Question Period: March 27, 2012

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

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

Mr. Speaker, yesterday federal NDP Jack Harris stood in the House of Commons and asked government about the state of Search and Rescue in Canada as experienced in the tragic death of Burton Winters. The federal minister responded that the Province had responsibility for Ground Search and Rescue, basically throwing it back in the Premier’s lap. It is clear the Province shares responsibility with the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: What is she going to do, besides writing letters, to ensure that both sides will now work together for the good of the people of the Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, there is much more activity been going on here than writing letters. The very first thing we undertook as a government was to review our own protocols, and to make sure that everything was in place and was in order and working the way that it ought to be, Mr. Speaker. We live up to our responsibility, Mr. Speaker, and it was found that our processes and our protocols were appropriately followed.

Mr. Speaker, we have to ask questions of the federal government. So far, Mr. Speaker, we are not –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: – impressed, in fact, in the quality of the information that we have received. As I said earlier in Question Period, I was assured by the Minister of National Defence, and Rear Admiral Gardam that weather prevented helicopters from flying, Mr. Speaker. There is now contradicting information – the federal government needs to answer to that.

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.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I do invite the Premier to table the report that she is talking about, with regard to the provincial protocols – I think that should be made public.

Mr. Speaker, in the House yesterday, the Premier also said she was writing a letter to the Minister of National Defence – or at least one of her ministers was – demanding explanations of why Cormorant helicopters were not deployed.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Will she table this correspondence and what comes back to her?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the letter has been sent to Minister MacKay, once we get a response, Mr. Speaker, I will table the letter, and I will table his response.

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 will be looking forward to that from the Premier, I am glad that she has told us that.

Mr. Speaker, also in the House yesterday, the Premier said the federal government’s response to her letter would dictate further actions of her government. Mr. Speaker, the federal minister’s response in the House of Commons yesterday makes it clear that she does not have to wait for a written reply.

So I am asking the Premier: What does his reply yesterday dictate to her now?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as Premier of this Province, I was told, by the Minister of National Defence, and Rear Admiral Gardam, that he only reason that the helicopters did not fly was because of weather conditions. There has been contradictory –

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We do have conversations, I say to the Opposition House Leader. Not everything is in writing, we do talk face to face to people. I had a telephone conversation with Minister MacKay –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker has recognized the hon. the Premier.

The hon. the Premier, continue with your answer please.

MS MICHAEL: Well, I wish she would answer my question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker has acknowledged the hon. the Premier, and I ask members to respect the Chair. When the Speaker stands, I ask members to take their seat.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for my error, all answers in this House are directed to the Speaker.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I had a telephone conversation with Minister MacKay. I have had a face to face meeting with Rear-Admiral Gardam, Mr. Speaker. In both those conversations I was assured that weather prevented helicopters from flying on the first call that was received. Mr. Speaker, there has been information in the –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: - public domain that contradicts what I was told, both by the minister and the rear-admiral. I am giving them an opportunity to tell me if there is other information that was not included in that report, Mr. Speaker. I will wait to hear what they will have to say. Their answer will dictate our next actions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health said yesterday or last week, he replied to questions -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: - regarding non-functioning heart monitors that nurses –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker has acknowledged the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Health who said last week that nurses in the Province have doubled, if not tripled the amount of training that other nurses have received on the machines that we have the problem with at Eastern Health.

Today in a press conference the head of Eastern Health said nurses are having adaptability problems. We know that the nurses are still saying the machines are unreliable.

I ask the Minister of Health: What is the real problem with these monitors?

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 can confirm the information that she is asking for in terms of training with regard to the nurses there. High-end users receive twelve hours as opposed to the four hours that are usually offered.

Before the tender was awarded Draeger actually spent two days here in St. John’s, one day in Grand Falls-Windsor and one day in Corner Brook to offer on-site equipment fairs. Eighty-two of the clinical staff including sixty nurses attended, and 91 per cent of those attendees said that the product was clearly very acceptable.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, do I understand the minister to say that the problem is with the nurses and she has no confidence in the 100 nurses who signed the petition that went to Eastern Health?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I do not know how to respond to that. We have the utmost respect for the nurses in our system in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, nurses are a very, very valuable part of our medical chain and we respect the work that they do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Never, never, would we undermine the work of nurses, and I think it is absolutely despicable to even suggest that here in this House, Mr. Speaker. I find that exceptionally hard to listen to, as the Minister of Health and Community Services, Mr. Speaker. We are concerned about some of the issues and we listen intently to the issues. The fact is, these monitors are safe. We have been told by the company that these monitors are safe. We see evidence around the work (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, if we learned anything from the Cameron Inquiry it is that we must listen to our health care professionals –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS ROGERS: - who are working directly with our patients. It is folly to ignore them, Mr. Speaker. Very experienced nurses in ICU, CVICU and CCU are sounding the alarm bells loudly and clearly about patient risk and safety. Mr. Speaker, these nurses have already received their training on the machines. We know it is not the Wi-Fi. Mr. Speaker, these machines have been in use a year now and still have a serious problem.

Will the minister order an independent assessment, review, and report these problems back, to see whether these machines are appropriate for our tertiary 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: Mr. Speaker, this is fear mongering at its best. To draw a line from a diagnostic tool to Cameron is fear mongering at its best. It is undermining the health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, and that is truly unfair.

What happened with Cameron was a pathology error. This is a diagnostic tool. Nurses diagnose, doctors diagnose, not these monitors. To draw the line to Cameron on this is real fear mongering and I find it difficult to listen to.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Speaker, outfitters in my region say a quickly declining moose population is having a dire effect on their industry. They blame government policy for the decline and demand immediate action for the future, for the sustainability of the hunt.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Environment and Conservation said his government is planning a five year moose management plan starting next year. Mr. Speaker, 2013 is far too late. They need action now. Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: Will he immediately cut licenses and shorten the season which the industry is calling for?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I believe this party has to get their act together because I am not sure which part they are coming from. I think the hon. member now is suggesting that I cut the licenses to outfitters in his region of the Province, Mr. Speaker. If he wants to pull licenses, what is he suggesting? That we cut outfitting licenses, an industry that puts $40 million annually into this Province, Mr. Speaker?

I think not, Mr. Speaker. This government is not about to cut licenses to outfitters, Mr. Speaker. There is a balance. We have the social issues, Mr. Speaker, and we also have the biological issues that we have to face. We know that the moose population is in decline. I have been very clear on that. We peaked at about 147,000 back in the late 1990s; we are now looking at about 110,000 outside of the parks, Mr. Speaker. We are very conscious of what is happening with moose.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Speaker, a $40 million industry is in danger; its failure will cost dozens of direct jobs and many indirect jobs. Mr. Speaker, the outfitters are the experts. They fear that social media -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: - will destroy them if the kill rate continues to slide.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: Will he listen to the outfitters and take immediate action?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, it is very important - Mr. Speaker, the moose must be tweeting them; that is all I can figure out. They must be getting a few tweets from the moose, at least the ones on the Northern Peninsula.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, before I go any further, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say we do not make decisions in this government unless we consult, Mr. Speaker. I have met with the outfitting industry, Mr. Speaker. I even met with a group of outfitters from that gentleman’s area of the Province. Mr. Speaker, we take everybody’s issues very, very seriously. It is about meeting with the stakeholders, and as a government we have to find that balance, Mr. Speaker, and that is something we plan on doing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Question Period has expired.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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