Home Care Program

APM Report Release

Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Deputy Speaker, my question is to the Premier (Mr. Filmon).

For the last couple of weeks we have been asking the government to release reports, and specifically we have been asking the government last week and this week to release the APM report that was paid for by taxpayers. The minister has said a number of things about this report: 1) he did not know whether there was a report, 2) that there may have been a report, that it may have had material in it, et cetera.

I would refer the Premier back to Hansard on May 27, 1994, where the minister specifically states, “ . . . the work of APM with our department on the home care project last year arrived at certain recommendations.

Given the serious initiative of the Filmon government or the provincial government on home care and given that we have paid for a report by the APM consultants dealing and providing recommendations to his government, will the Premier now order his Minister of Health to make public the APM recommendations and documents so that all Manitobans can see what we paid for on this very important public service called home care?

Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): Mr. Deputy Speaker, the APM work with respect to home care was not the subject of a formal report. What the process involved and the arrangement involved was a process to facilitate the people who work for Manitoba Health in the provision of home care services in trying to identify areas where improvements could be made. That is what was arrived at. There was no formal APM report as the honourable member’s question suggests.

The work that was done by Manitobans working on this project led to the same kinds of conclusions that were arrived at in the Price Waterhouse report, some of the same ones. They did not obviously suggest user fees like the NDP-commissioned Price Waterhouse report did, but it identified problems, problems like gaps in services, inconsistencies amongst the regions, a sense of unfairness amongst staff and clients, and significant inefficiencies--the same kinds of findings as in the NDP-commissioned Price Waterhouse report.

Mr. Doer: The government is talking about a formal report. People have been quoted as seeing the documentation from the APM. The minister, himself, has said, we have recommendations. They have “. . . arrived at certain recommendations.”--on May 27, 1994. He says it in Hansard on page 2556, in 1994. We do not want different answers different days to the same questions.

I would like the Premier (Mr. Filmon) to stop the cover-up of recommendations and documents from the APM on the home care system and order his Minister of Health to make public all documents on home care from APM so all the public can see it.

Mr. McCrae: Mr. Deputy Speaker, in that review the Department of Health found many of the same circumstances and conditions that the Price Waterhouse report found. I do not disagree with honourable members and others who comment and make very positive comments about our Home Care program. The difference is that we have--in my position and the position of honourable members opposite--not quite yet achieved perfection.

There are problems in the Home Care program, and yesterday the honourable member for Kildonan (Mr. Chomiak) said, go back to the system we had in the first place. Well, he wants a system, which by his own commissioned report, the Price Waterhouse report, tells us that there is no strategic data plan, inadequate hospital discharge planning practices, inappropriate discharges to home care, lack of proper discharge preparation and potentially unsafe client situations. That is what he wants us to go back to. No.

* (1350)

Mr. Doer: Over the last couple of weeks and over the last couple of years, we have had different answers to the same question from the same minister dealing with a home care consulting report that taxpayers have paid for on a vital service right now that people feel very strongly about.

The minister talks about caring about Alzheimer patients and other patients in Manitoba who require home care services. All of those groups, the seniors association, the disabled organizations that represent many of those people, have recommended against privatization. The government has commissioned reports; they have recommendations in their possession.

I would ask the Premier to stop the cover-up of the APM documentation and call the minister to account and release those documents and those recommendations right today.

Mr. McCrae: Mr. Deputy Speaker, I told the honourable Leader of the Opposition, there is no APM report. I told him that what that was was a process to facilitate the Department of Health in addressing some of the problems that there are in the home care system.

In his preamble the honourable Leader of the Opposition identifies people with Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis and others. We are in a labour dispute right now and the union in this case has agreed to look after less than 1 percent of the people in our home care system, those people who are terminally ill who are going to die within three to six months. Those are the people that the union has agreed to provide services to.

Why will they not provide services to people mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, people with Alzheimer's disease, people with multiple sclerosis, people with Parkinson' s disease, people with severe cases of arthritis and others who need these services? Why do they refuse to provide services to those people?

Home Care Program

Advisory Committee/Appeal Panel

Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): Mr. Deputy Speaker, the government, the minister, with much fanfare, set up an advisory committee on home care, a hand-picked committee, and he told us in the House that he did not want to tell them what their advice ought to be and he thinks we should show a little respect for this process and hear from the advisory council or the appeal panel.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, we now find out that this advisory committee was not even given the plans to privatize before the government decided to privatize. They were given final results of privatization.

