lot of people want to plan holidays and people are coming home. I have a brother that I spoke to last week who said, did you hear anything on the fishery? When is it? Is it going to be the same time? I said I don’t know. People want to know because they plan trips and they plan their vacations around this.

It’s important that we, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, have the opportunity to go out and catch a fish like we’ve always done. It’s important to all Newfoundland, rural and people in around St. John’s. Everybody loves to go out and catch a cod.

I emphasize that these – they brag about their great relationship with their cousins and I know they’re speaking to their cousins in Ottawa. Can they get this done and get it done so the people of Newfoundland can know when this fishery is going to happen.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy, as introduced in Budget 2016, unfairly targets the middle class; and

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy asks low-income earners to pay more than their fair share instead of increasing taxes to high-income earners;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately stop the introduction of the temporary Deficit Reduction Levy.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this levy has been a great cause of concern for many in Newfoundland and Labrador. The discussions we’ve had with people since budget day are truly, truly heart wrenching.

Mr. Speaker, I can understand, I think, how someone who’s never done without food or done without heat probably don’t realize the impact that this levy is going to have. As a person who has great experience with hard times, and having come from a rural area that has seen some really hard times, I can assure you for a senior citizen or for a single mother with two or three small children, trying to find $300 is a lot of money. For someone who’s working in the oil industry or making millions of dollars, it’s probably one less supper at Raymonds.

The people we’re talking about don’t even know what it would be like to go inside the door of a place, Mr. Speaker, like Raymonds. We have to live in the real world and the real world for many people in Newfoundland and Labrador is middle to low incomes.

Of everything we’ve seen in the budget – it’s all devastating; it’s all deplorable. None of it is what the people asked for. None of it is what the people voted for. The most upsetting thing of all we’ve seen is the levy.

I really don’t know who they’re listening to, or who they’re taking their advice from. Just last Friday night, a former Liberal premier of this province even suggested the levy be done away with. Listen to the people; go with the higher income tax brackets. I don’t know who they’re listening to. They’re not listening to the Liberals. They’re not listening to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

The message is quite clear from every single resident of this province: Stop the levy. It’s absolutely terrible. The economic consequences and the social consequences that we are going to see a result of this budget and, in particular, this levy, are quite dire. Time will prove that this is the worst ever budget ever seen in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 2, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS emergency responders are at greater risk of post-traumatic stress disorder;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enact legislation containing a presumptive clause with respect to PTSD for people employed in various front-line emergency response professions including firefighters, emergency medical services professionals, police officers, not already covered under the federal legislation.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this week being a week where we acknowledge and we discuss and we understand the importance of mental health and having discussions about mental health, I believe this petition is very timely at this point in time.

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible.)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, is better understood today than it ever has been before in history. It’s becoming better understood as time goes on. PTSD can affect front-line workers in many ways. It can be an illness and an impact related directly to the jobs they do in protecting the public in their various forms of emergency services that goes unnoticed for many, many years.

I know of a large number of cases where police officers, firefighters, medical emergency responders who, later in their career, are slowly and eventually figuring out that many of the illnesses they’ve endured during their lifetime, many of the experiences and the place they find themselves in that particular day is as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder. Being exposed to chaotic and stressful, and quite often fatal circumstances, that quite often could be out of control and which they have to work at to bring under control and to provide those emergency responses.

We know now today, Mr. Speaker, as I said, better than ever before, how broadly and how ranging this is. Under today’s legislation, workers’ compensation has a very narrow view on who can be eligible for coverage under workers’ compensation for PTSD. As a matter of fact, when a person gets diagnosed with PTSD, if they file for workers’ compensation, they’ll be told: Tell me what event caused your illness? What event caused the PTSD?

We also know better than we ever did before that quite often it’s not a single event. It’s an accumulation of events. It’s that continuing mounting pressure and the stress on top of front responders, sometimes after months or years of being exposed to these chaotic situations, as I mentioned, some quite often fatal or multiple fatalities in a situation that it creates the PTSD.

This petition is to encourage our government to enact legislation containing a presumptive clause so that if a person is diagnosed with PTSD it would be presumed that it occurred in the workplace. Because, Mr. Speaker, quite often it is very difficult to prove otherwise but it’s a presumption that happens in other places in Canada under other circumstances. What this petition is doing is asking government to consider doing the same thing.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS this Deficit Reduction Levy, as introduced in Budget 2016, unfairly targets the middle class; and

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy asks low-income earners to pay more than their fair share instead of increasing taxes to high-income earners;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately stop the introduction of the temporary Deficit Reduction Levy.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. PETTEN: Mr. Speaker, as my colleague just spoke on a petition on the levy, I’d go a different angle with it. The levy, as we all know, has been well documented. It’s been a very unpopular levy. We’ve all been bombarded with emails. We understand the impact it’s on middle-income earners.

When you take that in insolation, people are upset. When you put that in conjunction with the rest of the budget items of your added 15 per cent to your insurance, your income tax, your gas tax, all fee increases, the levy is patently unfair to middle-class earners.

Mr. Speaker, as we have said here, I could bring in a stack of petitions to back up my claim of the people’s view on this levy. People have views. The levy is bad but altogether – the levy is just totally unpopular. It’s the most regressive, unpopular tax I think that’s ever been introduced. When you put it with everything else, this budget, in total, is just unbearable for most people.

I do call upon government to revisit the levy. Actually, as a matter of fact, I think they should revisit a lot, but start with the levy.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth;

WHEREAS policy regulations link snow crab harvesting quotas to vessel length; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own fishing vessels of various sizes but because of the policy regulations are restricted to using a smaller vessel, often putting their crews in danger;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to make representation to the federal government to encourage them to change the policy, thus ensuring the safety of those harvesting snow crab.

I believe the minister would agree with this, Mr. Speaker, because what’s happening now today, we have an inshore, midshore and an offshore crab fishery. In a lot of cases the same fishermen are participating in all sectors of this fishery, both inshore – most with inshore and midshore. But the problem is and we have tragedy to show when we see a boat tied to the wharf and it is a 65 footer or 50 footer, and when someone has to go out in a 35-foot boat to harvest crab when they all have a bigger boat at the wharf. Last year, we just saw it in Arnold’s Cove with a crew, with a long liner tied up at the wharf. They had to go out in a smaller boat and people lost their lives.

This is unfortunate; it is very unfortunate. I think all Members in the House of Assembly that are familiar with this fishery – I’m sure the minister is – this policy has to change. Our people are on the water every day and they take their lives in their own hands. It’s a hard fishery. The fishery is done – I spoke to fishermen the other night and they were telling me they leaving at 12 o’clock tonight because there was a window there that the winds are not going to be as high as what they are. They could get out in three days and get back, so they went early because of the window.

Safety is a major issue in any fishery but in the crab fishery when fishermen, harvesters, have boats tied up to the wharf that would make their lives and make their health safer, and we have regulations in place that are forcing them in smaller boats, it’s a huge issue. It’s a huge issue in my district and I’m sure in most of the opposite Members’ districts it is also an issue in theirs.

Mr. Speaker, the policy hasn’t changed. The policy first came in so that we made sure that the inshore fishery was taken care of with the crab and gave them a quota. But today, you’ll see most of the fishermen are involved and harvesters are involved in the midshore, offshore and inshore.

So it’s time for this policy to change. I ask the Minister of Fisheries if he’d get his federal counterparts, talk to them about it because what we saw in Arnold’s Cove last year I hope never happens again. When you see a large vessel tied up at the wharf when they have to use a small vessel.

Thank you very much.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Mount Pearl North, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Mount Pearl North, my fault.

MR. KENT: Thank you.

I am rising to raise a petition on behalf of residents of St. John’s and Mount Pearl, actually, today. This petition is signed by residents of St. John’s.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension is urgently needed at St. Peter’s Primary school in Mount Pearl in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten and the growing school population;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to clarify its position and plan so that St. Peter’s Primary and other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador can properly accommodate students when full-day kindergarten commences in September 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’m glad to have an opportunity to raise concerns on behalf of parents and families of St. Peter’s Primary, both in St. John’s and Mount Pearl once again. I’m pleased to say that recently I did have some discussions with officials from the English School District, and was able to express a number of concerns and make some constructive suggestions on behalf of parents and others in the community as well.

Despite the fact our extension won’t be ready for this fall or even next fall – it will be ready for September 2018, I’m assured – there are things we can do to make the best of a bad situation over the next couple of years. That’s what I’m calling upon on behalf of my constituents, calling upon government and the school district to do just that.

For instance, we have a situation currently, but this September it gets even worse. We have an overcrowded school in Mount Pearl – significantly overcrowded – where there’s going to be a couple of modular classrooms added, there’s going to be four classes where team teaching is taking place, yet down the road at Mary Queen of the World School – also in Mount Pearl – there will be six empty classrooms in September – six empty classrooms.

So yes, it will cause some disruption, yes, there is a downside to forcing students and families to move and staff to move, but it’s unacceptable that we’re going to have an overcrowded building with modular classrooms and team teaching while down the road we have a building with six empty classrooms as of September. Both great schools, both with great administration and staff, and I believe there is a solution here, Mr. Speaker.

One suggestion that has been endorsed by many parents is creating a French immersion stream at Mary Queen of the World. It would deal with some of the overcapacity issues at St. Peter’s Primary, it would fully utilize that space that’s available, and it would take some of the pressure off St. Peter’s Primary at the same time.

So I think that’s one viable suggestion. If the department or the school district has other suggestions about how to make use of this space and address the overcrowding and space issues at St. Peter’s, then we would welcome those as well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It’s an honour to stand in this House and present a petition that I received in my office.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 closed the Advanced Education and Skills office in Bonavista; and

WHEREAS the residents of Bonavista and surrounding communities require and deserve an appropriate level of service;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reconsider its decision to close the Bonavista Advanced Education and Skills office.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of sheets here signed by people from various communities in the surrounding area that the Bonavista office served, from Catalina, Little Catalina, Bonavista and the other communities around that.

Daily, we’re getting petitions in from various communities, particularly around the services that have been cut. The AES office is one that is near and dear to people’s hearts because it offers a multitude of services for people, particularly in rural communities. It offers something that is a hand up versus a handout, Mr. Speaker. I mean, we’re talking about employment programs. We’re talking about being the focal point for people who may want to look at the employment skillset that they may need.

They may want to look at what jobs are out there. How do they access those? That’s what our AES offices were very capable of doing. Making that connection, providing the services that people needed.

I had the privilege for 25 years of working in the AES system. I know all around the province the benefits they provide to their citizens. They’re unique, but at the same time they’re uniform. That everybody in this province has access to proper services.

We talked about employment, but we talked about education. We talked about Adult Basic Education. How people who sometimes are reliant on offices like that may need some additional supports and some additional guidance. The ABE program was a key one that partnered with the AES offices. The employment counsellors there, the intake officers, had a direct connection with the community based ABE programs or the college based ones over the years.

Income Support; people who are reliant when they have no other form of income, Income Support is a key component for their survival. It’s very important. There are all kinds of nuances and all kinds of processes to go through to ensure you get what’s adequate enough for your survival and to make sure you do it in an equitable way. If you happen to be able to move forward, you have a process to tell the officers that you’ve made a step forward, you’re no longer in need of Income Support. So that down the road you don’t get hit with this bill because unbeknownst, money kept going into your account.

We talked about housing. In a lot of these communities Newfoundland and Labrador Housing doesn’t have an office. So the AES office is that link between affordable housing and, particularly, subsidized housing in some of these communities. It’s a very important service that was being offered to the people through the AES offices. All eight have similar programs and skillsets by the trained employees who could offer that to individuals.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BRAZIL: There are a multitude of services they offer in the communities, Mr. Speaker.

I want to conclude by saying, every day I will get up and talk about the closure of AES and encourage government to reconsider.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’ll do a petition again. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done this petition, but I’ll continue to do it.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policing is vital to the protection and service of our province’s communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase the presence of law enforcement in the Conception Bay South area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

I’ve presented this petition numerous times because I have a lot of them, Mr. Speaker.

The other day it was brought to my attention – I was going to take a little break from them because I have presented quite often. The hon. the Minister of Justice, I think – I’m not sure, I may be wrong. I thought part of what he said was the petitions that’s been presented, there’s no change in the policing in CBS last year to this year.

He is 100 per cent right. I wasn’t the MHA last year, but I am this year. Last year, the MHA was one of his colleagues who also lobbied for increased police presence. Both sides of the House are in agreement with it. The former MHA was a Liberal MHA advocating for the same thing I am. I am the MHA on record today, not last year, and I will continue to lobby.

It is 27,000 people. I hear this every single day. The amount of crime in CBS – we don’t have a police office up there. We have two cars that float around. We’re being treated like a little municipality where you get a satellite fellow fly through every now and then. We’re the largest municipality in the province, outside of St. John’s, arguably, and all we have are two cars.

I’ll keep presenting these petitions because people actually want more of them. I just want to continue on down the road representing the people because they want more police presence and I’ll continue on.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to respond to the petition if the Members (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Question Period.

MR. A. PARSONS: You don’t want answers. I was going to give you answers but, sorry, no leave. Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, the minister has all the time to get up, but there’s only a couple minutes left now for me to do a petition that’s important to our people.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I can’t hear.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: Can you ask the minister to be quiet?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: – the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy, as introduced in Budget 2016, unfairly targets the middle class; and

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy asks low-income earners to pay more than their fair share instead of increasing taxes to higher income;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to immediately stop the introduction of this temporary levy – as a reduction in the levy.

Mr. Speaker, everywhere you go people are talking about this budget. No matter where you go to anywhere. I know that the people in the province were hoping for better. I know they were hoping for better. What they were promised – and we see it on the ads every day, that people matter. You can’t lead unless you listen.

Well, listen to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I know some ministers think it is nonsense, another minister says it is what it is, but the people of Newfoundland are talking. Every one of the people over there in those districts knows what I’m talking about because they hear it every day too.

While the ministers get up and say we’re getting emails that are positive, read them out here in the House of Assembly. I have them here, look. I have them right here that’s showing what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador think of your levy. I can read them out all day long. They’re from your districts.

Please, I’m asking you on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to listen to the people that put you in this House of Assembly. You’re just not listening. That’s why you were voted here. Your bosses are the people in the districts.

Ministers, you have districts also, so listen to the people in your districts. This is what they’re telling you. They don’t like the levy. They don’t like the burden you’re putting on them. It’s too much too fast. You’re not listening to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that elected you. Please listen to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and make changes to this ridiculous budget.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We have time for a very quick petition.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 introduces over 50 new fees and over 300 other fee increases; and

WHEREAS Budget 2016 asks the people of this province to pay more for decreasing government services; and

WHEREAS the fee increases negatively impact the financial well-being of seniors, youth, families, students and individuals;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reverse the fee increases as introduced through Budget 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, over 300 fee increases are going to have a dramatic impact on people’s lives here. We’ve talked about not just the levies, we’ve talked about not just the other tax increases, but the fee increases around post-secondary education, about Adult Basic Education, about fees and services for insurance and for other relevant things that drive our economy here. We do implore the government here to review these fees and cut these as quickly as possible.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for recognizing me in the House this afternoon. I’ll read this petition into the record once again. I’ve received another petition related to Masonic Park Nursing Home and people that are very concerned about its upcoming closure.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the seniors of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and care; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a responsibility to act in the best interests of seniors; and

WHEREAS the government has decided to shut down Masonic Park Nursing Home and reduce long-term beds in the region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and not bring undue hardship upon the residents of Masonic Park and find alternative measures that will allow them to continue to stay at the place they call home.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I know I’ve raised this issue in the House multiple times. I’ve had an opportunity to meet with the minister about the issue, and I thank him for that. I’ve had an opportunity to meet with senior officials at Eastern Health, and I thank them as well. Unfortunately, government has no intention of reversing this decision, and there is still time, Mr. Speaker.

In this day and age, in this region, where we have 60 or 70 people today waiting for long-term care beds who are tying up hospital beds resulting in cancelled surgeries and people lying on stretchers in hallways, and backups in emergency rooms, with all of that happening I don’t see how you can possibly justify reducing the number of long-terms care beds in this region when we have so much demand that is impacting health care for our entire population.

Mr. Speaker, there have also been a number of statements made in response to the concerns that I’ve raised that are simply not true. It’s been said by the minister and government that Masonic Park long-term facility is in a state of disrepair – to use the minister’s words. It’s simply not true.

It also been said that all residents would just simply move down to Veterans Pavilion at the Miller Centre; also not true. There isn’t enough space at the Veterans Pavilion at the Miller Centre to accommodate all of the current residents of Masonic Park long-term care facility.

The minister has also said and government has said we’re not cutting long-term care beds. Well, that’s simply not true. The beds that are going to be utilized at Veterans Pavilion, there are about 30 or so beds that are going to be reopened that haven’t been opened in the last year or so. They are not new beds, but they’re being reopened, fair enough. But the government is closing 50.

Reducing long-term care beds right now when there’s such a demand is ridiculous, Mr. Speaker, and it’s affecting the families and the residents that I represent at Masonic Park Nursing Home. I will continue to fight this decision.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policy regulations link snow crab harvesting quotas to length of vessels; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own fishing vessels of various sizes, but because of policy regulations are restricted to using smaller vessels, often putting their crews at risk and in danger; and

WHEREAS the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to make representation to the federal government to encourage them to change the policy ensuring the safety of those harvesting snow crab.

Mr. Speaker, I did this petition last week and I spoke to the minister afterwards and he was in full agreement with me and he said it is something that we should be doing because it’s a safety issue with –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) to tell the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

MR. K. PARSONS: No, no you are talking about the wrong thing. I hope he apologizes for that. I’m talking about the size of vessels and snow crab harvesting.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. K. PARSONS: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, this is very important to the fishermen in the province, especially the people involved in the crab fishery. Again, like I explained last week in the crab fishery, there are a lot of different vessel sizes that people use to go catch crab inshore, midshore and offshore. What’s happening and we have seen it in the industry that in the inshore fleet usually a 35-9 size boat is used for that and midshore it’s a little bit larger and the larger ones go out.

What happened last year in this province, we saw a tragedy when people went out to go fish they went out in a 29- or 30-foot boat to catch crab and they capsized and lost their lives, while they had a larger vessel tied up at the wharf. We just have to think about our fishermen and what they go out in every day. We’re in the North Atlantic; it’s very rough and it can change from time to time.

Because of a policy that is done by the federal government, not this government, I’m asking them to lobby their cousins in Ottawa to change this because it’s so important. We’re putting people’s lives in danger. We’re putting fishermen that are going out on the water and working hard – they always look for a time to go out because of the weather we have. We’re here in the North Atlantic and it can get very, very rough.

I, myself, don’t like out on the water when it’s rough, but they’re forced to go out in small boats. There’s a simple solution to a lot of it. The solution is just change the policy so that fishermen can go out in a boat that’s safe to catch what they have to catch.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It’s an honour to present a petition here related to the budget impacts on Beachy Cove Elementary.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the current 2016 provincial budget impacts adversely and directly the education programs of Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s; and

WHEREAS parents request a one-year delay in the implementation of full-day kindergarten at our school until September 2017 when at such time the new five to nine middle school in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will be open; and

WHEREAS the student population of Beachy Cove Elementary is growing exponentially and the growth is sustainable into the future; and

WHEREAS parents request the reinstatement of the previous teacher allocation formula for Beachy Cove Elementary for this year and subsequent school years to service the growth in enrolment and be able to provide all students with equal opportunities to enrol in French immersion programming;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the previous teacher allocations and delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten in order to provide the children of Beachy Cove Elementary the right to quality education.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour last night of attending the parent reps public meeting on the issues around education at Beachy Cove, particularly the impact this budget is going to have on them. The hundreds who attended – it got to a point where the fire department had to come and control who could get into the building. It was that many people, that many parents who were concerned in that community about where our education system is going and particularly the impact it’s going to have Beachy Cove.

They’ve talked about the capacity in the school system. A school that was built for 400, added on over the last number of years and now has a capacity of nearly 800 people – or 800 will be enrolled. They had issues around the busing, issues around parking, particularly issues around the teacher allotments. They also had major issues around blending classrooms, extreme issues around that, the number of issues that we had talked about today around teacher training around those areas, how it’s going to work, how the students are going to be selected.

They had some major issues around the French program being dropped, that kids who are on a list would not have an opportunity to get into the advanced French immersion program. No process of who gets into that. Where’s the fairness. Is it picked out of a hat? How is that enhancing our education system?

I might note, and I should note that the parent reps who put this off did an extremely professional job. They had a full PowerPoint where they outline the whole structure of the school system, the allocations of the particular makeup, what issues around blended schools and that would be about. Their issue is they’re not going to let this die, Mr. Speaker, they’re going to be lobbying, and this petition is phase one in their lobbying to ensure the changes take place.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 9, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune need to have access to adequate health care; and

WHEREAS the local clinics in rural areas are the main source of medical assistance for our people; and

WHEREAS the government has reduced funding and closed the Hermitage clinics and downgraded services in the Coast of Bays region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the services to the health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it was a devastating day for us in the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune when we heard news that we were having significant cuts to health care in the region, the closure, complete closure of a clinic in Hermitage.

Mr. Speaker, for any of you who have travelled to my district, you would know that we are geographically very widespread. The weather is such that in the summertime, in the months of June, July and August, it’s nothing unusual to have 40 or 50 days straight of fog and you can’t see two feet in front of you. I’ve experienced that myself.

We have a growth in the aquaculture industry. The roads are narrow roads and there’s a heavy volume of transport traffic on that road. Seniors are nervous driving at the best of times, let alone having to flee across in an ambulance when they haven’t been stabilized at a clinic.

It is absolutely deplorable to see these types of services being downgraded. We have to do everything to reverse it. I am sure that Central Health can take a second look and find other areas of fat besides the front line services. If something has to be cut, trim the things that are non-essential but front line services are absolutely essential.

People coming from McCallum and Gaultois, they land in Hermitage off the ferry. There’s no taxi for them to call to get to Hermitage, so how are they going to get there? If they are a senior or if they are on income support, Mr. Speaker, then that cost falls to government because the cost of that taxi ride or the cost of that ride – once they find someone to bring them, because there is no taxi. So they’re going to have to see if there’s somebody available in the community who can help them when they get off the boat to get to Harbour Breton. It is absolutely outrageous what is happening here.

I implore the minister to go back, take a second look. Ask Central Health to take a second look at where some of the excess fat can be trimmed and restore those services to the front line. We also lost our dialysis, Mr. Speaker, and we lost visitation once a month to Hermitage and McCallum.

I’ll be back to speak about more. We are absolutely devastated and we will not stop until we see these services restored.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I sat down purposely so I could let the lady get up before me, the gentleman that I am.

Mr. Speaker, a petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government cannot justify discriminating against Newfoundlanders and Labradorians when determining the dates of the recreational food fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to be vocal in calling for the Government of Canada to extend the recreational ground fishery to Newfoundland and Labrador to promote fairness, safety and tourism in our province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, every time we get up here in the House of Assembly and we present petitions, we’re presenting petitions from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians because we want the government to listen to what they’re saying. I really don’t know if they are or not because I know all these petitions that are here presented today are important to the people that we present them for.

I just want to talk a little bit about the fishery because I really don’t know if the federal government is paying attention. I know that right now a lot of people in my area are waiting to see what the quotas are going to be on groundfish. The people in recreation are waiting to see what’s going to happen with the tag system this year that they’re talking about now. I heard this weekend that the tag system is going to cost too much money so they’re going to scrap it.

People want to know what’s on the go. Apparently they’re our cousins in Ottawa that are up there working, all six of them are up there working hard on the fishery for Newfoundland and Labrador. Well, the fishermen don’t think so and people in this province don’t think so because they’re not hearing anything. They need to hear something because it’s getting close; we’ll soon be in the middle of May – especially our fishermen, our fishermen are really concerned with what they’re hearing about quotas this year. They don’t know what the quotas are going to be.

People need to be prepared. A lot of this fishery is done through gillnetting and stuff like this so people have to get their gear ready before they go on the water, get the boats ready and stuff like this.

Again, with our recreational fishery, it’s very important that we let the people know that we’re not going to do what we did in the past. In the past we put people out. My biggest concern over the recreational fishery is when people go out that they have a safe day to be able to go out on the water. It’s so important. We’ve lost lives. Every year we’ve lost lives and lives that should never be lost.

People just want to know that they can go out and they can catch the fish for their families. They can bring it home. Their friends, neighbours, people can get out and catch a few fish, something that we’re all accustomed to, something that makes us who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It’s so important that this get done, but it’s getting dragged out. Now is the time. People want to know.

I’ve been presenting this petition since we started. I don’t think we’re any further ahead. I’ve talked to people and they really don’t know what’s happening. I call upon the Minister of Fisheries to call on the Premier to talk to your cousins in Ottawa and start thinking about our fishery.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m glad to have an opportunity to rise again today to present another petition to the House of Assembly.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension is urgently needed at St. Peter’s Primary school in Mount Pearl in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten and the growing school population;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to clarify its position and plan so that St. Peter’s Primary and other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador can properly accommodate students when full-day kindergarten commences in September 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had some productive discussions recently with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District. I was able to bring a number of concerns that have been raised by parents directly to the school board and make some suggestions about possible solutions that could improve upon a bad situation over the next couple of years.

We now know the extension won’t be ready until the fall of 2018. So for the next two schools years, there are things that can be done to make a really bad situation a little better. That’s all we’re asking for. Class sizes are a real concern. Admission into the French immersion kindergarten classes has now been capped. No additional students are being accepted or added for September. There are some minor modifications being made to the existing kindergarten classrooms to allow for a little more space by eliminating cloak rooms; not ideal, but at least some improvements are being made.

We’ve now learned only two modular classrooms can actually be accommodated on the school site. There’s a water line that runs behind the property that does pose a practical challenge in that regard. Additional portables would definitely improve the situation.

Because of the construction that’s upcoming, the playground at the school will be impacted, which is a real concern for parents. We don’t want children trapped in an overcrowded building all day long. When the weather co-operates it’s good for the kids to have a chance to get outside. There is an opportunity, potentially, to move the playground to the other side of the school with the co-operation of the neighbouring church. I’m glad that’s been explored. I’ve asked the school board to make that a priority as well.

Given the complexity of the situation and the overcrowding and the number of students with special needs at St. Peter’s, but mainly due to the overcrowding and the size of the school population, we’ve also asked that consideration be given to the addition of a second vice-principal position at the school which we think would help address some of the concerns that will inevitably arise in the fall as well.

A number of parents are expressing interest in bringing the school lunch program to St. Peter’s. I recognize that needs to be initiated at a school level. I hope that school officials will be pursuing that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENT: Mr. Speaker, we’re going to have six vacant classrooms at Mary Queen of the World in the fall. Creating a French immersion stream at Mary Queen of the World would solve this long-term problem. It won’t solve it completely, but it will make a real difference. I hope to have a chance to address more points related to this issue the next time I get to speak.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It’s an honour for me to rise in this House today and present yet another petition from the very concerned residents of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

A petition: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune need to have access to adequate health care; and

WHEREAS the local clinics in rural areas are the main source of medical assistance for our people; and

WHEREAS the government has reduced funding and closed the Hermitage clinics and downgraded services such as dialysis and visitation to remote communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the services to the health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I will continue to rise in this House every day until we see a reversal of this decision that is devastating rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and, in particular, the Coast of Bays region.

The clinic in Hermitage serves well over 600 people in the immediate area of Hermitage-Sandyville-Seal Cove, as well as an additional several hundred from Gaultois and McCallum, Mr. Speaker, who can only access Hermitage via ferry. The additional drive now to Hermitage, with no taxi service in place, creates a serious issue not just for the residents of the islands, but for residents of Hermitage themselves, many of whom are seniors.

We’re also worried about the downloading of services to Harbour Breton where we’re going to see the loss of two nurses with the closure of the dialysis unit. People will be forced to leave their homes after 20 years lobbying for dialysis, finally achieving it, and then to have it ripped away so quickly. People now, they do not have the option, these patients, of home dialysis. They will have to uproot and move to St. John’s, Mr. Speaker, and in no way, shape or form is that helping rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Again, I ponder – they were mandated by the Liberal government to make $430,000 of cuts at Central Health. With the closure of the dialysis, the closure of the clinics and reduction of visitation to the islands, I think the Coast of Bays region is taking a disproportionate share of that cut from Central Health, and I truly believe there are other expenditures within the board that can be looked at before front-line services are cut, Mr. Speaker. People’s lives are at stake. Seniors, who have taken hit after hit after hit in this budget are getting hit yet again, perhaps in the most vulnerable area where health care is, Mr. Speaker.

This can mean the difference between life or death in some cases, I have no doubt, because of the geography of the area, the treacherous roads of the area and the dangerous weather conditions we have at times – be it fog in the summer or blizzards in the winter. The train is not safe at the best of times, Mr. Speaker, and so we will continue to raise our voices until we see this decision reversed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the seniors of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and care; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a responsibility to act in the best interest of our seniors; and

WHEREAS the government has decided to shut down Masonic Park Nursing Home and reduce long-term care beds in this region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and not bring undue hardship upon the residents of Masonic Park and find alternative measures that will allow them to continue to stay at the place they call home.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, it’s one thing to bring a petition to the House of Assembly on behalf of your constituents, it’s another thing to stand and be counted when it really matters. I can assure you that in light of how devastating this budget will be for many families in my district I will be voting against the budget.

I’ve raised these concerns time and time again and I will continue to do so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENT: When it comes time to take a stand and vote against this budget because of issues like this, I will be prepared to do so, unlike Members opposite.

The issues at Masonic Park have been exaggerated and misrepresented. The fundamental issue here is that we have a shortage of long-term care beds in this region. It’s impacting health care for all of us. We have people tying up acute care hospital beds at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars a month that shouldn’t be there. They should be in long-term care beds.

We need to address this. It’s resulting in cancelled surgeries. It means people are lying on stretchers in hallways. It means that people are sitting in emergency rooms for longer.

Through this budget the Liberal Government is reducing the number of long-term care beds in the region. That’s a fact. Another fact is that the facility at Masonic Park, the long-term care facility, is in good shape. I would argue it’s in better shape than some of the other long-term care homes in the region.

For the minister to suggest that the place is in a state of disrepair, it’s not true. He also said that all residents will be able to move to the Veterans Pavilion down at the Miller Centre, also not true. There aren’t enough beds to accommodate all of them if they choose to go there.

The minister said he is not cutting or reducing beds in this region, also not true. We have great needs in every region of this province when it comes to long-term care. Despite the financial challenges the province faces, this is not a time to be reducing the number of long-term care beds. I will continue to take a stand and oppose this on behalf of the constituents that I represent and constituents across the province as well.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 decreased the amount of funding available for health care services; and

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016, Eastern Health has reduced routine breast cancer screening in women aged 40 to 49; and

WHEREAS early detection of cancer results in the best prognosis possible;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to direct Eastern Health to reverse its decision and to ensure that the population-based breast screening program is accessible to women aged 40 to 49.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve brought this petition to the floor of the House and will continue to bring this petition to the floor of the House until we see a reversal of this decision, not just at Eastern Health but at all the health boards across the entire province because every single life matters. It astounds me.

There was a very strong advocacy and lobby movement for breast cancer screening by Members opposite when they sat in Opposition. One of their former colleagues, a lady I respect very well, who is an MP now in Ottawa, actually lobbied this House quite hard and delivered petition after petition after petition to see breast cancer screening take place. We certainly have great respect and admiration for Yvonne Jones, and we will continue the fight to get breast cancer screening back in our province.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the current 2016 provincial budget impacts adversely and directly the education program at Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s; and

WHEREAS the parents request a delay in the implementation of full-day kindergarten at our school until September 2017, when at such time the new five-to-nine middle school in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will open; and

WHEREAS the student population at Beachy Cove Elementary is growing exponentially and this growth is sustainable into the future; and

WHEREAS the parents request the reinstatement of the previous teacher-allocation formula for Beachy Cove Elementary for this year and subsequent school years to service the growth in enrolment and to be able to provide all students with equal opportunities to enroll in the French immersion program;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the previous teacher allocation and delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten in order to provide the children of Beachy Cove Elementary the right to a quality education.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve heard in the media and I’ve noted it here in the House of Assembly through questions I’ve asked and presenting this petition in the past, there’s a real upheaval when it comes to offering proper education to the people of Beachy Cove Elementary.

There has been a backlash by parents, by administrators, by teachers, by the students, by the general population in that community and other communities about what’s happening to our education system with the cuts in this budget.
The parents have particularly looked at the impacts it’s going to have. There are four key areas where they’re going to be regressive in their education process, particularly at Beachy Cove, and that’s around intensive core French ability.

Students who would have jumped into the French immersion but want to go the mainstream English system, knowing when they got to grade five, they could make the decision that grade six they would be into the core French program, but now that has been taken away. We’re having things like a lottery, picking names out of a hat. There’s no justification around those kids who really want to move to it, their previous background in it, any potential they had for what they want to do with the French program itself. None of that has been taken into account. They’ve backed the administrators into a corner.

Administrators sometimes are being seen as being callous in their decision making, but they have no other choice. They’ve been forced by the Department of Education who, in turn, forced the school board to make these choices based on simple issues around cutting teacher allocation to save money without having any vision about where the education system needs to go, or how you invest money or keep it at the level it is.

We’ve had a pretty good education system. No doubt, there’s room for improvement. There’s no doubt that every day we talk about how we can better encourage our education system to be more inclusive, how we can look at better training teachers, how teachers themselves take a better role in their communities and how the communities partner with them also.

Mr. Speaker, I present this on behalf of the people of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s and the school council itself.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker,

I present this petition: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 introduces over 50 new fees and increases over 300 fees; and

WHEREAS Budget 2016 asks people of this province to pay more for a decrease in government services; and

WHEREAS these fee increases negatively impact the financial well-being of seniors, youth, families, students and individuals;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reverse these fee increases as introduced through Budget 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as we hear every day in the House, in the media and whatnot about the levy, that it is no doubt a huge issue. I hear it on a constant basis.

You take everything else into – but if you take it in silos, it’s different. You take it in all total context and you add the levy, the insurance tax, the gas tax, income tax increase – most budgets in past years you’d get a couple of increases and you’d get some fee increases traditionally to generate some more revenue. You’d zero in on a specific sector. This budget, if you said fee increases and everything else remained the same, it’d be kind of tolerable. When you throw the fee increase on top of everything else, it’s a huge burden.

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of seniors in my district who I hear from a lot actually, quite often. They just don’t know how they’re going to make ends meet with any of this budget. Then you’re throwing fees from – every service you require now it’s an increase in the fees. Again, I say people are crying out. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life and a lot of others have said the same thing. It’s unheard of; it’s astounding. They’re not getting answers from the government. The ministers are – it seems like everyone is just put everything on mute. People are looking for answers.

I say this every time I get up in the House and I’ll say it again here today that everything in separation don’t look so bad. You put it all together and it’s crippling on the economy, it’s crippling on seniors, low-income, middle-income earners. I really, really, really would wish the hon. Members opposite would start paying attention to the public. Forget about us, they need to start listening to the people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 16, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016 X-ray services at the Bonavista Peninsula Community Health Centre will be closed after 4 p.m. until 8 a.m.; and

WHEREAS this will mean that anyone needing an X-ray after 4 p.m. will have to travel elsewhere via ambulance; and

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016 laundry services will also be cut resulting in laundry being transferred to St. John’s;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately direct Eastern Health to reverse cuts to X-ray and laundry services at the Bonavista Peninsula Community Health Centre.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I was contacted by a resident of the Bonavista area who was unable to get a response from his MHA about this petition. So I agreed that I would present a petition on behalf of residents. The residents who are on today’s petition are from communities like: Port Union, Keels, Bonavista, Elliston, Catalina, Spillars Cove, Newmans Cove and a number of other areas on the Bonavista Peninsula as well.

The petition continues to be circulated and I anticipate receiving similar petitions from residents of the Bonavista Peninsula in the days and weeks ahead, and I’ll do my best to bring those to this House of Assembly on behalf of those residents.

I received one letter from a gentleman in the Bonavista area who’s a father. He wrote and he said without X-ray services at the Bonavista hospital, his son probably wouldn’t be with us today. He provides some commentary as well about the impact of cuts to X-ray services and he argues that there isn’t cost savings.

One of the things that the residents of the Bonavista Peninsula would like to see is proof that closing an AES office or reducing X-ray services or making changes to laundry services will actually result in savings. He says with regard to the cost savings, there is none.

One certified X-ray technician position, for the sake of lives, isn’t saving money when I will have to pay for an ambulance, which government subsidizes, a nurse and/or doctor to travel to Clarenville as well, an hour and a half away from Bonavista, which is time enough to determine whether his son lives or not. Upon arrival to the referring hospital, an X-ray technician will have to be called in.

His argument is that there could actually be more costs incurred as a result of these changes. So the residents are looking for answers. They don’t want their health care services eroded. They feel they have been unfairly targeted in this budget when it comes to cuts not only in health care, but in other government departments as well.

In the days and weeks ahead, I look forward to presenting further petitions on behalf of residents of the Bonavista Peninsula who are very concerned about these recent budget cuts.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’d like to present this petition: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 closed the Advanced Education and Skills office in Bonavista; and

WHEREAS the residents of Bonavista and surrounding communities require and deserve an appropriate level of service;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government reconsider its decision to close the Bonavista Advanced Education and Skills office.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had the opportunity to stand in this House and present a number of petitions, particularly around the impact that the closures of the AES offices will have on these communities. A lot of these are remote communities or they’re in isolated areas, or they themselves are the hub for a number of surrounding communities. In Bonavista’s case here, we have people here who have signed from King’s Cove, Plate Cove East, Melrose, Catalina, Bonavista and all the other surrounding community areas there.

I would like to note, too, that along with the Bonavista closure we have the other areas: Baie Verte, for example, Mary’s Harbour, Bell Island, Norris Point, Hopedale, Nain and Twillingate.

As I mentioned at the beginning, all of these are key service, oriented communities that other communities feed into. They are either isolated, that they stand on their own and all the residents use the AES office for a multitude of services. Above and beyond what normally the Advanced Education and Skills would offer, they become the hub for the connector between – if it’s Municipal Affairs, if it’s Health, if it’s Education, if it’s Tourism, Culture, Business Development. Whatever line departments it may be, they serve a very important component to enhancing programs and services for the people there.

I’ve noticed in my own community of Bell Island, and it has a similar process when it comes to Bonavista, that it’s a standalone, yet it can service people in the immediate area. There’s isolation. When you’re in Bonavista to be able to get to your nearest hub, it’s not just down the street. It is not, let’s get a ride with our neighbour. It’s not, well, on the way home from somewhere I’ll pick it up. It doesn’t work that way.

The services there are necessary, and they’ve been there for decades and decades for a reason. It’s helped drive the economy. It’s helped to educate people. It’s helped get people access to services they didn’t know existed. It’s helped the government at different levels, from municipal, provincial and federal to be able to promote the services they have. It’s also been a noted area to engage citizens. Citizens have been able to go there for engagement processes where they’ve been asked to give their opinion on certain programs and services. This has been a very valuable tool to those communities that exist in those particularly isolated areas.

It’s an injustice to be closing those without giving any real thought to the service. I’m confident, and I’ve said it as somebody who worked nearly 30 years for that department, that this will cost the government much more than what they’re going to save on these closures and take away the service to the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I present this petition.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune need to have access to adequate health care; and

WHEREAS the local clinics in rural areas are the main source of medical assistance for our people; and

WHEREAS the government has reduced funding and closed the Hermitage clinics and downgraded services throughout the region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the services to health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, as we heard in Question Period today, there’s $30 million just sitting to the side for goodness knows what, when for a million dollars we can keep the health care clinics open in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s absolutely shameful that in this day and age we see a government making these kinds of decisions. It’s certainly very dismaying for rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

In fact, the residents of Hermitage, Seal Cove, Gaultois and McCallum are extremely upset. It’s being portrayed by the government opposite well, oh, it’s just a half an hour drive to the next nearest clinic. But that’s not even accurate. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Hermitage and about an hour’s drive from Seal Cove. It takes an hour and a half by ferry from McCallum to even land in Hermitage or a half an hour by ferry from Gaultois to even land in Hermitage.

At the same time, we’re seeing visitation to my island communities, which have no way in and out other than by ferry from twice a month down to once a month. At the same time as they are closing the clinic and decreasing services, they’re cutting two nurses in the Harbour Breton hospital, sending an additional 1,000 people their way and taking two nurses out of the system, Mr. Speaker.

All of us are at a loss as to how the Department of Health can justify mandating Central Health to make such drastic cuts in rural areas. We strongly feel that this government is being very punitive to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and we’re very worried about the future of Newfoundland and Labrador with this government at the helm.

Certainly, if you look to my district, with the increase in aquaculture in our area we do have a higher volume of traffic. We have a larger workforce. We have an increased risk, I guess, at the plant which is operating flat out all the time – a wonderful thing – but now if there’s an industrial accident, almost an hour away from a hospital. This can be a matter of life or death, Mr. Speaker, and it is going to be too late after something happens.

In the mayor’s letter that he recently sent to the minister – and I truly hope that the minister responds timely and favourably and grants their request for a meeting to discuss this most serious issue – he asks why we are being looked at as second-class citizens. We deserve health care, just like the rest of the province. We can’t be dismissed just because we live in rural communities. Rural communities, Mr. Speaker, make up over half of this province.

