Lorraine Michael Question Period (11.19.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

Mr. Speaker, last April, the final report of the Baie Verte asbestos miners’ registry was presented to government. The report confirms that most Baie Verte miners received more exposure to asbestos fibres in a matter of months than the law permits for a lifetime.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Will she support the call for the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission to immediately exempt all former employees of the Baie Verte mine from any restrictions on claims for all asbestos-related diseases, without exception?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Service NL.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRUMMELL: Mr. Speaker, the Baie Verte Miners’ Registry is one of the first of its kind in Canada. Mr. Speaker, it is something that we are very proud of.

The commission has a strong partnership that it has developed with the community groups in Baie Verte, as well as the United Steel Workers, Mr. Speaker. They have worked very closely together to get this registry up to speed and in place. As well, the commission will be using this registry in future adjudications. It is going to be a tool that they are going to be using in a very productive way. We think this registry will move the claims further and faster in a process that is going to be satisfactory to all.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

We all understand that it was great having the registry; however, it is not working at this moment.

I want to ask the Premier if she will investigate why the commission has approved claims for only 36 per cent of the Baie Verte registrants with medically verified, asbestos-related diseases?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Service NL.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRUMMELL: Mr. Speaker, again, the commission is continuing to adjudicate these claims on a case-by-case basis. These cases are based on the adjudication. It is based on scientific and medical evidence. They will continue to do so. They will use this registry as a tool in doing that adjudication, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

If they are using scientific methods, I am asking the Premier to investigate why the commission refuses to include gastrointestinal cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases in the list of asbestos- related diseases, because science says they are probably related to the asbestos?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRUMMELL: Mr. Speaker, again, I reiterate the best scientific and the best medical evidence is what we are going by. Probably does not come into the equation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I point out to the minister that precautionary principle does, and that is what should be brought into play here.

Mr. Speaker, we hear today that the federal government’s cross-country CETA good news tour is not coming to our Province. Mr. Speaker, why is the Premier not demanding that federal Cabinet ministers explain the CETA deal in our Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we went through a period in consultation with the federal government in regard to coming to the conclusion on the CETA agreement, Newfoundland and Labrador. We are certainly very delighted with the outcome of that; one being, as we all know, the agreement we had in regard to our fishing industry and getting access to the EU market, 500 million people, over $17 trillion from GDP.

With that as well, through the Premier’s efforts and our government, we were able to negotiate a $400 million package to bring the fishery to a new stage in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is a $400 million investment in a $1 billion industry. It is probably unprecedented in a country of Canada that would be negotiated. We are very proud of it.

I understand at some future date the federal government may be here to talk about that, but certainly we as a Province are proud of what we negotiated. If the federal government wants to come, we will certainly welcome them.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So, is $280 million the price the Premier was willing to take from the federal government to stifle local opposition regarding the secret CETA deal, I ask, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing secret about the documents that are available online to everybody in this Province. We are prepared to table them here in the House. There have been eighteen public meetings with ministers across this country. We expect that they will come to Newfoundland and Labrador, but if the Leader of the Third Party is asking me if I am prepared to forgo $280 million for a visit from a minister giving information that we could get online, yes, I am.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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