My question for the Premier (Mr. Filmon) is, how does the Premier expect the people of this province to have any confidence in this minister, in this government, when the minister's own advisory committee is not even given data and information about privatization when that committee is the very one that is supposed to make recommendations concerning home care in this province?

Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): Mr. Deputy Speaker, the advisory committee has been consulted repeatedly and will continue to be consulted, as will the appeal panel, which is, by the way, I remind honourable members, something they never thought to have for the clients of the Home Care program. Since having an appeal panel, we have been able to solve a lot of problems in the home care system, and our clients have been pleased about that.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, we ask all kinds of people for their views. We ask people in advisory committees for their views. Sometimes we take their advice; sometimes we agree. Indeed, in the present situation, there is no evidence that there is even consensus amongst the members of the advisory committee on the issues that we are discussing here.

So, while I have great respect for each and every one of them--and they were chosen for the advisory committee capacity because of their backgrounds representing consumers, representing providers of services; their advice is always going to be valuable to us--ultimately, the people of Manitoba asked this government to make decisions that are in the best interests of all Manitobans, and that is what we will continue to do.

* (1355)

Advisory Committee Report Release

Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): Mr. Deputy Speaker, the minister will not make public the Connie Curran recommendations. He will not make public a single report or article--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I would like to remind the honourable member that there is no need for a preamble or postamble to his question.

The member could put his question now, please.

Mr. Chomiak: My question to the Minister of Health is, will the Minister of Health today release the report and the recommendations of the ministerial advisory committee since it is being paid for by taxpayers’ expense and we have a right to know what his own advisory committee had to say about the government's ill-fated plans to privatize?

Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would like to know the view of the committee with respect to whether they want to have their report released to the honourable member for Kildonan in view of the fact that it seems that there is not a consensus in that committee. In any event, on the point being raised, I would suggest the honourable member address that question to the committee itself, remembering, as I have said, that it is my understanding that the view expressed is not one that is the subject of unanimity or perhaps even consensus.

Mr. Chomiak: Mr. Deputy Speaker, my final supplementary to this Minister of Health: Can the Minister of Health explain to the people of Manitoba why he refuses to make public the Connie Curran recommendations, the recommendations and advice of his own advisory committee, and why he was afraid to give his own advisory committee his plans to privatize home care before he privatized home care and gave it to them as a fait accompli? Can the minister explain that to the public of Manitoba?

Mr. McCrae: Mr. Deputy Speaker, there is no Connie Curran report or recommendations. I have answered the question already about the advisory committee. If the honourable member wants to access that, he can ask the committee himself for that.

The APM contract included a process, not a report with recommendations. It included a process which might well have brought forward recommendations from within the department, but they are not APM recommendations.

Home Care Program

Labour Dispute--Contingency Plan

Mr. Daryl Reid (Transcona): Mr. Deputy Speaker, on April 12 this government tabled their home care contingency plan, both the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour. Since that time, we find that there actually is no contingency plan in place and that the system or the process that this government has said they are putting in place is a total mess, and this government in fact is responsible for initiating the strike in their attempts, their ill-conceived attempts to privatize the home care system in this province. Now we find that the Minister of Health has asked other government employees with no training, absolutely no training, to take over the jobs that were performed by the home care workers.

I want to ask the Minister of Labour, is he aware by his government’s action that he is breaking the labour code of the province of Manitoba? In fact, he is in contravention of The Labour Relations Act of Manitoba.

Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Labour): Mr. Deputy Speaker, the government of Manitoba is very concerned that these patients and clients receive the appropriate care, and we have asked the government union in this case to provide essential services. Their response to the government is that they will provide care to 1 percent of the clients, those who are terminally ill and will die within three to six months. We have asked that the government union consider an appropriate essential services agreement. The union has consistently refused. I would ask those union members who care about patients to deliver that care.

* (1400)

Mr. Reid: Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am going to table some documents that the government is utilizing to find replacement workers to replace those home care workers.

My question is for the Minister of Labour. How can he tell the clients of the home care system in the province of Manitoba that taking the clerical staff and other office working staff out of various government departments without training is going to provide for the safety of those clients who rely so heavily on qualified trained staff to perform the necessary functions and duties that the home care service has been providing to the clients in the province of Manitoba?