We will continue to fight until this government recognizes rural Newfoundland and Labrador is just as important as anywhere else and we deserve health care.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I applaud my colleague here on the side of me for standing up for people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. PARSONS: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the federal government cannot justify discriminating against Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in determining the dates of the recreational food fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to be vocal in calling the Government of Canada to extend the recreational food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador to promote fairness, safety and tourism in our province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Every week since we started in the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, I presented this petition. I’m going to continue to present it. Everywhere I go people are asking the question: Where are we to? I’m sure the Member for St. Barbe – L’Anse aux Meadows hears it every time he comes out, I’m sure the people in St. Anthony, I’m sure the people on the Northern Peninsula, I’m sure the people in Bonavista – we want to know where are Members are and where the Minister of Fisheries is in trying to get this out.

This is about Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, about who we are as a people. It’s about a right that we had and our forefathers had for years to go out and catch a fish in safety.

The biggest thing about this whole thing, Mr. Speaker, is the safety aspect of it. The federal government issues three weeks a year to go out in July, then a couple of weeks in September to go out. In September, hardly anybody gets out because it’s too rough to go out there. The people who do go out, they risk their lives every day to go out and catch a few fish.

All we’re asking is for our government to advocate to the federal government, talk to your cousins and ask them if they can put this forward for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s a safety issue and we want to see that our fisherman and our people can go out on the water like everybody else in Atlantic Canada and catch a cod.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This, too, is a petition that has been presented many times, but we have to continue on.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy as introduced in Budget 2016 unfairly targets the middle class; and

WHEREAS the Deficit Reduction Levy asks low-income earners to pay more than their fair share instead of increasing taxes to high-income earners;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately stop the introduction of the temporary Deficit Reduction Levy.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, on a personal note, I’ve joked with a couple Members opposite that the word levy and anything that rhymes with it is becoming a bit more challenging. We’re faced with a situation where you run into on a daily basis – I guess there doesn’t be a day that passes that people don’t discuss it. Their fear, their issue is – and I keep to the basics, the low level; it’s the people on the ground who really matter. They keep saying: Why isn’t anybody listening?

The Third Party has made a private Member’s motion for this week. We all on this side of the House continually, every opportunity we get – I’ve had hundreds of emails, as does most Members in this House. That seems to be the real bone of contention.

I guess to put it in context, what stuck out to me last week, I spoke to a lawyer, a government worker, a teacher and just your regular run of the mill, your average person, every one of those people, no matter what their income levels, from top to bottom, complained about the levy, head tax, cover charge – they used these terms, not me.

I know that Members opposite probably turned the mute button on this issue, and it will come to light as we proceed through this session, but they should stop and – again, I use the words pause and reflect, because this is a huge issue. In addition to everything else in this budget, the levy is – I’ve never seen such a lightning rod for anger in people. It amazes me; it really does amaze me how Members opposite don’t take this more seriously.

I know one Member presented a petition on this exact issue from his constituents, and I applaud the Member for that, but I wish the entire government opposite would take this matter more seriously and listen to the people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016, X-ray services at the Bonavista Peninsula Community Health Centre will be closed after 4 p.m. until 8 a.m.; and

WHEREAS this will mean that anyone needing an X-ray after 4 p.m. will have to travel elsewhere via ambulance; and

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016, laundry services will also be cut resulting in laundry being transferred to St. John’s;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately direct Eastern Health to reverse cuts to X-ray and laundry services at the Bonavista Peninsula Community Health Centre.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’re hearing from concerned people right across Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve been hearing a lot from people on the Bonavista Peninsula. Today’s petition is signed by residents of Port Union, Bonavista and Catalina. They’re very concerned about cuts, not only to health services but to other services in the region as well.

In fact, there’s a story in the media today featuring a community activist who is so concerned about cuts to the AES office that she used her own vehicles to block the doors of the office. It’s a sign of desperation, Mr. Speaker.

People feel they’re not being heard. They’re not being listened to. They don’t have a voice. So we will do our best to ensure people, no matter where they live in the province, no matter what district they find themselves in, that they do have a voice.

Specifically to the health services, there are many concerns being expressed by residents of the Bonavista Peninsula. One resident wrote me and feels that physicians will no longer want to come here to work, with no diagnostic testing available on evenings and weekends. Locum physicians will also be reluctant to come here during physician shortages.

Nurses are already working tremendous amounts of overtime and extra hours. The lack of X-ray services will result in increased workload with transfers to other facilities, usually double time for travel, increase stress for nurses monitoring patients who do not have a diagnosis. It’s a major patient safety issue. X-rays are used to rule out many different types of potentially life-threatening conditions. This will affect Port Rexton, Trinity, the Southern Bay down to Bonavista.

Mr. Speaker, people have real concerns. They want answers on how any of this will actually save money and they want answers on how it will impact their safety and their lives on the Bonavista Peninsula.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity to raise these concerns in the House of Assembly on behalf of those residents.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I present a petition to the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS our province’s seniors deserve quality care and assistance when residing in long-term care facilities; and

WHEREAS our province is currently experiencing an escalating shortage of long-term care beds;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to explore all options, including partnerships, to create new long-term care beds in the province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I guess this is an issue that’s been talked about at great length over the last number of years. Everyone knows long-term care is one of the biggest issues facing our seniors in the province. As we all know, we have an aging population. Seniors have been a great topic of discussion.

The previous government made great strides toward trying to deal with the long-term care shortage in the province by moving forward on some new strategies and creating more long-term care beds; but, as we know, the current government decided to go another route which we’ve yet to see the alternate plan outside of closing Masonic Park.

Mr. Speaker, seniors need our attention. They are asking for us to speak up for them, which is what we’re doing here now. Long-term care is a real issue. Sound bites are great but action is better.

The closure of Masonic Park is – even though a net gain, net loss. We’re being told there was no loss in beds but regardless, the beds that were lost at Masonic Park are still lost through the system.

When you have our hospitals being occupied now by seniors waiting to get into a long-term care home, it is a real issue, Mr. Speaker. I deal with it in my own district. I have several heartbreaking stories of seniors trying to get into homes, trying to get with their spouse. We have a real shortage.

We’re still waiting on the current government to follow through on some of their commitments. As I said before, you live in hope and die in despair, but I hope it is a hopeful thought.

We need to find ways to make progress. Find new innovative ways to deal with the real issue being experienced by real people in this province, Mr. Speaker, and they are seniors.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Bell Island deserve to have access to services that will assist them to gain employment and education; and

WHEREAS these services have provided proven results to the people of our province; and

WHEREAS decisions made in this budget by the current government have removed the Advanced Education and Skills office from Bell Island;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the office of Advanced Education and Skills on Bell Island.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege over my career, for a number of years working in the management field, of going back to Bell Island, my hometown, to work in the AES office.

I think a little bit of history for people when it comes to the importance of the AES office. Coming from a community that was a one-industry town, a very vibrant one, the second largest populace in the province next to St. John’s, and in the ’60s when that all fell apart, obviously, people who were based on a particular skill, a lot of it around labour intensive work, had to concentrate then – if there was no employment in this province at the time. In the mid to late ’60s things weren’t exactly booming in this province. People were stuck there with minimal education levels and minimal ability to gainfully find employment. So they had to rely on Income Support and social services of the day.

That office was integral over the last 40 years of giving people a hand up – and not a hand out – of finding ways to better engage the citizens, give them access to upgrading their education. The Adult Basic Education program – going back 30 years when the college system still existed there, before it was cut by a former Liberal administration – was very important in giving people the ability to get their high school equivalency, but also to get a trade.

Next to CONA at the time, or CNA campus here in St. John’s, Bell Island had the largest campus. Five hundred students would go there every year from all over the province. It gave an opportunity for those who were on Income Support to be assessed and provided services.

As we move forward over the next generations, we found a different way of engaging people. The old days of the make-work projects – the make-work projects were important because it gave people a sense of pride; it gave them an ability to give something back to the community. Most of our communities were enhanced by the investments we did. It also got people into a routine of figuring I’d like to be able to go to another level, either upgrade my education or find some enhancement around employment.

The AES office as we know it now has evolved to a point where it’s a support mechanism for people who come there, single parents who come there, older workers who come there, young people who have struggled in the school system and those who want to get back into the workforce. That process has been used to support people. Taking that away right now is detrimental to rural Newfoundland and Labrador and particularly Bell Island.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS emergency responders are at greater risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enact legislation containing a presumptive clause with respect to PTSD for people employed in various front-line emergency response professions including firefighters, emergency medical services professionals and police officers not already covered under federal legislation.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, it’s not my first time getting up in the House on this particular petition that has been presented and provided to me. It’s not, but I think it’s very fitting this week being Police Week. Just today, as we heard about earlier in today’s business, there was a service today to remember and to honour those police and peace officers who have given their lives in the course of their duty.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you over the last six months to a year, I’ve learned more about PTSD than I ever did during 25 years in my policing career. I’ve also learned and become better understanding of how significant the impact can be.

I know there are many, many front-line responders, police officers, emergency medical technicians and firefighters who suffer from PTSD today, and quite often do it quietly. They do it quietly because of the stigma quite often associated with mental health, but they also do it quietly because they are afraid they are going to lose their ability for income.

Under today’s regulations, under workers’ compensation, a first responder or any person who’s diagnosed with PTSD has to provide a particular event that caused the PTSD. The most recent studies show, that’s not usually where PTSD comes from. It usually comes from many, many years of being exposed to chaotic, traumatic and difficult circumstances that over several years, many years, it could be a shorter period of time or a longer period of time, PTSD develops. Under current rules, those people are not eligible for workers’ compensation under rules that exist today.

What this petition is about is creating a presumptive clause. So if a first responder gets diagnosed with PTSD, it would be presume to have been a workplace injury and they won’t have to go to the difficulty of trying to establish it was a workplace injury, when they are not able to do so. When there are most critical and difficult and challenging times in their lives, when the last thing they want to talk about is the trauma they’ve been exposed to during their entire career.

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition we’ll see today. I think it’s fitting during police week while we acknowledge the hard work of police officers and first responders. This is going to be very important. The understanding is growing and the effort and the desire for better legislation is going to continue.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m glad today to rise and put this petition before the House.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS changes to bus routes will impact start up time at St. Bernard’s Elementary and Mobile Central High; and

WHEREAS these changes were put in place with no consultation with school councils or parents; and

WHEREAS this will cause issues for parents, after-school programs and students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to immediately instruct the English School District to reverse the decision regarding busing and start time for these two schools.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity last night to meet with residents of the area, from Bay Bulls to Bauline, to look at this budget and the repercussions of some of the choices that have been made in regard to our children from the very youngest, from K to grade 12, and for the two schools we have in Mobile from seven to 12 and the K to six in St. Bernard’s. There’s been a lot of outcry in terms of how this was done, the repercussions of it for our families and for our children in regard to start times for our very youngest.

I think we’re going to look at times of 7 o’clock and shortly after of young children waiting at stops for bus pickups, which is very serious in terms of our very youngest. As well, changes in regard to earlier dates that, as a result of the reduction in buses, are going to be resulting in pickups where we have families with kids that the older sibling may take care of the younger.

People commute for work and for their profession. Right now they’re able to access, because of the schedule now, after-school care. I know in Bay Bulls there are after-school programs and in Witless Bay. All of those kids now, their schedules and after-school help – whether that’s involved with academics or schooling or for sports – all of that is now in place.

So this totally disrupts that pattern for students and for families. It really needs to be addressed in terms of why it was done. The parents I met with last night were unclear in terms of what the return was for this and how it’s so disruptive for our children. We know a day that gives children time to access what they need to access in the run of that day is important. That’s strictly tied to busing and their trip to school and back from school.

I’m certainly delighted to be able to present this on behalf of the constituents in that region. I call on government to address this and address it immediately.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS changes to the bus routes impact start times at Holy Trinity Elementary, Cape St. Francis Elementary and Holy Trinity High School; and

WHEREAS these changes were put in place with no consultation with parents, families and against all the recommendations of the school council;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately instruct each school district to reverse its decision regarding busing and start times for these schools.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I attended a silent protest this morning at two schools in my district, and it was amazing. At the high school there were at least 100 high school students there, and they are so upset over this and fear what’s going to happen next year. They’re looking at times they’ll get home in the evenings – Torbay, some students told me this morning, they figure it’s going to be a little bit after 4 p.m. For people in Pouch Cove, Flatrock and Bauline, they figure 4:30, quarter to 5 p.m.

Anyone that’s involved in any after-school activities, that’s very, very serious for these people. Just think about the safety aspect of it all. We’re going to have children get on the bus in the dark. I know it’s done in other parts of the province – the minister said yes, it’s done in other parts. Yes it is, but that doesn’t make it right for the safety part of it. We’re talking Torbay area where traffic is high. Right now, the last study that was done by the Torbay Elementary School showed something like 11,000 cars a day that passes by that school. That’s a very heavy traffic area, and you’re going to expect children from kindergarten to grade six to get on a bus in the dark. Students told me the other night that 56 days a year, they figure, that it’s going to be dark when they get on the bus.

There’s no need of it. There is a solution to it. Right now there are some double bus routes. I witnessed this morning that two buses were there at the door and the students stayed on the bus for 15 minutes before they were allowed to get off. So the buses were there a little earlier this morning in the elementary school. So if these children were allowed to get off a little early, that will give them the time to go take the high school students.

Mr. Speaker, I was presented the other night at a meeting that was held with about 150 people that showed up – and a lot of students, parents, grandparents, and everyone. I was asked by the students of Holy Trinity High School to present a petition to the minister, and I have the petition here today with 480 names of students. If you’re not going to listen to the parents, if you’re not going to listen to the grandparents, please listen to the students, listen to their concerns.

Here’s a petition that I present today with 480 names on it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: Please, Minister, listen to these students.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for speaking has expired.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension is urgently needed at St. Peter’s Primary school in Mount Pearl in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten and the growing school population;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to clarify its position and plan so that St. Peter’s Primary and other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador can properly accommodate students when full-day kindergarten commences in September 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I have brought similar petitions to this House of Assembly before signed by residents of both Mount Pearl and St. John’s. I’d like to pick up on a couple of the points, specifically, in the petition that have come up recently in the House of Assembly.

Most parents, I won’t say all, obviously, but most parents and most educators believe that the correct thing to do is delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten. I’m disappointed we’re in that position. I’m an advocate for full-day kindergarten. I think most people agree it’s the right thing to do, just not now.

It’s being implemented this year at the expense of the rest of the education system in this province. It’s just not right. There is a better way. A delay is unfortunate, but it would solve some other problems that are now being created in our education system.

The minister has said in this House recently that I should have pushed the previous government to advance the extension for St. Peter’s Primary school. Well, it’s this current administration that has delayed the extension by a year. It was on track for 2017. Now it will be 2018. So we’re talking about two school years where there’s going to be grossly inadequate space at St. Peter’s Primary. A couple of portable classrooms are being added. Unfortunately, there’s no space on the school grounds for more, but the school could actually use four more. So it is a real overcrowding problem.

Meanwhile, down the road, elsewhere in Mount Pearl, at Mary Queen of the World, we have a school that’s going to have six empty classrooms in September. The answer – and I know members of the school council agree because I talk to them, and I talk to them far more often than the Minister of Education. The answer is to create a French immersion stream at Mary Queen of the World and address the zoning issues which would help deal with some of the space issues at St. Peter’s Primary.

Instead, we have a situation where classrooms are going to sit empty in one school, while another one is bursting at the seams. There is a solution. If the school board would listen and if the government would listen and if the Minister of Education would listen, then we could make some progress.

I look forward to speaking to this further, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape Lune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune need to have access to adequate health care; and

WHEREAS the local clinics in rural areas are the main source of medical assistance for our people; and

WHEREAS the government has reduced funding and closed the Hermitage clinic and downgraded services in all of the isolated communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the services to health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I’m rising on a regular basis to present this petition in the House because I am in shock at the complete devastation the Liberal government has imposed on rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Be it education, be it libraries, be it health care, the very core principles and fundamentals of a decent quality of life. And the Liberals are ripping it away from rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

One thing I’d like to be able to stand here in the House today and assure the people – 2019, don’t ever forget what has happened with this budget and what has happened to rural Newfoundland, what has happened to education, health care and libraries. I have confidence that successive governments will correct it, Mr. Speaker, if this government doesn’t come to its senses and make some corrective action before the budget passes.

This is absolutely devastating. To look at a rural, remote area like the Coast of Bays, which is geographically isolated, where there is no snow clearing after 6 o’clock in the wintertime – we have to really get to Grand Falls for any type of advanced medical care at all. And to save a life, Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely essential that we have front-line services directly in the communities.

In the absence of that, Mr. Speaker, I dread to think what will happen to our people unnecessarily. I fear gravely that lives will be lost and whatever we can do to reverse this decision must be done. Rural Newfoundland and Labrador deserves better.

One of the things that I heard over and over and over again in the election: people matter. Well, it is time to start showing that people matter, Mr. Speaker. And time for the government to reverse some of these terrible decisions that have been made in Budget 2016.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016 X-ray services at the Bonavista Peninsula Community Health Centre will be closed after 4 p.m. until 8 a.m.; and

WHEREAS this will mean that anyone needing an X-ray after 4 p.m. will have to travel elsewhere via ambulance; and

WHEREAS as a result of Budget 2016 laundry services will also be cut, resulting in laundry being transferred to St. John’s;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately direct Eastern Health to reverse cuts to X-ray and laundry services at the Bonavista Peninsula Community Health Centre.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the petition I’m presenting today, I continue to receive them from the Bonavista Peninsula. The petition I present today is signed by many residents of Bonavista and Elliston, as well as Birchy Cove. Residents of the Bonavista Peninsula are very concerned about how this budget, as the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune was saying a few minutes ago, is an attack on rural regions and rural communities.

These particular cuts to health care services in the Bonavista region will have a real impact on people. I heard from one parent who is very concerned about the impact it will have on his own family. He believes there will be no cost savings at all. He says one certified X-ray technician position, for the sake of lives, isn’t saying money when I’ll have to pay for an ambulance which government subsidizes, a nurse and/or a doctor to travel to Clarenville as well, an hour and half away from Bonavista, which is time enough to determine whether or not my son lives or not. He goes on to explain why he believes this move will not, in fact, save any money.

So we’ve asked before and we’ll ask again: Is there any proof, is there any evidence to suggest that reducing these services will actually result in cost savings? Even if it does, it still may not be the right thing to do. But residents are saying, show us the proof that these moves will actually result in cost savings.

There’s also a concern being expressed by residents of the Bonavista Peninsula about the availability of physicians. One resident says physicians will no longer want to come here to work with no diagnostic testing available on evenings and weekends. Locum physicians will also be reluctant to come here during physician shortages. Nurses are already working tremendous amounts of overtime and extra hours. The lack of X-ray services will result in increased workload with transfers to other facilities, usually paid at a higher rate for travel, increased stress for nurses monitoring patients that don’t have a diagnosis.

This is a major patient safety issue, Mr. Speaker. X-ray is used as a diagnostic tool to rule out many different types of potentially life-threatening conditions. So this will affect residents all over the Bonavista Peninsula. It’s why hundreds of residents are signing petitions, and it’s why we’ll continue to raise this issue in in the House of Assembly, even if their own MHA won’t.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Bell Island deserve to have access to services that will assist them to gain employment; and

WHEREAS their services have provided proven results to the people of our province; and

WHEREAS decisions made in this budget by the current government have removed the Advanced Education and Skills office from Bell Island;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the office of Advanced Education and Skills on Bell Island.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve presented this a number of times, but last night I had a gathering to discuss some of the issues on the budget and had a number of citizens who are only now realizing, as the office closed the beginning of May, that these services no longer are at their disposal, that they no longer can avail of those services that they took for granted. They were services that they needed for everyday life, for enhancing their academics, for enhancing their employability, for providing for particular services – some around health care, some around mental health, some around some inclusion processes.

What I might note, too, that it’s not only Bell Island that lost its AES office, it is other remote and isolated communities in this province, particularly in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Baie Verte, for example, again, very reliant, and it’s only the last couple of weeks that I’m getting emails, as the critic, from community members in those respective communities. They, like the residents of Bell Island, are realizing the service is gone. We no longer have access to those types of services that we rely on and we need.

Now they’re sort of saying we’re left in limbo. They’re saying go to your nearest service centre which, in some cases, is hundreds of kilometres away. In some cases, it’s so remote when I go through the list, that it’s almost impossible, unless you own your own plane or in the middle of winter you take your Ski-Doo 300 or 400 kilometres.

Baie Verte is one I’ve gotten numerous emails from people asking, how do we reinstate these services? How do we access the services that we’re always reliant on and need? Bonavista, again – and we’ve noticed a number of cuts in the Bonavista area. This is another obviously devastating issue for people there. How do they avail of those services? Particularly in communities that are very vulnerable when it comes to their economy.

One year it may be up because the fishing industry or mining industry or another manufacturing industry may be very fluent and working very well. The markets may change. There may be devastation in those communities and all of a sudden the one centre they could go to get some supports and some guidance doesn’t exist. Norris Point is another isolated area. Twillingate, another key area that is the hub for all that area, has lost its office.

Let’s talk about Labrador; Hopedale, Nain and Mary’s Harbour. You just can’t go down to the nearest – you can’t walk down the street, get a ride down, go in and get your services, explain your situation to the AES worker and then get the service you need and get guided somewhere else. It doesn’t exist that way. Those services don’t exist.

Mr. Speaker, I will continue to put these petitions, not only from my own community and my own district, but the other seven offices that have closed in this province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS libraries promote literacy and provide access to information for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians; and

WHEREAS communities in our province depend on libraries to increase their knowledge and further their opportunities; and

WHEREAS the closures of libraries in the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, Newfoundland and Labrador, was a result of the Liberal budget of 2016; and

WHEREAS the residents of this district will now have to travel over an hour to access a library;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reverse the closure of the libraries in Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, certainly the constituents of my district would support the reinstatement of libraries all across this province because the only place they’re closing is in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, imagine that, a Liberal government tearing the life out of rural Newfoundland and Labrador yet again.

Let’s talk about – they say it’s all about regionalization. Let’s talk about – we’re using the context of my district and I’m sure if the Members opposite were able to get up and speak to theirs, they would oppose their decisions. One community out of 22 will be served by their regionalization plan, Mr. Speaker – just one.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policy regulations link snow carb harvesting quotas to vessel length; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own fishing vessels of various sizes but because of the policy regulations are restricted to using a smaller vessel, often putting their crews in danger;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to make representation to the federal government to encourage them to change the policy, thus ensuring the safety of those harvesting snow crab.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

I brought this petition again a couple of times now to the House of Assembly. It’s very important to people who are out on the water. Especially, our fishermen are out in adverse conditions all the time. We know weather changes and some days you can go out in smaller boats and it’s okay, but there are a lot of times and more often that they have to go out in conditions where safety is not there and they can’t go out. Yet, in a lot of enterprises you’ll see that people have different-sized vessels depending on what crab quota they have, whether it’s an inshore quota or it’s an offshore quota or the mid-quota, and it depends on the size of vessel that you can catch these quotas in.

So what I’m saying here is that when a harvester has a large-size boat and it’s safer for them to go out and catch that quota, that’s the boat they should be allowed to use. That’s very important because too often we see our harvesters out on the water taking their lives really and you know their lives are at risk. We’ve seen it in this province where people have had larger boats tied up at the wharf and went out in a smaller vessel to harvest crab and ended up losing their lives. That only happened last year in Arnold’s Cove.

We should be lobbying the federal government every chance we get to change some of these policies because they’re policies that are really putting our people in danger. Any time that we can – safety should be foremost in every job, no matter if it’s onshore or offshore, or on the water or on the land. Safety should always be the foremost thing that we be concerned with. I ask government to lobby their cousins in Ottawa to change this policy.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

You’re looking mighty fine in that Chair today, I might add as well. A nice new outfit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to present a petition on behalf of residents of St. John’s and Mount Pearl.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension is urgently needed at St. Peter’s Primary school in Mount Pearl in order to accommodate full-day kindergarten and the growing school population;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to clarify its position and plan so that St. Peter’s Primary and other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador can properly accommodate students when full-day kindergarten commences in September 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the folks that have signed this petition, and many others that I’ve spoken too, and hundreds that I spoke to on the steps of Confederation Building last evening do not believe that full-day kindergarten should proceed in Newfoundland and Labrador in September 2016. There will come a time where it should proceed. Most people I talked to, most reasonable people agree that full-day kindergarten is the right thing to do, but it’s not the right thing to do right now. It’s not the right thing to do at the expense of the K-12 system in our province.

Cuts are being made throughout the K-12 system while more resources are going to be needed to establish full-day kindergarten. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s impacting schools not only in Mount Pearl, but schools throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and there is a better way.

Making cuts to French Immersion programs and Intensive Core French and reducing special services that are desperately needed for our students and are under resourced in our schools as it is, taking teachers out of our schools, these are not the right moves. Increasing class sizes, these are not the right moves.

Some of these moves are being made because government is blindly pursuing its commitment to full-day kindergarten. We all believe that full-day kindergarten is the right thing to do. The previous government committed to bringing it in, but in light of our fiscal situation it can’t proceed right now when you’re going to make all these devastating cuts to schools right across Newfoundland and Labrador. It just doesn’t make sense.

What makes matters even worse in this situation we have with St. Peter’s Primary, we have a school that’s grossly overcrowded and has an inadequate amount of resources provided to it as it is. I’ve made constructive suggestions on behalf of residents about how we can improve the situation, yet down the road we’re going to have another school in my district with six empty classrooms in September with multi-grade classrooms at the same time. It just does not make sense. There is a better way.

I would urge government to reconsider its position on full-day kindergarten and the drastic, devastating cuts they’re making to our K to 12 school system.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It’s indeed an honour to stand and present this petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the current 2016 provincial budget impacts adversely and directly the education programs at Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s; and

WHEREAS parents request a delay in the implementation of full-day kindergarten at our school until September 2018 when at such time the new five to nine school in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will be open; and

WHEREAS the student population in Beachy Cove Elementary is growing exponentially and this growth is sustainable into the future; and

WHEREAS parents request the reinstatement of previous teacher allocation formula for Beachy Cove for this year and subsequent years to service the growth in enrolment to be able to provide all students with equal opportunities to enrol in French immersion programming;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the previous teacher allocations and delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten in order to provide the children of Beachy Cove Elementary the right to a quality education.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

As my colleague from Mount Pearl has stated, delaying all-day kindergarten is a move forward in enhancing and preserving the quality of education we have in our system right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s not to say we don’t support all-day kindergarten, because it was this administration who put it forward. What we’re saying is we need to be better prepared for it and at the time we can’t put it in place at the expense of the existing school system.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at a number of meetings with parents, with students themselves, on the steps of Confederation Building yesterday and have seen the impact the changes to the education system and the cuts to the education system, particularly in this budget, are going to have on administrators, on teachers, on parents, but particularly the students themselves.

The lack of access to certain programs and services within the school system, the lack of access to an educational program they took for granted would be available for them when they were ready to jump into that program. The fact that there are going to be larger classrooms, teachers won’t have the same ability to work with the students on a one-on-one basis. The resources are going to be minimal when it comes to some of our school systems. The overcrowding is going to be a detriment to our school system.

I had the privilege last night to talk to one young student, probably a grade three or four student, who came up and shook my hand and said: Mr. Brazil, can you save our school? I’m glad we’re not at that level about saving schools, but I know to that student, the loss of the education process that he’s been engaged in is like losing his school. He’s going to lose his friends in his classroom. There are certain programs he won’t have access to.

He’s in a classroom that is conducive for 15 students and he’s in with 30. He’s going to have blended classroom settings. It’s going to be confusing for students. It’s going to cause challenges for the administration. It’s going to take away from the time they’re going to be able to have for social recreation and interim engagement and better opportunities for them to be able to actually be more engaged within their school system.

These cuts are obviously detrimental. One way we can address some of these, the immediate ones – it won’t solve all the education issues around this budget but it definitely would address some of the particular needs right now. The cap sizes, the blending of classrooms and the intensive core French being able to do that, by delaying the implementation of the all-day kindergarten process.

I know there are petitions with hundreds, if not thousands, of names out there from schools all over this province asking and begging the Members on that side to revisit that, and the Minister of Education, to do the right thing and put a delay on the implementation of all-day kindergarten.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I present this petition – as I said previously, I have a lot of these so I try to get as many of them presented as I can. It’s dealing with my District of Conception Bay South on policing.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policing is vital to the protection and service of our province’s communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase the presence of law enforcement in the Conception Bay South area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

As I stated, Mr. Speaker, I have presented this similar petition by a lot of our residents numerous times. I’ll continue to do it, as I committed to the residents.

CBS is the largest town in the province. We’re nearing probably 26,000, 27,000 people. As I stated a while back, there has been some increase in police services, extra patrol cars, which has made somewhat of a difference.

I obviously have stated previously too, I mean we don’t have any dedicated office. I’m not looking for a full detachment, but it would be nice to have somewhere people could come, any issues they have, to speak to someone in person, which a lot of our residents are calling out for. There used to be an office there; it’s no longer.

As I say, I’ve stated this numerous times. I guess the most recent thing now that’s going on in the district is there’s a concerned group on traffic speeds, byroad speeds and whatnot, and policing in general. They’re very active. A conversation last week over a lot of policing issues, I said I would present the petition once more.

They’ve reached out to the town. The town has a committee formed. It’s a really simple question – a simple request actually. We have a municipality the size of CBS which is, I would say based on numbers near and outside of St. John’s, probably the largest area. Most times you’re lucky to have two police cars, maybe a third one. There are lots of times the second or third one is called in from neighbouring Mount Pearl or Paradise.

It’s a town that deserves more attention. It’s a growing town. There are various issues. The crime levels have increased; we have a lot of traffic accidents – a serious situation that happened out in CBS. It’s no longer the little bedroom community that it used to be 25, 30 years ago. It’s a very active, growing community and policing is very important. As we all know, it’s vital to all our communities.

I call upon the government to give some strong consideration to increasing policing in CBS.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 30, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the high quality of education is vital to a strong and successful society and should be a priority of the provincial government; and

WHEREAS the provincial government has announced funding reductions to the Department of Education which will result in an increase in class size cap for students in grades four to Level III, as delivered on April 15, 2016; and

WHEREAS these funding reductions will result in a reduction of teacher allocation units at École Mary Queen of Peace School, the introduction of combined classes and a reduction in the provision Intensive Core French instruction at our children’s school; and

WHEREAS the provincial government has decided to proceed with the costly implementation of full-day kindergarten in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to instruct the school boards to delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten until such time as the province’s financial circumstances improve and restore programs, teacher allocations and class size caps to 2014 levels.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners forever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I attended a silent protest, one of the ones that were organized by the school. I spoke to many of the parents at Mary Queen of Peace and all of them are in the same thing. This is a school that has 700 students. It’s a K to12 school. There has been crowding in this school for the past 10 years. Last year it was announced, the first extension to the school.

As you know, in the Northeast Avalon there have been many renovations, upgrades and new schools are getting built, but this is the first time in 10 years that anything has been done. Other than pavement and a few lockers, a bit of capital expenditure on the school. This is devastating to the community. The cuts to education, combined classes, layoffs, and increased, like I said, cap size.

At Mary Queen of Peace they’re going to lose three units – that’s three teachers – resulting in combined classes for grades three and four, and grades five and six. Early French immersion also, 14 children won’t get to take intensive core French. This school doesn’t have a cafeteria. The gym is used half the time so people can have a place to go eat. There is no functioning library. There is no computer lab for the kids, and this is really another kick to that school.

This is a school that’s not represented by my district, but represented by Members opposite me. Parents really are concerned. Actually, Mr. Speaker, as of – there are still petitions out there, but right now there are almost 500 names from the parents of this school; 500 parents who are really concerned. They’re asking the government to listen to their concerns. They’re asking the Minister of Education to listen to their concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: I ask government, please listen to the concerns of the parents of this school.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 introduced over 50 new fees and increased over 300 fees; and

WHEREAS Budget 2016 asks the people of this province to pay more for a decrease in government services; and

WHEREAS these fee increases negatively impact the financial well-being of seniors, youth, families, students and individuals;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reverse fee increases as introduced through Budget 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we get up in the House and the levy has always been the lightning rod, and we talked about a lot of other factors in the budget, the gas tax, the insurance tax, other programs but we never really speak a lot about the fees. As time goes on, when they all come into full impact – I know if you go, for instance, to a provincial park, you’re still paying last year’s fees. A lot of this stuff hasn’t hit home yet.

We get sometimes sidetracked and it’s the bigger items that people are sometimes focused on, which is fair game. We all do that, but it’s the little fees – and I’ve probably said it here in this House before, it’s death by a thousand cuts. It’s no one big thing, it’s all these – and they’re all hitting people very hard. We’ve talked about schools and other parts of the – a bunch of items, but fees themselves we don’t zero in on them a lot. There are people, as we’re presenting this petition actually, who have great concerns over a lot of these fees.

You go right down; there are pages of them here. You can list them off. A lot of these fee increases have doubled. I’ll say it again, I’ll be on record as saying you add all these fees and everything else, the other impacts of this budget – you put fees on top of everything else, people are already crying out that they’re going to find a struggle. These fee increases are not going to help, like I say.

The budget already impacts most every person in the province in a negative way. Then you’re just adding the fees, it’s equivalent, Mr. Speaker, of putting salt in the wound. I present this petition and I ask government to give it some serious consideration because it is an important issue that sometimes gets lost in the mix.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER (Warr): The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present this petition in the House:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension was announced to the Robert E. Howlett Highway on March 25, 2014; and

WHEREAS the environmental assessment, design and engineering of this project is completed; and

WHEREAS continued residential growth and commercial growth has increased traffic on the Southern Avalon;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to continue with this significant piece of infrastructure to enhance and improve traffic to the Southern Avalon.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this highway – for a number of years we’ve looked at increasing the infrastructure requirement. The extension to the Robert E. Howlett would do that. It’s about 9.6 kilometres that were approved in 2014, and I had it moved on through the environmental assessment piece. I think that was released in maybe March 2015. Further on in that year it was accepted by the then minister of Environment.

Unfortunately, in this year’s budget of 2016, this government decided not even to defer this project, but basically to cancel it, take it off the books, which is very difficult news and upsetting news for the people of the Southern Avalon, the whole Southern Avalon. So while this is to enhance traffic, commerce from and to the Southern Shore, it enhances the whole Southern Avalon.

What it does, we have significant, as I said, commerce back and forth through the region, significant residential growth we’ve seen in the past number of years. We see a lot of people commuting back and forth to the city, as well from the manufacturing, fabrication point of view. We’ve seen significant work over the past number of years that, as a government, we’ve invested in as well. You’re looking at Bay Bulls harbour and infrastructure as well to the offshore. So a lot is happening.

It’s very disappointing to the people that this was shelved. There are some concerns with respect to watershed, but that’s not something we can’t mitigate and move forward on. It shouldn’t be a showstopper. Obviously, there is a watershed at Bay Bulls Big Pond.

This project would take traffic further away from that watershed which would seem to support everything in regard to the protection of that watershed. If we need to take some other measures to protect it, we should do that. We call on Transportation and Works and Environment now as well to work collectively to get this back on the radar, to move forward.

There is supposedly federal infrastructure money there that can now be accessed. So let’s get to work, get this done for the people of the Southern Avalon which require it. It should be done. It was announced. Let’s get this back on and get it done.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS a high quality of education is vital to a strong and successful society and should be a priority of the provincial government; and

WHEREAS the provincial government has announced funding reductions to the Department of Education which will result in an increase in the class size cap for students in grades four to Level III, as delivered on April 15, 2016; and

WHEREAS these funding reductions will result in a reduction of teacher allocation units at École Mary Queen of Peace School, the introduction of combined classes and a reduction in the provision of intensive core French instruction at our children’s school; and

WHEREAS the provincial government has decided to proceed with the costly implementation of full-day kindergarten in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to instruct the school boards to delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten until such time as the province’s financial circumstances improve and restore programs, teacher allocations, and class size caps to 2014 levels.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting this petition on behalf of concerned citizens throughout St. John’s, but particularly on behalf of parents at Mary Queen of Peace School. My colleague from the District of Cape St. Francis was going to present this petition today, but unfortunately it’s been ruled that he is not permitted to speak in this House today.

I’ll read a note from one parent who has written to raise concern about this issue: Mary Queen of Peace has over 700 students K to 12. We have been overcrowded for many years, over 10 for sure. We were optimistic last year when we were awarded our first extension. Other schools have had renovations, upgrades, new schools or extensions. Our only capital expenditure for Mary Queen of Peace in the past 10 years has been pavement and lockers – if lockers are even considered a capital expenditure.

Then, on April 15, 2016, our hopes were dashed with the budget. Cuts to education, combined classes, teacher layoffs, increased class-size caps. At Mary Queen of Peace we are losing three units, three teachers, resulting in combined grade three to four English, and grade five to six early French immersion, and also fourteen children won’t get to take intensive core French. We don’t have a cafeteria to sit in. Our gym is split in half every day for every class to share. No library functioning, no computer lab. Kids share one field and split lunch early and late. Why are we being cut when we are growing? We’re too crowded.

These sentiments have been expressed by dozens and dozens of parents. I know the Member for Cape St. Francis wanted to present these concerns today. It’s unfortunate that he can’t, but I am pleased to stand and do so on behalf of parents in the Mary Queen of Peace School catchment area.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition to the House:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS changes to bus routes will impact the start time at St. Bernard’s Elementary and Mobile Central High; and

WHEREAS these changes were put in place with no consultation with school councils or parents; and

WHEREAS this will cause issues for parents, after-school programs and students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately instruct the English School District to reverse the decision regarding busing and start times for these two schools.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had a number of meetings, conversations and emails with a number of residents from the Bauline to Bay Bulls area in regard to this budget initiative in regard to downsizing of busing, and what results that have into less number of buses and making the runs much longer and earlier in the morning, especially for our very youngest in our school population. As well, changes to the afternoon schedule which causes implications for the youth in terms of our very youngest being at bus stops much earlier in the morning. As well, for after-school programming that many in this region avail of, whether it’s daycare, whether it’s after-school programs in Witless Bay or Bay Bulls.

The whole structure of families and their ability to function has been thrown into chaos in regard to some of these changes. We’ve made representation to the Eastern School District in trying to work through this, working with parents as well in this region as well as Goulds Elementary for the Goulds region and as well with Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove. I received numerous emails, calls.

So we’re working, trying to get this dealt with in both instances, which is very important to both regions and the people of Ferryland District. This is an initiative of the budget that I think wasn’t well thought out. It’s very difficult in terms of getting a way forward working with the school district, but it’s much needed as we look forward to our children in various schools and making sure that it’s the best environment it possibly can be. That environment starts with the transportation to and from school at appropriate hours and links to the other activities that our youth are involved with, both before school and after school.

I urge the government and the Minister of Education to intervene here; to have this looked at so we can do what’s in the best interests of students and best interests of our families.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will be presenting the following petition:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the current 2016 provincial budget impacts adversely and directly the education program at Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s; and

WHEREAS parents request a delay in the implementation of full-day kindergarten at our school until September 2017 or later when, at such time, the new five to nine middle school in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will be open; and

WHEREAS the student population at Beachy Cove Elementary is growing exponentially and this growth is sustainable into the future; and

WHEREAS parents request the re-instatement of the previous teacher allocation formula for Beachy Cove Elementary for this year and subsequent school years to service the growth in enrolment and to be able to provide all students with equal opportunity to enroll in French Immersion programs;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the previous teacher allocations and delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten in order to provide the children of Beachy Cove Elementary the right to quality education.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had the opportunity to present this, but as I speak to this one, you see the theme that’s going on in the Opposition with all the petitions that the citizens of this province have been presenting to us. They are around access to literacy, and they are around access to education. We hear about the issues around education that tell you the impact this budget is having. It’s around busing; it’s around access to libraries and basic literacy; it’s around Intensive Core French; it’s around cap sizes, overcrowding, basic access to programs and services by being able to use a gymnasium or cafeteria for basic services. It’s about offering a quality of education that’s not regressive, but it is progressive.

I had the honour of last week being called to Beachy Cove Elementary, and I thought it was a formal meeting with parents or with administration, but it was the opposite. It was the students who wanted to meet with their MHA and present them with their petition. It has over 400 names signed. The passionate story was around the kindergartens who wanted to sign it. So they waited to come in – and you can see the names are printed. It was explained to them what impact this would have on them and each one of these students, particularly the grade fives, wrote about the impact that these cuts are having, particularly around one program that they are facing, the Intensive Core French program that they just assumed would be there.

They weren’t enrolled into French Immersion because as they got older, they’d be ready to do it and they went a different stream – because it was always available. It made sense. It’s part of process to become bilingual. It’s part of it to be more engaged in our Francophone history in this country. But what happened here is we cut it out.

So there are friends here who went through school from day one, their neighbours. There are kids, twins, in the same family, one made it in Intensive Core French through a lottery pick. Do you know how they were notified? And this is the standard process the Department of Education put the school board and the administration in. Different coloured letters, so they knew in advance by the colour of your letter whether or not you got in.

This is the way we are treating our young people. It’s the way we’re promoting education, through a lottery process. It’s a way you can see the citizens here being united for a common front here, that we do a better job in improving our education, not making it regressive.

As you can see, Mr. Speaker, from the notice here, from all of the young students who outlined their concern here, that they have a real stake in education. They want to make sure education moves forward, and we’ve done nothing in this budget.

