Lorraine Michael Question Period (05.13.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Over the past sixteen months we have experienced three incidents within provincial jurisdiction that have led to questions about our search and rescue capabilities; two in Labrador, both of which ended in tragedies, and one in the Grand Falls-Windsor area.

There should be two internal reports already in place which government has not made public. We assume that this government will do the right thing and investigate the latest death, that of former Innu Nation Chief Joseph Riche.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: When is her government going to deal with its responsibility for search and rescue on the land and in the waters of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O’BRIEN: Clearly, the hon. member does not understand the responsibilities for search and rescue in this Province, nor in Canada. Marine is covered off by the federal government, and then the ground and search rescue teams are covered off by the Province, which we have twenty-five ground search and rescue teams in the Province.

We have, and I have, met with the federal minister only last week. I have written him on several occasions and I wrote him again this morning. I will keep pressing him to provide the proper and adequate service in Newfoundland and Labrador, through either the military, or augmented with private industry, whatever it takes. We want adequate search and rescue in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I point out to the minister that marine means the water that the Island is in. I am talking about the water that is on the Island and on Labrador. The people of the Province want actions, not words, which we have just gotten again, Mr. Speaker, from the minister.

I ask the Premier: Will she please tell us what their plan is to improve provincial search and rescue capabilities?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O’BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, this is a serious issue for the Province and I am appalled that people in this House are questioning the credibility of our ground search and rescue teams in the Province. There are twenty-five well-trained volunteer groups across this Province providing great service in conjunction with the RNC and RCMP, and have done a fabulous job for over twenty-five or thirty years that I have been involved with them. Now, to have people in the House up questioning their integrity and the service they provide, I cannot believe it.

I will continue to press the federal minister in regard to the services the federal government provides not only to this Province, but also the rest of the other provinces and Territories in Canada. I will keep doing that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL:Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

This government has engineered a crisis in this Province today regarding home care. Home support workers across the Province are receiving letters from their employers saying they will be out of work on June 30. Some businesses are fearing closure.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Why is this government refusing to take responsibility and work with the agencies and the union on this issue?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, our home support agencies are private businesses in this Province. They set their own terms, they negotiate with their workers, they set their wages, et cetera. That is not our responsibility. That is the work they do and we are not party to any of those decisions.

Home care is very important to us in this Province, Mr. Speaker. That is why we invest up to $160 million every year in home support. There is still a Home Support Program available in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In 2007, I was asking questions around the extremely high employee turnover of home support workers, and at that time government increased workers’ salaries approximately by twenty-five cents an hour. Now we have the government refusing to acknowledge that support for workers is still needed, and many may lose their jobs.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Has she done an analysis of what this situation will do to people who need home care and on the possible impacts to the health care system?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I must remind the member opposite again that she is talking about a private business association in this Province. What we are concerned about is the home care that is needed for the people of the Province. We still have our self-managed component of that care in place and it is something we are exceptionally proud.

Mr. Speaker, we serve more than 8,200 home support clients a year. Any of the disputes that happen outside within the home support organizations are just that. Those are disputes within their organizations themselves.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All the minister is doing is listing off facts which have nothing to do with the fact that they know they were involved in helping the agencies to be able to give the salaries that they were giving.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: When is this government going to produce a real strategic plan for dealing with the long-term and home care needs in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable that the member opposite should ask what we are going to do about long-term care in this Province. Mr. Speaker, there is no other government that has ever invested as much in long-term care as this particular government has.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, in terms of our investment around long-term care, around home support, and around any of the programs that we have put in place we are second to none, Mr. Speaker. I would venture to say it – in fact, I know it to be a fact from when I am attending any of the meetings that I do with my provincial counterparts, they are constantly looking for our input, our direction, and how it is that we are accomplishing what we are accomplishing here in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

I find it absolutely appalling that somebody from our own Province would criticize what the rest of Canada (inaudible) –

Associated Caucus Members: 

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