Mr. Toews: Mr. Deputy Speaker, we will take every reasonable step to ensure that the patients and clients who deserve care receive that care and I, for one, have great faith in our civil service that they are properly trained and when we ask them to perform tasks that they can perform those tasks. I have great faith in our civil service to do the right thing.

Mr. Reid: Mr. Deputy Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Minister of Health.

Can the Minister of Health (Mr. McCrae) tell the clients of the home care system, the public home care system in the province of Manitoba, how it is to their advantage on the safety and the service delivery to have people who are coming from other government departments untrained and unskilled in the delivery of the home care system, to have those people go out and attend to the needs of the home care clients in the province? How is that going to attend to the safety and the needs of those home care recipients?

Mr. Toews: Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I indicated earlier, we are taking all the reasonable steps to ensure that these clients receive the care. What concerns me more is the attitude of a union that would call a strike vote before it even attended the first negotiating meeting that it scheduled. I have the schedule here of the meetings that it asked us to participate at and when we said we would come to the table, they have a strike vote and refuse to negotiate at all. Who is in fact caring about the people of Manitoba and these patients? I will tender this letter.

Health Care System

Advertising Campaign

Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson): Mr. Deputy Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Labour would care to put a vote on this issue to the clients of home care in Manitoba. Perhaps he would care to do that.

My question is to the Premier (Mr. Filmon). We are seeing increasing chaos in our health care system, whether it be the home care situation or Pharmacare or the cuts to eye exams. Day in, day out, we are seeing this government is creating chaos, because less than one year after the last election they are breaking virtually every promise they made in health care.

(Madam Speaker in the Chair)

But, Madam Speaker, at the same time they have not refused to continue with the advertising campaign that has been developed with one Barb Biggar, the former communications secretary for the Premier.

I would like to ask the Premier, given the chaos in our health care system, will he at least now permanently cancel this PR campaign which is attempting only to deflect the real attention of Manitobans away from the chaos we have currently under this Conservative government in terms of health care?

Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): Madam Speaker, as long as honourable members opposite and their friends at the head of the unions in this province continue to feed the people of Manitoba with information that is not correct, I think it is necessary for the people of Manitoba to understand what is really happening. But I do not think I could possibly put it--if I practised for a week, I do not think I could put it better than Kelli Paige.

Kelli Paige wrote a letter to a radio station and a couple of the newspapers. In one very brief paragraph she puts it better than I could: I am presently still an MGEU member who voted no to strike action and am disgusted with the union and members who chose to walk out on thousands of sick and disabled seniors who need them.

Honourable members opposite want no services in these circumstances. Madam Speaker, I am with Kelli Paige.

Mr. Ashton: Madam Speaker, a lot of people were disgusted at this government for running--

Madam Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member for Thompson has been recognized for a supplementary question which requires no preamble.

Mr. Ashton: Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Health if for once he could answer a very straightforward, serious question, and that is, in this particular case, will he agree to put on hold the PR campaign to be run by one Barb Biggar? Will he take that money and reallocate it to the health care needs of Manitobans?

Mr. McCrae: Madam Speaker, I do not think there is anything that has been done the last eight years that honourable members opposite have not asked us to put on hold. Where is the vision amongst honourable members opposite? Where is the leadership over there? It just does not exist. If there is leadership, it is in the union halls of this province and it is very questionable leadership at that.

Kelli Paige said something else, Madam Speaker, that I think honourable members opposite would like to hear--

Madam Speaker: Order, please.

Point of Order

Mr. Ashton: Madam Speaker, Beauchesne Citation 417 is very clear: “Answers to questions should be as brief as possible, deal with the matter raised and should not provoke debate.”

Madam Speaker, I raised the question about an advertising campaign to be run by one Barb Biggar. Whatever rantings and ravings the Minister of Health wants to put on the record with his decade-old vendetta against the working people of this province he could have done yesterday in an emergency debate which we had requested, but he should not abuse Question Period by refusing to answer a very direct question about the priorities of this government putting forward--

Madam Speaker: Order, please. I recognize this is a very serious issue and sensitivities and emotions are running high. However, it is not in the best interests of the 57 leaders of the province in this Chamber, nor in the interests of the public, to continue to not come to order when requested to do so.

* (1410)

Hon. Jim Ernst (Government House Leader): On the same point of order, Madam Speaker, I would refer you and I would refer my honourable friend from Thompson, the opposition House leader to Beauchesne Citation 416.(1), the last line of which I think puts it very succinctly: “A Member may put a question but has no right to insist upon an answer.”