I would hope tomorrow when we present our private Member’s resolution about delaying all-day kindergarten – very supportive of the process, that we ensure we get some support from the other side to do the right thing for the citizens and the students of this province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 introduces over 50 new fees and increases over 300 fees; and

WHEREAS Budget 2026 asks the people of this province to pay more for a decrease in government services; and

WHEREAS these fee increases negatively impact the financial well-being of seniors, youth, families, students and individuals;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reverse fee increases as introduced through Budget 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’m presenting this petition on behalf of residents of a number of communities. One of my colleagues had intended to present this petition today but is no longer permitted to speak in the House of Assembly today, so I’m rising on her behalf to present this petition.

People are very concerned about this budget. Today, Members opposite who sit in the government have an opportunity to stand and be counted and speak up for their constituents. This is the big chance. We’ve heard today in Question Period that the budget vote will be happening today. Each and every Member of the Liberal caucus, just like Members of the Opposition caucuses, will have a chance to stand and be counted.

We’ve seen countless government MHAs stand and present petitions on behalf of their constituents who are concerned about the budget. Well, today is your chance. Today is your chance to do the right thing and stand with your constituents instead of with your government that has presented a budget that has upset just about everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador.

These petitioners are concerned about fee increases. It’s important to look at the budget in totality. It’s not just about a fee increase here or a fee increase here, or the levy or the gas tax, or the insurance tax or the drastic cuts to education. You have to look at all of it to understand the full impact it’s going to have on the people of the province and on each of our communities – communities that Members opposite represent as well.

I hope that more Members in this hon. House, Mr. Speaker, will do the right thing today and stand with their constituents. It’s time to stand and be counted.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

(no time for petitions on June 1)

 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune need to have access to adequate health care; and

WHEREAS the local clinics in rural areas are the main source of medical assistance for our people; and

WHEREAS the government has reduced funding and closed the Hermitage clinics and downgraded services;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the services to health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it’s a very sad, sad day in Hermitage today as their clinic doors are closing. They have been without a doctor for quite some time now, actually. They have been receiving a visit from a nurse practitioner for two days a week, and although a severely compromised service, it has been working well for them, and at least alleviating the seniors from having the burden and expense of trying to find a way to get to Harbour Breton, which is 45 minutes each way, for something as simple as bloodwork and something as complex as concern about having a stroke or sugars dropping, or any kind of physical ailment, Madam Speaker, that would require them to visit the doctor.

We certainly implore that the Minister of Health take it upon himself to encourage Central Health to revisit the decision they have made with respect to downsizing of services. We truly hope that this government revisits its approach overall, because it really seems to be attacking rural Newfoundland and Labrador, pulling services from rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Health care and education are two areas in particular, Madam Speaker, where the people all across this province are equally deserving of adequate health care. Measures such as these certainly downgrade our health and make it very worrisome to live in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

The other issue that we’re experiencing is reduced visitation to our islands and reduced chopper services – another grave concern. We had a very serious incident, actually, in François just two days ago. The chopper they called was in Gander, and they called another one over on the West Coast, Pasadena, neither of whom could get there because of the weather. The chopper in Conne River had to be called, and that chopper is on the chopping block by the Liberal government. Rural Newfoundland and Labrador deserves better.

Thank you very much.

MADAM SPEAKER (Dempster): The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Madam

I’m glad to rise today with this petition and present it to the House.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS changes to bus routes will impact the start-up time of Goulds Elementary; and

WHEREAS these changes were put in place with no consultation from school councils or parents;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately instruct the English School District to reverse the decision regarding busing and start times for this school.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Madam Speaker, yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with a concerned parents group from the region of the Goulds and down through Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove with children in the Goulds Elementary, and also discussions with parents related to junior high and the high school in the Goulds region. At that time, certainly very significant concerns in regard to the changes to busing and what it’s going to mean to the delivery of services to school children for the region and our youth.

Actually, the petition I have here has somewhere in the range of probably 400 to 500 signatures. They’re from people from all over the region outlining the concerns they have. Those concerns are quite significant, ranging from everything for having very young children up much earlier in the morning in terms of daylight and darkness, when they’re getting to bus stops, safety of children at that time in the morning, especially the younger children, those definitely from K to 6 and what challenges there are in regard to them and being on that road earlier in the morning; certainly changes and possible changes to courtesy busing. Some kids now can avail of that right now, but if we’re talking about less buses, that’s a challenge. The frustration of the parents is they can’t get any clarity on exactly what that is and what it’s going to mean as we look to the fall and some of the huge challenges that they have.

Daycare, after-school programs now in the Goulds are now available. Achieva is available. You look at the numbers, in terms of cost and extra costs that’s going to be on parents because of that. Right now some of the high school kids will take care of siblings as they get out. With the change, that won’t be possible. That service won’t be there.

Then you’ve got to look at – I had a call from a single mom. The arrangement now works well. What she needs to look at now is possibly getting access to additional daycare because there’s no one to care for her child. What had happened with the current schedule that was allowed.

Another individual had a high school student that cared for their actual child right now after school, but right now that’s all extra cost. What’s happening is that extra cost has been downloaded to parents and families. While they’re suggesting they’re saving over $2 million, all the cost, or a lot of it, is being downloaded to families and parents.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. Member his time for speaking has expired.

MR. HUTCHINGS: This is a concern. We certainly call on the Minister of Education to step in and deal with this.

Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the current 2016 budget impacts adversely and directly the education programs at Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s; and

WHEREAS parents request a delay in the implementation of full-day kindergarten at our school until at such time –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

– the new five to nine middle school in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will be open; and

WHEREAS the student population at Beachy Cove Elementary is growing exponentially and this growth is sustainable into the future; and

WHEREAS parents request the reinstatement of the previous teacher allocation formula for Beachy Cove Elementary for this year and subsequent years to service the growth in enrolment and be able to provide all students with equal opportunity to enrol in the French immersion program;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the previous teacher allocations and delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten in order to provide the children of Beachy Cove Elementary the right to a quality education.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Madam Speaker, yesterday we had a very intensive debate around the impact of implementing all-day kindergarten and particularly, the impact it would have on programs and services.

Beachy Cove Elementary is one of those schools that are directly going to be impacted by implementing all-day kindergarten and the adverse effect that will have on other programs and services. While it’s been echoed by the parents organization, the administration that all-day kindergarten is a positive process and one that will be very beneficial, right now the impact it’s going to have is negative to the students down there.

We had a discussion around some of the other impacts. One of the questions that has to be answered somewhere along the way is – because Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is a growing community and it’s very engaging. The amenities are growing. So it’s engaging more families to move there from all over this country, from all over the world but particularly, various parts of Newfoundland and Labrador as they move into the Northeast Avalon.

One of the questions, for those students who are already enrolled or will be enrolled next year in an Intensive Core program, because our Intensive Core program for French is going to be at its cap, because we’ve had double the amount of students who wanted to do the program and through a lottery had to be picked, for those who would make it and those who wouldn’t make it. If we have students who, halfway through the year, transfer into that school, what happens then – who have been doing Intensive Core French in another school here in the city or Northeast Avalon, or anywhere in this province. All of a sudden, now, is there a decision made? Do we now have a lottery where we either kick two out, or the ones who have been halfway through a program, tell them they have to change to another program?

So the thought process here, from discussions I had last night with parents not only in my own district, but also in other districts – I know I had some inquiries from residents and parents in the Mount Pearl area. So this is another quandary, it’s another example of how there’s been no planning here, there’s been no explanation of how things should work and how we move this forward.

So, Mr. Speaker, I wanted outline again while there have been some discussion yet, they’re still imploring people here to make the right decisions –

MR. SPEAKER (Osborne): Order, please!

MR. BRAZIL: – and change the all-day kindergarten process.

 

 

 

 

Monday, June 6, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the education of our children is the most important and vital investment that can be made in the success of our children; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should be choosing educational options that will provide all students of our province with a higher standard of education and enhance learning for our youth; and

WHEREAS the government’s decision to make cuts to teachers and to our educational system will have a negative effect on the students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse this decision effectively immediately.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, that’s a portion of the petitions I received from my district, various school groups, addressing their concerns. They come to me and they brought me in ever so many petitions, so I’ve presented a chunk of them here.

Their concerns, I narrowed it into a broader comment, because their concerns are Intensive Core French. It’s the cutback on teachers; the implementation of full-day kindergarten where schools in my district are struggling with capacity issues wondering if they’re going to be ready; multigrade teaching – the full gamut of educational costs and effects to education are being expressed by concerned parents and educators in my district.

Colleagues of mine have presented similar petitions from their districts. So this is not just a certain area, this is across the province that people are speaking out, and they’re speaking out en masse. This is a fairly large group – CBS is a fairly large town, one of the largest towns in the province. So you’re looking at even a larger subsection and this is right from one end to the other, and it includes the Member for Harbour Main’s District, people from her district, and as well as my colleague, Topsail – Paradise.

These cuts, people have a lot of concerns. We get up in the House day after day after day and express those concerns. They seem to be going unanswered or on deaf ears, but people are speaking out. We’re bringing their voice to the House of Assembly, which is never a bad thing to do. Unfortunately it seems like a lot of it is going on deaf ears, but I don’t really believe, regardless if they decide to ignore us, the voice of the people overrules all the rest of our voices.

My one voice here today, Mr. Speaker, is speaking for hundreds in my District of Conception Bay South, so I do call upon government to start paying attention to these individual concerns throughout the province.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS for 70 years, the Pouch Cove library has been the centre of the community; and

WHEREAS the Pouch Cove library offers a variety of services in addition to loaning books; and

WHEREAS the services are used by a large portion of the residents of Pouch Cove, many seniors and young families;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to immediately direct the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board to reverse the decision to close the Pouch Cove library.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the Pouch Cove library is, like the petition says, a central part of the community. The council in Pouch Cove saw the value of the library and for the last number of years has been putting resources into the library for extra hours because they realize that there is so many people in the community using it. They had an after-school program that the town itself gave the money to keep the library going, just to pay for that.

This library is in the municipal building, so they don’t pay any light. They pay no snow clearing. Like I said, it’s in the building, so the town already pays for all this. It is a very small cost but a large cost to the Town of Pouch Cove to continue to keep it going.

I spoke to people in the library area there and they tell me that it’s not only the people, young people, but they find that there are a lot of seniors that come in there and they need some direction. Today, we know that there are a lot of things done online and you can get a lot of information. Seniors want to know how to do this and how things can be done, and they use the library to get this information and to just navigate through the different systems.

The librarian is there all the time to assist. It’s a huge part of this community. There is also a program there for preschoolers, grandparents and parents and they take their children there in the morning to go through a program where they read to the children. This library is one of the more used libraries in the whole province. The community really uses it.

I can’t understand why government are doing this to the province for such a small cost. I urge government, please, to reconsider what you’re doing to rural Newfoundland and these small libraries that are so vital to our communities.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the current 2016 provincial budget impacts adversely and directly the education programs of Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s; and

WHEREAS parents request a delay in the implementation of full-day kindergarten at the school until September when, at such time, the new five to nine school in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will be open; and

WHEREAS the student population of Beachy Cove Elementary is growing exponentially and this growth is sustainable into the future; and

WHEREAS parents request the reinstatement of the previous teacher allocation formula for Beachy Cove Elementary for this year and subsequent school years to service the growth in enrolment and to be able to provide all students with equal opportunity to enrol in the French immersion program;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the previous teacher allocations and delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten in order to provide the children of Beachy Cove Elementary the right to a quality education.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve presented this on numerous occasions, and had the privilege of a number of parents and some of the students from Beachy Cove being in this House of Assembly and being part of the protests for the I love education process. They continuously outline the fact that this is going to be detrimental to the education process, not only in Beachy Cove Elementary, because they realize they’re speaking for all students in this province.

They’re outlining the concerns that parents have, educators have and former educators have. They’re asking about a number of things here; one, the delay of implementing around issues because of the costing. Being able to use that money to be better invested in reducing the class caps, and ensuring that access to specialized programs, particularly around the intensive French immersion, is part and parcel of it and that, as a result the use of gymnasiums and cafeterias then could be freed up for proper use; also around busing issues and the challenges around that being added.

They’ve even in the discussions – and I’ve had the privilege of talking to some of the people connected to the School Lunch Program and the challenges they’re going to face. So we’re going to impose an added number of students in the school system with an expectation that parents have and the school system have that these kids for lunchtime are taken care of. Now there are no resources for a volunteer organization – and I have to stress that, a volunteer organization – which took a lead in this province over the last decade to ensure students, no matter of their economic situation, had nutritious foods while they’re in school.

We all know, and every bit of research will tell you, that if a kid is hungry in school there are challenges around their education. There are challenges for them because they can’t focus. It makes every sense in the world. As part of that process, we’re encouraging – and the students and the parents at Beachy Cove Elementary are noting that.

There are also a number of issues – and I read a piece in the paper this past weekend from a former superintendent of a school board where he questions the integration of classrooms. He talks about are we now going to base the scoring achievements on the present system where it was a one-grade system or is it going to be changed and lowered. That’s not acceptable here. I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this again in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 introduces over 50 new fees and increases over 300 fees; and

WHEREAS Budget 2016 asks the people of this province to pay more for a decrease in government services; and

WHEREAS these fee increases negatively impact the financial well-being of seniors, youth, families, students and individuals;

WHEREUPON, the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reverse fees and increases as introduced through Budget 2016.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we just spent 24 hours, nearly, in this House. Last night around 8, we started a debate on the levy which allowed us to talk about all aspects of this devastating budget once again.

What the budget of 2016 – I’ve heard it referred to a lazy budget; I’ve heard it referred to as amateur hour. One thing that we are all certain of, apart from Members opposite I think, Mr. Speaker, is that this budget is going to hurt people in their pocketbooks. It is going to impede the ability of some people to be able to have basic necessities of life such as food and shelter. It’s definitely going to take from the disposable income of families for enjoying activities with their children, for visiting other parts of Newfoundland, any type of disposable income whatsoever.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We’re all devastated by the vast number of tax increases in this budget. To look at these fees – and they say, well, you know when we did our consultations, people told us to raise fees. They told us to raise taxes. They didn’t tell you to do all of it all at the one time, Mr. Speaker. They certainly didn’t expect to see the introduction of 50 new fees that never ever existed in this province before.

It’s been a sad few weeks for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador as we all try and grapple with what this budget is going to mean. It’s very unfortunate that government is unwilling to listen to the people of the province who prior to November 30, all they could talk about was how people matter. We see now they mattered for purposes of November 30, but beyond that they don’t seem to matter much anymore, Mr. Speaker.

We want this Liberal government to really reverse its decisions. To restore health care, to restore education and to revisit Budget 2016.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS a high quality of education is vital to a strong and successful society and should be a priority of the provincial government; and

WHEREAS the provincial government has announced funding reductions to the Department of Education which will result in an increase in the class size cap for students in grades four to level III, as delivered on April 15, 2016; and

WHEREAS these funding reductions will result in a reduction of teacher allocation units at École Mary Queen of Peace School, the introduction of combined classes and a reduction in the provision of Intensive Core French instruction at our children’s school; and

WHEREAS the provincial government has decided to proceed with the costly implementation of full-day kindergarten in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to instruct the school board to delay the implementation of full-day kindergarten until such time as the province’s financial circumstances improve and restore programs, teacher allocations, and class size caps to 2014 levels.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is probably going to be the last chance I’ll get to present this petition, but I can just show you that there are over 500 names on this petition. The parents and school council have met with their representatives. I am not their representative. In my district before, I had part of Stavanger Drive, which a lot of students come from, but the Minister of Finance and the Member for Virginia Waters – Pleasantville, those are the two representatives of this school. They’ve met, but it doesn’t seem like – and they’ve also met with the Minister of Education and they’re not getting anywhere. They’re heartbroken really because they’re after doing everything they could possibly do.

This is a school that – and I have to do a correction, too. I was saying, because my notes were saying, it was K to 12, but it’s actually a K to six school. There are 700 students in this school. For the last number of years they’ve seen no major renovations or improvements to the school. The first time last year, in over 10 years they’ve seen an extension.

The parents are very concerned about what’s going to happen because they’re looking at combined classes for grades three and four, and grades five and six. They don’t have a cafeteria. There are no computer labs in the school. They have to split the lunch time because of the students going out.

All I ask is for the minister to listen to the parents and listen to the school council and listen to their concerns. That’s what they’re asking for.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to rise in the House today to present this petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Witless Bay Line is a significant piece of infrastructure; and

WHEREAS the continuation of the Hebron and Long Harbour projects and the commercial and residential growth in our region has increased the volume of traffic on this highway;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to upgrade this significant piece of infrastructure to enhance and improve the flow of traffic to and from the Trans-Canada Highway.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this piece of infrastructure from Route 10 to the Trans-Canada Highway, about 20-odd-plus kilometres, over the past number of years through investments we’ve upgraded I’d say about half with significant investment, probably in the range of $2 million. It connects the Southern Shore with the Trans Canada.

With the number of commercial activities that are going on, significant projects, we have a lot of employment from along the Southern Shore that uses this highway to get to their place of employment. As well, we look at things like the fishing industry, the crab industry in particular, the amount of product that’s used – this highway is used back and forth, the flow as well.

So it’s very significant in terms of that and industry – those types of industries, as well from the tourism sector. We see a lot coming east on the Trans-Canada Highway. Certainly whether people come in by boat or just domestic travel coming east turning off and entering the Southern Shore, Route 10, through that means and then going further south along Route 10 to access the many tourism opportunities we have.

It’s a very significant piece of infrastructure. I just was on it the other day. It needs some immediate patch work and that type of thing done. I’ve been in touch with the department and with the depot, both. Hopefully that will get done shortly. We’ve had some vehicles that had some damage done to them, so we need to get that fixed, certainly on a temporary basis, some of the challenges we have but, as well, long term to invest in a very significant piece of infrastructure that’s needed.

I have spoken to the Minister of Transportation on it and continue to work towards enhancing the piece of infrastructure.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 14, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune need to have access to adequate health care; and

WHEREAS the local clinics in rural areas are the main source of medical assistance for our people; and

WHEREAS the government has reduced funding and closed the Hermitage clinics and downgraded services;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the services to health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, since the clinic in Hermitage has closed, over the last few months we’ve seen a significant increase in anxiety, particularly for our seniors who now, with facing winter arriving, are very, very worried about what will happen to their medical care.

We have issues around people not being able to get to Harbour Breton to get their blood tested, and they’re on medications, Mr. Speaker, like warfarin. This type of regressive cuts to health care will do nothing to improve our state of well-being as a people.

Looking at the vision document last Thursday, I have some fears and concerns about what that means for health care – particularly rural health care – for the entire Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I encourage every, single citizen of this province to take a keen interest and a close eye, and to voice your concerns about what you see happening in health care.

We, in rural Newfoundland, do not need more people who can deliver presentations or more managers. We need more front-line nurses and doctors, and more nurse practitioners. That is where we see, as livyers in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, the greatest need for health care. You can send us a brochure about how to eat better. You can send us Facebook notices and emails. There are all kinds of ways of getting the message out.

What we need in health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador are doctors and nurses and clinics. We need them to be open; we need them to be accessible. We are geographically spread out as a province and we need those front-line services in our communities, or certainly within close proximity, and I don’t mean driving an hour or two over highways that are not even snow cleared.

So, Mr. Speaker, we call upon government to seriously evaluate what it’s doing with health care and to look at improving it, not eroding it.

Thank you so much.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS policing is vital to the protection and the service of our province’s communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase the presence of law enforcement in the Conception Bay South area.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure of the number, but this has been numerous, numerous of these petitions I’ve presented. Through my travels through the district, it’s still a big issue.

Recently, a few months back, I spoke publicly on it. A lot of people in the district had a lot of concerns, raised a lot of concerns. By a few recent, I guess, serious crimes now, more policing wouldn’t have stopped those crimes from happening, but it just reaffirmed people’s belief that they don’t feel as safe in their communities as they once did.

A lot of that is the evolution of the town; it’s one of the largest municipalities in the province. And with that comes increased crime and whatnot. But most people in the community don’t feel there’s adequate policing. There has been improvement, there has been more presence, there’s no doubt, but a town the size of CBS does require – I think it’s earned the right to have – its own dedicated detachment office.

I know there were some public comments made in the media shortly after I spoke publicly on it stating that there was an office there that the public didn’t use; therefore, that’s why it was closed. Just to add to that commentary, because I never responded at the time, but I will now. That office was not really a public office. There was a little sign over the door. It was more meant for officers to come in and complete their work via computer.

As we all know now, computers are readily accessible in the police vehicles; they no longer require that building. But anyone requiring any service of any sort from the RNC had to either go to Mount Pearl or Fort Townshend. That office didn’t provide service to the public as was stated. So that was somewhat misleading and I just wanted to clarify it.

People come to you and you speak to them on a daily basis – not only daily, but I mean you run into them and the topic comes up – their views have not changed. And there’s an acknowledgement that there is an improvement in the number of police vehicles patrolling the community.

Response times are everything, Mr. Speaker. If anyone is familiar with CBS, if you have an incident in Seal Cove or Topsail, both at various ends of the district, and another police vehicle is already gone to Fort Townshend, you’re operating most times with two, three if you’re lucky. The response times to get to those from one end of that town to the other – as we all know, it’s a large district. I think response times are a problem on certain crimes, not all, but it’s just a matter of more police presence. I believe that a town the size of almost 27,000 people does deserve the proper attention, to have its own detachment.

I call upon government, as I’ve done many times in the past and I’ll probably continue to do with these petitions – I have a lot of them – to give some serious consideration to that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS fisheries policy regulations link harvesting quotas to vessel length for various species; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own vessels of various sizes but, because of policy regulations, are restricted to using smaller vessels, often putting their crews in danger;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to make representation to the federal government to encourage them to change policy, thus ensuring the safety of fisheries harvesters in our province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

This is a petition that I presented several times in the last session. Mr. Speaker, I know that this is important in your district, as recently we saw the devastation in the community of Shea Heights where they lost four members of that community out fishing in a small vessel. It seems like every year we come back to the House of Assembly there’s always a tragedy that we talk about on the water.

Some of these tragedies can be avoided. It is so important – I have friends of mine that fish the crab fishery, for example, and they use six different boats to go out and catch crab. The cost alone to getting those boats ready and everything else but if you look at what they have in their vessels from the six boats from their best vessel to the worse one they got, we should be ensuring that our fish harvesters are out on the water in the safest vessel possible. It’s too late when we see what happened here in St. John’s, and that could happen anywhere else in the province when people are out in small boats and tragedy happens.

Again like I said, the fishery today – and I know the Minister of Fisheries, because we spoke of this several times, does agree with me. I just want to see us put regulations in place and encourage the federal government to put regulations in place that our fish harvesters are safe. They have to go home to their families.

I have family members that do fish and every time that they are out on the water, it’s always concern. It’s not only in rural Newfoundland; it’s right here in St. John’s. I was over to the Prosser’s Rock there the weekend having a look at some of the boats over there; the place is absolutely blocked with fish harvesters. If you looked at the good boats that are there, you’d say, okay, I’d have no problem going out in that one; but there are some boats over there that I wouldn’t want to be in when out on the water in rough seas.

I encourage and ask government to really put this forward, the safety of our fish harvesters – the people who go out on the water every day should be paramount to all of us. We should really encourage the federal government – I understand why some of these policies came in place. I understand when we went into the crab fishery and shell fishery that they had to take care of different sectors, but right now, we have too many fishermen out on the water in boats that are not safe and they shouldn’t be out there. They have vessels to be safe out on the water. I encourage government to continue with the policy on this, please.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the education of children is one of the important and vital investments that can be made in the success of our children; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should be choosing educational options that will provide all students of our province with a higher standard of education and enhance the learning experience for our youth; and

WHEREAS the government’s decision to make cuts to teachers and to our education system will have a negative effect on the students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse the decisions effectively immediately.

Mr. Speaker, as we’ve heard here, there’s a trend around some of the issues that are going on within government and this administration has brought in recently, particularly around education.

As my colleagues here for Southlands, Mount Pearl North and also for St. John’s Centre had noted here, there are major cuts in our education system and there’s a real awareness here. There’s a trend going on here. The trend is they’re hearing it in their districts. They’re hearing it from school councils. They’re hearing it from administrators. They’re hearing it from parents. They’re hearing it from the business community. Even the business community now are stepping up and saying the investments that are being taken away from our education system is going to have a detrimental effect in the next generation’s ability to be leaders in the education system but also in the business sector.

We’ve heard it from every sector here around the impacts that we’re having. We’re hearing it around changes to our busing, the impact that has on stress on families. The impact it has on students being able to be part of extracurricular activities; administrators themselves having to coordinate these types of efforts. We’re seeing it around safety. We’re seeing around core French. We’re seeing it around the issues, particularly around blended classrooms and integration in certain programs and services. We’re seeing it from the direct cuts.

There’s a trend here. There seems to be a commonality here around the fact that our education system has stepped backwards in the last decisions made by this administration, and everybody sees that. What they’re asking is open up your minds, open up your eyes and see that we need to take a different approach here.

There’s no doubt there are fiscal challenges here, but this is not the way to deal with those. You’re going to have an impact negatively on our society. It’s not in the best interests of students here. It’s not in the best interests of parents and definitely not in the best interests of our society.

We’re trying to attract families to stay here. The first key thing that people look at from a family moving into a neighbourhood is the quality of education. One time it was about the type of school you were in, the amenities it had; now it’s about directly the type of programs and services you offer.

If you’re not offering those to the quality that people expect here – we’ve come a long way in the last couple of decades, let’s continue that trend. We can’t do it when we’re continuously cutting education and when we’re continuously not open to listening to the stakeholders about their input to what should be done and how we should better serve the education system here.

So I’m encouraging the House, I’m encouraging the government, I’m encouraging the Minister of Education to go back and look again at the cuts they’ve made, see how detrimental they are to our society and ask that they look at the petitions here and heed the advice given.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the expansion of the aquaculture industry is important to economic diversification of Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS any developments must implement measures to ensure safe cohabitation between wild species and farmed stocks;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to perform due diligence to ensure the appropriate environmental assessment – full environmental impact statement – and existing policies are adhered to as it relates to proposed developments on the Burin Peninsula and Placentia Bay.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, today’s petition is three pages long and it’s signed by people from all across the province, and particularly on the East Coast of the Island. As I stated yesterday when I spoke to Address in Reply, I’m certainly a strong proponent of aquaculture, but I’m also a very strong proponent that aquaculture development must be done right.

We’ve lived through the growing pains in the Coast of Bays region and we still encounter them from time to time. But what is absolutely critical in all of this, in order for aquaculture to work, aquaculturists have to take extreme care of the environment. And I’m confident that they are absolutely wonderful stewards of the environment, but in order to grow fish you really have to understand the environment in which they are grown.

Mr. Speaker, certainly a full environmental impact statement is something that I think would lend confidence to others in the province about this venture. And we’ve seen recently the Environment Minister is certainly paying attention with respect to other issues to the call of the people, and the people really do want to see a full environmental impact statement.

Mr. Speaker, it’s of critical importance that this industry is developed properly because any negative impacts to a new area will certainly be a negative impact to an existing industry that provides over $200 million in revenue. So we must move forward and do it right, I guess, is the issue here.

I certainly support the call for a full environmental impact statement and support the full development of aquaculture across the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but no cutting corners, no bypassing regular processes. Let’s ensure that we do this, do it right so that everyone has confidence in the initiative when it goes forward, that it is in the best interest of everyone and there are minimal worries.

Certainly, I know there are other companies looking to invest in Placentia Bay. Thermagraph data showed it was below 1.6 which is lethal temperatures for finfish. So these things need to be studied.

Thank you.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there are families who face scheduling challenges to get their children to and from school each day; and

WHEREAS because of these challenges these children are required to go to child providers before and/or after school each day; and

WHEREAS the current policy and practices does not allow children to be dropped off via school bus to their child care provider;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to allow children to avail of courtesy busing and to enable parents to indicate an additional drop-off location in addition to their own.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue in a lot of areas in Newfoundland and Labrador. Today it seems like times have changed when it comes to our children. I know when I was growing up and when school got out, I could go to an aunt or I could go to my grandparents, or I could go to somebody in the neighbourhood. My parents felt it was great that they saw that person taking care of me or watching over me until they got home, and the same thing when my children went to school. I was fortunate to be living next to my parents’ house and the next-door neighbours were my babysitters and they had a chance to go there.

Today, in the Northeast Avalon there are a lot of things changing. There are a lot of parents out there now that both parents are working. It’s a real issue for them for their young children, where they go to after school. In most cases, they don’t have a family member or they don’t have a relative or they don’t have a person in their neighbourhood, so they need to go to different daycares.

In Torbay right now, there are three different child providers in the area. That’s where most of the children go and there are some people that do it from their homes. But the problem is busing in our area only allows you to use your civic address. That means come 3:30 in the evening, unless you can get a seat on the buses – and the buses in the Holy Trinity area this year, at least four of them were cut and there are no courtesy seats anymore.

What I’d like to see is for government, even if they don’t allow to do additional drop-offs, even if they let the parents say this is where my primary area is – and it could be the daycare. That evening they would be assured, while they’re working, that the child can be dropped off to a certain area, in the area that they want the person. They could arrange somehow in the morning, whether they do it themselves to drop off the child at the school. So it wouldn’t be the home address; it could be the address of the child provider.

So I just think government has to look at this and understand the circumstances that people are in. It’s a huge problem for them because right now there’s a buddy system in Torbay that’s costing people to get a bus to go to these child providers.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 closed the Advanced Education and Skills office in Bonavista; and

WHEREAS the residents of Bonavista and the surrounding communities require and deserve an appropriate level of service;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reconsider its decision to close the Bonavista Advanced Education and Skills office.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as the critic for Advanced Education and Skills, the last couple of weeks I’ve started to get emails again from some of the people who had some real concerns when the announcements were made, and still echo the same concerns that not only people in Bonavista and surrounding areas, but in the other offices that were closed around the loss of a very valued service.

The minister has talked about the ability to integrate and dialogue with individuals and stakeholders – these offices played that key role. It was the stop-in centre for not only the clients themselves, but it was the stop-in centre for the potential partners. The business community, the not-for-profit sector, the municipalities in those areas, to have a dialogue around how they could partner in providing various services, in being a pillar of strength and support for clients who were trying to get on their feet and trying to find ways to be gainfully employed, and to look at what kind of services or what kind of skill set they would need – be it around assessments for adult basic education, be it around particular other skill sets, be it around post-secondary education needs that they would have. They served that particular need.

But they also served the need for those people who have to rely on income support and all the services that are attached to that. So this was a stepping stone for people to identify services they need, and for the very good qualified staff to be able to counsel and provide those services and direct where there may be other supportive services so that people could get – as the minister noted – to a point where they’re gainfully employed. But taking away a very valuable service and a very valuable first step, particularly in rural and remote communities, is a detriment to people being able to do that. That’s why this is still a very pertinent issue for people who particularly have lost that service.

You can see in a lot of areas now as the economy turns people need other supports; they need other directions. And taking away valued services that are always part and parcel of what people understood and to develop partnerships in these communities is a detriment. That’s what we’re finding here.

So, Mr. Speaker, there’s no doubt, over the next number of weeks, I’ll be presenting other petitions relevant to this, because it started again with these communities now realizing the impact. We were lucky to get through the summer when things are a little bit more positive and things move at a different rate and it wasn’t as noticeable. Now we’re back into the fall sitting and people now realize how detrimental these cuts have been.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this and the other cuts that have been made in the near future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS school-age children are walking to school in areas with no sidewalks, no traffic lights, and through areas without crosswalks; and

WHEREAS this puts the safety of these children at risk;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to ensure the safety of all children by removing the 1.6-kilometre busing policy where safety is a concern.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, we do great amounts of work to ensure schools are safe. We have to do equal amounts of work to ensure kids get to school safely. As we know, particularly in some of the suburban and fast-growing communities here, that were normally rural-oriented for the last 20 or 30 years, but in the last decade have seen some substantial growth, yet still have areas where there’s very little shoulder, if any, there’s a ditching area where the sightlines are of question. These children, these students, need to be able to get to school in a safe manner.

We have a lot of infill over the last number of years with houses being built in particular areas that obviously add to the demographics, the number of students who are now walking, because they don’t fit within that 1.6-kilometre busing route.

I realize, as the former minister of Transportation and Works, it would be tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars to be able to go fill in these ditches, put culverts in, put sidewalks to ensure that our children are walking in a safe manner and that the sightlines in those are improved. I understand that’s a work in progress.

It was started through our administration. There’s no doubt this administration will continue to do what it can. But the immediate safety factor here – and we hear it from school councils, we hear it from parents, from kids themselves. We hear about multitudes of close near misses, where children were at a safety factor because a truck and a bus came where kids were on the shoulder and there was no space for them.

In the wintertime, with the ability of moving snow and having no areas to put it, kids are walking in the middle of the roads. So what we’re asking here is that there has to be an investment in ensuring safety around the children that we put so much of an investment in to ensure that their education is not second rate – and we’ve moved that to that level. Let’s ensure their safety, in getting to that institution, is not second rate.

So we’re asking through this petition – and there’s no doubt we’ll continue this. I know my colleagues will from both parties on this side of the House. I suspect it’s no doubt an issue with the Members on the government side also about safety, about the 1.6 kilometres. It’s not only in the urban and suburban areas; it’s also in the rural areas.

Kids have to walk a certain distance, particularly in adverse weather conditions, particularly around our drain areas and some of the other storm areas we run into with shoulders and these types of things. So it’s very easily alleviated by changing the 1.6-kilometre bus policy and ensuring that we invest properly so that we have a safe mechanism for children to be able to get to our school system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the recreational ground fishery is a part of our culture, history and heritage; and

WHEREAS the federal government is proposing a tag system for the recreational ground fishery in 2017; and

WHEREAS participants would have to purchase licences and purchase tags in order to participate in the recreational fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to urge the federal government not to implement a cost or fee for those participating in the recreational ground fishery in 2017.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the recreational fishery, or some people call it the food fishery, is a very important part of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It’s very important to people who enjoy – I really do enjoy going out on the water and catching a cod fish. I know you do also, Mr. Speaker. So does most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I believe it’s important that we take records. I’d love to see a logbook or some kind of a record to take and show what fish is being caught because I think that’s what DFO are really looking for. That’s what they’re saying anyway. They’re looking to be able to keep record of how much fish is actually coming out of the water.

But if you look at the cod fishery itself, Mr. Speaker, the recreational fishery takes around 1 per cent or a little bit less than 1 per cent. While 1 per cent is important to be able to log how much fish is coming out of the water and whatnot, it’s a very, very small part of what DFO needs when they look at the stock and everything else when it comes to the cod fishery.

I really don’t believe that we should be charging Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for going on the water and catching cod fish. Maybe there’s a way that we can ask them to – I know I’d be willing to do it. I went to a meeting at the Capital Hotel where there were a lot of people involved in the recreational fishery. They were all willing to say: Listen, I’ll take a logbook and I’ll register this and I’ll do that, but people do not want to have to pay.

Another thing, too, Mr. Speaker, why is it that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the ones that have to pay? Why are we paying for tags? Why are we paying a licence when the rest of Atlantic Canada and other provinces in Canada can do it freely? It just seems unfair to me.

If DFO wants us to log and say, okay, listen, we’ll try to register people that are out on the water so we can have a great idea of how much fish is actually getting caught, then I’m sure most people will want to make sure we are responsible in the fishery. That’s just part of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It’s our right. It’s our heritage. It’s our culture. It’s who we are as a people. We live on the water; we grew up on the water. That’s just part of who we are.

So, Mr. Speaker, I believe it’s very unfair to ask Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to pay for this tag system or licence.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the education of children is one of the most important and vital investments that can be made in the success of our children; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should be choosing educational options that will provide all students of our province with a higher standard of education and enhance the learning experience for all youth; and

WHEREAS the government’s decision to make cuts to teachers and to our educational system will have a negative effect on the students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse the decision effective immediately.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve had this discussion from last fall when the budget came down and there were dramatic cuts to our education systems. We saw the backlash from every agency, every stakeholder, a multitude of thousands of parents, students themselves, even people not connected with the educational system, but saw the detrimental effect it would have with the cuts that were being made.

You see the theme here, just in three of the five petitions that are being put forward here. We’re talking about major impacts that are happening here. Library cuts, we’ve got issues around busing. We’ve got issues now around teacher allocations, blended classrooms. We got issues around the lunch program and having overcrowded processes there. We got issues around supervision, because it’s an added responsibility on students. There are more students in a confined area with less ability to be able to be supervised in the proper manner.

Teachers are doing a wonderful job to be able to make sure kids are active and are in a safe environment. Administrators are doing a wonderful job to look at how they encompass better transportation routes. Parents are trying to accommodate by mending their schedules to be able to fit the needs of their students when it comes to extracurricular activities and that, because we’ve made so many cuts to the education system; all of these.

Mr. Speaker, my fear is, and so are the key educators here and parents, in the next number of years you’re going to see a decline in the quality of education, and not because we don’t have the best educators out there, not because we don’t have the best support mechanisms when it comes to parent supports, after school programs and that, but it’s because we’ve cut in areas that are going to have a detrimental effect to the education system.

When we’re putting blended classrooms together; when we’re putting in extra responsibilities in a classroom setting; when a teacher can only handle so many students at a time; when they want to be able to emphasize particularly those kids that may have some challenges around learning, they want to emphasize being able to give them an even keel; when there are no opportunities for kids to be active in a classroom setting; when there’s not an ability for the volunteers to be able to come in, in a proper setting because of the numbers to be able to offer lunch programs and ensure all kids are healthy while they’re in the school system; when we have issues around kids having to get up in the dark and being dark when they’re getting home because their busing schedules have changed, or their older siblings can’t be there to ensure they get home safe and we have these latchkey kids programs that are now more prevalent here in this province than it would have normally ever been.

So we have challenges around those types of things here and it’s because we didn’t look at the long-term plan. If we’re going to invest money, where do we invest it to get the best return on our dollar? Everybody knows it’s in education. When you make education cuts and they’re early in the education system, it has a detrimental effect later in the system, and we’re going to pay the price down the road because we didn’t do due diligence.

In hindsight, people should look back at this and say we’ve had everybody tell us a best approach to addressing our education challenges is ensure we invest in the front end. We’re not even saying put extra money there. Everybody is saying let’s work together. Let’s find a way that we can better use the money we’re having. When you start cutting it then you’re trying to find, which are the priorities?

You shouldn’t be prioritizing things in the education system. Everything is important. Everything is part of a continuum to ensure when you start off in pre-kindergarten, when you go into the kindergarten system, when you go into the all-day kindergarten system, which is a great program, and when you go into the full classroom system you have to have all the services that are necessary. Teachers need to have prep time. Teachers need to also have the support mechanisms.

So, Mr. Speaker, we’ll have an opportunity over the next number of weeks to speak to this again.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 21, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Bell Island deserve to have access to services that will assist them to gain employment; and

WHEREAS these services have provided proven results to the people of our province; and

WHEREAS decisions made in the past budget by the current government has removed the advanced education and skills office from Bell Island;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call up on the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the office of advanced education and skills on Bell Island.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, seven months have gone past since the closure of the AES office on Bell Island. We’re seeing now evidence that the movement we were making forward – Bell Island one time had the labelling as perhaps the highest per capita reliance on income support, but over the last decade that has dramatically changed. It’s changed for a number of reasons: investments in infrastructure, abilities to have access to job markets, but particularly the work of the AES office around Adult Basic Education, around job coaching, around networking between employers and potential employees, about accessing some of the other programs and services that AES would offer for Income Support clients, for single parents, for older workers. All very important programs that the nucleus of those who are reliant on programs and services on Bell Island who wanted to be able to move beyond those and access a program that would make them employable and make them be gainfully employed, either in the St. John’s area or on Bell Island itself, has been taken away.

One of the ironic issues here was while there were only two staff there, they were also doing – because of the use of technology – work for clients in other parts of the province. They were being able to access things online for clients as a call-in centre. So the physical location, these people didn’t get laid off, they were moved to St. John’s.

The government building is where the office was. It also served as the nucleus for other application processes, be it Newfoundland and Labrador Housing where there isn’t an office there, be it Service NL. It became the focal point for government to have its outlet for two employees to provide services for still a fair, high proportion of Income Support clients to avail of programs and services that are out there and help coordinate it to get clients off one system and onto a system that makes them gainfully employed and have a better quality of life. It opened up opportunities for those who want a better education through the Adult Basic Education program that’s over there that’s fully supported, very successful and continues to this day to turn out very successful students who go on to post-secondary education.

So I do ask that the minister talk to his staff, and if he’d like to sit down with me and we go through the numbers again, to really assess what’s happening here. Because what we’re doing, we’re forcing people to stay on income support. We’re not giving them the opportunities to be able to move forward and we’re not being able to give them, the department – a great department, it has a lot of great programs – an opportunity to have a better clientele use.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll get to speak to this again.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I’m glad to rise today on a petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Witless Bay Line is a significant piece of infrastructure; and

WHEREAS the continuation of the Hebron and Long Harbour projects and the commercial and residential growth of our region has increased the volume of traffic on the highway;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to provide upgrades to this significant piece of infrastructure to enhance and improve the flow of traffic to and from the Trans-Canada Highway.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, off Route 10, the Witless Bay Line, which connects basically the lower end of the Southern Shore to the Trans-Canada Highway, certainly since its original construction a number of years ago has been integral in terms of the flow of traffic, both commercial, residential, back and forth to both regions; traditionally the fishing industry and the transport of fish back and forth over this significant piece of infrastructure.

It has a long history when you look at, going back a number of years, the number of processing plants around the Southern Shore, bringing fish in to be processed and bringing it out across – whether it was shipped out of Newfoundland and Labrador. It has been critical in terms of the overall economic activity on the Southern Shore.

