Question Period: March 22, 2012

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House of Assembly, the Minister of Labrador Affairs spoke about how wonderful the Northern Strategic Plan is working. Mr. Speaker, the Joint Review Panel for Muskrat Falls said that health services in Happy Valley-Goose Bay cannot meet current needs, let alone accommodate an influx of people with the project. The Labrador-Grenfell Regional Health Authority agreed, saying resources are needed now to ensure a timely response to increased service demands.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Is her government committed to expanding hospital and health care services in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to meet urgent needs now?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of health care in Newfoundland and Labrador, I do not think anyone can chide at what we at all. We spend more per capita than any other region of this country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: At $4,752 per person in this Province, Mr. Speaker, we have 40 per cent of the Budget. So obviously our commitment to the health care needs of Newfoundland and Labrador are very, very significant.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I encourage the minister if she is going to answer questions to stop throwing money around and answer the question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hospital at Happy Valley-Goose Bay is overcrowded as it is now, and this area will be the site of many more industrial workplaces than at present. Mr. Speaker, this hospital is not big enough to deal with a major industrial workplace accident were one to occur. There is a limit to how many people can even be medevaced out.

So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: What is her government doing to address the current and future expansion needs of this hospital?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I will try not to mention any money that we might commit. I do not know if we do not need to commit any money to Labrador or what. However, I will tell you that we will continue with the significant investments that we have already made in Labrador to see to it that the health care is the best we can possibly deliver.

That has been our history, that is what we are doing, and it is what we will continue to do in terms of health care in Labrador and in Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, but I will not give you a dollar figure.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, I have been in this House since 2006 and I have been hearing about hospitals in Labrador. Mr. Speaker, Labrador West still does not have its new hospital. It is still in the process, even though two additional mining projects were announced this year, bringing in more industrial workers.

So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Can they tell us when the new hospital is going to be opened in Labrador West?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, work has been ongoing at that hospital and it is still ongoing. From what I understand, Mr. Speaker, we are nine months ahead of schedule –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: – in terms of the completion of that hospital. Now, I do not know if she wants us to rush it and do half a job with it. I am not sure what she wants but, Mr. Speaker, what we are committing to is a first-class facility.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will tell the minister one of the things I want, Mr. Speaker: I want to know, given the amount of heavy industry going on in Labrador West, will this hospital be equipped for the contingencies such as major workplace accidents? We have never told been what programs are going to be in that hospital?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the services in any hospital are dictated to us by the medical profession – people who understand how it is to deliver medical service, and what services are required, what services are needed. I am not going to make a decision as to what services are needed out there in the hospital. I am certainly not going to micromanage to that level. However, I will certainly take the advice of medical experts and the medical professionals who will be operating in a particular area.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is very interesting to hear the minister not even acknowledge that community needs are not going to be looked at by this government in determining. Community needs are part of what determine what is going to happen in the hospital.

Mr. Speaker, government is facing patient flow problems across this Province. They have had a patient flow study – albeit from Eastern Health – for over two years, that clearly outlines the lack of home care and long-term care as a key problem. Mr. Speaker, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay alone, the hospital is full of older people in need of long-term care.

So I ask the Premier: When is the government going to reveal to the people of this Province the long- promised long-term care and home care strategy?

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, in a Province with an aging demographic, as we have, in a Province with chronic disease, we recognize better than anyone the need to continue to focus on the needs of our seniors, and the need to continue to focus on long-term care – and that is precisely what we have done.

Now, while we have not yet given a strategy for them to criticize, Mr. Speaker, what we have done is we have continued to invest in long-term care. Four hundred and – I am not allowed to mention numbers, but I have to – $440 million, Mr. Speaker, every year, in terms of long-term care, an additional $140 million since 2006.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs: Canada Water Week is ongoing, with celebrations from coast to coast. Knowing that the Province has 160 boil orders still in place, 120 for more than two years, Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell the House what his department –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: – has undertaken to protect water resources for these communities and the many other unreported, unincorporated communities that do not fall under the confines of the Municipalities Act?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. O’BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, my hon. member across the House has only been here for a short period of time and I guess he does not have his homework done in regard to the significant investments that this Province, this government has made to municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador for the last eight years. The poor man needs to do a little bit of research before he gets up into the House of Assembly and talks about investment in water and waste water in this Province. When we have over $500 million gone into municipalities over the last –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. O’BRIEN: Oh, and they do not want to listen to numbers, do they, because that does not mean anything – that does not mean anything at all to the hon. members across the House. This is what it takes, it takes investment. As well, we have invested in regard to a comprehensive look in regard to water and quality issues in water issues in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have invested in water systems (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Speaker, there is a sign at the beginning of Route 432 from Plum Point to Roddickton that warns there is twenty-six kilometres of rough road ahead. Mr. Speaker, residents say this is the worst road in the Province. Mr. Speaker, tourism operators tell me the road is so bad that tourists are starting to turn back abandoning their plans to visit tourism sites at the end of the road.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation: What is the point of award-winning tourism ads if your government has no plan to provide safe roads for visitors and residents?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, roads on the Northern Peninsula; when I went up I think it was in 1999 or 2000, I can tell you the state of the roads up on the Northern Peninsula, they were not roads to begin with. Since that time this government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in roads in this Province including the Northern Peninsula.

I say to the member opposite, what are you looking for? We have invested, we continue to invest and it is making a tremendous difference. You talk about safe roads, that investment is making those roads safer than they ever were before in the history of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Speaker, last year government announced road work in my district which was not done. Mr. Speaker, the fact is little work was done according to the residents. What little work was done has been washed away; they refer to it as a Band-Aid solution which was a waste of money. Mr. Speaker, penny-wise and pound foolish is not a plan.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Transportation and Works: When is this government going to provide a reliable road network for the people of the Northern Peninsula?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many ways that I can say this, but this government invests $250 million in roads every single year - $250 million, and that is in new road construction let alone the maintenance money that we put into the hands of our workers. The roads in this Province - we have replaced, for example, over the last little while we talk about bridges, in the last four years we have replaced 190 bridges at a cost of $122 million, and someone can get up on the other side and say we are not investing in roads? I say, check the facts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, a new study from the University of Toronto shows again that students who attend full-day Kindergarten classes are better at reading and mathematics than our students who participate in half-day Kindergarten classes. I ask the Minister of Education: Why is there no plan for full-day Kindergarten in this Province –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: Why is there no plan for full-day Kindergarten in this Province when the benefits are so obviously clear?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We as a government and the Department of Education are always exploring the options that we want to bring forth and engage our young children in. One of the things, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite seems to have missed, he probably does not research this at his level at the university, but the imperative years for investment in children is that critical zero to three age which we have invested in. Mr. Speaker, $4.8 million over three years to be invested in the zero to three age, one of the best investments we will make in education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Most five-year-olds in Canada now attend full-day Kindergarten, and many jurisdictions are expanding to four-year-olds. I ask the Minister of Education: Why is this government allowing our primary education system to fall behind the rest of Canada?

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

You have time for a quick answer.

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, I certainly take objection to what he is saying, that we are falling behind the rest of Canada; certainly not, Mr. Speaker. The research around the investments that we have put into the zero to three years, Mr. Speaker, came from support from research at Memorial, teachers in the field. Mr. Speaker, we are exploring all of the options, full day Kindergarten being one-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Question Period has expired.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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