Madam Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member for Thompson indeed has a point of order. I would remind the honourable minister to respond to the question being posed with relation to the reference cited by the honourable government House leader. Indeed the minister does not have to respond, but the minister started to respond.

I would also ask--order, please. Perhaps if there were less disruption in the House, everyone would clearly hear the question being asked and the response being given and there would be less interruption of the proceedings in terms of points of order.

Now, are we ready to proceed?

* * *

Mr. McCrae: Madam Speaker, I am not going to ask that the question be read back, but the question was something to the effect that the public needs to know what is going on, except that the honourable member for Thompson does not want us to tell the public what is going on. But the public needs to know how Kelli Paige feels and Kelli Paige writes: I do not want to work for the union or follow their directions. I want to work with all our clients that they have walked out on. I have been very tactfully threatened by my supervisor with regards to my job and with work after the strike. She suggested--

Madam Speaker: Order, please.

Point of Order

Mr. Ashton: On a point of order, Madam Speaker, you just ruled that the Minister of Health was out of order. You indicated he did not have to answer questions but that he had not been following the Citation 417. The Minister of Health is now rising again after your ruling and continuing with exactly the same nonanswer he gave previously.

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask if you will once again ask the Minister of Health to come to order and either answer the question or sit down.

Mr. McCrae: On the same point of order, I was answering the honourable member’s question about information for the public. The public needs to understand that there is another side of the story besides the one that is put out by honourable members opposite. Is he telling me that Kelli Paige’s opinion does not count in this province, because the last I checked, we all had an opinion and we all had a right to express it, Madam Speaker.

Public Sector Workers

Essential Services

Mr. Gary Kowalski (The Maples): My question is for the First Minister (Mr. Filmon).

The threat of spring flooding still looms in Manitoba. To complicate matters, Manitobans are not protected by an essential services agreement and during the spring of ’96 a number of Manitoba's public unions have opted for a recorded strike vote. Has the Premier issued any instructions to the Emergency Measures Organization regarding the possibility of spring flooding and a public sector strike coinciding during the spring of 1996?

Hon. Brian Pallister (Minister of Government Services): The Emergency Measures Organization is working in co-operation with all affected communities and potentially affected communities, and certainly we are of the opinion at this stage that preparation that can be made is being made. A number of possible scenarios could unfold in this province. Of course, all of us are hopeful that whatever the events that unfold, they have the least possible impact on Manitobans, their property and, of course, their well-being.

Mr. Kowalski: In the absence of an essential services agreement and the potential for a strike during a spring flood, has the Premier (Mr. Filmon) approached Manitoba's public sector unions to negotiate an essential services pact before placing Manitobans at risk?

Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Labour): As you know, there is no legislation in place in this province in respect of essential services agreements. We work these things out voluntarily with our unions, and we see no reason why the negotiations in respect to the civil service, should there be any concern in that respect, that we cannot work out an agreement, Madam Speaker. We are in the process of doing that now.

Mr. Kowalski: In light of the previous strikes where essential services agreements were not in place, the hospital strike, the home care strike, would they reconsider approaching the Manitoba public sector unions and negotiate an essential services agreement in the event of a spring flood?

Mr. Toews: I appreciate the question, and if the member wants any details as time goes on in respect of what we are doing in the area of essential services, I would be happy to sit down and discuss that with him. I know he is a very reasonable man, and he would want that information.

Home Care Program


Ms. Becky Barrett (Wellington): Madam Speaker, I would like to table a letter sent to the Premier on March 21, from a woman whose husband has muscular sclerosis, in which she states: What you are doing to the old and handicapped and the sick and their caregivers is cruel, callous in the extreme and beyond understanding. It shows a lack of understanding of a patient’s needs for security and constancy. It shows a total lack of concern on the part of your government for a group of people who are defenceless and without a spokesperson.

I would like to ask the Premier what his response is to this woman whose concerns reflect those of thousands of caregivers, clients and families throughout the entire province of Manitoba.

Hon. Gary Filmon (Premier): Madam Speaker, our intent is always to provide for the client’s needs. Our intent is always to ensure the services that they depend upon, that they turn to government for, will be provided. Unlike the member opposite, who supports the right to unions to withdraw these essential services and who puts people such as she reads the letter from in jeopardy by her actions, we believe that there is a responsibility and we take that responsibility, and I would wish that the member opposite would support the patients and the ones who need care, rather than just stand in solidarity with their union boss friends.