If you move along in terms of future growth that we’ve seen along the region; increase in fabrication, the facility in Bay Bulls, the offshore, C&W Fabrication in Bay Bulls and a whole bunch of – even if we go as far as Cape Broyle, you look at manufacturing and fabrication facilities there as well. It’s integral to the overall lifeline, if you will, of the commerce and of the people; professionals coming back and forth to service the region as well. It’s extremely important.

Over the past number of years our administration did a number of pieces of upgrades there. There’s more to do. I think in a roundabout way, it’s probably about $3 million been spent and there are a couple of more sections there that need to be improved to continue the traffic back and forth and to make it safe for all those that travel it, because a lot of times trucking and others, it’s often done in the nighttime. It is worse in that particular case in terms of making sure that piece of infrastructure is up to where it needs to be.

I hope the Minister of Transportation has listened attentively, can hear what’s been said here in regard to this petition. I certainly hope he takes the advice, look at this and get it in to upgrades for next year’s season.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS school-age children are walking to school in areas with no sidewalks, no traffic lights and through areas without crosswalks; and

WHEREAS this puts the safety of these children at risk;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to ensure the safety of all children by removing the 1.6 kilometre busing policy where safety is a concern – and I stress that point, Mr. Speaker.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this 1.6 issue is not a new issue. It’s been around for a long time. The current Minister of Education was very vocal on it when he was in Opposition, and rightfully so I guess. It affects a lot of districts.

I know it’s a policy shift for government and it will probably cost a lot of money, and usually that comes down to dollars and cents. But after experiencing it first hand up in my own District of Conception Bay South – I know other Members on this side and opposite experienced the same problem. I think it’s worthwhile for government to actually have a look at it. Even if they were to take the K to six age group or elementary schools and have a look at revising and probably eliminating the policy for that age bracket.

I got kids that walk on a four-lane highway. They have no other way to get there. It’s fine to say – I know someone from the school district office told me this is not considered a walk zone. Well, if they got no other way to get there, it is a walk zone. You’re limited; there’s no public transportation system within CBS. So they either get there by bus or by their parents or family members. The family models now, that’s not available to everyone.

Demographics have changed in the 40 or 50 years this policy has been in place, and I do feel it’s time to really have a serious look at it. You got two-income families; every home has two or three vehicles. The traffic volume has increased. Where these schools were once built on a little two-lane, so-called little municipal road, now they’re four-lane highways, which is evident in my district, especially up where St. George’s Elementary is located. It’s right on the four lanes. It’s a very important issue.

Parents in my district and other districts I spoke to, like some Members opposite as well, there was a lot of – people were very vocal on it. I believe you can take it in piecemeal. I think that elementary schools, K to six kids, it’s worthwhile having a serious look at visiting the policy for K to six children first. I know it’s a cost, but you can’t put a price on safety, Mr. Speaker,

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune need to have access to adequate health care; and

WHEREAS the local clinics in rural areas are the main source of medical assistance for our people; and

WHEREAS the government has reduced funding and closed the Hermitage clinics and downgraded service;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the services to health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve raised this petition in this House on a number of occasions, and we will continue to raise this petition in the House until such time that we see some type of restoration to basic medical care for the people, not just in Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, Mr. Speaker, but in all rural remote parts of this Island.

While we appreciate that changes are required to the efficiency of the health care system to see where cost savings can be recognized, we don’t believe that there’s any room for cuts whatsoever when it comes to front-line health care of our residents and our citizens.

We strongly feel that people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador are equally as important and equally as valuable as the people of urban centres. Sometimes those of us living in rural Newfoundland feel like we are considered to be less important because we’re smaller in number and therefore we don’t have, I guess, as much consideration when decisions are being made based upon population centres. And when it comes to health care, the decisions, we strongly believe, should be made based upon our ability to save someone’s life and ensure that they are getting optimal health care, Mr. Speaker.

In our case, in Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune – I’ll speak to that in particular because I know and understand it well – with the decision to close down the health care clinic, I do believe the health board is not saving a significant amount of money. It’s just a little over $100,000, I think, per year.

But when you add up the cost of the 800-or-so seniors living in the Hermitage area, plus all the livyers of McCallum and Gaultois who have to first take a ferry ride to get to Hermitage and then once they get to Hermitage, find some method of transportation to Harbour Breton – and no taxi services exist, so they have to rely upon a good neighbour, a good friend or someone to bring them along and it’s often very costly for them out of pocket because they still have to pay for gas.

There are people who will able to avail of the Medical Transportation Assistance Program and charge their expenses back to government. In the long run, we don’t see any cost savings. We do see loss of health care to the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you so much.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the ground fishery has been the cornerstone of our province’s culture and economy for generations; and

WHEREAS there is scientific and anecdotal evidence that cod stocks are increasing off our shores; and

WHEREAS current fishers are having trouble securing buyers for their product;

WHEREUPON the undersigned petitioners humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to take immediate action to develop markets for groundfish within our province and with our trade partners.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve stood up in the House of Assembly before and I’ve talked about the resurgence of the cod fishery. Again, it’s a part of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We can never forget the fishery and what it’s done for generations and what it’s done for Newfoundland and Labrador, especially rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s an important part.

I can remember growing up and being involved in the fishery with my father and family. When I went to the Southern Shore, to different parts of the Southern Shore, there was a fish plant in Witless Bay, there was a fish plant in Bay Bulls, there was a fish plant in Tors Cove, one in Fermeuse and further on up the shore in Ferryland. It was the centre focus of rural Newfoundland. People were excited, people were employed. Young people got jobs in the summertime.

We look at our economy today and we talk about diversification. Well, we have something right in our hands right now that can help diversify our economy and just make our economy even more active and keep people in rural Newfoundland, keep people in our communities.

Our cod fishery is coming back. I’ve experienced it myself, Mr. Speaker. I go to the recreational cod fishery. The last number of years in talking to fishermen, they tell me they’ve never seen the like. We had four boats go out on Flatrock this weekend fishing in the middle of November; never, ever heard of it before in my district that you’d see fishermen on the water in the middle of November. They came in with great catches.

Most of them only had four or five nets in the water and came in with 14 and 15 pans of cod. That’s amazing. For this time of year it’s amazing. I think our government really has to put a focus on this. It’s something they’re not doing; it’s something that fishermen are asking for. They want markets. They need to understand where they’re going to sell the fish. As it increases we need to get a place to sell our fish.

Right now, most of the fishermen are selling their fish through fillets to people that want to buy it like that because there are absolutely no markets available. As a government, you should be responsible for making sure that next year – it’s going to get bigger again and we need to develop markets.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the education of children is one of the most important and vital investments that can be made in the success of children; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should be choosing educational options that will provide all students of our province with a higher standard of education and an enhanced learning experience for our youth; and

WHEREAS the government’s decision to make cuts to teachers and to our education system will have a negative effect on the students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse the decision effective immediately.

Mr. Speaker, it’s ironic that I get up and speak to something as important as education on a day when we’re having a school board election. I say that because I have to compliment those people who put their name forward. I’ve managed to talk to nine of the candidates from different zones and had a very intense conversation. I was very impressed with their skill set, with their understanding of the school system, but particularly about their commitment of reversing some of the decisions that have been made that they know and they’ve identified that are detrimental to our education system and particularly to our students.

Most are putting their names forward because they want to right the wrongs that have been done over the last 12 months. They want to go back and take a real look at where our education system is and outline a proper way to invest for our young people.

They’ve looked at things from what’s been lost over the last 12 months. The mess we have around overcrowded schools; the mess we have around the loss of core French; under resourced, all-day kindergarten we put in play; overcrowded schools; proper lunch programs not being taken into account when you have so many volunteers who give so much of their time. All they needed was a little bit of extra support or some dialogue to be able to prepare to make sure nobody was left out. The busing mess that we have right now, these are all issues they put forward.

They talked about teachers who talk about the resources they need and the ability with the blended classrooms, the challenges they have around that; the special needs students. All these are important issues that have been neglected by this administration over the last 12 months.

The school board elections will at least bring this to the forefront and the individuals who are running on those campaigns, they want to improve the education system. They want to first go back and correct the wrongs and then move our education system forward because we have great people in our education system; great educators, great administrators, great volunteers, great support mechanisms.

We have the right mechanism to do it but we can’t do it when we’re constantly making decisions that are detrimental to everybody who are key stakeholders here. That goes particularly around the volunteer sectors out there. The school councils who raise money to do special programs and services, because they realize they have a stake in the betterment of education for the students and their children in these respective schools, but every time they take a step forward, last year they were putting two back because there’s been no dialogue. There has been no inclusion about what we need to do. Then you add on the sidelines, you got things like the cutting of libraries that has a major impact.

Mr. Speaker, while this is a monumental day here when we have our elections, I’m looking forward to working with those zone-elected individuals to improve our education system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune has less than two minutes to present her petition.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 introduces over 50 new
fees and increases over 300 fees; and

WHEREAS Budget 2016 asked the people of this province to pay more for a decrease in government services; and

WHEREAS these fee increases negatively impact the financial well-being of seniors, youth, families, students and individuals;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reverse fee increases as introduced through Budget 2016.

Mr. Speaker, I think the vast majority of people in this province were horrified on Budget Day this year after listening to the promises that the government opposite campaigned upon and then the stark contrast to the budget that was actually brought down. It was quite a shock for people of this province. As the year continues to go on, they’re feeling it in their pocketbooks; they’re feeling it in their ability to buy groceries. This winter they’re going to feel it in their ability to pay the light bill.

I see that my time is quickly running out on the clock, Mr. Speaker, so I will get back up and speak to this most important issue. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve better.

Thank you so much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 closed the Advanced Education and Skills office in Bonavista; and

WHEREAS the residents of Bonavista and surrounding communities require and deserve the appropriate level of service;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reconsider the decision to close the Bonavista Advanced Education and Skills office.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned last week, I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries from the Bonavista Peninsula about the cut in services and the impact it’s having on the residents there; particularly those who have some inquiries around the services that are offered by Advanced Education and Skills, and now Labour, which there are numerous ones.

Great programs were developed over the last number of decades to meet the needs of individuals, particularly those that may be struggling from low-income situations, from some health-related situations, from social issues, but also from education issues. They see the benefits, and they’ve seen the benefits for decades of what those services can provide and how it can give clients and residents a hand up. They’re not looking for a hand out.

Unfortunately, with the closure and not being able to provide those services that were normally supplied through that process, and the indications that this was a stepping stone to other services that may be available. Not having that bridge is detrimental. Not having direct access to information to be able to determine what is out there, what programs or services, what kinds of support mechanisms are there, is detrimental.

There is no doubt, when you look at the geography of the Bonavista Peninsula, just that in itself dictates that you need to have a centre where the surrounding communities, a hub, can fill into, particularly around – if Bonavista is the key area in that part of the peninsula where a lot of the other services are being offered, the health care is there, obviously, the post-secondary education is there, it would only make sense that as you come to avail of some of those services you would have another mechanism that would provide you with adequate services. It would provide you with advice, it would steer you in the right direction.

It would also be a gathering place where – if there were certain concerns about programs and services that are not yet developed or not offered in that particular area, they could be then generated through the staff. Because as we all know, as a former civil servant for over a quarter of a century, I realized and knew that programs and policies get driven based on the information we get from the grassroots. And the best people to be able to get the information from the grassroots are those who represent the government.

When I say represent the government, are those civil servants who provide services. Because if there’s a crack or if there is some way people are slipping those cracks, or if there’s a type of program that is now necessary, then that can be developed. If there’s a program that has done its ride, has done its benefits and no longer is necessary, that frees up the ability for government to put a new program in place, then that’s necessary.

So, Mr. Speaker, again, we’ll be asking the government to reverse the decision that’s made and it’s detrimental.

Thank you.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the recreational ground fishery is part of our culture, history and heritage; and

WHEREAS the federal government is proposing a tag system for the recreational ground fishery in 2017; and

WHEREAS participants would have to purchase a licence and purchase tags in order to participate in the recreational fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the federal government not to implement a cost or fees for those participating in the recreational ground fishery in 2017.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Minister of Fisheries last week and one of the answers he gave me was that he wants Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to be treated just like the rest of Atlantic Canada. So next year, there is no tag system that is going to be implemented in any of the Atlantic Provinces.

I urge the minister to talk to his counterparts and to talk to the federal government and his good friend, Judy Foote, to cancel this program and have us equal with the rest of Atlantic Canada.

The big thing about the tags – and we understand, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we want to make sure whatever we do when the cod comes back that we do it properly, that it’s managed properly and that the proper stats are kept and everything else. But we also want to be treated fairly.

I think there are other ways rather than a tags system that’s charging people money. If you talk to most people that are involved in the recreational fishery, they do it for the right reasons. There are very, very few people out there that are not doing it the proper way. They’ll get caught. If not, people that are in those communities will report them because we want this done properly. I know most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians enjoy a day on the water. They enjoy the privilege and it was something that we have in our heritage, something that we’ve done for years to catch a codfish.

To me, there’s no better feeling to be out a day on the water – and you know too, Mr. Speaker – catching a codfish. This is part of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. But to put a cost to it and put a cost to our people –if they want records kept, if DFO needs the records of what fish are caught, perhaps they should hire people to be on the wharves. In one week, you could have a good estimate of how much fish is actually getting caught. You’d have an idea of what fish is taken out of the water.

I’m sure, knowing what I’ve heard from fishermen and what I heard when I went to the consultations at the Capital Hotel, that we’re a very low percentage. The percentage of the recreational cod fishery and the number of cod that’s taken out of the water, the talks that night – the minister asked me to get the figures, because nobody knows. But the talks that DFO and the people did, that’s around 1 per cent.

We need to make sure Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are treated fairly. We’re not criminals. We’ll do what needs to be done. And if we need to make sure there’s something in place that shows how much fish is taken out of the water, we’ll do it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased today to rise and present a petition. To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the change to busing times, routes and schedules are negatively impacting the lives of students and their families;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reconsider their ill-informed decision and implement a system that better reflects the needs of students and their families.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this was a decision that was made in the 2016 budget in regard to busing and reduction in the actual amount of buses, and what’s resulted in many cases is double-streaming now, buses taking double routes that they hadn’t done in the past. At the time, certainly in the filibuster that we had here in the House and through other capacities, through Question Period, we had a tremendous outpouring of information and concerns from residents where this was directly affected.

Certainly, in my district, in the District of Ferryland, we heard it from many parents and caretakers. I met a number of times with concerned groups, whether it was in the Goulds-Petty Harbour region for that school bus system, whether it was from Bay Bulls to Bauline school bus system for the Mobile-Witless Bay school system, about that changes that has made to families and to students. In particular, the early rise, the early hours in regard to busing and picking up younger children and, as well, leaving school at an earlier time for the younger kids, as well for the older students, the high school students that are leaving later.

It’s has huge implications on families in regard to daycare, having to get other means for daycare. It’s an extra cost for families. It’s been devastating for routines in families in regard to the operations of their household and getting kids to and from school.

Since that time, I’ve spoken to parents and I continue to hear from parents, where it’s having an effect on the very younger kids in that they’re up earlier in the morning. In the evening time, because of the longer days these younger kids at school, it’s having an effect on their learning ability in regard to doing homework in the evening and those types of things.

So this is an ill-conceived plan. There were reductions in the school buses which are not conducive to servicing our school systems, servicing our education and we’re seeing the results of that now, as we’ve starting with this in September, started with this reduction in school buses. There’s a huge concern coming with the weather in regard to can we meet the capacity if a school is closed because of inclement weather. It’s something this government certainly needs to revisit and revisit now.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 28, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m pleased to present the following petition this afternoon:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS provincial wait-lists for long-term care continue to grow; and

WHEREAS hospital beds are increasingly being occupied by individuals who are in need of long-term care; and

WHEREAS this government cancelled the previous administration’s plan to increase capacity by 360 beds province wide;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately develop a plan to address the shortage of long-term care beds in order to ensure people receive appropriate care and are treated with dignity.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue I’ve spoken to in this hon. House in the past. I won’t speak at length about it today, but I do want to continue to bring these concerns to the House of Assembly.

The bottom line from where I sit is that we had a viable plan that would have resulted in 360 additional long-term care beds opening in our province in 2017. They would be under construction right now. The plan made sense. It was cost effective. It was modelled after best practices in most other Canadian provinces. It’s a model that has had a lot of success, even in our own region of Canada, in provinces like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

In the past year, we’ve seen nothing happen. If the government had concerns with our plan, that’s their right, but to not present any kind of alternative and to not take any kind of action over the past year is rather concerning, Mr. Speaker.

We have long wait-lists for long-term care in our province, and there’s a ripple effect throughout the health care system because of this present situation and government’s inaction. We have more surgeries being cancelled, we have people lying on stretchers in hallways in our hospitals, we have people waiting for even longer periods in emergency rooms because we have patients that are waiting to move into long-term care and they can’t. Some of them are in personal care homes, some of them are in their own homes, some of them are waiting in hospitals and they’ve already been medically discharged.

It’s a real concern, Mr. Speaker, and action is needed. We’ve seen none in the past year and I’m pleased to present this petition to call upon government to finally take some action.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS fisheries policy regulations link harvesting quotas to vessel length for several species; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own fishing vessels of various sizes, but because of policy regulations are restricted to using smaller vessels, often putting their crews in danger; and

WHEREAS the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to make representation to the federal government to encourage them to change policy, thus ensuring the safety of fish harvesters in this province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

This is a petition that I brought before. This is the second time now I’ve brought this to the House of Assembly and it’s very important. It’s very important to people in my district.

I spoke to a fisherman this weekend. As you know, this weekend, the winds were unbelievable. And some of the conditions we see fish harvesters having to go out in is unbelievable. We live in the North Atlantic, the roughest area in the word, I would say, when it comes to wind conditions. To have regulations that are putting our crew members and fish harvesters really in danger of losing their lives – every year, we hear tell of it.

Every year in this province there are people who die fishing. One life is too much. There are regulations that can be changed. All we have to do – I understand when it came in, when the crab first started that they had to make sure the inshore sector was protected, that it wasn’t just the larger boats that were getting the majority of the crab. So they put an inshore sector where they went from 35’9” and under, and then they went over to 65 footers.

Mr. Speaker, today most of the inshore harvesters have a number of licences. I know people in my area that have six different boats that they go out and harvest crab, and they’re forced to use these boats. Again, like I said the last time I was up, some of the boats they got are no problem at all, but when you have six, I’m sure there are ones that are better on the water than there are others.

I’m just asking the Minister of Fisheries, asking this government to protect our fisher people, protect the people that are out on the water. It’s important. Newfoundlanders have lost too many lives in the past, and we don’t need to lose any in the future.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 dramatically cut home care hours to many of the province’s most vulnerable people;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate much-needed supports to those who need it and develop a plan to further address the growing needs of people requiring home care support.

Mr. Speaker, as is often talked about in this hon. House, there’s a real crisis, I would say, in health care when it comes to seniors in Newfoundland and Labrador today and certainly a significant shortage of beds available for them in long-term care.

One of the solutions to addressing that issue is providing supports for them to be able to live in their homes that they’ve lived in all their lives, close to their family and friends, in the last years of their lives which are supposed to be the golden years. Certainly there’s nothing more important, especially to seniors, than having their loved ones who are near and dear to them close at hand.

To see the measures enacted in Budget 2016 and the detrimental effect they are having on seniors is absolutely devastating. I have to say, I have been in politics now for nine years and this summer marked the highest incidents of calls I have received from people in tears because of the measures imposed by Members opposite in Budget 2016 that are devastating seniors, youth, persons with disabilities, all across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Some people are being told, well, as the result of reassessment, now you’re losing an hour. The budget clearly states that each and every single person who is receiving home care, whereas before they could get up to three hours for personal care and cleaning, now they can only get two. The cap is at two. So across the board, everybody has lost an hour.

In addition to that, the amount they have to contribute towards their home care has increased from 15 per cent to 18 per cent. At the same time, they’ve added a bureaucratic position at a cost of about half a million dollars a year, at least, pension benefits and everything else that comes with it. They’re taking out of the pockets of our seniors who have grown this province the very core services that they need to enjoy a decent quality of life. It’s absolutely shameful, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly hope the government revisits their decisions and comes to the conclusion that $500,000 would be much more wisely spent by helping keep our seniors in their homes with their loved ones.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS provincial wait-lists for long-term care continue to grow; and

WHEREAS the hospital beds are increasingly being occupied by individuals who are in need of long-term care; and

WHEREAS this government cancelled the previous administration’s plan to increase capacity by 360 beds province-wide;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately develop a plan to address the shortage of long-term care beds in order to ensure people receive appropriate care and are treated with dignity.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that has been talked about a lot. It’s not a new issue to this House and to the public. The previous administration had made a commitment to start construction of 360 long-term care beds because as every person who is anyway familiar with this topic, we’re in dire need of more long-term care beds.

I’m sure every MHA can attest in this House that, on a district level, they’re dealing with this on a daily basis. I know I am, personally, in my district. I have a lot of people who are trying to get into homes; beds are not available. You have dementia patients who are in improper locations. The families are putting them in a bed because they can’t take them home, but they have no long-term care facility for them. So they’re placing them in places where it puts a lot of stress on the families. No doubt, the residents, we are trying to find a place to live. As we all progress, as the need comes up for our loved ones – and I suppose eventually for all of us one of these days – you want to have some dignity about you.

With the previous administration, the plan was to have these 360 long-term care beds. We’d be well towards, we’d be pretty close – you’d be well in the process of having those ready. Instead, the current administration decided to cancel it because they have a better plan. We’ve yet to see that better plan.

Some of the stuff you hear, I mean it’s laughable. You have the Minister of Transportation and Works getting up and talking about his asset optimization and the best evidence-based decision making. We know I.J. Sampson was a great example of asset optimization and evidence-based decision making. A lot more people would have lined up to purchase it at that price, Mr. Speaker. You cancelled it. Then they proudly said why they cancelled the P3 model because they want to do it on evidence based.

We’re into a year and we’ve still seen nothing and the list continues to grow, Mr. Speaker. The wait-lists are growing. The frustration within those families, in most cases, is quite a sad situation.

Maybe some of the people in making these decisions need to talk to the families and get a first-hand account because, I’ll tell you, some of the stuff is pretty heart wrenching. When your loved one is the one that’s being affected, there’s no solution being offered by this government to help these people. I think it’s time for them to give this some serious consideration.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Government House Leader as well for his co-operation as always – well, most of the time; all the time in the last 24 hours.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union presents new trade opportunities; and

WHEREAS the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a historic trade relationship with the United Kingdom; and

WHEREAS the two regions may mutually benefit from trade opportunities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to develop an economic strategy which capitalizes on trade opportunities between the United Kingdom and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve talked a couple of times in the past. The minister and I have had an exchange about the opportunity that Brexit presents for Newfoundland and Labrador. The minister has acknowledged that there is ongoing work within Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development in terms of trade relations, but I guess what this petition is calling for is something more than that. There’s a unique opportunity that is now before us. So carrying on with existing initiatives, programs and efforts is good stuff, but we believe that a real, concerted effort needs to be made to build even stronger ties with the UK.

The British people voted in a referendum on June 23 to leave the EU, and the new prime minister has made clear that the will of the British people will be brought into effect and that by March of 2017 the UK will formally have started the process of leaving. So that means as the UK leaves the EU over the next few years, powers that have been taken to Brussels will be back in the UK government in Westminster and, most importantly, for Newfoundland and Labrador is the power for the UK to make its own international trade deals.

So why does all this matter? Well if you look at our historic trade relationships, the United Kingdom is the second largest buyer of goods from Newfoundland and Labrador on the international market. They imported $605 million of products from our province last year. We have historic ties, we have a direct transportation link to London and we can work with the UK to use its newly found powers to strike a deal that delivers more trade, more jobs and more prosperity to the people of this province.

So we see real opportunity here. We would be happy to support government’s efforts in pursuing this because the time is now and I think it could lead to new trade opportunities that would deliver security, stability and opportunity for people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to present a petition regarding our seniors once again, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 dramatically cut home care hours to many of the province’s most vulnerable people;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate much-needed supports to those who need it and to develop a plan to further address the growing needs of people requiring home care support.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I raised this petition in the House yesterday as well and talked about how this year, more than any other year, I have had calls of distress to my office and people literally in tears because of the negative impact that Budget 2016, brought down by the Liberals, has had on their lives and on their well-being.

I’m sure many people in the province have read the story on the front page of The Telegram today which brought tears to my eyes, Mr. Speaker. This is the reality, the situation that many people in our province find themselves in. There was a decision by the Liberal government.

They can find money, Mr. Speaker, to hire their friends in positions in the House of Assembly and across the government bureaucracy, but they saw fit to cut home care to the most vulnerable citizens of our province, and that being our seniors and our persons with challenges who truly need this care.

Across the board in every single community of this province, every single person who is a recipient of home care has lost at least one hour, Mr. Speaker. That one hour makes a huge difference to the people who need and rely on home care to have somewhat of a decent quality of life. It’s absolutely shameful.

I think it’s deplorable that you would see the government opposite continue to fill vacancies and appoint their Liberal friends in positions, at the same time cutting services to our seniors who they claim is a big priority for them. It’s absolutely devastating, Mr. Speaker, and I truly hope that they see wisdom in the months ahead to reverse the decisions that they’re making, to truly do what they said they were going to do in terms of helping seniors, and that is helping them right where they need it most: in their homes.

Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS provincial wait-lists for long-term care continue to grow; and

WHEREAS hospital beds are increasingly being occupied by individuals who are in need of long-term care; and

WHEREAS this government cancelled the previous administration’s plan to increase capacity by 360 beds province-wide;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately develop a plan to address the shortage of long-term care beds in order to ensure people receive appropriate care and are treated with dignity.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I know I continue to raise this issue because it’s an important one and, frankly, had government followed through with the plan of the previous administration, we would have 360 new beds nearing completion right now in Corner Brook, in Central Newfoundland, Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander areas, and also here on the Northeast Avalon.

Wait-lists continue to grow. There is a growing need for long-term care. And I agree with the Minister of Health and Community Services, consistent with the Close to Home strategy of the previous administration, we need to do everything we can to enable our elderly to remain in their own homes and in their own communities as long as they wish to do so. And that requires a different approach –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That requires a different approach than what appears to be being taken at this point in time. Even with best efforts made to strengthen home care, even though the recent budget did the opposite, and even with efforts to enhance services offered to personal care homes, there will still inevitably be a need for long-term care services, expanded services, given the aging demographics that we find here in this province.

So it’s time for action. It takes time to build new infrastructure. It takes time to open new beds. In the past year, we’ve actually seen a reduction in beds which makes no sense, given the magnitude of the challenge.

So yes, let’s do everything we can to enable people to remain in their homes as long as possible with as much independence as possible, but we can’t ignore the urgent need for more long-term care which is resulting in cancelled surgeries, it’s resulting in patients laying in hallways on stretchers, and backups in emergency rooms.

Mr. Speaker, action is needed and it’s needed now.

Thank you.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the recreational ground fishery is part of our culture, history and heritage; and

WHEREAS the federal government is proposing a tag system for the recreational fishery for 2017; and

WHEREAS participants would have to purchase a licence and purchase tags in order to participate in the recreational fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to urge the federal government not to implement a cost or fees for those participating in the recreational fishery in 2017.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the reason why I wanted to bring this forward today: Today is the last day for anyone to put an application or talk to DFO on this before they do their final analysis of what they’re going to do. It sounded like, to me, when I went to the meeting that this is a done deal and they’re just trying to figure out the number of tags, cost and small stuff like this.

The Minister of Fisheries the other day, when asked, said that we’ll be treated the same way as Atlantic Canada. Well, I’d like to inform the Minister of Fisheries that the rest of Atlantic Canada this year will not have to use tags nor will the rest of Atlantic Canada have to pay to go to the recreational fishery, food fishery or whatever you want to call it.

So I really want to emphasize to the minister that all we’re asking for is to be treated like the rest of Canada when it comes to our groundfish. Our residents shouldn’t have to pay. I agree that there should be some way to monitor how much fish we’re catching. It’s important for science. It’s important for when we do allocations on quotas and whatnot in the future. So it is important. But there are other ways to do it than asking regular Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to pay to go out to catch a cod, which is our right to go out and catch a cod as far as I’m concerned.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the government has not implemented curriculum to teach the basic monetary skills needed by our youth; and

WHEREAS the government of our province has the responsibility to act in the best interests of our youth; and

WHEREAS the youth of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and consideration;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to introduce financial education into provincial curriculum to prepare youth for the monetary and financial challenges of life upon entering the workforce.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this has been a growing issue for some time. There’s been lots of discussion that I’ve had with young people about our career development education in our schools. It’s clear that there is more practical education around financial literacy needed in our schools, junior and high schools.

I met with a group recently who’s been trying to get a meeting with the Minister of Education for months and has been unable to do so. The group is called Financial Literacy for Youth or FLY financial. It was founded in January 2016.

The purpose is to teach basic financial and money management skills to high school youth through their career development class. They have been to three different high schools as volunteers presenting to over 300 students so far. The team consists of three Memorial University alumni. They present to schools in this region, in the capital region, but they want to expand across the province and it would cost very little for them to do so.

The lack of financial literacy is causing many people in our province, young and old, to be taken advantage of by credit card and lending companies. The lack of awareness can have a large impact on people’s financial futures.

Thirty-four per cent of Canadians say they hope to win the lottery in order to finance their retirement. Young people are not being taught enough about debt or savings, or financial management in general. Teaching young people about savings and debt could help future generations.

Bankruptcies are increasing. We expect they will increase more in the coming years based on what’s happening with our government and with the economic downturn. The current state of the economy really calls for increased awareness of personal finances. Individuals can find themselves in trouble by acquiring too much debt. This is happening to families in our province every day.

Lending institutions make their money from charging interest. Albert Einstein once said: Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Those who understand it, earn it. Those who don’t, pay it.

We have a group of people in our community that are looking to positively impact the career development curriculum to teach youth valuable skills. Everyone will eventually have to face personal financial decisions and we need to prepare young people coming out of our high schools to be prepared for success in life.

There’s a real need here. There’s a real opportunity. I urge the Minister of Education to listen and to take action.

Thank you.

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise today in this hon. House to present a petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2015 announced a new school for the Witless Bay-Mobile School System; and

WHEREAS the planning and design of this school was completed; and

WHEREAS the project was cancelled in Budget 2016;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and construct the proposed school for the Witless Bay-Mobile School System.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is relevant to my district, the District of Ferryland, and from the area of Bay Bulls to Bauline. Over the past number of years we’ve seen significant growth in the region with new subdivisions and homes being built and people moving into the area. As well as people who grew up in the area building new homes.

With that ongoing, we’ve been able to build the necessary infrastructure in some respects related to recreation with a new Lifestyle Centre in Bay Bulls. We’ve done tremendous upgrades to the Southern Shore Arena. The facility in Bay Bulls has a daycare centre. As well, with that we have a need for an upgrade in educational facilities. We’ve built on to St. Bernard’s in Witless Bay with three new classrooms, put on two portable classrooms.

If you will, the way forward had been and always was to get to a point where we’d build that new school, an intermediate school, to take pressure off St. Bernard’s and to take pressure off Mobile Central High, and that was announced in 2015. For some particular reason in this budget, it was cancelled outright. Now I continue to hear from parents, community groups that are distraught in regard to the over amount of kids that are in classrooms, the resources that are available. Classrooms have been set up in the cafeteria. Music class being taken away because kids can’t get that exposure to the educational levels they require. It’s certainly not appropriate and we need to ensure that this infrastructure gets started, gets built.

There has been little details from the Department of Education of where they’re going and how they’re going to handle what we’re seeing in the district in regard to new families and young children flowing into St. Bernard’s, the doubling up of classroom and sizes. This is detrimental to the region, to the families and to the youth of this region. It’s certainly not acceptable and there has been no indication from the Department of Education, or this Liberal government, of why this would be cancelled.

They’ve gone forward with other infrastructure. They’re always quick to jump up and talk about all the infrastructure spending they’re doing, but for whatever reason this was cancelled. It’s not appropriate, it’s not good. It’s not good for the region and the families. It’s all part of economic activity, which we’ve heard very little from this government about, but if you’re going to build economic activity you need to build the infrastructure. It has been done for the past 10 years and it needs to continue.

I implore this government to step up and fix this mistake they made, and ensure this school gets started and gets started immediately.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the government has cut vital funding to the Boys and Girls Club on Bell Island, negatively impacting important programs and services;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate previous funding in order to allow this organization to carry on its positive work in the community.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will forever pray.

Mr. Speaker, obviously this past week has been disheartening for a number of youth organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador, but particularly for every citizen here because they see the impact this is going to have on our society.

We all realize the most vulnerable sector in society is our young people, but particularly, when we have volunteer boards and organizations who are willing to go out of their way to do whatever it takes to ensure that young people and our children have services in their respective communities and are given an opportunity to be better engaged, an opportunity to be functional, an opportunity to have experiences, an opportunity to be themselves and be in a safe environment, Mr. Speaker.

What’s happened this year and with this administration and this past budget is devastating to these organizations, but it is devastating to our ability to ensure that we get young people more engaged and produce what communities have set out to do. Citizens who have an opportunity to be themselves and be the best they can be.

These organizations in the last number of days have been constantly reaching out to all of us here in the Opposition side asking the questions as to why. We’re talking nickel-and-dime investment from a government point of view. There has to be a better way for government to realize this investment not only does it save you money, it generates money.

It has already been proven. Economist will say the minimum of a four-to-one return on every dollar invested in the sector around community engagement, particularly young people, you get it back. In some cases it’s 8, 10, 20 per cent. The issue here is around the semantics around core funding. This is core funding because these are organizations that for the last 30 years have filled out the same application, filled in the same things they do, the same process.

The project funding is money that they leverage from all kinds of other organizations, other funding sources, the private sector, the partnerships they develop, their own particular fundraising; that’s where the project money goes from. So we play it on an application process for administrative reasons.

Mr. Speaker, I was there, so I know exactly what this means. I know what the definition of core funding was and I know what the intent was and I know what the expectation was from people. No doubt, the expectation from these organizations – and you’ve heard it; they have no vested interest, other than improving the lives of young people. We’re talking thousands of volunteers that are engaged here. We’re talking about millions of dollars that they leverage for a small investment by government. In this case what government did was cut that.

Mr. Speaker, I want to add this petition. I’ll be doing that over the next period of time to outline our outrage in the cuts to youth organizations in this province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, December 5, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Wow, things are moving right along here today, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union presents new trade opportunities; and

WHEREAS the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a historic trade relationship with the United Kingdom; and

WHEREAS the two regions may mutually benefit from trade opportunities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to develop an economic strategy which capitalizes on trade opportunities between the United Kingdom and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’m glad to have an opportunity to raise this issue once again in the House of Assembly. Back in June, the people of England voted in a referendum to leave the EU. Since then, the new prime minister has made it clear that the will of the British people will be brought into effect, and that by March of next year, the UK will have formally started the process of leaving which will, of course, take some time.

It’s important to note that during this process, known as the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK remains a fully paid-up member of the EU as before. It’s also worthy to note that Europe and the European Union are not the same thing. For instance, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland are not EU members.

As the UK leaves the EU over the next few years, powers that have been taken to Brussels will be returned to the UK government in Westminster. Most importantly for this province is the power for the UK to make its own international trade deals.

You may ask why that matters. Doesn’t the EU strike its own trade deals? One only has to look to Belgium where Canada’s trade deal with the EU was at one point vetoed by the region of Wallonia. It is very difficult to get an EU trade agreement. Twenty-eight member states all have to agree on the trade treaty or it falls through.

However, a bilateral trade deal between Canada and the UK will be much easier. The deal would be a best-fit model for these two countries; countries that share so much history, two countries that could come together to promote trade and commerce without the hindrance of 27 other European states vying to get a better deal for champagne producers or Italian car manufacturers for instance.

So this really matters to our province because the UK is the second-largest buyer of goods from Newfoundland and Labrador on the international market. That’s significant, so it makes sense for us to build a stronger and better relationship between our countries.

It can’t simply be about the ongoing work we’ve been doing within Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development for years. There’s lots of good work being done, but this requires a concerted effort because there’s a unique opportunity that’s before us and should be pursued.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the education of children is one of the most important and vital investments that can be made in the success of our children; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should be choosing educational options that will provide all students of our province with a higher standard of education and enhance the learning experience for all youth; and –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BRAZIL: WHEREAS the government’s decision to make cuts to teachers and to our educational system will have a negative effect on the students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse the decision effective immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I had hoped, with the first term of our school system being done, that this wouldn’t still surface. It was very doubtful, knowing the dramatic impact that the cuts have had on the education system; but knowing the due diligence by our administrators, by our educators, by the volunteer groups, by parent organizations and school councils, that maybe, maybe some way we could dodge a bullet here.

Unfortunately, the feedback I’m getting from administrators, the feedback I’m getting from school teachers, the feedback from organizations, particularly those who deal with the schools themselves, the school councils, but particularly from parents and even students, this hasn’t happened. The impact on their ability to have a quality of education has been severely tarnished here, and tarnished because of the lack of supports here.

First of all, we’re cutting teaching units in our schooling system. So obviously that has an impact on the time that a teacher can spend with a student, particularly those who may have some challenges in particular areas or may need some additional help in some way, shape or form. The challenges around overcrowding, obviously it’s adding to an inability to be able to offer programs in the proper environment, in a learning, conducive environment.

Issues around multi-grade classrooms: We know teachers are struggling with the fact that the ability of resources and the ability for them to be able to spend quality time with people are limited. Also around some of the training that would have been necessary to be able to make that transition more fluent. The all-day kindergarten, while a great asset to have, because of the preparation not being done in advance, added challenges with overcrowding, with the supervision, challenges around those things.

The loss of core French programs: Obviously, for those who would have some options around potential careers down the road and having to modify exactly their stream of education has had a major impact. When we look at busing, even the busing schedule has a detrimental effect on the learning ability of a number of young people. Their families have been, no doubt, put in an area here where it becomes a challenge being able to get the students to school on time. Some of the issues around the stress around getting a kid who has to walk a further distance, or all of a sudden there is a time frame there that they miss extracurricular activities after school because the timing doesn’t work.

There was little to no consultation with people, all of these factors and the factor here that the consultation between all the key stakeholders wasn’t done in advance so that you best address the issues that are going to be relevant when you talk about cuts to education.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll add this petition again. No doubt, I’ll get a chance to speak to it again.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS firefighters both career and volunteer are exposed to many hazards in their line of duty; and

WHEREAS firefighters both career and volunteer risk their lives and wellbeing to serve our communities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enact workers’ compensation legislation containing a presumptive cancer and cardiac clause for firefighters both career and volunteer.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time Members on this side of the House have presented a petition on this issue. It’s an issue that we feel is critically important and we expect that government will be acting on presumptive cancer legislation, but our concern is it’s only going to include career firefighters and it’s going to ignore the legitimate needs and concerns of our over 5,000 volunteer firefighters in this province.

During the recent election campaign – well, it’s a year ago now; it’s not that recent I guess – we made a commitment as a party that we would enact workers’ compensation legislation that would contain a presumptive cancer and cardiac clause for all firefighters in Newfoundland and Labrador, both career and volunteer.

We went a step further than that. We also recognized the impact of PTSD on all of our first responders and the need for legislation that would ensure that those affected by PTSD who are first responders would get the care and the support they need and deserve.

This is an issue that I hope we can all agree on and it’s one that I hope government will act on in the interest of all of our first responders. I am pleased to present this petition today on behalf of all firefighters in our province, not just our career firefighters but our volunteer ones as well.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the recreational ground fishery is part of our culture, history and heritage; and

WHEREAS the federal government is proposing a tag system for the recreational ground fishery in 2017; and

WHEREAS participants will have to purchase a license and purchase tags in order to participate in the recreational fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the federal government to implement no cost fees for those participating in the recreational ground fishery in 2017.

Mr. Speaker, I’m after presenting this – I got up yesterday and I spoke for 10 minutes on the fishery, and at the last of it I went and talked about our recreational fishery. I’ve had calls from numerous people all over this province very interested in this, and really feel that as Canadians we have a right, just like every other Canadian, to go out and catch a cod. We have a right to be able to do something that was our heritage. But in saying that, we still respect the cod, we respect the grounds, we respect the fishery and we respect the ocean. We just want to be treated equally. We wanted to be treated like the rest of Canada.

I know the minister, when I ask him a question, stated that we should be treated just like everybody else in Atlantic Canada. So I hope that he’s pushing the federal counterparts to make sure this doesn’t come in and it doesn’t have a cost to it that we go out and have the cost to go catch the cod. We should be treated like everybody else.

Nobody knows what kind of system is going to come in place. Nobody understands how much it’s going to cost. Nobody’s being told how many tags they’re going to get. People want to know this stuff, and it’s very important. If you go around this province, you’ll go to every little cove and every little nook and cranny in this province and people love the right to be able to go out and catch codfish. I hope this government will get to their counterparts with the federal government and let them understand how important the recreational fishery is to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the education of children is one of the most important and vital investments that can be made in the success of our children; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should be choosing educational options that will provide all students of our province with a higher standard of education and enhance the learning experience for our youth; and

WHEREAS the government’s decision to make cuts to teachers and to our education system will have a negative effect on the students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse the decision effective immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I presented this same petition yesterday. As I said at the beginning, I would have hoped that this wouldn’t be still an issue and I would have hoped that as we got through the first third of our school system in our primary-secondary systems that some of these things would have went away or there would have been some adjustments; but after discussions yesterday and outlining my concerns that I had heard, yesterday, no less than three phone calls and seven emails I had gotten from people who had watched – obviously they’re engaged here.

One was actually an administrator, a school council chair, a number of parents and somebody who has a special needs student. Then I realized my biggest fear is being realized here. Not only did we all note that this was going to be detrimental, but it’s having a major impact and we’re only a third of the school year done yet.

I’ve had parents talk to me about their serious issues, particularly around the overcrowding, kids having to eat their lunch in their classrooms, teachers trying to supervise six and eight classrooms at a time because the ability now with all-day kindergarten influx, with taking teachers out of the system, there are less teachers in the system because the ratio has increased. Taking away the capital investments around new schools, renovations, adjustments to cafeterias, using resource rooms that were supposed to be for quite areas, for study areas, for engagement areas are now being used for other activities because the necessary rooms have never been invested in and the necessary renovations haven’t been made, issues around busing – I didn’t realize, maybe I was fortunate enough in my own district –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BRAZIL: – that busing wasn’t particularly a bigger issue and maybe it’s just the nature of the routes and that, but the impact I’m hearing from all over the province about the changes to busing, particularly in some of the sub-urban areas here where kids have to wait that much longer or they have to walk a distance to get to a bus stop or the time frames because it’s a dual-line bus pickup has had a detrimental effect. It’s becoming more and more evident that this will have a major impact on our education system.

I didn’t realize – two of people talked to me last night; one was an issue around the supervision in the school system about teachers being overworked. This wasn’t a teacher, an educator, this was a parent, but also talked about her daughter, the core French program and the impact it’s having and how she’s still devastated over that.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to talk about the other issues that are relevant to the education system over the next of weeks.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. PETTEN: I beat you; I do not know how I beat her today.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 dramatically cut home care hours to many of our provinces most vulnerable people;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate the much-needed supports to those who need it and develop a plan to further address the growing needs of people requiring home care support.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, in presenting this petition, this is an issue I think all of us are well acquainted with within our districts. Personally, in CBS, I deal with this and a lot of issues. It’s pretty heart-wrenching when you have this 35-hour hard cap it seems being enforced by the department. People want to stay home. They want to stay in their own homes. The families want to keep them home. In some family models, they need that extra one or two hours over the cap to make this work.

When you’re referred to long-term care because you need 37 hours a week, as opposed to 35 – I’ve argued this numerous times; I’ll continue to bring it up – no one can tell me that 37 hours per week home care is more expensive than putting them in a long-term care facility. There is no rationale to this policy.

The family wants to keep them home. They want to stay home. It’s the way things should be. It’s cheaper to keep them home but, for some reason, the government will not listen. They will not budge on this issue.

I’ve dealt with a lot of heart-wrenching stories of families in my own district; I know my colleagues have as well. This issue is something that I really, truly believe could be fixed with a small, incremental investment. Everything costs money, but when you’re dealing long-term care and the shortage of long-term care beds, this hard-fast 35 hours, anything over and above, you’re on your own.

As it was reported in the media today, Mr. Speaker, we’re dealing with a man and a woman who has been together over 70 years. She’s level three. He’s level two. I know this is a little bit outside it, but it still brings home the point of the stress this is putting on the family unit. They’re living apart because again there’s no wiggle room; there’s no rationale to adjust, to make improvements to the system. Long-term care beds would be a huge improvement to people who need it. I’m urging for people that want to stay in their own homes.

It’s a very important issue. Families are very vocal about it, very concerned about it and it appears that everyone from elected officials’ point of view our hands are tied unless the department makes some adjustments to this totally unfair policy.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union presents new trade opportunities; and

WHEREAS the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has an historic trade relationship with the United Kingdom; and

WHEREAS the two regions may mutually benefit from trade opportunities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to develop an economic strategy which capitalizes on trade opportunities between the United Kingdom and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve spoken about this issue several times this session. It’s about opportunity, opportunity to strengthen ties between the UK and Newfoundland and Labrador; opportunities to increase trade to support this province’s economy; opportunities to create new jobs so that more hardworking families in Newfoundland and Labrador have the dignity of work.

This great province must seize this rare opportunity. Never again will the opportunity so plainly present itself to refound and improve the trade between the UK and Newfoundland and Labrador, because a queue has begun to form from Australia to India, Ghana to New Zealand, all searching to open the British economy – the fifth largest in the world – to their products and services. And Newfoundland and Labrador cannot afford to be at the back of the queue. Jobs depend on it, and government must act.

Given the hour, Mr. Speaker, I realize my time has expired, but I encourage government to take specific concrete action. On this side of the House, we’re prepared to work with them to support that effort.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS changes to bus routes will impact the start times at Holy Trinity Elementary, Cape St. Francis Elementary and Holy Trinity High; and

WHEREAS these changes were put in place with no consultation with parents, families and against the recommendations of the three school councils; and

WHEREUPON the undersigned , your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately instruct the Eastern school board to reverse the decisions regarding busing and start times in these schools.

Mr. Speaker, today is a little bit different than what it used to be years ago. We always had somewhere to go after school, whether it was a grandparent, a relative or anything else. But today, in a lot of cases in these schools, the high school children, when they get off school they are also responsible for taking care of their brothers and sisters and stuff like this. This is going to put an added cost on a lot of families to look for that three or four hours in the evening, to have someone to do the child care that is going to be needed.

The recommendation here is that the elementary schools will start earlier and that will mean the high schools start later. The elementary school will get out around 2:45 p.m. or 3 p.m. and the high school doesn’t get out until 3:30 p.m. or 3:45 p.m. It’s a huge impact on a lot of families in my district and a lot of families on the Northeast Avalon.

Like I said, before, when we were growing up, there was always somebody there that you could count on; the neighbour, go there for a couple of hours or have a relative. I lived next to my grandparents so my parents weren’t too concerned. They knew where I was gone in the evenings. But this is forcing a lot of families to incur a lot of cost and we know how expensive it is for daycares and to send them to people’s houses. There’s also the issue that they have to go back to their own address when there’s nobody home because of courtesy busing.

Unless there’s a seat available on that bus, then you cannot go to these child cares. So it’s another cost, then, to be able to get – most of the child cares in Torbay now, in particular, have their own buses because there are not enough seats on the buses to take care of the courtesy driving. This is very important. This is a cost factor that is going to be unbelievable to some families, when you talk about having a couple of children to go to daycare every day, when it’s not necessary.

I’m sure that through the Eastern school board, through working with principals – I’ve worked with principals in the past and we’ve corrected some of the bus routes in the area. It made it easier for everybody to be able to get home and it worked. I think that if we just instruct the school councils, instruct the school boards to work together, we can solve this problem.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the recreational ground fishery is part of our culture, history and heritage; and

WHEREAS the federal government is proposing a tag system for the recreational ground fishery in 2017; and

WHEREAS participants would have to purchase a licence and purchase tags in order to participate in this recreational fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to urge the federal government not to implement a cost or fee for those participating in the recreational ground fishery in 2017.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, while this might be unorthodox for me, coming from my critic roles here but coming from Bell Island and being responsible for Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, I have a very vested interest here. The constituents in my district have a real problem with this. It’s an inherent right that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have all over this great province of ours, to be able to fish, following rules and regulations but free of charge. Not to be segregated from any other province. Not to be attached to a fee progress. Not to be limited other than those that make sense and everybody had agreed to.

We’ve had a good process in the last number of years that worked for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This has been a benefit to people when it comes to – not only is it a recreation process here and it adds to our economy, but it’s also a food fishery and it’s a reality here. This does help sustain people who normally would not be able to have adequate access to fresh fish, to salt fish; all the sustainable things that we took as a necessary process over our lifetimes as we were growing up.

We’re not the people who gave away our fishery. We’re not the people who sold our fishery. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador should not be punished because of the ill decisions made by former administrations federally.

What we’re saying to the federal government here and what we’re particularly saying to the Liberal MPs, fight for the people of your province, show due justice here, show that we shouldn’t be segregated, that we are the people who own that fishery. We should have the ultimate right to that fishery. We shouldn’t be regulated other than processes that we know work in a safe manner, and that’s what has happened for the last number of years. There has been no inherent issue around the food fishery that I’ve heard of.

I’ve been on docks. I’ve seen people come in. I’ve been out on the boats. I’ve seen people catch their fish. I see the community engagement here as they are cleaning their fish. I see people who normally can’t get out to fish, fish being delivered to them. This has become a community event. It has become an engagement process. I’ve seen organizations being able to take advantage for a fundraising process to put things back into the community.

This is an inherent right by the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador. It took us two decades to fight to get back to something that was comparable, to being able to go out in your boat and supply your fish needs for the winter for your family.

Now, all of a sudden we’re putting restrictions on it. We’re saying, one, you have to pay money; two, we’ve got to set you up with a set of tags. You’ve got to go through a bureaucratic process and then, who knows, we may also add some other restrictions as we go through it.

There is nobody who has any problems with proper monitoring to ensure that people follow rules and regulations. They’re set there. We have no problem with that. There are all kinds of other ways they can do that from on docks and this type of thing.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak and represent my district concerns again. I do ask that the MPs in Ottawa fight to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Monday, December 12, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there has been a reduction in the hours of operation for X-ray services at the Placentia Health Centre. Service has been reduced from 24 hours a day, seven days a week to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday; and

WHEREAS this reduces the availability of an important diagnostic tool for physicians at the Health Centre having a direct impact on patient care. The reduction in service impacts the ability of physicians and nursing staff to perform their jobs and can potentially delay diagnosis and treatment;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse this decision and restore the provision of X-ray services to 24 hours a day, seven days a week service.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, there have been similar petitions signed by over 1,800 residents who have serious concerns about health care cuts that have taken place affecting services at the Placentia Health Centre. I want to present some of those concerns on behalf of residents today. Their main concern is this has reduced the full-time function of the emergency room at the Placentia Health Centre. It’s important to note that this health centre services the entire region of Placentia, the Cape Shore, Fox Harbour, Ship Harbour, even St. Mary’s Bay North and Long Harbour. So you can’t predict that someone requiring an X-ray will only show up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

If the resource is available at the site, physicians should have unrestricted access to the use of the equipment. The current set up with the service not being available on weekends or after 4 o’clock on weekdays puts a restriction on the diagnostic ability of the professionals working there. On weekends or after hours, people now either get referred to Carbonear Hospital or asked to come back when the technician is available. This has the potential to delay treatment. Multiple trips to the health centre must also create a burden on the system overall.

I’d also like to point out that following the initial announcement of this change, the Mayor of Placentia asked Eastern Health if the on call lab technician could operate the X-ray machine if called in for blood work. Eastern Health did agree to this; however, not all of the lab technicians are cross-trained on the use of the X-ray machine. So now it all depends on who is called in for the lab, and I think this works out to be about half the time.

Placentia is a thriving, growing region and a growing community but cuts to services that negatively impact amenities will also impact the overall growth and development of the community. It’s sad to have to present these concerns on behalf of residents of the region. Again, hundreds of residents have expressed concern and we will continue to bring these concerns to the House of Assembly.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today; to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS on July 26, Dorset Fisheries’ plant in Norman’s Cove-Long Cove burnt to the ground with a massive industrial fire; and

WHEREAS the plant employed about 240 people from the immediate area, and many who are now without work;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to take immediate action to provide residents –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

MR. K. PARSONS: – of Norman’s Cove-Long Cove area the necessary supports needed to rebuild their local economy.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

I heard the minister just go with 240 people, but when he sees the petitions that I’m going to present in the House of Assembly over the next couple of days, there are hundreds and hundreds of names from that area where people are very, very concerned. If you want to look at this petition today, there are 100 names on this petition here today from people who are in that area concerned about the fish plant. They’re concerned about the future; they’re concerned about the future of what’s going to happen to that area.

Most of these employees of the plant are elderly people in their late 50s and they are finding it very difficult this time. They don’t know where they’re going to go to work. They’ve gotten no answers from government; they’ve gotten no answers from their local MHA. I got up a week ago, Mr. Speaker, and I asked for the minister to hold a public meeting to let the people in the area know what’s on the go with their fish plant. They’ve heard nothing. They’ve heard nothing from their MHA and they’ve heard nothing from this minister.

I have over 100 names here and I have more names. I have more petitions to present, so just stay tuned to the number of people. There are hundreds of people out in that area who are concerned about their future, Mr. Speaker. There are hundreds of people out in that area who want to know what’s going to happen, whether their plant is going to be rebuilt, whether they’re going to have jobs. It’s time for the government to give the people the answers they’re asking for.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS in July 2016 the Dorset Fisheries plant in Norman’s Cove-Long Cove burned to the ground in a massive industrial fire; and

WHEREAS the plant employed about 240 people from the immediate area and many of whom are now out of work;

WHEREUPON the undersigned residents, your petitioners, humbly pray and all upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to take immediate action to provide the residents of Norman’s Cove-Long cove area with the necessary supports to help them rebuild their local economy.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Yesterday, Madam Speaker, I got up and presented the same petition. The Minister of Fisheries kind of heckled me saying oh, yeah, right 240. Well, yesterday’s petition had over 100 names on it and if you want to look at the petition that I have today, it has over 200 names on it. So there are a lot of people in that area that are very concerned about what’s happening to their local economy. They are very concerned about what’s happening to their jobs. All they want is answers and it seems like they can’t get any answers from this government whatsoever.

Madam Speaker, when you have this many people signing a petition and none of them are from St. John’s area, all of them are from Chapel Arm, Long Cove, Thornlea, Bellevue and all this area where they’re very concerned about what is happening to their fish plant.

What they’ve been told is all that’s going to be put back there is probably an ice facility to ice up and an unloading facility. These are jobs that people are really concerned about. These are residents – most of the people that worked in this plant are in their late 50s, early 60s and they’re very concerned. It’s pretty hard to try to find some kind of employment in any area of the province. They were assured when the plant burned down they were assured by government representatives that they’d be there for them, that they’d make sure that their plant was rebuilt. They’d make sure that those jobs would be safe in the future. All they’re asking is where is government now and what are they doing for these people.

Thank you very much.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there has been a reduction in the hours of operation for X-ray services at the Placentia Health Centre; service has been reduced from 24 hours a day, seven days a week to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday; and

WHEREAS this reduces the availability of an important diagnostic tool for physicians at the Health Centre having a direct impact on patient care. The reduction in service impacts the ability of physicians and nursing staff to perform their jobs and can potentially delay diagnosis and treatment;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse this decision and restore the provision of X-ray services to a 24 hours a day, seven days a week service.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Madam Speaker, over 1,800 residents of Newfoundland and Labrador has signed this petition to express concern about the reduction of the full-time function of the emergency room at the Placentia Health Centre. That Health Centre serves the entire region, not only Placentia and the Dunville area, but the Cape Shore, Fox Harbour, Ship Harbour, even St. Mary’s Bay North and Long Harbour.

You can’t simply predict that someone requiring an X-ray will only show up between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. If the resource is available at the site, medical professionals should have appropriate access to use of the equipment.

The current set-up with the service not being available on weekends or after 4 p.m. on weekdays puts a restriction on the diagnostic ability of the professionals working at the site. On weekends or after hours, people now either get referred to Carbonear Hospital or are asked to come back when the technician is available. This has the potential to delay treatment and diagnosis. Multiple trips to the Health Centre also create a burden on the system overall.

Following the initial announcement of this change, the Town of Placentia asked Eastern Health if the on call lab technician could operate the X-ray machine if called in for blood work. Eastern Health did agree to this; however, not all of the lab technicians are cross-trained for the use of the X-ray machine. Now it all depends on who’s called in for the lab. So far this has worked out to be about half of the time.

The Placentia area is a growing region, but cuts to services like this will impact the ability of that community to attract new growth and development. Plus, more importantly than that, there’s a health and safety concern that we’ve been asked to bring to the House of Assembly on behalf of the people of that region.

So I’m happy to do so today on their behalf, but wish we didn’t have to.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the government has cut vital funding to the Boys and Girls Clubs in this province, negatively impacting important programs and services;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate previous funding in order to allow this organization to carry on its positive work in the community.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Madam Speaker, Boys and Girls Clubs, along with a number of other youth organizations, have been dramatically cut in the last set of cuts that were set out seven months ago, but only notified to these organizations a few weeks ago. And keeping in mind that these organizations provide services to 41,000 young people in this province and they have over 1,600 volunteers. They have a combined budget of $54 million and we’re nickel and diming them by making cuts that are very important to their core funding. And this is what this is all about. This is about key things like core funding.

And the Premier stood and talked about the new groups that they had funded through the Grants to Youth Organizations. I have to clarify that because that administration didn’t fund any new core groups. What they did was take money from Boys and Girls clubs, from Scouts, from Big Brothers Big Sisters, from other organizations, small organizations in rural Newfoundland and Labrador to put into other organizations. And that’s not a good investment for the people of this province; it’s definitely not a good investment for the young people of this province.

What they should have done is saw the hindsight and found a way to improve the amount of money that is put into Grants to Youth Organizations so that more young people could avail of the services that are important for them to stay developed as young people in our province.

Again, a testament should be noted to the private sector that have to step up here because they’re in awe of exactly the cuts here and how dramatic the impacts are going to have.

I have to give a call out to DF Barnes, one of the companies that jumped up automatically – because of connections with some of the particular organizations that were cut – and put a major bit of funding in for the James Hornell Boys & Girls Club in Buchans because they know they’re going to be restricted on how they can make up that money in a small community. They did the same for the provincial Big Brothers Big Sisters because they realized the impact that a major 50 per cent cut on their core funding would be.

So the corporate world understands how government is not doing its part during this year, particularly around Christmastime. The corporate world doesn’t want to be a scrooge, it wants to show the real meaning of Christmas and they want to show the real meaning of investing in our young people here, and they’ve done that.

So shame on the government for cutting these young people, shame on the government for not seeing the benefits of investing the taxpayers’ money in the right areas, and shame on them for not understanding our citizens need a better choice in this province.

So, Madam Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to do this, as we get through the House, over the next number of weeks.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Monday, February 27, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Route 60 is a main highway that runs through the Town of Conception Bay South, it’s a vital artery in the provincial road network; and

WHEREAS Route 60 is one of the most heavily travelled roads in the province; and

WHEREAS Route 60 has been deteriorating and requires major upgrades;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to allocate funds to upgrade Route 60.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, that petition is directly, of course, from my district. During a recent announcement of the five-year Roads Program Route 60 was excluded, or is not there on the list yet. I realize there is a time that it could be put there, but it’s an issue that I’ve made clear for the last year since I was elected, that road is in need of major repairs. So I was a bit taken aback when I read this roads list and it was excluded.

To go to further, comments that I’ve made publicly on this issue is I’ve been calling upon the Minister of Transportation and Works to provide the full roads list for the entire province. We have X number of provincial roads, why not provide the comprehensive scoring list for every road in the province so people can see where and if and what these roads will ever have an opportunity to see the light of day getting work done. I’m sure they all will eventually but if you provided the listing and the scoring for those roads, at least we could say: it’s fine to say you’re taking the politics out of paving but your actions have to match your words.

So if you’re saying you’re providing this list, provide the full list. Not just a list of the roads you’re tendering to get work done on, provide the entire list. You can always change your tendered road or a list. Once it’s tendered, it’s different. These roads are not tendered. They’re on a list. They can be subject to change should something happen.

So it’s fine to say you don’t want to box yourself in, but I take personal exception to Route 60 in my own district. I’m sure other Members as well feel the same way on roads in their own district. They do not know where they stand on the list. And I’ll call upon the minister again – I’m pushing 10 months asking for it and I’ll continue – provide us a list. At least we know where we stand, instead of we sit there on bended knees, go in cap in hand and, hopefully, he’s going to put our road on the list next year if we don’t ruffle too many feathers.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll ruffle feathers or whatever. The people of the my district, that happens to be the second largest municipality in the province, are constantly on me about this and I’m going to keep speaking about it publicly because I feel that it’s high time for the Minister of Transportation and Works to pay some more attention to those main arteries and if he’s taking the politics out of paving, do what’s required on Route 60.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Marine Atlantic ferry rates continue to rise, becoming increasingly more cost prohibitive; and

WHEREAS increased rates impact the cost of goods being shipped into our province, as well as those products being exported out by local businesses; and

WHEREAS tourism is negatively impacted by the ever increasing, cost prohibitive means of ground transport into the Island portion of our province;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to open a line of communication with the federal government and begin to advocate on behalf of residents and businesses of the province, not stopping until results are realized.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that Members on both sides of the House have spoken about many times in the past and in recent history as well. We hear lots about the warm, fuzzy, happy relationship between our provincial government and our federal government, and it’s great that everybody’s happy and getting along and having Sunday night calls with the minister. That’s great. It’s wonderful, but results matter, Mr. Speaker. And on an issue like this, that I know is of concern to several Cabinet ministers on the front bench of the government who have been vocal in their previous roles prior to being in government, if the warm, fuzzy, cosy relationship exists, then hopefully we’ll see some results and some progress.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

MR. KENT: He’s excited. It’s birthday, Mr. Speaker. So I’m going to cut him some slack today.

This is a really serious issue. I know the government has finally acknowledged that they’ve written the federal government and they’re going to talk about it and they’re going to express some concern about the issue, but I would hope that this would be a really critical and important issue to the government and they would be calling on their cousins in Ottawa to put a stop to continuous Marine Atlantic rate increases.

What we’re seeing now on April 1, the rates will go up another 2.6 per cent and Marine Atlantic are saying it’s necessary to reflect the continuing increased costs associated with material, supplies and labour, and to help the company provide reliable service. Well, this is what we’ve heard for years from Marine Atlantic.

So I’m calling on all Members of the House of Assembly to be concerned about this. Petitioners are calling on the House of Assembly to be concerned about this; but, more importantly, we’re calling on the Liberal government to reach out to their friends and colleagues in Ottawa and demand some action. It’s great for everybody to be getting along, but if it doesn’t result in anything happening, if it doesn’t result in any benefits for Newfoundland and Labrador, then that’s a problem, Mr. Speaker. This should be a relatively easy one for our federal Liberal government and our provincial Liberal government to get together and solve.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the provincial government arbitrarily cut 24-hour snow clearing services in the 2016 budget; and

WHEREAS cutting 24-hour snow clearing services has led to unsafe road conditions and endangering lives; and

WHEREAS government has an obligation to provide a safe system of transportation that meets the needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians;

The undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call the House of Assembly to urge government to listen to the people and reinstate 24-hour snow clearing services.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, over the last number of months, my colleague from Conception Bay South has very eloquently got up and echoed the concerns of the people of this province, particularly in those areas where 24-hour snow clearing not only was part of the ongoing road system around winter maintenance and safety, but was necessary because of the volume of traffic that was out there.

And it was noted by thousands of people in emails the outrage, that safety has to be the primary objective. And while I realized the minister – and I was fortunate enough to serve for two winters as minister of Transportation and Works – must be cognizant of their budget lines, but you can’t put safety ahead of having to make major cuts. You know, two budgets I had to make cuts around the Department of Transportation and Works 24-hour snow clearing on the main arteries where volumes of traffic dictate that it’s travelling 24 hours, all times of the day, in all kinds of weather, was not prudent and in the best interest of the people of this province particularly doing it.

Would we have liked to have had 24-hour snow clearing everywhere? Of course we would have. But in high-volume areas when people have to be travelling in certain areas and you know there’s going to be a volume of traffic, we have a responsibility to ensure and minimize the impact of the negativity of snow may have on people and ensure safety is there.

So the outrage has been there for a number of reasons. Outside of that, what I’m hearing from depots and some of the people I’ve talked to, the costing, with the call-outs in overtime is going to mitigate any savings that have been realized or anticipated by the department. And that’s something we have to look at here. It has to be around the safety-related process. And I do agree – sometimes you have to make decisions around financial responsibilities and financial obligations.

But, at this point, this is being shown not to be in any way, shape or form a financial exercise that saves the people of this province any money. What it does is endanger people’s live, ensure that businesses themselves have to change their whole scheduling around when they travel. I’ve heard from cab companies about the dangers in some of these areas. I’ve heard from courier companies. I’ve heard from manufacturing companies. I’ve heard from trucking companies who’ve said they’re endangering the lives of those employees when they have to travel – the general public themselves.

And I do realize the minister will try to mitigate any dangers by looking at being able to call people out at a moment’s notice, but unfortunately you can’t dictate what the weather’s going to be, and unfortunately that has an impact. So I urge the government to go back, reassess this and make a decision to reinstate 24-hour snow clearing.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m pleased to rise today to present a petition: To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2015 announced a new school for the Witless Bay-Mobile school system; and

WHEREAS the planning and design of this school was underway, which recently Statistics Canada has recognized the region has having significant growth; and

WHEREAS the project was cancelled in Budget 2016;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and construct the proposed school for the Witless Bay-Mobile school system announced in 2015.

Mr. Speaker, the region from Bay Bulls to Bauline, or Bauline East as it’s often referred to, has seen significant growth over the past number of years. Dating back to our time and our administration, we had recognized that and certainly planned to meet the needs of St. Bernard’s, which is K to six, and the young families and young kids and young children we’re seeing coming through.

With that, we had built on two additional classrooms. As well, over those years, had added portable classrooms which would be temporary in nature and would see a new middle school built as we saw in a 2014 consultant’s report of BAE-Newplan, which quite clearly indicated, looked at the options of what would be the best options to pursue, whether extensions or rebuilds on St. Bernard’s or Mobile high. It quite clearly indicated the best result was a new middle school, something along the lines of grades five to eight, which would basically take the pressure off St. Bernard’s and as well take the pressure off Mobile high as those numbers flow through.

This was very clearly indicated based on that consultant and that documentation that was paid for, obviously, by the prior administration. And based on that and the history and what we saw in 2015 budget, allocations was made for the building of this new middle school.

Now, unfortunately, in 2016, the current administration cancelled that, and I have written, certainly, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, the chair, cc’d the ministers and others involved, emailed the English School District as well looking for details on the rationale for a proposal that we have very little details on putting an extension on Mobile high of nine classrooms.

But no one seems to be able to tell us how that’s going to deal with the numbers and what we’re seeing coming through in St. Bernard’s in the K-6, and how that’s going to be fiscally, I think, prudent in regard to looking at the long-term solution and how we meet that solution through what’s being proposed. Which again, there’s no detail, very little information.

I wrote on January 5, documentation here, looking for those details. To date, we do not have them. I know the parent community, the community in general, the municipalities, the local service districts are extremely concerned and it’s time for the government to move on this, reconsider and address the education needs that have started in prior years and need to be concluded with the new middle school in that region.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth.

WHEREAS the recreational ground fishery is part of our culture, history and heritage; and

WHEREAS the federal government is proposing a tag system for the recreational ground fishery in 2017; and

WHEREAS participants have to purchase a licence and purchase tags in order to participate in the recreational fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the federal government not to implement a cost or fees to those participating in the recreational ground fishery in 2017.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, in the last Assembly I got up several times and spoke on the importance of this and the importance of us being able to have the right to go and catch a fish. Today, we understand there’s a lot of crisis in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, a lot of people are really, really concerned about it.

You know, the fishery is such an important part of who we are as a people. It’s important that we get treated fairly and that Ottawa understands our concerns. Sometimes if you look at what’s after happening with the consultations that happened on the ground fishery, I know the MP for Central Newfoundland had –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

It’s a job to hear in here.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I was talking about how the MP for Central Newfoundland and Grand Falls had some consultations out there because he wanted to see how people felt. He himself has urged the federal government not to go along with this system; yet, the minister, our Minister of Fisheries that represents all of Newfoundland has never came out and said he supported or didn’t support the recreational fishery with the purpose of tags being implemented. I think it’s our right to be treated like everybody else in Canada. There’s no tag system anywhere else in Atlantic Canada nor should there be in Newfoundland.

Last year, I applaud the federal government. I applaud what they did by increasing the number of days we could get out there and the weekends. And that was basically due to safety issues, because sometimes we understand that the weather here in Newfoundland is not always – able to get out and be able to go catch a fish. So they extended it, and that was great, but we need this government to stand up for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We need this government to stand up for the fishers of Newfoundland and Labrador and our whole fishing industry.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there has been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K to 12 school system; and

WHEREAS the lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can, and in many cases will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in the province’s K to 12 school system.

And in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as we’ve been debating in this House over the last year or so about cuts to our education system and the need to invest in young people, particularly as we also address some of the other social issues that young people face, and all those young people face them in a confined situation and a confined environment, being our school systems.

With blended classrooms, with cuts, with teachers, with not having access to other types of programs, that’s added stressors. With the general concept that young people are facing in today’s society, one of the environments – where we have an opportunity because we have a captive audience – to not only address the issues that they face within that system, particularly those related to mental health, but the other ones that they may face in society.

We’ve gone a long way in identifying bullying. We’ve brought in the private sector to work with us. The corporate world has supported it, the volunteer sector has done it, the administration have done it, the parents have done it; but, particularly, teachers and students have engaged how we address one particular issue around mental health. And that is around bullying. It’s one of the key components of how we address it.

There are a multitude of other mental health issues that within the school system we need to be able to have supports. Teachers have identified it, around students as part of our integration program and the extra supports that are needed. Challenges from the home environment that carry over into the school environment have an impact on the mental health of a young person. It has an impact on the mental health of the friends of a young person, as they see the stresses their friends are under. And that has a negative impact on them.

There’s an anxiety issue here. We’ve seen some challenges around questions in the school system about not being able to get out for recreation purposes and the impact that has. For kids who are overly active, who need to be able at times to get their energy levels out. That adds to the mental health within that classroom.

We need to be able to support the education system so it ensures that – the environment is supposed to be a safe, engaging, happy, learning process. But if we have challenges, particularly around those related to mental health, if there are anxiety issues, if there are self-esteem issues, if there are issues around kids not being open, if there are issues around kids having behavioural issues and lashing out, all of those are related to supports that can be addressed through some other means of mental health interventions.

And in some cases, we need to be able to put the resources into the administration, the educators, the parents, the volunteer groups that work within the school system. I do ask and encourage the government – the federal government are coming down and initiating monies around mental health, there’s no reason we couldn’t negotiate a parcel of that to be put in our education system to address mental health in our education system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such a tax; and

WHEREAS a tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province, as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, Budget 2016 was a disaster for the people and the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are the only province in this entire country facing recession because of the policy measures implemented, and one that will have a lasting impact forever on some of our most valuable citizens, our children, when it comes to the book tax.

I have heard so many of our students who are attending university come home and talk about their struggles and just the additional burden that this book tax is placing on them and their limited, meager funds that they have to try and survive getting an academic education in this province, Mr. Speaker.

We also have the impact that it’s having, of course, on the authors and publishers in the province. We continue to receive emails, Mr. Speaker, to this day, of concern from people of the province about Budget 2016 and what it’s done to attack and erode our culture.

Books, in particular, are the very fabric of learning. We can go back in time to the ancient scrolls and know the importance of what books do for us and our ability to learn, be educated and do what we can by way of helping others in the world through learning.

And without access to books, Mr. Speaker, and by imposing this regressive tax, we are going to see some of our children unable to avail of these books. We’re also seeing across the board increased impact on organizations that rely on books to provide their services such as daycare, such as Community Youth Networks, such as our libraries, including our school boards who now have to bear the additional cost of a book tax. A book tax, the only place in all of the country that has a book tax is in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve heard over and over and over again this government wants to look at innovative ways. A junk food tax would far, far, far be of benefit to our kids –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. PERRY: – than a book tax. Please get rid of this regressive book tax.

Thank you so much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the provincial youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities, as well as its youth and families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply relied on what was rightfully considered core funding for their day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations immediately.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, in this House of Assembly this morning we debated a piece of legislation, Bill 66, which was about multi-year funding. And one of the key components that we all spoke to was the importance of organizations, volunteer organizations, not-for-profit organizations; but particularly, a number spoke to the importance of youth organizations and what it means to have not only core funding, but multi-year funding so that they can continue to enhance proper programing, continue to attract proper staffing, continue to develop good partnerships with the private sector, with other government agencies, municipal agencies and in their own communities itself.

But to do that – and I mentioned this, this morning – they need to have the rightful core funding that was always part and parcel of the expectation that we, as taxpayers, had to give to those organizations and as the government duly saw the investment in being a benefit to the people of this province.

Right now, a lot of these organizations have lost anywhere from 40 to 60 per cent of their core funding, so even a multi- year funding is still not going to put them any further ahead. Because three years down the road not only did they lose 60 per cent of their funding, but three years down the road the value of that 60 per cent could be 65 to 70 per cent. They have to make that up somewhere in the community.

So it’s not a good investment to do it that route. What we’re saying is you want to start off fresh; you want to introduce something that we all spoke to this morning that is a good piece of legislation that will benefit organizations, particularly those youth organizations. Go back, reverse the cuts that you made, which were minimal when it came to savings, yet would have a devastating effect on these youth organizations. You’re starting off fresh with multi-year funding.

No doubt, these organizations, the hundreds of them that I’m familiar with and other people are familiar with, will meet the criteria for multi-year funding. Bring them back to a sustainable portion of funding where they can move out to invest in our communities, provide the programs and services, save tens of millions of dollars for the taxpayers because they have a better ability because of their infrastructure, because of developed partnerships, because of their ability to leverage money in the other sectors, to be able to offer the programs and services to the sector that they provide services for.

So we’re encouraging the government and the Minister of Finance to go back and in this line budget find a way – and there are creative ways of doing it – because you’re moving towards something good, make sure that good is really beneficial by instituting and reinstating the funding that was cut, which was a minimal amount of savings from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, to ensure that these services can be provided and the multi-year programming funding is a benefit to everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I’ll speak to this again, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS school-age children are walking to school in areas where there are no crosswalks, no traffic lights and there are areas without sidewalks; and

WHEREAS this puts the safety of children at risk;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to call upon the House of Assembly to ensure safety of all children by removing the 1.6-kiliometre busing policy where safety is a concern.

Mr. Speaker, I live in a district where this is a real concern for me. On Torbay road, on a regular day, there are probably about 12,000 to 13,000 or 14,000 cars that travel on that road, and there are no sidewalks. There are no traffic lights and the crosswalk – a lot of times there’s a very narrow crosswalk by Convent Lane and Marine Drive that gets used periodically and the signage is not well there. There are no lines across; it’s just two lines straight across that shows the crosswalk.

This is very dangerous, and I’ve had calls from so many parents it’s unbelievable because they really fear – most of them will try to get their children to school in the morning and arrange that one of the parents who is working, they’ll drive – there’s a lot of driving in the morning. But in the evenings, a lot of people can’t get off work and the child has to walk home. And with no sidewalks – especially in the wintertime, it’s a real concern in the wintertime, because as we all know we get a fine lot of snow. There are ice conditions and there are very narrow side areas of the road and shoulders of the road, so this becomes a real concern for a lot of people.

I know that the Minister of Education, I heard him lots of times in this House, get up and present a petition basically on the same issue that I’m talking about here today. And I really believe that we need to have a look at it. I know that the 1.6 kilometres is something that is in place, but in areas where there’s high traffic, areas where there are no sidewalks and areas where there are no traffic lights, we should really have a look at this.

The safety of our children has got to be put forward. The safety of kids that have got to walk along roads that are slippery with no sidewalks and very little shoulder, and no lights – this is a real concern for parents in my area and parents in areas just like it.

So I ask the minister: You understand this problem, you’ve brought the same petition basically to the House of Assembly several times; please have a look at it and do the right thing for the safety of our children.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to rise today to present a petition on behalf of the people of my district.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Witless Bay Line, Route 13, is a significant piece of infrastructure linking the Southern Shore to the Trans-Canada Highway and it’s a crucial piece of economic infrastructure and means of service delivery to the region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to provide resources to complete immediate upgrades to this significant piece of infrastructure and enhance the flow of traffic to and from the Trans-Canada Highway, and further to ensure that the upgrades over the past years continue this construction season.

Mr. Speaker, this is, as I said, a piece of infrastructure that connects the Southern Shore and Route 10 to the Trans-Canada Highway, a significant piece of infrastructure. Over the past number of years there has been significant upgrades to that piece of infrastructure with the intent – obviously, a significant piece of infrastructure like that, it needs to done over a period of time. Over the past number of years, I think there’s something like $1.6 million been invested to upgrade a number of kilometres and stretches of that particular highway. There’s certainly more to be done.

Significant traffic on that piece of highway is certainly related to commerce, economics, residents, others, professionals that use the highway to transport back and forth in regard to their employment. You look at industries like the crab industry in the summertime and the amount of traffic that’s a part of that highway in terms of transporting services, either back from harvesters on the Southern Shore or into the processing facilities along the Southern Shore.

As well, just recently, and ongoing today, it’s the Pennecon Energy Marine Base in Bay Bulls. A lot of the generators and various large pieces of infrastructure related to Soldiers Pond, related to Muskrat Falls, and even some of the other equipment that’s needed in Muskrat Falls, this piece of highway is being used to transport some of those significant pieces of equipment. So it’s essential to the region.

There are sections of it over this time of the year that needs some patchwork done, but it’s important that the government recognizes this. It certainly fits in the whole economic development and economic plan. I’d certainly urge government this season to take a look at that, and recognizing it can’t be all done at the one time, but provide those improvements that continues the economic benefit for the region.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there’s been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K to 12 school system; and

WHEREAS the lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can and in many cases will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador – urge to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K to 12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I presented this same petition on Monday, and the overwhelming comments and the overwhelming contact that I had with people afterwards thanking me for presenting it and outlining the fact while our school system has a number of challenges, mental health, unfortunately, is not being addressed in the mainstream school system right now, because there are other challenges there around our academics, around our overcrowding, around some of the challenges.

So, I felt on the urging of a number of organizations that we keep this alive in our school system, particularly as we get close to decisions being made around our budget and around investments in our education. On an everyday basis, arguing in all the sectors from the NLTA to the parents’ associations to all the other – the administrators and teachers out there are arguing about investments in the education system to get back to an acceptable level. Sometimes we have to address some of the other occurring issues that were always there but were never front and center.

As we look at that, mental health in our school system is one. Times have changed, our society has changed. The challenges on young people, the challenges in the households with economic issues, stressors, travel issues within the households, young people being exposed to things they normally weren’t in previous times around bullying and some of the challenges around those type of things; about performance, being able to actually excel in certain areas. Being able to select exactly what it is they’re comfortable in the school system, and some of the other challenges as we integrate people into mainstream school systems.

These all add to stressors within the school system, and have an impact on mental health. As is indicated here, the issues has been determined by all professionals here, and everybody who work in the field, the issues within the younger age category, if not addressed, if not given supports and if not engaged, will obviously lead to other more serious issues around mental health as people progress into their teens and their adulthood.

What we’re looking at here is that the education system has a captive audience, has these young people in an engaged, safe, healthy, open environment, and what an opportunity to address some of the mental health needs of those particular individuals, but equally as important is being able to educate other students and staff around how you address mental health issues. How you lend support to people that may have some challenges around those. How you support the family themselves. So these are all very important things we need to be cognizant of when we talk about investing in the education system.

The mainstream education system is very important, the integration is very important, but all the factors that have an impact on people’s ability to learn must be addressed too, and one of those key things is mental health. Because of the influence that will be necessary to address those at a younger age, we want to ensure the mainstream system is put in place, systems that can benefit people as they progress in their adulthood.

So, Mr. Speaker, there’s no doubt I’ll have an opportunity to present this numerous times before we get to the budget decisions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Monday, March 6, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the government has not implemented curriculum to teach the basic monetary skills needed by our youth; and

WHEREAS the government of our province has a responsibility to act in the best interest of our youth; and

WHEREAS the youth of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and consideration;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to introduce financial education into provincial curriculum to prepare youth for the monetary and financial challenges of life upon entering the workforce.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to have an opportunity this afternoon to speak to this issue once again. I’ve presented several petitions in the past on this issue of financial literacy, especially when it comes to young people in our school system.

I met last year with a group that I know the Minister of Education is familiar with, FLY financial – Financial Literacy for Youth, or FLY – which was founded last year, and its purpose is to teach basic financial and money management skills to high school youth through their career development class. But what these young people have found in the work they’re doing as volunteers is that it really isn’t enough. We’ve recognized for a while that there’s a need for more education related to financial literacy to be embedded into our curriculum in the K to 12 system.

I want to applaud the efforts of the Memorial University alumni that are out presenting to high schools in our province, but I want to join with them in calling on government to fix the curriculum and make sure that this is addressed. Maybe through the ongoing task force on educational outcomes this is an issue that will come up and maybe we’ll see some recommendations related to it.

The lack of financial literacy in our society is causing people to be taken advantage of by lending companies and credit card companies, for instance. We hear about that regularly. Unawareness can have a large impact on people’s financial future. Thirty-four per cent of Canadians indicate that they’re hoping to win the lottery to help finance their retirement. Young people are not being taught enough about debt or about savings and doing so could actually help future generations. Given the state of affairs in our province and the doom and gloom created by this current government, bankruptcies are on the rise.

So the need for a heighten level of financial literacy in our society has never been greater. The current state of the economy calls for increased awareness of personal finances. And individuals can find themselves in trouble by acquiring too much debt.

Lending institutions make their money from charging interest, and I think it was Albert Einstein who said compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Those who understand it, earn it and those who don’t, pay it. I think that statement still rings true today.