Ms. Barrett: I would like to ask the Premier, will he not listen, why will he not listen to the caregivers, the families and the clients of Manitoba, who have said with one voice that it is the Premier and the Minister of Health who are jeopardizing the health of Manitobans, not the workers in the province of Manitoba, instead of listening to the blandishments of those who would profit by the home care system?

Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): I believe the honourable member referred to multiple sclerosis, I think it is, and I believe that might be one of those areas that the union will not agree to provide services under an essential services agreement during this strike.

I do listen to home care providers such as Kelli Paige, for example, who writes: I am presently still an MGEU member who voted no to strike action and I am disgusted with the union. I will repeat that: I am disgusted with the union and members who chose to walk out on thousands of sick and disabled seniors who need them.

The honourable member claims to care for the client. If that is true, why will she not stand up for people who have multiple sclerosis? Why will the honourable member not do that?

* (1420)

Post-Secondary Education

Government Policy

Ms. Jean Friesen (Wolseley): Madam Speaker, in other parts of the world one of the recognized keys to the new economies is the expansion of higher education, and it can even cross party lines. In Britain, in Singapore, or Paul Keatings’s Australia, all made substantial commitments to the expansion of higher education, in some cases doubling the participation rate. This is the real world of the 21st Century.

I want to ask the Minister of Education to tell us why the impact of her policies has been declining enrollments, downsizing and the reduction of educational opportunities for young Manitobans in post-secondary education.

Hon. Linda McIntosh (Minister of Education and Training): I am sorry, Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech and I heard the last part of the sentence at the end of it, which was a declining enrollment, but I did not hear the few words that just went before that. I wonder if the member could repeat them. I think it was the beginning of a sentence. If she could repeat that last sentence for me, so I understand what it is she is wanting me to say, I would be glad to respond, but if she could dispense with the speech, I would be grateful.

Madam Speaker: The honourable member for Wolseley, to quickly repeat the question asked.

Ms. Friesen: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Perhaps I could repeat the carefully worded sentence that I had.

In other parts of the world, one of the recognized keys to the new economies is the expansion of higher education, which crosses party lines, whether it be in Singapore, Australia, or in Britain, whose leaders have made substantial commitments to the expansion of participation rates in post-secondary education.

Would the Minister of Education tell us why the impact of her policies has been declining enrollments, downsizing and the reduction of educational opportunities for young Manitobans?

Mrs. McIntosh: The words that I missed hearing the first time through were the words “would the minister tell us why,” and I now have those words. Of course, implicit in the question is an assumption which, unfortunately, is an erroneous assumption because the member infers that declining enrollment at universities across Canada is all attributed to me. While I appreciate the inference that I have so much power, I should indicate to her things that she probably knows, first of all, that trends always show when there are more jobs created enrollment at universities go down. That is historically true, and we have created many, many more jobs in Manitoba this last year, the same as is happening in some other provinces.

The member also knows that we have a larger enrollment at the community colleges because people are very interested in technologies and trades, and we appreciate that. We think that is good. But, Madam Speaker, I have to indicate that the initiatives we have been putting in place have been encouraging enrollments at universities, 10 percent learning tax credit which will see 10 percent of all tuition fees paid refunded to the students being just one of many examples to encourage students into university.

Ms. Friesen: I would like to table recent information from Statistics Canada showing that over their past five years of numbers, every province except Manitoba has achieved clear increases in post-secondary participation.

Will the minister tell us why Manitoba under her government is at the bottom of the league, below Newfoundland, below Saskatchewan, below New Brunswick, below Nova Scotia?

Mrs. McIntosh: Again, I did indicate Manitoba's superior performance in job creation vis-à-vis other provinces. I believe I started off by saying that, that we have one of the best records for that in Canada. I also indicate, Madam Speaker, that depending upon which area you look at, if she wants to look at just university enrollments, which is what she normally does, then she can see that enrollments are down in other provinces as well because that is the trend.

All post-secondary, of course, you will see a wide variety of things happening, including in Manitoba, workforce training, et cetera. I have to indicate that we have Scholarships for Tomorrow to encourage young women into sciences and engineering. Those were implemented by our government, and this is the second year for those scholarships, targeting women in science. I will continue on with the next question.