So let’s positively impact our career development curriculum in our schools by teaching young people these skills that they need. Everyone has to face personal financial decisions, and we can have an impact by addressing this in our K-12 curriculum.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the 2016 provincial budget impacted adversely and directly the education programs at Beachy Cove Elementary in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s; and

WHEREAS the student population of Beachy Cove Elementary is growing exponentially and this growth is sustainable into the future; and

WHEREAS parents request the re-instatement of the previous teacher allotment formula for Beachy Cove Elementary for this year and subsequent school years to service the growth and enrolment, and be able to provide all students with equal opportunity to enrol in the French Immersion program;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to reinstate the previous teacher allocations in order to provide children of Beachy Cove Elementary the right of quality education.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as we’ve seen and we’ve had a lot of debate and dialogue here, publicly, and within the House of Assembly around the issues of a deteriorating education system, that has nothing to do with the quality of the teachers or the administrators or the support staff that we have in the education system.

It has solely do with the resources that are necessary to be able to offer proper programs like intense French Immersion; to offer programs around inclusion; to offer basic programs around physical education and proper monitoring and proper supervision; to offer other kinds of courses about extra-curricular engagement. Because the cuts that have happened to our education system this past budget, it has a detrimental effect on what’s happening in every school system.

In Beachy Cove Elementary, a community and a school that’s growing by leaps and bounds, they have unbelievable support mechanisms from the community, from the school council, from the town itself, from the administration and all the teachers; but they can only do so much in an overcrowded system, in a system that doesn’t allow the resources that are necessary, particularly when they want to. They’re committed to wanting to be able to offer a good quality full-day kindergarten, a good quality of inclusion program, good quality French immersion, good quality social programs that benefit the students and are the holistic approach to a well-rounded citizen that we want produce here, and they have restrictions.

Administrators – and you have to give them all credit everywhere in this province – do a lot with the minimal resources that they’ve been given in the last 12 months. As a matter of fact, they haven’t been given additional resources; there have been resources taken away. In some cases, they’ve been given, for full-day kindergarten, additional services there, but at the expense of other programs. While, at the same time, overburdening those kindergarten teachers to ensure they have to do additional supervision. They have to deal with inclusion challenges. They also have to deal with issues around limited space within their facilities.

So all of these have contributed to making our education system at a point where it’s starting to fall behind. The only cause here is that we’re not resourcing it properly.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this, not only Beachy Cove Elementary, but all the other school systems here about proper resources.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS emergency responders are at great risk of post-traumatic stress disorder;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enact legislation containing a presumptive clause with respect to PTSD for people employed in various front-line emergency response professions, including firefighters, emergency medical service professionals and police officers not already covered under federal legislation.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is a mater and a very important one that I’ve raised in the House last year. I’ve discussed it publicly and I can tell you I met with a number of stakeholders over recent months and look forward to meeting with more to discuss this.

PTSD goes beyond just what the prayers of the petition here are asking for, which is a presumptive clause for PTSD. PTSD is being better understood, better known, a much clearer understanding of the nuances and what’s involved in PTSD, the causes, the response, how people are impacted by PTSD and their families. It’s being better understood now than ever before. One of the problems with a personal PTSD is their ability to apply for assistance or to talk about what had caused the PTSD or the workplace stress injury.

Currently, under the rules of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, or WorkplaceNL as it is now, an injured worker, a person who becomes injured with PTSD, especially front-line responders in our province, have to be able to establish what event caused the PTSD. What’s known now, more than ever before, is that PTSD is often not caused by a single event but by a series of events or many years of workplace trauma or exposure to significant events.

What the petitioners here are asking for is a presumptive clause for people in those particular professions. As well, what’s needed, Mr. Speaker, is not only just the presumptive clause for people in front line but also other people who have the risk and exposure to PTSD in other workplaces.

The legislation should be updated. The legislation should be improved. There should be other actions that government can take to help assist and promote early intervention of those who are regularly exposed to difficult and traumatic events so that the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder and workplace stress injuries can be reduced, better understood by those who are exposed to them, and then reduced lost time and also the impact on the workers.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased today to table this petition. It’s another one I have on PTSD. I have tabled them in the past. I expect to have more that will be looking for other aspects of improvements in legislation to have a positive impact on workers throughout our province when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and workplace injuries.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Members of the House of Assembly are elected to represent the interests of their constituents; and

WHEREAS recall legislation would increase democracy in our province by making Members of the House of Assembly more accountable to their constituents;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to introduce recall legislation into the House of Assembly.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that I’ve spoken about at length in this Chamber in the past. In fact, I presented a private Member’s motion just last year, and it read: “BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House supports the introduction of legislation for the recall of elected Members of the House of Assembly, similar in principle to the legislation in effect in British Columbia, where a registered voter can petition to remove from office the member of the assembly for that voter’s district provided the voter collects signatures from more than an established percentage of voters eligible to sign the petition in that electoral district.”

So this is not a new concept. It’s a concept that has worked in other places in Canada and has worked in other places around the world. I understand the sensitivities associated with it, particularly for Members opposite, but I think it would be – when we talk about the need for democratic reform, I think it would be a step in the right direction.

Recall legislation is not a new idea. It was on the books in Alberta in 1936, in one of the US states back as far as 1908. And it’s not a rare idea. Most US states have had recall at some level of their democracy. In Canada, Alberta has had it in the past, and British Columbia has it today. So it doesn’t destabilize a democracy. Many would argue it strengthens a democracy.

So given that all three parties in this Legislature have talked about the need to modernize this institution and promote democratic reform, recall legislation seems like an easy step. There’s precedent for it. There are jurisdictions where it’s working quite well. It’s a multi-step process.

For instance, as I mentioned when I read the previous resolution, a petition has to be signed by a specific percentage of the electorate. There has to be a vote on whether to recall the Member, and there are all kinds of checks and balances along the way. So it’s not something that could simply be done flippantly or in response to a broken election promise or a bad budget or whatever the case may be.

This would be a positive step in the direction of democratic reform. There are a lot of people out there who would like to see recall legislation of some form come into our democracy. Unfortunately, that private member’s motion last year was defeated, but there’s a lot of support for it among the public. It’s an issue that I’ll continue to raise, and I hope other Members in this hon. House will raise as well.

Thank you.

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

MR. BRAZIL: East – Bell Island, Mr. Speaker. Sorry to correct you on that.

MR. SPEAKER: My apologies. Conception Bay East – Bell Island, sorry.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Sir.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the province’s youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities, as well as its youth and its families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply rely on what was rightfully considered core funding for their day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we talked about multi-year funding here and it was a good piece of legislation that we all supported, and that we want to move forward as quickly as possible; but it does bring up concerns when only a few months ago, without proper notice, a multitude of organizations, particularly youth organizations, were cut substantial parts of their core funding. And it ranged from 40 per cent to 60 per cent and has had a devastating effect on some of these organizations.

We’re hearing some organizations having to layoff some employees, some having to reduce hours of operation, some having to reduce what programs they offer – and we all know, and I attest and I would suspect most Members in this House of Assembly have been part of some youth organization that has received some form of government funding over the years. If it’s the Boys and Girls Clubs, if it’s Big Brothers Big Sisters, if its Girl Guides or Scouts, or if it’s a number of the organizations that particularly service young people in this province, they see the value.

From an economic point of view, the value here, and the business community will tell you, they generate tens of thousands of dollars for the economy because the ratio of the dollar invested in comparison to the dollar that they themselves leverage is, in some cases, 3-1, 5-1. In some cases, some organization leverage 20-1 the money that’s put in by government.

So to cut that, not only are you cutting directly that dollar figure but if you can quadruple that, in some cases, that’s what is lost to the taxpayers here. That is what is lost to our local economies, particularly all these organizations that are in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Outside of that, it’s the program money, the investment we’re getting by the amount of money being put into the economy, but the service is being provided.

If government tried to provide those services, it would be hundreds of millions of dollars. So we’re getting tens of millions of dollars invested in our economy, but we’re getting hundreds of millions of dollars of program delivery services. So that’s a positive for the people of this province.

So, Mr. Speaker, I do ask that the Minister of Finance and the Cabinet go back. It’s a minimal saving, and I mean a very minor saving in comparison; but the impact it will have on young people, the impact it will have on our society, next year, five years down the road and the next generation, it’s going to be irreversible. So I ask, go back, reassess this, put back the core funding. If you’re going to move that way, it’s a good move. Do it right at the beginning.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such a tax; and

WHEREAS a tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that’s been raised repeatedly in this House of Assembly by both Opposition parties; and it’s one we will continue to raise. We’re hearing from seniors that are affected by this book tax; we’re hearing from families that are affected by this book tax; we’re hearing from teachers, people working in the school system who are feeling the impact of the book tax. We’re hearing from university students, who spend an awful lot of money on books, who are affected by it as well.

Not to mention the impact on our culture and our heritage; our provinces artists, our provinces authors, our provinces publishers. There’s concern from a variety of sectors of our community, and for good reason. We are now the only province in Canada that has a tax on books. It’s shameful, Mr. Speaker. There is a better way.

I recognize that government in the previous budget and government in this upcoming budget has very difficult choices to make. We acknowledge that. The concern here is that the wrong choices are being made. There are far better ways to generate revenue or reduce expenditures rather than resorting to a tax on books that’s affecting our children and our families, and our schools and our seniors, and our cultural and heritage sectors in a major way. So this is a wrong move.

Then on top of that, we’ve had all the controversy surrounding our provinces libraries. They’re going to close them; they’re not going to close them. They’re going to study them; yet, failing to acknowledge the critical role that many of our libraries play in community life in this province, particularly in rural areas.

So it’s a snowball effect of multiple bad decisions that’s really affecting our communities in a negative way. This is one that just makes no sense. There are better options. There is a better way. I hope that government will come to terms with that and cancel this ill-conceived book tax that made no sense from the very beginning.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island for about a minute and a half.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there have been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K to 12 school system; and

WHEREAS the lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can and in many cases will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K to 12 school system.

And in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke to this, as we’ve already identified the stressors that are being faced by parents in their households, particularly the young people, in being able to be active in the school system and be active in social life; the challenges within our school system now with overcrowding, with blended classrooms, with some of the challenges around inclusion that there are extra stressors being added to these young people.

Society is offering extra stressors when it comes to social media and all these things. We need to ensure that young people who need some additional supports, who need some types of interventions and some types of counselling, have that available. What better place than in our school system when you have a captive audience. You have an ability to identify particular needs and deal with that.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this again and make some suggestions around some of the programs that should be implemented.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Thurday, March 9, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m going to echo the comments of my hon. colleague from St. John’s Centre; great job.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such a tax; and

WHEREAS a tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

As my colleague just stated; the Liberal solution to the challenges which face us as a province and which have faced the globe is tax, tax, tax. And what has the result been? The worst time our economy has ever been in the history of the province. The highest record number of bankruptcies; students who struggle to get to university as it is, particularly those from rural Newfoundland and Labrador, now having to pay hundreds of dollars extra per semester just because of a book tax, Mr. Speaker.

And this government likes to call itself innovative. Well, get innovative; introduce something like a junk food tax. Take the tax off the books; education is very important to our children. Our children deserve better, the Liberals promised better, and we want to see in Budget 2017 the reversal of this ill-conceived tax.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to rise today in the House to present a petition.

The hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension was announced to the Robert E. Howlett Highway on March 25, 2014; and

WHEREAS the environmental assessment, design and engineering of this project was under way; and

WHEREAS continued residential and commercial growth has increased traffic on the Southern Avalon;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to continue with the extension to the Robert E. Howlett Highway to enhance and improve traffic to the Southern Avalon.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, in regard to route 10, going south to the Southern Shore from St. John’s –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A number of years ago the Robert E. Howlett was built, basically from Bay Bulls-Big Pond, extending to Ruby Line and then to various accesses into the City of St. John’s and to Mount Pearl. Since that time, obviously it’s been heavily used, and since that time we’ve seen tremendous growth and development in parts of the Southern Shore, certainly in regard to Bauline to Bay Bulls region.

Just recently, Statistics Canada looked at that and recognized that growth in some of the largest growing communities in the region. From a residential point of view, it’s very important; but as well, from a commercial point of view, in terms of fabrication facilities. In Cape Broyle, Bay Bulls, we have the offshore base. Pennecon base in Bay Bulls just recently, you’ve heard media clips of the highway being closed in regard to moving enormous pieces of equipment to Muskrat Falls.

As well, we’ve got three processing facilities related to the fishing industry, related to the crab industry; we’ve got professionals that move back and forth into the urban centre of St. John’s. You’re 40 minutes and, in some respects, you’re just outside of the City of St. John’s.

We’re seeing a lot of growth, a lot of sub-divisions and a new school that was cancelled last year in the budget. These are initiatives that drive economic growth. If this government is serious about economic growth, you need to acknowledge where that growth is to, and that there are opportunities for expansion and you support that on a long-term basis that allow the region to grow.

So again, this is a significant piece of infrastructure; I certainly call on government and the Minister of Transportation and Works to review this, work with the parties concerned, let’s get this highway extension started, continue to grow the Southern Avalon, the economy, and for the benefit of all those that live in the region.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the recreational ground fishery is part of our culture, history and heritage; and

WHEREAS the federal government is proposing a tag system for the recreational ground fishery 2017; and

WHEREAS participants will have to purchase licence and purchase tags in order to participate in the recreational fishery;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to urge the federal government not to implement a cost fee for those participating in the recreational food fishery in 2017.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time in his Assembly that I got up on this particular petition. It’s very important to me and I know we have a lot of really serious issues in our fishery today. It’s a lack of response from the minister and this government over across the way to do anything with our fishery but our recreational fishery is very important to everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I know personally myself I get no better enjoyment the going out and jigging a codfish. I get no better enjoyment then coming home in the yard and filleting a few fish. I get no better enjoyment then giving somebody a feed a fish. That’s what we call it a feed of fish.

You know it’s a great time in our province. It’s an opportunity for us to really see who we are as people. It’s important that we be treated fairly. All I’m asking for government is to – I know the MP for Central Newfoundland, Mr. Simms, he went to some of the consultations were on the go and he’s going to urge the minister, the federal minister not to go ahead with this tag system. It’s time for our minister to urge the federal government minister, I know the Premier talks to Minister Foote every Sunday night, I wonder if one of these Sunday nights can he ask Minister Foote not to go ahead with this tag system because it’s unfair to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We like to be treated like the rest of Canada. This tag system is nowhere else in Canada. Nowhere else do people have to pay to go out and catch a cod fish.

So I ask government to really get out there and talk to the people. This fishery is so important to people. It shows who we are as a people, it’s important that our government help and make sure that this tag system doesn’t come to play.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: It’s hard to follow that, Mr. Speaker, but I’m going to try.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Marine Atlantic ferry rates continue to rise becoming increasingly more cost prohibitive; and

WHEREAS increased rates impact the cost of goods being shipped into our province, as well as those products being exported out by local businesses; and

WHEREAS tourism is negatively impacted by the ever increasing, cost prohibitive means of ground transport into the Island portion of our province;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to open a line of communication with the federal government and begin to advocate on behalf of residents and businesses of the province, not stopping until results are realized.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve raised this issue before. We will continue to raise it. There’s at last one government minister when he was in Opposition federally used to raise this issue a lot but we don’t hear so much from this government on this issue.

We spent some time in Question Period today talking about the cozy relationship between our provincial and federal government and, unfortunately, it’s only resulted in sell out so far.

So today we heard lots about the most recent sell out of our fisheries fund. Well, he’s another example of an issue where I fear that our current government will sell out Newfoundland and Labrador once again.

We need leadership. We need leadership by our provincial government and by our federal government to ensure that our constitutional rights as people of Newfoundland and Labrador are respected and honoured.

The continued increases to Marine Atlantic rates, that’s been an issue for quite some time, but given the cozy relationship that now exists between the provincial and federal government, you would hope that there would be some action instead of just endless compromise and nobody standing up for Newfoundland and Labrador.

The last time I presented a petition related to Marine Atlantic, I talked about the impact on consumers that will take place on April 1. Another group that has expressed concern about the Marine Atlantic rate increase is Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, and as of April 1, passenger and vehicle fares, as well as drop trailer fees, will increase by another 2.6 percent. Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador has said that in an industry with small businesses, any cost increases can be devastating. Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador acknowledges that there have been some service improvements over the last number years, there’s still a need for rate stabilization when it comes to Marine Atlantic. Tourism and hospitality is a growth industry for our province, so we need to do what we can to keep costs down.

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is up, I will continue to raise this issue in the House of Assembly, even if certain others won’t.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there have been an identified lack of mental health services in our provincial K-12 school system;

WHEREAS the lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers;

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can, and in many cases, will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to increase the mental health services and programs in our province’s K-12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, nearly three years ago we did something historic in this House of Assembly. We set up an All-Party Committee on Mental Health, a very important committee that was set, took the politics out of addressing issues around health, but particularly around mental health. Travelled the province, had stakeholders engaged, met with average citizens, met with educators, met with health professionals, went through a whole dialogue on how we would approach that. And in their report, and in the emphasis that was put on it was around early diagnosis, early intervention, and identifying particularly needs that may be identifiable at an early age around the issues around young people.

That was so significant, and there were processes and discussions around the types of programs and that we could put in place. There was a discussion and a scan around other jurisdictions about what programs and services would work. We’ve heard from educators, we’ve heard from school counsellors, we’ve heard from administration, we’ve heard from parents groups, we’ve heard from parents, and we’ve heard from students about the impacts that lack of programs and services, lack of education around mental health is having on their ability to cope in the school system.

We all know there are additional stressors on everybody in society but particularly young people, and particularly young people when it relates to school. We’ve started a great process of identifying how we deal with bullying. Well bullying has an impact on students in the school system from a mental health perspective. There are other signs within the school system that a teacher, a teacher’s aide, an educator, a parent, a coach would identify certain, particular things. But there are areas of training that are necessary. There are extra resources that are necessary. There are extra abilities to be able to free up staff time within a school system. There’s the actual physical resource system there, rooms where you can go in and have proper dialogue in a comfortable, safe, engaging, process. We don’t have that with overcrowded schools. We don’t have that with lack of resources. We don’t have it when we are cutting resources. We don’t have it when we have an inclusive program but we don’t have the resources to be able to make that program work efficiently. We don’t have the proper dialogue between the education system and the department, with the health department about how we look at programs that can be developed, or existing programs that can be offered within the school system.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ve petitioned this to the House in the last number of weeks and I’ll continue to do that in the near future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS emergency responders are at a greater risk of post-traumatic stress disorder;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enact legislation containing a presumptive clause with respect to PTSD for people employed in various front-line emergency response professions including firefighters, emergency medical services professionals, and police officers not already covered under federal legislation and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

And thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to rise on this again today, and this is a petition obviously regarding post-traumatic stress disorder, and this one – this particular one, and we’re going to be bringing in others in the house, but this particular one talks about first responders and presumptive legislation. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I spent 25 years as a first responder, and I know, I’ve learned more about post-traumatic stress disorder in the last year than I’ve known through my full 25 years as a first responder.

And I know that industry, medical professionals are understanding more today than we ever did before, about occupational stress injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and also the fact that under workers’ compensation legislation, a first responder has to be able to identify a single incident that caused the PTSD. And that’s not what is known today. What’s known today is that post-traumatic stress disorder is quite often the result of accumulation over a long period of time of a stress event, stress event, stress event, stress event, and a single event cannot be identified.

People are not being provided with the services and support they deserve because of that very fact, and I ask and call upon, and these petitioners call upon the government to change the legislation to provide adequate and good response to first responders and to other employees in the province who are subjected to difficult circumstances that could cause post-traumatic stress disorder.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to present a petition. To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such tax; and

WHEREAS the tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

Mr. Speaker, as every single resident of Newfoundland and Labrador knows, 2016 has been one of the worst years we as a people have seen in over a decade, and in large measure it is because of the economic shrinkage that has been imposed on our province by the regressive measures of Budget 2016.

The book tax – they’re all bad measures, and to see the Conference Board of Canada indicating we’re the only province in the country going into recession because of the policy measures that were undertaken. Certainly, it’s not the better tomorrow we were promised, and it’s far worse than any of us could have ever imagined. We are targeting the people who least can afford it at all, Mr. Speaker. The ones who have the least amount of money in their pockets are being the ones who are asked to dig into their pockets and take out more.

When I hear university students who live in rural Newfoundland and Labrador who have to face the additional burden of accommodations and meals to try and get themselves an education, come home and say, this term I spent an extra $700 on books. That’s food they could have put in their mouths that would have enabled them to enjoy healthy living. We think it is totally unacceptable. It is hurting our students, it is hurting our authors, it is hurting our book industry. It’s yet another of the many measures implemented by the Liberals that are putting this province backwards by 20 or 30 years.

We’re going to reel from Budget 2016 for a very long time, Mr. Speaker. We call upon government in Budget 2017 to start fixing some of these regressive measures and to immediately cancel the book tax.

Thank you so much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the province’s youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities, as well as its youth and families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply rely on what was rightfully considered core funding for their day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we already know that a number of youth organizations in this province have taken a dramatic hit for the last year. Unfortunately, they only got notice seven months into that year where they had already allocated their budgets; they’d already spent money that they were anticipating would get. From their perspective and the perspective of a lot of people, including a lot of civilian servants that I had spoken to, this was core funding. It was part and parcel of continuous funding they had gotten, in some cases, for 37 years, but all of a sudden that was wiped out, or cut dramatically.

In those cases, what happened, organizations had to not only try to recover the money they’ve already spent and realign their budgets, but they also had to deal with a shortfall. Now we’re into a second fiscal situation here. As part of that, they now have to budget again to make up the shortfall and the 60 per cent cut in a lot of cases. It’s just not possible.

In some of these organizations, particularly the communities that they reside in, they are part and parcel of what they do, the core, of providing services. They’re providing services at a tenth of the cost that it would cost government to do it. So from a business point of view, the benefit to government investing with these organizations or partnering with them is of very high benefit for the taxpayers because we’re getting a ten-fold return on our investment, plus we’re having people who are qualified to have a partnership developed between other entities of municipal and federal governments, with other private sector partners, to be able to provide those services.

From the economy of scale, as has already been noted from the economists and the reports that have been done, these organizations leverage anywhere from 4 per cent to 20 per cent return on their investment, so when we’re giving them money not only are we asking them to provide a valued service that they’re capable of doing – not only capable, they’re the professionals. They have the experience. They have, in a lot of cases, national and international organizations who feed into their training modes, new programs and services; how they best identify gaps in services to young people; and how they develop their partnerships and how they promote their programs.

So we already have an entity in play that we should be not only partnering with, but we should be actually investing more because if we invest in the frontend, we’re going to save dramatically on the backend. But for some reason, the exercise was purely about cutting money without realizing the benefits here.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to present this numerous times over the next few weeks and outline how this is a detriment to the people of this province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union presents new trade opportunities; and

WHEREAS the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a historic trade relationship with the United Kingdom; and

WHEREAS the two regions may mutually benefit from trade opportunities;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to develop an economic strategy that capitalizes on trade opportunities between the United Kingdom and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, in the past when I’ve raised this issue and presented similar petitions, I focused on some of the history of Brexit and the opportunities it presents for Newfoundland and Labrador, and why the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation should make a concerted effort to capitalize on that. Beyond just doing the normal day-to-day activities of the department, beyond just continuing the trade work in the department that’s been going on for years. There’s an incredible opportunity before us because of Brexit. We have a historic trade relationship with the United Kingdom.

I’d like to elaborate a little bit on why we should build on that because it’s really about opportunity – opportunity to strengthen ties between the UK and Newfoundland and Labrador; opportunities to increase trade to support the province’s economy; opportunities to create jobs so that hard-working families in Newfoundland and Labrador have the dignity of work. I believe that our province must seize that rare opportunity. Never again will the opportunity so plainly present itself to re-found and improve the trade between the UK and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Because a queue has already formed, from Australia to India, from Ghana to New Zealand, all searching to open the British economy, which is actually the fifth largest in the world, all seeking to open it to their products and services. We can’t afford to be at the back of that line. Jobs depend on it, and I’m calling on government to act, as are the petitioners that I’m speaking on behalf of here today. I think it can be part of a wider plan to diversify the economy.

I know that folks in the United Kingdom will continue to buy our seafood and our oil and our iron, but there are other parts of life in Newfoundland and Labrador that could also be sold back in the UK. Right now, you can buy maple syrup from Quebec in the UK, but you can’t buy Newfoundland and Labrador bakeapple jam. There are bars in London that sell some liquors that are produced in our Arctic, but you can’t find Iceberg gin, made on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are a lot of people from the UK who go to the mainland for vacations, but we could attract more of them to Newfoundland and Labrador when you consider our scenery, our culture and the warm welcome that’s found here. So there’s an opportunity here; great prosperity can lie ahead if we pursue it, but we need to make a concerted effort to do so.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m certainly glad today to present this petition to the House.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government plans to cut the number of supervisors in Transportation and Works depots; and

WHEREAS this will lead to a decrease in the monitoring and upkeep of road conditions; and

WHEREAS the cuts to Trepassey depot would negatively impact the quality and safety of the roads in the Trepassey area;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to take necessary actions to ensure that supervisory staff and equipment remain in the Trepassey depot so staff are able to monitor road conditions, dispatch crews and equipment, as needed.

And, as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that’s come up over the past number of weeks. This petition here has approximately 300 to 400 names from the region, from Portugal Cove South to Trepassey, which is very fundamental in regard to the equipment, the supervisory position and oversight being there to, first and foremost, be able to identify road conditions and to be able to dispatch equipment to make sure that the highway is in a safe condition for the residents.

On either side, I think there’s been speculation that some will be moved to St. Joseph’s, which is a far distance away. As well, on the other side, if you go towards Renews and that area, you have Trepassey barrens. The weather conditions on both sides certainly can be very stormy; you have high winds. So it’s certainly important that that equipment and, as well, the supervisory capacity stay in Trepassey area.

Now, I have spoken to the minister, the Minister of Transportation and Works. Some time ago he indicated to me that the depot was not going to close. That’s good, but we’re still waiting for clarity from the communities. I recognize I sent that off to the minister and I’m waiting to hear back on what actually is going to happen with the supervision and the actual equipment. It’s fine to have the depot there in the wintertime but if that’s not staffed or don’t have the equipment there and it’s got to come from other regions of the area, the Southern Avalon, that’s not conducive or appropriate to a level of care that’s required. Whether it’s normal resident traffic, whether it’s for employment or, even more importantly, necessary in an emergency situations where we get an ambulance, or a fire department, or someone needs to respond and respond outside of that region, which is extremely important.

So these are issues that I’ve brought to the House today. As I said, there are almost 400 signatures here from those in that region, from the municipalities, from the local service district, urging government and the minister to take a look at this, and to ensure that the winter service that is there now is kept whole and ensure that the quality and level of service for the people in that region are maintained. We certainly urge the government and urge the minister to act on this and act quickly.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth;

WHEREAS smaller class sizes, adequate learning environments and effective curriculums are paramount to success of our youth; and

WHEREAS recent budget decisions have negatively impacted student supports, educational resources and teacher allocations; and

WHEREAS the provincial education system should ensure that each child has the ability to reach his or her full potential;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enhance the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador; introduce initiatives which ensure smaller class sizes, which will provide more sufficient personal space per child and allow more individual learning opportunities; develop effective curriculums which enable youth to develop both life skills and optimal academic achievements; provide resources to ensure a fully beneficial inclusive model is in place; and to ensure all children in our province have equal standards of education in their learning environment.

And, as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as you’ve noticed over the last year, there’s been a big discussion and big influx of parents, educators, community leaders, organizers of non-for-profit organizations, leaders of agencies that represent those who have a stake in the education system, coming out and saying we need to be cognizant of the cuts to education.

Last year’s cuts were devastating enough. We’re seeing indication that not only are there going to be enhancements in the education system, but we’re seeing indications there is going to be additional cuts. We’re seeing it with the increased class size and we’re hearing rumours that larger schools will go from 27 to 29 on their cap sizes and end up losing more teacher units within that.

We talked about yesterday – we had a three-hour debate around inclusive education and all the impacts there. So we’re asking to still continue the inclusive education and the Department of Education and the school boards are saying no, this is part of our policy and our philosophy, but we’re not going to put the resources there.

We’ve got parents from all over the province – this is a group now who’ve taken it upon themselves to petition the people of this province and they’ve got hundreds and, no doubt, within the next few weeks they’ll have thousands. Some of the names on this are in the Clarenville area. I’ve got a number from there that go to the West Coast. They go from the Northern Peninsula. I even got some from Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the issues around education it’s not isolated to one particular region or one particular school, or one particular grade area or a particular need in a certain subject area. This is about a holistic, inclusive process of education. It’s about ensuring those who have some challenges are taken care of; those who need some additional supports in the midstream and those who are high achievers all have an ability to have adequate education and not be stressed, but let’s also add in to the people who provide that. They’ve gone out, got a proper education, have taken this as their vocation to come in and enhance the minds and the ability for our young people to be productive citizens in the future and move on to post-secondary.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to present this petition and many more around improving our education system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in the hon. House to present this petition today:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS fisheries policy regulations link harvesting quotas to vessel length for several species; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own fishing vessels of various sizes, but because of policy regulations are restricted to using smaller vessels, often putting their crews at risk;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to make representation to the federal government and encourage change in policy to ensuring safety of fish harvesters in the province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I really wanted to present this petition today, because as I mentioned today in Question Period, and I know quite well because I had family members yesterday that put their crab pots on their boats, and I know that in the next couple of weeks and this time of year it’s very difficult, as we see the weather coming today. It’s not a real good time of the year to be on the water, it’s pretty rough out there.

So what I want to do today is just to say to our harvesters that are out there on the water, to be safe. It’s important for them to be able to catch their catch, we understand, and understand what’s happening in the fishery today. There is a major decline in shrimp, a major decline in crab. While the cod stocks are showing coming back, but they’re not coming back as much as we want.

I think the main thing I want to emphasize to harvesters in this province is to be safe on the water. Too often we see Newfoundlanders and Labradorians take risks, and risks that I can understand why they’re doing it, but risks that I don’t want to see any family members have to go through what we normally go through on a regular basis, and that’s tragedy at sea.

My entire message today is be safe. We know the crab fishery will start in the next couple of weeks, and the other fisheries will follow after. I just hope and pray that all fishermen and harvesters in this province will come home safe.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 3, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present the following petition. To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS emergency responders are at great risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD; and

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enact workers’ compensation legislation containing a presumptive clause with respect to PTSD for people employed in various front line emergency response professions, including firefighters, emergency medical service professionals, and police officers not already covered under federal legislation.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, it’s not the first time I’ve spoken on this very serious matter, and we haven’t heard any response from government on it yet, or any indication of giving it some serious consideration. What we do know is post-traumatic stress disorder is common amongst first responders in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have a combination of first responders and types. We have first responders who are career paid employees, and we have first responders who are volunteer-based. And, Mr. Speaker, I would go as far as to say all are professionals in the work that they do, have a variety of training, depending on the roles and responsibilities. I can also say that –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. P. DAVIS: – for all of us to say that emergency responders take their jobs very seriously and face difficult and challenging times when never wanting to or never looking to do so but having to do so because of the circumstances that exist from time to time, emergencies, a disaster, chaotic situations and the like that occur in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, currently, under current workers’ compensation legislation, a person filing a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder has to identify the event that caused the post-traumatic stress disorder. We know that more so than ever before, that in many times it’s impossible for a first responder to identify an event that caused PTSD.

It is better known as time goes on and through practice and through greater understanding of occupational stress injuries, and particularly post-traumatic stress disorder, that quite often it’s an accumulation of stressors and exposure to events over a long period of time. Sometimes it could be decades before a post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed and understood in an individual first responder, and that person really begins to come to terms with the impacts of post-traumatic stress disorder; therefore, the workers’ compensation needs to be reviewed.

Government needs to ensure that actions and steps are being taken so that first responders understand the stressors, the stress that happens when placed in chaotic and stressful situations, understand how they feel and how their bodies will react, and also other ways to prevent illness at a later time. Understanding is one of those, but when a person becomes ill with post-traumatic stress disorder it is incumbent upon legislation to be in line, to help and assist those first responders, not to be an obstacle as it is today. This is about changing legislation for workers’ compensation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Marine Atlantic ferry rates continue to rise, becoming increasingly more cost prohibitive; and

WHEREAS increased rates impact the cost of goods being shipped into our province, as well as those products being exported out by local business; and

WHEREAS tourism is negatively impacted by the ever-increasing, cost-prohibitive means of ground transport into the Island portion of our province;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to open a line of communications to the federal government to begin and advocate on behalf of the residents and businesses of this province, not stopping until the results are realized.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this issue has been brought forward to this House on numerous occasions via petitions from me and some others Members of our Official Opposition. It’s a very important issue facing us. As we know, it’s our link to the mainland under the terms of union, Marine Atlantic.

It’s something that’s been subsidized by the federal government as per their obligation. These increasing rates are becoming more of the norm in the last number of years. There was a time when those rates were increasing and some Members opposite were the most vocal opponents to those rate increases. But we find now, with this new, renewed relationship with Ottawa, it’s harder to find some criticisms of these rate increases.

With this newfound relationship, I think it would be incumbent upon them to use that great relationship to talk about this issue. Instead of they just accepting it and saying thank you very much, and okay the rates are increasing, we will deal with it.

It was deafening. When the rates were increased in previous years, they were very, very vocal, and rightfully so – as we are now. There is disconnect now. Because of the party stripes, it’s not cool to be criticizing your federal counterparts at a time like this over increases that affect each and every one of us. Whether it’s your grocery shelves, whether it’s an automotive store, whether it’s a tourist coming, it affects pretty well right across the province. The cost of transportation to get to the Island, if you’re not flying in, coming through North Sydney during the winter and Argentia in the summer, these rates and results effect consumers. They’re very important, and it’s meaningful to people. It’s one of those hidden costs. You see it slowly creep up, but it is additional costs of crossing the North Atlantic, North Sydney.

As a government, every issue bears importance. If it has a negative impact on our economy and our citizens, it is incumbent upon the government of today, regardless who is in Ottawa, to stand up for our rights and be vocal and to lobby to get those rates more in line with people’s affordability.

Those rates lately, if anyone has noticed, the increase in those rates is getting to the point where it is becoming very cost prohibitive. I encourage government opposite to use their newfound relationship to do something about these rates.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the government has not implemented curriculum to teach the basic monetary skills needed by our youth; and

WHEREAS the government of our province has the responsibility to act in the best interests of our youth; and

WHEREAS the youth of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and consideration;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to introduce financial education into provincial curriculum to prepare youth for the monetary and financial challenges of life upon entering the workforce.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we know, there’s no doubt, there are challenges in our education system from every level, but our education system has as one of its key objectives, is preparing our students, upon graduation and as they transition through different levels of our secondary school system, to move into post-secondary or move into a career within the realms of their particular specialty or something that they feel is going to be their contribution to our society, to prepare them for that.

Too often we hear about – one of the largest numbers that’s increasing is bankruptcy amongst young people. When they come out in their first job, it’s probably the first time that they’ve had disposable income from their perspectives, they move into a financial situation where there are enticements to be able to buy vehicles or homes or certain things or specialized things because interest rates are low or there are no down payments. That’s all part of the business philosophy, getting people to buy certain products.

Young people not understanding, when they come out, exactly what impact that may have on them financially is a detriment to our whole society; it burdens them with debt. It prevents them from, in some cases, being able to transition to other careers. In some cases, going back to a post-secondary education institution to upgrade or take a different line of a career path that they’d like to do.

It sometimes has a major effect on relationships because of the burden. It prevents them from being able to do certain things from an investment point of view because they’re not familiar with it.

So what we’re saying is, and there have been discussions, this is not new. My days as a civil servant going back, and we used to have, the Crown agency was then the Youth Advisory Council. Part of the discussions around there, and that goes back to the early ’80s, young people had said they need to be prepared for understanding the financial restrictions, the financial challenges but also some of the financial privileges that young people will have in their livelihood.

Part of the issue here becomes we don’t emphasize enough of that, and we’re not saying take away from some of the other key things in our curriculum. There are a number of courses that are offered within our school system from civics and some of the other things that could build into it, a key component around financial responsibility, financial understanding. The world has changed. Now we do electronic transfers. We’re doing purchasing online. People knowing about what interest rates mean, knowing what credit cards are and some of the things that (inaudible).

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to that again, but we think this is another thing that could enhance our education system and help our students be better prepared as they move forward as productive citizens.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there has been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K-12 school system; and

WHEREAS this lack of services is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can and, in many cases, will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K-12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, given I was asked to present this petition, I felt compelled to do so in the House of Assembly, but I would draw people’s attention to the recent All-Party Committee report on mental health and addictions. I’m quite pleased, as I know Members on all sides of the House are, that there are specific recommendations related directly to our school system and the need to improve access to mental health programs and services for students in our K-12 education system.

I’m also pleased that the All-Party Committee had an opportunity to meet with the task force on educational outcomes, and ensure that some of the issues that we were hearing about, through our work, were also on the radar of that task force as it reviews our education system and makes recommendations to improve the system as well.

Mental health is a major challenge in our society today. It’s not just a challenge for government; it’s a challenge for communities and it’s a challenge for virtually every family in Newfoundland and Labrador and across the country as well. There’s an opportunity to help young people through the school system to access the services they need.

So in the recent All-Party Committee report there’s a call to ensure that there are interdisciplinary teams available to provide support to young people in the school system who are in need of support, to work with students and to work with families as well.

There was also a recognition that there needs to be curriculum changes as well to ensure that there’s age-appropriate mental health education that will raise awareness and reduce stigma and help young people be better prepared to deal with any mental health challenges that may arise, and have that embedded directly into the K-12 curriculum.

So those are positive steps. I do have a high degree of confidence that government will implement the recommendations that are outlined in the All-Party Committee report.

This is still an important issue, and I’m pleased to raise it on behalf of constituents who have signed this petition. I hope we will see prompt action to follow through on those recommendations, and to be honest, Mr. Speaker, I believe we will, because it’s the right thing to do.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS smaller class sizes, adequate learning environments and effective curriculums are paramount to success of our youth; and

WHEREAS recent budget decisions have negatively impacted student supports, educational resources and teaching allocations; and

WHEREAS the provincial education system should ensure that each child has the ability to reach his or her full potential;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enhance the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador; introduce initiatives which ensure smaller class sizes which will provide more sufficient personal space per child and allow more individual learning opportunities; develop effective curriculums which will enable youth to develop both life skills and optimal academic achievement; provide resources to ensure a fully beneficial inclusion model is in place and to ensure all children in our province have equal standard of education in their learning environment.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve had this debate for the last number of months, as parents and educators and administrators and service organizations get a better understanding of the negative impacts that recent cuts are having to our education system. The impact – they are not only having on the immediate students in our system, but they can see the long-term effects they’re going to have on our society as students don’t meet their full potential. Some fall behind and some miss opportunities that may shape the careers they would have.

For example, intensive core French, being able to get educated in a particular area where that may open up certain avenues for longevity in a certain career; talking about not making particular investments in infrastructure around schools because of class sizes and all the impacts it has on that; ensuring that the system itself is conducive to what we want to do in our province here for learning.

This group of individuals, which are province-wide now, have taken it upon themselves to petition the government, and they have given me the honour of sharing the petitions to the House of Assembly outlining their concerns. As they come in, you see them, they’re from all parts of the province, they’re from Labrador; but, they have a common concern. Class sizes, lack of curriculum, impacts on teachers and administrators, supervision, access to certain programs and services, the resources that are necessary.

We know there are some challenges there, but when you’re making priority decisions they have to be around the longevity and the benefits of your society. What better way to do that than investing in your young people, and particularly investing in their education. So it’s very important that we continue to lobby to ensure that not only no further cuts take place, because that will totally devastate the education system, but the ones that were put in place last year, the cuts that have happened have to be reversed. There has to be a movement to invest more money.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to present this petition and many others as the weeks go by.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such tax; and

WHEREAS the tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province, as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to cancel this ill-conceived book tax immediately.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is the last opportunity we have before Budget 2017 is brought down to implore upon our colleagues opposite to eliminate this regressive tax in tomorrow’s budget. As well as many of the other regressive taxes that have resulted in the worst economy we’ve seen in this province in decades.

This book tax in particular is harming our young people, it’s harming our seniors, it’s harming our entrepreneurs. We cannot afford to withstand much more of this type of regressive policies and continue to have hope for this province, because education is the very foundation, as we hear so many people get up and speak about in this House, the very foundation of economic growth, economic stability. We are calling upon this government to eliminate this tax in tomorrow’s budget.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 10, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Adult Dental Program coverage for clients of the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program under the Access and 65Plus Plans were eliminated in Budget 2016; and

WHEREAS many low-income individuals and families can no longer access basic dental care; and

WHEREAS those same individuals can now no longer access dentures;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the government to reinstate the Adult Dental Program to cover low-income individuals and families to better ensure oral health, quality of life and dignity.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, moments ago, we heard another Member raise concerns about one of the cuts that we experienced in the previous budget that still remains in this current budget that was recently announced. That related to the book tax that’s now in place. Well, the cuts to the Adult Dental Program and to the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program should not be forgotten either.

This budget, this year, is just as hard on low-income families and just as hard on seniors living on fixed incomes in our province than the last one. Of the 300 new taxes and fees, only one was partially adjusted; the other 299 remain in place. So that’s what we’re dealing with in this year’s budget.

People are finding it harder to live here. People are finding it harder to work here. This year’s budget does nothing to address those concerns. So today, I’m rising to present this petition on behalf of low-income families, on behalf of low-income individuals, particularly seniors who are struggling with the cost of living and struggling to meet some of their basic needs.

During the previous administration, the Adult Dental Program was created. There was major expansion and improvement to the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program. So it’s really hard to watch that being undone in the last budget and again in this year’s Liberal budget.

Seniors are dealing with increased costs for home care. Home care hours were cut over the past year as a result of Liberal government decisions. There were cuts to the Prescription Drug Program that affects seniors, low-income individuals and others as well. There was a reduction in diabetic test strips that are available to individuals living with diabetes in our province.

As I said, people are dealing with an increased cost of living as a result of changes that this government made. This budget is no better than last year’s budget. People are still struggling and some of their basic needs will no longer be met as a result of decisions by the Liberal government.

There is a better way, Mr. Speaker, and the decisions that have been made by this government are just simply irresponsible and people deserve better.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there’s been an identified lack of mental health services in our provincial K-12 school system; and

WHEREAS the lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can and, in many cases, will develop to more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K-12 school system.

And as is duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had an opportunity to present this numerous times. When I look at it, right now it’s come from at least 15 different communities, from the North Coast into the Northeast Avalon. These here are coming from places like Port de Grave, Bay Roberts and Bareneed. So it shows that parents, educators, the general public, have a real concern around this. We’ve come a long way, particularly with the All-Party Committee on Mental Health where they identified a number of interventions and a number of solutions, once enacted, that will start addressing some of the issues around mental health.

Some of the issues were around early detection, early intervention and early supports. I know a number of people who presented to the committee have noted that. Some were educators and some were parents who had ran into some stumbling blocks over the years in not being able to have their kids identified with potential services that were needed. Educators were frustrated that those services weren’t available when they identified the needs for the students.

So what’s being asked here is that if we’re going to solve and we’re going to address the issue of mental health and make better awareness so that we can partner with other agencies that can provide particular services, we need to start at the younger ages. We need to identify particular issues or particular signs that may need to be addressed early so that they don’t flourish into something more serious and have a more dramatic effect on those individuals and our society as a whole and it then, in turn, has an effect on their ability to be productive citizens. If they’re having problems within our school system, that obviously is going to have an impact on whether or not they’re successful in that, what role they play in post-secondary, what role they play in the job market.

The intent here is to identify a lot of good things that are happening in mental health. The awareness is out there. Everybody agrees we need to address it. What’s being said here is don’t just deal with the immediate, serious issues that we’re having around mental health issues that have been identified by particular older groups. What we’re saying is if we start addressing them at the early ages, we’re going to do a better service for those who are engaged. We’re going to ensure that they have a better opportunity to be productive citizens. We’re going to, in the long run, in the economy of scale, save money for people in our province.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this again, but I think it’s a very important thing and it goes well with the mental health awareness program that we’re moving forward.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there has been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K-12 school system; and

WHEREAS this lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can and, in many cases, will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K-12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve often talked in this House of Assembly, particularly in recent years with the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, of the seriousness of mental health issues. We often talk in this House of the importance of our children and how they are the future.

In terms of mental health, if left unchecked, children will carry mental health issues throughout their entire lives. We feel it is of critical importance to ensure that early intervention can and does take place. The school system, Mr. Speaker, is the ideal place for this to happen.

In many of the presentations that we were fortunate to receive during the all-party consultations on mental health and addictions, this issue was raised over and over and over again. While we recognize that there are challenges with respect to fiscal restraints in this province, we also know that money is forthcoming from the federal government for mental health and we have to make priorities. We think increasing the budget for mental health services in K-12 will have benefits for centuries to come, and we call upon government to seriously consider it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m honoured to rise in the House today and present the following petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS infertility is not an inconvenience; it is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction; and

WHEREAS infertility affects men and women equally; and

WHEREAS treating infertility is excessively expensive and cost prohibitive; and

WHEREAS infertility impairs the ability of individuals and couples to conceive children and begin to build a family;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to implement a program that assists individuals and couples, allowing them access to affordable in vitro fertilization services.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, there are some programs to support couples and individuals dealing with fertility issues in our province. There are programs that exist through Eastern Health, but for quite some time there have been families calling on government to do more and to provide some services that are not offered here but are offered elsewhere, often at great expense to families in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I was contacted recently by a constituent who wanted these concerns brought to the House of Assembly and asked me to present a petition in that regard. So rather than provide my own commentary today on that petition, I’d like to share some of her words with this hon. House.

She’s writing about concerns we all have about getting IVF coverage in the province: I feel like fertility is something that is taken for granted by most people and taboo for those who actually go through it and, because of this, it is not talked about. Everyone will go to the fertility clinic, get their test procedures and try to forget about it. I think it’s about time that people start looking at the clinic as a relief and exciting experience, knowing that finally there will be a solution.

The last thing that should influence a person’s emotions and decision making at the clinic is finances. No one should have to remortgage, take out a loan or sell the things we have worked so hard to get. Most people are worried about saving money for maternity leave, when people with fertility issues have to owe so much money from the beginning.

I feel like I shouldn’t complain about something unless I’m going to do something to help solve the problem, so that’s why I’m contacting you. I think it’s about time the government actually start something that the rest of the country can look up to, instead of merely following along. Why wait until every other province offers fertility treatment? I think that we should join Ontario and Quebec and cover fertility treatments. I am willing to give out a petition if you’re willing to present my concerns.

Today, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to do so. Mr. Speaker, I know I’m running out of time. This is an important issue. It affects many families in my district and districts across the province. I look forward to discussing it further in the House of Assembly in the weeks ahead.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the province’s youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities, as well the youth and families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply rely on what was rightfully considered core funding for their day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations immediately.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had an opportunity to speak to this a number of times but, more importantly, I had an opportunity to speak to a number of youth organizations who have been affected by the dramatic cuts that were implemented last year but announced six months later, at a time when most of these organizations had already committed that part of the funding that they had taken forever and a day as being core funding. So not only did they now have less money, they’d already spent money, had to readjust their budgets to make up for lost revenue, and then also absorb the full cost of the impact on the cuts. Some was up to 60 per cent of the core funding.

Move forward, five months later, we’re into it again, where that same 60 per cent cut is no longer part of their budget lines. So they’re now really struggling in a lot of cases to find ways to adjust and provide the services that are very valuable to the people of this province, particularly the young people.

Inherent in our society is that government has a responsibility to support, particularly agencies that go out of their way to enhance education, social inclusion, healthy well-being, physical health. All these are important components of what we do in our society and what we’re responsible for.

From a business point of view, when we have an organization that can leverage four to five times as much money for programs and services than we invest, then that’s a good business plan. If you add into that that government would be responsible for providing those same services at a much higher cost, you now look at it and you’ve got a dual benefit for having a partnership developed with organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs or Big Brothers Big Sisters, or Scouts and Guides or all the youth organizations who do valued work out there for providing these type of services.

We’ve talked about things around mental health. What better organization to deal with some of the mental health issues in our society than youth organizations who have professionals who are trained around the focus of inclusion and ensuring that young people get the best provided service possible? So this in itself is an inherent ability for government to partner with organizations who, in a lot of cases, have provincial bodies that oversee what they do and support it, have national bodies and, in a number of cases, international organizations that support that.

You have a wealth of knowledge. You have people from various backgrounds, from education backgrounds, from social work backgrounds to health backgrounds helping design programs and services that we can avail of and use for the people of this province.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this again and show that the investment that should be made is a benefit to all taxpayers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 1, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Adult Dental Program coverage for clients of the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial drug program under the Access and 65Plus Plans were eliminated in Budget 2016; and

WHEREAS many low-income individuals and families can no longer access basic dental care; and

WHEREAS those same individuals can now no longer access dentures;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the Adult Dental Program to cover low-income individuals and families to better ensure oral health, quality of life and dignity.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve spoken to this issue pre-budget and I was hopeful and optimistic that this issue would be addressed somehow during Budget 2017. The cuts that were made in Budget 2016 were disastrous. They had a particularly harsh impact on low-income families, on seniors, on some of the individuals that were accessing the Adult Dental Program through the Access and 65Plus Plans.

That program was one that was created under the previous administration, and the Liberal Opposition often called for improvements and expansion to that program. So we were quite surprised to see the program wiped out in 2016. We’re hopeful that considering the impact it had on people’s lives that we’d see some change in 2017, but we did not.

We saw a budget in 2016 with 300 new taxes and fees and only one of those partially adjusted in the 2017 budget. So we’ve got 299 new taxes and fees, some of which have only come into effect in recent months. None of that was fixed through Budget 2017.

Vital social programs, like the Adult Dental Program, were cut in 2016 and there was nothing done to address that in 2017. So that’s a major concern. It’s a major concern for, particularly, seniors.

We have seniors that are also dealing with increased costs for home care. Home care hours were cut over the past year and there were no improvements in that area in this recent budget. There were cuts to the Prescription Drug Program that affects seniors and low-income individuals. There was a reduction in diabetic test strips that are available to individuals living with diabetes in our province.

People are facing an increased cost of living on top of all of that as a result of all those new taxes and fees. This is really unfortunate. It’s irresponsible to see this kind of cut in health care. The Adult Dental Program should be restored to support those that are in need of care and in need of support.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m pleased to rise today to present this petition on behalf of a large group in my district.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS public recruitment is ongoing at Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has undertaken support to commitments made in the nomination documents of the World Heritage Committee;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately restrict the public recruitment process for Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site to qualified people from the local area so that people from the area are carefully and thoughtfully vetted for the position in an open, fair and transparent process.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve spoken before here in this House in regard to Mistaken Point and the tremendous opportunity it gives to the Southern Avalon and all of Newfoundland and Labrador in, I believe to be, our fourth UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, and what that means, as I said, for the province as a whole, and I believe it’s the 18th in Canada. It looks to bring tremendous opportunity to the region, but also a structured and formal approach to ensure that these fossils, 500 to 600 million years aged, are protected and preserved.

Out of the dossier that was submitted in regard to getting World Heritage status, one of the requirements, or one of the things supported was that a benefit would accrue to the local community and regions. Certainly, one of those benefits would be that those who are qualified have a good understanding of the cultural, academic and technical experience of that site would be able to qualify for positions in the area; and, in so doing, they would live in the community and support this site going forward and what it brings to the area.

So this evolved from the community, from the region, several hundred names, I believe, here in total. There was some concern – I’ve addressed it with the minister in regard to how the process was going. I think immediately the process for four new positions went public rather than internally and locally to the region, I understand, which is allowed under the current legislation and current process in place. Certainly there are huge concerns with the region that we’re not exercising the great opportunities and possibilities for the people in the region.

I know of some myself who have worked there over the summer. Some have gone off and got various degrees from different universities, and from all we hear are certainly well-suited to fill these positions. We just want to ensure that government and the minister recognizes this and makes sure every opportunity and every benefit we can ensure is vetted with the community and with the people in the region is maximized, because that’s what it’s all about, and asking the minister to take a look at this to make sure every possibility, as I said, for employment and benefit to the region is secured, because this is something on the Southern Avalon that’s important to the region, certainly important to the people here, and it’s a great economic development and sustainability, and bodes well for the future. I’m asking them to take a real look at this and make sure it’s done properly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there’s been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K to 12 school system; and

WHEREAS the lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can and, in many cases, will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K to 12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had the opportunity to present this and every time I present it, there are obviously some viewers out there or there are people who pass on the message, or there’s another petition that comes in that acknowledges the challenges within our school system, and the importance of having programs and services to address the particular needs that young people and our student population are facing in the education system around mental health.

We know society has changed dramatically over the last number of years and there’s a multitude of challenges within the education system. But within society, as young people grow up, and to identify and support mental health issues is the key component to ensure that our students have the ability to be successful through our school system, and then move on to post-secondary and to whatever other process they use in their adult lives to be able to be contributing members of society and be able to have the best quality of life as possible.

Mr. Speaker, as we look at it, we know there’s a multitude of programs and services that we’ve improved in our school system over the years, but we still are lacking a better approach to mental health and better preventative and identifying processes in advance.

We went through Estimates this morning for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and while there’s no doubt great work being done by educators and great work being done by our school administrators, there are still challenges that they face because they don’t have the resources. They don’t have the lead coming from the department to foster that.

They don’t have somebody organizing or developing partnerships with the private sector and the not-for-profit sector who have a speciality in this area, who have an ability to identify how we implement programs and services; how we best serve them; how we use technology go get services out there; how we use the medical profession to be able to identify early signs of mental health issues; how we use the existing volunteer sector and peer counselling within our own school systems, older students supporting and counselling younger students, students who are on the same class (inaudible), processes around empathy and supportive mechanisms there.

So, Mr. Speaker, it’s an identified issue here. We had a great committee, an All-Party Committee that identified a multitude of challenges within the mental health community because they listened to those people who were facing it, they listened to the professionals who have a skill set, they listened to those who have done the research, and they looked at how things are being addressed in other areas and some of the positive things that have happened and some of the challenges that they’ve had and have come up with a set of recommendations to be implemented. In that, are a set of recommendations about how we address early identification of mental health issues, and particularly around students and how we foster that in the school system and how we support that.

So we need to not only take what the committee has identified and put that as a recommendation, but we also have to take into play what our own educators and our own society said.

Mr. Speaker, I want to present this and I’ll have a chance to speak to it again.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such a tax; and

WHEREAS the tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve risen time and time again, as have my colleagues on this side of the House sitting over here in Opposition, to oppose this tax which is really hurting the people of our province, in particular, our students, our children and our aspiring authors and musicians.

It’s very unfortunate to see the regression that has occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador since Budget 2016 and it continues to happen today. I think many of us in this province were very hopeful that government would take measures to rectify some of the damage they caused with Budget 2016, but we didn’t see it happen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. PERRY: And so I call upon government to consider it.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member’s time wasn’t up.

MS. PERRY: Oh.

MR. SPEAKER: I’m asking Members to lower the volume of your conversations. I’m finding it difficult to hear the Member recognized to speak.

The hon. Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you.

Thank you for your protection, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes the House can get quite loud here.

Certainly we do call upon government to look at reversing this tax in particular and a lot of the taxes that you’ve brought in. You’re hurting the economy, you’re hurting our students, you’re hurting our authors and you’re hurting our book industry.

It’s time to start turning things around and turn this into the province that we all know it can be. We all know that by lowering taxes you stimulate growth and you encourage growth. It’s time for government to revisit its budget and start eliminating some of these taxes which are hurting us.

Thank you so much.

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS fisheries policy regulations link harvesting quotas to vessel length for several species; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own fishing vessels of various sizes, but because of policy regulations are restricted to using smaller vessels, often putting their crews into danger;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to make representation to the federal government to encourage them to change policy, thus ensuring the safety of fish harvesters in our province.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, as we speak this time of year, it’s very important that a lot of harvesters are out on the water and there are many issues. I spoke to harvesters this weekend that were out. There’s a lot of ice offshore and there’s a lot of – and we all know what our weather is like.

With reduction in a lot of quotas – I know it has nothing to do with the size of the vessels, but we should be encouraging the Minister of Fisheries also to talk to the federal government about a buddy-up system, especially when it comes to the shrimp this year where a lot of shrimp harvesters are looking at a reduction in area 6. They’re talking about half a load to go and get, and it’s the feasibility of that alone. If they were allowed to buddy up, their trip would be a whole lot better for the harvesters because of less cost. So that’s something the minister should be looking at also.

We have vessel size due to the crab that a certain size of vessel is used on the inshore, a certain size of vessel is used in mid-shore and certain size of vessel is used offshore. So if we have harvesters that are fishing three of those different areas, they have to use three different vessels.

For the safety of people on the water, this is a regulation that I understand why it came in in the first place. It came in so the inshore fishery and the people that had those licences could go catch, because the small inshore fishery boats were what were designed to use in the inshore fishery. Now that this fishery is in full swing, people buy these licences, the policy doesn’t make sense. The policy should be changed so that harvesters can use larger boats to fish these inshore and mid-shore fisheries. It’s all about safety and it’s all about ensuring that people get home to their families in the evening.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the province’s youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities, as well as its youth and families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply rely on what was rightly considered core funding for these day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I’ve had the opportunity to present this over the last number of months because we continue to get petitions from every sector in our province. Particularly those who deal with youth organizations and not for profits, but from every corner of our province, because they see the importance youth organizations have and they see the devastating effect it’s going to have with these cuts.

People must understand, and particularly government has to understand, it’s not only the impact of cutting the core funding here. It’s the 300 other fees and taxes they’ve imposed on the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador that they have had a financial impact on the financial viability of these organizations, particularly around their expenditures.

Obviously, when you lose your revenues you have to look at your expenditure cuts, but when you look at your expenditure cuts – things like insurance has gone up 15 per cent. When things like your additional fuel cost to heat if you have a furnace or something has gone up. Taxes are gone up in various sectors. All the other things that are relevant to it have an impact. If they operate a vehicle, then obviously that has an impact on their gas costs and these types of things.

The other part of it is most of these organizations rely on the private sector and particular fundraising to be a key component of how they finance themselves and how they fund particular projects and how they ensure security and feasibility. In this case –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I understand the importance of conducting business while in the House, but if you can’t contain your volume to a level that I can hear the Member identified to speak, I ask Members to take their conversations outside.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: As I noted, with all the additional costs that have been put on organizations and citizens in this province, it’s had an impact on the organizations ability to fundraise. People don’t have as much disposable income because it’s now going to pay extra taxes; if it’s a levy tax, if it’s a gas tax, if it’s a tax on other services, if it’s indeed additional insurances, if it’s all the other fees and services that we want taken care of. If it’s to deal with extra diabetic strips or the extra cost of health medicines that would normally be covered for an ailing family member who’s in one of our health institutions.

All of this has an impact on when people want support, youth organizations or any not for profit in fundraising and supporting with a ticket draw, or a bid on a product or supporting a concert of some sort, that has a major impact. That impact has a bottom-line impact on these organizations that can’t provide the same level of service and, obviously, then that has an impact on our society.

These organizations have leveraged sometimes 10, 20, 30 times as much money as being invested by government. The services they provide are fiftyfold when it comes to what it would cost the taxpayers to provide that.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to present this again and talk about the valued work and how important it is to reinstate those funding sources.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in the province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such a tax; and

WHEREAS the tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve had an opportunity to talk about a number of regressive taxes and fees that have been put in place, but nothing as foolish as the tax on books.

One of the important things that we’ve been able to do for the last number of decades is promote our culture here, but be able to promote that because we have such a skill set in writers and publishers. We’ve been able to send our message all over the world. We’ve been able to encourage our own residents to get a better understanding of exactly what our culture is about, our history, the significant events, the significant people, what happens. We’ve even been able to engage people in entertainment because of what we’ve been able to write, but we’ve particularly been able to engage young people, kids to be able to get back into reading, the basics of life.

We know people here are facing economic times and we know there are challenges around their first priorities. Their first priority is obviously keeping your family safe, healthy, warm, clothed and fed. These are the key objectives of any family, any individual. To do that, obviously, it’s got to be based on your ability to finance all those things. With the challenges that we’ve had over the last year, particularly the additional taxes and that, anything that goes beyond that becomes secondary of importance.

When you do have a little bit of extra disposable money, you want to do things that are of importance to you and that you think will sometime foster a better quality of life or some type of entertainment process. Books are one of those key things. It does a multitude of things as I noted. It promotes our culture and that.

To put tax on something as important as promoting who we are and what we do, giving young people a chance to be engaged, being able to promote their history, shows that there’s very little vision, very little oversight as to what it is the plan is here. When you add into the fact the minimum amount of money that’s going to be generated from it, it becomes an inclusive tax only because it’s probably going to cost you more money to collect it at the end of the day than it would have been what you would have taken from it.

If they had said we’re going to put in a book tax and every cent of that is going to go in to promote publishers here, to educate young people around being creative writers, to researching some of the other important things that our society needs to collect and needs to historically write so that we can promote around the world, I probably would have nodded and said, you know, not a bad way to diversify, as one of their plans was, another part of our economy.

Instead, just to take tax for the sake of taking tax is a loss in our society. Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to that again and I encourage the government to take this regressive tax away.

Thank you.

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today happy to present this petition on behalf of the residents of Ferryland District.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2015 announced a new school for the Witless Bay-Mobile school system; and

WHEREAS the planning and design of the school was underway; and

WHEREAS Statistics Canada recognized the region as having significant growth; and

WHEREAS the project was cancelled in Budget 2016;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and construct the proposed school for the Witless Bay-Mobile school system announced in 2015.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve certainly brought this up before in the House and continue to try and bring it to government’s understanding in terms of the premise, foundation and facts of why a new middle school was announced for the region in 2015 and move forward to begin. Yet, in 2016, we saw a decision made by this government. To date, we haven’t been able to validate whether it will be even done or not in regard to putting nine classrooms on the footprint of where Mobile school is today. We hear there are challenges with that, even in regard to the size of the footprint itself and what’s trying to be done in regard to that facility.

Even if you look at the role of the English School District, they had supported, recommended to the government of the day in 2015 to build that facility. In 2016, the change in the decision of this government basically to cancel it was not supported and voted or recommended by the English School District. Subsequent to that, the English School District just met a couple of weeks back. At that time, on the agenda they were going to vote on a reconfiguration which would see grade six moved to Mobile Central High, yet they put it off and didn’t vote on it. They’re going to vote on reconfiguration or delay reconfiguration voting until apparent construction can be done, which we don’t even know if it can be done.

The logic here is certainly confusing to everybody. We’ve met with the minister, didn’t make any inroads there. The school community have asked to meet with the Premier. To my knowledge, he hasn’t responded.

We certainly call on the government, the Premier, to recognize the invitation to meet to make their views – the people their views to the Premier so we can get some logic and basically a sound decision made for the people of the region which was made in 2015. For some apparent reason, we don’t know, we can all speculate why it was cancelled in 2016, but today there’s no rationale for that. We certainly impress upon government to revisit this, do the right thing and build a middle school in the region.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 8, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth;

WHEREAS there’s been a identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K-12 school system; and

WHEREAS this lack of services is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked matters can, and in many cases, will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K-12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that’s been discussed at length in the House of Assembly and certainly by the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, which concluded its work earlier this year after two years of work. I know the education critic for the Official Opposition has raised this issue as well.

I’m pleased to say that in the All-Party Committee’s recommendations we addressed this very issue that I know people are concerned about and rightly so. We recognize that there needs to be a real coordination of services between the education system and between the health system. The links have to be direct. There have to be multidisciplinary teams that are available to support our guidance counsellors and to support our teachers in helping young people who are dealing with any kind of mental health issue or any kind of mental illness.

As the petition says, left unchecked matters can develop into more serious issues. We have many young people, very young students in our schools who are dealing with stress, anxiety and depression, but often more serious forms of mental illness as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you for your protection, Mr. Speaker.

I know that there have been some good programs put in place. There have been some improvements made but there are still some major gaps when it comes to providing mental health services to our students. Early identification, early intervention and prevention are so key.

We can save potentially hundreds of millions of dollars down the road by investing more in providing mental health services to young people. We have a captive audience in the school system. That’s where we need to reach them.

The health system needs to work collaboratively with the education system and make more resources available through interdisciplinary teams that can provide the services that are needed. That could be counsellors. That could be social workers. That could be physiologists. That should be psychiatrists. There are a number of health professionals who would be involved in these teams, depending on the needs of the individual children and the individual families.

I know there are recommendations in the All-Party Committee report. I know government is committed to acting on them and we’ll continue to hold government to account to do just that.

Thank you.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such a tax; and

WHEREAS a tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I won’t belabour this point long today because this petition has been brought up numerous times, but it’s every bit as important today as it has been every other time because this tax is still there. It does affect our literacy rates.

If you’re adding a tax onto – you’re purchasing a book and that added tax does have an effect, any additional cost on any product we buy does affect consumers whether they buy it or not. It’s sad that you have to put dollars and cents ahead of buying books.

It’s a part of learning; it’s a part of literacy. It’s a very important part of everyone’s lives, especially our children’s. Reading is meant to be something we encourage and this tax is actually – it’s not an incentive, it’s an impediment to what should be something we take for granted.

We’re the only province in the country to have a book tax. That tells you everything you need to know. The rest of the provinces don’t have this tax, we do. The only reason is a revenue generator, which is questionable what you’re getting from revenue because the sales obviously are dipping as a result of this.

It’s something that we do call upon government to reconsider. It does affect literacy rates and we strongly recommend them to reconsider it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the province’s youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities as well as its youth and families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply relied on what was rightfully considered core funding for their day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations.

Mr. Speaker, we all recognize that there are challenges, but in times of challenge the important thing to do is to prioritize your decisions and make decisions that are in the best interests of the people as a whole.

When we look and see decisions being made like cuts to youth organizations and cuts to groups with disabilities, while at the same time we see $50,000 being spent on one day of consultations for The Way Forward or nearly $50,000 on opening Marble Mountain for a free ski weekend, then we really have to question the priorities of this government and the decisions they are making. In our view, we certainly feel that the youth in particular are the future. Of all the funding that does go forward by government, youth, seniors and persons with disabilities and challenges should certainly be a priority.

We call upon this government to revisit their decision making and to prioritize the people of the province, not political gain for their party.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS smaller class sizes, adequate learning environments and effective curriculum are paramount to success of our youth; and

WHEREAS recent budget decisions have negatively impacted student supports, education resources and teaching allocations; and

WHEREAS the provincial education system should ensure that each child has the ability to reach his or her full potential;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enhance the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador; introduce initiatives which ensure smaller class sizes which will provide sufficient personal space per child and allow more individual learning opportunities; develop efficient curriculum which enable youth to develop both life skills and optimal academic achievement; provide resources to ensure a fully beneficial inclusive model is in place and to ensure all children in our province have equal standard education in their learning environment.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we saw in last year’s budget the dramatic cuts to the education system that were made and the adjustments that parents, educators, administrators, the agencies that support the education system, but particularly the students themselves had to make to try to keep an acceptable standard of education and to try to succeed and move forward in their education desires.

Unfortunately, some thought and some were under the illusion that this would just be a temporary setback. That the government would come to their senses and they would eventually see that we needed to put money back into the education system.

There are certain key things in government you have to be responsible for; education is one of the key ones. And not to invest in that properly but particularly to take away programs and services that have not only proven to be beneficial but have been proven to be necessary are so important to the development of a young persons’ lives and in some cases are the pillar of whether or not they’re going to succeed as adults and what that means to society – to take away a lot of those potential avenues for success is devastating to everybody.

To see class size increase, to see lack of investment in resources, to see the changes for counselling services, to also look at the fact that facilities that are overcrowded are no longer conducive to learning, not having proper rooms for counselling services, not having proper rooms for being able to deal with certain issues particularly around inclusive education obviously is a detriment to our education system.

What the people are saying here – and there are hundreds have signed these petitions in different regions. Thousands have since signed their own particular types, and we’ve been presenting them in the House of Assembly here to outline the outrage by people about the devastating loss and impact that the cuts to education are having.

It’s not in the best interest of anybody in this province, the taxpayers, the people who avail of the services, but particularly the future of Newfoundland and Labrador not to be investing properly in the education system here.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity again to speak about what’s outlined in this petition and many other petitions relevant to education.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the provincial government has mandated the Eastern Regional Service Board to implement modern waste management practices in the Eastern Region; and

WHEREAS the Eastern Regional Service Board has opened a waste recovery facility on Old Brigus Road in Whitbourne to receive bulk items such as appliances, furniture, electronics, cars, truck tires, construction and demolition debris, shingles, et cetera;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to insist mitigation measures be established to contain waste held at the facility and improve esthetics surrounding the containment area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, local residents in Whitbourne who reached out to me on this issue raised the concerns, and valid concerns, actually. It’s a transshipment facility for waste that’s on the Old Brigus Road in Whitbourne. It’s located adjacent to the community. It’s a drop-off area, as I stated, for bigger – it’s not just your household garbage. It’s the bigger items of appliances, furniture, electronics, cars and what have you.

The problem now is there’s a tender being called. Eastern Waste Management is going to erect a fence and put some trees up to mitigate some of the problems they’re faced with now of garbage and stuff blowing around. The residents, and also the town out there, have concerns that it’s not going to be adequate to meet the needs. A fence and trees will not cover up what tourists are seeing when they pass by that. It’s adjacent with the TCH, it’s becoming a bit of an eyesore.

One example, recently there was actually a mattress that blew from this area out on the TCH in the median. So they contacted Eastern Waste Management to remove it and they said, no, it’s the responsibility of Transportation and Works. When they called Transportation and Works they said, no, it’s the responsibility of Eastern Waste Management. That’s an actual true story. In the meantime, the box spring stayed in the median.

Mr. Speaker, what they’re looking for is better containment areas. The town was of the impression there would be closed bins in this containment area to keep stuff from blowing around out in the community and out on the sides of the road. So it kind of defeats the purpose. A transshipment facility for waste, yet the waste that’s being dropped off is blowing all around the community and the highway. So with the right mitigation – the fence will help and the trees will help, but the fencing needs to go around and you need to have more covered containers to keep this waste intact.

The residents of Whitbourne have asked – of course, I have numerous petitions on this issue. They’ve asked me to bring it to the House of Assembly, which I’m doing, and I hope government will give this some serious consideration.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the provinces youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities as well as its youth and families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply relied on what was rightfully considered core funding for their day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, a number of us on this side of the House have continued to raise this issue. This is not a new cut. This is a continuation of the cuts that were experienced coming out of the 2016 budget. Going into the 2016 budget there was some fanfare around an announcement that the Minister of Finance made to say: Hey, everybody’s core funding is going to be fine. All community organizations, you have nothing to worry about, your core funding will be fine.

Well, unfortunately, through the Estimates process and through asking questions in this House and then confirming with organizations affected, we learned that general, broad, sweeping statement did not apply to many community youth organizations all over this province, some provincial, some regional and some local.

For many of these organizations, the amount of funds that were received through the fund called the Grants to Youth Organizations Program, it was core funding. They filled out a form annually and received, basically, the same amount of funding every year – in some cases, for decades.

This is funding that sustained the operations of many of our youth groups and organizations in the province. Organizations like the Boys and Girls Club in many different communities; different youth centres in various communities in the province; Allied Youth, which has chapters, has posts, in various places in the province, Air Cadets, Army Cadets, Navy League Cadets, Sea Cadets, Girl Guides and the list goes on and on and on. These organizations have all been negatively impacted – the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards program. It goes on and on.

Young people throughout the province have been negatively affected by these cuts. What’s most troubling about it is that these cuts happen retroactively halfway through last fiscal year, so groups counting on the money they get annually from government – and hearing the Finance Minister stand and say: Don’t worry, everybody’s core funding will be fine – assumed their funding would be fine and carried on. Then in July or August of last year they find out, oh no, you’re only going to receive, in many cases, half your funding; in a couple of cases, no funding at all.

That had a devastating impact on programs last year. We found out through the process this year that government has no intention to reinstate any of those funds and has not provided any assurances to those groups that they’ll be treated fairly in the future.

It’s a shame. It’s dishonest, given the commitments that were made to community organizations. Young people and youth organizations in this province deserve better, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Adult Dental Program coverage for clients of the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program under the Access and 65Plus Plan were eliminated in Budget 2016; and

WHEREAS many low-income individuals and families can no longer access basic dental care; and

WHEREAS those same individuals can now no longer access dentures;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the Adult Dental Program to cover low-income individuals and families to better ensure oral health, quality of life and dignity.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

This petition is dated last month, April 2017. The cuts that were made in 2016 continue into 2017. In fact, the impact may even be bigger. The Adult Dental Program, when the PCs took office in 2003, didn’t exist. There was no Adult Dental Program. The program was put in place to recognize how important oral health is in terms of people’s overall health. We also had to recognize through the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program that there were challenges affecting particularly low-income individuals, families and also seniors, so plans were put in place for that very reason.

To see the Adult Dental Program basically wiped out last year was more than concerning. It’s actually frightening for many of the families that are now struggling to meet these needs and we’re all hearing from them. I suspect that Members on both sides of the House are hearing from people that have been impacted by these cuts.

We are calling on government, joining with these petitioners in calling on government, to revisit that decision to eliminate the Adult Dental Program and to make sure that people do have access to oral health services so that they can enjoy a better quality of life and live with dignity as well.

Cuts to the Prescription Drug Program and the Adult Dental Program have impacted many, many people, many, many families, many, many seniors in this province and we have a responsibility to bring those concerns to the House of Assembly.

There is a better way. This program was working. Over the past decade or so it had a phenomenal impact on the lives of many people in our province and we believe that these changes need to be revisited. Oral health is a vital component of somebody’s overall health. That’s well understood and well recognized and we need for this government to recognize that as well.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS infertility is not an inconvenience, it is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction; and

WHEREAS infertility affects women and men equally; and

WHEREAS treating infertility is excessively expensive and cost prohibitive; and

WHEREAS infertility impairs the ability of individuals and couples to conceive children and begin to build a family;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to implement a program that assists individuals and couples allowing them to access affordable in vitro fertilization services.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this petition has been signed by residents across Newfoundland and Labrador. This is an issue that affects families throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve heard from a number of my constituents and a number of people outside of my district as well who have asked that we raise this issue in the House of Assembly. It is one that, as I said, touches many.

I received a note from one constituent who indicates that she feels like fertility is something that’s taken for granted by most people and taboo for those who actually go through it, and because of this, it’s not talked about enough. She notes that people go to a fertility clinic, get their tests and procedures and try to forget about it.

She urges people to start looking at the clinic as a relief and an exciting experience knowing that there may finally be a solution. She says the last thing that should influence a person’s emotions and decision making at the clinic is finances. No one should have to remortgage, take out a loan or sell the things we have worked so hard to get. Most people are worried about saving money for maternity leave when people with fertility issues have to owe so much money from the beginning.

Basically what she’s saying is: Why should we wait until every other province covers fertility treatment? Why don’t we join a couple of the larger provinces that have taken the lead in that regard? I think it’s an issue that’s worth looking at. I believe there is more that can be done. And given the number of families that are affected in our province, I would urge government to take a closer look at the issue and see what can be done.

Thank you.

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to rise in the House today to present a petition. It’s certainly an issue that I’ve brought to the floor of the House many times before.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2015 announced a new school for the Witless Bay-Mobile school system; and

WHEREAS the planning and design of this school was completed; and

WHEREAS the project was cancelled in Budget 2016;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and construct the proposed school for the Witless Bay-mobile school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Again, we have gone through a process with the residents of the area in regard to asking government to reconsider this. We’ve certainly made representation to the Minister of Education and the parent community has come as well and has made representation to him. They have asked to have a meeting with the Premier. I think on April 4 they asked. I asked him yesterday in the House if he would consider discussing this issue and hearing the thoughts and understanding of those in that region from Bay Bulls to Bauline. We haven’t got a response on that, which is unfortunate.

The other evening on a Facebook Live CBC interview the Premier was asked about it by one of the parents from the area that emailed in a question. At that time, amazingly, he said the decision was made by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, which was totally incorrect; it was inaccurate.

Everything to date has demonstrated that this decision was made to cancel this school by the current government. It was approved in 2015 based on a BAE-Newplan report that indicated that a middle school was the best alternative here. The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District approved that, recommended it to government. Again, last fall when they put their infrastructure list to this current Liberal government, they included this new middle school on the list. It was this government that denied it, I guess, the Premier and through Cabinet.

But yesterday, or the other night the Premier stood and basically said that wasn’t the case and the English School District had cancelled the school, which is totally incorrect. Even to date, with the nine classrooms that are being proposed the Newfoundland English School District has never approved that, has never recommended it. And even today, what we’re hearing with the consultants on site in Mobile and the footprint, it’s something that they’re having trouble even making do with the footprint of Mobile High. The cost is escalating. Even the rationale behind this is getting more ludicrous by the day as they move forward in their region to do this.

We urge government, the people of the community as well, for the Premier to answer their call to sit, meet and discuss this; to get back and look at the numbers and for rationale to why this was originally approved, to why that hasn’t changed while the numbers still exist; still support it, and let’s move on and get this done.

Even the parent community has said to government: If we need to push this out for a year or two to reach the financing, we’re willing to work with you to do it. A government that’s hailed consultation and let’s sit down and resolve issues, yet today they won’t do that. This is a blatant case.

We don’t know why this is cancelled, but we wish at some point someone would tell us and we move forward in the best interests of those people in that region.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the provincial government has mandated the Eastern Regional Service Board to implement modern waste management practices in the Eastern region; and

WHEREAS the Eastern Regional Service Board has opened a waste recovery facility on Old Brigus Road in Whitbourne to receive bulk items such as appliances, furniture, electronics, car and truck tires, construction and demolition debris, shingles, et cetera;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to insist mitigation measures be established to contain waste held at the facility and improve esthetics surrounding the containment area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I have numerous petitions on this same issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. PETTEN: It has to do with a drop-off facility that’s located on Old Brigus Road in Whitbourne. As I’ve just said, it’s not your household garbage but it’s the larger items.

There’s a tender that’s been called. Right now there’s going to be a fence erected across the front with, I believe, six trees. Residents don’t feel this is going to be adequate to close it off. It’s an eyesore right now to residents, the travelling public and tourists alike that come up and pass by there. There will be an increase in that, obviously, as summer season approaches.

There’s garbage that’s blowing all around the community in areas around close to that area. As I said recently, there was even a box spring that blew out on the Trans-Canada in the median. Residents have concerns. They’ve brought this to the town and they’ve approached me to bring it to the House of Assembly and petition government to urge the Eastern Regional Service Board to insist on better mitigation issues.

One thing that’s being proposed is fencing going right around this facility. Another issue is to provide covered containment. Right now it’s just holes in the ground, I think, with concrete walls around. They’re not adequate on windy days and as we know, it’s not uncommon to have a lot of those days. It’s not doing the proper work. They’d like to have those areas contained and covered.

Another thing that’s been asked and people are requesting is maybe when they put the fence up, provide a berm to cover off from visibility, people can’t see it and it also would serve as somewhat of a buffer to preventing stuff from blowing around.

One other point that residents have also expressed concern about is, unfortunately, you can’t control behaviour but there are people dropping off other garbage in the gateway outside this area. So they’ve suggested to the Eastern Regional Service Board to maybe install video surveillance. Unfortunately, those things are inevitable to happen but they don’t want to turn this into a dump on the side of the road and not meet what is required to do, as being just like a transshipment facility. Right now it’s becoming an eyesore. It’s a great concern to residents in the area.

While this tender is being called, residents are calling upon the Eastern Regional Services Board, which I am lobbying government, to insist on extra measures being taken so that when they do it the first time they do it right, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS smaller class sizes, adequate learning environments and effective curriculum are paramount to success of our youth; and

WHEREAS recent budget decisions have negatively impacted student supports, educational resources and teacher allocations; and

WHEREAS the provincial education system should ensure that each child has the ability to reach his or her full potential;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enhance the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador; introduce initiatives which ensure smaller class sizes which will provide more sufficient personal space per child and allow more individual learning opportunities; develop effective curriculum which will enable youth to develop both life skills and optimal academic achievement; provide resources to ensure a fully beneficial inclusion model is in place and to ensure all children in our province have equal standards of education in their learning environment.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve been presenting a number of petitions around education for the last number of months because I continue to hear and receive emails and calls from concerned parents, from students themselves, which is alarming when students identify that there is inadequacies within their school system and there are challenges that are not being met.

We’re hearing it from school councils. We’re hearing it from the prospective agencies that work within the school services: the Association of Psychologists. We’re hearing it from the NLTA. We’re even hearing it from NAPE and CUPE, agencies that work within the school system and other avenues.

It’s becoming a real challenge here and a real issue about how do we address some of the issues within our education system. When you have parent organizations, and particularly all over this province – and I note, just looking at some of the names here, some of the communities. They’re from Random Island, Shoal Harbour, Bunyan’s Cove – well then that tells you that this is not isolated to one particular school or isolated to one particular area of our province, or one particular age category or level of school.

It’s not just around high schools or middle schools or the elementary schools. This is about parents, students, administrators, teachers, counsellors, the public having a concern about our education system and the holes and the gaps we have in being able to provide an adequate, safe environment.

As we noted a few months ago, CBC had a three-part documentary on Monday evenings where teachers from various backgrounds, various geographic backgrounds, periods of time they’ve served in it, the role they play in the education system, outline their concerns. Concerns were about class sizes. It was about having the resources to do things properly. It was about having more engagement to address the needs, particularly around inclusive learning, but you can’t do some of these things if you don’t have the proper resources.

They talked about violence in schools. When you’ve got 28-30 students in a classroom and you get some students who may be volatile with each other, there may be conflicts, you may have some behavioural issues, it’s a lot harder for that instructor, that teacher to be able to deal with those situations.

So, Mr. Speaker, I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this and many other issues that are in the education system over the near few weeks.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 15, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Members of the House of Assembly are elected to represent the interest of their constituents; and

WHEREAS recall legislation would increase democracy in our province by making Members of the House of Assembly more accountable to their constituents;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to introduce recall legislation into the House of Assembly.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, last year I had an opportunity to present a private Member’s motion on this very issue and, unfortunately, it was defeated by government Members.

Recall legislation is not a new concept. In fact, it was on the books in Alberta in 1936; one of the US states as far back as 1908. It’s not a rare idea. Many US states have had recall at some level of their democracy. Alberta has had it in the past. British Columbia has it today. It doesn’t destabilize a democracy, and many would argue that it actually strengthens democracy. There are a number of models of recall that are working elsewhere in Canada and around the world that could absolutely be considered here.

I think when we talk about democratic reform – and it’s a concept that all three parties in this Legislature have talked about. We’ve done some things to move in that direction. This is one example of low hanging fruit, so to speak. I think recall legislation is an easy one and one that should be pursued.

I think government should be more open to suggestions from people and to the Opposition parties. I think introducing recall legislation is a way to make our system more responsive to the public and more adaptable as well. We all know that public input can lead to better decision making as well.