Ms. Friesen: Could the minister explain how her refusal to maintain or even expand post-secondary education in Manitoba, and I am sure she will look at the Statistics Canada material I offered her, is this in any way linked to the creation of a low-wage, low-skill economy that is developing in Manitoba?

Mrs. McIntosh: Madam Speaker, as with many of the things that have been tabled in the House, the member forgot to mention just one little tiny fact about this chart she has just tabled, and that is it is restricted to an age span, and we know that in Manitoba a large majority of our students do start university and post-secondary education in their mid-twenties. They do not necessarily always go straight from school. She has these in the late teens and early twenties, and she is neglecting the very people she has talked about many, many times, all those older students over the age of 23 who do begin university in Manitoba. They are not in these statistics. A little oversight--I am sure she did not intend to create a different impression with the House. Unfortunately, she did.

I have to indicate, Madam Speaker, that as far as tuition fees are concerned, Manitoba rates extremely well with Canadian averages, and we do have a number of opportunities at colleges that are new initiatives and very much appreciated.

Disaster Assistance

Municipal Compensation

Mr. Stan Struthers (Dauphin): Madam Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Government Services.

Today, we are on the verge of peak flooding conditions that may well exceed those of last year. Municipalities must cope with this year’s flooding without having received full compensation from 1995, and federal officials state that they have yet to receive a claim from the province, even though guidelines for making a claim have been in place for 25 years.

Why did the Disaster Assistance Board tell municipalities they would be compensated for using their own equipment and personnel when federal guidelines and your own provincial guidelines clearly provide only limited compensation for uncontracted services? Why were municipalities not warned about these guidelines that could now cost them thousands of dollars?

Hon. Brian Pallister (Minister of Government Services): I thank the member for the question, Madam Speaker. Clearly, he is unaware of the historical reality in this province and in others that have told us that they share the position and the concerns that Manitoba has taken.

There is a well-established practice that exists among federal and provincial governments and municipalities in terms of cost-sharing. It has, for many, many years, allowed for the inclusion of costs incurred by municipal partners in using their own staff, in using their own equipment where they deem it appropriate. The member clearly is taking the uninformed position that the federal government is taking at this point in time, that the guidelines are to be interpreted religiously and meticulously but that precedent means nothing. However, precedent should and does mean something to our people of Manitoba’s municipalities because it is they who must face up to the challenges of responding to these floods, fires and other disasters when they occur, and it is they whom I stand up and support and this government stands up and supports continuously.

We asked the federal government to resume its well-established case, well-established precedents for supporting those municipalities when they encounter unpredictable circumstances that cause costs to be incurred. We asked them to join with us in sharing that responsibility among all ratepayers and not isolating it to just those affected by flood and fire.

Mr. Struthers: Madam Speaker, I am supporting the R.M.s who are suffering because this minister cannot get together with the federal people and work out their squabbling.

I would like to table two letters--

Madam Speaker: Order, please. I have been very, very lenient. I allowed, without interjection, the honourable member to have postamble. Would the honourable member please pose his question now. He was recognized for a supplementary question.

Mr. Struthers: I have tabled these letters, Madam Speaker.

I would like to ask the minister, if he has had these grievances with the federal government and the federal guidelines which are virtually the same as his own, why did he not accept five invitations to discuss these matters with federal officials? Why has he waited till the flooding is up to our ears before he--

* (1430)

Madam Speaker: Order, please. The question has been put.

Mr. Pallister: Thank you for the question, Madam Speaker. The member, as is all too common, is profoundly confused.

The federal government responded to our request to return to well-established precedents in the interest of fairness, and they came back to the province and asked for examples. They said that they had never cost-shared with municipalities. It appears to be the position that the member is taking as the lap dog of his federal friends who refuse to stand up for the municipalities of this province. The fact is that our officials here in co-operation--and I should mention with the unanimous support of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities and a resolution just passed the day before yesterday by the Manitoba Association of Urban Municipalities, we have the full support of our municipal partners.

The member opposite takes the position that precedent means nothing. This is the position currently being taken by the federal government. They came back to us in Manitoba and asked us what examples we could provide them with where the federal government had cost-shared. We gave them over one thousand examples. We await their common-sense response and return to sanity.

Madam Speaker: Order, please. Time for Oral Questions has expired.