I think recall legislation will shift the balance in favour of the people of province. I can understand that there are Members in this House of Assembly on the government side who may have an unsettled feeling in their stomachs when they think about that, but I think we need to look to recall legislation as a way to improve the democratic process in our province and in our society. None of us ought to believe that we’re so smart that we’re incapable of being shown better choices by the people who elected us, and I believe that can happen and does happen.

How arrogant would it be to believe that a Member is wiser than the voters who elected the Member? Over the years we’ve taken all sorts of shifts in favour or giving voters greater control over the way things work in our House and our government. There were referendums on constitutional change regarding education. There have been free votes in this House of Assembly from time to time. We now have fixed-term election legislation that restricts a government’s power to call an election when it is most politically advantageous to the governing party. We have whistleblower legislation, and I could go on and on.

This is just the next logical step in democratic reform, Mr. Speaker. I’d encourage government to seriously look at it.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Marine Atlantic ferry rates continue to rise, becoming increasingly more cost prohibitive; and

WHEREAS increased rates have an impact on the cost of goods being shipped into our province, as well as those products being exported out by local businesses; and

WHEREAS the ever-increasing, cost-prohibitive means of ground transport into the Island portion of our province has a negative impact on tourism;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to open a line of communication with the federal government and begin to advocate on behalf of the residents and businesses of this province, not stopping until results are finalized.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, it’s very unfortunate that we have to rise in this House and present this petition because we hear on a regular basis in this House about the wonderful relationship between our current provincial Liberal government and the current federal Liberal government. So one would think this is already a done deal.

We’re certainly, as residents of this province, are going to continually call upon both levels of government until something is done to address this situation. Because here we are in this province now, we can barely afford to live given the measures of Budget 2016 and the regression and stifling that have happened to our economy as a result of these policy measures. We’re being gouged at the gas stations. We’re being gouged at the insurance rates. We’re being gouged with fee after fee after fee after fee. We feel it is incumbent upon government to really take this situation in hand and do something about these fees and ensure that there are no more increases. In fact, we would like to see the fees we’re currently paying be reduced.

Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS smaller class sizes, adequate learning environment and effective curriculums are paramount to success of our youth; and

WHEREAS recent budget decisions have negatively impacted student supports, educational resources and teacher allocations; and

WHEREAS the provincial education system should ensure each child has the ability to reach his or her full potential;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enhance the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador; introduce initiatives which ensure smaller class sizes which will provide more sufficient personal space per child and allow more individual learning opportunities; develop efficient curriculums which enable youth to develop both life skills and optimal academic achievement; provide resources to ensure a fully beneficial inclusive model is in place; and to ensure all children in our province have equal standard of education in their learning environment.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve spoken to this a number of times about some of the challenges in the education system. I did note a couple of petitions ago about looking at and following – CBC did a three-part documentary with teachers, counsellors, even some administrators around the challenges in the school system and how they’ve seen things evolve over periods of time. There have been peaks and valleys when it came to challenges in the system, and points when there were resources put in, but they’ve identified what – these are parents, these are average citizens in the communities who have come up with these petitions. They are echoing the same thing that the teachers and counsellors and administrators have said, about the need to invest in our education system.

These are trying times. Things have changed in our society. There are challenges around inclusive education, as was noted by my colleague here from St. John’s East– Quidi Vidi about some of the issues around how you deal with learning disabilities within a classroom setting and some of the resources about being identified and diagnosed so you can get the proper supports.

We’ve talked about mental health in our education system and how we’d be proactive versus reactive by having programs in that. We’ve talked about preparing our young people and our students for life skills and their ability to be able to handle situations from a financial point of view, to an integration point of view, to an empathy point of view, to an understanding of how they further choose their careers.

We’ve also talked about having the proper environment. We say a conduce environment: space, so people can be counselled at a proper level, so that the teachers themselves and counsellors within the school system have the mechanism, the resources to be able to deal with situations.

We’ve also talked about, and it’s been identified and it’s becoming more and more prevalent, when you have a larger school and larger classes, when you have some students who may have some challenges, we’re now noting there’s violence in classrooms which disrupts their whole learning environment. It puts kids who normally weren’t facing any of these stressors, under stress. We’ve seen that.

We’ve had counsellors identify there are kids at a certain age will not go to class on certain mornings because they know there’s a disruption going to happen in their class and they come up with an ailment to be able to stay home. That obviously tell me we have something wrong with how we’re addressing our issues. If it means we have to address things in a different manner, we have to do that.

Mr. Speaker, I will get an opportunity to speak to this again and outline some of my concerns.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government has not implemented curriculum to teach the basic monetary skills needed by our youth; and

WHEREAS the government of our province has a responsibility to act in the best interest of our youth; and

WHEREAS the youth of our province deserve the greatest level of respect and consideration;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to introduce financial education into provincial curriculum to prepare youth for the monetary and financial challenges of life upon entering the workforce.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve raised this issue in the House of Assembly on behalf of constituents a number of times in the past. I’ve had an opportunity to tell the House about a group called FLY financial. FLY stands for Financial Literacy for Youth. It was founded, I guess about a year-and-a-half ago. Its purpose is to teach basic financial and money management skills to high school youth through their career development classes.

This group of volunteers has been to a few of our high schools in this region. They’ve presented to hundreds of students. The team is made up of alumni from Memorial University and they present to high schools, primarily in this region, as I said, but they’re looking to expand across Newfoundland and Labrador.

They believe, and I believe, that the lack of financial literacy is causing people to be taken advantage of by credit card and lending companies, for instance. I think the lack of financial literacy can have a huge impact on people’s financial futures.

There was a survey that indicated 34 per cent of Canadians said they’re relying on hoping to win the lottery in order to finance their retirement. Obviously, that’s not a viable strategy.

Young people are not being taught enough about debt or savings. Teaching young people about debt and savings could help future generations. We live in a time when bankruptcies are on the rise in our province. The current state of our economy really does call for increased awareness of personal finances, and individuals can find themselves in trouble by acquiring too much debt which is all too common this day in age.

Lending institutions are making lots of money from charging interest and people need to understand exactly how those arrangements work with financial institutions, with lending companies, with credit card companies. I think Albert Einstein said compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Those who understand it earn it, those who don’t pay it.

This group that’s doing work in our high schools is looking to positively impact the career development curriculum to teach youth valuable skills. This is something we shouldn’t have to rely on a group of well-intended volunteers to do. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in a much more – I guess with greater emphasis placed on it within the high school curriculum.

There are lots of financial personal decisions that we all have to make. We need these life skills taught in our school system. I think the work of FLY financial is great, but I join them in calling on government to actually imbed some of that right into the high school curriculum.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is certainly a pleasure today to rise and present a petition on behalf of constituents of the Ferryland District.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Goulds Bypass is a major route that most residents of the Southern Shore use to commute to St. John’s; and

WHEREAS the condition of the Goulds Bypass is in a very deplorable state; and

WHEREAS the condition of this piece of highway is putting commuters safety at risk;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to take necessary actions to do the necessary repairs to the Goulds Bypass.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

For those familiar with the Southern Avalon, the Goulds Bypass – or actually Robert E. Howlett, it’s in memorial of a Newfoundlander and Labradorian. That piece of highway was built a number of years ago for the purpose of improving the traffic link from the Southern Shore to the St. John’s region.

With the expansion of the boundary of St. John’s extended up to Middle Pond, to the border of Bay Bulls, that’s significant piece of highway in regard to traffic for commerce, for people travelling for work, for a number of activities back and forth and for the companies and businesses that support along the Southern Shore and the Southern Avalon. Whether it’s the fabrication, whether it’s the fishing industry, small business, a wide array of activities there that this is needed for.

Unfortunately, two years ago, in 2015, we did some upgrades in regard to six kilometres of paving there, levelling, which held up well, but there are other sections that certainly need to be done and we were hopeful that they would be in the long-term plan in regard to what TW has put out.

We’ve never gotten the list of all roads that were assessed, so I don’t know where that road has been in regard to being assessed. We’d certainly like to find out and where the work is, to do the repairs to it. Because for economic, for residential and for all those activities, it is needed. I think the criteria for that, that the minister said when he assessed roads in Newfoundland and Labrador whether they would fit the bill for the long-term maintenance of highways, that it would fit in.

The other unfortunate part of this administration, we had approved an extension to the Robert E. Howlett to bring it 9.6 kilometres into the Bay Bulls region. Unfortunately again in their wisdom, on the other side, they saw a lack of vision and they cancelled this. When you look at the growth and the other things we’re seeing in the region – and we know of the poor decision to cancel the new middle school as well.

Nevertheless, the people of the region, there’s growth there, a lot of activity. This government talks about economic development and you have to put the resources in place, whether it’s highway or schools, to make sure we need the needs of the region. We certainly implore government to revisit this and do what needs to be done in regard to this highway, the Robert E. Howlett.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS school-age children are walking to school in areas where there are no sidewalks, no traffic lights and through areas without crosswalks; and

WHEREAS they have put the safety of these children at risk;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to ensure safety of all children by removing the 1.6 kilometre busing policy where safety is a concern.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

This is not the first time that I’ve presented this petition; it’s a petition that I’ve presented now since we’ve been in Opposition. It’s a concern I’ve had since I’ve been here in government.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of areas in the province that have sidewalks and have safe walking areas to and from school. Some areas don’t have the same traffic congestion that I do have in my area. On Torbay Road where I have Torbay Elementary School and now the new Torbay middle school there are 17,000 cars a day travelling along those roads. It is very dangerous for the children to be walking along those roads.

I know it’s a policy that’s in there and there’s a cost related to it and the distance between school and getting home and stuff like that. And 1.6 kilometres may not seem a long distance, but it is quite the distance for families to be concerned about their children walking back and forth, especially in the winter months.

I know that in some areas they do clear – if you’re in the St. John’s area, the sidewalks get cleared. Schools are a priority. But in the area like Torbay where they don’t have sidewalks and you have children walking back and forth to school, it’s very dangerous because there’s a lot of ice and the snow doesn’t get plowed back as far as what it would if the sidewalks were cleaned.

I’d really like – and I know the minister had this concern himself when he was on this side of the House because he presented a similar petition all the time. I’m hoping that the minister will find the money and the resolve to be able to fix this problem because it’s a serious concern.

In Torbay where there’s a new school just opened – I spoke to a parent just recently and the concern was that the kids were used to going back and forth on the bus but where the new school was put to, they had to walk. He said grade fives and grade sixes, they are a bit rambunctious as they are going to school and pushing and shoving, like we did when we were at their age. He was concerned about the safety of them going back and forth.

I ask the minister to seriously consider this, where safety is a major issue, to take this policy out of place.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It’s indeed an honour to stand again and present a petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there’s been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K to 12 school system; and

WHEREAS the lack is having a significant impact on both the students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked matters can and, in many cases, will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in our province’s K to 12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve identified, in our discussions around education for the last number of years, that there are obviously some serious challenges there. Society has some different challenges now than faced previous generations and, as a result, kids are facing stressors. There are issues around mental health that are now coming to the forefront. There are issues within the school system.

As we change the dynamic of our schools – geographically, they are larger. Class sizes are larger. Integration is part of it. There are a multitude of students who have some particular challenges, which indeed adds to the stresses within the classroom system, adds to the inability, in some cases, of being able to supervise in a proper manner and address some of the particular issues; but if you have also societal issues around mental health, they obviously are going to carry over to the younger generation.

What we’re hearing from experts, what we’ve heard from the All-Party Committee on Mental Health in their report, was if we’re proactive versus just being reactive – and I know we have to be reactive because certain situations already exist and we have to be able to address those and we have to try to mitigate any impact they have on students, our school system, the people who provide our education, the families who take care of their loved ones and their children day in and day out.

We have to take a two-fold approach here. One has to be: We have to work with our educators, provide them the resources, the education, the supports necessary so they can help identify particular issues around mental health in the school system, do some primary interventions, do some assessments and be able to guide where the proper perceived intervention may be available. That has to come through a partnership. To develop that partnership, you have to have all stakeholders.

So we need to take the lead here, government needed to take the lead and particularly the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Department of Health need to obviously look at how you integrate and develop programs that meet the needs in our school. There is no doubt there is a collaborative approach here by everybody that has the ability to put programs and services in place.

As we noted in the past, K to 12 are getting larger. There are more integrated programs and services that are needed. We need to have a strategy around mental health.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BRAZIL: Particularly as it relates to students because the plan here and the investment here would be beneficial because if we can alleviate some of the issues facing young people in the younger years, that will eliminate it in the later years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS smaller class sizes, adequate learning environment and effective curriculum are paramount to success of our youth; and

WHEREAS recent budget decisions have negatively impacted student supports, educational resources and teaching allocations; and

WHEREAS the provincial education system should ensure that each child has the ability to reach his or her full potential;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enhance the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador, introduce initiatives which ensure smaller class sizes which will provide more sufficient personal space per child and allow more individual learning opportunities, develop effective curriculums which enable youth to develop both life skills and optimal academic achievements, provide resources to ensure a fully beneficial inclusion model is in place and to ensure all children in our province have equal standard of education in their learning environment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

And as in duty bound, your petitioner will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve had an opportunity over the last number of months in this hon. House to present this petition and a number of other ones relevant to our education system, and some of the challenges that people are facing. Those challenges are faced by a multitude of those involved, particularly the administrators, the teachers themselves, the parents, the school councils, the district boards, but particularly the students themselves.

The lack of services and the lack of assets that are necessary indicate that our students are not going to have the ability to achieve a well-rounded, full inclusive education that they so deservingly should be entitled to. What’s being outlined here is a collage of challenges and issues that have been identified by all these stakeholders that I mentioned earlier regarding how collectively we have to look at how we best fill the gaps in our education system and how we support these students in our system.

It talks about particular things: how we’ve become regressive around some of the approaches here. Larger class sizes are not in any way – you’ll find no science that will dictate that larger class sizes are in the best interests of a student.

They’re asking to go back to – for a number of years we tried to find something that was workable, but we’ve increased that and it becomes a challenge where in some school systems where the classroom sizes are a challenge. We need to build more facilities or upgrade the facilities themselves. The challenges around the number of teachers that are allocated and the particular extra resources we need to have to ensure that people have a well-rounded education accessible to them.

Some of the other partnerships that need to be developed; we need to look at how we better drive those types of initiatives. They talk here about optimal academic achievements and they talk about life skills training, they talk about financial training. These are all very important life skills that people will need to become better citizens and productive citizens in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I want to present this on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to improve our education system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the provincial government has mandated the Eastern Regional Service Board to implement modern waste management practices in the eastern region; and

WHEREAS the Eastern Regional Service Board has opened a Waste Recovery Facility on Old Brigus Road in Whitbourne to receive bulk items such as: appliances, furniture, electronics, car and truck tires, construction and demolition debris, shingles, et cetera;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to insist mitigation measures be established to contain the waste held at the facility and improve esthetics surrounding the containment area.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I brought this petition – this is numerous times or several times I’ve brought it up. It’s a big issue to the residents of Whitbourne. This transshipment – I call it a transshipment facility but it’s a drop-off for larger appliances, larger items. It’s on the Old Brigus Road, which is directly parallel with the Trans-Canada Highway, but it’s right on the border of the communities near a residential area.

There is a contract been called, tenders have been called for some fencing and some trees to cover up to try to contain this, but the problem with it is they don’t feel and most of the town doesn’t think that’s going to be enough to solve the issue. You need covered containment areas, you need berms. It needs to be done in a more aesthetic value.

It hurts the community, the optics of a mattress blowing out on the highway. You have tourists travelling on that road. The optics of just a pile of garbage – as you enter your community, this is a pile of garbage that basically faces you as you come to the community of Whitbourne.

Residents have no issue with this facility being there, but while Eastern waste management are doing the tender, they’re encouraging them or asking government to help them to expand that tender to make it more ‘sightly’ I guess, more aesthetically valued, better aesthetics because the people in the community have complained about this numerous times to their town and publicly about the mess this is creating in their community and they ask for government to step in and provide better mitigation measures.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m pleased to rise today to present a petition on behalf of residents of my district.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2015 announced a new school for the Witless Bay-Mobile school system; and

WHEREAS the planning and design of this school was underway; and

WHEREAS Statistics Canada has recognized the region as having significant growth; and

WHEREAS the project was cancelled in Budget 2016;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse its decision and construct the proposed school for the Witless Bay-Mobile school system announced in 2015.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this has been an issue that I worked on with the community for the past number of years. In 2015, based on statistics, based on consultants that were paid for from the public purse, it was a clear and definitive decision that this new middle school needed to be built. It was recommended by the Eastern School District, it was confirmed by the Eastern School District and at no time have they approved the current design of nine classrooms that are underway on Mobile Central High School.

Today in Question Period, I made a comment and the minister referenced the fact if I wanted to ask questions, get up and ask questions. We’ve asked a lot of questions here but, unfortunately, the minister is not, has not and cannot answer the question as to why, for some reason, this Liberal government decided to cancel the middle school and come up with some scheme to put nine classrooms on Mobile Central High that today the consultant, based on our meeting last week with the parents with TW, still aren’t sure if this facility or these classrooms can even be built in Mobile Central High School.

In fact, now it’s predicted it’s anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent over what they originally budgeted. In fact, even with it built by 2021, the department’s own numbers, the government’s own numbers tell them that at that time in 2021 there are going to be capacity issues and they’re going to have to build on again.

Further to that, in the meeting it was told to us that they’re looking at an interim plan, a contingency plan because the timeline to do this now has been pushed out. In actual fact, we hear there are portable classrooms being ordered when in fact, if you’re doing the construction of nine classrooms on Mobile Central High, there is no place to put these classrooms.

So now you have a situation where the thing is over budget, no one can rationalize. The Premier has been asked to meet with the families. He won’t do that. He won’t meet with the region. The minister met with us some time ago. His actual line to the people was: Well, why would they want to move up there anyway?

Now just imagine, a Minister of the Crown actually said to people in my district: Why do you think the growth is going to continue? Why are people going to move up to that region? It’s unbelievable that a Minister of the Crown could sit with people from anywhere in this province and make that statement to them.

He’s over there heckling now in the corner. Why doesn’t he get in his seat and stand up and answer some questions. He never has and never will. It’s pathetic. It’s pathetic for a government minister to do that, the Minister of Education. It’s disgusting, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Mount Pearl North.

MR. KENT: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS Budget 2016 implemented a regressive tax on books in this province; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in the country to have such a tax; and

WHEREAS a tax will undoubtedly affect literacy rates in this province as well as negatively impact local authors and publishers;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately cancel this ill-conceived book tax.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

This petition is signed by residents of a number of communities in the province. Just like the Member for St. John’s Centre just argued, this book tax is an ill-conceived regressive measure that has all kinds of unintended consequences. When this was implemented – and this is just one of 300 new taxation measures and fees that we saw in last year’s budget, 299½ of which were continued into Budget 2017 and are now in effect.

This one has had a devastating effect on multiple segments of our population. Some of the headlines at the time when this news first hit: Newfoundland and Labrador set to become first province in Canada to tax books; HST to be applied on books; Newfoundland and Labrador to become the only province to tax book purchases; book tax annoying for readers, crushing for independent store owners; Memorial students say new Newfoundland and Labrador book tax hitting them hard.

Beyond the attack on our local libraries, particularly the rural ones which we had a chance to talk about in Question Period once again today, this is an issue that will affect literacy in our province. We already have literacy rates that we should not be proud of. We have work to do in that area and this is a major step backwards. That’s one unintended consequence of this book tax.

This will affect our arts community as the Member previously outlined this afternoon. It will affect our artists, our authors and others, our publishers. This will have a huge effect on the arts community; it will have an effect on our students. Students are now paying more for their books as a result of this move. It will affect young families. It will affect seniors, many of whom are avid readers and will now have to pay more for books as well.

This is another decision that was made that is bad for people, bad for families, bad for the economy and bad for our communities. We know there are tough decisions to be made and we’ve presented alternatives on how to deal with some of the fiscal challenges facing Newfoundland and Labrador. It was a plan that was working.

To tax books as part of the solution, that’s not a solution. It’s a cop-out, it’s hurtful, it’s having a damaging effect on many sectors of our community and it needs to be reversed.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It’s the beautiful District of Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. SPEAKER: Conception Bay East – Bell Island. I apologize.

MR. BRAZIL: Bell Island is a very important part of it with our new ferry, the Legionnaire, now in place and the dock built and completed. My hon. Member for – I’d like to mention that. It’s wonderful – wonderful.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BRAZIL: Just have to allow the minister now to allow us to park on it. That’s why we built it.

Mr. Speaker, to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the education of children is one of the most important and vital investments that can be made in the success of children; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should be choosing educational options that will provide all students in our province with a higher standard of education and enhance the learning experience for our youth; and

WHEREAS the government decision to make cuts to teachers in our education system will negatively impact the students;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reverse these decisions effective immediately.

Mr. Speaker, we had an opportunity in the last sitting of the House to debate and discuss the cuts to our education system. Since then, we’ve had a very intensive and a very thorough report by the task force that outlined 82 recommendations that reflect people’s view on how we improve our educational outcomes here and how we support the education system, Mr. Speaker.

A lot of them point to things that have been cut over the last two budgets and particularly, two budgets ago. What’s being outlined there is a reflection of people’s view on knowing. If you’re going to invest in people, you have to invest in their education system.

You have to start with our young people; you have to prepare them to be our productive citizens. You have to use the education system to prevent other issues that may occur as they go through their lifelong learning, particularly around mental health, physical education, financial stability and learning, also about all the other challenges that come as part of our education system, particularly about inclusive education.

I know we had a comprehensive inclusive education design that ended with its implementation process the last number of months ago, and it was determined that it wasn’t as effective as we would have hoped it would have been, and that all the stakeholders have now weighed in and said, you know what, we need to find a better approach. The task force has outlined the number of approaches they think would be the best way to do it.

What needs to be done now, there has to be some prioritizing of how it’s going to be done. There has to be some acknowledgement that there has to be resources invested. There has to be an acknowledgement that you have to look at the present resources you have within the education system and find the best way that you can resource those, but also use them in other areas where the priority lists need to be addressed. You also have to develop partnerships with the private sector, the not-for-profit sector, agencies that have expertise in those areas, and particularly the communities, on how we better prepare our students for better outcomes.

All the information that was given, hundreds of people presented from all different backgrounds and all different concerns within the education system, but particularly the educators themselves, those who, day in and day out, have assessed the challenges, what’s needed, how we can better change the process, how we can better address some of the issues. We’ve been fortunate over the last decade or so that we’ve invested in the structural part of it. Our school systems, from a physical point of view, are in good shape. There’s still work to be done, but they’re in physically decent shape. Maybe we need to look at our physical monies and move that into our human resource money and our program money. They’re decisions that need to be made.

As you can see by the petitioners here, Mr. Speaker, they’ve outlined exactly their concerns. This now falls well in play with the task force recommendations. The minister had pointed out at one point that the sky is not falling; this is not an immediate thing that needs attention. Yes, it is. This is another indication that this has to be done; it has to be addressed immediately.

I understand you can’t do all 82 recommendations immediately but you have to prioritize. What are the immediate things that we can do right now that will have a major impact? Or what are the things that are the critical part of the needs in our school system to ensure our students have better outcomes and have a better choice for their educational needs and at the end of the day become more productive citizens and meet their full potential.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Monday, October 16, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS school-aged children are walking to school in areas where there are no sidewalks, no traffic lights and there are areas without crosswalks; and

WHEREAS this puts the safety of children at risk;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to ensure safety of all children, removing the 1.6 kilometre busing policy for the safety of ongoing children.

As in duty bound, your petitioners forever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I know today there were questions in Question Period concerning the 1.6 policy. I understand how the 1.6 policy came in years ago, and the reason for it was safety. I walked to school every day and probably lived within a mile of the school and other people got picked up by bus.

In areas that I’m talking about, like on Torbay Road right now, we just opened a brand new school on Torbay Road. The first couple of mornings I went up and helped with the crosswalks and stuff like that, children coming to school. It’s an area where there are approximately 15,000 to 17,000 cars a day travelling on that road. There are no sidewalks. Areas of the road, it’s probably about 18 to 24 inches of area where they have to walk. I know there’s a policy in place but policies are made to be changed. I believe changing these policies will only help in the safety of our children. It’s going to be too late when something happens.

I applaud the Department of Transportation and Works. They went down and put some signage up there, and I applaud the residents that volunteer every morning at the crosswalks. Also the Town of Torbay, in this particular area, have a commissioner that goes over there. He does three or four schools. He’s there also.

The policy of children having to walk at this time of year is bad, but once the snow gets on the ground it’s even going to be worse. In those areas where, like I said, 18 to 24 inches of the width of a sidewalk – which is no sidewalk, it’s just a gravel road. Once the snow comes this is going to be treacherous for those children to walk along. We’re talking children from, in this particular school it’s 4, 5 and 6. They’re pretty quick and they can move out. In the other schools in my area where there’s a huge concern, we’re talking little children in kindergarten to grade four.

I believe this policy should be changed and that government should really have a look at this policy because it’s all about the safety of the children.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the Adult Dental Program coverage for clients of the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Drug Program under the Access and 65Plus Plans were eliminated in Budget 2016; and

WHEREAS many low-income individuals and families can no longer access basic dental care; and

WHEREAS those same individuals can now no longer access dentures;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the Adult Dental Program to cover low-income individuals and families to better ensure oral health, quality of life and dignity.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I find it very unfortunate that we have to rise in this hon. House to present this petition, especially given when the former administration was in place and introduced the Adult Dental Program with one set of dentures, the Members opposite, who today form government, screamed and yelled for two sets of dentures.

What did they do when they took power? They eliminated the set that people were already availing of. So now they have nothing. While in Opposition, they said we feel people deserve better and then once they took office, we’re not giving you any teeth at all. It’s terrible, Mr. Speaker.

In terms of primary health care, that is something that the current government is really promoting. My understanding based on some preliminary consultations that have started on this is that it’s all about encouraging preventative health care and raising money on health care down the road because we’re going to make people healthier today.

Every person involved in the medical field knows that having healthy teeth means healthy hearts and healthy gums. It really would have a big impact, I would put forth, on lowering the cost of health care down the road by eliminating potential serious problems with respect to other diseases that people will develop as a result of poor oral health.

Again, I implore this government to rethink their decisions, to go back to their thoughts that they used to express in Opposition and give the people of this province the dignity they deserve and restore dentures for people who need them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS an extension was approved to the Robert E. Howlett highway on March 25, 2014; and

WHEREAS the environmental assessment, design and engineering of this project is completed; and

WHEREAS continued residential and commercial growth has increased traffic flows on the Southern Avalon;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the approved extension of the Robert E. Howlett highway to improve and ensure the safety of the travelling public to the Southern Shore and, totally, to the Southern Avalon.

Mr. Speaker, this is a piece of significant infrastructure to meet the growing residential, commercial and industrial needs of the whole Southern Avalon. It’s about a 9.6-kilometre extension that would revert away from one of the largest water supplies serving the City of St. John’s: Bay Bulls Big Pond. It would alleviate environmental concerns in that regard; take it away from that body. That’s always been a concern.

It would bring it, like I said, about 9.6 kilometres, almost 10 kilometres, down close to the intersection of the Town of Bay Bulls with the City of St. John’s boundary, reliving some of the traffic going through Middle Pond and that area.

As I said, what we’ve seen in the region is tremendous growth. Statistics Canada just recently some time ago recognized regions of Witless Bay as one of the fastest growing communities. So we’ve continued to build infrastructure over the past decade. Unfortunately, this is the second piece of infrastructure that was cancelled by this current administration. The other being the middle school for Mobile Central High, but all of this basically shows the growth and the requirement for the free flow of traffic for commercial reasons, certainly residential reasons and it’s a significant piece of infrastructure that’s needed now.

We hear on the other side the talk of all the infrastructure money that’s available from the federal government. I’d certainly like to see our two MPs who serve that region step up and play a role, as well as this government, to get this much needed piece of infrastructure built and built very quickly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS infertility is not an inconvenience; it is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction; and

WHEREAS infertility affects men and women equally; and

WHEREAS treating infertility is excessively expensive and cost prohibitive; and

WHEREAS infertility impairs the ability of individuals and couples to conceive children and begin to build a family;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to implement the program that assists individuals and couples allowing them to access affordable in vitro fertilization services.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is extremely appropriate now for a number of reasons. As just noted by my hon. colleague across, the private Member’s bill coming this Wednesday is about growing our population here and the need for growing our population. It emphasizes more about immigration, but it’s connected to the fact that we have a real need here in Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that we have a next generation and a following generation to provide services here, to drive the economy and to, no doubt, care for an aging population.

We have a multitude of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, couples themselves, who would like to have a child but unfortunately, due to a medical condition, are unable to be able to go through the normal process and have a child, and needs some other medical interventions. The unfortunate thing here is the cost related to that.

We spend in excess of $3 billion in our health care system to provide services to people. This is another health service. It’s very important. It may not hit every citizen, but it has a very important component to those families who want to in a loving, caring environment, bring a child into this world, have them contribute to our economy and to our society, be leaders in our environment and, no doubt, take a leadership role.

Mr. Speaker, we think this is an added program through our health initiatives and our investments that would provide a service, not only from a health point of view, but also provide a service in ensuring that our population grows in the near future and gives every citizen here an opportunity to be parents in a loving and caring manner.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll get to talk to this as the House sits over the next number of months.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, 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 Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS many students within our province depend on school busing for transportation to and from school each day; and

WHEREAS there are many parents of school-aged children throughout the province who live inside the Eastern School District’s 1.6 kilometre zone; therefore, do not qualify for busing; and

WHEREAS the policy cannot override the safety of our children;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to eliminate the 1.6 kilometre policy for all elementary schools in the province and in junior and senior high schools where safety is a primary concern.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this issue has come up and it was brought up yesterday in Question Period by my colleague from Conception Bay East – Bell Island. We’ve had petitions on it and it’s been in the media a fair bit. There is a lot of outcry in different areas. I’m sure Members on both sides deal with it in their individual districts, especially in the beginning of the school year with busing.

It is a huge issue; it’s been around a long time. It’s crossed both party lines. It’s not something that’s new, come over in the last two years, it’s been around for decades. On that note, things have changed a lot over the last number of years. The family model is one big thing that jumps out at me. I know in my district, I deal with this on a pretty regular basis; last year and every beginning of the school year. It’s still ongoing now.

I have a lot of children now, elementary children, who have to find their best way to school. Parents have to adjust their work schedules. Some parents have in-home daycares that some actually had to – one family in particular had to stop their in-home daycare, a small daycare in their house because they couldn’t get the busing for the children there. So it eliminated their ability to actually earn a living, which was kind of an extreme case, but that’s actually happened and I have documentation to prove that.

The family models have changed. When this policy was in effect a lot of years back, you had a support system. The parents lived there and more than likely the mom and dad or the grandparents lived around the corner and there was an aunt and uncle, there were neighbours. It was a full support model.

I know when I went to school I had to walk a long ways to get to my school but it was different. The traffic on the roads was totally different. It was a different time we lived in. I mean I’ll go for my own district. Route 60 has upwards of 20,000 vehicles a day; it’s a four-lane highway by two elementary schools. Those children have to find the best way to get there. There are some sidewalks in some areas. In the new school there are no sidewalks up there, but in the one in St. George’s there is.

Do you want to let a five-year-old to 11-year-old – five to 11 year olds are primary and elementary children. They walk to school every day during the wintertime, during the bad weather. It’s not a perfect – it’s not a little garden road where the school is on and you walk a mile. That’s not a big deal to any child I think, if it’s in a safe circumstance.

Where a lot of these are located, those children cannot get to school in a safe manner, and I think it’s a huge issue. We can punt it back and forth to the district and punt it to government and back and forth, but the thing is everyone agrees with me when I bring it up but no one wants to make a change. I think it’s time for everyone to stand up and try to do something for all these young families and small children in our elementary schools.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. K. PARSONS: Good job, Member.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS regulations link harvesting quotas to vessel length; and

WHEREAS many harvesters own fishing vessels of various sizes but, because of federal regulations, restrict them from using smaller vessels, sometimes putting their crew in danger;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the federal government, to make representation to the federal government to encourage them to change the policy, ensuring the safety of those fish harvesters.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

I’ve continued to do this petition for the last number of years. It’s very important in my district and it’s very important to people that I know personally that are out fishing. A lot of times what happens, just to explain the situation, is that harvesters mainly in the snow crab – there are different zones.

Under the 200-mile zone, they can use a certain size vessel, around 50 feet or larger. Then, there’s another zone inside, which is inside the 200, probably 200 to about 80-kilometre zone and then there’s the inside zone.

Sometimes what happens with harvesters, obviously if they have four or five vessels, they have a couple of vessels that are in really good shape. They’re good vessels; they’re ‘sealy’ bound. There’s no problem to go offshore with them or whatever.

Because of the restrictions that are in with the federal government, based on size of vessels – and I can understand the size of vessels because it came in when this was all a new fishery, but most of the fishermen and fish harvesters that are in the crab fishery today are well established. In one particular case, I know a group that has five boats. I know in another case a group that has four boats, but it’s all about the safety of these individuals.

Sometimes what happens, Mr. Speaker, is they go out and sometimes it’s even rougher inshore than it is offshore. You come in 12 miles with the swell and everything else around the rocks and you get a heave on. Sometimes it’s a lot rougher inside than it is outside, and anyone that’s familiar with water will agree with me on that.

All I’m asking is for our government to go to the federal government and make the changes necessary for harvesters that are on the water so it’s safe for them to be able to go to work each day.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS there has been an identified lack of mental health services in our province’s K to 12 school system; and

WHEREAS this lack is having a significant impact on both students and teachers; and

WHEREAS left unchecked, matters can and in many cases will develop into more serious issues;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to increase mental health services and programs in the province’s K to 12 school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we had a good debate today about the education system and the needs, and particularly the lack of services that are available there. Unfortunately, the minister missed the point when I asked him questions about the answers. It wasn’t that I didn’t get his answer. I don’t like his answers. We can’t wait two and three years down the road.

He’s been there for two years to implement programs around mental health, around inclusion, around how we support those particular needs; the school system itself, the administrators, the teachers, but particularly the parents and the students. They’re the key components here, and we’ve already been identified.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We have a very fluent, a very competent, a very engaging process through the All-Party Committee on Mental Health who identified a number of key components that had to be supported to ensure mental health issues within schools got addressed, so that they didn’t develop into more serious mental health issues and didn’t have a major impact on our students being able to complete their education and compete on a world market for post-secondary education. So, that’s already been out there.

We’ve talked about it in the Premier’s task force, and we’ve talked about the supports that are needed for inclusion. Mental health issues are part of our inclusion process, being able to give our students an opportunity to deal with the challenges they have in our school system, but that has to be done through supports. The supports come from professionals, from outside agencies that we can partner with, from having open dialogue, from ensuring the administration are key to the process here, but particularly, that the parents and the family supports are there to ensure these students get the supports they need.

It’s a very simple process. It’s been outlined, it’s been discussed, it’s been talked about. Health professionals have said it. They’ve adopted that this has to happen because they see the remanence and the fallout of the issues of not being addressed at younger ages when they have to deal with mental health issues in the school system. The legal system will tell you if things are not addressed at a younger age, they can see a trend, unfortunately, where it’s going to lead to issues because of mental health when it comes to legal issues in our system.

So we have health issues. We have legal issues. We have economic issues because people are not as productive in our society and it takes a major toll on everybody in our system.

We need to go back. It’s already out there. Let’s start implementing. Don’t talk about 2018 or 2019. Let’s talk about next week, next month and the next six months down the road to ensure this happens.

Mr. Speaker, I’ll get a chance to speak to this more often as we get in the House down the road.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

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

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m glad to rise today in the House to present a petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS construction of the planned extension that was to be tendered and begin in the spring of 2017 is now several months delayed; and

WHEREAS issues with the septic and water capacity at site have not been resolved, nor have the concerns the proximity of the artisan well to Mobile cemetery, the potential unearthing of unmarked burial sites during construction; and

WHEREAS safety concerns related to traffic, emergency access and parking during and after construction have not been addressed; and

WHEREAS the original budget of $7 million is now estimated at $10 million due to complications identified on site; and

WHEREAS actual student enrolment has exceeded all projections and the extension is a short-term two-year solution to a capacity issue; and

WHEREAS the elected members of the board of trustees of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District have formally and publicly endorsed the need for a new middle school for the region;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to halt the planned extension to Mobile Central High School announced in Budget 2016 and move forward with a new middle school that was recommended in the BAE-Newplan report in 2014, subsequently announced in Budget 2015. A new middle school is a long-term, fiscally responsible solution to capacity issues in our school system.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that has been brought to the House of Assembly on a number of occasions. We have a very active concerned parents group that have met with the minister some time ago. As well, we had interactions with officials with Transportation and Works, as well, interactions with the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.

Through all of that we have the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District trustees, we have the concerned parent groups and we have many people in the region, most people recognizing the importance of that new middle school. That’s the piece of infrastructure that needs to be developed. It was sanctioned in 2015 and for some reason was cancelled by the folks on the other side.

I was pleased on Saturday to be in Calvert to a fireman’s ball. There was discussion about sustainability. I’m very pleased to see the MP, Ken McDonald, indicate that he was in support of this new build. He didn’t think an extension would be appropriate. He stated that publicly. I certainly acknowledge him, for a Member of Parliament, to support the residents of the district.

The second MP for the region, I’d certainly like to hear from him in regard to his thoughts on this extension as opposed to what should be done is building that new middle school that’s required for the region. So it just takes, I think, once and for all, for the minister and for this government to recognize that they made an error, to step up and correct that error and work collectively with the people of the region to build the infrastructure that everybody requires, everybody knows is required, even the trustees at the Newfoundland and Labrador School District and we get this project built.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS emergency responders are at greater risk of post-traumatic stress disorder;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to bring forward legislation containing a presumptive clause with respect to PTSD for people employed in various front-line emergency response professions, including firefighters, emergency medical service professionals, police officers not already covered under federal legislation.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, it’s been a tough time year for many communities in our province, when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and occupational stress injuries in front-line responders in our province. And I’ll point out that the military – I think it’s about 13 or 14 years ago – the Canadian military, actually recognized that post-traumatic stress disorder is not necessarily triggered by a single event, but an accumulation of exposures to events that have impact on them in the workplace.

About four or five years ago, the RCMP made the same recognition, that when members have repeated exposures of traumatic events – and they can come in a variety of ways, it doesn’t necessarily have to be traumatic as some people may imagine, but it can be a difficult and challenging event for that particular officer, because it varies from person to person. It can be recognized that the accumulation can cause PTSD, not a single event.

Workers’ compensation rules in Newfoundland and Labrador indicate that a person, front-line officer or any person claiming an occupational stress injury, or post-traumatic stress disorder from the workplace, has to prove what event caused the PTSD. And for many, it’s impossible. It’s impossible to identify the event that caused their illness. It’s very different from a fall and a broken ankle or a broken leg or broken bone, or something like that. It’s very different from that – or a combination of injuries. But it’s very different from that, in that we now know and the experts now know that it can be an accumulation of exposures, Mr. Speaker, and our current legislation does not reflect that.

I know front-line responders, because they’re not able to identify the event that caused their illness, that can’t get workers’ compensation and continue to work and suffer while they work as front-line professionals in our province, Mr. Speaker, because they can’t give up their job, because they won’t get benefits.

Mr. Speaker, this petition again asks government to introduce legislation to recognize what we now know about PTSD.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island.

MR. BRAZIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS government recently cut vital funding to many of the province’s youth organizations; and

WHEREAS the cuts to grants to youth organizations will have a devastating impact on the communities, as well as its youth and families; and

WHEREAS many of these organizations deeply rely on what was rightfully considered core funding for these day-to-day operations;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately reinstate funding to the province’s youth organizations.

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke to this nearly two years ago when the first set of cuts came through on grants to youth organizations. They’ve continued because monies that were cut were never reinstated. So now we’re into a second fiscal and going into a third with these organizations not having that ability.

It’s ironic. Not 20 minutes ago I checked a message that had gone out to a number of organizations that have me included. It was from the Boys and Girls Clubs who had asked for donations for their fall fair. The quote was: As you know, we’ve taken substantial cuts from government in our core funding. We have to make this up to continue the level of programs and services to ensure young people have a healthy, safe environment to play and learn in.

Mr. Speaker, that speaks volumes. That speaks volumes about the impact that this small amount of money – and that’s what we’re talking here, nickel and dime from the coffers of the province’s tax regime, but substantial for these organizations. Not accounting from a business point of view, the money that’s generated is tenfold.

The money we put into it, these organizations generate it through local fundraising, through partnerships, through municipalities, through federal programs, through foundations, through in-kind services. I say tenfold. I know one organization that I was in and we would get $10,000. Our budget was a million dollars. So just look at the return on our investment there. It was nickel and dime, it was ill thought out when these cuts were made across the board.

These were calculator cuts that never took into account the impact they would have on the people that were using them and, obviously, the impact they would have on the finances of Newfoundland and Labrador. The impact it’s having as we’re going to debate immigration and out-migration here in a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, about the impact it’s having on young people having to leave Newfoundland and Labrador because of the cut in services that they have that they provide. More importantly, the mentoring to ensure our school system, our young people are employable, our young people are productive citizens and our young people have a society that they feel themselves they can be engaged in.

Mr. Speaker, as we’re getting to the end now where we go into a private Member’s resolution, I’ll table this and have an opportunity to speak to this in the near future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]

[RETURN TO LIST OF PETITION DATES]